Saturday, March 04, 2006


DH: Van Os party adjourns to Doc's Bar & Grill

Austin - The Filibuster for Liberty conducted by David Van Os, Democratic Candidate for Texas Attorney General, ended at 6 p.m. today in front of the south steps of the Texas Capitol, with a hug for the candidate from his wife Rachel, right, and the party adjourned to Doc's Bar & Grill on S. Congress in Austin.

The political discourse experienced there has only improved.

And after 38 hours without sleep, the candidate finally went to bed.

Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage:
political blog:


DH: Van Os holds filibuster for liberty - March 4

Austin - Democratic nominee for Texas Attorney General David Van Os is holding a 24-hour "filibuster" for liberty on the south steps of the Texas State Capitol from 6 p.m. yesterday until 6 p.m. today, attended by several dozen Democrats from throughout the state including several other Democratic candidates for office in the November 2006 election.

Van Os, the main speaker, left, has invoked patriotic themes, including the Declaration of Independence of Texas from Mexico and the Declaration of Independence of the 13 original cononies from England. His talks have also included the Bill of Rights of both Texas and the United States Constitutions.

Other speakers Friday and Saturday have included Elliott Naishtat, second left, a Texas State Representative in the group of 51 Democratic state representatives who broke a quorum by leaving the state to prevent, temporarily, the Tom DeLay-inspired redistricting scheme prior to the 2004 election.

This story is being blogged from the south steps of the Texas State Capitol.

Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage: www.haigler.info

Friday, March 03, 2006


AP: Bush says U.S. should welcome competition in India

By DEB RIECHMANN, Associated Press Writer -- Friday, 1 hour, 12 minutes ago

U.S. President George W. Bush, right, puts a hand plow over his shoulder during a visit to Acharya N.G. Ranga Agricultural University in Hyderabad, India, Friday, March 3, 2006. Mant at left is unidentified. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)HYDERABAD, India - President Bush [seen here putting a hand plow over his shoulder during a visit to Acharya N.G. Ranga Agricultural University in Hyderabad, Friday, March 3, 2006. Man at left is unidentified. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)] urged Americans worried about a U.S. job drift to India and other countries to welcome, not fear, competition with this rapidly growing nation of 1 billion.

"The classic opportunity for our American farmers and entrepreneurs and small businesses to understand is there is a 300 million-person market of middle class citizens here in India," Bush said Friday during a discussion with young entrepreneurs at a business school here, "and that if we can make a product they want, that it becomes viable."

A day earlier, Bush and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh inked a deal for the United States to provide nuclear fuel, reactors and know-how to help this energy-starved nation meet its growing demand for power, while allowing it to continue developing nuclear weapons.

"Yesterday was a way to put the Cold War behind us," Bush said of the historic nuclear accord.

As part of an effort to nurture economic ties with a nation that was once estranged from the United States, the president flew here to take in both this city's high-tech activity that is helping to drive rapid economic growth and the rural areas around it that lag behind.

The meeting with business leaders and an earlier tour around the dusty campus of an agricultural college were aimed at showcasing ways the United States and India can cooperate to spur innovation across industries.

India's exploding economy has created millions of jobs. India's outsourcing industry alone is expected to bring in $22 billion in revenue this fiscal year, much of that generated by U.S. companies.

"People do lose jobs as a result of globalization and it's painful for those who lose jobs," Bush acknowledged. "Globalization provides great opportunities."

The boom has created millions of jobs along with consumer demands that have attracted American businesses. A luxury goods market has even emerged, with brands like Louis Vuitton and Rolls Royce setting up shop along with consumer demands that have attracted American businesses.

Though 80 percent of Indians live on less than $2 a day, India's middle class has swelled to a number larger the population of the entire United States. The U.S. trade deficit with India, however, nearly doubled between 2001 and 2005 to $10 billion.

Full AP-Yahoo News story.

D.H.: Just a few thoughts, Mr. Bush:

1. The Cold War was with Russia and China, and ended under Reagan; you are fighting the War on Terra now, and it's not with India; and Indians don't live on reservations.

2. Not many people living on $2 a day will buy French designer bags and Brittish luxury cars, and that won't help the American economy anymore than outsourcing of jobs does.

3. I suppose we could compete better with 300 million Indians living on $2 a day if we repealed all our labor, environmental and safety laws and lowered our standard of living. And, by the way, you forgot to throw in your usual mantra about getting more training. But you did look good with that plow over your shoulder, even though it's not used that way -- something you might have known if you'd ever kept a real job in your entire life.

4. Tell your mother, whom you apparently learned class warfare from, that Katrina evacuees are still living better than they were before the storm, even though most of them got evicted from the hotels FEMA provided last week.

5. And you might try something Marie Antoinette tried in France sometime back when these pesky people ran out of bread -- let 'em eat cake.

-Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage:

If those links don't work, try our political blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com:

Thursday, March 02, 2006


NJ: NIEs contradicted Bush's excuses to invade Iraq

BushWhat Bush Was Told About Iraq

By Murray Waas, National Journal © National Journal Group Inc., Thursday, March 2, 2006

Two highly classified intelligence reports delivered directly to President Bush, right, before the Iraq war cast doubt on key public assertions made by the president, Vice President Cheney, and other administration officials as justifications for invading Iraq and toppling Saddam Hussein, according to records and knowledgeable sources.

The first report, delivered to Bush in early October 2002, was a one-page summary of a National Intelligence Estimate that discussed whether Saddam's procurement of high-strength aluminum tubes was for the purpose of developing a nuclear weapon.

Among other things, the report stated that the Energy Department and the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research believed that the tubes were "intended for conventional weapons," a view disagreeing with that of other intelligence agencies, including the CIA, which believed that the tubes were intended for a nuclear bomb.

The disclosure that Bush was informed of the DOE and State dissents is the first evidence that the president himself knew of the sharp debate within the government over the aluminum tubes during the time that he, Cheney, and other members of the Cabinet were citing the tubes as clear evidence of an Iraqi nuclear program. Neither the president nor the vice president told the public about the disagreement among the agencies.

