Friday, September 30, 2005
Channelling Scott McClellan
This. Is. Bullshit.
Judy has been released from her confidentiality agreement by her source and she is refusing to even name him publicly? Even though his own lawyer has given interviews in the press. Jesus H. Christ.
Q. Can you describe your role in this case since you didn't file a story but did go to jail? How would you characterize your role in this whole investigation?
MILLER. I was a journalist doing my job, protecting my source until my source freed me to perform my civic duty to testify.
Q. Scooter Libby's lawyer - and your source's lawyer - I suspect you're not going to tell us if that's correct.
MILLER. I am not going to tell you if that's correct.
Q. Your source's lawyer has said that had you asked, you wouldn't have had to spend any time in jail; he would have been more than willing to give you the explicit waiver you say you now accepted.
MILLER. No. Since I was not a party to those discussions, I'm going to let you refer those questions to my lawyer. I can only tell you that as soon as I received a personal assurance from the source that I was able to talk to him and talk to the source about my testimony, it was only then and as a result of the special prosecutor's agreement to narrow the focus of the inquiry to focus on the way - on that source, that I was able to testify. I testified as soon as I could. And I will ask you to please address the questions to which I was not a party to my lawyers.
Q. But Judy, a conversation you were party to: On the steps of this courthouse, when you and Matt faced contempt of court charges, you said out here, when Matt was asked the same question, your answer was different. You said no waiver would be acceptable.
MILLER. No. I said I had not received a personal, explicit, voluntary waiver from my source - what I considered that. That was my position and I said it many times. I said it before I went to jail. I said it when I was in jail.
Q. What about the perception that you spent 85 days dancing on the head of a pin?
MILLER. I will let people draw their own conclusions. I know what my conscience would allow and I was - I stood fast to that.
Q. Beyond the narrowest of principles involved, what is this really all about? Why was your testimony so important in Mr. Fitzgerald's . . .
MILLER. You'll have to ask Mr. Fitzgerald why it's important.
So this alleged reporter got a waiver handed to her on a silver platter and now refuses to tell the public what she knows? WTF???
Apparently, Judy is no longer a journalist but an official member of the Bush administration. She is using the patented McClellan non-answer "you'll have to ask Mr Fitzgerald" and "I can't speak to conversation to which I wasn't a party."
The only thing that allows Judy to pull this shit is if she's a target herself and there is no evidence of that. Otherwise, she is abdicating her responsibility as a reporter. If Libby released her to talk to the Grand Jury she has no obligation to keep it from the public, whom she allegedly serves. Matt Cooper discussed it and wrote about it. Pincus discussed it. Only Russert hasn't talked, but then nobody has had the balls to ask him about either. Novak has had to be restrained from spilling his lying guts. But Judy just can't seem to say or write a word about this.
Damn. If she had been this reticent about printing every piece of bogus bullshit that Ahmad Chalabi and the Bush administration poured into her willing little gullet, a hell of a lot of people would still be alive today.
This woman is not a journalist. She is a political operative.
digby 9/30/2005 04:17:00 PM
Greatest Show On Earth
David Corn offers up the "rebuke" scenario and also speculates that the White House might be flogging that poor old dead pony, "the CIA did it." (You really have to wonder what they are giving Tenet if this turns out to be true. It would have to be on the order of a small monarchy somewhere or a trip around the world with Paris Hilton.)
I haven't any idea if what he says is true, but this caught my eye:
When Fitzgerald first pursued Miller and Cooper, it was easy to dismiss him as an overzealous prosecutor interested more in a vendetta than in making a case. But as the Cooper portion of this episode demonstrated, Fitzgerald was after information crucial to his investigation. From Cooper he obtained material that showed Rove had discussed the CIA identity of Wilson's wife with a reporter. Though Fitzgerald and Miller have clashed on non-Plame business previously, perhaps he has been seeking information just as critical from her.
For anyone following the matter, it's impossible not to guess about what's going on and what Fitzgerald will do. His grand jury expires at the end of October. He could impanel a new one and keep investigating. But all indications suggest he's close to done. One person who recently had contact with Fitzgerald and his attorneys says that they seem confident about whatever it is they are pursuing. The Miller matter was something of a sideshow that at times drew more attention than the central issue.
Tantalizing, isn't it? If the Punchin' Judy play is the sideshow, the main attraction must be a doozy.
digby 9/30/2005 01:48:00 PM
I hesitate to get into this because people are sick of my preaching, but the hell with it. The fact is that Bill Bennett's racist statement is actually just one of many that are apparently happening all over right wing radio in the wake of Katrina:
Here's another example:
As if Hurricane Katrina victims didn't have enough going against them, now they're the latest targets of hate radio. Just listen to WFTL-AM (850), the 50,000-watt home of the Florida Marlins. It's also the home of some of the most radical right-wing voices in America.
One regular syndicated host, Atlanta-based Neil Boortz, contended after the disaster struck that a "huge percentage" of the evacuees from New Orleans were "parasites, like ticks on a dog." Then he warned, "They are coming to a community near you."
When a caller remarked that most of the evacuees were fat, Boortz readily agreed. "They didn't drown because you couldn't push them underwater if you had to," he chortled.
Then there's Kelley Mitchell, who spent a week broadcasting at the Houston Astrodome among flood victims. Mitchell, a big-boned blond who spent years on South Florida television news stations, didn't seem too concerned about the harrowing stories from the people in the stadium. Instead she was virtually obsessed with the reports of looting and railed for days against the alleged behavior of poor New Orleans blacks during the disaster. She took to calling the state "Lose-iana" and announced she was boycotting any monetary donations to the victims.
"If I heard, 'I'm looking for my mom, my dad, and my baby daddy again,' I would cringe," she said, referring to the victims who had lost relatives. "Everybody knows it's important to speak English but these knuckleheads."
Another Mitchell gem: "When I see bad behavior ... that's when it became about race. Whoever got over deep-seated prejudices is now wondering if it was right to do so."
"We need to let black America know we do want you, but we want you on the terms of the United States of America," she explained in a voice that sometimes sounds eerily similar to that of similarly built actress Kathy Bates. "And we want you to be full and complete human beings."
Isn't that special? "We" do want you. Apparently, black Americans, many of whom had ancestors wwho ere here a century or two before many right wing racist assholes' are now provisional Americans who have to adhere to certain "terms of the United States of America." I guess she wants to send them "back" to Africa if they fail to comply.
And, by the way, Bennett's crime is that he essentially said "blacks are born criminals." Certainly, you can say that aborting any number of discrete demographic groups could have an effect on the crime rate, but attributing it to race suggests something immutable. Males commit more crimes than females at least partly because of biological characteristics. Poor people of all races commit more crimes (at least a certain kind of crimes) because of their economic circumstances and cultural influences. Statistically, Blacks may commit more crimes than whites because of both of the above reasons, but there is nothing in the color of their skin or their DNA that makes them more likely to commit crimes than anyone else.
digby 9/30/2005 12:41:00 PM
Ok kidz. Judy's lawyer Bob Bennett just told Wolf Blitzer that Judy's agreement with Fitzgerald was limited to "the Valerie Plame matter" not just Libby. Wolf pressed.
Fitzgerald Bennett reiterated that it was "the Valerie Plame matter."
Judy was worried that Fitzgerald was going to pursue her bogus WMD claims.
Bolton and Cheney and Rove all the rest aren't off the hook on Plame. Do you suppose that includes Niger?
digby 9/30/2005 12:24:00 PM
My blogger friend Joe Vecchio lost his wife to illness this week. She was quite young. Any of you who have enjoyed Joe's "the voice of the working man" blog over the years, (and those who've not had a chance) can go over and pay your respects --- and donate little bit if you can. He's been out of work while his wife was very ill and the family could use some help.
RIP Catherine Susan Vecchio.
digby 9/30/2005 12:22:00 PM
He's Gonna Hold His Breath Til He Turns Blue
Via Liberal Oasis, here's the latest from rightwing land on the new supreme nomination:
“Shell shocked,” “confused,” “stumbling,” “full of doubt.” These are all words I have heard used to describe the current White House effort to find Sandra Day O’Connor’s replacement. Batchelder, Williams, and Owen have all been interviewed, but the process continues to sputter along.
Several have told me not to buy into the Miers trial balloon. It is, I’m told, just that — a trial balloon. Another tells me, “The President wants Gonzales. That’s what is dragging this thing out. They’re sending out people to say he is conservative as if by telling us that enough we will say, ’sure, he really is one of us.’ That is not going to happen.”
The process is still moving. Those I have talked to in the past twenty-four hours tell me we should expect a minority or woman. The odds are that it will be a woman. Sykes’s name has gotten little play in the past twenty-four hours and Luttig’s name has gotten none. Larry Thompson’s name continues to surface. One person disputes all my sources and tells me that Thompson, not Clement, was the almost pick last time.
The jury is still out on the nominee. Says one from a phone call this morning, “The White House has gone into second guess mode. They want another Roberts, an enigma who will slip through and turn out to be a conservative. They are second guessing their picks. That, I would think, increases the chances of a Thompson or a Gonzales — someone the President’s gut tells him is conservative. My gut tells me we have to keep the pressure on or we’re [screwed].”
They don't want to put another woman on the court. Not really. The conservative Sandra Day O'Connor, who was personally distraught at the idea that Bush might not have won the 2000 election and made sure he was installed anyway, is now seen as some sort of left wing bra burner on the right. Clearly, women can't be trusted.
This is not an accident. There is a serious movememnt afoot to denigrate women's issues, and therefore, pressure Bush not to nominate another woman. Check out this story by Dahlia Lithwick on the "chick-baiting" that's going on around this supreme court nomination:
A few weeks ago I suggested that race and gender should not be the only—or even the primary—filter through which we consider Supreme Court nominees. I rejected the arguments that minority candidates serve as proxies for minority views (whatever those might be), or that they create the appearance of a court that "looks like America." I was wrong. We need another woman on the Supreme Court. And while we're at it we need a few more women on the Senate judiciary committee.
