Nasty Letters To Crooked Politicians

As we enter a new era of politics, we hope to see that Obama has the courage to fight the policies that Progressives hate. Will he have the fortitude to turn the economic future of America to help the working man? Or will he turn out to be just a pawn of big money, as he seems to be right now.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

US-backed government in Iraq: “The same as Saddam’s time and worse”

By James Cogan
30 November 2005

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Former Iraqi Interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi’s recent declaration that the extent of human rights abuses in Iraq is the “same” as under Saddam Hussein is a devastating indictment of all those, including Allawi himself, who planned, organised and collaborated with the illegal US conquest of Iraq.

The invasion of March 2003, which the Bush administration cynically codenamed “Operation Iraqi Freedom,” is responsible for creating a nightmare of death squads, torture chambers, random bombings and fratricidal sectarian violence.

Allawi told the British-based Observer on Sunday: “People are doing the same as Saddam’s time and worse. It is an appropriate comparison. People are remembering the days of Saddam. These were the precise reasons that we fought Saddam and now we are seeing the same things. We are hearing about secret police, secret bunkers where people are being interrogated. A lot of Iraqis are being tortured or killed in the course of interrogations. We are even witnessing Sharia courts based on Islamic law that are trying people and executing them.”

The statement was made following the recent exposure of a torture centre operated by the Iraqi government and amid daily reports of extra-judicial killings or “disappearances” by government security forces. This week, two Sunni Arab politicians from the Iraqi Islamic Party were gunned down in their car in Baghdad, while in Basra, the body of a Sunni cleric, who had been seized by government security forces, was found dumped in a cemetery.

There is now a steady stream of accounts in the international media accusing the security forces of the US-backed regime in Baghdad of waging a dirty war against their opponents.

The November 20 edition of the English-language Iraqi journal Azzaman carried a comment headlined “Welcome to the chambers of death”. Its author wrote: “Mutilated bodies thrown on roadsides and garbage dumps have become a common sight.... Death counts have lost their significance with fatal incidents, bombings and trigger-happy militia gangs killing hundreds and even thousands every week. In the midst of this horror, assassinations of Iraqi professionals, former army officers, Baathists, clerics and Iraqis of note continue with impunity....”

The New York Times featured an article on November 29 headlined “Sunnis accuse Iraqi military of kidnappings and slayings”. The article reported that the Um al-Qura mosque in Baghdad had compiled the names of 700 Sunni men who have disappeared or been killed in just the past four months.

The Los Angeles Times also ran a lengthy feature on November 29, based on interviews with over 40 US and Iraqi officials, human rights observers and morgue officials. The article alleged that loyalists of two Shiite militias had effectively taken over the interior ministry police and regular police units in a number of Iraqi cities, and were using the security forces to “consolidate political power and intimidate opponents”.

The Iranian-trained Badr Organisation militia of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), one of the key parties in the government, is accused of controlling the interior ministry and operating death squads across the country. The interior minister is Bayan Jabr, a SCIRI leader. Since his appointment in May, hundreds of Badr members are alleged to have joined the ministry intelligence and police commando units.

The article accused the Mahdi Army militia of Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr of controlling 90 percent of the 35,000-strong police force in northeast Baghdad, enforcing Islamic law and carrying out executions. This follows earlier charges against the Sadrists. American journalist Steven Vincent was murdered in Basra on August 2, after reporting that the Mahdi Army dominated sections of the police in Basra, Iraq’s second largest city, and was responsible for extra-judicial killings.

Last year the Sadrist movement fought major battles against the US military across southern Iraq and in Baghdad. Since a ceasefire was negotiated September 2004, however, it has worked ever more closely with the occupation forces. In the elections in January, supporters of Sadr took part in the United Iraqi Alliance (UIA) coalition with SCIRI and the Da’awa Party of Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari. In the coming election, the Sadrists will comprise as many as one-third of the UIA’s candidates.

An unnamed high-ranking US military officer told the Los Angeles Times: “The Mahdi Army’s got the Iraqi police and Badr’s got the commandos. Everybody’s got their own death squads.”

US responsibility

The revelations make clear that nothing remotely resembling a democracy is emerging in Iraq. There is more than an element of hypocrisy, however, in the US military and Iyad Allawi, an ex-Baathist thug and longtime CIA asset, accusing the Iraqi government of human rights abuses. Apart from the evidence of indiscriminate killings by the US military and torture in US-run prisons, the present dirty war was initiated by the occupation forces following Allawi’s installation as interim prime minister on May 31, 2004.

During Allawi’s administration, US advisors who had worked with right-wing paramilitaries in Latin America directed the recruitment of thousands of former members of Hussein’s Republican Guard into the interior ministry police commandos. Reports in Newsweek and the New York Times on the initial formation of the commando units established that their activities were modelled on the American-sponsored “counter-insurgency” operations in El Salvador. Their mission was labelled the “Salvador option”—unleashing terror against the population in areas of the country where support is strongest for the guerilla insurgency against the US occupation.

The commandos were first used in Mosul during the uprising that took place in Sunni areas of the city following the US military’s bloodbath in Fallujah in November last year. Since then, they have been extensively deployed in other volatile parts of the country. Invariably, their operations have been accompanied by reports of disappearances and killings. These activities are not only directed by the US military and intelligence agencies, but American special forces troops are embedded in their ranks.

As for Allawi, he has been accused of personal involvement in extra-judicial killings. Two eyewitnesses interviewed by Australian journalist Paul McGeough of the Sydney Morning Herald alleged that Allawi shot dead six prisoners in mid-June 2004 in an interior ministry prison, in front of his American bodyguards. Allawi boasted he carried out the executions to show the police how “to deal with” suspected members of the anti-occupation insurgency. Several weeks later, US National Guard troops discovered prisoners being tortured in a facility operated by Allawi’s interior ministry personnel and were ordered by their commanders to ignore it.

On April 29, 2005, Allawi’s interim government was replaced with the current governing coalition between the Shiite fundamentalist and Kurdish nationalist parties that supported the US invasion. However, the growing reports of extra-judicial killings have had less to do with the formation of the new regime, than with the growing crisis of the American-led occupation forces. This year has witnessed a continuing toll of American casualties, steadily eroding support for the war in the US.

Media reportage of the death squad operations has appeared in the lead up to the December 15 election. The primary aim of US officials and figures like Allawi in implicating the Iraqi government is not to stop the human rights abuses, but to undermine the position of the Shiite fundamentalist parties. The Bush administration would prefer that the next government in Baghdad, which will hold office for four years, be controlled by one of Washington’s more reliable puppets.

