12/30/2005

Write your members of Congress and your local daily newspaper

Write your members of Congress and your local daily newspaper

Critical Flaw Detected in Windows Metafile - Yahoo! News

A vulnerability has been discovered in Microsoft Windows that allows hackers to remotely access PCs and install malware through an imaging-handling technology in the operating system.
Microsoft acknowledged the release of exploit code that could allow an attacker to execute arbitrary code when someone visits a Web site that contains a specially crafted Windows Metafile (WMF) image. Security authority Secunia labeled the vulnerability "extremely critical."

Malicious Graphics Files

WMF images are graphical files that can contain both vector and bitmap-based picture information. Microsoft Windows contains routines for displaying such files, but a lack of input validation in one of these routines may allow a buffer overflow to occur, which in turn may allow remote code execution.

The vulnerability can also be triggered from the Internet Explorer browser if the malicious file has been saved to a folder and renamed to other image file extensions such as ".jpg," ".gif," ".tif," and ".png." It has been detected on a patched system running Microsoft
Windows XP SP2. Microsoft Windows XP SP1 and Microsoft Windows Server 2003 systems also are affected.

Current exploits use the Windows Picture and Fax Viewer to attack any application that can handle Windows Metafiles. Disabling the Windows Picture and Fax Viewer will not eliminate the risk as the flaw exists in the Windows Graphical Device Interface library.

The flaw has also raised concerns that Google Desktop may be another potential attack vector, and that various antivirus software products cannot detect all known exploits for this vulnerability.

A Familiar Problem

By default, Explorer on those operating systems runs in a restricted mode known as Enhanced Security Configuration, which Microsoft said mitigates this vulnerability as far as e-mail is concerned, although clicking on a link in a message would still put users at risk.

Yankee Group senior analyst Andrew Jaquith characterized the vulnerability as a serious security issue that has cropped up before in browsers, including Firefox and Safari. "It's particularly nasty because the browser automatically loads images when users visit a Web site. There is no built-in protection," he said.

Jaquith predicted that additional exploits of the vulnerability are expected since there is no patch available and the security hole is difficult to plug.

People who use Windows are advised to be wary when opening e-mail and links in e-mail from sources they don't trust. They should not save, open or preview image files from unfamiliar sources. And, as always, people are encouraged to update the patches for their operating systems.

Critical Flaw Detected in Windows Metafile - Yahoo! News

12/26/2005

To all mothers in the world: Merry Christmas!


Mother - Survival International
Survival International

Open Clip Art Library :: openclipart.org :: Drawing Together.

Drawing Together.

This project aims to create an archive of user contributed clip art that can be freely used.

All graphics submitted to the project should be placed into the Public Domain according to the statement by the Creative Commons. If you'd like to help out, please join the mailing list.

Open Clip Art Library :: openclipart.org :: Drawing Together.

Mozilla born-again as SeaMonkey after Firefox dies

Well, not exactly, but the title looked so funny I'm leaving it the way it is -- law

Mozilla Suite born-again despite Firefox Foundation

First Looks SeaMonkey 1.0 Alpha taken for a spin

THE BROWSER, and e-mail software - OK, HTML authoring tool as well - formerly known as "Mozilla" or more recently referred to as "Mozilla Suite" is back alive and kicking, despite recent efforts from the Firefox Foundation ^B^B^B^B^B^B^B^B^B Mozilla Foundation to make it go away after freezing future development and deciding to only provide bug fixes.

Two weeks ago, the "SeaMonkey Community" released the first alpha of the successor of the Mozilla Suite, dubbed "SeaMonkey"and described as "a community effort to deliver production-quality releases of code derived from the application formerly known as "Mozilla Application Suite".

Mozilla Suite born-again despite Firefox Foundation

The Best Web 2.0 Software of 2005 (web2.wsj2.com)

Openomy (online file backup) saved my data when recenlty I was plagued by 3 hard drive crashes! Think losing 3 years of work and family pictures (aack!)-- law


Category: Grassroots Use of Web 2.0 - Best Offering: Katrina List Network
Category: Social Bookmarking - Best Offering: del.icio.us

Category: Web 2.0 Start Pages - Best Offering: Netvibes

Description: There are a rapidly growing number of Ajax start pages that allow your favorite content to be displayed, rearranged, and viewed dynamically whenever you want. But if the traffic to this blog is any indication (though possibly it isn't) Netvibes is far and away the most popular one.

Category: Online To Do Lists - Best Offering: Voo2do

Description: Ever more of the software we use on a daily basis is moving online, from e-mail to feed readers. To-do list managers are no exception.

Category: 3rd Party Online File Storage - Best Offering: Openomy

Description: As more and more software moves to the Web, having a secure place for your Web-based software to store files such as documents, media, and other data will become essential. There is a burgeoning group of online file storage services and Openomy is one that I've been watching for a while. With 1Gb of free file storage and an open API for programmatic access to your tag-based Openomy file system, and you have the raw ingredients for secure online storage of your documents wherever you go. There is even a Ruby-binding for the API. Expect lots of growth in this space going forward, especially as other Web 2.0 applications allow you to plug into your online storage service of choice and the desire also grows to offload personal data backup to professionals.

The Best Web 2.0 Software of 2005 (web2.wsj2.com)

Christmas Ruined SPAM - Welcome to ConsumerPromotionZone.com

i €have received at least 10 e-mails from this guys telling me "Christmas is ruined" or there is a "War on Christmas".

Sounds like Karl Rove push polling to me... i.e. Repeate a lie over and over in the form of an innocent question and eventually neandercons will swallow it happily

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Christmas Ruined
Date: Mon, 26 Dec 2005
From: Consumer Incentives



Welcome to ConsumerPromotionZone.com

In memory of the many, too many fallen of late 2004 /2005

I just realized that adding the Tsunami to Katrina and the Earthquake on Pakistan we may have lost 1 million people in this past year. To nature, bad government and greed alone! -- law



Asian Tsunami Disaster on Yahoo! News Photos

World Marks One Year Since Tsunami - Yahoo! News

BANDA ACEH, Indonesia - Beside gentle seas, survivors, friends and family remembered the fury of the Indian Ocean tsunami that swept away more than 200,000 people in 12 countries one year ago Monday and laid waste to entire communities in one of the worst natural disasters in modern history.

Asian Tsunami Disaster on Yahoo! News Photos

On Thailand's Patong beach, a man wept in the sand before calm waters, a bouquet of white roses in front of him. He was among hundreds of Westerners survivors, relatives and friends of the dead who came the beachfront where their loved ones disappeared.

On India's southern coastline, thousands of fishermen visited mass graves, sharing stories of lost families and friends.

"I searched for my daughter for hours but never found her. I don't know where she was buried," E. Jayaraman said Monday as he looked forlornly out to sea.

"The sea is like God to us. My wife will come later in the day and pray at the same site for peace to the soul of our daughter."

Last Dec. 26, the most powerful earthquake in 40 years ruptured the sea floor off Sumatra, displacing billions of tons of water and sending 33-foot-high walls of water roaring across the Indian Ocean at jetliner speeds. At least 216,000 people died or disappeared.



In Indonesia's Aceh province on Sumatra island, the closest land to the epicenter of the magnitude-9 earthquake, the president sounded a tsunami warning siren to start a minute's silence at 8:16 a.m. — the moment the first wave struck.






World Marks One Year Since Tsunami - Yahoo! News

The world remebers - Sadness and remeberance one year after the disaster.



Globo Online :: Ciência - Notícias sobre as grandes descobertas da ciência

Wiretaps said to sift all overseas contacts - The Boston Globe

WASHINGTON -- The National Security Agency, in carrying out President Bush's order to intercept the international phone calls and e-mails of Americans suspected of links to Al Qaeda, has probably been using computers to monitor all other Americans' international communications as well, according to specialists familiar with the workings of the NSA.

The Bush administration and the NSA have declined to provide details about the program the president authorized in 2001, but specialists said the agency serves as a vast data collection and sorting operation. It captures reams of data from satellites, fiberoptic lines, and Internet switching stations, and then uses a computer to check for names, numbers, and words that have been identified as suspicious.

''The whole idea of the NSA is intercepting huge streams of communications, taking in 2 million pieces of communications an hour," said James Bamford, the author of two books on the NSA, who was the first to reveal the inner workings of the secret agency.

''They have a capacity to listen to every overseas phone call," said Tom Blanton, director of the National Security Archive at George Washington University, which has obtained documents about the NSA using Freedom of Information Act requests.

The NSA's system of monitoring e-mails and phone calls to check for search terms has been used for decades overseas, where the Constitution's prohibition on unreasonable searches does not apply, declassified records have shown.

But since Bush's order in 2001, Bamford and other specialists said, the same process has probably been used to sort through international messages to and from the United States, though humans have never seen the vast majority of the data.

.. Bush's order cleared the way for the NSA computers to sift through Americans' phone calls and e-mails.

According to a New York Times report last week, Bush authorized the NSA's human analysts to look at the international messages of up to 500 Americans at a time, with a changing list of targets.

Hayden, now the deputy director of national intelligence, told reporters this week that under Bush's order, a ''shift supervisor" instead of a judge signs off on deciding whether or not to search for an American's messages.

The general conceded that without the burden of obtaining warrants, the NSA has used ''a quicker trigger" and ''a subtly softer trigger" when deciding to track someone.

Bamford said that Hayden's ''subtly softer trigger" probably means that the NSA is monitoring a wider circle of contacts around suspects than what a judge would approve.

