Category Archives: Pakistan

NSA: “EVERYONE !!”

Seems the NSA can, without a warrant, snoop on anyone within three degrees of someone that they may have some suspicion about.

…the rather startling news that came out of yesterday’s House Judiciary Committee on the NSA spying programs: NSA Director John Inglis revealed that the FISA Court permits the government to do three jumps from an initial number tied to a phone number reasonably believed to be tied to terrorism (or relevant to Iran, though that search criteria didn’t get mentioned at all in the parts of the hearing I watched).

Three degrees of separation!

Remember, some years ago, every single person in the US could be connected via six degrees — the old Kevin Bacon game. There’s some evidence that that number has become smaller — perhaps as small as 3 (I’ve seen more scientific numbers that say it is 4.5 or thereabouts).

In any case, if the US is using the excuse of terror to get three jumps deep into US person associations, then this program is even more intrusive then they’ve let on.

I imagine that would include everyone in our government, the Israeli government, the Palestinian authority, every head of state, every law enforcement officer, everyone who has ever been abroad, everyone who has ever interviewed a foreign person, everyone who knows anyone who knows anyone in:

Greenpeace,

the Quakers,

any demonstration of any kind,

anyone who has written a letter to an editor,

any person of color,

anyone who signed a petition, and

so on.

It’s basically EVERYONE. and what will they do with it? Wait til Karl Rove or one of the Cheneys gets back in power and you’ll see in short order. Or just some NSA guy who’s curious about who his ex girlfriend in dating. Or some NSA girl with a grudge against oh, well, ANYONE!

We have a constitution; that used to mean something.

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

When basically the entire population is legally suspect, doesn’t that mean we’re doing something wrong?

 

video: Gary Oldman, in “The Professional.”

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If you didn’t see 60 Minutes

You need to read about the abduction, confinement and torture of a German citizen by the US. Basically, the US paid bounties, thousands of dollars, for any “suspicious” looking person. I guess this  Nordic looking guy looked suspicious to Pakistanis. Froomkin has the story.

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Juan Cole on Steven King and Barack Obama

One of Cole’s best ever.

Congressman Steven King of Iowa, who has decided to further disgrace Congress by seeking a fifth term there, delivered himself of the sort of bigotted and ignorant comments about Barack Obama that we have come to expect from the rightwing Republicans who have made such a mess of our economy and of the world…..

Judge for yourself on what grounds Vural Cengiz, head of the Turkish-American Businessmen’s Union thinks Obama would be “good for Turkey” (a NATO ally of the United States and part of King’s ‘world of Islam.’):

“Barack Obama can be the leader that the world is looking for. He can put a new list of criteria to judge what is good and bad for American people. He can stop the hate wars between Muslims and Christians by promoting peace and helping the communities in need. He can be the one to stop dropping the bombs and start sending the doctors, food and clothing as well as capital to create more jobs, to build more hospitals and schools all over the world. . .

Turks do not have high hopes about the future as long as American politics in Iraq continue as usual. Help in the war against the terrorist PKK (the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party) from United States in the last two months gave some hope to many Turks about the United States. However, Turks will not feel friendly to the US as long as they don’t feel that America’s Iraq politics is completely changed. And it looks like only Obama can change it. . .

Barack Obama is an African-American. He knows suffering, hunger and danger much better than Senator Clinton. He is not a rich man. He understands the issues of poor and middle-class families. He also understands poor and middle-class nations. Turkey stands right there. He is good for Turks, as well as the rest of the world…”

So from Cengiz’s point of view, it is Bush who is promoting terrorism (because his Iraqi-Kurdish allies coddle the Kurdish Workers Party terrorist group, which has been sneaking over to Turkey from Iraq and killing Turks), and it is Obama who might stop the bombings.

King again:

‘ He continued: “There are implications that have to do with who he is and the position that he’s taken. If he were strong on national defense and said ‘I’m going to go over there and we’re going to fight and we’re going to win, we’ll come home with a victory,’ that’s different. But that’s not what he said. They will be dancing in the streets if he’s elected president. That has a chilling aspect on how difficult it will be to ever win this Global War on Terror.” ‘

Oh, it seems pretty obvious that the “global war on terror” could be much more easily won if we stop being mired in a quagmire in Iraq, stop operating a machine for producing terrorists, stop spending trillions on Bush’s buddies in the military-industrial complex, and instead do some good police work in finishing off al-Qaeda.

You see, when King gets away from name-calling, racism, and guilt by association and actually tries to make a substantive point, the bankruptcy of his arguments becomes amply apparent.