I wonder why both Ginsburg and O'Connor—who differ on virtually everything—feel so strongly that there should be two women on the Supreme Court that they'd use their offices to publicly urge the president to appoint one.
And I can't help but wonder if it has anything to do with the ways in which gender politics are starting to infect our discourse about the courts. Consider this commentary by Bruce Fein this week in the Washington Times: Fein lines up Hillary Clinton, Dianne Feinstein, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, then levels potshots at them as believers in Supreme Court justices as "apostles over the law" because of their concern for John Roberts' positions on women's and civil rights. Oddly enough, Patrick Leahy, Joseph Biden, Chuck Schumer, Ted Kennedy, and the other male Senate Democrats who called for Roberts' views in this area are never mentioned.
Mark Steyn is positively bilious about this feminization of the Democrats in the Washington Times on Monday. Again Feinstein (and only Feinstein) is blistered for wanting to hear Roberts "talking to me as a son, a husband and a father." For which Steyn's prescription is that she "get off the Judiciary Committee and go audition for 'Return To Bridges Of Madison County,' or 'What Women Want 2' ('Mel Gibson is nominated to the Supreme Court but, despite being sensitive and a good listener, is accused of being a conservative theocrat')."
And here's George Will this week, also taking his nasty stick to Sen. Feinstein: "Dianne Feinstein's thoughts on the nomination of John G. Roberts as chief justice of the United States should be read with a soulful violin solo playing, or perhaps accompanied by the theme song of 'The Oprah Winfrey Show.' Those thoughts are about pinning one's heart on one's sleeve, sharing one's feelings and letting one's inner Oprah come out for a stroll." Will's contempt for Senate efforts to know something about the next chief justice's "temperament and values"—to understand his heart—is absolutely laser focused on the senator from California. Odd. Never a mention of Biden, Schumer, Mike DeWine, and Dick Durbin—each of whom similarly deployed the language of hearts and feelings in their questioning of Roberts.
Now, I am not come today to praise Sen. Feinstein. Her performance during those hearings probably set the women's movement back a decade. From her ingenuous "Now, I'm not a lawyer …" questions to her tendency to turn even declarative sentences into halting questions, she hardly projected the air of mastery and confidence I've seen in her in the past. I'm not sure I can sign off on her self-appointed task of representing all 145 million American women at the hearings. I can't even get behind her efforts to force a clearly private man into vomiting up mawkish personal revelations onto the hearing-room floor.
But I do wonder why it became so very easy to blast only the woman who wanted to cut through Roberts' repeated claims to be a lean, mean law-making machine. I wonder why the woman who worried about his aloofness and disconnection from poverty or suffering was singled out for derision. Is it because the stereotype of the pathetic, whiny, "but how do you feel" nag fits so much better if the asker is wearing curlers and a housecoat? Is it a cynical effort to paint all women as hysterics or merely all Democrats as women? Or is it, in the end, the consequence of having only one woman on the committee?
I'm sure it's just an accident that Fein, Steyn (weird name-coincidence or conspiracy?), and George Will each singled out only Feinstein as their judiciary committee poster-person for the strange quest-for-feeling that characterized the Roberts hearings. But it certainly evokes something Ginsburg mentioned in her remarks yesterday at Wake Forest. According to the report, she noted that "she started in law school in the 1950s—a time when law students and law practitioners were predominantly male. She said she felt pressure to excel, to break the stereotypes about women. … 'You felt like all eyes were on you. If you gave a poor answer in class, you felt like it would be viewed as indicative of all female students.' "
Imagine being judged and ridiculed as a lightweight, when—as sole representative of your gender—you feel you must defend the achievement of all women. The solution for both Ginsburg's problem and Feinstein's is simple: Give the critics more targets. Load up the courts and Congress with enough women, and then maybe blaming them for being women in the first place will stop sounding like a legitimate critique.
Is it a cynical effort to paint all women as hysterics or merely all Democrats as women?
It's both. And one follows from the other. Lithwick says she's sure it's just a coincidence, but it isn't. These things don't come out of nowhere on the right.
One thing I hope that people think a little bit about is that this distaste for women's issues is one that can easily be internalized on both sides of the political fence. Indeed, it already has in some ways. This, like race, is much simpler for the right to deride than it is for the left to defend. These are complicated issues. Nonetheless, we have no choice. It is the essence of what we stand for --- liberty, equality. It doesn't get much simpler than that.
digby 9/30/2005 12:04:00 PM
Grey Lady Down
Dan Kennedy writes about Michael Isikoff taking TIME and the NY Times to task for not following up on the Plame story. Isikoff has a very checkered past in these matters, but in this case he is correct. The fact that TIME and The NY Times dropped the ball on these stories because their reporters refused to reveal their sources is really unconscionable. They should have pursued the stories more vigorously, not less.
If a reporter has a confidential source who is giving them backround information, they are supposed to, you know, go look for things like documents and other witnesses so they can actually publish a story. Matt Cooper, to his credit, did at least write one story and he took the proper inference from the leak -- that the white house was trying to discredit Wilson. The magazine then failed to properly follow-up and even withheld evidence in fear of swinging an election!
Miller never writing a story at all and the Times treating the whole thing like a pile of stinking garbage in which they didn't want to dip their finely manicured hands is just shocking.
Arianna excoriates both today and asks the following very pertinent questions:
And so we don’t forget what this story is really about, and given that the aluminum tubes crap that Miller put on the front page of the New York Times was being heavily promoted by Cheney, how much of that bogus information came to Miller via Libby?
And here are a few questions for the Times:
Had a Plame/Wilson story been assigned to Miller or not?
What, if anything, did she say about the story to anyone at the paper at the time… and what did they say back?
Why did the Times hold back the story about Miller’s release and let multiple other news sources scoop them? Were they trying to miss the evening news cycle and avoid the overnight thrashing their spin has rightly received?
It would be nice if they spent the same amount of time handwringing about this as they did that puerile stunt by Jayson Blair, but I'm not holding my breath. When a newpaper is partially responsible for sending a country to war on false pretenses, they tend to circle the wagons. I thought the days of William Randooph Hearst were long dead history, but maybe not so much.
Just to be clear --- in my post below where I say that Libby's lawyers had better shut up, it was not because I thought their version of events with respect to the waivers was necessarily correct or incorrect. It was because it's never a good idea for lawyers to anger witnesses who are going to appear before a grand jury the next day.
digby 9/30/2005 11:15:00 AM
Fat Lady Clearing Throat, Not Singing
It's kind of painful watching people talk about Libby and Miller this morning on television when it's clear that they are just riffing. Jonathan Alter is a smart guy, but his main talking point (on MSNBC) is whether Fitzgerald will issue a report that "rebukes" Rove and Libby for discussing a CIA employee even though they didn't do anything illegal. He seems to be resigned to the fact that there will be no indictments.
There does seem to be an emerging conventional wisdom (among my commenters at least) that Fitz will not indict. The fact that he doesn't intend to ask Miller about anyone but Libby feels like some sort of capitulation but let's keep in mind that any thoughts we had that he wanted to ask about anyone but Libby were always pure speculation. There was nothing in any of his court filings that indicated he wanted anything other than to question her about one specific person --- Libby. The court issued its contempt order based upon that request alone.
There was never any reason to believe that Fitzgerald wanted to discuss Judy's other sources, only that Judy didn't want to discuss her other sources with Fitzgerald. We may never know what motivated her to become the Martyr of Times Square (Hat tip Billmon.) She's a drama queen of the highest order and probably had a whole list of reasons. But Fitz has said from the beginning that he needed her testimony for one specific purpose and perhaps we snould believe that.
People are also saying that Judy will simply lie. To that I reiterate what I wrote in the post below. She never wrote a story so someone had to have told Fitzgerald that Judy and Libby spoke. Nobody knows who that was. Maybe it was Libby. Maybe it was someone that Libby told. Maybe it was someone Miller told. Judy cannot be sure what Fitzgerald knows or who he talked to. It would be very, very risky for her to lie.
Lifted from the comments down page, here's some intersesting speculation from Emptywheel of The Next Hurrah (one of the best Fitzgerald kremlinologists in the blogosphere) about what Fitz might have and what Judy might bring to the table:
What did Fitz get?
Proof that Libby's notes have been tampered with.
Notes that say WHIG carried out a plot to get Wilson (the conspiracy angle that gets Dick).
The crucial link in the chain of custody of the information.
Why did he agree to avoid other sources?
Because he already has the evidence. Before subpoenaing a journalist, you have to prove the journalist is the only source of the information. Someone else had/has that info for Fitz, so he doesn't need Judy for it. (Although she's going to look stupid in court when someone from the Times gets up and talks about her receiving some stuff from Bolton, but not testifying herself. But looking stupid never seemed to be a problem for her.)
The notes are clearly key:
“One set of documents that prosecutors repeatedly referred to in their meetings with White House aides are extensive notes compiled by I. Lewis Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff and national security adviser. Prosecutors have described the notes as ‘copious.’” [New York Times, 2/10/04]
It would be pretty to think that Judy might have notes that conflict with Libby's about the famous WHIG meeting that Joe Wilson wrote about in his book. That's what people have been waiting for.
For those who would like a quick refresher in who the administration players in this are and how they fit into the story as we know it, here's Think Progress' handy little primer.
(My good buddy Jim Wilkinson doesn't appear, but I have a feeling that he's lurking in this story somewhere too. He was a member of WHIG.)
digby 9/30/2005 09:25:00 AM
Murray Waas reports on why Miller's testimony is important to Fitzgerald:
What is perhaps left out of news accounts tonight is that Miller's testimony is central to whether special Fitzgerald brings criminal charges against I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby, the chief of staff to Vice President Cheney. Libby was unwavering in telling prosecutors and the FBI that he knew nothing of Plame's covert work for the CIA, even though he spoke to Miller about at length about her and her husband, former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV. Whether that account is truthful is something only both Miller and Libby know. Miller's testimony on that issue will be central to any final disposition of the criminal probe, sources close to the investigation have told me for some time now.