A campaign is unfolding to supplant the Shiite alliance with a new coalition assembled from the Kurdish nationalists, Sunni-based parties that are now prepared to work with the occupation, and secular, pro-US Shiites such as Allawi or Ahmed Chalabi.

Washington’s animosity toward SCIRI is primarily due to its close links with the Iranian regime, a potential new target of US aggression. The Iranian connection is also a factor in fuelling Iraqi nationalist opposition and armed resistance to the occupation.

The US is even more reluctant to work with the followers of Moqtada al-Sadr. The Sadrist movement is a heterogeneous and inherently unstable combination. It is led by clerics and political powerbrokers seeking positions for themselves, but its social base includes workers and urban poor in the major cities who are intensely hostile to the US drive to plunder the country’s resources.

The tensions between Washington and SCIRI came into the open last weekend. In an interview on Sunday, SCIRI leader Abdul Aziz Hakim labelled the reports of torture and death squads as “baseless allegations” and claimed that American troops had been visiting the prison discovered in Baghdad “four times a week”. Hakim accused the US of “major interference, and preventing the forces of the interior or defence ministries from carrying out tasks they are capable of doing, and also in the way they deal with the terrorists”.

The Bush administration has pleaded ignorance of any human rights abuses by the Iraqi government and rejected any responsibility. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told a press conference on November 29: “What you’re talking about are unverified—to my knowledge, at least—unverified comments. I just don’t have any data from the field that I could comment on in a specific way.”

Rumsfeld went on to declare: “Obviously, the United States does not have a responsibility when a sovereign country engages in something that they disapprove of.”

It is simply not credible that death squads and torture chambers are being operated by US-created and advised security forces without the knowledge of the US military command, US intelligence agencies or the White House. The campaign of terror is in line with other US activities to subjugate the country, such as the recent offensives in western Iraq. The victims—whether of American bombs or extra-judicial killings—are mainly opponents of the Bush administration’s agenda of permanently stationing troops in Iraq and selling off its oil industry to US-based energy conglomerates.

Even if some atrocities have been carried out without the direct sanction of American forces, the US government and its allies still bear full political and legal responsibility. The “sovereignty” of the Baghdad government is a fig leaf. The country is occupied by more than 200,000 US troops, allied military forces and private mercenaries, and American advisors are inserted in every ministry.

The invasion of Iraq has already produced war crime after war crime by US imperialism and its allies. The inevitable outcome of a continuing occupation will be ever-greater violence against the Iraqi people.

See Also:
Violence against occupation opponents continues in lead-up to Iraq election
[26 November 2005]
More evidence of US dirty war in Iraq
Torture centre discovered in Baghdad
[18 November 2005]

Covering Iraq: Triumph of the Beast

Covering Iraq: Triumph of the Beast:

Triumph of the Beast

Zen Toro

The torture of Iraqi detainees by US military forces is undeniable. We now know the Bush administration condoned torture even before Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom was launched upon Afghanistan and Iraq, in this post-9/11 hysteria of terrorist infiltration on American soil.

Congressman Marty Meehan (D-MA), a ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, was horrified after he viewed Abu Ghraib prison photos released by the Department of Defense. Meehan remarked emerging from the darkened committee room, “I was obviously shocked and horrified to discover that the new photos were even more gruesome than those we have seen in the media. What went on there is indefensible and inexcusable.”

During a recent trip to Panama, President Bush pontificated that Americans “do not torture”—his deployment of executive authority to keep Congress from imposing rules on prisoner treatment notwithstanding. With the implementation of the Patriot Act of 2001, President Bush was given express power to declare anyone suspected of having a connection to terrorists or terrorism an “enemy combatant” and thereby suspend his right to habeas corpus. The Senate diligently voted to cast innocent people into pain and darkness without recourse or rights. American citizens declared “enemy combatants”should not be denied the constitution; but a formable squawk about rights and habeas corpus forced a compromise of allowing a post-conviction appeal – for people who had been arbitrarily seized and held in isolation for years without charges, which had been tortured, humiliated and driven to madness, some committing suicide before facing a kangaroo court. Such was the deal cobbled together for Bush to present as a triumph of human spirit and the American way."


My response:
Your article cracks the nut at its heart. I hope we can all live to see the trial and execution of George W. Bush and his entire murderous cabal...Cheney, Rice, Powell, Rumsfeld, Feith, Libby, Gonzales, Sanchez, Kimmet, Wolfowitz and Pearle, et al.

Let the night resound with the hammers of the gallows makers after their trial! Let us watch the hoods be dropped over every one of their heinous countenances and the hangman's noose pulled tight around their necks.

Let the cheering of the world echo far and wide as the hatch falls and they drop en masse into the black void from where the plan was hatched--the Beast released.

Only then will the Beast be satiated. Only then will the peace of the ages come to rest once again on our hallowed shores.

George Bush Meet Reality

village voice > news > Mondo Washington
by James Ridgeway
President's speech on Iraq strategy conjures a dreamworld

by James Ridgeway
November 30th, 2005 1:27 PM
WASHINGTON, D.C.--President Bush’s speech this morning at the Naval Academy is a reflection of his stubborn, narrow-vision approach to governing. More and more, what he says is devoid of reality. To listen to Bush is to enter a dreamworld.

Faced with incontrovertible facts of increasing costs ($6 billion a month), soldier deaths day after day(2,100), growing disenchantment in Congress (The Senate is demanding periodic reports on how the war is faring), the failure of the Iraqi security forces to protect the country,all signs of a coming defeat, he keeps on keeping on with pledges of total victory. He won’t set "artificial deadlines" for withdrawal. "No war has ever been won on a timetable - and neither will this one," the National Strategy for Victory in Iraq says.

"These decisions about troop levels will be driven by the conditions on the ground in Iraq and the good judgment of our commanders, not by artificial timetables set by politicians in Washington," Bush said in his followup address.

Bush's swaggering style reinforces his image and that of the country of being a bully and, worse, a loser.

"America will not run in the face of car bombers and assassins so long as I am your commander-in-chief," says Bush, the man who squirmed his way out of Vietnam duty.


Cunningham For Sale

Cunningham For Sale
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Maureen Dowd Part 2

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Maureen Dowd Part 1---Play me first!

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The Autumn of the Patriarchy

In the vice president's new, more fortified bunker, inside his old undisclosed secure location within the larger bunker that used to be called the West Wing of the White House, Dick Cheney was muttering and sputtering.

He wasn't talking to the pictures on the wall, as Nixon did when he finally cracked. Vice doesn't trust those portraits anyway. The walls have ears. He was talking to the only reliable man in a city of dimwits, cowards, traitors and fools: himself.