People like King have run this country since 1994. I say they are dinosaurs. I say that November 2008 will be to them as the Chicxulub meteor was to the original dinosaurs. I say that the dark age of bigotry and fear-mongering and tyranny will pass.

link 

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Bush to negotiate with the Taliban

The war against Bin Laden and his allies has been lost.  Because of the criminal assault on Iraq.

Brandon Friedman at dKos summarizes.

On Thursday, Flight Suit’s top guy in Afghanistan, Ambassador William Wood, delivered the message of surrender to America:

The United States supports reconciliation talks with Taliban fighters who have no ties to al-Qaida and accept Afghanistan’s constitution, the U.S. ambassador said Thursday.

William Wood said the U.S. is in favor of a “serious reconciliation program with those elements of the Taliban who are prepared to accept the constitution and the authority of the elected government” of President Hamid Karzai.

Let me be clear about one thing: ALL elements of the Taliban sympathize with and support al Qaeda. That’s their whole purpose. They are both Sunni extremist groups that share the same goal of enforcing medieval Islamic law on whomever they can.

So if I hear another word about how Republicans are “strong on security,” I’m going to ralph on my keyboard. To illustrate what I’m talking about, let’s take a trip in the ol’ wayback machine to September 15, 2001. That’s when the tough-talking, cheerleader-in-chief set the stage for future irony by telling us all:

We will find those who did it; we will smoke them out of their holes; we will get them running and we’ll bring them to justice. We will not only deal with those who dare attack America, we will deal with those who harbor them and feed them and house them.

Make no mistake about it: underneath our tears is the strong determination of America to win this war. And we will win it.

I guess when he said that, his definition of “deal” meant to engage in half-hearted, indecisive military operations for six years, followed by a “serious reconciliation program.”

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Bob Herbert: Cost of war, for our kids

 Bob Herbert, of the NYTimes:

Most of the time we pretend it’s not there: The staggering financial cost of the war in Iraq, which continues to soar, unchecked, like a rocket headed toward the moon and beyond.

 Early last year, the Nobel-Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz estimated that the “true” cost of the war would ultimately exceed $1 trillion, and maybe even $2 trillion.

   Incredibly, that estimate may have been low.

    A report prepared for the Democratic majority on the Joint Economic Committee of the House and Senate warns that without a significant change of course in Iraq, the long-term cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan could head into the vicinity of $3.5 trillion. The vast majority of those expenses would be for Iraq.

    Priorities don’t get much more twisted. A country that can’t find the money to provide health coverage for its children, or to rebuild the city of New Orleans, or to create a first-class public school system, is flushing whole generations worth of cash into the bottomless pit of a failed and endless war.

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Googling Google: the kingmakers

NY Times:

 This election cycle, Google headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., has become a favorite destination.

Hillary Rodham Clinton made the pilgrimage in February. Then came John McCain, Bill Richardson, John Edwards, Ron Paul, Mike Gravel and most recently, Barack Obama.

In terms of theatrical symbolism, the trip to Google is similar to the G.M. plant visit. In both cases, the visits gave the candidate the chance for a photo opportunity at the most technologically advanced edge of the economy, “signaling identification with the future,” said Kathleen Hall Jamieson, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School for Communication.

Republicans don’t seem to like the venue; I wonder why:

The politicians visiting auto plants could control what was said during the event. Today, candidates must place themselves at the tender mercies of the audience. Those who go to Google sit exposed on the stage, without the protective lectern provided in a debate, answering questions for 45 to 60 minutes. But without the escape hatch of a timekeeper’s buzzer, and as the only speaker, the candidate cannot evade uncomfortable questions. Eric E. Schmidt, Google’s chairman and chief executive, for example, asked Senator Obama for his views on Iran, Pakistan, and Guantánamo — and that was a single question.

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Bush making late charge for a Smokey award

Evidently Bush can’t do anything about Musharaff, so now he’s going to start portraying him as the George Washington of Pakistan. Watch the Wall Street Journal, Fox News and the Beltway Pundits take up the chant.  The damage done to America and the world over the last 6 years is exceeded by the damage to the truth.

President Bush yesterday offered his strongest support of embattled Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, saying the general “hasn’t crossed the line” and “truly is somebody who believes in democracy.”

Bush spoke nearly three weeks after Musharraf declared emergency rule, sacked members of the Supreme Court and began a roundup of journalists, lawyers and human rights activists. Musharraf’s government yesterday released about 3,000 political prisoners, although 2,000 remain in custody, according to the Interior Ministry.

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