The Torture Tape Fingering Bush As a War Criminal

December 24, 2007
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The Torture Tape Fingering Bush As a War Criminal

by Andrew Sullivan
Almost all of the time, the Washington I know and live in is utterly unrelated to the Washington you see in the movies. The government is far more incompetent and amateur than the masterminds of Hollywood darkness.1224 02There are no rogue CIA agents engaging in illegal black ops and destroying evidence to protect their political bosses. The kinds of scenario cooked up in Matt Damon’s riveting Bourne series are fantasy compared with the mundane, bureaucratic torpor of the Brussels on the Potomac.

And then you read about the case of Abu Zubaydah. He is a seriously bad guy – someone we should all be glad is in custody. A man deeply involved in Al-Qaeda, he was captured in a raid in Pakistan in March 2002 and whisked off to a secret interrogation, allegedly in Thailand. (more…)


December 18, 2007
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Congressional Directories
Recent Senate Votes
CLEAN Energy Act of 2007 – Vote Agreed to (86-8, 6 Not Voting)

The Senate passed a pared-down version of the energy bill that the House passed last week.

Sen. George Voinovich voted YES……send e-mail or see bio
Sen. Sherrod Brown voted YES……send e-mail or see bio

FHA Modernization Act of 2007 – Vote Passed (93-1, 6 Not Voting)

The Senate passed legislation to ease the burden of mushrooming interest rates on homeowners by allowing them to transfer their finances into federally insured loans.

Sen. George Voinovich voted YES……send e-mail or see bio
Sen. Sherrod Brown voted YES……send e-mail or see bio

National Defense Authorization Act, FY2008 – Vote Agreed to (90-3, 7 Not Voting)

On Friday, the Senate gave final approval to this bill authorizing defense spending for fiscal year 2008.

Sen. George Voinovich voted YES……send e-mail or see bio
Sen. Sherrod Brown voted YES……send e-mail or see bio

Farm, Nutrition, and Bioenergy Act of 2007 – Vote Passed (79-14, 7 Not Voting)

The Senate approved this $288 billion, five-year bill that sets agricultural policy and authorizes funding for agricultural related programs such as commodity support, conservation, and nutrition.

Sen. George Voinovich voted NO……send e-mail or see bio
Sen. Sherrod Brown voted YES……send e-mail or see bio

Recent House Votes
Terrorism Risk Insurance Program Reauthorization Act – Vote Passed (303-116, 12 Not Voting)

The House passed this bill that would help the insurance industry cover costs in the event of a terrorist attack, after making slight revisions to the Senate version that passed last month.

Rep. Michael Turner voted YES……send e-mail or see bio

National Defense Authorization Act, FY2008 – Vote Passed (370-49, 12 Not Voting)

The House passed this bill to authorize defense appropriations.

Rep. Michael Turner voted YES……send e-mail or see bio

AMT Relief Act – Vote Passed (226-193, 13 Not Voting)

The House passed this measure to patch the alternative minimum tax that would be financed by a pay-as-you-go plan.

Rep. Michael Turner voted NO……send e-mail or see bio

Intelligence Authorization Act, FY2008 – Vote Passed (222-199, 10 Not Voting)

This bill authorizing intelligence spending would also ban waterboarding, mock executions, and other severe methods of interrogation.

Rep. Michael Turner voted NO……send e-mail or see bio

Making further continuing appropriations for FY2008 – Vote Passed (385-27, 21 Not Voting)

On Thursday the House passed this continuing resolution to fund government programs through Friday, December 21.

Rep. Michael Turner voted YES……send e-mail or see bio



Senator Chris Dodd Beats Back Bush FISA Spying Bill

December 18, 2007
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Dodd Beats Back Bush Spying Bill

Mon Dec 17, 10:50 PM ET

The Nation — After waging an all-out battle against the Bush administration and leaders of his own party, Senator Chris Dodd achieved a legislative victory on Monday, halting President Bush‘s attempt to rush a Senate vote on a bill granting retroative amnesty to companies accused of illegally spying on American citizens.