When U.S. inspectors entered Iraq after the fall of Saddam's regime, they determined that Iraq's nuclear program had been dormant for more than a decade and that the aluminum tubes had been used only for artillery shells.

The second classified report, delivered to Bush in early January 2003, was also a summary of a National Intelligence Estimate, this one focusing on whether Saddam would launch an unprovoked attack on the United States, either directly, or indirectly by working with terrorists.

The report stated that U.S. intelligence agencies unanimously agreed that it was unlikely that Saddam would try to attack the United States -- except if "ongoing military operations risked the imminent demise of his regime" or if he intended to "extract revenge" for such an assault, according to records and sources.

The single dissent in the report again came from State's Bureau of Intelligence and Research, known as INR, which believed that the Iraqi leader was "unlikely to conduct clandestine attacks against the U.S. homeland even if [his] regime's demise is imminent" as the result of a U.S. invasion.

On at least four earlier occasions, beginning in the spring of 2002, according to the same records and sources, the president was informed during his morning intelligence briefing that U.S. intelligence agencies believed it was unlikely that Saddam was an imminent threat to the United States.

However, in the months leading up to the war, Bush, Cheney, and Cabinet members repeatedly asserted that Saddam was likely to use chemical or biological weapons against the United States or to provide such weapons to Al Qaeda or another terrorist group.

Full article: National Journal. D.H.: This story was blogged by Bill Spier at 4 p.m. today, but I inadvertently erased it. Apologies to Bill.


AP: Iraq PM cancels meeting with political foes

By QASSIM ABDUL-ZAHRA, Associated Press Writers -- Thursday, 2 hours, 11 minutes ago

Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim Al-Jaafari looks on during a joint press conference with British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, unseen,  in Baghdad, Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2006.  Al -Jaafari canceled a meeting Thursday, March 2, 2006, with Iraq's top political leaders after they agreed to mount a campaign to deny him another term in a bid to jump-start stalled talks on a new national unity government. ( AP Photo/ Samir Mizban )BAGHDAD, Iraq - Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, left, canceled a meeting Thursday with Iraq's top political leaders after they agreed to mount a campaign to deny him another term in a bid to jump-start stalled talks on a new government.

Al-Jaafari had called the meeting to discuss ways to resolve the political standoff and contain a surge of sectarian killing that pushed Iraq to the brink of civil war.

The violence has complicated talks to form a broad-based government, which U.S. officials consider essential to lure Sunni Arabs away from insurgents so coalition forces can start drawing down later this year.

Al-Jaafari's office gave no reason for calling off Thursday's meeting with major political parties.

"The cancellation of this meeting is a regrettable thing because such meetings are essential under the current situation," said Mahmoud Othman, a leading figure in Parliament's Kurdish bloc.

On Wednesday, leaders of three parties, including Sunnis, Kurds and the secularists of ex-Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, agreed to ask the main Shiite bloc to withdraw al-Jaafari's nomination for prime minister and put forward another candidate. Officials of all three groups confirmed the plan but spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject.

The move against al-Jaafari is expected to draw sharp opposition from radical anti-US cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who hasn't yet commented.

Al-Sadr's militiamen were believed behind many of the attacks against Sunni mosques last week, and the prospect of a prime minister in debt to the young radical has alarmed mainstream politicians, including some in the Shiite alliance.

Full AP-Yahoo News story.

Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage:
political blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com


AP: Bush cuts nuke deal with India - March 2

By DEB RIECHMANN, Associated Press Writer -- Thursday, 16 minutes ago

U.S. President George W. Bush, left,  puts his arm around Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the conclusion of a joint press availability with at Hyderabad House in New Delhi, India Thursday, March 2, 2006. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)NEW DELHI - President Bush, with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, right, got a victory Thursday on his first visit to India, securing a landmark nuclear energy agreement that he says could help ease energy prices in the United States.

Bush and Prime Minister Singh announced the deal, which will open most Indian reactors to international inspections and provide the growing nation with U.S. nuclear technology, during a joint news conference after meeting privately to hammer out details.

"We made history," Singh said of the deal that will aid India's quest for more global influence.

Under the accord, the United States will share its nuclear know-how and fuel with India to help power its fast-growing economy. It represents a major shift in policy for the United States, which imposed temporary sanctions on India in 1998 after it conducted nuclear tests.

"We concluded an historic agreement today on nuclear power," Bush said. "It's not an easy job for the prime minister to achieve this agreement, I understand. It's not easy for the American president to achieve this agreement, but it's a necessary agreement. It's one that will help both our peoples."

Critics said the deal undermines the Nuclear Nonproliferation Agreement, which India won't sign. And they say it sends the wrong signal to leaders of North Korea and Iran, who have snubbed their noses at international calls to halt their nuclear weapons programs.

The agreement will require U.S. congressional approval. Bush immediately acknowledged that will be difficult to win.

Bush said he will tell lawmakers that the U.S.-India relationship is changing for the better and that it is in the United States' interest to cooperate with India on its nuclear programs. He also said the deal could be a boon for U.S. consumers.

"Proliferation is certainly a concern and a part of our discussions, and we've got a good faith gesture by the Indian government that I'll be able to take to the Congress," Bush said. "But the other thing that our Congress has got to understand -- that it's in our economic interests that India have a civilian nuclear power industry to help take the pressure off of the global demand for energy. ... To the extent that we can reduce demand for fossil fuels, it will help the American consumer."

Singh's leftist allies also criticized the pact, saying it paves the way for U.S. meddling in Indian affairs.

Full AP-Yahoo News story.

Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage:

If those links don't work try our political blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com. I cannot help but note, as my friend John Gullett and others have said to me for months, that one can read things in DemLog today that local and even national newspapers will be running the next day. An example is Molly Ivins' piece on Bush's carnival tricks, which DemLog blogged yesterday at 4:24 a.m., and it appears in today's Abilene newspaper.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006


AP: Gitmo holds military hearing

GUANTANAMO BAY US NAVAL BASE, Cuba (AFP) - An alleged aide to Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden appeared before a military tribunal for hearings that he has dismissed as illegitimate.