Just in case Judy didn't know what Libby would like her to say to the Grand Jury, the Washington Post helpfully printed it up for her:
According to a source familiar with Libby's account of his conversations with Miller in July 2003, the subject of Wilson's wife came up on two occasions. In the first, on July 8, Miller met with Libby to interview him about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, the source said.
At that time, she asked him why Wilson had been chosen to investigate questions Cheney had posed about whether Iraq tried to buy uranium in the African nation of Niger. Libby, the source familiar with his account said, told her that the White House was working with the CIA to find out more about Wilson's trip and how he was selected.
Libby told Miller he heard that Wilson's wife had something to do with sending him but he did not know who she was or where she worked, the source said.
Libby had a second conversation with Miller on July 12 or July 13, the source said, in which he said he had learned that Wilson's wife had a role in sending him on the trip and that she worked for the CIA. Libby never knew Plame's name or that she was a covert operative, the source said.
Miller is a made man. Why would Fitzgerald think she would tell the truth when it's clear that Libby wants her to testify on his behalf?
Because somebody else has already spilled the beans. How else did Judy come to Fitzgerald's attention in the first place?
Asked why prosecutors sought Miller's testimony when she never wrote a story about Plame, Times attorney Floyd Abrams said, "We don't know, but most likely somebody testified to the grand jury that he or she had spoken to Judy."
Neither Miller or Libby can be absolutely sure what that person told the Grand Jury because neither of them can be absolutely sure that the other one didn't tell someone about their conversation. Who knows how many people could have testified before the grand jury about Miller and Libby?
One thing is certainly clear. Fitzgerald doesn't trust Judy as far as he can throw her. Here's what he said about her in court when she was asking for home detention:
The question is whether Miller would defy a final court order and commit the crime of contempt and thereby obstruct an investigation of persons who may have compromised classified information.
She has no idea what he knows. She would be an idiot to lie.
One other thing to keep in mind. For those of us who are looking for him to broaden the scope of this investigation and look into a larger set of issues surrounding the Iraq lies, if Fitzgerald hands down indictments it is only a first step. Indictments tend to focus the mind, I would think. Perhaps some people will have more to say when they are faced with serious legal trouble.
And it would certainly explain the dismal political performance of the white house lately if high level advisors have been too busy negotiating plea bargains for themselves to keep a close eye on Junior.
update: Via Anonymous Liberal I see that there is some dispute emerging about this waiver business that I hadn't heard before:
Also of note, is this conflicting account of the original waiver given by Libby to Miller over a year ago. First, from the Post.
[J]oseph Tate, an attorney for Libby, said yesterday that he told Miller's attorney, Floyd Abrams, a year ago that Libby's waiver was voluntary and that Miller was free to testify. He said last night that he was contacted by Bennett several weeks ago, and was surprised to learn that Miller had not accepted that representation as authorization to speak with prosecutors. "We told her lawyers it was not coerced," Tate said. "We are surprised to learn we had anything to do with her incarceration."
But we get this from the New York Times:
On Thursday, Mr. Abrams wrote to Mr. Tate disputing parts of Mr. Tate's account. His letter said although Mr. Tate had said the waiver was voluntary, Mr. Tate had also said any waiver sought as a condition of employment was inherently coercive.
If Abrams is telling the truth, then Libby apparently did not give Miller the kind of waiver that she required. If Tate told Abrams that the waiver Libby signed was "inherently coercive," then Abrams and Miller were correct to interpret that conversation as not amounting to a free and voluntary waiver. How else were they supposed to interpret such a comment?
Libby's lawyers probably should shut their mouths.
digby 9/30/2005 12:50:00 AM
Thursday, September 29, 2005
Welcome To Our World
Hunter at Daily Kos responds to the delicate pearl clutchers of the right who find themselves simply overwrought at the shocking prospect of all these corruption scandals being exploited for partisan gain. If there's one thing they have never been able to abide it's despicable underhanded politics. What is this world coming to?
Welcome to the world of the politics of personal destruction, you tubthumping, chin-jutting, Bush humping gits. Welcome to the nasty and partisan world that Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Michelle Malkin, Hugh Hewitt, Grover Norquist, Newt Gingrich, Tom DeLay, and a legion of insignificant lowest-rung toadies like yourselves nurtured into fruition daily with eager, grubby hands, and now look upon with dull-faced faux horror.
Step back from the edge? You poor boy, asleep in the back of the car the whole trip, finally waking up and wondering where you're at.
Swift boats. Aluminum tubes. Niger uranium. "Mushroom clouds". Whitewater.
Vince Fucking Foster.
You can't even see the edge from here. You left it behind a hundred miles back.
So don't give me chest-thumping crap about civil wars, if your politicians are indicted. Don't give me visions of a lake of fire, if all those who find you loathsome refuse to suck at your teats of scientific ignorance in the name of religion, racism in the name of freedom, and corruption in the name of the New World Order.
Get used to the world you have created, and the stench your worshipped heroes have unleashed.
And might I just add ... Republicans impeached a duly elected president over a trivial sexual matter and one year later installed a moron in the presidency by one vote on the Supreme Court. Handwringing from the likes of them about partisanship is a truly impressive and unprecedented act of phony, shit-eating Phariseeism --- which is really saying something.
Just in case there's been a massive memory loss on the right, here's a little trip through the wayback machine:
In arguing for impeachment and against censure, Republican members of Congress have hinted at a trove of still-secret, non-Monica-related documents about President Clinton's sexual misconduct. "Before people look to cut a deal with the White House or their surrogates ... it is my hope that one would spend plenty of time in the evidence room," said House Majority Whip Tom DeLay. "If this were to happen, you may realize that 67 votes may appear out of thin air. If you don't, you may wish you had before rushing to judgment."
1.The total effect of a person's actions and conduct during the successive phases of the person's existence, regarded as determining the person's destiny.
digby 9/29/2005 11:30:00 PM
Ezra Klein once asked something to the effect of "why would Bush send a seven foot tall white woman to aid our public face in the Islamic world?" It's a good question, but more importantly, why would you send a seven foot tall white woman who speaks like a 6th grader to aid our public face in the middle east and convince the entire world that all Americans are as dim-witted as the president and that Osama bin Laden is right?
Sid Bumenthal puts it like this:
This week, Hughes embarked on her first trip as undersecretary. Her initial statement resembled an elementary school presentation: "You might want to know why the countries. Egypt is of course the most populous Arab country ... Saudi Arabia is our second stop. It's obviously an important place in Islam and the keeper of its two holiest sites ... Turkey is also a country that encompasses people of many different backgrounds and beliefs, yet has the -- is proud of the saying that 'all are Turks.'"
Hughes appeared to be one of the pilgrims satirized by Mark Twain in his 1869 book, "Innocents Abroad," about his trip on "The Grand Holy Land Pleasure Excursion." "None of us had ever been anywhere before; we all hailed from the interior; travel was a wild novelty to us ... We always took care to make it understood that we were Americans -- Americans!"
If you would like to read some commentary that makes George W. Bush sound downright erudite, check out Hughes' entire statement:
UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: We're going to be visiting, as you know, three unique and very important countries, three countries we have a very strong partnership with one of them. We also face very significant public diplomacy challenges in one of them. One of my missions is to go to listen. I hope to listen, to seek to understand, to show respect. Listening is a two way street, and so I hope that those people I meet will also return that open spirit and be willing to listen. I'm going to take a lot of questions, I'm going to participate in a lot of give and take and I hope they'll be willing to listen to my discussion (inaudible).
I just wanted to talk a little bit to answer your questions about, kind of, my approach. As I said I view this trip as the beginning of a new dialogue that is very much people driven -- public diplomacy is people-driven and it's policy driven, because our policies affect people's lives. I don't see this as a matter of opinion polls or public relations, I see this as a matter of policy. That's really what drew me to public service in the first place. When I first decided to leave reporting and go to the political process it was because I realized that the decisions made in the political process made a very real difference peoples lives. So when I talk about people I'm talking about policies, I'm talking about our policies and the impact they have on people. I think that's what we've got to focus on here. I also -- I go as an official of the United States government, but I'm also a mom, a working mom, and so I hope that I could help, in some places, put a human face on America's public policy.
... just one of the points that we're going to make as we meet with people is, is talk about our American story and how it's a collective story that's written by individuals. We all have unique stories to tell. My own background as a granddaughter of a Pennsylvania coal miner and a Kentucky railroad worker. Dina, of course came here from Egypt, and we're very proud that our first stop in Egypt we're going to be taking someone who I think Egypt is very proud of Dina, the fact that she emigrated from Egypt as a young child, and has risen to the highest levels of our American government, and that's a wonderful American story.
Karima has her own American story. She is the daughter of a Palestinian father and a German mother and I'm sure that Bill has some part of an American story, although I haven't heard it yet (laughter) I'm sure he will be glad to share it with you. He currently lives in Wisconsin and I don't know what his family roots are.
When she isn't talking about being a mom, which she seems to think is a unique and important qualification for being the voice of American public diplomacy, she's actually advancing jihad. From the Blumenthal piece:
Hughes' simple, sincere and unadorned language is pellucid in revealing the administration's inner mind. Her ideas on terrorism and its solution are straightforward. "Terrorists," she said in Egypt at the start of her trip, "their policies force young people, other people's daughters and sons, to strap on bombs and blow themselves up." Somehow, magically, these evildoers coerce the young to commit suicide. If only they would understand us, the tensions would dissolve. "Many people around the world do not understand the important role that faith plays in Americans' lives," she said. When an Egyptian opposition leader inquired why President Bush mentions God in his speeches, she asked him "whether he was aware that previous American presidents have also cited God, and that our Constitution cites 'one nation under God.' He said, 'Well, never mind.'"