He hurled a sheaf of news reports with such force it knocked over the picture of Ahmad Chalabi that he keeps next to the picture of Churchill. Winston Chalabi, he likes to call him.

Vice is fed up with all the whining and carping - and that's just inside the White House. The only negativity in Washington is supposed to be his own. He's the only one allowed to scowl and grumble and conspire.

The impertinent Tom DeFrank reported in New York's Daily News that embattled White House aides felt "President Bush must take the reins personally" to save his presidency.

Let him try, Cheney said with a sneer. Things are nowhere near dire enough for that. Even if Junior somehow managed to grab the reins to his presidency, Vice holds Junior's reins. So he just needs to get all these sniveling, poll-driven wimps and losers back on board with the master plan.

Things had been going so smoothly. The global torture franchise was up and running. Halliburton contracts were flowing. Tax cuts were sailing through. Oil companies were raking it in. Alaska drilling was thrillingly close. The courts were defending his executive privilege on energy policy, and people were still buying all that smoke about Saddam's being responsible for 9/11, and that drivel about how we're fighting them there so we don't have to fight them here. Everything was groovy.

But not anymore. Cheney could not believe that Karl had made him go out and call that loudmouth Jack Murtha a patriot. He was sure the Pentagon generals had put the congressman up to calling for a withdrawal from Iraq. Is the military brass getting in touch with its pacifist side? In Wyoming, Vice shoots doves.

How dare Murtha suggest that Cheney dodged and dodged and dodged and dodged and dodged the draft? Murtha thinks he knows about war just because he served in one and was a marine for 37 years? Vice started his own war. Now that's a credential!

It always goes this way with the cut-and-run crowd. First they start nitpicking the war, complaining about little things like the lack of armor for the troops. Then they complain that there aren't enough troops. Well, that would just require more armor that we don't have. Then they kvetch about using incendiary weapons in a city like Falluja. Vice likes the smell of white phosphorus in the morning.

What really enrages him is all the Republicans in the Senate making noises about timetables. Before you know it, it's going to be helicopters on the rooftop at the Baghdad embassy.

Just because Junior's approval ratings are in the 30's, people around here are going all wobbly. Vice was 10 points lower and he wasn't worried. Numbers are for sissies.

Why do Harry Reid and his Democratic turncoats think they can call the White House on the carpet? Do they think Vice would fear to lie about lying about the rationale for going to war? A real liar never stops lying.

He didn't want to have to tell the rest of the senators to go do to themselves what he had told Patrick Leahy to go do to himself.

Now all these idiots are getting caught, even Scooter. DeLay's on the ropes and the Dukester is a total embarrassment, spending bribes on antique commodes and a Rolls-Royce. Vice should never have let an amateur get involved with defense contracts.

Republican moderates are running scared in the House, worried about re-election. Even senators seem to have forgotten which side their bread is oiled on. Ted Stevens let oil company executives get caught lying about the energy task force meeting, while Vice can't even get a little thing like torture chambers through the Senate. What's so wrong with a little torture?

And now John Warner wants Junior to use fireside chats to explain his plan for Iraq. When did everybody get the un-American idea that the president is answerable to America?

Vice is fed up with the whining of squirrelly surrogates like Brent Scowcroft and Lawrence Wilkerson on behalf of peaceniks like George Senior and Colin Powell. If Poppy's upset about his kid's mentor, he should be man enough to come slug it out.

Poppy isn't getting Junior back, Vice vowed, muttering: "He's my son. It's my war. It's my country."

(And the bad news is: this man is our vice president.)

Thomas L. Friedman is on vacation.

Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Important Viewing--Not to be missed!

Tune in to Democracy Now! on Wednesday 11/30 for interviews with Stanley Tookie Williams and Lori Berenson -
see for full audio, video and transcripts

A Conversation with Death Row Prisoner Stanley Tookie Williams

Two weeks from the date of his scheduled execution, Williams speaks from death row with Democracy Now! about his case, his life and his redemption. Williams helped start the Crips street gang. But behind bars he has become a leading advocate for the end of gang violence. He has written nine books and has been nominated several times for the Nobel Peace Prize. He is scheduled to die on Dec. 13.

Lori Berenson Commentary from Prison Marks 10th Anniversary of her Arrest

On the 10th anniversary of the arrest of U.S. citizen Lori Berenson, her father, Mark Berenson, reads a commentary she released from prison. She was convicted in 1995 in Peru by hooded military judges of collaborating with the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement. She is scheduled for release in November 2015.

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Cut Our Losses

Washington — Jack Murtha is as tough as they come, but he's seen enough of the misguided, mismanaged, mission impossible war in Iraq to know that it's not sustainable, not worth the continued killing and butchering and psychological maiming of thousands of American G.I.'s.

"I mean, this was a war done on the cheap and we're paying a heavy price for it," he said in an interview just before Thanksgiving.

Mr. Murtha is the Pennsylvania congressman, former marine and traditional war hawk whose call for a quick withdrawal of American troops from Iraq has intensified the national debate over the war. He makes weekly visits to wounded troops in military hospitals, and when he talks about their suffering it sometimes seems as if his own heart is breaking.

"These kids are magnificent," he said. "They've done their duty."

He talked about the former Notre Dame basketball player Danielle Green, a left-handed guard ("heck of a player") who lost her left hand in a rocket attack in Baghdad. And he recalled a young marine who was trying to defuse a bomb when it exploded. "It blinded him and took his hands off," said Mr. Murtha. "It killed the guy behind him."

In Congressman Murtha's view, the troops who have displayed so much valor and made so many sacrifices in Iraq deserved better from their leadership here at home. "We went in with insufficient forces," he said. "We had people in the wrong [specialties], people driving trucks who couldn't back trucks up. We had security forces without radios. I found 40,000 troops without body armor."

He has no faith in President Bush's repeated calls to stay the course. "The number of incidents have gone from 150 a week to 772 a couple of weeks ago," he said. As additional U.S. forces have been deployed, casualty rates have increased, not decreased. And his many conversations with G.I.'s have convinced him that American fighting men and women don't have much confidence in their Iraqi allies.

"They don't trust them - that's all there is to it," said Mr. Murtha. The disparagement of Iraqi security forces by American troops was so widespread that Mr. Murtha was surprised when one soldier "started talking about how good they are, how much they've improved, and so forth."

It was a miscommunication. The congressman soon realized that the soldier was talking about how much the insurgents had improved; how they had become more sophisticated, and thus "more deadly."

Mr. Murtha, 73, is a Democrat who has maintained good ties over the years with Republicans and has extraordinary contacts within the Defense Department and the military. He's a decorated Vietnam War veteran (Bronze Star, two Purple Hearts) who retired as a colonel in the Marine Corps Reserves after 37 years of service.

