Monday, November 13, 2006

Review of the News, November 13 (Updated)

Keep a good thought....

Said the Goose to the Gander: “How do you like the sauce?”

Late last week, Time magazine reported that a criminal probe targeting Donald Rumsfeld, Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez, former CIA director George Tenet, "and other senior U.S. civilian and military officers, for their alleged roles in abuses committed at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison and at the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.”

The plaintiffs include 11 Iraqis who had been imprisoned at Abu Ghraib and Saudi Mohammad al-Qahtani, “whom the U.S. has identified as the so-called `20th hijacker' and a would-be participant in the 9/11 hijackings.” That fellow sounds like a loathsome specimen indeed, but given that Washington's roster of “20th Hijackers” seems to be as long and as dubious as its inventory of thugs identified as “bin Laden's chief lieutenant” and “head of al-Qaeda in Iraq,” I'll defer judgment on his actual status in the Lowerarchy of Terrorist Evil.

One potentially delicious development is the news that the witness list for the plaintiffs may include “former Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, the one-time commander of all U.S. military prisons in Iraq. Karpinski — who the lawyers say will be in Germany next week to publicly address her accusations in the case — has issued a written statement to accompany the legal filing, which says, in part: `It was clear the knowledge and responsibility [for what happened at Abu Ghraib] goes all the way to the top of the chain of command to the Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld .'”

Whether or not the German trial results in substantive legal jeopardy for Rumsfeld et. al., it's clear that Gen. Karpinsky – unlike the hapless “recycled hillbillies” who took the fall two years ago – will be able to inculpate her superiors all the way up the ladder.

There are other issues she might be able to illuminate as well, such as this intriguing question:

Who is John Israel?”

The report on Abu Ghraib compiled by Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba offers a fleeting and opaque reference to a “Mr. John Israel,” who was listed among those “either directly or indirectly responsible for the abuses at Abu Ghraib.” Mr. Israel was identified as a “third party national” acting as a “translator” for the civilian contractor Titan Corp. He was apparently regarded by those carrying out the torture, sexual degradation and molestation, and murder of inmates as a “competent authority,” which suggests that his role wasn't limited to facilitating communication on behalf of interrogators.

Mr. Israel carried out this role despite having no security clearance. And where violations of the rules of military conflict were concerned, Mr. Israel was as selectively blind as the fictional Nazi Stalag guard Sgt. Schultz: “I see nothing! NOTHING!”

Justin Raimondo draws some very logical inferences about Mr. Israel's role in the Abu Ghraib ugliness:

“It is no secret that the Israelis have been `advising' the Americans on how to run the occupation: after all, they have so much experience in the matter, and are more than eager to impart their hard-won expertise. The methods employed by Israeli security forces are quite different from those utilized by the U.S. military: the use of "limited" torture is okay by them, and the Palestinians are no strangers to the sort of treatment meted out to the inmates at Abu Ghraib....”

“As U.S. and, in all likelihood, Israeli intelligence officers looked on approvingly, Trailer-Park Lynndie and her ex-prison guard boyfriend, with the active collaboration of the other MPs, systematically abused and degraded the inmates,' continues Raimondo. “So much of this nightmare scenario – the hooded prisoners forced to engage in behavior looked on with utter horror in Muslim society – seems like such a gift to Osama bin Laden that the revelation of Israeli involvement gives the whole affair a surreal quality."

In a 2004 interview with the BBC, Karpinski described how, seeing an Israeli interrogator at a prison in Iraq, she commented to him: “Wow, that's kind of unusual.” “No, not really,” came the Israeli's cocky reply.

“Are Israel's professional sadists tutoring American greenhorns in the fine art of `soft' torture?” asks Raimondo. “This is a gift to al-Qaeda.”

As we'll see anon, it wasn't just the Israelis who acted as eager sub-contractors for the Bush regime's global torture apparatus.

Karpinsky , like Lynndie England and others, was a disposable asset in the Rumsfeld-approved “Copper Green” program, which offered various Black Ops agencies the license to “grab whom you will, [and] do what you must.” The trial in Germany will almost certainly get many of the relevant details of that repellent program on the record.