With these well-meaning arguments, Hughes has provided the exact proof for what Osama bin Laden has claimed about American motives. "It is stunning ... the extent [to which] Hughes is helping bin Laden," Robert Pape told me. Pape, a University of Chicago political scientist who has conducted the most extensive research into the backgrounds and motives of suicide terrorists, is the author of "Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism," and recently briefed the Pentagon and the National Counterterrorism Center. "If you set out to help bin Laden," he said, "you could not have done it better than Hughes."
Pape's research debunks the view that suicide terrorism is the natural byproduct of Islamic fundamentalism or some "Islamo-fascist" ideological strain independent of certain highly specific circumstances. "Of the key conditions that lead to suicide terrorism in particular, there must be, first, the presence of foreign combat forces on the territory that the terrorists prize. The second condition is a religious difference between the combat forces and the local community. The religious difference matters in that it enables terrorist leaders to paint foreign forces as being driven by religious goals. If you read Osama's speeches, they begin with descriptions of the U.S. occupation of the Arabian Peninsula, driven by our religious goals, and that it is our religious purpose that must confronted. That argument is incredibly powerful not only to religious Muslims but secular Muslims. Everything Hughes says makes their case."
We know what happened when Bush put poor little Brownie in charge of federal disaster response and it wasn't pretty. We're going to be lucky if "Hurricane Karen" doesn't set off WWIII.
She's off to a good start.
The good news is that she's listened and she's learned and she's bringing back to the White House some incredible insights:
Ms. Hughes promised to take what she learned from hearing dissenting views back to Washington. She was struck, she said, when a Turkish official told her to try to imagine the situation of Iraq, a next-door neighbor, sliding into possible civil war and engulfing Turkey from the perspective of "the common Turk."
"I will be sure to bring that message back to President Bush when I get back to Washington," she said.
digby 9/29/2005 10:44:00 PM
The Big Squeeze
So Judy got her super-duper-double-special waiver finally and was sprung. Of course, it makes no more sense today than it did two months ago but the NY Times is intent upon keeping up the fiction for their intrepid girl reporter:
... the discussions were at times strained, with Mr. Libby and Mr. Tate asserting that they communicated their voluntary waiver to Ms. Miller's lawyers more than year ago, according to those briefed on the case. Mr. Libby wrote to Ms. Miller in mid-September, saying that he believed her lawyers understood that his waiver was voluntary.
Others involved in the case have said that Ms. Miller did not understand that the waiver had been freely given and did not accept it until she had heard from him directly.
What a bunch of crap. Here's the nut:
In written statements today, Ms. Miller and executives of The New York Times did not identify the source who had urged Ms. Miller to testify. Bill Keller, the executive editor of The New York Times, said that Mr. Fitzgerald had assured Ms. Miller's lawyer that "he intended to limit his grand jury interrogation so that it would not implicate other sources of hers."
Mr. Keller said that Mr. Fitzgerald had cleared the way to an agreement by assuring Ms. Miller and her source that he would not regard a conversation between the two about a possible waiver as an obstruction of justice.
First of all, why is Bill Keller involved in this to this degree? He's her editor, not her lawyer. Was he involved in the negotiations or is he reporting the story? If it's the latter, why would that be? Don't they have any reporters who can interview Judy and get the facts?
More importantly it seems obvious now that Jeralyn was right; Judy's real issue was being asked about her other sources under oath. It looks like they came to some sort of agreement about that. (No Bolton?)
It also appears at least possible that Fitzgerald was threatening to charge both Libby and Miller for obstruction of justice for talking to one another --- whether that referred to the conversation noted in the article between the two of them and their lawyers this month or an earlier conversation is unclear.
The question is what Fitzgerald got in return for agreeing not to ask Judy about her lovers ..er sources. And don't think he didn't get something in return.
In case anyone's wondering if Fitzgerald is really the tough guy everyone thinks he is, check out this story from last week about the Governor George Ryan trial in Illinois. You'll notice that he flipped Ryans "political son" by arresting his mistress and squeezing her until she convinced him to testify:
Whether the jury believes Fawell, given his previous vow never to testify against Ryan and subsequent flip-flop when prosecutors put heat on his fiancee, is important for Ryan’s defense.
“I’m still not overly comfortable with participating,” Fawell told a federal judge last Oct. 28 during a teary testimonial to try to keep his mistress-turned-fiancee, Andrea Coutretsis, out of prison. “I don’t relish testifying against George Ryan.”
Fawell, 48, was once the heir to DuPage County political royalty. His mother is Beverly Fawell, a former state legislator. His father is Bruce Fawell, a former chief judge in the county. And his uncle, Harris Fawell, was a respected congressman from Naperville.
Scott Fawell rose through the GOP political ranks rapidly, serving as a driver for then-U.S. Sen. Charles Percy, lobbyist for the tollway authority and campaign operative for then-Gov. Jim Thompson. He ended up working for then-Lt. Gov. Ryan, and helped Ryan win a close race in 1990 for secretary of state.
Ryan rewarded him with the chief of staff job and then the nearly $200,000-a-year plum of running the agency that oversees McCormick Place and Navy Pier.
So if Ryan indeed has figurative bodies buried somewhere, as prosecutors allege, Fawell is in position to know the location. He gave prosecutors a 45-page sworn statement.
Fawell talked about special secretary of state office leases prosecutors say Ryan illegally steered to co-defendant Warner. He also took yearly vacations to Jamaica with Ryan, trips a businessman who got an office lease would reimburse the duo for, according to prosecutors.
Among other things, Fawell also supposedly knows about alleged selling of low-digit license plates for campaign contributions. He helped set up a scheme in which secretary of state workers would do campaign work on state time, prosecutors say. And when it came time to cover up the illegal political activity, prosecutors likely will try to prove Fawell told Ryan about massive document-shredding that was going on.
A jury found Fawell guilty for his part in the corruption scandal. He’s serving a 6¨-year sentence at a federal work camp in Yankton, S.D.
Fawell, however, gave his testimony to prosecutors reluctantly, a fact that Ryan’s defense team undoubtedly will bring to jurors’ attention.
“I’m not going to sell myself out just to save myself,” Fawell said after his sentencing in late June 2003. “I’m not sitting on any bomb of George Ryan’s. I’m not going to go in there and make up stories about him just to save myself, which unfortunately that’s the game (prosecutors) like you to play.”
That, however, was before Fitzgerald’s office charged Coutretsis, formerly of Long Grove. Coutretsis, a mother of two and Fawell’s one-time assistant at McPier, faced a prison sentence for perjury before persuading Fawell to turn on Ryan. In return, she could get six months or probation. Fawell could get six months shaved off his sentence.
Do you think that Fitzgerald was impressed with Judy's "principles" or her desire for a super-special-in-person-blood-oath waiver from Scooter? Right. He didn't do this for meaningless testimony or just for fun. He got something important.
digby 9/29/2005 07:16:00 PM
Wednesday, September 28, 2005
Keep Your Children Out Of The Room
I spoke too soon when I said earlier that there have been no blow jobs in Washington since the Honor and Integrity crowd took over.
I just watched Brit Hume "interview" Tom DeLay.
Update: Oh Jesus, Chris Matthews just performed a full-on deep-throat on the Hammer.
It's a rather unorthodox "interviewing" technique to make your interviewees argument for him by never shutting up and only allowing him to nod in agreement while you rake his enemies over the coals on his behalf. But then, they don't call 'em mediawhores and pre$$titutes for nothin'.
digby 9/28/2005 04:01:00 PM
Librulism 'R Us
In case you are tired of hearing me rail on about racism and other topics that make people uncomfortable, check out this extremely well-reasoned argument by Scott Lemiuex of Lawyers, Guns and Money on the topic of abortion.
I plan to take up the subjects of animal rights and freeing Mumia, so be warned...
digby 9/28/2005 11:58:00 AM
So, we have a federal probe implicating the president's number one political advisor and the vice president's chief of staff in the violation of laws protecting CIA agents and possibly lying to federal investigators.
We have a multi-pronged investigation into a lobbyist who happens to be a very close associate of Tom DeLay,Grover Norquist, Ralph Reed, Karl Rove and the entire Republican leadership going back to their youth as members of the College republicans. This lobbyist is now implicated in a mafia murder plot and has been arrested on charges affiliated with that crime.
A member of the Bush administration who is a good friend and associate of all of the above was arrested this week for lying to the Feds about his good friend the lobbyist.
The majority leader of the Senate is now officially under investigation by the SEC and federal prosecutors for insider trading involving potentially many millions of dollars.
The majority leader of the House was just indicted by a Texas Grand jury for violating laws prohibiting the use of corporate money in campaigns.
I am so relieved that the Republicans restored honor and integrity to Washington. There hasn't been even one blow job in that town since they took power.
Update: Oh and that reminds me --- David Drier is now the majority leader of the House of Representatives.
digby 9/28/2005 10:33:00 AM
Your Lyin' Eyes
It's depressing that you have to get this elementary with the American press, but you do. There is something called cause and effect. Any of you out there who don't know what that means can use your friend, Mr Google, to find out what it is.
New Orleans is a largely black city. Most of those who did not evacuate were poor African Americans. In the day after Katrina, pictures of victims standing on rooftops emerged. Heroic rescues were filmed. In short order we saw pictures of looting --- which immediately sent the wingnuts into a frenzy. This immediately led to cries for martial law --- stories of shooting, killing and rape followed. (Interestingly, this story in which photojournalists on the scene were interviewed early on indicates that while looting and theft were common, the violence they observed was mostly perpetrated by nervous police.)
We do not know to what extent these stories inhibited the relief effort, but there is evidence that they did. A real post mortem should be able to sort that out.
Because of the paranoid fear of violence and many other things such as the necessary National Guard equipment being deployed to Iraq and a federal agency charged with stepping in where local and state governments are overwhelmed being incompetent in virtually every way possible --- the conditions in New Orleans deteriorated rapidly as basic necessities and evacuations were delayed.