Wiretaps said to sift all overseas contacts - The Boston Globe

Media Matters - Most outrageous statements of 2005

Those are the intellectual giants, the clear voice of right wing speach.. A lot to be proud for, heh neocons nea(nderthal)cons? This is what you want America to be... -- law

Former Reagan administration Secretary of Education Bill Bennett: "[Y]ou could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down." [Salem Radio Network's Bill Bennett's Morning in America, 9/28/05]

* Bill O'Reilly to San Francisco: "[I]f Al Qaeda comes in here and blows you up, we're not going to do anything about it. ... You want to blow up the Coit Tower? Go ahead." [Westwood One's The Radio Factor with Bill O'Reilly, 12/8/05]

* Bill O'Reilly, agreeing with caller that illegal immigrants are "biological weapon[s]": "I think you could probably make an absolutely airtight case that more than 3,000 Americans have been either killed or injured, based upon the 11 million illegals who are here." [Westwood One's The Radio Factor with Bill O'Reilly, 4/15/05]

* Rush Limbaugh: "Feminism was established so as to allow unattractive women easier access to the mainstream of society." [The Rush Limbaugh Show, 8/12/05]

* Rush Limbaugh on the kidnapping of peace activists in Iraq: "I'm telling you, folks, there's a part of me that likes this." [The Rush Limbaugh Show, 11/29/05]

* Ann Coulter: Bill Clinton "was a very good rapist"; "I'm getting a little fed up with hearing about, oh, civilian casualties"; "I think we ought to nuke North Korea right now just to give the rest of the world a warning." [New York Observer, 1/10/05]

* Ann Coulter: "Isn't it great to see Muslims celebrating something other than the slaughter of Americans?" [Syndicated column, 2/3/05]

* Radio host Glenn Beck: "[Y]ou know it took me about a year to start hating the 9-11 victims' families? Took me about a year." [Premiere Radio Networks' The Glenn Beck Program, 9/9/05]

* Tucker Carlson: "Canada is a sweet country. It is like your retarded cousin you see at Thanksgiving and sort of pat him on the head. You know, he's nice, but you don't take him seriously. That's Canada." [MSNBC's The Situation with Tucker Carlson, 12/15/05]

* American Family Association president Tim Wildmon: Liberals "don't have the kind of family responsibilities most people have, and certainly not church responsibilities." [American Family Radio's Today's Issues, 5/11/05]

* David Horowitz on Cindy Sheehan: "It's very hard to have respect for a woman who exploits the death of her own son and doesn't respect her own son's life. ... She portrays him as an idiot." [MSNBC's Connected: Coast to Coast, 8/16/05]

* Radio host Neal Boortz on the execution of Stanley "Tookie" Williams: "[T]here will be riots in South Central Los Angeles and elsewhere. ... The rioting, of course, will lead to wide scale looting. There are a lot of aspiring rappers and NBA superstars who could really use a nice flat-screen television right now." [Boortz.com, 12/12/05]

Media Matters - Most outrageous statements of 2005

Daily Kos: My Republican Family Discusses Impeachment

* Cather's diary :: ::
*

I have been working over the past several days-- since being back in East TN for the holidays-- to discuss politics with him. He loves his Kool-aid, but I was able to score points when I admited that the Right-Wing-Agenda has done a better job than the Progressive Community at talking about values and morals. Try this with your friends sometime. Use these very words. Commit yourself to making just one or two points. Keep them easy to digest, and start contrasting the Right-Wing-Agenda with the Progressive Community. For example, I mentioned that the Progressive Community is beginning to see the light, and some of us have begun to discuss the values we have long held-- which inform the policies we believe in. The Right-Wing-Agenda, by contrast, has been taling about values and has done an amazing job of talking, but as far as I can see, they have been unwilling to act morrally on these suposed beliefs. When I did this, I was amazed that Grandpa started to agree with me.

So tonight I dropped the biggest bomb on any conversation that has ever occurred at any table at which our family has ever dined. The whole family (only ten including in-laws and an out-of-towner) was there for Christmas dinner. Impeachment. Those three syllables shook the table with impact and import. There is something pithy to be said here, but it's nearly 3 am, so it's elluding me at the moment. The shocking thing? Everyone at the table (especially my uber-republican grandpa) agreed. Bush's actions warrant an impeachment trial.

This is an amazing breakthrough, and nothing short of miraculous for this sort of consensus to happen in my family. The entire conversation turned from "should he be impeached" to "should he be removed for his actions" and very quickly from there to "will he be impeached and removed". Tomorrow, when they turn on the TV, and read the paper, at every turn, I want them to see the story of W and his wiretaps. I want to see every news outlet discussing the "i" word-- question it if they want, hell, even decry it as ridiculous, but mention it. Make the bastards deny it! I have been reading diaries about avery stickers for a few days now. If that's your thing, great! The more that happens, the more real it will seem for Americans everywhere.

This brings me to today's sermon: Talk with your families about this, folks. Ask your Republican uncle if an impeachment would be successful given the evidence available, or would more be needed. Ask your Ann Coulter quoting sister-in-law if she has heard any buzz about a possible impeachment. That's my favorite question, because she just heard some buzz. The more I find out on this issue, the more willing I have become to talk about it, and the one thing I have found that everyone in my family can assent to is that the Constitution is a sacred document to this country. I am amazed at how quickly the topic caught on at the table, and wanted to invite others to share similar stories if they have them...

Daily Kos: My Republican Family Discusses Impeachment

Daily Kos: I, too, support domestic surveillance to prevent terrorism

I, too, support domestic surveillance to prevent terrorism
by BenGoshi
Mon Dec 26, 2005 at 05:31:58 AM PDT

Well, as long as a lawful warrant's obtained. But this Yahoo article with Powell kissing the High Crime Committor's bottom on ABC's 'This Week' is just disgusting.

http://news.yahoo.com/...

Copy, paste, send around to friends, family, MSM Heathers, and your Congresspeople.

1 There's a law (FISA).

2 The law sets forth provisions for "domestic spying."

3 The law's clear, and carries criminal penalties.

4 If Bush didn't like the law, tough: it's the law.

5 Bush authorized breaking that law; and admits it.

6 Bush should be impeached by the House, tried and convicted by the Senate, then jailed for this High Crime.

Daily Kos: I, too, support domestic surveillance to prevent terrorism

Think Progress » Novak: I Had Better Sources Than Bush On Iraq

This afternoon on CNN, Bob Novak did a farewell interview with Wolf Blitzer to commemorate the end of his 25-year career with the network (before he heads over to the more comfortable surroundings of Fox News). In the interview, Novak revealed that he had better pre-war intel sources on Iraq than President Bush did:

NOVAK: I said several times on this network that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

BLITZER: How did you know that and the President of the United States, Vice President of the United States were convinced that there were?

NOVAK: Because my sources. I don’t run my own CIA. My sources didn’t think there were — in the military, people I trusted. And the indication of the inspectors indicated there was no weapons.

Where was the leak when we really needed it?



Think Progress » Novak: I Had Better Sources Than Bush On Iraq

Federal agents' visit was a hoax: 12/ 24/ 2005

You heard it here first :-)
law


Federal agents' visit was a hoax
Student admits he lied about Mao book
By AARON NICODEMUS, Standard-Times staff writer

NEW BEDFORD -- The UMass Dartmouth student who claimed to have been visited by Homeland Security agents over his request for "The Little Red Book" by Mao Zedong has admitted to making up the entire story.
The 22-year-old student tearfully admitted he made the story up to his history professor, Dr. Brian Glyn Williams, and his parents, after being confronted with the inconsistencies in his account.
Had the student stuck to his original story, it might never have been proved false.
But on Thursday, when the student told his tale in the office of UMass Dartmouth professor Dr. Robert Pontbriand to Dr. Williams, Dr. Pontbriand, university spokesman John Hoey and The Standard-Times, the student added new details.
The agents had returned, the student said, just last night. The two agents, the student, his parents and the student's uncle all signed confidentiality agreements, he claimed, to put an end to the matter.
But when Dr. Williams went to the student's home yesterday and relayed that part of the story to his parents, it was the first time they had heard it. The story began to unravel, and the student, faced with the truth, broke down and cried.
It was a dramatic turnaround from the day before.

Federal agents' visit was a hoax: 12/ 24/ 2005

Daily Kos: A teacher's (and blogger's) midyear doubts

Daily Kos: A teacher's (and blogger's) midyear doubts

Daily Kos: How my family enlisted in the War on Christmas.

Fantastic! -- law

* HollywoodOz's diary :: ::

my family made a decision this year. Myself, my wife, my brother-in-law and parents-in-law all determined that, this year, since the Neocons have determined that there should be a War on Christmas, that we would accept their challenge and commit to the anti-Christmas cause.

We decided that, in the absence of any discernable anti-Christmas forces out there to win this war, we would be marytyrs for the cause and attack Christmas in every way, shape and form we possibly could. Here's what we did:


# This season we did not buy Christmas presents, rather we told each member of our family why we're proud of them.

# We did not give Christmas cards. Rather, we wrote letters to each family member, thanking them for everything they've done for us this year, and in years past.

# We did not buy a cut Christmas tree. Rather, we planted a tree in the backyard of the in-laws' home, so that we can enjoy it for years, instead of 21 days.

# We did not put up Christmas lights. Rather, we put up energy-saver lights in every light socket in the in-laws house.

# We did not have your typical Christmas lunch. Rather, we enjoyed a couple of bottles of French wine, a terrific salad, and committed to eat only organic, locally grown food for the next 12 months - minimum.

# We did not covet expensive items. Rather, we pooled our resources and sent $400, the money we would otherwise have spent on presents between us, to third world microcredit charities, so that African families could start businesses and raise their children to be well fed and educated. We figured we could live without iPods more than they could live without food.

# We did not sing Christmas carols. But we did talk about politics, without arguing, and informed each other about all the horrendous things the right wing mob tried to pull off this year, and what we could do to stop them next year. Both my wife and my mother-in-law decided they would commit to working for the Democrats should Russ Feingold run for President in 2008. I'll be looking after the baby.

# We did not say a prayer for ourselves, or for America. Rather, we said a prayer for the rest of the world, as they seem to need it more than us.

# We did not wish each other a "Merry Christmas". Rather, inspired by Bill O'Reilly's and John Gibson's creation, we wished each other a "Victorious War on Christmas."

And I have to tell you, it was the best fucking weekend of our lives.

I heartily encourage you all to join the War on Christmas next season, and inspire your family to do as we did - stick a dagger in the heart of this hypocritical, self-serving, commercialized, unholy holiday season, and live, as Christ would have, as an unselfish, giving, hard-working, non-wasteful, informed, respectful member of the human race.

Oh, and in case you're wondering, my brother-in-law and father-in-law consider themselves Conservatives.

Peace.

Daily Kos: How my family enlisted in the War on Christmas.

Terrorist Hamdi was too dangerous to put on trial but not too dangerous to release.

rather than risk a review of its policy by the Supreme Court, the administration abandoned its hard-won victory and indicted Padilla on comparatively minor criminal charges. When it asked the 4th Circuit Court for permission to transfer him from military custody to jail, though, the once-cooperative court flatly refused.

