the holistic radical

January 20, 2008

Giuliani’s Agenda–Please do not vote for this man

Filed under: elections, politics — Tags: , , , — sesame seed @ 7:22 pm

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Silver tongue may haunt Rudy Giuliani

Sunday, January 20th 2008, 4:00 AM

Rudy Giuliani made millions as a lawyer and consultant, but he pocketed far more by giving $100,000-a-pop speeches to corporate bigwigs – many who would likely hope for a friendly ear in a Giuliani White House.

The Republican presidential hopeful has released details on 126 speeches he gave in 2006 and early 2007, when he exited the lucrative speakers’ circuit and hit the campaign trail in earnest.

But an exhaustive review of public documents by the Daily News has identified a total of 280 speeches that the former mayor has given since leaving City Hall in 2002, many to powerful corporate interests who paid him handsomely – and whose lobbying of Washington will unquestionably continue no matter who wins the White House.

The groups include a drug company active in embryonic stem-cell research, as well as a hospital association working to add “flexibility” to the nation’s immigration laws – both hot-button issues within the GOP.

The list – representing an estimated $25 million in income for Giuliani between 2002 and 2007, based on his typical fees – poses an unusual source of potential conflicts.

As President, Giuliani would have oversight of contracts and policies affecting industry groups that have directly paid him big bucks in the past, experts noted.

Of the 280 speeches Giuliani is known to have made since 2002, roughly 220 were to private, business-oriented groups in the U.S. Of those groups, 44 already employ lobbyists in Washington, disclosure forms show.

“This is kind of a subtle way for corporations to spread their influence,” said Bob Edgar, a former Democratic congressman from Pennsylvania and now president of Common Cause, the national campaign finance watchdog group. “If you’ve given someone $100,000 for an hour-long speech and [you] call the White House asking for a meeting, my guess is that meeting will be held.”

The speeches are perhaps the least investigated, but not only, source of potential business conflicts in Giuliani’s past.

The former mayor remains a partner at his consulting firm, Giuliani Partners, as well as at Bracewell & Giuliani, the Texas-based law firm that has carried his name since 2003.

He has so far refused to release a complete client list from either firm. But a review of court records, business filings and other publicly available documents has turned up some 175 legal and consulting clients, many with backgrounds that seem ready-made for political attack ads.

They include Saudi Arabia’s oil ministry, owners of nuclear reactors, a pharmaceutical giant fined for fraud, a tobacco company and even an admitted cocaine smuggler who later developed a system for tracking down terrorists.

Aides to the former mayor have argued that Giuliani was simply giving speeches “to a wide range of companies that wanted to hear him speak about his own unique experiences and lessons on leadership.”

“Rudy Giuliani is his own candidate, and he will continue to run for President on the issues and ideas he believes are important to the future of this country,” said Giuliani spokeswoman Maria Comella, adding that he is not alone in the speech-making department.

Mike Huckabee, a former Baptist minister and GOP rival, collected $35,000 in speaking fees last year from drug-maker Novo Nordisk, a leading advocate for embryonic stem-cell research, Politico.com has reported.

Giuliani’s general response to his past business ties is that his firms performed good, honest work and he has stepped down from any day-to-day dealings. He has also argued that many of his law firm’s clients predated his arrival in 2003.

That’s a degree of separation, however, that does not exist for Giuliani on the speaking fees – they were paid directly to him and typically amounted to more money per speech than the average American family makes in a year.

Many of those who paid Giuliani $100,000 or more for an hour-long speech represent interests that could prove troubling to Republican voters.

He pocketed $48,000, for instance, from Novartis Pharmaceuticals, a company that has been active in embryonic stem-cell research.

He received an undisclosed sum from the American Hospital Association, which has worked to increase flexibility in immigration laws – a position not embraced by many GOP voters – to let hospitals employ more foreign-trained nurses.

In other cases, Giuliani seems to have largely adopted the policy goals of groups who swelled his bank account in the years after he left City Hall.

They include several health care companies and associations, among them Assurant Health, a leading underwriter of health insurance policies bought by individuals who paid Giuliani $40,000 for a speech in July 2006. Giuliani has made growing the individual market for insurance a centerpiece of his health care plan.

The former mayor also spoke to the American Nuclear Society (ANS), nuclear power’s main industry association. Giuliani the candidate has vowed to expand nuclear power as part of a plan to push the country toward energy independence.

Recently, the ANS lobbied Congress, the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency on issues related to disposal of high-level nuclear waste, according to lobbying disclosure reports filed with the U.S. Senate.

dsaltonstall@nydailynews.com

List from Daily News Article

Couldn’t find the associated graphic on the Daily News website, so here is a list from the callout box associated with the above article, which practically replaces the article, which itself is a little vague with the proper names.

Follow the Money

Here are Rudy Giuliani’s main sources of income in recent years, as well as some of the politically wired or controversial clients and audiences he has accepted fees from as a lawyer, consultant or speaker.