In this courtroom illustration, Ali Hamza Ahmad Sulayman al-Bahlul appears before a military commission at Guantanamo Naval Base in Cuba in Guantanamo, Cuba, in 2004.  Bahlul, a 37-year-old Yemeni, is accused of conspiring to attack civilians and has admitted at a previous hearing that he was a member of bin Laden's Al-Qaeda network.(AFP/Getty Images/Pool)Ali Hamza Ahmad al-Bahlul, shown in a courtroom drawing, left, a 37-year-old Yemeni, is accused of conspiring to attack civilians.  In previous pre-trial hearings, Bahlul condemned the military tribunals as "illegitimate" while admitting he was a member of the Al-Qaeda network. He renewed his request Wednesday to be allowed to represent himself, though tribunal rules require that he accept a US lawyer.

He sought to clarify earlier comments that he was a member of Al-Qaeda, saying that he did not have anything to do with the attacks of September, 11, 2001.  I had no connection to the events of September 11," he said.

Prosecutors allege he served as a propaganda specialist and bodyguard for bin Laden in Afghanistan, wearing an explosives-laden belt, before he was captured in 2001 and transferred to the controversial US-run "war on terror" detention camp at the Guantanamo Bay US Naval Base in Cuba. 

In hearings last month, Bahlul struck a defiant tone, saying he and the other approximately 500 detainees at Guantanamo should be treated as "prisoners of war" instead of as "enemy combatants" with fewer rights.  He ended his remarks at the January hearing with one word in English, "boycott," and removed his headphones provided for translation of the proceedings.

Human rights groups monitoring the proceedings say the case illustrates how the military tribunals, created to handle the detainees held at Guantanamo, restrict the rights of defendants and flout US and international legal norms.

The administration of President George W. Bush says that "enemy combatants" held at Guantanamo fall outside the protections of the Geneva Conventions or the US courts-martial system.

Of the some 500 detainees held at Guantanamo, only 10 have been formally charged after four years.

He is accused of preparing a video glorifying Al-Qaeda's attack on the USS Cole in 2000 as a recruitment tool for a "revolt against America."

Shortly before the attacks of September 11, 2001, Bahlul allegedly helped bin Laden and his associates to move from Kandahar to a remote mountain location in Afghanistan, prosecutors say.

In the weeks following September 11, bin Laden allegedly ordered Bahlul to gather media reports on the attacks on New York and Washington and information about economic damage caused.

Full AP-Yahoo News story.

Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage:
political blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com


AP: Saddam admits responsibility for prosecutions

By BASSEM MROUE, Associated Press Writer -- Wednesday, 14 minutes ago

Former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein speaks at his trial in Baghdad Wednesday March 1, 2006. Saddam and seven co-defendants are on trial for torture, illegal arrests and the killing of nearly 150 people from Dujail after a 1982 assassination attempt on Saddam in the town. (AP Photo/Bob Strong, Pool)BAGHDAD, Iraq - Saddam Hussein, right, said in a defiant courtroom confession Wednesday that he ordered the trial of 148 Shiites who were eventually executed in the 1980s, but he insisted he had the right to do so because they were suspected of trying to kill him.

The dramatic speech came a day after prosecutors presented the most direct evidence against him in the four-month trial: a 1984 presidential decree approving the death sentences for the 148, with a signature said to be Saddam's.

"Where is the crime? Where is the crime?" Saddam asked. "If trying a suspect accused of shooting at a head of state -- no matter what his name is -- is considered a crime, then you have the head of state in your hands. Try him."

Saddam did not admit or deny approving their executions, but stated outright that he was solely responsible for their prosecution, adding that his seven co-defendants should be released.

"If the chief figure makes thing easy for you by saying he was the one responsible, then why are you going after these people?" he said.

The deaths of the Shiites are one of the main charges against the defendants, who could face execution by hanging -- the same fate as most of the 148 -- if convicted.

They are on trial also for torture and imprisonment of the Shiites, as well as the razing of their farmlands, in a crackdown launched after a July 8, 1982 assassination attempt against Saddam in the town of Dujail.

The prosecution has argued the imprisonment and executions were illegal, saying the 148 were sentenced to death in an "imaginary trial" before Saddam's Revolutionary Court where the defendants did not even appear.

The crackdown, they argue, went far beyond the actual attackers. They have presented documents that show entire families -- including women and children as young as 3 months old -- were arrested, tortured and held for years. Those executed included at least 10 juveniles, one as young as 11, according to the documents.

Full AP-Yahoo News story.

Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage:
political blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com


CS-Ivins: Bush's carnival tricks

IvinsBending over backwards for corporations, by Molly Ivins, left, of Creators Syndicate

AUSTIN, Texas -- With the Bush administration, it's important to have in mind the old carnival con game: Keep your eye on the shell with the pea under it.
Among the many curious aspects of the administration's approval of the Dubai Ports World takeover of operations at six major ports (and as many as 21) is this exemption from normally routine restrictions: The agreement does not require DP World to keep copies of its business records on U.S. soil, which would place them within the jurisdiction of American courts. Nor does it require the company to designate an American citizen to accommodate requests by the government. So what's that about?

It makes DP World harder to sue and less subject to American regulation. The lovely thing about the ports deal causing such a commotion is that it allows us to bring attention to this fairly obscure provision, which is, in fact, part of a wave of similar special exemptions that's starting to turn into a flood.

Here's a lovely example of how it works: Just before Christmas last year, in a spectacular example of a straight power play, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and House Speaker Dennis Hastert pulled off a backroom legislative deal to protect pharmaceutical companies from lawsuits. The language was slipped into a Defense Department appropriations bill at the last minute without the approval of members of the House-Senate conference committee meeting on the bill.

Lots of players were outraged at the short-circuiting of the legislative process. "It is a travesty," said Thomas Mann of The Brookings Institution. Rep. David Obey, D-Wis., who had specifically checked to make sure the language was not included, was enraged, calling Frist and Hastert "a couple of musclemen in Congress who think they have the right to tell everybody else that they have to do their bidding." Rep. Dan Burton said succinctly, "It sucks."