In a decision last week, the judges expressed amazement that the administration suddenly would decide Padilla could be treated like a common purse snatcher--a reversal that, they said, comes "at substantial cost to the government's credibility." The court's meaning was plain: Either you were lying to us then, or you are lying to us now.

If that's not enough to embarrass the president, the opinion was written by conservative darling J. Michael Luttig--who just a couple of months ago was on Bush's short list for the Supreme Court. For Luttig to question Bush's use of executive power is like Bill O'Reilly announcing that there's too much Christ in Christmas.

This is hardly the only example of the president demanding powers he doesn't need. When American-born Saudi Yasser Hamdi was captured in Afghanistan, the administration also detained him as an enemy combatant rather than entrust him to the criminal justice system.

But when the Supreme Court said he was entitled to a hearing where he could present evidence on his behalf, the administration decided that was way too much trouble. It freed him and put him on a plane back to Saudi Arabia, where he may plot jihad to his heart's content. Try to follow this logic: Hamdi was too dangerous to put on trial but not too dangerous to release.

The disclosure that the president authorized secret and probably illegal monitoring of communications between people in the United States and people overseas again raises the question: Why?

The government easily could have gotten search warrants to conduct electronic surveillance of anyone with the slightest possible connection to terrorists. The court that handles such requests hardly ever refuses. But Bush bridles at the notion that the president should ever have to ask permission of anyone.

He claims he can ignore the law because Congress granted permission when it authorized him to use force against Al Qaeda. But we know that can't be true. Atty. Gen. Alberto Gonzales says the administration didn't ask for a revision of the law to give the president explicit power to order such wiretaps because Congress--a Republican Congress, mind you--wouldn't have agreed. So the administration decided: Who needs Congress?

What we have now is not a robust executive but a reckless one. At times like this, it's apparent that Cheney and Bush want more power not because they need it to protect the nation, but because they want more power. Another paradox: In their conduct of the war on terror, they expect our trust, but they can't be bothered to earn it.

Chicago Tribune | Beyond the imperial presidency

Chicago Tribune | Beyond the imperial presidency

Beyond the imperial presidency


Published December 25, 2005

President Bush is a bundle of paradoxes. He thinks the scope of the federal government should be limited but the powers of the president should not. He wants judges to interpret the Constitution as the framers did, but doesn't think he should be constrained by their intentions.

He attacked Al Gore for trusting government instead of the people, but he insists anyone who wants to defeat terrorism must put absolute faith in the man at the helm of government.

His conservative allies say Bush is acting to uphold the essential prerogatives of his office. Vice President Cheney says the administration's secret eavesdropping program is justified because "I believe in a strong, robust executive authority, and I think that the world we live in demands it."

But the theory boils down to a consistent and self-serving formula: What's good for George W. Bush is good for America, and anything that weakens his power weakens the nation. To call this an imperial presidency is unfair to emperors.

Even people who should be on Bush's side are getting queasy. David Keene, chairman of the American Conservative Union, says in his efforts to enlarge executive authority, Bush "has gone too far."

He's not the only one who feels that way. Consider the case of Jose Padilla, a U.S. citizen arrested in 2002 on suspicion of plotting to set off a "dirty bomb." For three years, the administration said he posed such a grave threat that it had the right to detain him without trial as an enemy combatant. In September, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit agreed.

But then, rather than risk a review of its policy by the Supreme Court, the administration abandoned its hard-won victory and indicted Padilla on comparatively minor criminal charges. When it asked the 4th Circuit Court for permission to transfer him from military custody to jail, though, the once-cooperative court flatly refused.

In a decision last week, the judges expressed amazement that the administration suddenly would decide Padilla could be treated like a common purse snatcher--a reversal that, they said, comes "at substantial cost to the government's credibility." The court's meaning was plain: Either you were lying to us then, or you are lying to us now.

If that's not enough to embarrass the president, the opinion was written by conservative darling J. Michael Luttig--who just a couple of months ago was on Bush's short list for the Supreme Court. For Luttig to question Bush's use of executive power is like Bill O'Reilly announcing that there's too much Christ in Christmas...

Chicago Tribune | Beyond the imperial presidency

12/25/2005

Don't forget to leave some Naan bread and Badami milk for Sandip err... Santa!



My Left Wing :: A Liberal Translation

My Left Wing :: Would you consent to the torture of 1 terrorist if it saved NYC from a nuke ?

Top diary at MLW! Weeee!!!!!

Would you consent to the torture of 1 terrorist if it saved NYC from a nuke ?
by: lawnorder
December 23, 2005 at 20:15:17 America/Chicago



Scott Addams on his blog asks:

If you think there's no moral justification for torture, would you accept the nuclear destruction of NYC (for example) to avoid torturing one known terrorist?

A lot of interesting answers follow, including mine but my favorite is from "Richard"

it makes me ill to see stupid people judging those [who tortured] who are out there everyday risking their own lives to save the lives of those that are at the same time judging them so irreverently.

That said, having served in the armed forces, served during the gulf war, served in close combat and having been wounded by an enemy trying to kill me, let me tell you what I believe in.
I believe in the American ideal. I believe in everything that our forefathers, and many since them, fought and died for, and I would gladly lay down my life to defend those ideals and this American way of life, and any of you out there whether I agree with you or not. Part of those ideals that I would violently defend is the morality with which we live our daily lives. And although morality seems to be a lost cause these days, I still believe it is one of the truths on which this country was founded. And as such, departing from our own convictions for the sake of "preventing another attack" or any other reason is NOT what I was fighting for.

When this great America betrays its own moral compass for a few scraps of intelligence that may or may not prevent another attack, have we not lost what America stands for?



Critical Thinking :: lawnorder :: Would you consent to the torture of 1 terrorist if it saved NYC from a nuke ?


My Left Wing :: Would you consent to the torture of 1 terrorist if it saved NYC from a nuke ?

12/24/2005

lawnorder: Eastern USA Faces Mega-Wave from Volcano ?

This decade's "Cassandra" award goes to scientist Bill McGuire -- law

US Conference on Natural Disasters, August 10, 2004 at 11:30
On 10/10/2004 Scientist Bill McGuire told a news conference on natural disasters that some time in the next few thousand years a volcano eruption will send walls of water 100 meters high racing across the Atlantic

2 and a half months later a volcanic event sent "walls of water 100 meters high racing across" the Indian Ocean killing and half a million people...

Asia Tsunami Dec 26, 2004 at 00:58
The 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake was an undersea earthquake that occurred at 00:58:53 UTC (07:58:53 local time) on December 26, 2004. The earthquake generated a tsunami that was among the deadliest disasters in modern history.

lawnorder: Eastern USA Faces Mega-Wave from Volcano ?

Christmas in Baghdad 2005 , 3rd in a series

It's time for the seasonal special we have, "commemorating", lamenting actualy, the fact that troops have to spend the holidays on Baghdad, miles away from home, just to do.. What ? What are they still doing there Mr. President ? -- law

2005: Heartache, fear and solidarity from private citizens (zippo from Bush!)

Heartache
Churches Urged to pray for Iraq hostages this Christmas - 12/24/05

Supporters of the four Christian Peacemaker Teams activists who have been held hostage by militants in Iraq for the past month are urging churches around the world to remember tem this Christmas, along with all people detained and imprisoned in the country.

Norman Kember, Tom Fox, Harmeet Singh Sooder and Jim Loney were kidnapped in Baghdad by a group calling itself the Swords of Truth Brigades on 26 November 2005.

Two deadlines have passed during which time the militants have demanded the release of all Iraqi detainees in exchange for their lives.

Ironically the four had been meeting with Sunni clerics to discuss how best to help detainees when they were snatched.

No-one has been able to make direct contact with the hostage takers so far, but it is known that they have seen appeals for the men's release from many Muslim and Islamist leaders on Arabic TV stations.

Over the past week there have been vigils for the peace workers in Britain, Canada and the United States - as well as lobbying in Iraq and Palestine, where they have worked.

Groups seeking the release of the four men say that keeping public awareness and concern going is vital to their cause.

The fact that there has been no news of them since 8 December 2005 is seen as positive at one level, and worrying at another.

Fear of violence

U-S troops in Iraq celebrate Christmas a week early

BAGHDAD, Iraq Some American troops in Iraq have celebrated Christmas a week early.
At a base in Baghdad, members of the U-S military had their pictures taken with Santa Claus.

They also sang sacred and secular carols and wished their friends and families back home a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

The festive atmosphere was mixed with regrets at being so far from home during the holidays

Heartwarming solidarity from private citizens (not from Bush!!!)
Video of Christmas fun will comfort G.I. in Iraq

Saturday, December 24, 2005 - Pfc. Jason Forsberg is spending Christmas in Iraq, but he'll still see his three daughters tearing open gifts under the tree. His wife, Jennifer, plans to record every holiday moment with a new video camera and send it to Jason via e-mail.

The camera, which records directly onto a DVD, was one of dozens of gifts from Season of Sharing contributors.. "What has been brought into my house shows incredible support for the soldiers and the people left at home," said [his wife] . "Sometimes I get to thinking that our soldiers are almost forgotten. It's times like this that I realize that they are thought of more than that."

In the eight months that Jason has been away, the family has had several health problems. They are living with Jason's parents in Forest Grove and struggling to get by on his modest salary. So gift cards totaling $1,000 for necessities, such as new tires, gas and shoes, were especially appreciated. Readers also sent money for toys, dolls, clothes, baby formula and other gifts. Two readers adopted two other military families in Jason's company, providing them with clothes, toys and gift certificates.


Excerpts from previous years
2003 Reply for "Poem of a soldier at Christmas", a pro-war chain mail often sent around this time
SANTA PROCEEDED
TO THE CHILD-PRINCE HOME
THOUSANDS OF PRESENTS THERE
MORE YET TO COME

...
'BRING IT ON', HE CRIED
I WANT MORE, MORE THAN I HAVE
FOR IT WILL NEVER BE ENOUGH
AS LONG AS SOMEONE ELSE HAS IT

BUT WAIT, THE BLACK OIL IS TAINTED
RED, BRIGHT AS A RUBY, THICKER THAN OIL
A DROP OF BLOOD GLISTENED
BLOOD OF THE SOLDIER, SOAKING THE SANDY SOIL

...

