Minnesota

Shootings at the Quest; Late Mpls rapper on MySpace; Lieberman to replace Rumsfeld? Yah, ok.

There is talk on local hiphop site D. U. Nation about the shootings at the Quest the other night. Citypages staffer Peter Scholtes just posted an interesting account of the concert & incident. Forum member Tanqueray_Loccsta adds the improbable MySpace + Gangsta fusion:

Man they aint gonna close the quest, they got Mark Webster back. He's gonna clean it up just like he had it when I was a bouncer there. I was gonna work there with him but I got my own drama, Anyway I only got time for my Muzic from now on.

But for those that dont Know this street shit is real it no movie or t.v shit its mufuccas out here like myself that really lived this shit or still are living it now. And most beef that happens aint about someones shoes getting stepped on, or getting bumped into.

Its about real shit that took place in the streets and then you so happen to see the mufucca that fucced you over and its on right there. aint no fuccin talkin just drama.

The only fucced up part about it is it makes it hard for niggaz like me to do shows cuz they be scared of the type of crowed that will come. so the only cats that get the good venues are backpack rappers. no offence to yall...

but the streets are real.. shit My big bro O.G K-Wood just got murdered july 31st 2005 over north. check out his muzic at

http://www.myspace.com/murda4hire

this shit is real man mufuccas is gangstas 4 real man...

and it aint all superficial like ppl think it aint about being cool or tuff only ppl think that is on the outside looking in.

Tanqueray Loccsta says he's performing on Dec 13 at Minnesota Snipe's CD release party. I'd never seen a MySpace site in memory of a slain guy from the North Side -- complete with some of his tracks. It seems like a good idea, to make sure there's a spot on the Internet where their loss is marked, with music that celebrates them.

Charges dropped!!!!

I sent this email out to lots of people. If you're reading it, well that means you care about my dear website so you are invited too! (I sure as hell don't have the email addresses of everyone I wanted to invite...)

**********

Long story short: the mess is over and I win. Rambling details below. We are having a Victory Party this Friday evening - at whatever evening time - at the new apartment @ 32 Spruce Place, Apartment 200, in downtown Minneapolis, and everyone's invited. I mean everyone. Forward this email around if you like - 'they' are invited too. Here's the GoogleMap to the Apt. - you just drive up Hennepin towards downtown, turn right at Spruce Place (a block before South 13th street) and then go a block to Harmon Place. The building's on the corner, and I'm going to put my red stoplight in the window as a beacon!

My contact info is: 651 338 7661, AIM: hongpong2000, http://www.hongpong.com (as always)

Last night I was walking to the Hennepin Ave. Davannis with my roommate Colin Kennedy, and a random dude asked us for a cigarette, as they do so often. He talked with us as we walked, about how good friends have to give hard advice (as a friend did about the case that night)... I told the dude my dilemma - that I had to go to court tomorrow and decide if I should plea bargain. He said he'd had his troubles with the law and had been caught with 17 ounces of cocaine (someone else's, of course!) and he'd had the option of a plea for 15 years or going up for 40. He said that going to jail was good for him, it forced him to change his life, and he spent 3 years reading law books. The state wouldn't fight hard to force a plea because it costs lots of money to impanel a jury, he said. He told me that I should stick it out and tell the truth, and whatever higher power I might believe in would see that the truth would set things right, and it would be plain for all to see. Best legal advice I'd gotten in a while!

It took almost seven full months, but we stuck it out in court and rotated through three judges in all. However, today I didn't expect anything would happen, except setting a court date with yet another judge. This time around, the new one, Judge Kathleen Gearin, talked with Gary Wood, my lawyer, and the city prosecutor Jeffrey Martin, for quite awhile in the Chambers.

When Gary came back it was some good news. He wasn't sure how the judge was feeling about it but they'd offered a Disorderly Conduct with a $50 fine. I compared that with the thought of hundreds more dollars on legal fees that I can't afford and I decided to go for the plea. We went back in to wait to finish this thing.