The way this was done was outrageous, but so is what it did. Frist has received over $270,000 in contributions from the drug industry and has long advocated liability protection for vaccine makers. As the Gannett News Service reports, the provision allows the secretary of health and human services to issue a declaration of a public health emergency, or threat of an emergency, or declaration of "credible risk" of an emergency in the future, thereby protecting the industry against lawsuits involving the manufacture, testing, development, distribution, administration or use of vaccines or other drugs.

In order to prove injury from a drug, a person would have to prove "willful misconduct," not just actual harm.

But this putrid performance is part of a much larger pattern to protect corporations from the consequences of the damage they cause. The Los Angeles Times reports:

-- "The highway safety agency ... is backing auto industry efforts to stop California and other states from regulating tailpipe emissions."

-- "The Justice Department helped industry groups overturn a pollution-control rule in Southern California that would have required cleaner-running buses, garbage trucks and other fleet vehicles."

-- "The U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency has repeatedly sided with national banks to fend off enforcement of consumer protection laws passed by California, New York and other states."

-- "The Food and Drug Administration (claims) FDA-approved labels should give pharmaceutical firms broad immunity from most types of lawsuits."

Because of repeated problems with roof- crush incidents that have crippled drivers in rollover accidents, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration at last proposed a beefed-up safety standard for car roofs -- but the proposal also provides legal protection for the manufacturers from future roof-crush lawsuits. So your car roof may be less liable to crush during a rollover, but if it does and leaves you paraplegic, but you won't be able to sue.

Sometimes I'm not sure what planet these people live on -- they must think the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal represents reality.

Gee, would a fine, upstanding American corporation actually make a product that would hurt someone? Knowingly? Would they ever lie to cover it up after they find out about the problem and continue manufacturing whatever it is until finally forced to stop? Well, would they do that if it was really, really profitable? Could that happen in our great nation?

The trouble with the people who write The Wall Street Journal's editorial page is that they never read their own newspaper, which still does the best job of business reporting anywhere. Business interests have done a splendid job of vilifying trial lawyers and pretending the only people hurt by limiting the right to sue are trial lawyers.

Look, the trial lawyer is not the one in a wheelchair after a roof-crush rollover leaves someone paraplegic. Do you drive a car?

Read more in the Molly Ivins archive.

Molly Ivins is the former editor of the liberal monthly The Texas Observer. She is the bestselling author of several books including Who Let the Dogs In?

Source: Working for Change.

Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage:
political blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com


AP: Bush visits Afghanistan, heads to India

By TERENCE HUNT, AP White House Correspondent -- Wednesday, 4 minutes ago

KABUL, Afghanistan - President Bush made a surprise visit to Afghanistan on Wednesday, flying here secretly to support its fledging government in the face of rising violence from al-Qaida and Taliban militants.

U.S. President George W. Bush greets U.S. Marines from the 7th Marine Division on their way to Kuwait during Bush's refueling stop in Shannon, Ireland, Wednesday, March 1, 2006. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)President Bush greets U.S. Marines from the 7th Marine Division, right, on their way to Kuwait during Bush's refueling stop in Shannon, Ireland, Wednesday, March 1, 2006. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

Bush's entourage flew into the city from Bagram Air Base in a flotilla of heavily armed helicopters. Two door gunners on a press helicopter fired off a short burst of machine gun fire at unknown targets as the aircraft flew low and fast over barren countryside.

Bush arrived safely at the presidential palace where he was greeted by Afghanistan's leader Hamid Karzai. The two men walked down a red carpet past a military honor guard to begin their meetings.

The United States invaded Afghanistan after the terrorist attacks of Sept 11, 2001, to unseat the Taliban regime that harbored Osma bin-Laden and his terrorist training camps.

Despite intense manhunts and a multimillion dollar reward, bin-Laden remains at large, believed to be in hiding in the rugged border area of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

There are about 19,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has said the number will be reduced to about 16,000 by summer.

Bush flew into Afghanistan on what was supposed to have been a flight to India, where tens of thousands gathered in New Delhi to protest his visit.

The United States and India were bargaining over the terms of a landmark nuclear agreement even as Bush made his way to New Delhi for the first visit there of his presidency.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said sticking points remained in the way of an agreement and singled out one particularly contentious subject.

"The one thing that is absolutely necessary is that any agreement would assure that once India has decided to put a reactor under safeguard that it remain permanently under safeguard," she said.

Bush and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh signed an agreement in July that would provide India with nuclear fuel for the country's booming but energy-starved economy. But the pact, which faces some political opposition in both countries, hinges on determining how to separate India's civilian and military nuclear facilities.

Rice said she was uncertain whether there would be an agreement during Bush's trip but said the success or failure of his visit wouldn't be determined by that. "We're still working on it," she said. "Obviously it would be an important breakthrough" for the United States and India.

Rice said that India's neighbor and nuclear rival, Pakistan, would not qualify for the same sort of nuclear treatment as New Delhi. "Pakistan is not in the same place as India," Rice said. "I think everybody understands that."

The United States says India has an unblemished record on nuclear proliferation and has not sold its technology to any outsiders. Pakistan, on the other hand, has acknowledged it has secretly sold nuclear technology to a number of countries.

Full AP-Yahoo News story.

Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage:
If those links don't work, try our political blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com.


Alternet: Thanks For The Help, Osama!

By Melissa McEwan
Posted on Alternet at 2:53 p.m. on February 28, 2006,
Re-posted here at 3:45 a.m. on March 1, 2006

Paul the Spud at The Adventures of the Smart Patrol points to this article at CNN, which reports:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- President Bush said his 2004 re-election victory over Sen. John Kerry was inadvertently aided by Osama bin Laden, The Washington Examiner newspaper reported Tuesday...

“I thought it was going to help,” Bush said.

“I thought it would help remind people that if bin Laden doesn’t want Bush to be the president, something must be right with Bush.”