SO SANTA DECIDED THEN AND THERE
TO SWITCH THE SOLDIER WITH THE PRINCE
AND LEAVE THEN AS THEY WERE

UPON AWAKENING IN A BLODDY OIL BATH
THE SOLDIER HAD NO CHOICE OTHER THAN WAIT
WAIT FOR HIS CITIZENS TO RESCUE HIM FROM THERE
FOR HE COULD NOT FIGHT HIS OWN PRINCE WHO BETRAYED HIM

THE CHILD-PRINCE AWAKENED CRYING FOR SERVANTS, 'I NEED MORE OIL','I DON'T LIKE THIS SANDS'
UPON REALIZING HE WAS ALL ALONE
THE CHILD-PRINCE WET HIS PANTS...

SO THIS IS THE STORY OF CHRISTMAS
IN A LAND FULL OF SAND

2003 - On the first day of bushmas Bush lovers sent to me
A tyrant under a palm tree.

On the twelth day of bushmas Bush lovers sent to me
Twelve lemmings leaping
Eleven Lybians dancing
Ten Haliburtons piping
Nine Rummies drumming (war drums)
Eight Chenneys milking (oil)
Seven Roves spinning
Six Ashcrofts praying
Five golden spoons
Four collin lies
Three french vetos
Two Rush rehabs and
A tyrant under a palm tree....

2003 - Christmas in Baghda
by: law_n_order_here (100/F/Jurassic) 12/25/03 09:36 am
Msg: 439410 of 676406
3 recommendations

The soldiers of Charlie Company haven't been counting the days until Christmas. They don't count the weeks until they go home for good in February. Since their convoy was attacked Nov. 7 and a beloved sergeant was killed, they don't even count themselves as lucky.

First Sgt. William Karpowecz, has missed so many holidays at home that he barely noticed Thanksgiving.

The crusty sergeant with a mischievous smile plans to decorate the ugly 5-ton trucks with tinsel and lights. If circumstances and headquarters permit, he'll take his soldiers - those who can sing - and serenade the battalion's three other companies with Christmas carols.

Lt. Col. Rick Carlson took command in June of the 3rd Battalion which Charlie Company is part. he recalls. Mosul, about 250 miles north of Baghdad, was settling down after the U.S. invasion in March. Soldiers could wander through the bazaars, shopping and eating. They were sure they'd soon be going home.

Then, gradually, the violence against them accelerated. Grenades were tossed at the troops. Rifles were fired at them. It was back to war, with an enemy that was often invisible and deadly. They learned that going home early wasn't always good news.

'Oh, they have aged tremendously,' Carlson says of the soldiers. 'I see it physically, and I see it emotionally. But I detect it in a positive way. I see a lot of maturity.'

In June, he says, the troops' attitude was, 'What can we do for the Iraqi people?' Now, he says, 'what the soldiers are doing is, they are fighting for each other. I get that every time I go to the hospital, when we have soldiers that get hurt. The first thing they say is, 'I'm so sorry.' That one still tears me up. They have nothing to be sorry for. And yet it's the first thing they all say. ... '

2004 - Guardsmen: tell the" Republican relatives to fvck off and die for me


by crazymom on Daily Kos :: Comments "We are going to pay for this in blood" - Guardsmen
My son is an Ohio Nat'l Guardsmen...

stationed in Iraq. He has been gone since Dec. and will not be home until March. They did their "basic" training in Indiana in the snow and cold. He claims they were trained fairly well and I know they received proper body armor( my husband and I raised hell about it) , but their equipment is old and totally worn out . They are running up and down the roads with trucks that look like they're from the Vietnam era.During my son's basic training in Georgia years ago they told him didn't need the combat training because he was just in the Guard.(Has this attitude changed?) The over use and abuse of the Guard has been my major beef. Some may be willing to go ,they support the war and this idiotic president-I say let'em go. But others should not be forced to serve more than one deployment. They end up getting deployed for longer periods and receive fewer benefits than regular army. The majority do not want to go and if they go once they don't want to go again. It's devastating to their lives personally and financially.My son e-mailed me yesterday and told me to have a happy T. Day. He said to tell the" Republican relatives to fuck off and die for me (haha?)".His words not mine.
2004 - Dear Reverend/ President/ Leader Bush:

I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2.
clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill
him myself, or should I ask the police to do it?

6. A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an
abomination - Lev. 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality.
I don't agree. Can you settle this? Are there 'degrees' of abomination?

7. Lev.21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a
defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my
vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle-room here?

8. Most of my male friends -soldiers on my troop - get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev.
19:27. How should they die?

9. I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me
unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?
lawnorder: 12/24/2003

12/23/2005

Remainders: Your Active Denial System Edition - Wonkette

Remainders: Your Active Denial System Edition - Wonkette

President Bush wants us to believe that everything is going super-terrific well in Iraq, that democracy is on the march and that the electoral process is bringing hope and flowers and funnel cake to the misbegotten motherfuckers of Mesopotamia. BUT IF THAT IS TRUE: Why is the Pentagon sending their PAIN RAY (!?) to Iraq? [DefenseTech.org]

• Timothy Noah says George Bush told a whopper. That'll teach him. [Slate]

• Today is Festivus. Let the airing of grievances commence! [Wikipedia]

• Maureen Dowd's temporary pen caddy chivalrously rises to her defense. [GuideLive]

Paul Rieckhoff: Christmas in Iraq: Troops Share Their Stories - both the worst and the best one I have ever had.

Two years ago, I spent Christmas in Baghdad with the men of my infantry platoon. That Christmas was both the worst and the best one I have ever had.

On Christmas Eve 2003, my men and I executed a massive “cordon and search” operation just north of the city. We trekked in line under the cover of darkness with “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer” booming loudly from the top of the PsyOps trucks. It was surreal. As we moved toward our target block, the Brigade Sergeant Major rode ahead of us in an un-armored Humvee. An IED (improvised explosive device) detonated to the right side of his vehicle--about 100 meters in front of my platoon. The ground shook, and the Sergeant Major was killed. I’ll be thinking about that this Christmas when people complain about the inconvenience of the transit strike.

It was also Christmas Eve 2003 that we crammed the entire platoon of 38 men into a tiny room inside our FOB (forward operating base) to “celebrate.” Our platoon sergeant, SFC Jensen, gave every soldier a surprise gift package that his wife had sent from back home. Every single guy got a CD, some candy and some other goodies. It was a nice piece of home that helped us try to forget where we were. My dad sent a bottle of whisky that we shared as soldiers, and as friends. Each man got only one swallow, but it was damn good. We choked back tears, shared jokes and kept each other sane. With our families 7,000 miles away, we were all we had. That Christmas, we shared a bond that only soldiers can truly understand.

That is my holiday memory. I asked a few of our vets from IAVA (http://www.iava.org/index.php) to share theirs. Here they are:

Paul Rieckhoff: Christmas in Iraq: Troops Share Their Stories - Yahoo! News

Video of Christmas fun will comfort G.I. in Iraq thanks to charity

Good thing private citizens here still have some extra money for charity becuse Bush is letting soldier families out in the cold! Such a shameless, heartless man! - law

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Pfc. Jason Forsberg is spending Christmas in Iraq, but he'll still see his three daughters tearing open gifts under the tree. His wife, Jennifer, plans to record every holiday moment with a new video camera and send it to Jason via e-mail.

The camera, which records directly onto a DVD, was one of dozens of gifts from Season of Sharing contributors. The wrapped presents filled three Santa-sized bags, one for each of the Forsbergs' daughters: Mykayla, 8; Margurite, 3; and Gabbrielle, 19 months.

Jennifer tucked the girls' gifts away for Christmas morning, but she couldn't resist opening one of hers, the video camera, right away. She plans to use it to capture all the special moments -- including school performances, birthdays and Christmas morning -- that her husband misses while he serves with the Oregon National Guard in Iraq.

"What has been brought into my house shows incredible support for the soldiers and the people left at home," she said. "Sometimes I get to thinking that our soldiers are almost forgotten. It's times like this that I realize that they are thought of more than that."

In the eight months that Jason has been away, the family has had several health problems. They are living with Jason's parents in Forest Grove and struggling to get by on his modest salary. So gift cards totaling $1,000 for necessities, such as new tires, gas and shoes, were especially appreciated. Readers also sent money for toys, dolls, clothes, baby formula and other gifts.

Two readers adopted two other military families in Jason's company, providing them with clothes, toys and gift certificates.

Video of Christmas fun will comfort G.I. in Iraq

Year in Review 2005 Full Coverage on Yahoo! News

The year of unnatural disasters
AFP - Fri Dec 23,12:16 PM ET

PARIS - In the space of a year, a tsunami, an earthquake, brutal storms and floods have claimed more than 300,000 lives and cost at least 100 billion dollars in damage. Humans prefer to view these catastrophes as the result of misfortune, of randomness, of the unfathomable forces of Nature, of the whim of gods or of God. But the exceptional disasters of the past 12 months raise a far more difficult question. Could mankind be to blame ?
[You betcha! -- law]


* The year of unnatural disasters AFP - Fri Dec 23,12:16 PM ET
* New year offers fresh chance for Japan and China AFP - Fri Dec 23,12:57 AM ET
* China economic growth comes at a price AFP - Fri Dec 23,12:53 AM ET
* Miller, Pryor Among Artists We Lost in '05 AP - Thu Dec 22, 4:14 PM ET
* Kashmir settlement hopes freeze despite quake disaster AFP - Thu Dec 22, 2:22 PM ET
* Evolution whispers some secrets at Sydney Morning Herald - Fri, Dec 23, 2005
* At a stroke: Asbo, smlirt, podcast enter predictive text dictionary at The Guardian (UK). - Fri, Dec 23, 2005
* Google taps into search patterns at BBC - Thu, Dec 22, 2005


Audio

* Memorable Moments: 2005 at NPR - Fri, Dec 23, 2005
* Books 2005: Maureen Corrigan's Favorites at NPR - Thu, Dec 22, 2005
* Record Property Losses Seen in 2005 Disasters at NPR - Thu, Dec 22, 2005

» More Audio
Video

* Top Ten Videos of 2005 at National Geographic - Fri, Dec 16, 2005
* 'Jib Jab' offers satirical flashback of year at the White House. ABCNEWS.com video via Yahoo! News - Fri, Dec 16, 2005
* Live in '05 at MTV - Thu, Dec 15, 2005

Year in Review 2005 Full Coverage on Yahoo! News

The year of unnatural disasters - Yahoo! News

For many scientists, the deep pain from this year's string of disasters is to a very large degree man-made.