Giuliani Partners LLC: A consulting firm. Income reported by Giuliani for 2006: $4,108,328. Clients have included:

  • Seisint Inc.–Giuliani Partners hooked up with Florida-based Seisint in 2002, but the company hit the skids amid concerns that its data-tracking product violated privacy. It didn’t help when one of the company’s founders, Hank Asher, admitted to smuggling cocaine earlier in life.
  • Purdue Pharma–The maker of the painkiller OxyContin, Purdue hired Giuliani to help address growing PR and security woes after OcyContin became a popular black market drug. Purdue and three top executives ultimately pleaded guilty to marketing fraud and paid $634 million in fines.
  • Entergy Nuclear–Entergy operates Westchester County’s Indian Point nuclear power plant, which has faced growing public opposition since 9/11 over safety questions. The company also hired Giuliani to develop a security plan.
  • Qatar–Giuliani Safety & Security has provided counterterrorism advice to Qatar, an emirate on the Persian Gulf. Qatar’s Interior ministar, Sheik Abdullah bin Khalid al-Thani, is suspected by some former U.S. officials of protecting Al Qaeda suspects.

Bracewell & Giuliani

The mayor’s Texas-based law firm. Income reported by Giuliani for 2006: $1,200,901. The firm’s legal and lobbying clients have included:

  • Saudi Arabia’s oil ministry–The firm is representing Saudi Arabia’s oil ministry in a Texas lawsuit on the same side as Citgo, which is controlled by Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez–another former Bracewell client.
  • The Scooter Store–The firm lobbied the Feds on Medicare coverage of power scooters. The store later agreed to pay $4 million in fines and give up $43 million in Medicare reimbursements over Justice Department allegations the company made false advertising claims to wheelchair patients.
  • News Corp.— The firm helped Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. lobby against the Indecent and Gratuitous and Excessively Violent Programming Control Act, a bill aimed at keeping graphic sex and violence off TV.
  • UST Public Affairs Inc.–The world’s leading producer of smokeless tobacco, including marquee brands Copenhagen and Skoal. Giuliani’s firm lobbied against a bill that would prevent tobacco firms from selling products through the mail.

Speeches

Giuliani has disclosed his fees from 126 mostly corporate groups that he addressed in 2006, but he gave many more in prior years. Income reported by Giuliani for 2006: $11,390,000. Audiences over the years have included:

  • Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp. –The drug company has been active in embryonic stem-cell research, a controversial issue among evangelical voters.
  • American Hospital Association–The nation’s leading hospital advocacy group, it has lobbied Washington to increase “flexibility” in immigration laws to let hospitals employ more immigrant nurses–a hot-button topic for the GOP.
  • Assurant Health–The company is a leading underwriter of health insurance policies bought by individuals. Giuliani has made growing that market for individual health policies a centerpiece of his health care plan.
  • American Nuclear Society–The nuclear industry’s leading association, the ANS has recently lobbied Congress, DOE and EPA on issues related to disposal of high-level waste. Giuliani has vowed to exapnd nuclear power aspart of a plan to push the country toward energy independence.”

Sources: Federal Election Commission, U.S. Senate Lobbying Disclosure Database

NY Daily News, Sunday, January 20, 2008, page 22.

Kant’s Categorical Imperative Wins Out Again—If Only Our Politicians Could Recognize It

http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/011908Z.shtml

    Go to Original

    Tom Ridge: Waterboarding Is Torture
By Eileen Sullivan
The Associated Press

    Friday 18 January 2008

    Washington – The first secretary of the Homeland Security Department says waterboarding is torture.

    “There’s just no doubt in my mind – under any set of rules – waterboarding is torture,” Tom Ridge said Friday in an interview with the Associated Press. Ridge had offered the same opinion earlier in the day to members of the American Bar Association at a homeland security conference.

    “One of America’s greatest strengths is the soft power of our value system and how we treat prisoners of war, and we don’t torture,” Ridge said in the interview. Ridge was secretary of the Homeland Security Department between 2003 and 2005. “And I believe, unlike others in the administration, that waterboarding was, is – and will always be – torture. That’s a simple statement.”

    Waterboarding is a harsh interrogation tactic that was used by CIA officers in 2002 and 2003 on three alleged al-Qaida terrorists. The tactic gives the subject the sensation of drowning.

    The CIA has not used the technique since 2003, and CIA Director Michael Hayden prohibited it in 2006, according to U.S. officials. The debate was recently revived when the CIA revealed it had destroyed videotapes showing the interrogations of two alleged terrorists, both of whom were waterboarded.

    Ridge’s comments come a week after a report that Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell said he would consider waterboarding torture if it were used against him. [NB: My emphasis.] 

    In a separate interview with The Associated Press on Thursday, the current Homeland Security secretary, Michael Chertoff, refused to say what he thinks of the interrogation technique. Chertoff, a former federal prosecutor and judge – who was also assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Criminal Division in 2002 – said the question should be asked in the context of a specific set of facts and a specific statute and should not be posed abstractly.