He said he's convinced that there is nothing more the military can accomplish in Iraq. It's the presence of the American troops themselves, inevitably seen by the Iraqis as occupiers, that continues to fuel the insurgency.

"Our military captured Saddam Hussein and captured or killed his closest associates," he said. "But the war continues to intensify."

When he went public with his proposal to pull American troops out of Iraq (he would establish a "quick reaction" force elsewhere in the region, perhaps in Kuwait), he said:

"Our military and their families are stretched thin. Many say that the Army is broken. Some of our troops are on their third deployment. Recruitment is down, even as our military has lowered its standards. Defense budgets are being cut. Personnel costs are skyrocketing, particularly in health care."

Equipment shortages at premier military bases in the U.S., including Fort Hood in Texas and Fort Bragg in North Carolina, are so severe, Mr. Murtha told me, "that the troops don't have the equipment they need to train on."

We need to cut our losses in Iraq. The folly of the Bush crowd and its apologists is now plain for all to see. Congressman Murtha is right, the war is not sustainable. Even Republicans in Congress are starting to bail out on this impossible mission. They're worried - not about the welfare of the troops, but about their chances in the 2006 elections.

To continue sending people to their deaths under these circumstances is worse than pointless, worse than irresponsible. It's a crime of the most grievous kind.

Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

Age of Anxiety

Many eulogies were published following the recent death of Peter Drucker, the great management theorist. I was surprised, however, that few of these eulogies mentioned his book "The Age of Discontinuity," a prophetic work that speaks directly to today's business headlines and economic anxieties.

Mr. Drucker wrote "The Age of Discontinuity" in the late 1960's, a time when most people assumed that the big corporations of the day, companies like General Motors and U.S. Steel, would dominate the economy for the foreseeable future. He argued that this assumption was all wrong.

It was true, he acknowledged, that the dominant industries and corporations of 1968 were pretty much the same as the dominant industries and corporations of 1945, and for that matter of decades earlier. "The economic growth of the last twenty years," he wrote, "has been very fast. But it has been carried largely by industries that were already 'big business' before World War I. ... Every one of the great nineteenth-century innovations gave birth, almost overnight, to a major new industry and to new big businesses. These are still the major industries and big businesses of today."

But all of that, said Mr. Drucker, was about to change. New technologies would usher in an era of "turbulence" like that of the half-century before World War I, and the dominance of the major industries and big businesses of 1968 would soon come to an end.

He was right. Consider, for example, what happened to America's steel industry. In the 1960's, steel production was virtually synonymous with economic might, as it had been for almost a century. But although the U.S. economy as a whole created lots of wealth and tens of millions of jobs between 1968 and 2000, employment in the U.S. steel industry fell 60 percent.

And as industries went, so did corporations. Many of the corporate giants of the 1960's, companies whose pre-eminence seemed permanent, have fallen on hard times, their places in the business hierarchy taken by new players. General Motors is only the most famous example.

So what? Meet the new boss, same as the old boss: why does it matter if the list of leading corporations turns over every couple of decades, as long as the total number of jobs continues to grow?

The answer is the reason Mr. Drucker's old book is so relevant to today's headlines: corporations can't provide their workers with economic security if the companies' own future is highly insecure.

American workers at big companies used to think they had made a deal. They would be loyal to their employers, and the companies in turn would be loyal to them, guaranteeing job security, health care and a dignified retirement.

Such deals were, in a real sense, the basis of America's postwar social order. We like to think of ourselves as rugged individualists, not like those coddled Europeans with their oversized welfare states. But as Jacob Hacker of Yale points out in his book "The Divided Welfare State," if you add in corporate spending on health care and pensions - spending that is both regulated by the government and subsidized by tax breaks - we actually have a welfare state that's about as large relative to our economy as those of other advanced countries.

The resulting system is imperfect: those who don't work for companies with good benefits are, in effect, second-class citizens. Still, the system more or less worked for several decades after World War II.

Now, however, deals are being broken and the system is failing. Remember, Delphi was once part of General Motors, and its workers thought they were totally secure.

What went wrong? An important part of the answer is that America's semi-privatized welfare state worked in the first place only because we had a stable corporate order. And that stability - along with any semblance of economic security for many workers - is now gone.

Regular readers of this column know what I think we should do: instead of trying to provide economic security through the back door, via tax breaks designed to encourage corporations to provide health care and pensions, we should provide it through the front door, starting with national health insurance. You may disagree. But one thing is clear: Mr. Drucker's age of discontinuity is also an age of anxiety, in which workers can no longer count on loyalty from their employers.

Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

Friday, November 25, 2005

Arianna Huffington

Bush in China: Giving Lie to His "Freedom Agenda"

Nov. 21 -- While we continue to uncover more and more about the lies and deceptions the Bush administration used to lead us to war in Iraq, let's not lose sight of the lies and deceptions that are being used to keep us there -- namely, the idea that we are sacrificing American lives in the name of spreading democracy, freedom, and human rights throughout the world.

For proof of how utterly insincere this claim is -- and how empty is George Bush's lofty rhetoric on the subject -- all you need to do is look at the kid glove treatment he gave the Chinese during his visit. Business and trade issues such as preventing movie pirating were clearly at the top of the president's agenda. Freedom, democracy, and human rights were reduced to throat clearing preliminaries. Hey, who has time to worry about dissidents being locked up when the new "Harry Potter" flick is being stolen?

"President Hu is a thoughtful fellow. He listened to what I had to say," Bush told reporters after his meeting with Hu. For his part, the thoughtful Chinese leader refused to allow any questions from the U.S. press throughout Bush's visit.

And the Chinese media did not cover the visit Bush made to a Protestant church. Maybe it's just as well. What would Chinese Christians have made of the president's claim that they were "worshiping in a way that is able to call upon the Almighty to help them through their lives"? Can somebody please tell me what that drivel is supposed to mean? Is it even possible to worship in a way that doesn't involve calling upon the Almighty to help you through your life? Isn't that kind of the definition of prayer?

So, what did Bush have to say during their meeting that Hu thoughtfully listened to? Apparently very little about China's ongoing human rights abuses and violations of religious freedom. For instance, according to yet another anonymous administration official, Bush only "alluded" to the list of imprisoned dissidents maintained by the U.S. government during his meeting with Hu. How do you "allude" to human rights abuses, anyway? Did Bush pull out a photo album from Abu Ghraib and say, "I'll show you mine if you show me yours"? Whatever "alluding" to means, it had such little impact on Hu that, unlike when Condi Rice visited China in March, the Chinese government didn't even feel compelled to release a single dissident.