Paul’s response is perhaps best categorized as decidedly unimpressed.

It was helpful that Bin Laden continues to be a threat, because it helped him get re-elected. He was grateful that his fearmongering techniques worked so well, and Bin Laden is still the monster under the bed, because it helped him get re-elected. He was overjoyed that his attempts to link Bin Laden and Saddam in the minds of Americans worked, because although we “caught” the wrong evildoer, it helped him get re-elected.

As long as Americans are still afraid of the boogeyman, “something must be right with Bush.”

...Now... where is that wacky Bin Laden? Nope, not under here!!!
Argh, etc.

It occurs to me that the one man who has the most power to do something about bin Laden--like, for example, having kept our full attention on him instead of diverting ourselves into Iraq--just shouldn’t have the right to be so bloody cavalier about how bin Laden helped get him reelected.

But that’s just me.

-Melissa McEwan


AP: Spy chief says Iraq may spawn regional fight

By KATHERINE SHRADER, Associated Press Writer -- Wednesday, 29 minutes ago

WASHINGTON - A civil war in Iraq could lead to a broader conflict in the Middle East, pitting the region's rival Islamic sects against each other, National Intelligence Director John Negroponte, below left, said in an unusually frank assessment Tuesday.

National Intelligence Director John Negroponte testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Capitol Hill Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2006, on national security threats.   (AP Photo/Dennis Cook)"If chaos were to descend upon Iraq or the forces of democracy were to be defeated in that country ... this would have implications for the rest of the Middle East region and, indeed, the world," Negroponte said at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on global threats.

Full AP-Yahoo News story.

Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage:
political blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com

Tuesday, February 28, 2006


Z-I: Troops in Iraq - 72% Say End War in 2006

Released: February 28, 2006 by Zogby International

• Le Moyne College/Zogby Poll shows just one in five troops want to heed Bush call to stay “as long as they are needed”
• While 58% say mission is clear, 42% say U.S. role is hazy
• Plurality believes Iraqi insurgents are mostly homegrown
• Almost 90% think war is retaliation for Saddam’s role in 9/11, most don’t blame Iraqi public for insurgent attacks
• Majority of troops oppose use of harsh prisoner interrogation
• Plurality of troops pleased with their armor and equipment

An overwhelming majority of 72% of American troops serving in Iraq think the U.S. should exit the country within the next year, and nearly one in four say the troops should leave immediately, a new Le Moyne College/Zogby International survey shows.

The poll, conducted in conjunction with Le Moyne College’s Center for Peace and Global Studies, showed that 29% of the respondents, serving in various branches of the armed forces, said the U.S. should leave Iraq “immediately,” while another 22% said they should leave in the next six months. Another 21% said troops should be out between six and 12 months, while 23% said they should stay “as long as they are needed.”

Different branches had quite different sentiments on the question, the poll shows. While 89% of reserves and 82% of those in the National Guard said the U.S. should leave Iraq within a year, 58% of Marines think so. Seven in ten of those in the regular Army thought the U.S. should leave Iraq in the next year. Moreover, about three-quarters of those in National Guard and Reserve units favor withdrawal within six months, just 15% of Marines felt that way. About half of those in the regular Army favored withdrawal from Iraq in the next six months.

The troops have drawn different conclusions about fellow citizens back home. Asked why they think some Americans favor rapid U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq, 37% of troops serving there said those Americans are unpatriotic, while 20% believe people back home don’t believe a continued occupation will work. Another 16% said they believe those favoring a quick withdrawal do so because they oppose the use of the military in a pre-emptive war, while 15% said they do not believe those Americans understand the need for the U.S. troops in Iraq.

The wide-ranging poll also shows that 58% of those serving in country say the U.S. mission in Iraq is clear in their minds, while 42% said it is either somewhat or very unclear to them, that they have no understanding of it at all, or are unsure. While 85% said the U.S. mission is mainly “to retaliate for Saddam’s role in the 9-11 attacks,” 77% said they also believe the main or a major reason for the war was “to stop Saddam from protecting al Qaeda in Iraq.”

“Ninety-three percent said that removing weapons of mass destruction is not a reason for U.S. troops being there,” said Pollster John Zogby, President and CEO of Zogby International. “Instead, that initial rationale went by the wayside and, in the minds of 68% of the troops, the real mission became to remove Saddam Hussein.” Just 24% said that “establishing a democracy that can be a model for the Arab World” was the main or a major reason for the war. Only small percentages see the mission there as securing oil supplies (11%) or to provide long-term bases for US troops in the region (6%).

The continuing insurgent attacks have not turned U.S. troops against the Iraqi population, the survey shows. More than 80% said they did not hold a negative view of Iraqis because of those attacks. About two in five see the insurgency as being comprised of discontented Sunnis with very few non-Iraqi helpers. “There appears to be confusion on this,” Zogby said. But, he noted, less than a third think that if non-Iraqi terrorists could be prevented from crossing the border into Iraq, the insurgency would end. A majority of troops (53%) said the U.S. should double both the number of troops and bombing missions in order to control the insurgency.

The survey shows that most U.S. military personnel in-country have a clear sense of right and wrong when it comes to using banned weapons against the enemy, and in interrogation of prisoners. Four in five said they oppose the use of such internationally banned weapons as napalm and white phosphorous. And, even as more photos of prisoner abuse in Iraq surface around the world, 55% said it is not appropriate or standard military conduct to use harsh and threatening methods against insurgent prisoners in order to gain information of military value.

Three quarters of the troops had served multiple tours and had a longer exposure to the conflict: 26% were on their first tour of duty, 45% were on their second tour, and 29% were in Iraq for a third time or more.

A majority of the troops serving in Iraq said they were satisfied with the war provisions from Washington. Just 30% of troops said they think the Department of Defense has failed to provide adequate troop protections, such as body armor, munitions, and armor plating for vehicles like HumVees. Only 35% said basic civil infrastructure in Iraq, including roads, electricity, water service, and health care, has not improved over the past year. Three of every four were male respondents, with 63% under the age of 30.