    “This is too important a discussion to have based on throwing one question at somebody,” Chertoff said.

    Attorney General Michael Mukasey has declined so far to rule on whether waterboarding constitutes torture. An affirmative finding by Mukasey could put at risk the CIA interrogators who were authorized by the White House in 2002 to waterboard three prisoners deemed resistant to conventional techniques.

    Ridge, homeland security adviser and then secretary from 2001 to 2005, said he was not involved in the discussions about CIA interrogation techniques. Rather, his department was a consumer of any intelligence gleaned from them.

    “I have no idea how any of the intelligence community extrapolated any information from anybody – where they got it, how they got it, and from whom they got it. But waterboarding is torture.”

    Ridge, a lawyer, wades into the waterboarding debate with both a military and civilian background. He is also a former Pennsylvania governor and congressman. He has since started his own homeland security consulting firm.

    “As a former soldier, I will tell you that we go to great pains, and a lot of men and women, who serve in the military at risk of their own lives, do everything they can to minimize civilian casualties and certainly do everything they can to respect the Geneva Convention.”

    The House and Senate intelligence committees want to prohibit the CIA from using any interrogation techniques not allowed by the military. That list includes waterboarding. If their intelligence bill containing the restriction is approved by Congress, it almost certainly will face a veto from President Bush.

  ——-

January 18, 2008

Ron Paul makes some excellent comments on the nature of freedom, leadership, and what the role of government should be–important notes for the current election

A great article by Ron Paul. Although I do not agree with everything he speaks of here–especially his invocation of Ayn Rand–at least he is discussing and questioning the serious philosophical underpinnings no other candidate seems to be addressing. No other candidate is even mentioning Orwell, despite how Orwellian our times have become–they want to put us further in the mire and take away more of our liberties, not preserve us from them.

In my opinion, government should promote economic rights, and then step out of the social/cultural/educational arena almost entirely (i.e., publicly funded schools and libraries are good, but not when moral police determine curriculums and what those institutions get to buy–which infringes on your right to do research and get information, and your freedom of speech). The government should not have anything to say about sexual acts, abortion, or anything else that does not violate someone else’s health or safety. (Yes, I know Paul is pro-life; I also know that he wouldn’t waste his political energy–or spend his “political capital”–making it a major issue to try to actively push through a law banning it. If anything, he’s the most pro-health freedom candidate out there, wanting to make it very hard for the FDA to [as it is currently trying to do] limit our access to herbs and alternative therapies not monopolized by Big Pharma and their lobbyists).

What’s impressive here is that Paul is an old-school public civil servant, not a new-school spin-dominated “pol.” He is concerned about checking the powers of government, not enlarging it, as Bush has done so egregiously (with exploding the power of the executive and with signing statements, and now with probably knowingly allowing his government to mislead the public–if not overtly lie to the public–concerning the nature of CIA torture and the existence of taped evidence thereof).  Paul is the only candidate who seems actually concerned about governance, not media damage control or PR doctoring of mass opinion, or of maintaining propaganda. For this alone, he represents true freethinking and change, and a step in the right direction, even if he does not support as much of an economic safety net as I would like. At least, unlike the other candidates–including the democrats–he doesn’t get in the quagmire of promising what he can’t deliver.

————

http://www.ronpaul2008.com/articles/161/what-does-freedom-really-mean/

Dr. Paul’s WritingsWhat Does Freedom Really Mean?

Summary:

Few Americans understand that all government action is inherently coercive. If nothing else, government action requires taxes. If taxes were freely paid, they wouldn’t be called taxes, they’d be called donations. If we intend to use the word freedom in an honest way, we should have the simple integrity to give it real meaning: Freedom is living without government coercion. So when a politician talks about freedom for this group or that, ask yourself whether he is advocating more government action or less.


“…man is not free unless government is limited. There’s a clear cause and effect here that is as neat and predictable as a law of physics: As government expands, liberty contracts.”
Ronald Reagan


We’ve all heard the words democracy and freedom used countless times, especially in the context of our invasion of Iraq. They are used interchangeably in modern political discourse, yet their true meanings are very different.

George Orwell wrote about “meaningless words” that are endlessly repeated in the political arena*. Words like “freedom,” “democracy,” and “justice,” Orwell explained, have been abused so long that their original meanings have been eviscerated. In Orwell’s view, political words were “Often used in a consciously dishonest way.” Without precise meanings behind words, politicians and elites can obscure reality and condition people to reflexively associate certain words with positive or negative perceptions. In other words, unpleasant facts can be hidden behind purposely meaningless language. As a result, Americans have been conditioned to accept the word “democracy” as a synonym for freedom, and thus to believe that democracy is unquestionably good.