But no matter. Bush went so far as to give Hu a pat on the back for his willingness to even say the words "human rights" and "democracy" out loud. "I thought," said the president, "it was very interesting in his comments that he talked about human rights." What exactly was "interesting" about Hu's bald-faced lie that "Notable and historic progress has been made in China's development of a democratic political system and human rights"? It's a statement not only refuted by the latest reports from Human Rights Watch but by the Secretary of State herself who earlier this month called China one of the worst violators of religious freedom in the world.

So why was the president so willing to give Hu a pass? Was it the announcement during the first night of the president's visit that China had agreed to buy 70 new 737 jets from Boeing? Perhaps that's what the president was "alluding" to when he said that Hu took democracy "on board in a very thoughtful manner." [emphasis mine]

Now contrast this stark human-rights-and-democracy-take-a-back-seat-to-business approach to the president's soaring rhetoric from his second inaugural address, when he announced "the calling of our time": "the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in the world." (He obviously forgot to note the exceptions to this calling of our time):

"We will persistently clarify the choice before every ruler and every nation: The moral choice between oppression, which is always wrong, and freedom, which is eternally right." (I guess the choice becomes less clear when the U.S. has close to a $200 billion trade deficit with the oppressor in question, and when that oppressor has become the second largest holder of U.S. debt.)

"America will not pretend that jailed dissidents prefer their chains, or that women welcome humiliation and servitude, or that any human being aspires to live at the mercy of bullies." (But we do reserve the right to pretend that the bullies jailing these dissidents are "thoughtful fellows.")

"All who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know: the United States will not ignore your oppression, or excuse your oppressors. When you stand for your liberty, we will stand with you." (Okay, we might ignore your oppression... but only until we put an end to this movie pirating thing.)

"Democratic reformers facing repression, prison, or exile can know: America sees you for who you are: the future leaders of your free country." (So hang in there, we'll get around to pushing for your release. Eventually).

The hollowness of Bush's human-rights-only-when-it's-convenient approach is made even more shameful when you remember how his supposed role model, Ronald Reagan, dealt with the issue of dissidents when he visited the Soviet Union in May 1988. He didn't "allude" to Soviet dissidents -- he met with them, face-to-face at the American ambassador's residence.

"While we press for human rights through diplomatic channels," Reagan told the gathering of 98 dissidents, "you press with your very lives, day in, day out, year after year, risking your jobs, your homes, your all."

But Bush didn't press. He pedaled. The Chinese media lavished much attention on an hour-long ride the president took with prospective members of the Chinese Olympic mountain biking team. Too bad he didn't turn the workout into a two-fer by leading the riders -- and the cameras -- on a tour of some of the human rights activists, journalists, and religious dissidents the Chinese government has locked away over the years.

For Bush, freedom isn't just another word for nothing left to lose... it's just another word to be used when it's politically expedient.

Bush's "calling of our time" clearly has plenty of exceptions for thoughtful thugs -- I mean, fellows.

Bad for the Country

"What was good for our country," a former president of General Motors once declared, "was good for General Motors, and vice versa." G.M., which has been losing billions, has announced that it will eliminate 30,000 jobs. Is what's bad for General Motors bad for America?

In this case, yes.

Most commentary about G.M.'s troubles is resigned: pundits may regret the decline of a once-dominant company, but they don't think anything can or should be done about it. And commentary from some conservatives has an unmistakable tone of satisfaction, a sense that uppity workers who joined a union and made demands are getting what they deserve.

We shouldn't be so complacent. I won't defend the many bad decisions of G.M.'s management, or every demand made by the United Automobile Workers. But job losses at General Motors are part of the broader weakness of U.S. manufacturing, especially the part of U.S. manufacturing that offers workers decent wages and benefits. And some of that weakness reflects two big distortions in our economy: a dysfunctional health care system and an unsustainable trade deficit.

According to A. T. Kearney, last year General Motors spent $1,500 per vehicle on health care. By contrast, Toyota spent only $201 per vehicle in North America, and $97 in Japan. If the United States had national health insurance, G.M. would be in much better shape than it is.

Wouldn't taxpayer-financed health insurance amount to a subsidy to the auto industry? Not really. Because most Americans believe that their fellow citizens are entitled to health care, and because our political system acts, however imperfectly, on that belief, tying health insurance to employment distorts the economy: it systematically discourages the creation of good jobs, the type of jobs that come with good benefits. And somebody ends up paying for health care anyway.

In fact, many of the health care expenses G.M. will save by slashing employment will simply be pushed off onto taxpayers. Some former G.M. families will end up receiving Medicaid. Others will receive uncompensated care - for example, at emergency rooms - which ends up being paid for either by taxpayers or by those with insurance.

Moreover, G.M.'s health care costs are so high in part because of the inefficiency of America's fragmented health care system. We spend far more per person on medical care than countries with national health insurance, while getting worse results.

About the trade deficit: These days the United States imports far more than it exports. Last year the trade deficit exceeded $600 billion. The flip side of the trade deficit is a reorientation of our economy away from industries that export or compete with imports, especially manufacturing, to industries that are insulated from foreign competition, such as housing. Since 2000, we've lost about three million jobs in manufacturing, while membership in the National Association of Realtors has risen 50 percent.

The trade deficit isn't sustainable. We can run huge deficits for the time being, because foreigners - in particular, foreign governments - are willing to lend us huge sums. But one of these days the easy credit will come to an end, and the United States will have to start paying its way in the world economy.

To do that, we'll have to reorient our economy back toward producing things we can export or use to replace imports. And that will mean pulling a lot of workers back into manufacturing. So the rapid downsizing of manufacturing since 2000 - of which G.M.'s job cuts are a symptom - amounts to dismantling a sector we'll just have to rebuild a few years from now.

I don't want to attribute all of G.M.'s problems to our distorted economy. One of the plants G.M. plans to close is in Canada, which has national health insurance and ran a trade surplus last year. But the distortions in our economy clearly make G.M.'s problems worse.

Dealing with our trade deficit is a tricky issue I'll have to address another time. But G.M.'s woes are yet another reminder of the urgent need to fix our health care system. It's long past time to move to a national system that would reduce cost, diminish the burden on employers who try to do the right thing and relieve working American families from the fear of lost coverage. Fixing health care would be good for General Motors, and good for the country.

Thomas L. Friedman is on vacation.

Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company
Life Goes On in Fallujah's Rubble

Inter Press Service
Dahr Jamail

SAN FRANCISCO, California, Nov 23 (IPS) - A year after the U.S.-led
"Operation Phantom Fury" damaged or destroyed 36,000 homes, 60 schools
and 65 mosques in Fallujah, Iraq, residents inside the city continue to
suffer from lack of compensation, slow reconstruction and high rates of

The Study Centre for Human Rights and Democracy based in Fallujah
(SCHRD) estimates the number of people killed in the city during the
U.S.-led operation in October and November 2004 at 4,000 to 6,000, most
of them civilians. Mass graves were dug on the outskirts of the city for
thousands of the bodies.

Last week, the Pentagon confirmed that it had used white phosphorus, a
chemical that bursts into flame upon contact with air, inside Fallujah
as an "incendiary weapon" against insurgents. Washington denies that it
is a chemical weapon, as charged by some critics, and that it was used
against civilians.

Compensation payments promised by Iyad Allawi, the U.S.-backed interim
prime minister at the time of the operation, have failed to materialise
for many residents in the city, who lack potable water and suffer
electricity cuts on a daily basis.

"People were paid almost 20 percent of what they were promised by
Allawi, which was just 100 million dollars," said Mohamad Tareq
al-Deraji, a resident of Fallujah and spokesperson for the city's
governing council.

According to Deraji, who is also a biologist and co-director of the
SCHRD, Iraq's current prime minister, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, had agreed to
continue with the second and third compensation payments to people
inside Fallujah who had suffered the loss of a loved one or damaged
property during the fighting, after he was pressured by the U.S. embassy.

"But now he [Jaafari] has stopped the payments," Deraji told IPS. "So
now there is no payment to the people and we all continue to suffer."

This month, U.S. Marine Col. David Berger, who is commander of the 8th
Regimental Combat Team and responsible for Fallujah, told reporters,
"[Fallujah's residents] don't see any progress, they don't see any
action. They hear a lot of words, a lot of promises, but not a lot of

Deraji estimates that up to 150,000 of the 350,000 residents of Fallujah
continue to live as internally displaced persons due to the lack of
compensation, and therefore, lack of reconstruction.

Reports from inside the city indicate that residents are increasingly
angry at the situation.

"When I was recently in Fallujah, I didn't see any reconstruction," said
Rana Aiouby, a freelance journalist from Baghdad. "Some of the people
are rebuilding their own houses, but I'm still finding people outside
Fallujah who are refugees from the April attack on the city."

Aiouby, who has been in Fallujah many times, said that she was finally
allowed to visit the Shuhada district this past April, after having been
previously barred from the area by U.S. forces.

"This is the poorest district of Falluah and where there was some of the
worst destruction," she added. "It was at least 95 percent destroyed."

Both Deraji and Aiouby said that the power supply is erratic, and that
random bursts of fighting continued on an almost daily basis. As
recently as Nov. 16, the U.S. military confirmed that a Marine was
killed by a car bomb in Karmah, a small city near Fallujah.

"So many schools are either destroyed or occupied by the Americans even
now," Abu Mohammed, a resident of Fallujah, told IPS in a telephone
interview. "Our children are either going to school in tents or staying
at home because we are too afraid to have them outside."

Abu Mohammed, a carpenter and 30-year-old father of five, said that
countless residents were sick from drinking dirty tap water. Others were
falling ill from the lack of electricity coupled with cold nighttime
temperatures that sink as low as 10 degrees Celsius now that winter has
arrived in Iraq.

Deraji agreed, saying there were "many new diseases, especially cancers
with children and with people who stayed in Falluah during the assault".
He told IPS, "Maybe they took big doses from radiation and pollution
inside the city during that time, so we have so many medical problems now."

This is complicated by the fact that hospitals in the city are not at
full operating capacity.

"Some reconstruction is going on with our hospitals," added Deraji, "But
it is very slow and the government is taking some of the money
themselves that we've had for it."

Mohammed Khadem, a 55 year-old engineer in Fallujah, expressed
frustration at the tight military checkpoints in the city. "With retina
scans and fingerprinting still being carried out by the U.S. military at
times in order to issue bar-coded identification badges for certain
residents, lines waiting to get into the city are quite long," he said.

During a phone call from inside Fallujah, Khadem told IPS that security
remained a large problem and fighting occurred "nearly every day at times".

Deraji, speaking for the SCHRD, complained that the "Americans are not
letting our police reestablish themselves. They've only allowed 200
Iraqi police to be established from inside Fallujah and this is not enough."

According to the SCHRD and other NGOs operating in Fallujah, a sore spot
for residents in the city are members of the Iraqi Army who are with
U.S. soldiers.

With Fallujah being primarily Sunni and members of the Shia Badr
Organisation militia and Kurdish Peshmerga militia comprising most of
the Iraqi Army in Fallujah, reports of humiliating and brutal treatment
of residents are common. "Now there are many Iraqi Army men with the
Americans and this is a big problem because they are always shooting and
taking people as detainees," said Deraji. "They are acting like cowboys
in films."

(c)2004, 2005 Dahr Jamail.
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Thursday, November 24, 2005

Indictment of Jose Padilla: another chapter in Bush’s war on democratic rights

By John Andrews and Barry Grey
24 November 2005

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On Tuesday, six days before the Bush administration faced a deadline to file legal arguments with the Supreme Court in the case of Jose Padilla, a US citizen named by Bush as an “enemy combatant” and held for three-and-a-half years in a military brig, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales announced that Padilla had been indicted on terrorist charges and would face trial in criminal court.

The indictment followed an order signed Sunday by Bush, with no public announcement, releasing Padilla from military detention so that his case could be moved into the criminal justice system.

In announcing the indictment, Gonzales said the Justice Department now considered the Supreme Court case “moot”. This made clear that the government’s decision to drop its insistence that it had a right to hold Padilla indefinitely, without charges and without access to the courts, simply on the say-so of the president, was a maneuver designed to avert the possibility of the high court limiting or rejecting the “enemy combatant” designation for US citizens and the Bush White House’s use of it to claim quasi-dictatorial powers.

The category “enemy combatant” is without precedent in US or international law, having been fabricated by the Bush administration to imprison people without reference to acts of Congress, judicial protections for criminal defendants or the Geneva Conventions protecting prisoners of war.

That this latest turn in the Padilla case is motivated entirely by political considerations of the most anti-democratic character is confirmed by the content of the indictment itself. The indictment, which charges Padilla with being part of a “North American support cell” that worked to support violent jihad campaigns outside the US, makes no mention of the alleged crimes that were initially cited to justify his being thrown into a black hole of indefinite military detention.

Padilla was arrested in May of 2002 at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, and initially held as a material witness in connection with the government’s investigations into the September 11, 2001 hijack bombings. In June of 2002, then-Attorney General John Ashcroft interrupted a trip to Moscow to announce on US television that officials had thwarted an effort by Padilla and other Al Qaeda operatives to explode a radioactive or “dirty” bomb on American streets.