“Today we have scored a victory for American civil liberties and sent a message to President Bush that we will not tolerate his abuse of power and veil of secrecy,” Dodd said in a statement distributed by his presidential campaign. “The President should not be above the rule of law, nor should the telecom companies who supported his quest to spy on American citizens,” he added. (more…)

Current Washington DC Pastime…Shredding the 4th Amendment

November 29, 2007
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And in the US Senate, debate continues about shredding what’s left of the 4th Amendment, oh, excuse me, I meant debate about the new Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, [FISA….] silly me! The ACLU’s Caroline Fredrickson, director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office had this to say on Firedoglake.com {http://www.firedoglake.com/2007/11/29/}

Hello everybody!

As you all probably know, recently the, the House passed the “RESTORE Act” on partisan lines. The bill made some improvements in the “Protect America Act” that was rushed through Congress in August. Most importantly, it reasserted the intelligence court’s role in approving surveillance before it takes place — a lot of the improvement was due to the concerted efforts of the Progressive Caucus, and Congressman Rush Holt, bolstered by grassroots and netroots pressure.


Chicken Little and the Mortgage-Housing Crisis

November 29, 2007
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Maybe Chicken Little is right, the sky IS falling! I don’t know about you but the news about the resignation of Citigroup CEO Charles Prince, [who will no doubt exit the crisis with his pockets stuffed…] coming on the heels of an announced loss over at Merrilly-Lynched of about 8 BILLION DOLLARS, is starting to sound more and more like the dam is slowly breaking apart. I’m no Paul Krugman or Thomas Friedman economist type….but the creaking I hear sure don’t sound good.

On Sunday, the chairman and chief exec of Citigroup, Inc., Charles Prince, threw in his ATM card and stepped down — this as the bank announced it would probably have to write off 11 BILLION dollars in subprime mortgage losses……now, if this sounds a bit like old news, it may be because Citicorp just wrote down 6.5 BILLION lastquarter


Thats TWO companies, and 25 Billion Dollars. And, it doesn’t even begin to add in the fallout from the really big mortgage & housing construction companies, AND Fannie & Sallie Mae…drip drip drip…

Hillary & The “Invisible” Serviceman ad

August 15, 2007
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Politcal junkie that I am, I was up late last night flippin’ back and forth from Faux Noise to MSNBC & CNN when I WAS stopped dead in my clicking by Hannity’s guests on FN, Ollie North and Sen Kay Hutchinson [R-Tex]. They were discussing Hillary C’s new ad being shown in Iowa which uses the theme that many of America’s problems are “invisible” to the Bush Admin. The one point that really seemed to set them off was the contention that American Servicemen were part of this grouping of invisible…Both attacked the ad as being “unpatriotic” that Clinton was “politicizing” the war and the people who were fighting in it…”Clinton’s response earlier in the day to attacks on the ad was “o, I must have struck a nerve…” Yeah, right, a nerve. A raw one

Well guess what, this War has been “political” from the get go! We need not review the sickening list of false claims that led us there, only to note that the people who have benefited the most from the war are the war profiteers like Haliburton and the Blackstone Group who have amassed Billions while American GI’s and Iraqi’s die by the thousands.

And who are the invisible?? Try thinking about the caskets of the thousands of American servicepeople you never see coming off the planes from Iraq. The Bushies, quite aware of the impact the arriving caskets from Vietnam had on public opinion and claiming the need for “privacy” have banned photos of the Iraqi soldier’s biers. Sanitized and simplified. No sacrifice, no caskets, no dead.

And on the military bases there is now a move afoot to forgo the individual memorial services held to honor the Casualties of War in favor of monthly mass ceremonies. Apparently, at some bases, the individual ones were happening far too often. Fewer ceremonies means less visibility, less acknowledgment of the true costs of War.

Or how about the situation at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington DC ? Until the publicity surrounding conditions there were finally too much to cover up any longer those men and women were surely invisible to most american’s.

Personally I am no fan of the Clinton’s, either one, but what is significant here is the tone of the attack dogs of the right. Karl Rove may be gone form DC proper, but his legacy continues on in the persona’s of right wing pundits like Sean Hannity and Bubba O’reilly. Their shrill bleating should be seen for what it foretells, the use of a vicious blend of McCarthyism and Religious fervor designed to intimidate and marginalize critics of the War and the Bush administration. This fear tactic was most recently used to get 18 Democratic Senators to capitulate on the NSA wiretap bill. We can expect much more of the same.