The survey included 944 military respondents interviewed at several undisclosed locations throughout Iraq. The names of the specific locations and specific personnel who conducted the survey are being withheld for security purposes. Surveys were conducted face-to-face using random sampling techniques. The margin of error for the survey, conducted Jan. 18 through Feb. 14, 2006, is +/- 3.3 percentage points.

JP Comments:

Last week, Duh-bya lost William Buckley.
NOW he learns he has lost the troops.
Who will he send out to call them 'cut & run cowards', or 'traitors', or 'giving aid & comfort to the enemy'?


AP: Saddam OKd Shiite executions

By BASSEM MROUE, Associated Press Writer -- Tuesday - 1 hour, 23 minutes ago

Former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein listens to one of the prosecutors as his trial resumes in Baghdad Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2006. Saddam and seven co-defendants are on trial for torture, illegal arrests and the killing of nearly 150 people from Dujail after a 1982 assassination attempt on Saddam in the town. They face death by hanging if convicted. (AP Photo/Bob Strong, Pool)BAGHDAD, Iraq - Prosecutors at Saddam Hussein's trial presented a document Tuesday they said was signed by the former leader, right, approving the executions of more than 140 Shiites in southern Iraq after an assassination attempt in the 1980s.

After about two hours of hearing documents, the court adjourned until Wednesday.

The document was among several presented by chief prosecutor Jaafar al-Moussawi concerning the killings of Shiites from the town of Dujail in 1982.

A memo from the Revolutionary Court, dated June 14, 1984, announced that 148 suspects had been sentenced to death by hanging and listed their names. The prosecutor said the signature on the memo was that of the court's head, Awad al-Bandar, one of Saddam's co-defendants.

A document dated two days later was a presidential order approving all 148 death sentences. The paper was signed by Saddam, al-Moussawi said, displaying the document with the signature on a screen in the court room.

The sentences were passed after an "imaginary trial," al-Moussawi told the court.

"None of the defendants were brought to court. Their statements were never recorded," he said.

The documents were presented after Saddam's lawyers ended their monthlong boycott of the tribunal.

Full AP-Yahoo News story.

Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage:
political blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com


NYT: Tortured Logic - Feb. 28

Pentagon use of dogs for tortureOp-Ed Contributor Anthony Lagouranis, Chicago
I have never met Sgt. Santos Cardona or Sgt. Michael Smith, but we share similar experiences. In late 2003 and early 2004, both men used their dogs to intimidate Iraqi prisoners during interrogations at Abu Ghraib prison. They maintain that they were following legal orders. Now they both face impending court-martial.

From January 2004 to January 2005, I served in various places in Iraq (including Abu Ghraib) as an Army interrogator. Following orders that I believed were legal, I used military working dogs during interrogations. I terrified my interrogation subjects, but I never got intelligence (mostly because 90 percent of them were probably innocent, but that's another story). Perhaps, I have thought for a long time, I also deserve to be prosecuted. But if that is the case, culpability goes much farther up the chain of command than the Army and the Bush administration have so far been willing to admit.

When the chief warrant officer at our interrogation site in Mosul first told me to use dogs during interrogations, it seemed well within what was allowed by our written rules and consistent with what was being done at Abu Ghraib and other detention centers. The dogs were muzzled and held by a handler. The prisoners didn't know that, though, because they were blindfolded; if they gave me an answer I didn't like, I could cue the handler so the dog would bark and lunge toward them. Sometimes they were so terrified they'd wet their jumpsuits. About halfway through my tour, I stopped using dogs and other "enhancements" like hypothermia that qualify as torture even under the most nonchalant readings of international law. I couldn't handle being so routinely brutal.

In training, we learned that all P.O.W.'s are protected against actual and implied threats. You can never put a "knife on the table" to get someone to talk. That was clear. But our Iraqi prisoners weren't clearly classified as P.O.W.'s, so I never knew what laws applied. Instead, a confusing set of verbal and written orders had supplanted the Geneva Conventions.

When an Army investigator asked Col. Thomas Pappas, the top military intelligence officer at Abu Ghraib, how intimidation with dogs could be allowed under this treaty, he gave the chilling reply, "I did not personally look at that with regard to the Geneva Convention." Colonel Pappas later testified that he was taking his cue on the use of dogs from Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, who took over detainee operations in Iraq after running them in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

General Miller has denied recommending the use of guard dogs to intimidate prisoners during interrogations in Iraq. He also recently said he would not testify in the courts-martial of Sergeants Cardona and Smith, invoking his right to avoid self-incrimination. As someone who voluntarily spoke at length about my actions in Iraq to investigators, without a lawyer present, I can't have a favorable opinion of General Miller. By doing the military equivalent of "taking the Fifth," he's decided to protect himself, apparently happy to let two dog handlers take the fall — a stunning betrayal of his subordinates and Army values.

Sergeants Cardona and Smith have been accused of sick and sadistic behavior. They face the prospect of serious jail time. But they almost certainly acted believing they were following legal orders. In the military, orders are orders unless there is clear, uncluttered law transmitted from far above our commanders' rank and station. Instead of a clear message prohibiting torture, our top commanders gave us a deliberate muddying of the waters.

Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, recently shepherded a ban on torture through Congress. Then, while reluctantly signing the legislation, President Bush muddled this very clear ban on torture by stating that he would construe it "in a manner consistent with the constitutional authority of the president."

Those who serve in the prisons of Iraq deserve to know clearly the difference between legal and illegal orders. Soldiers on the ground need a commander in chief who does not seek strained legalisms that "permit" the use of torture. The McCain amendment, prohibiting "cruel, inhuman, or degrading" treatment in all instances, is an accurate reflection of the true values of the military and American society. We should adhere to it strictly and in all cases. I know, from personal experience, that any leeway given will be used to maximum effect against detainees. No slope is more slippery, I learned in Iraq, than the one that leads to torture.

Anthony Lagouranis served in the Army from May 2001 to July 2005.

Source: New York Times.

Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage:

If those links don't work, try our political blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com.