The problem is that democracy is not freedom. Democracy is simply majoritarianism, which is inherently incompatible with real freedom. Our founding fathers clearly understood this, as evidenced not only by our republican constitutional system, but also by their writings in the Federalist Papers and elsewhere. James Madison cautioned that under a democratic government, “There is nothing to check the inducement to sacrifice the weaker party or the obnoxious individual.” John Adams argued that democracies merely grant revocable rights to citizens depending on the whims of the masses, while a republic exists to secure and protect pre-existing rights. Yet how many Americans know that the word “democracy” is found neither in the Constitution nor the Declaration of Independence, our very founding documents?

A truly democratic election in Iraq, without U.S. interference and U.S. puppet candidates, almost certainly would result in the creation of a Shiite theocracy. Shiite majority rule in Iraq might well mean the complete political, economic, and social subjugation of the minority Kurd and Sunni Arab populations. Such an outcome would be democratic, but would it be free? Would the Kurds and Sunnis consider themselves free? The administration talks about democracy in Iraq, but is it prepared to accept a democratically-elected Iraqi government no matter what its attitude toward the U.S. occupation? Hardly. For all our talk about freedom and democracy, the truth is we have no idea whether Iraqis will be free in the future. They’re certainly not free while a foreign army occupies their country. The real test is not whether Iraq adopts a democratic, pro-western government, but rather whether ordinary Iraqis can lead their personal, religious, social, and business lives without interference from government.

Simply put, freedom is the absence of government coercion. Our Founding Fathers understood this, and created the least coercive government in the history of the world. The Constitution established a very limited, decentralized government to provide national defense and little else. States, not the federal government, were charged with protecting individuals against criminal force and fraud. For the first time, a government was created solely to protect the rights, liberties, and property of its citizens. Any government coercion beyond that necessary to secure those rights was forbidden, both through the Bill of Rights and the doctrine of strictly enumerated powers. This reflected the founders’ belief that democratic government could be as tyrannical as any King.

Few Americans understand that all government action is inherently coercive. If nothing else, government action requires taxes. If taxes were freely paid, they wouldn’t be called taxes, they’d be called donations. If we intend to use the word freedom in an honest way, we should have the simple integrity to give it real meaning: Freedom is living without government coercion. So when a politician talks about freedom for this group or that, ask yourself whether he is advocating more government action or less.

The political left equates freedom with liberation from material wants, always via a large and benevolent government that exists to create equality on earth. To modern liberals, men are free only when the laws of economics and scarcity are suspended, the landlord is rebuffed, the doctor presents no bill, and groceries are given away. But philosopher Ayn Rand (and many others before her) demolished this argument by explaining how such “freedom” for some is possible only when government takes freedoms away from others. In other words, government claims on the lives and property of those who are expected to provide housing, medical care, food, etc. for others are coercive– and thus incompatible with freedom. “Liberalism,” which once stood for civil, political, and economic liberties, has become a synonym for omnipotent coercive government.

The political right equates freedom with national greatness brought about through military strength. Like the left, modern conservatives favor an all-powerful central state– but for militarism, corporatism, and faith-based welfarism. Unlike the Taft-Goldwater conservatives of yesteryear, today’s Republicans are eager to expand government spending, increase the federal police apparatus, and intervene militarily around the world. The last tenuous links between conservatives and support for smaller government have been severed. “Conservatism,” which once meant respect for tradition and distrust of active government, has transformed into big-government utopian grandiosity.

Orwell certainly was right about the use of meaningless words in politics. If we hope to remain free, we must cut through the fog and attach concrete meanings to the words politicians use to deceive us. We must reassert that America is a republic, not a democracy, and remind ourselves that the Constitution places limits on government that no majority can overrule. We must resist any use of the word “freedom” to describe state action. We must reject the current meaningless designations of “liberals” and “conservatives,” in favor of an accurate term for both: statists.

Every politician on earth claims to support freedom. The problem is so few of them understand the simple meaning of the word.

 

*Politics and the English Language, 1946.

Keywords: Civil Liberties, Constitution

Still the economy, stupid—Will this election help the middle class and the poor?

Without a stable middle class, this country has no reason to survive, and there will be mass discontent.

As this article points out, making a middle class salary no longer signifies that one can have a middle class quality of life due to inflationary pressures. In other words, a dollar worth less makes survival difficult for everyone, especially the middle class and the poor.

Maybe the dollar’s so low because we have a huge national debt and because we import almost everything, making few products here. That’s how buying American-made whenever available really does matter–it’s not jingoistic as much as it is good economic and environmental policy. When we lose our manufacturing infrastructure, all we have are desk-jockey jobs, inequitably distributed to those who have “educational,” family-based or other connections–the precise opposite of a meritocracy; instead we have a hierarchy based on appearances and credentials which are purchased more than earned. That’s why, unfortunately, an American education still means nothing.