I'm recollecting this from memory here... So when we went up to the judge in court, she asked if I wanted to take the plea and I said something like 'Yes, because I can't afford to go any further.' She looked over the police statements and said that there was something about the issue of spoilage of evidence and a memory card. She asked the prosecutor if this memory card ever showed up at the property room and he said it never had. However, he never offered a particular defense or explanation of this. 

She asked me to explain in my own words what happened, and what if anything was contained on the memory card. I said that we, as a senior class, had been on a riverboat cruise that day, and I'd taken around a hundred pictures of everyone gathered together for one last time ... and she said, alright get to the point... so I said that we'd been in a cottage, the police came in, I took a picture of that and took more pictures outside. I said that I know it is legal to take photographs from a public space as long as you obey lawful orders from police, etc. I told her that I took a picture of someone (Andrew Kracziewicz) being arrested, and then the police hit the camera out of my hand and I got arrested. I said that at the jail, the police had showed me the camera and asked if it was mine, and I said that it was, then I got it back when I was released, without the memory card.

She asked if the photos indicated something illegal by the police, and I said something like that they were being forceful and overreacting. Well, she said, they had to be forceful, and that it seemed from the police reports that some people had been out of control. I didn't try to defend the actions of everyone there and stuck to the matter of the pictures. I said that the existence of the pictures proved that I hadn't been shoving Officer Moore -- I'd been taking pictures. The prosecutor didn't try to defend or challenge this, aside from claiming that the police report was the state's full statement on the matter.

The judge said (I wish I had the exact quote) that, with a reference to a precedent of McGill vs. someone, that failing to produce the evidence was prejudicial to the defendant - and that she was bothered by the fact that these pictures never showed up. Citing some statute, she said that the charge of obstruction of legal process of force was dismissed. She seemed quite ticked about how they never brought the pictures. I had never expected such sharp words about it, so it was really great to hear after all this.

I didn't pontificate about any grand concepts of freedom of the press or claim that Macalester students are all saints because that kind of thing would not really resolve the situation. It was easier to deal with all this with no friends or family at the courtroom watching me - it simplified the whole thing mentally, and well, I hadn't actually expected anything at all to happen today, so I never suggested that anyone go with me.

In the end, at the very least I proved to the police that they can't just destroy photos and expect to totally get away with it. Gary thought that they'd fought so hard in this case because of some of the top city attorneys decided to pressure us - they had earlier demanded written apologies with the other plea bargains, but they forgot to do this in writing, so it's not going to happen.

After the case I bragged to my dear old roommate Alison Norman, who is going crosseyed squinting at law books at William Mitchell 60 hours a week, that I'd won one case and now she better catch up!

When all of this was over I remembered what one friend always used to say to me... "Now Dan, drive carefully. I know what your country does and I don't want to go to Guantanamo!" The terrible truth of what happened in this incident was that Audun, an international student, was assaulted by the jail personnel, and his lack of a US passport probably contributed to that. The police also maced Zeynep in front of her cottage. The experience ruptured their sense of what this country's about -- and with the news these days that Cheney is darting around the Capitol begging Republicans to let them keep torturing vanished foreigners, along with news of a secret network of CIA detention camps in Eastern Europe (why would anyone think badly of secret camps around there, anyway?) -- it seems that this contempt for the rights of non-citizens trickles right down from those policies at the top. Inside jail it's not too difficult to see that you're only a few cells on the spreadsheet away from Guantanamo. It turned out that my ever-cynical friend was quite correct.

There's some possibility of a lawsuit down the line, in the hopes that we could discourage the police and sheriffs from abusing people like this, but I won't make any predictions or plans, and I sure as hell don't want to worry about it that much, after having experienced this weird and time-consuming trip through the System. The odometer's finally rolled over on this mess, and I'm happy about it. Tomorrow I'll wake up free of Conditional Release, having won a piece by standing my ground, but oddly winning after I'd given up.

Cheers to all of you and thanks for your steadfast support, far flung you may be. I want to come and visit people sometime in the dead of winter... +1 for the good guys!