Let's make it simple for everyone. The reports of violence were overblown. The reports of misery, dehydration, delayed medical care, no food and wretched conditions were not. And it is highly likely that it was the first that led, at least in part, to the second.
Yet, the New York Times fails to make that distinction and pretends that the the desperation was overblown.
During the first few days, as local officials grappled with the overwhelming disaster, Mr. Nagin and Mr. Compass were outspoken about how desperate the situation in their city was, though some of those statements are now coming under scrutiny, with some critics saying they exaggerated the situation.
An editorial in The Times Picayune today faulted the two New Orleans officials for their leadership during those first few days, and for their public statements about the direness of the situation.
"It's understandable that in the tense and fractured days after Katrina, frightened people reported rumor as fact, and soldiers, police and even elected officials believed what they heard and passed it on." the editorial said. "In the hell that descended after Katrina, almost anything, no matter how horrific, seemed possible.
"But now that we know better, it's essential that people like Mayor Nagin and Superintendent Compass set the record straight, just as forcefully. That might mean saying, 'I spoke too soon" or even, 'I exaggerated,' " the editorial said.
The newspaper said that during an interview by Oprah Winfrey, Mr. Compass said "that babies were being raped."
"Thank God it didn't happen," the editorial said.
The Times-Picayune editorial was quite specific. The New York Times was not.
And that, predictably, plays into this quixotic quest by right-wing bloggers to prove that the entire disaster was overblown, not just the violence. That is not going to fly.
Here's a little reminder:
I urge everyone to click on the BagNews picture in the left column or click here and take a look at the amazing images shot by Alan Chin in New Orleans. He's the one who shot the iconic picture of the elderly African American woman wrapped in the American flag. There can be no doubt of what happened in the after math of Katrina --- horrible human suffering caused by a massive government failure.
The only question is why.
digby 9/28/2005 08:57:00 AM
Nothing To See Here
I'm sure most of you have already read Rick Perlstein's op-ed that never ran over on Eschaton this morning. If you haven't, go read it.
For some reason, no editorial board wanted to hear from a historian who was pointing out that wild rumors about racial violence are a regular feature of urban disturbances in America and should be treated skeptically by the press until real evidence emerges.
I imagine they thought that Perlstein was playing the race card --- like all us liberals do at the drop of a hat. Nobody wants to hear it.
Meanwhile, here's some more fallout --- and another little illustration of why the Section 8 idea is meeting resistence:
GREENSBURG, La., Sept. 27 - The federal government, straining to find temporary housing for thousands of evacuees from New Orleans, has generally encountered hospitality in cities and towns in the gulf area. But the reception has been very different in the small parish of St. Helena.
Here, 80 miles northwest of New Orleans, white residents have spoken up at public meetings to oppose vehemently the construction of temporary housing for the evacuees, most of whom are black. The tension could complicate tentative plans by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to buy land in the parish for trailer lots.
"The only thing we see about these people on the news is what happened in the Superdome," said Philip Devall, 42, a white resident of Greensburg, at a recent meeting of the parish government. "They're rapists and thugs and murderers. I'm telling you, half of them have criminal records. I've worked all my life to have what I have. I can't lose it, and I can't stand guard 24 hours a day."
About 2,000 evacuees have been staying with friends and family in the parish since Hurricane Katrina, and police officials here say that crime related to the newcomers has been virtually nonexistent. But many residents say that fear is the driving force behind their opposition.
"I want to know how many sex offenders they're going to move in next to me," said Marci Kent, 36, also a white resident of Greensburg, at the meeting. "And I got daughters, too."
When one white man expressed concern at the meeting over possibly losing his valuables to lawless evacuees, a black woman turned around and angrily pointed a finger at him. "We work hard for what we got, too," she said. "But these people need a place to stay."
Yeah, that race card is bogus, all right.
digby 9/28/2005 07:54:00 AM
Tuesday, September 27, 2005
Rumors and Expectations
Pre$$titutes reports that righty bloggers are going all Claude Rains on us because they "just realized" that the media reported anarchy and violence in New Orleans that was unsubstantiated. Drudge is especially shocked that anyone would spread scurrilous rumors.
They are holding the media responsible for the Katrina aftermath and they are not entirely wrong. Of course the media should have been skeptical of these crazy rumors and should have wondered why they weren't seeing any evidence of the alleged mayhem as they waded through the city. All I ever saw was a few desultory looters hauling around some boxes of sneakers.
The media certainly need to ask themselves some probing questions about why they were so gullible. It didn't pass the smell test from the get as far as I was concerned. (But then as TBOGG pithily reminds us, it isn't exactly the first time the media have bought into rumor and speculation hook line and sinker, now is it?)
But blaming the media is missing the point. They, like many others, chose to believe something for which there was no evidence. The press saw and reported the wretched spectacle of the evacuees living in horrible conditions, waiting and begging for help, but by that time everything was seen within the prism of the earlier (and ongoing) reports of violence. They need to do some soul searching about that.
Even those who lived it, for many reasons, saw the situation as anarchic and dangerous for their own reasons.
Bud Hopes, of Brisbane, was praised for saving dozens of tourists as the supposed safe haven of the city's Superdome became a hellhole.
"I would have to say that Bud is solely responsible for our evacuation," Vanessa Cullington, 22, of Sydney, told the Sunday Herald Sun by mobile phone from a bus carrying 10 Australians to safety in Dallas, Texas.
"I dread to think what would have happened if we hadn't got out. It's so great to be free."
News of the group's escape came as reports said as many as 10,000 people might have been killed by the hurricane and its aftermath, and President George Bush ordered more troops and an increased aid effort for the stricken Gulf of Mexico states.
As the Australians left the Superdome, food and water were almost non-existent and the stiflingly hot arena was filled with 25,000 people and the stench of human waste. Gangs stalked the tourists and women were threatened with rape.
"Bud took control. He was calm and kept it together the whole time," Ms Cullington said.
Mr Hopes, 32, said: "That was the worst place in the universe. Ninety-eight per cent of the people around the world are good. In that place, 98 per cent of the people were bad.
"Everyone brought their drugs, they brought guns, they brought knives. Soldiers were shot.
"It was like a refugee camp within a prison.
"It was full on. It was the worst thing I have seen in my life. I have never been so frightened."
Realising that foreigners were a target, Mr Hopes and the other Aussies gathered tourists from Europe, South America and elsewhere into one part of the building.
"There were 65 of us, so we were able to look after each other -- especially the girls who were being grabbed and threatened." Mr Hopes said.
He said they had organised escorts for the women when they had gone for food or to the toilet, and rosters to keep guard while others slept.
"We sat through the night just watching each other, not knowing if we would be alive in the morning."
John McNeil, 20, of Brisbane, said the worst point had come after two days when soldiers had told them the power in the dome was failing and there was only 10 minutes worth of gas left.
"I looked at Bud and said, 'That will be the end of us'," Mr McNeil said.
"The gangs . . . knew where we were. If the lights had gone out we would have been in deep trouble. We prayed for a miracle and the lights stayed on."
Mrs McNeil broke down when she saw images of her son leaving New Orleans.
"There have been times during this past week when we didn't know if we would see him again," she said.
Mr McNeil said he could see a change in his son.
"They've been traumatised," he said. "I think they've witnessed several atrocities.".
They worked themselves into a frenzy, just as a whole lot of other people did.(98% were bad!!!) They may have been threatened. I have no way of knowing. But it was a long way from "atrocities." The reports of others -- many of whom were white -- at the Superdome don't bear out their story. These were people who were convinced that because they were the minority, they were going to be killed. But there are many other whites who didn't see themselves threatened this way at all. Perceptions were everything. Beliefs and prejudices about race and class were everything.
It was even as if some people expected it to happen, somewhere in their subconscious, even before the rumors started. Check out this post at 10:05 am on Monday, August 29th, when people still thought "a bullet had been dodged" in New Orleans, long before anyone realized that the cavalry was waiting for massive reinforcements before it would dare to enter the barbarous city:
ATTN: SUPERDOME RESIDENTS [Jonah Goldberg]
I think it's time to face facts. That place is going to be a Mad Max/thunderdome Waterworld/Lord of the Flies horror show within the next few hours. My advice is to prepare yourself now. Hoard weapons, grow gills and learn to communicate with serpents. While you're working on that, find the biggest guy you can and when he's not expecting it beat him senseless. Gather young fighters around you and tell the womenfolk you will feed and protect any female who agrees to participate without question in your plans to repopulate the earth with a race of gilled-supermen. It's never too soon to be prepared.
Posted at 10:05 AM
You can't blame the MSM for that. They hadn't even begun to report the mayhem that shortly caused Peggy Noonan (and her latest manly hero, Haley Barbour) to call for the looters (a useful euphemism) to be shot on sight.
At 10:45 on the morning after the hurricane, Jonah has already called forth the "Lord of the Flies" image that would be emblematic of New Orleans the next few days. (This google search shows just how many references there were.) Jonah made a few more peurile remarks about how the loss was worse for middle class families and the like before he finally settled down and realized that the disaster was of epic prooprtions. But he predicted the "anarchy" even before the rumors that turned out to be false began. It existed in his mind. I think it existed in a lot of people's minds.
(If you'd like some real fun, go to the Corner link and read Rich Lowry's comments as he breathlessly clips items and snippets of news reports about violence and mayhem.)
I'm not letting the media off the hook. They too took these ridiculous stories on faith and there were serious consequences to them being circulated. But the question that must be asked isn't why the media reported them --- the question is why so many people, including the media, were so willing to believe them in the absence of any real evidence.
digby 9/27/2005 03:56:00 PM
Modern GOP Noblesse Oblige
The internal polls must be worse that we thought. They are really grasping at straws:
Facing criticism that he appeared disengaged from the disaster wrought by Hurricane Katrina, President Bush has been looking for opportunities to show his concern. But the White House will take the effort a step further Tuesday, venturing into untested waters by putting the nation's first lady on reality television.