Free Speech Lost is Freedom Lost/the Dayton City Commission Fails the Test

August 8, 2007

This post is from David Esrati’s Blog…

Dayton City Commission meetings: public not that welcome


A bunch of people from South Park went down to the commission meeting tonight- and a few of us got there after their 6pm start time.

It didn’t use to be a problem, as long as you filled out a speaker’s form, you could take it up and have a chance to be heard. Not any more.

If you are just a minute tardy, you don’t get to speak. You hear something at the meeting that you want to talk about- come back next week. You look over the agenda- and see nothing mentioned about Ernies Tavern on Wayne Avenue- but are surprised about their informal resolution- too bad. Our current City Commission doesn’t really care.

I spoke to the Mayor about this after the meeting- she didn’t do much more than listen, and then suggested I talk to the clerk, Len Roberts. My response: he works for you, you work for me- so I’m coming to you.

Ohio has “Sunshine laws” or “Open meeting” laws for a reason. Apparently, our current commission thinks we aren’t worth hearing unless we meet their time schedule. Quite frankly, I’m disgusted.

The worst part: the Commission had plenty of time to banter about what they did over the last week, and have Commissioner Whaley cracking wise every couple of minutes, but they didn’t care to hear at least three other citizens who had wanted to speak.


My Comment:

This is an experience that all too many citizens have when attending Dayton City Commission meetings. Back in the era of Mayor James McGhee things were a little more raucous, the combative Mcghee would engage in shouting matches and then gavel you out order. During Republican Mike Turners term, an equally combative mayor, the speaking time was cut to three minutes and then the Clerk cut off the microphone.

What happened to David Esrati, as chronicled above, is much more the norm than an anomaly. Anyone who attends meetings or watches them on Access TV can see that this is true. It is also outrageous. We have FIVE democrats on the city commission who apparently have forgotten that to be a “democrat” you must also be DEMOCRATIC!!

Ok, so we have a few “nut” cases who want to expend the Commission’s “valuable time” and what might be considered frivolous or inappropriate subjects for a commission meeting. I understand that this can be and sometimes is a real problem. However it is one that a competent parliamentarian could should easily take care of. And, of course there are always Dayton Police officers in the room to escort people out…Not a valid excuse.

The reality here is that the “nut case” issue is an aberration, a once in a while situation, and does not justify in any way the Commissions attitude. These are OUR public servants. It is we the people who elected them to office to REPRESENT us, not blow us off. The Commission should not, and must not, be disrespecting citizens who have substantive issues that they want to bring before them.

We live in an increasingly Undemocratic world, one where fundamental tenets of Civil Liberties are under great pressure. Democrats at the national level caved in last weekend to the Bush administration on passage of a onerous law allowing wiretapping of phone calls without a warrant that smashes the 4th amendment into little pieces. Understand this, Totalitarianism will not come to the US of A in one fell swoop, rather it will come in increments, a creeping sort of fascism that obliterates our most fundamental Liberties before many even know they are gone. That it is why it is so important to have an open forum at the City Commission level, at the Priority Board level. Without that discourse, without that challenge to authority happening in full public view, we are doomed to a an eventual world without the basic freedoms we now hold so dear. And, it will be our own fault if we do not take up that battle now. This is not hyperbole , it is the future unless we act…
One of my favorite quotes, and one that give me great inspiration, is from the great American Patriot Thomas Paine:

These are times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.

Be a Winter Soldier, defend Liberty and Free Speech.


Enough Already with the Pathetic Excuses [from Daily Kos]

August 5, 2007
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Sun Aug 05, 2007 at 05:50:52 AM PDT

I know what a lot of you 57 Democratic Representatives and Senators are going to be saying over the next month while you’re speaking on the home turf. You did it to protect Americans. You didn’t want to take a chance. You had to stand up to the terrorists. You really had no choice.

If anybody asks why in hell you chose to legalize what the Cheney-Bush team has been doing illegally since 2001, you’re going to tell us you did it for our own good. You amended the 29-year-old Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act – originally passed to put some modest restrictions on agencies whose outrageous and frequently illegal behavior had been exposed by journalists and the Church Committee – to make us safe. You’re going to tell us you’ve got our backs.