--Dan

November 2 Antiwar rally at University

Northrop

I arrived in the middle of an antiwar rally at the University of Minnesota yesterday, as approximately 1000 people, mostly students, came to mark the 2000th US military death, the indictment of Lewis Libby, and a rapidly shifting national political situation.

When the newly-formed Youth Against War and Racism group met at the Loring Park Coffee House in March to plan a fall student protest, they couldn't have foreseen how America's view of the war would shift by then: the Downing Street Memos showed the "intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy" of invasion, I. Lewis Libby was indicted for damaging national security while trying to discredit a war critic, and worst of all, more than 2000 American service personnel were killed.

Updates a-coming; a bust in court on Halloween

Hey all, I sent out this email to some people about the ongoing Senior Week legal case. I had to go down to court on Monday but nothing happened. Suffice it to say, this is a big pain in the arse:

From: Dan Feidt <dan.feidt@gmail.com>

Date: October 31, 2005 2:46:38 PM CST

To: everyone

Subject: Bounced to another judge

So I get down there and asked where Judge Ostby is hearing cases today. The woman at the desk said that Judge Ostby isn't hearing any cases today. What?! Apparently she has rotated from misdemeanors to felonies and she ditched this case like the rotten fish it is. So we got reassigned to November 8 with Judge Gearin.

Also, the city attorney is angry that the previous plea bargains for the other guys failed to include an apology, so they may try to 'undo' the plea bargains in order to try to secure an apology.

While they said that we had been sent notices that the court date had changed, neither I nor Gary Wood got one so it was totally a surprise. What an excellent bureaucracy. A little Kafkaesque.

Today I am working on Politics in MN stuff as well as Computer Zone things. There's obviously a lot to say about TraitorGate - I mean the Plame scandal. I promise there will be more. In the meantime go see Firedoglake.

Curtains rise on another act; Wurmser (under Bolton) said to be a key channel in Plame case

200510280151

Amazing Mike Luckovich cartoon illustrates the thousands of dead soldiers. Also as high-rez PDF.

The sun will dawn on a different world in a few hours. Finally the Law has pierced the flesh of that most dangerous of beasts, the Bush Administration, and they cannot keep telling themselves how immaculate they are with an indictment lodged in the corpus... (narcissism in the leadership leading to ego projection in the followers - doesn't lead to good things)

A post that's about a week late!

This was a set of stuff which I should have posted like a week ago. Well, enjoy. :-/

Some Minnesota blogs: I do not usually pay enough attention to blogs around the Twin Cities although it's a rich territory these days. City Pages big index. I think Kennedy vs. the Machine is amusing because, well, it just is. Anything idolizing Mark Kennedy is sort of like praising ketchup for daring to be different than mustard. Freedom Dogs is another right wing local one.

Aaron Desmond will personally save us from the bird flu

Once upon a time he was a Backstreet Boy, at the peak of the Internet bubble an international peddler of toilet paper sweepstakes, a college TV show host, and now he is going to save the world from the avian flu - while preventing an outbreak of martial law in the United States. Or something like that. Aaron works at the University of Minnesota's CIDRAP (Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy) these days, which I was reminded of when his director, Michael Osterholm PhD, appeared on CNN and NPR in the last couple days as the influenza outbreak spread to Turkey and Romania.

The Dark Crest of Corruption Breaks: DeLay; Franklin/AIPAC GUILTY; "covert propaganda"; Libby nailed for Valerie Plame leak. Fee

IMG_0881.JPGThere have been so many scandals breaking this week that I've really got Intrigue Fatigue:

Frank Luntz, who helped develop the "Contract With America" message that swept Republicans to power in 1994, was on the Hill last week warning the party faithful that they could lose both the House and the Senate in next year's congressional elections.