On the basis of this sensational charge, Bush declared Padilla to be an “enemy combatant,” had him transferred to a Naval brig, and denied him any right to contest the allegations against him or legally defend himself.

But the indictment released Tuesday by Gonzales says nothing about dirty bombs, an Al Qaeda link, or a plot to carry out an attack within the US.

In June of 2004, after the government had suffered court reverses and was forced to allow Padilla to meet with his legal counsel, the Justice Department came up with new charges, now claiming that Padilla plotted to blow up apartment buildings and hotels in US cities.

But no such charges appear in the indictment released Tuesday.

At the Washington DC press conference where he announced the indictment, Gonzales refused to answer reporters’ questions about these wild discrepancies, blandly declaring the charges leading to “the designation as an enemy combatant ... legally irrelevant”.

The clear fact is that the government could not include in a criminal case headed for open court the allegations it used to imprison Padilla without legal recourse, because those charges would not stand the slightest judicial scrutiny. They would not stand scrutiny because they are based neither on provable fact nor serious evidence.

The Padilla case, from the time Bush declared the Brooklyn-born citizen an enemy combatant and Ashcroft went on national television with the “dirty” bomb allegations, was a politically motivated operation aimed at spreading fear and panic within the population in order to justify an unprecedented attack on democratic rights at home and an explosion of US militarism abroad.

It was part and parcel of the campaign, in the name of the so-called “war on terrorism,” to expand the police powers of the state, establish something approaching a presidential dictatorship, and gut Constitutionally mandated civil liberties. This has taken the form of the Patriot Act, which drastically erodes protections against government spying, illegal searches and seizures and invasions of privacy, and the establishment of the Homeland Security Department, an overarching apparatus for domestic control and repression.

At the same time, the drive to create an atmosphere of fear and insecurity was essential to manipulating public opinion in advance of the launching of a war, nine months after Ashcroft’s televised announcement, to topple Saddam Hussein, occupy Iraq and seize control of the country’s oil assets.

The indictment announced Tuesday charges that Padilla conspired with Adham Amin Hassoun, Kifah Wael Jayyousi, Mohammed Hesham Youssef and Kassem Daher in a cell that sent money, physical assets and mujahideen recruits for the purpose of fighting “violent jihad” in Afghanistan, Algeria, Bosnia, Chechnya, Lebanon, Libya and Somalia, and that they did so through the operation of various front groups, including the American Islamic Group, the Islamic Center of the Americas, and Save Bosnia Now.

The “overt acts” alleged in support of the conspiracy begin in 1993 and end in November of 2001. They consist principally of conversations, intercepted by covert US government wiretaps, in which there were discussions about “friends,” “football,” “tourism,” “fresh air,” “picnics” and so forth, supposedly code words for nefarious but undefined activities. The indictment also lists sundry payments in the range of $1,000 to $5,000, none of which on its face appears sinister or out of the ordinary.

Padilla is mentioned briefly as a “recruit” who traveled to Egypt and Afghanistan, where he filled out a “Mujahideen Data Form”. He is not alleged to have actually engaged in any “jihad” or other violent activities.

At the press conference, Gonzales claimed the alleged conspiracy encouraged “acts of physical violence such as murder, maiming, kidnapping and hostage-taking against innocent civilians”. However, the indictment fails to identify a single person anywhere in the world who was harmed.

If convicted of the charges laid down in the indictment, Padilla faces a sentence of imprisonment for life.

Whether or not Padilla or any of his co-defendants were involved in or supported Islamist jihadist movements, it should be noted that in the time period specified in the indictment, the United States government was itself collaborating with such forces in a number of countries, openly in Bosnia, for example, and, according to many reports, secretly in Chechnya.

The Supreme Court ruled in June 2004 in the case of Yaser Hamdi, a US citizen captured among Taliban fighters in Afghanistan and declared to be an enemy combatant, that enemy combatants captured on foreign battlefields were entitled to some due process determination of their status. Hamdi was then released on condition that he remain in Saudi Arabia, his parents’ home country.

In another case decided at the same time, the high court ruled that Guantánamo prisoners could seek habeas relief in US courts. It avoided ruling on Padilla’s petition, however, voting 5-4 that Padilla should have been filed his initial appeal in Charleston, South Carolina, where he was being held in military detention, rather than in New York, where he was first held as a material witness.

Padilla’s attorney, Donna Newman, filed a new habeas petition in South Carolina, where United States District Judge Henry F. Floyd ruled that Padilla had to be charged with a crime or released. Himself an appointee of Bush, Floyd wrote that if the administration’s position “were ever adopted by the courts, it would totally eviscerate the limits placed on presidential authority to protect the citizenry’s individual liberties”.

Floyd’s decision, however, was reversed in September of this year by a three-judge panel of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, led by Michael J. Luttig, a prominent figure on Bush’s “short list” of candidates for upcoming Supreme Court vacancies. Luttig upheld unbridled executive power to imprison “enemy combatants,” claiming that Padilla served as an armed guard for the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan at the time when US troops were engaged in combat against them, and then “traveled to the United States for the avowed purpose of further prosecuting that war on American soil, against American citizens and targets”.

Padilla has “avowed” nothing of the sort. He has formally denied the charges, but because of the enemy combatant doctrine has never had a legal forum to challenge them.

Padilla filed a second petition with the Supreme Court last month, appealing Luttig’s ruling. The administration’s response was due next week.

Padilla’s lawyers intend to proceed in the Supreme Court despite the release of their client from military custody. Andrew Patel, Newman’s co-counsel, explained on the radio show Democracy Now! that the threat posed by the Bush administration’s invocation of the “enemy combatant” doctrine still exists.

In opposition to the government’s claim that the case is moot, Patel said, “We will ask the Court to consider this very important issue. Not only is it not moot as to Mr. Padilla—for example, suppose he was acquitted of this charge or the case was somehow dismissed, and the government decided that, ‘Well, we don’t want him out,’ and they just declare him to be an enemy combatant and send him back to the brig again. Until the Supreme Court rules that the president does not have that power, that’s an authority, as Justice Jackson said in his dissent to Korematsu [the World War II Japanese-American internment case], that lies around like a loaded gun ready to be used or abused at any time.”

There is an obvious and bitter irony in Gonzales charging Padilla, or anyone else, of supporting the kidnapping of individuals and other illegal acts. In his prior role as Bush’s White House counsel, he presided over the drafting of the now infamous torture memoranda and gave legal advice justifying an international gulag for victims of “rendition” snatched by US agents off the streets and taken to secret prisons.