Laura Bush will travel to storm-damaged Biloxi, Miss., to film a spot on the feel-good, wish-granting hit "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition." Mrs. Bush sought to be on the program because she shares the "same principles" that the producers hold, her press secretary said.
In its standard format, the popular ABC series finds hard-pressed but deserving families, sends them away for short vacations and then, in a whirlwind of carpentry and appliance-shopping, gives them new homes. This time, though, the show will broadcast from an underserved shelter near Biloxi, where a convoy of trucks stocked with everything from mattresses to pants will arrive, courtesy of Sears, one of the show's sponsors.
It's not clear exactly what Mrs. Bush will do, but Tom Forman, executive producer and creator, said he is hoping that she'll just pitch in and help unload.
Next week, the cabinet will appear on the special New Orleans version of Survivor, where the Bush team will loll around the pool in Crawford deciding what to have for dinner while the all black 9th ward team lives on bugs and swims through snake infested flood waters to safety. The winners will have their capital gains taxes cut to zero.
digby 9/27/2005 11:43:00 AM
Via John at Americablog, I found this article about the warporn site from the Online Journalism Review that is quite interesting.
Near the end the author briefly addresses what I think is the most disturbing aspect of this disheartening story --- the combination of sexual pornography and real violent images.
While it was difficult for me to ascertain the motivation for people who were posting gory photos to NTFU, I did talk to Steven Most, a psychology postdoctoral fellow at Yale University who has studied the effects of violent and sexual images. He helped explain what these horribly violent images had in common with the nude photographs of women.
"They both seem to be particularly arousing in an emotional way," Most said. "Emotional stimuli can be rated in different ways. You could see something and rate how positive or negative it is. But separate from that is how arousing the image is. A positive picture of a cute puppy dog could be positive but not that arousing, whereas a picture of an opposite sex nude could be just as positive but be rated as extremely arousing. And a picture of a mutilation could be rated as extremely negative but highly arousing. Lately there's been a lot of theories saying that what we're drawn to is the arousing nature of an image regardless of whether we see it as negative or positive."
I am not a psychologist but I think it would be very surprising if combining these arousing sexual and violent images did not result in twisting some people's psyches. It cannot be healthy to get your thrills through deadly, bloody violence and sexual images in the same place, at the same time in the same way. The porn site is a "girlfriend and wife" site --- it's not professional porn stars. Those images of the naked girls next door are being given away for free to men who are posting pictures of mangled bodies of people they purport to hate with every fiber of their being. It is worlds colliding in a very dangerous way.
Sexual sado-masochism has been out there for millenia but it is highly ritualized fantasy. This is all too real. I have to think that it is problematic that people are getting so negatively and positively aroused by real death and gore at the same time.
There is something very disturbing about the images of sexual torture we've seen and heard about in this war, generally. The forced masturbation, the pyramids, the female interrogators and the fake menstrual blood, the constant nudity, all of it. Violence against prisoners in the new Human Rights Watch report is expressed as "fucking" instead of beating. Not "fucking up" or "fucking with" --- just plain "fucking" as in "I walking in and saw him fucking the prisoner."
I cannot help but think that something has gone terribly wrong here. From the top of the hierarchy ordering sexual humiliation techniques, to obscure web-sites selling war gore and pictures of girls next door together, this is a very sexualized war and it's damned strange, particularly coming from a regime that pretends to be an arbiter of strict sexual morals.
It's clear that the leadership of this country is extremely concerned with consensual sex between two adults but they find images of sexual violence and kinky torture techniques to be thoroughly acceptable among soldiers and useful to the war effort. This is a very odd perception and one that leads us back to the conclusion that something extremely unhealthy has invaded our body politic.
digby 9/27/2005 10:37:00 AM
Monday, September 26, 2005
Another "F" Word
I hesitate to bring this up because nothing is more impolitic these days. After reading excerpts from this article over at the Cunningrealist, I was quite taken aback. I knew that Pat Tillman's death by friendly fire was covered up but I was unaware that he was also a vocal opponent of the Iraq war.
My first shocking thought after reading it was that a high profile star like him could have been seen by someone as a very dangerous guy. He might have been fragged.
It's hardly better that Americans killed him by accident. But it is better. I no longer trust what any official says about the Iraq war. There seem to be no limits. If it's true that the military routinely forces innocent people into stress positions so painful they pass out, anything could be true. Even that.
digby 9/26/2005 06:09:00 PM
The Negroes Were Rising
Monday, April 6 1741
About ten o'clock in the morning, there was an alarm of a fire at the house of serjeant Burns, opposite fort Garden....
Towards noon a fire broke out in the roof of Mrs. Hilton's house...on the East side of captain Sarly's house....Upon view, it was plain that the fire must have been purposely laid.... There was a cry among the people, the Spanish Negroes; the Spanish Negroes; take up the Spanish Negroes. The occasion of this was the two fires...happening so closely together....and it being known that Sarly had purchased a Spanish Negro, some time before brought into his port, among several others....and that they afterwards pretending to have been free men in their country, began to grumble at their hard usage, of being sold as slaves. This probably gave rise to the suspicion, that this Negro, out of revenge, had been the instrument of these two fires; and he behaving insolently upon some people's asking him questions concerning them...it was told to a magistrate who was near, and he ordered him to jail, and also gave direction to constables to commit all the rest of that cargo [of Africans], in order for their safe custody and examination....
While the justices were proceeding to examination, about four o'clock there was another alarm of fire....
While the people were extinguishing the fire at this storehouse, and had almost mastered it, there was another cry of fire, which diverted the people attending the storehouse to the new alarm...but a man who had been on the top of the house assisting in extinguishing the fire, saw a Negro leap out at the end window of one of them...which occasioned him to cry out...that the Negroes were rising....
I wrote quite a bit about the fear of the black mob being the real reason why the response to Katrina was delayed in New Orleans and how this fear has been imprinted on the collective lizard brain of America since the early days of our history.
It appears to have been true once again:
Following days of internationally reported murders, rapes and gang violence inside the stadium, the doctor from FEMA — Beron doesn't remember his name — came prepared for a grisly scene: He brought a refrigerated 18-wheeler and three doctors to process bodies.
"I've got a report of 200 bodies in the Dome," Beron recalled the doctor saying.
The real total?
Six, Beron said.
Of those, four died of natural causes, one overdosed and another jumped to his death in an apparent suicide, said Beron, who personally oversaw the handoff of bodies from a Dome freezer, where they lay atop melting bags of ice.
State health department officials in charge of body recovery put the official death count at the Dome at 10, but Beron said the other four bodies were found in the street near the Dome, not inside it. Both sources said no one had been murdered inside the stadium.
At the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, just four bodies have been recovered, despite reports of heaps of dead piled inside the building. Only one of the dead appeared to have been murdered, said health and law-enforcement officials.
That the nation's frontline emergency-management officials believed the body count would resemble that of a bloody battle in a war is but one of scores of examples of myths about the Dome and the Convention Center treated as fact by evacuees, the news media and even some of the city's top officials, including the mayor and police superintendent.
The vast majority of reported atrocities committed by evacuees — mass murders, rapes and beatings — have turned out to be false, or at least unsupported by any evidence, according to key military, law-enforcement, medical and civilian officials in positions to know.
"I think 99 percent of it is [expletive]," said Sgt. 1st Class Jason Lachney, who played a key role in security and humanitarian work inside the Dome. "Don't get me wrong — bad things happened. But I didn't see any killing and raping and cutting of throats or anything ... 99 percent of the people in the Dome were very well-behaved."
Dr. Louis Cataldie, the state Health and Human Services Department administrator overseeing the body-recovery operation, said his teams were inundated with false reports.
Orleans Parish District Attorney Eddie Jordan said authorities have only confirmed four murders in the entire city in the aftermath of Katrina — making it a typical week in a city that anticipated more than 200 homicides this year.
"I had the impression that at least 40 or 50 murders had occurred at the two sites," he said. "It's unfortunate we saw these kinds of stories saying crime had taken place on a massive scale when that wasn't the case. And they [national media outlets] have done nothing to follow up on any of these cases; they just accepted what people [on the street] told them. ... It's not consistent with the highest standards of journalism."
It is, however, entirely consistent with a peculiar type of racism that sees a large group of African Americans as a recipe for violence and anarchy in the absence of strict control. And it's this racism --- not the kind of racism that would have had George W. Bush saying that he couldn't be bothered saving people because he hates blacks --- that played into the death and destruction of Katrina. We've managed to drive a lot of that overt hostility underground in the lat 40 years. The racist fear, however, is stoked every time a wily politician runs on the "law and order" platform.
Even the cops -- or maybe especially the cops --- were whipped into a frenzy:
As floodwaters forced tens of thousands of evacuees into the Dome and Convention Center, news of unspeakable acts poured out of the nation's media: People firing at helicopters trying to save them; women, children and even babies raped with abandon; people murdered for food and water; a 7-year-old raped and killed at the Convention Center.
Police, according to their chief, Eddie Compass, found themselves in multiple shootouts inside both shelters, and were forced to race toward muzzle flashes through the dark to disarm the criminals; snipers fired at doctors and soldiers from downtown high-rises.
In interviews with Oprah Winfrey, Compass reported rapes of "babies," and Mayor Ray Nagin spoke of "hundreds of armed gang members killing and raping people" inside the Dome. Other unidentified evacuees told of children stepping over so many bodies "we couldn't count."
The picture that emerged was one of the impoverished, overwhelmingly African-American masses of flood victims resorting to utter depravity, randomly attacking each other, as well as the police trying to protect them and the rescue workers trying to save them. The mayor told Winfrey the crowd has descended to an "almost animalistic state."