In the space of a year, a tsunami, an earthquake, brutal storms and floods have claimed more than 300,000 lives and cost at least 100 billion dollars in damage. Humans prefer to view these catastrophes as the result of misfortune, of randomness, of the unfathomable forces of Nature, of the whim of gods or of God. But the exceptional disasters of the past 12 months raise a far more difficult question.

Could mankind be to blame?

For many scientists, the deep pain from this year's string of disasters is to a very large degree man-made.

From the Mississippi delta to the mountains of
Kashmir and the beaches of the Andaman Sea, governments failed in almost every case to respect the basic laws of sustainable development.

In a nutshell, these rules are: don't house people in places that are at risk to disasters -- but if you do, respect natural defenses; keep the population growth to sensible limits; build wisely and ensure high safety standards in construction; and set up effective alert and response networks in the event disaster does strike.

"We like to talk about natural disasters because it puts the blame on Mother Nature... (but) it's nonsense, it misrepresents what the causal factors really are," said Anthony Oliver-Smith, a doctor of anthropology at the University of Florida at Gainesville.

"Obviously, there are big, big hurricanes and there are big, big earthquakes that will create a certain amount of damage. But the degree and level of destruction is really much more a result of society than it is of the natural agent."

The October 8 earthquake that struck Kashmir, killing 73,000 in Pakistan and 1,400 in India, exposed shoddy construction standards in which homes and schools became killers and the lack of emergency backup in a vulnerable seismic region.

The Geological Survey of Pakistan described the temblor as "a wakeup call."

"Construction codes are non-existent, or criminally violated," it said.

"It is feared that if mushrooming construction of inferior quality continues unchecked in the cities, half the newly-constructed buildings will crumble in 20-30 years with just a moderate earthquake hitting the region."

In the case of the December 26 2004 Asian earthquake and tsunami, which killed at least 220,000 people, the toll was amplified by the burgeoning development on the Indian Ocean coastline, where villages, towns and tourist resorts have sprung up in the past decade.

This was most notable in Thailand, where hotel complexes were built right on the beach, thus putting them right in the path of a big wave, and mangroves and coral reefs, which would have dampened much of the impact, had been destroyed.

"Indiscriminate economic development and ecologically destructive policies have left many communities more vulnerable to disasters than they realize," said the Washington-based environmental group the Worldwatch Institute.

A classic example of this was the monsoon flooding that hit Mumbai in August, temporarily transforming the city of 15 million into the so-called "Venice of the East" where streets were drowned and more than 400 lost their lives.

Experts blamed the tragedy on decrepit drainage dating back to the British colonial era, explosive growth in slum housing and the loss of green areas and river channels that used to soak up rainwater seepage and then take it out to sea.

"A myopic view of development and misuse of no-development 'green' zones has virtually killed the city," said Chandrashekar Prabhu, an urban planner.

Such folly is not exclusive to a developing country.

On August 29, Hurricane Katrina laid waste to New Orleans -- a delta city built below floodlevel and whose coastal wetlands, which would have been a useful buffer against storm surge, had been destroyed by developers.

Katrina left a trail of a thousand dead across the US Gulf coast and an economic bill variously estimated from 80 billion to 200 billion.

It was the peak in an Atlantic hurricane season that broke records for duration, the number of storms -- 26 tropical storms, 14 of them hurricanes -- and severity, with three reaching the topmost category of five on the Saffir-Simpson intensity scale.

The tsunami and quakes were natural events whose impacts were magnified by human mistakes. The big, troubling question is whether Katrina and Co. were spawned by man.

Climate scientists are loath to pin a single event, or even a season, to the greenhouse-gas effect.

Despite this, a small but increasing number of experts are venturing the opinion that the 2005 hurricane season was no accident, for it coincides with ever-rising sea temperatures that fuel bad hurricanes, and a year set to be the warmest ever recorded.

The year of unnatural disasters - Yahoo! News

Daily Kos: THE SCOTTY SHOW!! Piping Hot 12.21 Press Briefing

LOL!! Keep an eye on this guy's funny diaries! And look at his O'Reilly Rage Advisory System pic below. Priceless! -- law

THE SCOTTY SHOW!! Piping Hot 12.21 Press Briefing
by karateexplosions
Thu Dec 22, 2005 at 11:58:46 AM PDT

For those who are just joining us, here's how it works. We take Scotty's press briefing and abridge it for your sanity and mine. Then, we dump it into our brand-new Bullshit Detector, which weeps, wails and gnashes its teeth. Eventually, it produces what you see below. And as usual:

Press corps comments and questions are italicized for her pleasure.
Scotty's bullshit is thick and bold, like in real life.
Translations are in plain text, which I'm sure signifies something suitably profound.

And now... The Scotty Show!



Daily Kos: THE SCOTTY SHOW!! Piping Hot 12.21 Press Briefing

The Dilbert Blog: Democracy at Work - Does it need torture ?

Scott Addams on his blog asks:

If you think there's no moral justification for torture, would you accept the nuclear destruction of NYC (for example) to avoid torturing one known terrorist?


Comments:

Posted by: Tim | December 23, 2005 at 01:54 AM
Your question contains the implicit assumption that you have someone available for torture who will (not MAY) be able to give you sufficient information in sufficient time to save NYC from destruction. It also assumes that the person you have will only give up the necessary information if you torture him. In the real world, neither of these two assumptions are EVER safe.
In the world of your hypothetical question, then, torture away, since the rules of the greatest good of the greatest number prevail. But since that world can never exist, I can continue to hold to my view that torture is never justifiable or effective (since its use necessarily taints the validity of the information gathered.)
Clear enough?

Posted by: leemcg | December 23, 2005 at 05:14 AM

Even if your answer to Scott's hypothetical situation is "yes, save NYC", the problem is always one of practicality. How do you know it will work? Is it even likely that torture of one person could stop such a major event ?
What if I suggest the following hypthetical question:
If we know that person X robbed bank Y, should we just lock them up without a trial?
If you can really deal with the hypothetical, the answer is probably yes, but in practice, what does it mean to "know" they did it? This is the fundamental reason why justice systems are set up the way they are.

You might feel that asking such hypothetical questions gets to the core of opinion, but frankly it's the realities and the practicalities that can be just as important.

Posted by: Richard | December 23, 2005 at 08:50 AM
Having been there, I can say that I have absolutely no problem putting a bullet in the brain of someone pointing a gun at me and trying to kill me in open combat. I guess for me though, my position changes once that person surrenders, voluntarily or not, and then becomes unarmed.
Heh… let me wander off here for a minute… Is the terrorist truly unarmed at that point. Could we say that knowledge is also a weapon and that the terrorist is still armed with knowledge that could continue to or potentially kill innocent lives? And as long as he is holding that weapon, he is still in combat. Do we have the right to continue to fight with whatever means we have at our disposal to disarm him of his weapons (knowledge)?
I think I’ll go off and chew on that for a while. My brain hurts.
You make me think, Scott, and that is a wonderful thing.
..
(later after a couple of hours "Richard returns and posts this fantastic piece -- law)
t's very easy to say that people who use torture as a methodology of interrogation are sadists or people with some sort of macho mental problems. It's not so easy to picture them as loving husbands and fathers who are trying their damndest to get information out of people who have sworn their lives to KILL ALL AMERICANS NO MATTER WHAT THE COST. You cannot see the toll it may take on them as they try desperately to keep another 9-11 from happening... not only for the sake of their wives and children, but for YOU as well.
I apologize for jumping on that, but it makes me ill to see stupid people judging those who are out there everyday risking their own lives to save the lives of those that are at the same time judging them so irreverently.
That said, having served in the armed forces, served during the gulf war, served in close combat and having been wounded by an enemy trying to kill me, let me tell you what I believe in.
I believe in the American ideal. I believe in everything that our forefathers, and many since them, fought and died for, and I would gladly lay down my life to defend those ideals and this American way of life, and any of you out there whether I agree with you or not. Part of those ideals that I would violently defend is the morality with which we live our daily lives. And although morality seems to be a lost cause these days, I still believe it is one of the truths on which this country was founded. And as such, departing from our own convictions for the sake of "preventing another attack" or any other reason is NOT what I was fighting for.
When this great America betrays its own moral compass for a few scraps of intelligence that may or may not prevent another attack, have we not lost what America stands for?
Honestly, even if we knew that a terrorist had a vital peice of information that would absolutely stop the nuclear attack of a major city, if we betray our own ideals on which this country was founded, have we not lost already?

I would never put the life of the terrorist above the lives of thousands of Americans, but I would put those lives against the loss of the true value of what America stands for. And I would gladly sacrifice my own life to save those ideals and preserve this democracy and the freedoms that is stands for.
An American Patriot [who served AND is against torture. My kind of patriot -- law]


Posted by: Buster | December 22, 2005 at 06:14 PM

Torture is horrible, but isn't war worse? We like to think one doesn't occur and that another happens for a "good cause"... People in government do unsavory things, to maintain our way of life. War is an easier sell than torture or covert assasinations or banana republics because government can easily put up lame reasons for war, wave the flag, and all the Wal-mart shopping, Billy Graham loving, Pick-up driving, Country music lovin' people get behind it. But which is less costly in terms of lives (ours and theirs), resources, image? You bet, the covert shit. The torture. Should we be appalled? We should, about the war....

Anyone who has taken U.S. History at a college level has had their eyes opened from the glare of our past. We have done horrible, bad things in the name of national interest.. All the banana republics in Central and South America...accident? Not at all. Our opinion of a country can turn on a dime as soon as they serve no purpose. We are tough S.O.B.s that violently protect our interests--often at arm's length through true scum of the earth. The mob has nothing on our tactics. But you know what? If it's not us, it'll be them. And you don't want that to happen. Because as bad as we can be, it is nothing like the bad that is truly out there.