The bubble is beginning to burst. With this election, we have out last chance to set priorities, make changes, and fix inequities. The middle class and the poor are beginning to not be so distant–and as such, they need to align politically in this election to help each other out. If they can move beyond racism and geographical and local segregation to see their common interests (and please not vote for Giuliani or Clinton, picking Obama, Paul, or Kucinich instead), real change can finally begin to happen with those numbers.

If we decide to do nothing, or keep doing what we have been doing, things will only get worse.

One problem: where is Ron Paul in this article?

newsday.com/news/opinion/ny-opwhe165539332jan16,0,7517032.story

Newsday.com

Candidates lack concrete plans to aid middle class

BY JENNIFER WHEARY AND THOMAS SHAPIRO

Jennifer Wheary is a senior fellow at New York-based public policy organization Demos, and Thomas Shapiro is director of the Institute on Assets and Social Policy at Brandeis University’s

January 16, 2008
The primary election results so far show that candidates need to work harder. The fact that the race is still open does not mean we voters can’t make up our minds. It means we are thinking very carefully about what’s best for the country and what policies will bring about true change.

Addressing economic insecurity among the middle class has been a recurring theme among the contenders and a top concern in the polls.

Candidates have played to this concern, but only superficially. Politics often turns into a game of appearances, so that it’s not about who has the solutions but who has the best sound bites.

We’ve seen a large sampling of sound bites from candidates from both parties about what it takes to strengthen the middle class. This has mostly amounted to bickering about whether tax reform or a massive mortgage bailout or better trade policy or health care reform is the magic bullet.

What we haven’t seen from anyone is a true understanding of what being middle class means, and what it should be.

Being middle class means having financial security. That security requires the education level necessary to find a good job and the ability to afford housing and essential living expenses. It requires having enough financial assets to provide a safety net for troubled times and a nest egg for the future. It means having adequate health insurance to ensure that financial stability is not eroded in the event of an unforeseen illness.

Tens of millions of American families earning a middle-class salary are unable to meet these basic conditions.

Only about one in three middle-class families has the critical mass of financial assets, higher education, affordable housing, adequate income and health insurance needed for long-term economic security. In fact, one out of four families is so weak in these areas that it is in danger of slipping out of the middle class.

The troubling signs do not stop there.

More than half of middle-class families have no net financial assets whatsoever or debt levels that exceed their assets.

More than one in five middle-class families has less than $100 left over each week after covering essential living expenses such as food, housing, clothing, transportation, health care, personal care, education, personal insurance and pensions.

More than a quarter of middle-class families match the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s definition of being housing burdened – spending more than 30 percent of their after-tax income on housing.

In nearly one in four of middle-class families, at least one member lacks health insurance of any kind.

In the age of appearances, our candidates have chosen to overlook the implications of these hard facts.

It is time to send them a clear message. The middle class does not need a Botox bolster, a series of superficial, short-term sound-bite solutions. We need a complete makeover.

This requires vision and bold new ideas, not bickering among opponents or across congressional aisles. It’s time to push past appearances and challenge our campaigners to engage in a serious national discussion about how to build a broader and more secure middle class.

This is no easy task. It requires that candidates lose the platitudes and describe concrete plans to make it easier for low- and moderate-income families to enter the middle class and for those already in the middle class to stay there.

Why should candidates go the extra mile?

When you count up those Americans who either have earnings that fall below middle-class incomes (below 200 percent of the poverty line) or have middle-class incomes but lack the basic pillars of economic stability, middle-class financial security eludes an estimated 70 million working-age households.

And that’s the kind of number that can turn the tide of an election.

Incredible must-read article by Nat Hentoff–what the CIA had to destroy

Hentoff is a national treasure. We are running out of time to impeach Bush, and Hentoff presents more persuasive reasons why such action is not only warranted, but necessary. Average citizens will not be protected from CIA-allowed torture in the future, and the destruction of evidence going on here is not only unjust and morally shady, but it’s outright criminal–here are the actions of power out of control, here are the frantic moves of an empire crumbling.
The whole “is waterboarding torture” debate should not be taking place, and speaks volumes about our moral degradation. Of course waterboarding is torture: it is more than “simulated drowning”–it is all but real drowning–it is oxygen deprivation and it is being used to coerce information out of people–people who do not even have to be formally charged with any crime, who can be you or me called an “enemy combatant” (see the debate on internet freedoms and why S. 1959 must be defeated–Ron Paul is the only candidate taking a stand on this). Average citizens must go on the record and display their abhorrence to it, if governments are being reprehensible about it.
http://www.villagevoice.com/generic/show_print.php?id=78870&page=&issue=0803&printcde=MzYwMTc2NzQwMg==&refpage=L2FkbWluL2VkaXQvZWRpdC5waHA/aWQ9Nzg4NzAmc2VjdGlvbj1uZXdz
Nat Hentoff
What the CIA Had to Destroy
The many reasons this torture evidence was too hot to handle
by Nat Hentoff
January 15th, 2008 6:14 PM
So what was on those videotapes destroyed by the CIA? Let’s put a face to it. Abu Zubaydah was captured in Pakistan in 2002 and, after being shot in the groin while trying to escape, was sent to recover in a CIA secret prison. He would be the first of the CIA’s many “ghost prisoners”—and also the first to test the value of what the president has often described as an “alternative set of [interrogation] procedures . . . that are safe and necessary.”As described by Ron Suskind in The One Percent Doctrine: Deep Inside America’s Pursuit of Its Enemies Since 9/11 , Zubaydah—held in an ice-cold cell—was denied medication for his wounds, threatened with death, prevented from sleeping, incessantly blasted with pounding rock music (by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, among others), and, at last, waterboarded. After 30 seconds of feeling that he was on the verge of drowning, he was more than eager to answer any questions.