Har har har... Blogs for Bush darkly rambles about Democrats wishing for civil war. Fortunately, I scored a new apartment at the edge of downtown Minneapolis with Colin Kennedy. The apartment windows are just above the street signs in this photo. It's at Apartment 200, 32 Spruce Place, the "Haverhill Apartments", which is around the Laurel Village area. Basically to get there, you drive up Hennepin past the Minneapolis Community & Technical College and take a left onto Harmon Place, then go a block. It is right there on the first corner in. Not bad!

First, the Covert Propaganda. Let's put that in bold. Covert Propaganda. It is not getting much bounce on the TV news because there is too much going on. But I like it. See AFP or NY Times:

Federal auditors said on Friday that the Bush administration violated the law by buying favorable news coverage of President Bush's education policies, by making payments to the conservative commentator Armstrong Williams and by hiring a public relations company to analyze media perceptions of the Republican Party.

In a blistering report, the investigators, from the Government Accountability Office, said the administration had disseminated "covert propaganda" in the United States, in violation of a statutory ban.

Then, Valerie Plame and the War Propaganda. Meanwhile they started a war based on fabricated propaganda. I think I know which is worse. But they didn't like it when uppity ponks like Joe Wilson tried to deflate some of their more outlandish claims, so they smeared him by outing his wife as a CIA operative, which in their demented cocktail-party worldview somehow was thought to be a good idea. But who did this? Michael Ledeen? (well he quite possibly involved with the Yellowcake forgeries themselves, but...) Joe Wilson wasted no time in insinuating that Karl Rove and I. Lewis 'Scooter' Libby were involved, and I had this thing fairly well pegged back in 2003. Nearly two years ago, October 4, 2003, 'Everyone's National Disaster' I said:

The leaker went after Wilson to intimidate anyone else who might attack the Bush folks falsification of war intelligence. Let me offer a prediction about who was probably behind the leak: the Vice President's Chief of Staff, Scooter Libby. There have been insiders saying that the bad guy works in the Executive Office Building, where Cheney's people are. If I'm right about this, I definitely win a cookie.

(although on antiwar.com they had it pegged back then too - that was certainly one of my sources) I will award myself a cookie now. A fine headline from the WaPo: "Role of Rove, Libby in CIA Leak Case Clearer: Bush and Cheney Aides' Testimony Contradicts Earlier White House Statement". And so now they are saying, let's look at bringing in CONSPIRACY charges. Har har (via a happy Billmon)!

A new theory about Fitzgerald's aim has emerged in recent weeks from two lawyers who have had extensive conversations with the prosecutor while representing witnesses in the case. They surmise that Fitzgerald is considering whether he can bring charges of a criminal conspiracy perpetrated by a group of senior Bush administration officials. Under this legal tactic, Fitzgerald would attempt to establish that at least two or more officials agreed to take affirmative steps to discredit and retaliate against Wilson and leak sensitive government information about his wife. To prove a criminal conspiracy, the actions need not have been criminal, but conspirators must have had a criminal purpose.

Naturally folks are drooling over the opportunity to see who in the White House could actually be indicted. Dkos writer DC Poli Sci outlines how back in the Watergate days, the prosecutors wanted to avoid setting a precedent of indicting the President, so fortunately they had bi-partisan support for impeachment, an option not open these days. A very good place to start looking at the matter. An (actual) psychoanalyst looks at Bush's general destructive tendencies - and how he might lash out if Karl Rove et al. are threatened by Fitzgerald's CIA probe:

Why this matters now is the possible reaction of Bush to Fitzgerald's next serious move. My fear is that the inner emptiness in Bush will respond with absolute panic to the potential loss of Rove and his other pals. Panic in a sadist who believes in the apocalypse is something serious about which we all should be worried.

It would be funny if it weren't so obviously alarming. So would Fitzgerald bring charges against Libby? Froomkin in the WaPo has many bits about Miller's Big Secret.

Haaretz: U.S. officials eye possible Assad successors in Syria:

The sources added that senior American officials, in recent conversations with their Israeli counterparts, have expressed interest in Israel's assessments of Assad's possible successors, asking who Israel thought could replace him and still maintain Syria's stability. American officials said that their impression from these conversations was that Israel would prefer to have a weakened Assad, vulnerable to international pressure, remain in power, and is unenthusiastic about the possibility of a regime change in Syria.