The world is not a nice place. Most of the world does not have the same values, mores, philosophy, ... Shoot, we can't even agree on how to accept Christ amongst the many who believe! If we neuter our government, remove tools from their bag, we are damaging our longterm viability as a country... [Are we really ? see the comment below -- law]

Posted by: Ian Smith | December 21, 2005 at 03:52 PM

The problem here is that as a country you have sunk so low as to have to ask the question if torture is justified (the answer is no BTW). Stop looking at 'terrorists' and start looking at yourselves - you have become the problem.

And as for accepting a nuke in NY - you miss the point again. If you go round torturing people and trying to justify it, you simply setup the situation in which someone would want to nuke you. Karma is a bitch and one way (asymetric warfare) or another (foreign held debt) the US is going to be brought down by the actions and the attitudes it has fostered.

Yes, you used to be nice and friendly at home, but you have long been a right bunch of b*st*rds outside your borders. People have noticed.
And the word for the day is: Hubris



Posted by: bhauth | December 22, 2005 at 12:09 PM

Interrogation works (SOMETIMES works - it is very inconsistent) generally when you can either convince the person that they've made a mistake or that you'll know if they're lying and it's worth it for them to tell you what you want. It's also a matter of pulling out a big psychological bag of tricks and seeing if something works.
As for your extreme hypothetical, it is a red herring. Let's follow it through as things should happen under law -
1) Someone believed a terrorist is captured and in a prison. (As it is, most people taken as terrorists by the US are taken on very sketchy information, sometimes even just to meet a sort of "quota" to look good.)
2) Apparently credible information comes in that there will be, say, a nuke, set off in, say, Manhattan, in 24 hours. (Regarding your previous post, there is no such thing as a suitcase bomb. The smallest nuke ever built was the Davy Crockett. Learn some physics.)
3) Someone consults with the closest thing to a resident expert, and they decide that torturing the guy is worth it to try to find the bomb.
4) The guy is tortured. He either gives correct information, no information, or incorrect information.
5) 24 hours later, either you've found the bomb, the bomb explodes, or there was no such bomb. In the first case, the people are congratulated. In the second or third case, an investigation.. happens. If it concludes that it was not justified, the two guys are court-marshalled, with their punishments of course open to review if new information comes in. The investigation will know exactly what happened because everything will have been on camera and taped. Jesus. [in other words, the law provides everything you need to "save NYC from a nuke" there was no reason to go against it -- law]


Posted by: OldGuy (sw) | December 22, 2005 at 11:38 AM

If he´s a real bad ass, it might be ok. But the problem starts when you realise (probably a couple of days after you have started) that this maybe is the wrong guy. And if he is that, what excuse would work? -Oh, im sorry. Here is your fingers, shall I put them in a bag?.
If he didn´t hate you before, he will now. Look at the Palestinian/Israeli problem, and you will find a lot of that kind of feelings.


Posted by: yankeebob | December 22, 2005 at 11:32 AM

Torture the jerks since they started the mess. 'Ya mess with the bull, you get the horns', ya know?
The whole idea that we are supposed to be above everyone else is silly. Who says we are better than them? If we are, then how come we can't just keep them as pets?


Posted by: John in ROW | December 22, 2005 at 11:02 AM

I was saddened to read "You live in one of the most tolerant nations in the history of the human race and, believe it or not, there are people out there who hate us for that. They hate us because we don't kill each other over religion or race." I suppose this is a comfortable lie for some Americans to believe; it is untrue. Some people hate you because you imprison people who share their race and religion, indefinitely and without trial; you arrest, torture and execute them without laws, and because you strongly support one side in a land-occupation and racial oppression in another part of the world, where they share a race and religion with the other side. The fact that you also prop up unpopular, undemocratic and oppressive regimes in other countries where you find the governing body useful, does nothing to make them think that you are a tolerant or just society.


The Dilbert Blog: Democracy at Work

Daily Kos: On September 26, 1983, we almost died. But a human being stopped it

Will YOU do what's right when the time comes ? -- law

On September 26th, 1983, we almost died. Stanislav Petrov was an obscure commander at a Soviet missile site who had the authority to launch 5,000 nuclear missiles and kill us all. On that morning, alarms went off saying that the US had launched 5 missiles at the Soviet Union. Standard Soviet military doctrine required him to push the launch button and notify his superiors in Moscow immedately. However, his heroic decision not to launch saved our lives and the lives of the rest of the world.


On September 26, 1983, we almost died.
by Eternal Hope
Thu Dec 22, 2005 at 12:18:37 PM PDT

On September 26th, 1983, we almost died. Stanislav Petrov was an obscure commander at a Soviet missile site who had the authority to launch 5,000 nuclear missiles and kill us all. On that morning, alarms went off saying that the US had launched 5 missiles at the Soviet Union. Standard Soviet military doctrine required him to push the launch button and notify his superiors in Moscow immedately. However, his heroic decision not to launch saved our lives and the lives of the rest of the world.

The reason he did not launch 5,000 missiles in retaliation was because something did not seem right to him -- why would the US only launch 5 missiles at the Soviet Union instead of thousands? He could not be sure -- he had to trust his judgement. He judged correctly that the US would not be so stupid as to launch only five missiles at the Soviet Union, as they would survive to hit back. This judgement saved the world. For now.

* Eternal Hope's diary :: ::
*

We may have been saved by pure luck; he was not originally scheduled to be on duty that night:

Understanding that if he were wrong, nuclear missiles would soon be raining down on the Soviet Union, Petrov decided to trust his intuition and declare the system's indications a false alarm. After a short while, it was apparent that his instincts were right. There were no approaching missiles. The crisis put him under immense pressure and nervousness, yet Petrov's judgement had been sound. A full-scale nuclear war had been averted.

Stanislav Petrov was not originally scheduled to be on duty that night. Had he not been there, it is possible a different commanding officer could have made the opposite decision.

This was a time when I, as well as many others, lived in great fear. We did not know if the next day we would even be here, as we were pawns in a game far beyond our control. Even when I did not follow the news that closely, I could sense that a single mistake by either side could leave us all dead.

Petrov was a man of principle. He did not care above honors or advancement; he only cared about doing the right thing, even if it meant getting his career derailed:

Despite having prevented potential nuclear disaster, by refusing to acknowledge the computer system's warnings Lt. Col. Petrov had disobeyed his orders and defied military protocol. He later underwent intense questioning by his superiors about his actions during the nerve-racking ordeal, the result of which was that they no longer considered him a reliable military officer.

The Soviet military did not punish Petrov for his actions, but did not reward or honor him either. His actions had revealed imperfections in the Soviet military system which showed his superiors in a bad light. He was given a reprimand, officially for the improper filing of paperwork, and his once-promising military career came to an end. He was reassigned to a less sensitive post and ultimately retired from the military.

But now that the relevant documents have been declassified and his action in saving the world has come to light, people of all parties and all walks of life should pay tribute to him and what he did.

Fastforward to today. When we elect a President, we elect a person who must make decisions like this on a regular basis, even when everybody else thinks he is wrong. He must then get people of both parties to buy into what he is saying. The one person who has consistently shown this kind of ability to make the kind of decisions that Petrov did over 20 years ago is Senator Russ Feingold.

In the weeks after the 9/11 attacks, Bush was able to launch a massive assault on your right to read books, send e-mail, or hold opinions different than him. He capitalized on this fear by ramming through the Patriot Act. 99 Senators lined up to vote yes. Among them were people like Wellstone, Kennedy, Durbin, and Boxer -- all good people and all good Senators. Senator Feingold was the one person who saw that the President was really trying to exploit the 9/11 attacks by assuming broad Presidential powers.

Feingold recieved heavy pressure to make the Patriot Act unanimous. He was told that his political career was over, and that nobody would ever see him as credible again. Yet he has been proven to be right. Like Petrov, he did not have all the facts in front of him. Yet he did what he believed to be right even though it was not popular at the time.

Karl Rove was furious and made Feingold one of his top targets in 2004. He sunk millions behind a hand-picked self-made millionaire in Tim Michels. Yet Feingold won handily after barely winning in 1992 and 1998.

This was hardly the only time that Feingold has taken a lone stance on an issue and proven to be right:
Daily Kos: On September 26, 1983, we almost died.

Vietnam: Two cases where HN51 grew imune to tamiflu found

Aaack!!!!! -- law

Serious questions are raised today about the ability to combat an anticipated bird flu pandemic following the deaths of two people who were being treated with the drug the world is stockpiling as a safeguard against the virus.


Bird Flu Update

by DemFromCT

An interesting (not in a pleasant way) thing happened in Southeast Asia. While countries around the world have been stockpiling tamiflu, and the US Senate and House are wrangling over how much pandemic flu prep to fund, the H5N1 virus has been marching (well, flying, actually) around the world. Ukraine has it. And Malawi may have it - well, maybe. Tests from South Africa will be back next week.

But the report that has everyone's attention is the one from Vietnam.

Serious questions are raised today about the ability to combat an anticipated bird flu pandemic following the deaths of two people who were being treated with the drug the world is stockpiling as a safeguard against the virus.

To the dismay of medical experts and concern among those responsible for the worldwide efforts to fight a pandemic, the H5N1 bird flu virus in the bloodstream of the two patients in Vietnam rapidly developed resistance to the drug, Tamiflu. One, a 13 year-old girl, appeared to be stable at first and then rapidly worsened as the virus mutated, became more aggressive, and eventually killed her.

What's scary is the speed at which the virus seemed to develop tamiflu resistance during treatment. other cases may have been treated late, but this set was treated early and well.

An eminent professor at Cornell University in New York calls the report "frightening" in a commentary in the journal. Anne Moscona, from the department of paediatrics, microbiology and immunology at Weill medical college, says Tamiflu-resistant H5N1 "is now a reality", and calls for efforts to prevent individuals stockpiling the drug. Its misuse, she says - by people who, for instance, take too low a dose - will breed resistance and further undermine its effectiveness if a pandemic sweeps the world.

There's been a debate about personal stockpiling, different than governmental stockpiling, for some time. This page at Flu Wiki collects some of the official recommendations as well as opinion by others. The bulk of official opinion is 'don't stockpile'. While there are eloquent dissensions from that, the NEJM has this week presented a summary of that position in a free access article entitled The Run on Tamiflu — Should Physicians Prescribe on Demand?. Their answer is no, reinforced by the other NEJM reports refernced in the news article above.