See Also:
Court upholds power of White House to jail citizens as “enemy combatants”
[13 September 2005]
Judge orders end to indefinite detention of Jose Padilla
[2 March 2005]
Secret arrests and detentions: Bush invokes “enemy combatant” rule against defendants
[25 June 2003]
Bush claims right to jail US citizens indefinitely, without charges or hearing
[24 June 2002]
Another step towards presidential dictatorship: Bush orders US citizen held indefinitely by military
[June 12 2002]

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Pack up the camp gear momma. There's a protest goin' on!!!!

Protesters Arrested Near Bush's Ranch - Yahoo! News: "CRAWFORD, Texas - A dozen war protesters including Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the
Pentagon Papers, were arrested Wednesday for setting up camp near
President Bush's ranch in defiance of new local bans on roadside camping and parking.

About four hours after the group pitched six tents and huddled in sleeping bags and blankets, McLennan County sheriff's deputies arrested them for criminal trespassing. Many in the group held up signs, including one that said 'Give me liberty or give me a ditch.'

A dozen or so other demonstrators left the public right of way after deputies warned them they would be arrested.

The protest was set to coincide with Bush's Thanksgiving ranch visit.

The arrests were made by more than two dozen deputies who calmly approached the demonstrators in their tents and asked if they wanted to walk out on their own or be carried. Two chose to be carried. They were to be taken to jail for booking.

Ellsberg, the former Defense Department official who leaked the Pentagon Papers during the Vietnam war, estimated it was his 70th arrest for various protests since the 1970s."

By Kevin Maguire

THE Daily Mirror was yesterday told not to publish further details from a top secret memo, which revealed that President Bush wanted to bomb an Arab TV station.

The gag by the Attorney General Lord Goldsmith came nearly 24 hours after the Mirror informed Downing Street of its intention to reveal how Tony Blair talked Bush out of attacking satellite station al-Jazeera's HQ in friendly Qatar.


No 10 did nothing to stop us publishing our front page exclusive yesterday.

But the Attorney General warned that publication of any further details from the document would be a breach of the Official Secrets Act.

Best of the best...Gene Lyons

There’s hope for the republic yet
Gene Lyons

Posted on Wednesday, November 23, 2005

To me, the most heartening election result this November took place in Dover, Penn. There, citizens in a Republican town in a traditionally Republican congressional district voted to replace virtually the entire local school board with moderates running as Democrats. Although the tally was close, with fewer than two percentage points separating some contestants, it was also decisive. Every incumbent Republican lost ; every Democratic challenger won. Partisanship, however, had little to do with it. Essentially, the election served as a referendum on “intelligent design,” a religious idea disguised as a scientific theorem and foisted upon schoolchildren in biology classes. In October 2004, the old school board voted to require district science teachers to make their students “aware of gaps/ problems in Darwin’s theory and of other theories of [biological ] evolution including, but not limited to, intelligent design.”

In consequence, the district found itself caught up in a costly, embarrassing and at times deeply farcical civil trial in a U. S. District Court in Harrisburg. Brought by eight families who objected to having their children inculcated with fundamentalist religious dogma in a public school, the lawsuit won’t be decided formally until January 2006, when the judge, a GOP appointee, has promised his ruling.

Based upon the evidence, however, there’s little doubt it’ll reprise the U. S. Supreme Court’s 1987 ruling forbidding what was then called “creation science” from being taught in Louisiana schools as an unconstitutional establishment of sectarian religion. Flogged in the newspapers and on TV (as opposed to refereed scientific journals) by an outfit calling itself the Discovery Institute, intelligent design—ID for short—supposedly represented a new frontier in scientific thinking.

Instead, judging by excellent coverage given the trial in Pennsylvania’s York Daily Record and elsewhere, ID got exposed as biblical fundamentalism in a badly fitting lab coat.

Lest you suspect exaggeration, ponder this sentence from a creationist textbook called “Of Pandas and People,” cited in the Louisiana case: “Creation means that various forms of life began abruptly through the agency of an intelligent creator, with their distinctive features already intact—fish with fins and scales, birds with feathers, beaks, and wings, etc.”

Here it is again from a post-1987 edition of the same book, purchased by the Dover School Board: “Intelligent design means that various forms of life began abruptly through an intelligent agency, with their distinctive features already intact—fish with fins and scales, etc.”

Not much additional research appears to have been done.

Professor Barbara Forrest, whose book, “Creationism’s Trojan Horse,” is crucial to understanding this latest effort to confuse the realms of faith and reason, provided the court with an excerpt from the manuscript of a forthcoming textbook retitled “The Design of Life.” It states that “sudden appearance means that various forms of life began abruptly....”
Well, I’ll spare you from reading the identical sentence three times.

See, you can call a zebra a hippopotamus if you like, but that doesn’t make it striped. Speaking of which, from a purely scientific standpoint, the trial’s high point may have come when Cal-Berkeley paleontologist Kevin Padian gave the court a compelling seminar in the extensive fossil record linking hippos and whales. Contrary to “Of Pandas and People’s” standard “missing link” argument that denies the existence of such “transitional species,” there’s an ever more abundant record demonstrating how land-dwelling and sea-going mammals evolved from common ancestors over eons of time in response to environmental change.

Did God put it there to confuse us? Or maybe Satan’s responsible. But enough sophomoric humor. The scientist who fared worst on the witness stand was Michael J. Behe, a biochemist from Lehigh University and author of the best-selling book, “Darwin’s Black Box.” Surrounded by stacks of books and journal articles dealing with the evolution of the human immune system, a mystery for which, his book argued, “scientific literature has no answer,” Behe was reduced to rhetorically dismissing works he obviously knew nothing about.

Even journalists are expected to read books before reviewing them. Attorneys for the complaining parents also appear to have had a grand time taking Behe systematically through “Of Pandas and People,” repudiating one creationist nostrum after another. Indeed, his version of ID seems to boil down to the idea that God created the first living
cell several billion years ago, placed it on the primordial earth, fixed himself a bowl of popcorn and sat back to enjoy the show. Maybe he did. Asked what “mechanism” the designer used, Behe offered none. In short, ID not only fails to qualify as a scientific theorem, it’s not even a hypothesis. It’s the equivalent of a 3 a.m. dormitory bull session
about The Meaning of Life. The good news is that whatever Americans may tell
pollsters about evolution when it’s falsely equated with atheism, when circumstances force them to think seriously, the majority reaches the right conclusion.

•–––––—Free-lance columnist Gene Lyons is a Little Rock author and recipient of the National Magazine Award.

Lily Tomlin said it best. "No matter how cynical I get, I just can't keep up."

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