Four weeks after the storm, few of the widely reported atrocities have been backed with evidence. The piles of murdered bodies never materialized, and soldiers, police officers and rescue personnel on the front lines assert that, while anarchy reigned at times and people suffered indignities, most of the worst crimes reported at the time never happened.
"The information I had at the time, I thought it was credible," Compass said, admitting his earlier statements were false. Asked the source of the information, Compass said he didn't remember.
Nagin frankly acknowledged he doesn't know the extent of the mayhem that occurred inside the Superdome and the Convention Center — and may never. "I'm having a hard time getting a good body count," he said.
Compass conceded that rumor had overtaken, and often crippled, authorities' response to reported lawlessness, sending badly needed resources to situations that turned out not to exist.
Military, law-enforcement and medical workers agree that the flood of evacuees — about 30,000 at the Dome and an estimated 10,000 to 20,000 at the Convention Center — overwhelmed their security personnel.
The 400 to 500 soldiers in the Dome could have been easily overrun by increasingly agitated crowds in the Dome, but that never happened, said Col. James Knotts, a midlevel commander there. While the Convention Center saw plenty of mischief, including massive looting and isolated gunfire, and many inside cowered in fear, the hordes of evacuees for the most part did not resort to violence.
"Everything was embellished, everything was exaggerated," said Deputy Police Superintendent Warren Riley. "If one guy said he saw six bodies, then another guy the same six, and another guy saw them — then that became 18."
Inside the Superdome, where National Guardsmen performed rigorous security checks before allowing anyone inside, only one shooting has been verified — and even that shooting, injuring Louisiana Guardsman Chris Watt of the 527th Engineer Battalion, has been widely misreported, said Maj. David Baldwin, who led the team of soldiers who arrested the alleged assailant.
Watt had indeed been attacked inside one of the Dome's locker rooms, where he entered with another soldier. In the darkness, as they walked through about six inches of water, Watt's attacker hit him with a metal rod, a piece of a cot. But the bullet that penetrated Watt's leg came from his own gun — he accidentally shot himself during the commotion. The attacker was sent to jail, Baldwin said.
Inside the Convention Center, Jimmie Fore, vice president of the state authority that runs the center, stayed in the building with a core group of 35 employees until Thursday. He said thugs hot-wired 75 forklifts and electric carts and looted food and booze, but he said he never saw any violent crimes committed, nor did any of his employees. Some, however, did report seeing armed men roaming the building, and Fore said he heard gunshots in the distance on about six occasions.
Rumors of rampant violence at the Convention Center prompted Louisiana National Guard Col. Jacques Thibodeaux to put together a 1,000-man force of soldiers and police in full battle gear to secure the center around noon on Friday.
It took only 20 minutes to take control, and soldiers met no resistance, Thibodeaux said. They found no evidence, witnesses or victims of any murders, rapes or beatings, Thibodeaux said.
One widely circulated story, told to The Times-Picayune by a slew of evacuees and two Arkansas National Guardsman, held that "30 or 40 bodies" were stored in a Convention Center freezer.
But a formal Arkansas Guard review of the matter later found that no soldier had actually seen the corpses, and that the information came from rumors in the food line for military, police and rescue workers in front of Harrah's Casino, said Col. John Edwards of the Arkansas National Guard, who conducted the review.
I doubt that this will get the kind of wide coverage that the initial reports did. And those initial reports clearly indicate that relief was held back because of the alleged anarchy in the streets:
Violence disrupted relief efforts Thursday in New Orleans as authorities rescued desperate residents still trapped in the flooded city and tried to evacuate thousands of others living among corpses and human waste.
Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Michael Brown said his agency was attempting to work "under conditions of urban warfare."
Police snipers were stationed on the roof of their precinct, trying to protect it from armed miscreants roaming seemingly at will.
Officers warned a CNN crew to stay off the streets because of escalating danger, and cautioned others about attempted shootings and rapes by groups of young men.
They had to wait for more National Guard to put down the crazy violence. Remember, nobody could come in with relief supplies because it was too dangerous.
About 24,000 National Guard members will be in Louisiana and Mississippi by the end of the week to combat looting and quell gunfire that disrupted the rescue of survivors of Hurricane Katrina.
U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said today at a news conference that 1,400 will go to New Orleans daily for the next three days, expanding a force of 3,000 that's trying to maintain order in a city flooded and left without power by the storm three days ago.
Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco said National Guardsmen from Arkansas were prepared to use deadly force as they try to restore order in New Orleans, the Times-Picayune reported.
Blanco said at a news conference today that the guardsmen ``know how to shoot to kill ... and I expect they will,'' the New Orleans newspaper said.
Some rescue operations by the Federal Emergency Management Agency were suspended in areas where gunfire broke out, Homeland Security spokesman Russ Knocke said in Washington, the Associated Press reported. People trying to board amphibious vehicles outside New Orleans's Charity Hospital were shot at while trying to evacuate, Cable News Network reported.
The Bush administration Official Katrina Talking Point these days is directed entirely at this situation. They are making the case that if the federal government had had direct control of the situation they could have called in the National Guard instead of ebing forced to wait for the hormonal, hysterical Kathleen Blanco to stop wringing her flighty hands and ask for them. The rationale seems to be that if they could have "secured" the city earlier there would have been a quicker response.
But it was fear of the black mob that prevented the relief agencies from entering the city --- a paranoid delusion. The red cross and others could have come into the city days earlier. There were those who said that they shouldn't be allowed to provide food and water because the evacuees would allegedly be so content that they would not be inclined to leave. But they were also told that they'd be mobbed by the crazed crowd and perhaps killed by the roving gangs of armed thugs who were raping babies and killing anyone who got in their way.
They have been able to confirm four murders in New Orleans in the aftermath of Katrina. The same number that there would have been if Katrina had not hit. One of them took place at the Convention Center. There were no murders at the Superdome. The cop who was famously shot down by a roving gang actually shot himself in the leg by accident.
We don't know how many people died because people were so afraid of the black mob that they would not allow relief workers with food, water and medical help into the city in the days after the flooding. I wonder if this tragic little lady made it to a more dignified place to live out her last days.
Dorothy Divic, 89, is surrounded by onlookers trying to keep her alive on a street outside the New Orleans Convention Center September 1, 2005. Several people among the thousands of stranded hurricane evacuees have died while waiting outside the building, with no sign of imminent help on the way. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
Update: If you've been denied the opportunity to read this widely disseminated e-maim Snopes has it in its entirety. It starts off like this:
I've been watching the news lately and have seen scenes that have made me want to vomit. And no it wasn't dead bodies, the city under water, or the sludge everywhere. It was PEOPLE'S BEHAVIOR. The people on T.V. (99% being Black) were DEMANDING help. They were not asking nicely but demanding as if society owed these people something. Well the honest truth is WE DON'T.
Help should be asked for in a kind manner and then appreciated. This is not what the press (FOX in particular) was showing, what I was seeing was a group of people who are yelling, demanding, looting, killing, raping, and SHOOTING back at the demanded help!
And so it goes. And FoxNews is reporting that authorities are doing backround checks on evacuees who are seeking shelter and over half have criminal records.
"It's a balancing act," said Kyle Smith, deputy director of the Kansas Bureau of Investigation (search). "We don't want to treat them like criminals after they have been traumatized, but we want to make sure they are in no danger nor the families they are housed with."
No word on those who have enough money to stay in hotels. Lock up the white women.
I am aware that both Compass and Nagin are black. African Americans were also usually the ones who blew the whistle on slave revolts. It's a complicated psychology. Certainly one can understand why people in jobs of trust and authority would want to distance themselves from a group that is so widely feared and reviled.
digby 9/26/2005 03:15:00 PM
And So It Begins
Via media matters:
LIMBAUGH: From the Associated Press, Mary Dalrymple doing the honors of writing this story. "House and Senate tax writers agreed yesterday to a package of tax breaks designed to help Hurricane Katrina victims recoup their losses and access needed cash. The Congressional Research Service, an office that provides lawmakers with nonpartisan legislative analysis, said some of those tax breaks could do more for higher income survivors than for the neediest."
Yes. People, they're going to get tax breaks for Katrina. It may help the rich more. The rich may benefit more from taxes and tax cuts that result from Hurricane Katrina. We should rethink this, ladies and gentlemen. Even though the rich were wiped out too, they still may benefit more. I will guarantee you this, ladies and gentlemen: Many of those getting tax cuts in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina will not have paid any taxes at all. The people who pay taxes today are primarily the upper middle class, the rich, whatever you're going to call them, and the filthy wealthy.
It's not worth it to try to specifically decifer his incoherant ramblings, but the message comes through anyway.
Poor people are going to be getting something they don't deserve. And I think we know which poor people he is talking about.
digby 9/26/2005 02:40:00 PM
Losing Its Honor
Americablog has a long post up about the warporn, which I wrote about last week. I do not suggest that you click through to the pictures unless you have a very strong stomach.
It's worth noting that this site and the stories of prisoner torture that came out in the last week are part of a story that nobody wants to deal with --- that is, the story of individual soldiers committing depraved acts on their own. Shystee over at Corrente, takes me to task for suggesting such a thing, and I plead guilty. There is a point at which individual soldiers have to take responsibility as well as the higher ups, whom I agree bear the brunt of the blame.
But, I have seen no evidence that the military heirarchy has instituted a policy of posting gory pictures on sex sites of Iraqis whom we've liberated from their lives. It's possible, I suppose, but this looks to be a matter of individuals entertaining themselves. As I wrote before, I know that taking pictures of battlefield dead has been around since Matthew Brady --- and it has served the purpose of documenting the horrors of war for all to see. But this melding of sexual porn and bloody war gore is the sign of something sadistic and perverted (and yes, fascistic.)
There is one stomach churning picture that shows a horrible mangled stump where a foot should be, presumably blown up in a land mine or something like it --- and the naked crotch of the woman whose stump is being displayed. It's called "Nice puss/Bad foot." It's possible that the picture is photo-shopped, but regardless of the veracity of the picture itself, it's obvious that any man who gets an erection from that pic is a man who should not be carrying a gun.