I hope that the trial is held in Nuremberg.

When Stingers get Stung

What right does Germany have to put U.S. Officials on trial for offenses committed in a third country? None that I can identify, at least under what the Constitution refers to as the “law of nations” (a concept very different from the modern conceit called “international law”). The envisioned trial in Germany would be useful primarily as a forensic exercise; it might also shame some policy-makers in our country into conducting a formal, legally consequential inquiry into the multitude of crimes against tnhe Constitution (not to mention Christian decency) committed by the Bush regime.

Unfortunately, the leadership of the new “majority” party doesn't seem inclined to do its duty.

It should be pointed out as well that the Executive Branch, since at least the first Bush administration, has become enamored of pressing claims of extra-territorial enforcement power; witness, for instance, Bush the First's invasion of Panama to “arrest” long-time CIA asset Manuel Noriega. The second Bush administration connived in the kidnapping of former Yugoslav ruler Slobadan Milosevic, who was seized and taken to The Hague to be “tried” by a bogus United Nations court for supposed offenses against what the UN is pleased to call “international law.”

The seizure of Milosevic, it should be noted, was carried out at a time when Serbian President Vojislav Kostunica was out of the country. President Kostunica, unlike nearly the entire corrupt political class ruling our country, has deep reverence and respect for the U.S. Constitution. He was a vehement critic of Milosevic, having been persecuted by the former ruler's regime. But he passionately denounced the kidnapping, pointing out that it was illegal and an affront to those in the former Yugoslavia who intended to put Milosevic on trial for crimes committed in that country against his subjects.

As U.S. Influence wanes – the inevitable result of our impending bankruptcy, coupled with the death of Washington's aura of invincibility, a casualty of the misbegotten war in Iraq – policymakers in Washington are likely to regret some of the precedents they set in the realm of “extraterritorial justice.”

Prosecutors in Milan are building a case against 39 people – including 25 monumentally lax and unfathomably incompetent CIA operatives – in the abduction and “extraordinary rendition” of radical Muslim cleric Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, also known as Abu Omar.

Abu Omar was snagged off the street in Milan in February 2003 and sent to Egypt – where he remains imprisoned. Omar was apparently not wanted for a crime, or suspected on involvement in any terrorist plot; the purpose of his abduction was to recruit him as an informant, using whatever means were necessary, including torture.

This is, quite literally, the kind of thing the KGB used to do – and a recently published letter from Omar, the authenticity of which has been confirmed by Italian authorities, reads like the despairing memoir of a Stalin-era zek, crossed with a torture scene right out of Ian Fleming's Casino Royale.

“I am writing my testimony from this, my tomb,” writes Omar. "In the beginning, the guards took off all of my clothes, threatened to rape me, gave me shocks with an electric wand. One had my private parts and he squeezed them if I didn't speak.”
Omar makes mention of torture devices known as "The Bride" and "The Mattress”:
"They stretched me out on a iron door that they call 'The Bride'. Here I got kicked, electric shock ... meanwhile they threw cold water at me.”

"The Mattress" involved placing Omar, his hands and feet bound, on a soaking wet mattress wired to an electric current. One torturer would perch on top of him in a wooden chair while the other applied the shocks.

This was done by Egyptians, of course – but with the active, knowing involvement of Washington. The Egyptian regime, which could justifiably be called “Islamo-Fascist,”* enjoys near-parity with Israel in the level of subsidies it receives from Washington.

Now, for some good news:

Reining in the Revenue Farmers

State senators in Arizona have chosen Thayer Vershoor of Gilbert to serve as their next majority leader in the statehouse. This is exceptionally good news for Arizona motorists and others in that lovely state weary of being bled dry by Red Light Revenue Cameras, of which State Senator Vershoor is an outspoken critic.

As with nearly everything else done by the passel of perverts who call themselves our government, Red Light Cameras undermine public safety while providing another stream of revenue to be wasted by the parasite class. Vershoor, taking his cue from a study conducted by the Texas Transportation Institute, has proposed a measure to increase the duration of yellow lights at traffic intersections – a reform that would reduce accidents by up to 40 percent, according to the study.