In a September 6, 2006, speech, George W. Bush triumphantly called Zubaydah “one of the top operatives plotting and planning death and destruction on the United States.” After the application of those “alternative” interrogation procedures, which the president described as “designed to . . . comply with our laws, our Constitution, and our treaty obligations, [and which] the Department of Justice reviewed extensively and determined to be lawful,” the detainee “disclosed Khalid Sheikh Mohammed [to be] the mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks” and “also provided information that helped stop a terrorist attack being planned for inside the United States.”

But, Suskind added, two weeks before Bush’s words of praise for these “coercive” interrogations, Dan Coleman—the FBI’s leading expert on Al Qaeda—asserted that Zubaydah was “insane, certifiable, split personality,” and that he wasn’t the top operative he was made out to be. The CIA was informed of Coleman’s assessment, and it was, “of course, briefed to the President and Vice President.” Undaunted, Bush made his congratulatory speech and then surreptitiously said to CIA director George Tenet: “I said he was important. You’re not going to let me lose face on this, are you?”

After his involuntary contribution to the advanced arts of interrogation, Zubaydah became a resident of our penal colony at Guantánamo Bay, which the president has made an entirely law-free zone, much like the CIA’s secret prisons. But after two Supreme Court decisions contradicted the commander in chief in his assertion of unfettered war powers, the Bush administration reluctantly set up a transparently prosecutorial kangaroo court there.

In April of last year, appearing before a status-review tribunal to determine whether he had been accurately designated as an enemy combatant, Zubaydah testified, as reported in the New York Times, that as a Palestinian, and because of American support for Israel, “I have been an enemy of yours since I was a child.”

However, he insisted that as a longtime adherent of “defensive jihad”—and despite what he’d said after being waterboarded—”I disagreed with the Al Qaeda philosophy of targeting innocent civilians like those at the World Trade Center. . . . I never conducted nor financially supported, nor helped in any operation against America.”

He explained that he’d made false statements while being tortured by the CIA. Asked by the president of the tribunal, an Air Force colonel, “Can you describe a little bit more about what those treatments were?”, Zubaydah obliged.

Not surprisingly, his answers are not part of the transcript. I expect that Attorney General Michael Mukasey would consider those waterboarding details to be “state secrets” involving highly classified “sources and methods.”

Paul Gimigliano, a professional Pinocchio (i.e., spokesman) for the CIA, said that however Zubaydah described his treatment, “The United States does not conduct or condone torture. The agency’s terrorist interrogation program has been implemented lawfully, with great care and close review.”

If you have any doubts, just ask Attorney General Mukasey, whose department is conducting a close review (but close for whose sake?) of the destroyed CIA interrogation tapes starring Abu Zubaydah. But the Justice Department says that it cannot tell us how long this inquiry—which is being conducted in conjunction with the CIA—will take.

That’s not surprising in view of the intricate tapestry of cover-ups woven by both agencies and by the White House. With so little time remaining before the next administration takes over, a special independent prosecutor must be appointed before more criminal evidence disappears.

According to a December 30 investigation by The New York Times, as “interrogations of Abu Zubaydah had gotten rougher” in the CIA secret prison, “each new tactic [had to be] approved by cable from headquarters.”

CIA headquarters? Justice Department headquarters? White House lawyers? Names, please!

There’s another crucial dimension to uncovering the effects of what Zubaydah— terrified that he was about to drown— allegedly revealed during those “rougher” interrogations: There are several cases of purported terrorists before our courts who are being prosecuted on the basis of Zubaydah’s desperate testimony in that CIA black site.

For example, American citizen José Padilla was arrested at O’Hare Airport in 2002, after allegedly conspiring with Zubaydah and Al Qaeda to set off a “dirty bomb” in the United States. Padilla—himself relentlessly tortured while being held for years as an “unlawful enemy combatant”—first appeared in court on those charges before none other than Michael Mukasey, at the time a federal judge in New York. Mukasey ordered him imprisoned on a material-witness warrant, based in part on the information that had been proffered by Zubaydah under waterboarding. Then, suddenly, Padilla was taken out of the federal-court system by order of George W. Bush and vanished for years without even a hearing or charges or access to a lawyer.