You’re going to claim we can depend on you to be tough against terrorists even though you just put your foreheads to the floor at the feet of the most loathsome duo ever to sink their talons into the office of the Presidency. You’re going to tell us you couldn’t stand up to the blackmail, although that’s not what you’ll call it. You’re going to say Democrats can’t afford to appear weak.

At which point, if I happen to be in the back of the room, your bodyguards will probably have to drag me off. Because I cannot imagine how I will be able to quiet my laughter long enough for you to get on to the next question.

Frankly, you epitomize weak. Your every pore exudes feebleness. You are surrender monkeys. And you’ve just casually tossed away a basic protection as if it were a banana peel.

Pressed, I suspect that over the next month some of you will defend this pitiful capitulation with the argument that it’s only for six months, and that you’ll have a chance to amend the amendment, to rewrite the law more properly. You’ll pretend that you won’t kiss the President’s ass half a year from now when he comes back and says exactly what he said this time: Give me what I want or I’ll blame you the next time terrorists kill Americans. Weak is bad enough. Must you be simpletons as well? How many times has he marketed this crap? How many times have you bought it? Do you also fall for those late-night $19.95 television deals for a double-set of knives that never need sharpening?

In short, what in the name of the sweet green earth makes you, in the perfect description of Glenn Greenwald, so self-destructive? What makes you think that giving in equates with standing firm in the public eye? What makes you believe that your appeasement offers the Democrats a better chance of winning a larger majority in the House and Senate, a better chance of returning to the White House? Do you really suppose that your “aye” for this law, and your other capitulations in the past seven months, will smooth the way for those of us who every other year use everything in our repertoire to persuade people that voting Democratic will change things for the better?

If your behavior were mere self-destructiveness, it wouldn’t matter quite so much. But you’re taking all Americans down with you. The White House still refuses to even say what it is doing. As Greenwald points out:

Vast abuses and criminality in surveillance remain undisclosed, uninvestigated and unimpeded because Congressional Democrats have stood meekly by while the administration refuses to disclose what it has been doing in how it spies on us. …

Congressional Democrats know virtually nothing about how the Bush administration has been eavesdropping on our conversations because the administration refused to tell them and they passively accepted this state of affairs.

Unfortunately, you 57 are not the only Democrats at fault for enabling these unconstitutional abuses. Party leaders bear responsibility for not playing hardball. For not using every technique and every bit of clout at their command to at least attempt to block amendments like this atrocity from becoming law. You leaders don’t have to explain about the paper-thin majority. You don’t have point out that it’s important to choose your fights. Understood. But this isn’t about corn subsidies, or earmarks or resolutions establishing Soap Carvers of America Day. Constitutional protections are at stake. Most people won’t blame you for losing if you put up a good fight. But how can you expect to avoid blame when you don’t?

The Church Committee noted in 1976:

This Committee has examined a realm of governmental information collection which has not been governed by restraints comparable to those in criminal proceedings. We have examined the collection of intelligence about the political advocacy and actions and the private lives of American citizens. That information has been used covertly to discredit the ideas advocated and to “neutralize” the actions of their proponents. As Attorney General Harlan Fiske Stone warned in 1924, when he sought to keep federal agencies from investigating “political or other opinions” as opposed to “conduct . . . forbidden by the laws”:

When a police system passes beyond these limits, it is dangerous to the proper administration of justice and to human liberty, which it should be our first concern to cherish.

… There is always a possibility that a secret police may become a menace to free government and free institutions because it carries with it the possibility of abuses of power which are not always quickly apprehended or understood.

Our investigation has confirmed that warning. We have seen segments of our Government, in their attitudes and action, adopt tactics unworthy of a democracy, and occasionally reminiscent of the tactics of totalitarian regimes. We have seen a consistent pattern in which programs initiated with limited goals, such as preventing criminal violence or identifying foreign spies, were expanded to what witnesses characterized as “vacuum cleaners”,” sweeping in information about lawful activities of American citizens.

The tendency of intelligence activities to expand beyond their initial scope is a theme which runs through every aspect of our investigative findings. Intelligence collection programs naturally generate ever-increasing demands for new data. And once intelligence has been collected, there are strong pressures to use it against the target.

There comes a time when giving in to the demolition of constitutional protections can no longer be considered a matter of being weak or unthinking. Rather it must be considered complicity.

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