These guys are allowing their ids to run wild and I don't think there is any excuse for it. They know the difference between right and wrong. They are not under orders to post these pictures nor can there be any thought that it helps the war effort by scaring the "Hajis" or giving these soldiers a forum in which to "release" their "steam." It's pure tittilation --- "warporn" in the most literal sense and it speaks to something seriously wrong with the military culture that says on the one hand that we are there to liberate the Iraqi people and on the other that these people's dead and mangled bodies are strangely sexually stimulating.
Note that there is no discussion as to whether these Iraqis are "Baathists" "bitter-enders," "terrorists," "insurgents" --- or the "good" Iraqis who we liberated from the sick, depraved Saddam. One of the pictures is simply entitled "Die Haji Die." It is assumed that any dead Iraqi is a terrorist --- and that, as we know, is impossible.
None of this is to say that the systematic sexual torture regime we've seen in both Iraq and Guantanamo is just the result of a barrel of bad apples. Clearly, the military have taken the simple-minded lessons of "The Arab Mind" to heart and believe that if they sexually humiliate the "Hajis" they'll crumple. (Big strong American men, meanwhile, wouldn't be affected whatsoever by being forced to simulate anal sex with other men or being jeered at while wearing ladies underwear.)I think it's pretty clear that the highest reaches of the government signed off on a whole lot of questionable kinky stuff in the mistaken idea that arabs are different from you and me. And it would appear that some of the soldiers have predictably taken this to heart.
And even if you are to set aside the kinky sexual nature of the War On Terror, I can't actually understand how anyone would think that even the total abdication of the Geneva Conventions allows for a cook to break a prisoner's leg with a baseball bat because he needed to relieve some stress. (Did the prisoner complain that there was too much lemon in the bernaise sauce and he just couldn't take it any more?)
I remember this fascinating letter to Josh Marshall back in May of 2004, from an unnamed ex-military officer. It was right as the Abu Ghraib story broke:
"... it is no secret that ON THE STREET the US Army was and remains openly kicking Iraqi asses whenever and wherever they want to.
About the Army - Man, it hurts my heart to write this about an institution I dearly love but this army is completely dysfunctional, angry and is near losing its honor. We are back to the Army of 1968.
Unlike the wars of the past 20 years where the Army encouraged (needed) soldiers, NGOs, allies and civil organizations to work together to resolve matters and return to normal society, the US Forces only trust themselves here and that means they set their own limits and tolerances. Abu Ghuraib are good examples of that limit. I told a Journalist the other day that these kids here are being told that they are chasing Al Qaeda in the War on Terrorism so they think everyone at Abu Ghuraib had something to do with 9/11. So they were encouraged to make them pay. These kids thought they were going to be honored for hunting terrorists.
The fact that George W. Bush and Dick Cheney said, "we're taking the gloves off" certainly created an environment in which the rule of law seemed to have been completely tossed aside. This country went temporarily insane after 9/11. I guess the military hierarchy lost its bearings too, which I find surprising since the highest levels of the officer corps are steeped in the lessons of Vietnam and presumably understood that this was likely the road to perdition.
The lies and misdirection conflating Al Qaeda with Saddam probably contributed more than anything to the horrors that many Iraqis faced at our hands during the first year or so of the occupation. Many soldiers surely internalized the idea that they were wreaking revenge for 9/11. In this, the buck goes all the way to the top and comes to a screeching halt on the desk of the heroic Commander Codpiece. Bush and his boys should have to answer for that, but I suppose it will be left to history to sort it out.
The Human Rights Watch Report about the beatings and torture by the 82nd Airborn does not feature the sexual humiliation and torture, but rather the good old fashioned kind.
On their day off people would show up all the time. Everyone in camp knew if you wanted to work out your frustration you show up at the PUC tent. In a way it was sport. The cooks were all US soldiers. One day a sergeant shows up and tells a PUC to grab a pole. He told him to bend over and broke the guy’s leg with a mini Louisville Slugger that was a metal bat. He was the fucking cook. He shouldn’t be in with no PUCs. The PA came and said to keep him off the leg. Three days later they transported the PUC to Abu Ghraib. The Louisville Slugger [incident] happened around November 2003, certainly before Christmas.
People would just volunteer just to get their frustrations out. We had guys from all over the base just come to guard PUCs so they could fuck them up. Broken bones didn’t happen too often, maybe every other week. The PA would overlook it. I am sure they knew.
The interrogator [a sergeant] worked in the [intelligence] office. He was former Special Forces. He would come into the PUC tent and request a guy by number. Everyone was tagged. He would say, “Give me #22.” And we would bring him out. He would smoke the guy and fuck him. He would always say to us, “You didn’t see anything, right?” And we would always say, “No, Sergeant.”
One day a soldier came to the PUC tent to get his aggravation out and filled his hands with dirt and hit a PUC in the face. He fucked him. That was the communications guy.
One night a guy came and broke chem lights10 open and beat the PUCs with it. That made them glow in the dark which was real funny but it burned their eyes and their skin was irritated real bad.
If a PUC cooperated Intel would tell us that he was allowed to sleep or got extra food. If he felt the PUC was lying he told us he doesn’t get any fucking sleep and gets no food except maybe crackers. And he tells us to smoke him. [Intel] would tell the Lieutenant that he had to smoke the prisoners and that is what we were told to do. No sleep, water, and just crackers. That’s it. The point of doing all this was to get them ready for interrogation. [The intelligence officer] said he wanted the PUCs so fatigued, so smoked, so demoralized that they want to cooperate. But half of these guys got released because they didn’t do nothing. We sent them back to Fallujah. But if he’s a good guy, you know, now he’s a bad guy because of the way we treated him.
After Abu Ghraib things toned down. We still did it but we were careful. It is still going on now the same way, I am sure. Maybe not as blatant but it is how we do things.
The men who spoke out were conflicted, as I would expect anyone to be. They were bedeviled by a system of rules that broke down when the leadership of this country lost its moral moorings and they did not know how to change the situation from within. You can read their agony of conscience right there on the page. But in the end they have stepped up to report what they saw --- and even participated in. They know it was wrong. So do many, many others who have said nothing.
I understand that it is difficult to stand up against the macho military culture that makes it possible to swallow fear and face people who are trying to kill you. I know that soldiers are trained to be machines and they give up a large piece of their free will to their superiors for the good of the unit. But, at some point, each individual is still a human being and has to answer to his conscience. When someone like Joseph Darby comes forward, or this West Point officer and the two sergeants last week, they are acting against a system and peer pressure that is enormous. They are brave men who prove that it is possible to resist the immense pressure to conform. And that is why they are hated. They show that those who participated have violated basic norms of decent human behavior, even in war --- and they show that those who say nothing are cowards.
Sadly, I think our sick culture at this point is actually rewarding those who decry the sense of personal responsibility that leads a soldier to speak out against depraved behavior --- and excuse barbaric, cruel behavior as a normal way to relieve tension.
Like Rush Limbaugh who says:
I think the reaction to the stupid torture is an example of the feminization of this country.
You know, these people are being fired at every day. I'm talking about people having a good time, these people, you ever heard of emotional release? You ever heard of need to blow some steam off?
Or these fellows, writing on the warporn site:
Everyone needs downtime, and some need to face the demons, whatever that may be and this site is good for that...It also lets everyone know thsat when they get back they will be accepted ...let the entertainment continue.
This site allows soldiers to blow off some steam...Guys, I love this site and I love the pictures. Keep 'em coming and watch your six boys. Hajis deserve death, never forget it.
"Oh, by the way, fuck them camel jockeys. We didn't start this shit, and we certainly aren't hiding behind civilians with 20lbs of explosives strapped to our chests and hidden in a car."
Only we did start this shit, didn't we?
This is why the warmongers who type themselves into a frenzy supporting this war should have the balls to go over and fight it. Jonah Goldberg and Peter Beinert and Paul Ghouley should have to stand there and ask themselves these questions --- confront the nightmares that are going to curse these soldiers for the rest of their lives as they try to reconcile what they saw and did.
It's a nice, pretty abstract concept --- fighting tyranny and terrorism for the red, white and blue. But in reality it's standing in a doorway watching a psychopathic cook break a prisoners leg with a baseball bat because he's is feeling stressed. It's hearing innocent people screaming because they have had chemicals dripped into their eyes and on their skin so they'll "glow in the dark" and amuse the soldiers. It's having your humanity and your decency challenged every single day and not knowing if you will meet all the tests of bravery, conscience and loyalty that are required in a war that is being fought for vague and inscrutable reasons.
Jonah believes that we are liberating the Iraqi people from a totalitarian dictator. Does he then agree that it's part of the mission to oggle an Iraqi womans privates while he gloats that her foot was blown off? Does he know what he would do if confronted with sadists who believe that the only good Iraqi is a dead Iraqi? That "they started this shit?"
The chickenhawks can claim that it is perfectly acceptable to support a war that they have no intention of fighting. But they cannot claim that it is just fine to support a war in which our troops have behaved in an immoral and indecent fashion, which the military has covered up and which was implicitly condoned by the highest reaches of our government. If they supported this they should have to share in the trials of conscience that afflict these poor bastards from the 82nd airborn who came forward (and the ones who did not.) They should have to share in the visions of blood and gore that we see on thay sick porn site and they should have to live with what has been done in their name.
If you support this country's loss of honor you should have to get down in the mud and grovel with all those who've lost their struggle to maintain their humanity while fighting a war that has no end, that doesn't know who it's fighting that sees sex and violence intertwined in a sick and twisted way --- and that celebrates random, wanton killing of the people we are allegedly fighting for. The chickenhawks in this war, of all wars, are the ones who should have to suffer alongside those who lost their souls killing and beating and torturing for a cause that didn't exist.
If you haven't read Billmon's incredible post on this subject, you need to.
digby 9/26/2005 10:11:00 AM