Marjorie Cohn, a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, says: “It is not clear whether Mukasey knew Zubaydah’s statements were obtained by torture. But since he issued the warrant, Mukasey has a real or apparent conflict of interest” as one of the heads of the current investigation into the CIA- destroyed torture videos. Mukasey has appointed a career federal prosecutor to head the investigation and report back to him.

Cohn adds: “[Mukasey] has said it is premature to appoint an outside special counsel. But like the Nixon administration, the Department of Justice cannot be trusted to investigate itself. Congress should be pressured to pass a new independent-counsel stature.”

There are bipartisan constitutional lawyers beginning to apply that pressure, but there will be passionate resistance from Congressional Republicans. Do you think that Democratic Congressional leaders Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi will give a damn?

January 13, 2008

The Difference Between Being Educated and Being Influenced and What it Means for How You Vote

Filed under: elections, mediawatch, politics, Ron Paul — Tags: , , , — sesame seed @ 11:57 pm

A comment on how the media is treating this election, ignoring Ron Paul (which, if most poeple knew for the economic and diplomatic changes he is for, would vote for him) and making the de facto rae Hillary or Obama or both v. Giuliani.

People aren’t getting informed, they’re just getting influenced. There’s a big difference between being educated and being influenced. And I think we have a lot of influenced people; I wouldn’t say we have a lot of educated people. The consequences for democracy are huge. When once in democracy we believed we needed a commonly, communally educated populace, now we have sold that ideal out and are settling for an influenced population, a highly suggestible population who will go along with pretty much anything as long as you sell it to them.

January 12, 2008

Dark Age for Women: Hillary Clinton Makes Women Look Bad

Women, are you going to be voting for someone who uses stereotypes of women in order to win over another candidate (Obama, for you democrats) who is far more qualified and policy-minded?

Clinton is not the “candidate for women;” she is abusing women with her displays. She is setting women’s rights back at least two decades. Powerful women, stand up and vote on the issues, not on identity politics.

Yes, Obama is more qualified in that he is not resorting to emotions, and is sticking to policy issues. He is qualified in that the “greatest nation in the world” should have a president that looks like a large amount of its population, after 43 presidents that didn’t represent most of its population: i.e., nonwhite and immigrant, the people who are constantly being exploited. This here is not identity politics; this here would be representation for the issues for people who have been constantly denied representation. White women have not been constantly denied representation in this country. It’s safe to say they have a fair amount of power now, and it’s time they shared some of it. We don’t need a Clinton dynasty. Clinton is running on her name alone. Don’t be fooled, don’t be lulled, don’t buy the mainstream media hype that the Clinton era was some kind of glorious time–though it may now look marvelous compared to what Bush & Co. have put us through for two terms. Some of us didn’t benefit when the “wind blew up all sails” in the Internet-boom of the 90s. Some of us were still poor in the 90s. And note I said the “Internet boom” of the 90s. Clinton I cut welfare in the 90s, to the point that if there was a major recession tomorrow (it is on its way), many of the poor and middle class would be hard-pressed to get benefits now–the welfare infrastructure in this country, as well as the rest of the government, has been eroded to a skeleton, to allow for more corporate subcontracting when a major disaster should strike. Any economic upswing in the 90s was not due to government creativity or policy as much as it was due to the novelty of the Internet–and that’s why we’re having hard times now, because that glittering has worn off and we don’t know what the next gimmick will be. And we are a country of gimmicks, because all of our jobs and manufacturing are outsourced to overseas nations. Woe to the American who was failed by the educational-indoctrination system, then cannot fit themselves into the bureaucratic-job-legal-aboveground system of employment–they’ll next be employed in a prison or FEMA concentration camp. Welcome to the future.

The amount of time you’ve been in the status-quo Washington DC Beltway does not make you qualified, Hillary.

Haven’t women been fighting for decades to not be treated like stereotypes, especially the stereotype that they’re emotional and can’t be decisive? Isn’t that the excuse behind the “glass ceiling”?

It is economics, stupid. It’s always been all about the economics. Voting doesn’t matter much if you can’t eat, if your housing is substandard and overcrowding, if your salary (unlike that of Congress members) doesn’t go up every year with inflation/cost-of-living-increases, but your rent goes up 10% a year. What’s Hillary’s economic policy?

Please look beyond the Democratic-Republican paradigm/circus and see that there is a candidate who actually knows something about economics: Ron Paul. He’s on the Republican ticket, but is actually closer to Libertarian values.

Though I may not agree with all of Ron Paul’s takes on social issues, I see that social issues are really caused by ECONOMIC INEQUALITY and disparities in the distribution of wealth, and that when economic issues are really attended to (instead of taxing the poor and middle class and using tax dollars for corporate welfare and defense contracts), the government will not need to step in on social issues to keep the domestic peace. Indeed, the Founders would turn over in their graves to see the extent to which our government intervenes in SOCIAL issues involving our freedom of CHOICE and liberty–what we can eat, how we can dress on the job or in school, what documents we must carry to travel, what substances we can put in our bodies, what substances the State feels everyone must have in our bodies (i.e., vaccines), etc.