Meanwhile, there's still no pandemic, just one nasty flu bug still surprising the medical community. While some things has changed, nothing has changed. There's still time to prepare, and still need to do so.

See Flu Wiki for more.

The Next Hurrah: Bird Flu Update

12/22/2005

Can a company do that? Workplace horrors compiled - Yahoo! News

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The time-honored office tradition of whining at the water cooler just might get you fired, according to a newly compiled list of workplace horrors around the world.

Two workers who exceeded the official limit of two moans per employee at one unnamed German firm were fired this year. Several colleagues quit before their moans could be counted.

Their employer's strict policy tops a list compiled by Challenger, Gray and Christmas. The Chicago-based outplacement firm gave nine notable examples from hundreds of cases.

Most involve petty rules.

Workers at a DaimlerChrysler plant in Kokomo, Indiana, should drive a Chrysler model or they may find their car in Indianapolis, 50 miles away. That's because a rule limits parking space for non-Chrysler cars. Violators will be towed.

"These are things that make you go hmmm," Challenger spokesman James Pedderson said.

Such stories pour in throughout the year and Challenger plans to make the list an annual tradition, he said. The point is to encourage managers and their staff to communicate better.

Some of the worst stories involve discrimination against a worker's religion, ethnicity, or, less seriously, squirrels. A librarian lost her job for devoting too much time to saving a squirrel stuck in a ceiling.

Can a company do that? Workplace horrors compiled - Yahoo! News

Double-Mouthed Fish Pulled From Neb. Lake - Yahoo! News

Pollution!! If I was the guy I wouldn't eat it! -- law

LINCOLN, Neb. - This fish didn't have a chance. A rainbow trout pulled out of Holmes Lake last weekend had double the chance to get hooked: It had two mouths.

Clarence Olberding, 57, wasn't just telling a fisherman's fib when he called over another angler to look at the two-mouthed trout. It weighed in at about a pound.

"I reached down and grabbed it to take the hook out, and that's when I noticed that the hook was in the upper mouth and there was another jaw protruding out below," said Olberding.

He said in his 40 years of fishing, he's never seen anything like it.

Don Gabelhouse, head of the fisheries division of the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, said a two-mouthed fish was new to him, too.

"It's probably a genetic deformity," he said. "I don't think there's anything wrong with it." The second mouth didn't appear to be functional, Olberding said.

Double-Mouthed Fish Pulled From Neb. Lake - Yahoo! News

12/21/2005

Connotea - a free online reference management service for scientists

Cool tool !!! -- law

Organize your references. Share them with others. Discover new leads.

This is Connotea, a free online reference management service for scientists created by Nature Publishing Group. Login or register to get started.

Connotea helps you store your reference list online, which means that it's readily accessible, it's linked directly into the literature and it's easily shared with your colleagues. Opening your references to other researchers enables you to discover new leads by connecting to the collections of those with similar interests to you

And even better: They have a bookmark for one of my posts -- law

Connotea - a free online reference management service for scientists

Very Small Doses: How I became an AgNEWStic

Funny, sad and accurate. Not bad for a conservative -- law

Politics is a dirty, ugly business no matter what side of the political divide you claim as your home territory. As I've mentioned before, the way that mass media operates is causing me to become an AgNEWStic (that is, skeptical of all major media news sources) because it seems that we're moving toward a political model where there are "Republican Facts" and "Liberal Facts," and that precludes reasonable discussion...



The Cindy Sheehan Media Timeline: Very Small Doses

The Cindy Sheehan Media Timeline: Very Small Doses

Nice start but he missed the vandalism of the soldier' crosses, the shots fired at Camp Casey, Bush's excuse that he needed rest to make crisp decisions (like the ones he showed in handling Katrina ?)... -- law

The Cindy Sheehan Media Timeline

April 4th, 2004: Cindy Sheehan's son, Casey (24), is tragically killed in the Sadr City section of Baghdad. (Source: The Boston Globe - through Blog Party, For all Americans)

June 17th, 2004: Cindy Sheehan meets with President Bush. (via CNN interview with Wolf Blitzer through What I'd liked to have said)

June 24th, 2004: THE REPORTER of Vacaville, CA publishes an account of Cindy Sheehan's visit with the president at Fort Lewis near Seattle.

August, 2004: Bruce Mulkey interviews Cindy Sheehan for a column that ran in the Asheville Citizen-Times. (from brucemulkey.com)

November 4th, 2004: Cindy Sheehan writes an Open Letter to George Bush which is subsequently posted on Angelfire

December 25th, 2004: Cindy writes a letter to the editors of Time Magazine titled "Rewarding Incompetence," in which she complains about their choice for Man of the Year. (via Democracy for Missouri)

February 2nd, 2005: Cindy Sheehan circulates around a mail letter explaining her plight (Source: A US-American mother about IRAQ - and on A Family in Baghdad)

February 4th, 2005: Cindy Sheehan posts an article to AlterNet titled It Wasn't Worth It. (via jOhnnYtRanSaYs)

February 22nd, 2005: Cindy Sheehan is mentioned in the Washington Post page A03 (via duckdaotsu)

March 22nd, 2005 Truthout.org features an article by Cindy titled "The Amazing Hypocrites" (via iamcoreyhawkey)

July 5th, 2005: LewisNews posts an interview with Cindy where she discusses her meeting with President Bush (via blogblogblog)

June 9th, 2005: Cindy Sheehan appears on MSNBC..clearly indicting Bush .. she cited inadequate armor on Humvees. She asked, if we are fighting a war on terror, why are we in Iraq killing innocent people?" (via Portland Independent Media News Center)

June 19th, 2005: Cindy Sheehan comments (via video clip) on the "Downing Street Minutes" on ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos..

August 5th, 2005: Ms. Sheehan responds to comments made by President Bush, saying "In reaction to these two asinine (sic) and hurtful statements, members of Gold Star Families for Peace (GSFP) are going to George's vacation home in Crawford, Tx this Saturday, August 6th at 11:00 am to confront [George Bush]"

August 6th, 2005: Cindy Sheehan arrives in Crawford to speak with the President.

August 8th, 2005: Drudge makes a report about Cindy Sheehan "PROTESTING SOLDIER MOM CHANGED STORY ON BUSH"... These stories serve as a flashpoint for competing posts across the Blogosphere about the nature of Cindy's motives. (examples: The Recovering Democrat, HungryBlues)

Update: August 11th, 2005: Drudge posts a letter from the family of Cindy Sheehan (comments on Captain's Quarters)

The Cindy Sheehan Media Timeline: Very Small Doses

Marquette Warrior: Apparently Bogus: Homeland Security Visited Student Who Ordered Mao’s “Little Red Book”

Hmm... At least 2 blogs, this one and one I usually trust - Derek Rose Blog - saying the story has holes... Maybe it is really bogus -- law

If this is true, we are less chilled by it than appalled at the stupidity.

But there are substantial doubts that it is true.

In the first place, the reporter who wrote the story did not talk to the student in question. He claims to know the student’s name, but admits of the student “He has not spoken to The Standard-Times.”

In the second place, it turns out that the library at the University of Massachusetts -- Dartmouth doesn’t ask for social security numbers on its Interlibrary Loan Forms. Further, the library insists that it would not routinely allow federal agents to gather this sort of information. It’s true that Federal agents can force libraries to reveal such information, but libraries (and least not the ones in the University of Massachusetts system) don’t volunteer lists of book requests to be checked against some “watch list.”

Which brings us to another problem. According to Jamie Zuieback, a spokesperson for United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (the largest investigative agency in the Office of Homeland Security) there is no such thing as a book “watch list".

[as if Bush employees at HS had any credibility!

I am still thinking this is bogus because of having MA schools giving away book info and SS numbers sounds really off, but her assurances are as good as the Pentagon general who lied today about not wiretapping local calls, only to confess to doing it "by accident" less than 24 hours later -- law


Marquette Warrior: Apparently Bogus: Homeland Security Visited Student Who Ordered Mao’s “Little Red Book”

The Dilbert Blog: Lawyer with a Porpoise

Lawyer with a Porpoise

Several people sent comments to my blog yesterday saying they noticed that my comic on 9-6-05 that featured a porpoise killing a lawyer was published in two different versions. The tame version ran in newspapers and the edgier one ran on my website. What’s up with that, they wonder.

Sometimes I create two versions if I know that newspapers will have a problem with the edgy one. It’s not censorship per se, just a case of keeping the customers happy. I don’t feel artistically stifled because showing the edgy one to 1.5 million people on the web satisfies whatever tiny molecules of artistic integrity I possess.

Apparently there’s an unwritten rule about showing a porpoise with his head in a lawyer’s ***

I still got complaints about the tame version, but only from people who said my drawing of a porpoise looks more like a dolphin. That offended some people.
The Dilbert Blog: Lawyer with a Porpoise

Hiding information that could have prevented 9/11 a capital offense ?

More from 9/11 widow Kristen Breitweiser - great catch!!! -- law
Zacarias Moussaoui-- is being tried for the death penalty because he lied to the FBI in August 2001.. the argument goes, had Moussaoui not lied to the FBI, the FBI would have been able to thwart the 9/11 attacks... we are putting him to death for his intentional withholding of information that would have prevented the attacks.

If this is to be the threshold to put an individual to death--the intentional withholding of information that could have prevented the 9/11 attacks--there are arguably many individuals (quite alarmingly some of whom are in our own government) who could meet that requirement and potentially be tried for death . Will the Moussaoui penalty phase hearing set such a precedent?

Given, it will be argued that Moussaoui had the mens rea--in other words, the state of mind to commit the act in that he knew that such withholding of information might necessarily cause the death of people. But, let me ask a question. If a former DCI made a decision to intentionally withhold information from the FBI--information about two known al Qaeda killers who had already participated in the USS Cole bombing that killed 17 sailors and were currently inside the United States planning terrorist acts, namely the 9/11 attacks--does that not meet the mens rea requirement? How could someone like a former DCI deny that his withholding of such information from the FBI about these two terrorists for 18 months would not likely contribute to at least one death? Such a DCI would have known by January 01 that 17 sailors had died compliments of these two killers--al Mihdhar and al Hazmi. Should such a DCI be tried for the death penalty, too?