Monday, February 27, 2006


NYT: Chaos in Iraq Elevates Iran's Influence

By MICHAEL SLACKMAN - Published: February 27, 2006, New York Times

CAIRO — Shortly before the American-led invasion of Iraq, Amr Moussa, secretary general of the Arab League, warned that the attack would "open the gates of hell." Now, three years later, there is a sense in the Middle East that what was once viewed as quintessential regional hyperbole may instead have been darkly prescient.

Iranian students, right, demonstrated outside the British Embassy in Tehran Sunday and condemned the bombing of a Shiite shrine in Iraq.

Even before the bombing of one of Shiite Islam's holiest shrines in Samarra set off sectarian fighting last Wednesday, the chaos in Iraq helped elevate Iran's regional influence — a great concern to many of the Sunni led governments here — while also giving Al Qaeda sympathizers a new a foothold in the region.

But the bombing, and the prospect of a full-blown civil war driven by sectarian divisions, is even more ominous for the Middle East. Nine Middle Eastern countries have sizable populations of Shiites living side by side with Sunnis, and there is concern in many of them that a split in Iraq could lead to divided allegiances and, perhaps, conflict at home.

"The spillover of this is of concern for everybody in the region," said Ali Shukri, a retired Jordanian general who for 23 years served as an adviser to King Hussein. "When you take western Iraq, Anbar Province borders Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia; the southern part of Iraq borders Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iran. If there is a conflict, a surge in violence, it becomes contagious in the region."

The rising tensions in Iraq are also happening at a time when two other powerful dynamics are at work: the rise of Islamic political parties, like Hamas in Gaza and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and the effort of the Iran's leadership to once again try to spread its ideas around the region. How all these forces combine and ultimately influence each other has become a source of deep worry.

In addition, should fighting increase, local leaders are also bracing for a new influx of refugees and damage to the regional economy. Both factors would have serious consequences for Middle Eastern states that have little or no oil and are already suffering from stagnant economies, including Jordan, Syria, Egypt and Yemen.

The tiny Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan absorbed about a million Iraqis after Saddam Hussein's government fell, and now, faced with serious economic problems, its leaders worry about another flood of refugees rushing across the border. In Saudi Arabia, officials face the dual threat of a restive Shiite population at home and the increased power of the Iraq-based group that calls itself Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, which has already stated its desire to take down the Saudi monarchy.

The Qaeda group in Iraq has already claimed responsibility for a triple bombing in Amman last year, and several political analysts said they believed that the attempted suicide bombing of a Saudi oil refinery on Friday had its roots in Iraq.

With Egyptians making up a large portion of the foreign fighters in Iraq, and earlier in Afghanistan, some analysts have asked, "If Al Qaeda aligned forces are successful in breaking apart Iraq, will they try to strike in Egypt?" Many have expressed concerns about the regional economy, and, if nothing else, have noted that increased violence will undermine efforts to lift a region stung by high unemployment and economic stagnation.

"Iraq has been like hell for the last three years," said Hesham Youssef, Mr. Moussa's chief of staff in Cairo. "I think it would surpass any expectation if a civil war erupts. This will go even into a much worse scenario, not only for Iraq, but for the region as well."

The most pressing fear in the region remains that civil war would aggravate the split that tore Islam into two major groups centuries ago, Sunnis and Shiites. While the original division was caused by a dispute over who would take over as leader, or caliph, after the death of the Prophet Muhammad, Shiites and Sunnis have developed distinctly different social, political and religious practices over the centuries and have often viewed each other with suspicion.

While Sunnis are a majority in the region, there are large Shiite populations in Oman, Bahrain, Lebanon, Yemen, Kuwait, Syria, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. In some places, Shiites are discriminated against.

Page two of this New York Times article, including the significance of Iran as the only Shiite-dominated country in the world.

Other links:

Media Matters for America.

Common Dreams * Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community.

Buzzflash News.

Latest post to DemLog.


Spier: Why Not Talk Impeachment?

by Bill Spier, left

As a sociologist (by education, not acquired), I should not assume my fears for the nation are the same as others not having my background, interest, cultural aspirations or love of a fine Cuban cigar. But I am going to violate all that I learned about the value of empiricism and say that if elected federal officials persist in lending support to a corrupt regime voters will turn on them in 2006. Here it is. I don’t think a day goes by when millions of Americans don't think that the nation needs to cast off this president. After all, how much devastating news can one take? In just five years we lost much of our national treasure and dignity, ruined our army, and become debtors to the world.

In the March Issue of Harpers Magazine, Lewis Lapham will remind people that Representative John Conyers and his staff produced a 182 page (1022 footnote) presentation to congress on the crimes of the Bush regime that cannot be ignored. Lapham’s essay is titled:
Why we can no longer afford George W. Bush. It deserves reading. Although, only a shortened version of the essay is on line, it does summarize Conyer’s remarkable report, which is posted on the Congressman’s website.

If you do not have the time to read the Harper’s essay by Lapham, and the Conyer’s Report (A historical document more important than any I can remember), here are Lapham’s words:

“The Conyers report doesn't lack for further instances of the administration's misconduct, all of them noted in the press over the last three years-misuse of government funds, violation of the Geneva Conventions, holding without trial and subjecting to torture individuals arbitrarily designated as "enemy combatants," etc.-but conspiracy to commit fraud would seem reason enough to warrant the President's impeachment. Before reading the report, I wouldn't have expected to find myself thinking that such a course of action was either likely or possible; after reading the report, I don't know why we would run the risk of not impeaching the man. We have before us in the White House a thief who steals the country's good name and reputation for his private interest and personal use; a liar who seeks to instill in the American people a state of fear; a televangelist who engages the United States in a never-ending crusade against all the world's evil, a wastrel who squanders a vast sum of the nation's wealth on what turns out to be a recruiting drive certain to multiply the host of our enemies.”

As for the Republican junk that occupies Congress; it has paid no attention to the Conyer’s report. This flotsam could care less that history will ignore them and condemn the entire period of proto fascism and corporate corruption they whored. Unfortunately, the Arab world and aggrieved others won’t be as forgiving as the Vietnamese.