Since this measure would merely save lives, rather than generating revenue, it will be stoutly resisted by law enforcement agencies, as well as the foreign contractors who supply Red Light Cameras.

Enjoy a Refreshing Credit Card Smoothie!(Video link)

Yeah, I know that this is an example of “viral marketing” at its most transparent. Still, it's a delight to watch Tom “Deadpan” Dickinson (who seems like a decent guy, but is torpid enough to make Perry Como look like Robin Williams) and his wife Bev pulp their credit cards.

How many credit cards, do you ask?


Dickinson is the founder of K-TEC
, which more than thirty years ago revolutionized home baking by developing the Kitchen Mill, which came to grace countless households (my mom had one, and homemade whole wheat bread was a household staple during my teenage years). In addition to providing consumers with the means of making incredibly delicious home-baked wheat bread, K-TEC developed blenders used for making various healthy libations from whole foods.

By creating a line of devices that can create healthy food and eradicate a leading cause of stress-related disease (credit cards), Dickinson has proved himself worthy of a Nobel Prize ... that is, had that particularly coveted piece of bling not permanently rendered disreputable by the long list of mass murderers who have received it.

Briefly stated ...

"Borat" gets biffed in the Big Apple.

Here's John Tierney of the New York Times describing, with genuine wit and elegance, why "Borat" (British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen) got roughly what was coming to him.

*As used by the retread Trotskyite communists called “neo-conservatives” and the gullible proles who follow in their train, “Islamo-Fascist” generally means “Any government, movement, or individual of Muslim origin we don't particularly like.” As it happens, the term “Fascism” has a very specific meaning, which includes state control over the means of economic production without formal ownership, and centralization of power in the executive. Most existing governments – emphatically including our own, and those in the Muslim world – can properly be described as “fascist,” so the term isn't sufficiently specific to be useful. And the term is entirely inappropriate to describe al-Qaeda, which is a non-governmental organization that acts as a criminal syndicate.

Happy birthday, St. Augustine (b. 354), a thinker of great depth and subtlety; and also to Jimmy Kimmel (b. 1967), who -- despite his abundant and frequently admirable wit -- is a stranger in the house of subtlety and desperately in need of what St. Augustine found.


Tom Eddlem said...

First of all,

Tom Eddlem said...

... I don't know how to preview a post or to post only once, apparently. But I wanted to say that You are wrong here Will on stressing that the Bush Administration has multiplied the number of 20th highjackers, "head of command in Iraq" and "bin Ladin's chief lieutenant."

Of course, the Bush Administration uses these relatively sparsely compared with "Osama bin Ladin's driver" (OBL apparently had more drivers than Toyota has cars) and the generic "al Qaeda cell member." The latter is a generic term for any muslim or Middle Eastern native who happens to be travelling internationally, whether it's a Canadian computer programmer or a German on business in Macedonia.

Get with the lingo, Will! I thought you spoke fluent Bush-speak!


zchris63 said...

Haha the Blendtec gimmick is fantastic. Let's watch sales increase dramatically.

dixiedog said...

Finally, a commentator gets a clue. Although, it's true that Farah succumbs all too often to the "Islamo-fascist" play on words and, on the various election eves, a desire for voting for Republicrats. Nevertheless, the man does seem to have a clue at least. Of particular note is this statement from this piece of commentary:

What conservative activists need to understand – because they are good people who need to be involved in the constructive process of moving the country forward – is that politicians follow; they do not lead.

Lawdy! somebody sees what I see...

It's up to the conservative activists to reorient themselves, reinvent themselves, rename themselves in light of the political and social and cultural realities of the 21st century.

As I've said before, Will, the politicos are a reflection of the aggregate commoners. We are the root and the politicos simply are the branches that grow out of that root. The root will either make us or break us, it's our choice. It's as simple (and complex, unfortunately) as that.

As I've often said in other forums, when folk are debating the political angle endlessly, "It's the culture, stupid!"