Read more at www.commondreams.org/vi...

9/11 widow debunks King George's Red Herring

The King's Red Herring - by Kristen Breitweiser

Recently, President Bush has admitted to carrying out surveillance on U.S. citizens in the interest of national security. He unabashedly admits to doing it. He offers no apologies. With his bellicose swagger, he once again uses 9/11 as his justification for breaking our constitutional laws. The President's justification of 9/11 to carry out such surveillance begs a closer examination... His justification for doing so -- the inability to conduct surveillance on the 9/11 hijackers -- is a red herring. History will bear out the truth -- our intelligence agencies held a treasure trove of intelligence on the 9/11 hijackers, intelligence that was gathered through their initially unencumbered surveillance. President Bush should busy himself by investigating why that information was then stymied and not capitalized upon to stop the 9/11 attacks.

MOUSSAOUI, FISA, and FBI SURVEILLANCE -- MISUNDERSTANDING #1:

When it comes to the FBI and Zaccarias Moussaoui, one must understand that the FBI met all evidentiary standards to both apply for and be granted a FISA warrant. The information the FBI had to support their FISA request was two files on Moussaoui that were given to the FBI by the French and British intelligence services. Inexplicably, FBI lawyers and supervisors at FBI HQ 'misunderstood' the evidentiary standards needed to apply for and receive a FISA warrant, and they refused the FISA request from the FBI agents in Minneapolis. Thus, the Moussaoui search warrant paperwork was never submitted to the FISA court. One need only read Colleen Rowley's memorandum to confirm these facts.

Had FBI HQ not denied the FISA request, the FISA court would have issued the search warrant to search Moussaoui's belongings. Whether gaining access to Moussaoui's belongings would have stopped the 9/11 attacks remains unknown at this time. Hopefully, Moussaoui's upcoming penalty phase hearing will reveal more information as to what the FBI/CIA/DOD/NSA already knew about Moussaoui during the summer of 2001 and whether getting the FISA warrant to search Moussaoui belongings would have even made a difference.

None of the FBI lawyers and/or supervisors responsible for this glaring error and 'misjudgment' has been held accountable.

AL MIHDHAR/AL HAZMI & THE STATE DEPARTMENT-- MISUNDERSTANDING #2:

When it comes to al Mihdhar and al Hazmi, the story is relatively the same -- more 'misunderstandings' that blocked surveillance and prevention of the 9/11 attacks. The official story is that the 'Reno Wall' blocked the FBI from receiving vital information regarding al Mihdhar and al Hazmi. Allegedly, that vital information was contained in FBI files that pertained to the USS Cole bombing investigation. Both al Mihdhar and al Hazmi were connected to the Cole bombing and as such were investigated as part of the FBI's Cole investigation.

If, in the summer of 2001, the FBI had been able to access their own criminal case files on the Cole investigation, they might have been able to stop al Mihdhar and al Hazmi before they carried out the 9/11 attacks. Because of the 'misunderstanding' about sharing information between FBI intelligence and FBI criminal investigations (the Reno wall), vital information that would have helped the FBI locate al Mihdhar and al Hazmi was not shared within the FBI. As a result, Al Mihdhar and al Hazmi were not found by the FBI in time to prevent the 9/11 attacks. So goes the story, if only the 'misunderstandings' about the Reno wall had not existed, the two 9/11 hijackers would have been stopped. This is patently false, because, the Reno wall did not prevent the FBI from capturing at least one of the 9/11 hijackers--Khalid al Mihdhar."

ABLE DANGER -- MISUNDERSTANDING #3

When it comes to Able Danger and surveillance, one must look at the alleged history of Able Danger and know the facts. Able Danger was allegedly a special operation that included according to Congressman Curt Weldon both analysis ("data mining") and action ("taking out cells"). The Able Danger team was allegedly tasked and created during the Clinton Administration -- many months before the USS Cole bombing. Notably, at least two of the men who were allegedly identified as targets in the Able Danger operation were linked to the Cole Bombing and the 9/11 attacks -- Khalid al Mihdhar and Nawaf al Hazmi.

Immediately after the Cole bombing, one would assume that because of alleged existence of Able Danger and quite possibly CIA surveillance, our government would have definitely known who was responsible for the Cole attack -- mostly because it is possible that Able Danger and the CIA were carrying out parallel surveillance on the terrorists who were involved in the Cole attack both before and after the Cole bombing.

It also quite possibly follows that after the Cole bombing our government had not only the "actionable intelligence" (compliments of the alleged Able Danger and possible CIA surveillance of al Qaeda) but also the moral justification (17 sailors dead) to "take out the cells." This should have been carried out by the Able Danger operatives. Inexplicably, it was not done because Able Danger was allegedly shut down in May of 2001. Of the cells to be allegedly taken out -- four members of the Brooklyn Cell went on to carry out the 9/11 attacks -- Atta, Shehi, al Mihdhar, and al Hazmi. Who dismantled this aggressive project to combat terrorism and why?

The story is that Able Danger was allegedly dismantled in May 01 because it violated posse comitatus. With regard to Able Danger and its surveillance of terrorists within the borders of the United States, the alleged Able Danger cells were not U.S. citizens. Therefore, posse comitatus did not apply. Once again, lawyers "misunderstood" the law. They thought terrorists in the United States participating in terrorist acts were entitled to the same rights as U.S. citizens. Quite a "misunderstanding." The result of their misunderstanding? Four of the 9/11 hijackers -- members of the Brooklyn Cell -- were not "taken out" and a mere four months later able to carry out the 9/11 attacks.

THE KING'S APPROACH

President Bush is using the intelligence community's pre-9/11 "inability" to carry out surveillance on the hijackers as his reasoning for currently conducting surveillance on U.S. citizens. First of all none of the 9/11 terrorists were U.S. citizens. Moreover, no law past or present barred the intelligence community from stopping the 9/11 terrorists. Ultimately, what stopped the intelligence community from capturing or killing the 9/11 hijackers prior to the 9/11 attacks were the lawyers and supervisors who repeatedly "misunderstood" the very laws they were supposed to be the experts on.

One would have hoped that President Bush would have responded to these deadly "misunderstandings" and chain of events by firing the attorneys and supervisors for their incompetence and thereafter hiring new attorneys and supervisors who were smart enough to not misunderstand our nation's laws. Our President didn't do that. Apparently, he doesn't grasp the significance of accountability. Rather, he took the simpleton's approach. He just threw out/ignored/re-wrote all the laws (think Patriot Act and his current attempt to ignore the law with regard to surveillance on U.S. citizens because we are a nation at war). Because, as far as our President is concerned with no more confusing laws, there can be no more "misunderstandings" by incompetent supervisors and lawyers and, therefore, no more 9/11's. Problem solved. Right?

Not so fast. What if these were not "misunderstandings?" What if these were purposeful decisions made with faulty judgment? At a bare minimum, the State Department entry on September 5th regarding al Mihdhar discounts, discredits and debunks the Reno Wall misunderstanding and discounts, discredits, and debunks the 9/11 Commission's story of why al Mihdhar was not found by the FBI in time to thwart the 9/11 attacks. How many other "misunderstandings" might be disproved during the upcoming Able Danger hearings? How many more "misunderstandings" might be disproved during the Moussaoui penalty phase hearing? What if they are all disproved?

Respectfully, President Bush, before you fecklessly dissolve our constitutional rights in the name of national security and invoke the failures of 9/11, the following questions should be answered:

1. Who ordered the alleged Able Danger special operation to be shut down in May 01? What were the reasons? The individuals involved in the operation have testified that it was not shut down for reasons of posse comitatus. What reasoning was responsible for shutting down a successful surveillance operation on terrorist cells planning terrorist activities within the United States a mere 5 months before 9/11?

2. Was any information gleaned in the alleged Able Danger operation used as the basis for the August 6, 2001 Presidential Daily Briefing that mentioned "patterns of suspicious activities" by sleeper cells within the United States that indicated possible hijackings?

3. Why did the State Department order its agents to "not detain" al Mihdhar on September 5, 2001? Who is responsible for issuing that order?

4. Regarding the State Department entry on September 5, 2001, what FBI investigation was al Mihdhar thought to be a witness in?

5. At what time did the U.S. government have in its possession actionable intelligence regarding the identity of the terrorists who carried out the USS Cole bombing? Was that information gleaned from any alleged Able Danger analysts? When was it shared with the CIA? Was that the information used to justify the alleged "taking out of the cells" in the Able Danger operation between January 01 and May 01? If so, why did certain governmental officials in both the Clinton and Bush Administrations lie to the 9/11 Commission in stating that they did not have in their possession conclusive evidence linking al Qaeda to the bombing of the USS Cole until after the 9/11 attacks?

6. What is the interpretation of "taking out of cells"? Is it merely apprehension and detention or more severely elimination of the cells?

7. What countries were linked to the targets identified in the alleged Able Danger program? Was Iraq one of those countries?

8. Why was the Able Danger chart allegedly destroyed immediately after 9/11 (and prior to your decision to attack Iraq)? Who is responsible for the alleged destruction of this chart and other vital documents relating to this successful, cutting edge program? Who were the Congressional officials and Executive Branch officials present in this meeting? Are any of the targets allegedly contained on the Able Danger chart still within this country and planning or participating in terrorist acts?

9. In March 2001, an internal debate ignited at the Justice Department and the FBI over wiretap surveillance of certain terrorist groups. Prompted by questions from Royce C. Lamberth, the Chief Judge of the FISA court, the Justice Department opened an inquiry into Michael Resnick, an FBI official who coordinated the FISA acts applications. Attorney General John Ashcroft and Robert Mueller (then deputy Attorney General) ordered a full review of all foreign surveillance authorizations.

Justice Department and FBI officials have since acknowledged the existence of this internal investigation, and said that the inquiry forced officials to examine their monitoring of several suspected terrorist groups--including al Qaeda. And while senior FBI and Justice Department officials contend that the internal investigation did not affect their ability to monitor al Qaeda, other officials have acknowledged that the inquiry might have hampered electronic surveillance of terror groups pre-9/11.

Where is the final report of this inquiry? And, what effect did this investigation have on our nation's ability to carry out surveillance on al Qaeda prior [to 9/11] ?

The King's Red Herring: "