Other links:

Media Matters for America.

Common Dreams * Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community.

Buzzflash News.

Latest post to DemLog.


AP: Hillary says Rove obsesses about her

By MARC HUMBERT, AP Political Writer 1 hour, 39 minutes ago

Sen. ClintonALBANY, N.Y. - Reacting to a new book quoting Karl Rove as saying she will be the 2008 Democratic nominee for president, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, right, said Monday that President Bush's chief political strategist "spends a lot of time obsessing about me."

The former first lady also said she believed Rove, national GOP Chairman Ken Mehlman and other Republicans are using her to divert attention from Republican problems as the 2006 congressional elections approach.

"Karl Rove is a brilliant strategist. So, if I were thinking about this," she told WROW-AM radio in Albany, "I'd say, why are they spending so much time talking about me?"

"What they're hoping is that all of their missteps, which are now numbering in the hundreds, are going to somehow be overlooked because people, instead of focusing on the '06 election, will jump ahead and think about the next one," said Clinton, D-N.Y.

Full AP-Yahoo News story.

Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage:
political blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com


HP: Whistleblower Hero is Threatened with Prison for Exposing Diebold

Lyn Davis LearBy Lyn Davis Lear, left, in Huffington Post

Okay, let me get this straight. Stephen Heller, an actor in Los Angeles, was supplementing his income as a temp at a big law firm, Jones Day, two years ago and discovered one of the firm's clients, Diebold, was potentially going to disenfranchise thousands of voters in the next election (what else is new?).

So like the good citizen we would all hope to be, Heller provided the Attorney General and Secretary of State with documents that led to the decertification of Diebold touch-screens in California.

In the materials Heller leaked, Jones Day advised Diebold that the company could be subject to criminal prosecution for using uncertified, customized software in the Diebold voting system. Diebold refused to change the software and Jones Day assisted in the cover up. Once this was discovered, via Heller, Secretary of state, Kevin Shelley recommended that Diebold be decertified and prosecuted for fraud. Even though Diebold was decertified they were never prosecuted. Instead it is the patriot, Stephen Heller, who has been charged with three felonies and is being aggressively punished for his courage. Of course, embarrassed as hell, Jones Day, and the big bully, Diebold, waited two years after the election to bring their wrath down on upon this one lone decent man.

One question to ask is whether it is a crime to attempt to stop a crime? In this case, Stephen Heller deserves a medal of gratitude instead of jail. We can not keep letting these bullies diminish our democracy. Read this post by Peter Soby Jr. for more in-depth details and how we can help Stephen Heller.

Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage:
political blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com


BF: When Big Brother Gets Under Your Skin - Feb. 27

by Maureen Farrell -- Buzzflash

Liz McIntyre, co-author of Spychips: How Major Corporations and Government Plan to Track Your Every Move with RFID, and Communications Director for Consumers Against Supermarket Privacy Invasion and Numbering (CASPIAN) has been at the fore of a campaign against the new Radio Frequency ID (RFID) technology, alongside CASPIAN founder and director and Spychips co-author Katherine Albrecht. In a Dec. 2005 interview in Mother Jones, Albrecht underscored deeper concerns, particularly now that former Bush administration official Tommy Thompson serves on the board of Applied Digital, the company that manufactures VeriChip.

Mother Jones: What's your take on the VeriChip Company and Tommy Thompson -- former Secretary of Health and Human Services under the Bush administration and now VeriChip Board member -- advocating more RFID technology for medical information?

Katherine Albrecht: It absolutely scares the heck out of me. In the last six months to a year, this company has really stepped up its efforts to get some powerful players behind it. The fact that people listen to this with a straight face is even more extraordinary to me. You've got Tommy Thompson talking about linking medical records with a chip implanted in your arm. You've got Senator Joe Biden in the Supreme Court confirmation hearings talking about implant chips to track people with a straight face. It's unbelievable how quickly we've gone from saying "Oh, that's pet chipping technology, we'll never put that in people" to people with a straight face suddenly talking about implanting chips into American citizens. Terrifying.

The Harvard-educated Albrecht, it should be pointed out, also believes that this technology relates to the "Mark of the Beast" referred to in the book of Revelation. "The Mark of the Beast, 666: a prophesy from 2000 years ago. How many people (know that) technological developments of the last 10 to 20 years could be combining to make the Mark of the Beast a reality, and possibly even in our lifetimes?" she asks in a video entitled On the Brink of the Mark.

Though religious convictions fuel her passion, Albrecht says privacy concerns extend beyond religious and political lines. "Regardless of whether your beliefs are progressive or conservative, socially or politically, everybody's got a reason to not want somebody spying on them," she told Mother Jones. "Whether you're afraid that Big Brother is going to take the form of an evil corporation or Big Brother is going to take the form of an evil government or take whatever form, everybody's got a reason to be concerned."

Not everyone sees something sinister looming behind this new technology, however.

RFID chips are currently being used to track everything from products to consumer trends to pets to medical histories. Mississippi morgue workers used RFID chips to inventory "unidentified remains" in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and more than 800 hospitals are currently using RFID technology to monitor infants in maternity wards. Hackensack University Medical Center in Hackensack, N.J. has installed equipment to read medical information from implanted chips, while 68 other hospitals are poised to do the same.

Techdirt, the highly touted blog charged with "decoding tech news for the masses" has also pointed to this technology's benefits. "There's a crowd of folks who are extremely anti-RFID chips. They often raise important privacy issues, but they tend to go a bit overboard in their stance in that they rarely offer any kind of solution to RFID chips other than to ban them all completely. That's the wrong approach, since RFIDs can have real value, and many of the downsides can be solved with technology," wrote Mike on Techdirt's site. (Albrecht also concedes that RFID "is a great technology if you want to track things from point A to point B" but says that the benefits "absolutely pale in comparison to the risks that this technology poses").

Complete Buzzflash article.

Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage:

If those links don't work, try our political blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com.

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