But, for God’s sake–this may be our last free election in this rapidly-transforming-to-fascist-nation–if you must vote for a Democrat,–I guess because you like the label–please do not vote for Clinton. Vote for Obama. I’d love a Paul-Obama ticket or an Obama-Paul ticket, or some combination with Kucinich with one of them in a top cabinet post.

A vote for Clinton is a vote for power as it’s always been.

And we all know how power corrupts.

Compassionate Consumerism and Your Health

Filed under: alternative health news, Living Minimally — Tags: , , — sesame seed @ 4:05 pm

I’ve been given permission to repost this. It’s a good example of how awareness of one’s habits can improve one’s health, one’s life, and the planet we all do ultimately share.
My Dear Friends,
Many of you know that I am becoming this crazy tree-hugging, whole organic/local foods eating, Wal-Mart Boycotting lady. Well, I have good reason for this. I know many people are unable to take the path I am on now due to finances, and honestly – I’m still in the beginning stages, due of course to money and the fact that it takes a while to change habits. However, everyone can do something. No matter how small a step you can take it’s a help. One of the biggest things you can do is take the no-cost / money-saving steps and pass the word to all those you know. Below are several links where I have learned a lot. I pass these on to you in hopes that you will find some knowledge that you can apply to your life and family. God gave us this wonderful earth – and we are completely abusing it. Big Business, the FDA and our own government has essentially brainwashed us into thinking that Man’s way is better than what God gave us. Please don’t get me wrong here – some of our “progress” has been good and helped many. At the same time it is killing us. Remember – the Big Business companies & Pharmaceutical companies first goal is to make money for the investors – not to help the public or promote health. In fact, if the Pharmaceutical companies actually treated the causes of these illnesses, promoted prevention, and cured many of these ailments, they would go out of business because we would be well!
Big Business is there to make money for their investors as well. So what do they have to do to continue making money? They have to introduce new products, make them cheap & disposable so we keep buying them (why do we need disposable mop pads like the swiffer wet jet stuff?? A good mop and a little elbow grease is just as clean and much easier on your pocketbook) and use cheaper materials and labor to widen that profit margin. Again, don’t get me wrong – making money is not the bad thing – it’s making money at the expense of the health and wellness of the general public I find horrifying. Think of it this way – how did you feel when you heard about the Melamine tainted pet food? How do you feel when you hear about children and infant toys on recall because of lead? Now the tires that come apart? The manufacturers are trying so hard to compete that our health and well-being comes in last. (though it is easier on the pocket book in the short-term, what are the long-term effects?)
As for the land fills – PBS had a show on a landfill in California. I was to the understanding that anything that is biodegradable would decompose in the land fills. WRONG – they pack it so tight that there is no oxygen to feed the process. I wonder what it would look like to bulldoze through the middle of a land fill…….it’s a very scary thought. And what will our Great-Grandchildren see?
So, what can we do about all this going on?? Well, there are a few things we can do.
1) Be in denial that anything is going on or just don’t believe that man is the cause of many of our problems today. Then continue on our normal path with no changes. – Leave it to God. (I do believe that God will care for us. Yet in turn we should care for what he give us.)
2) GET EDUCATED! Many people are very uneducated in some of the most crucial areas of our lives – health retention, prevention of disease, environment, and healthy home economics.
Take what actions you can when you can. Ask for paper bags and recycle them, watch your labels – look for Made In – America, Canada, UK, even Mexico – avoid China as much as possible. The Chinese have no care or concern for human life – they poison their own people. Beware of those doctors that are supposed to be making you well – they are only treating the symptoms – not the underlying cause. Now, I don’t necessarily blame the doctors – they were trained this way. KNOW YOUR STATE LAWS – if you don’t want to vaccinate your children – you don’t have to. You do need to know your laws though. And be ready and willing to do battle for your family. 
Our children are depending on us. What are they going to say in 25 or 30 years when they have poor health, no jobs, and a dump for a front yard?  We all have the ability to do something  now, be it small or large steps and teach them to care for what God has given us – the question is…….Do we have the will????
With Love,
Katie  (PS – please forgive me some of the length on links – I haven’t figured out how to make them short 🙂  )
Healthy Home Cleaners – www.myshaklee.com  – Questions? Ask me – I just started with them.
Guide to Green & using The Big Green Purse – http://www.theworldwomenwant.com/
Locate Recycling facilities in your area – http://earth911.org/
Plastic Bags Being Banned – The Intelligence Daily June 27, 2007
Great video on plastic bags – http://truths.treehugger.com/video/no_more_plastic_bags.php   – Video 
More info on plastic bags – http://www.sierraclub.org/bags/
 Ecobags – http://www.ecobags.com/ 

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