The Israelis' impression was that America's main concern is the flow of terrorists into Iraq via Syria, rather than the threat posed by the Syrian-backed Hezbollah organization in Lebanon. But Washington, like Jerusalem, is eagerly awaiting the results of the Hariri investigation, and will not decide what to do about Syria until the findings have been published.

AIPAC Your ass, bitches!!! Funny stuff. Former Pentagon analyst (under Douglas Feith and the Office of Special Plans, part of the time) Larry Franklin is going to plead guilty to passing classified defense intelligence to AIPAC staffers, who in turn passed it along to Israeli intelligence agents at the embassy in Washington. AP story on it:

Rosen, a top lobbyist for Washington-based AIPAC for more than 20 years, and Weissman, the organization's top Iran expert, allegedly disclosed sensitive information as far back as 1999 on a variety of topics, including al-Qaida, terrorist activities in Central Asia, the bombing of Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia and U.S. policy in Iran, according to the indictment.

Presumably this means that he could really spill some beans on how AIPAC has operated as an agent of a foreign power (and probably as an espionage channel) while lobbying in DC. Justin Raimondo makes the 'maximalist' case that the Israeli government has, to some extent, been manipulating US policy. I think that "Israel's secret war on the US" goes a ways too far, but we are certainly looking at a serious Rabbit Hole of mysterious proportions. Raimondo puts his favorite pieces together in "AIPAC and Espionage: Guilty as Hell":

The chief beneficiaries of the conquest of Iraq, and subsequent threats against both Iran and Syria, have been, in descending order, Israel, Iran, and Osama bin Laden. Al-Qaeda has used the invasion as a recruiting tool and training ground for its global jihad against the United States. Iran has extended its influence deep into southern Iraq and has penetrated the central government in Baghdad. In the long run, however, Israel benefits the most, as a major Middle Eastern Arab country fragments into at least three pieces and the U.S. military is ineluctably drawn into neighboring countries.

While the U.S. imposes an occupation eerily reminiscent of Israel's longstanding occupation of Palestinian lands and prepares to deal with Israel's enemies in the region, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon makes major incursions into the West Bank, even while supposedly "withdrawing" from Gaza. In the meantime, the political and military bonds between the U.S. and Israel are strengthened, as the two allies present an indissoluble united front against the entire Muslim world.

Except the alliance is far from indissoluble, as the AIPAC spy scandal reveals. The U.S.-Israeli relationship, often described as "special," is rather more ambiguous than is generally recognized, both by Israel's staunchest friends and its most implacable enemies. This has come out in Israel's funneling American military technology to China, and the threat of American sanctions, but was also made manifest earlier by indications that Israel was conducting extensive spying operations in the U.S. prior to 9/11 – suspicions that are considerably strengthened by the AIPAC spy brouhaha.

Israel's secret war against America has so far been conducted in the dark, but the Rosen-Weissman trial will expose these night creatures to the light of day. Blinking and cursing, they'll be confronted with their treason, and, even as they whine that "everybody does it," the story of how and why a cabal of foreign agents came to exert so much influence on the shape of U.S. foreign policy will be told.

In the course of bending American policy to the Israelis' will, they had to compromise the national security of the United States – and that's what tripped them up, in the end.

Again, this is not my basic opinion about the situation, but it ought to be considered. On the flip side, Juan Cole reacts to Raimondo by pointing out that in Washington, it is ALL interest group politics, but when there is no wealthy counter-interest group to given foreign countries (like pro-Likud groups or anti-Castro Cubans) then U.S. policy gets incredibly one-sided and stupid. With the memorable headline "A Government of War Criminals, A Press of Agents Provocateurs, A Bureaucracy of Foreign Spies:"

I wish the argument were more nuanced, and there are many things in it with which I disagree (David Satterfield is likely to have been a relatively innocent bystander in this train wreck, e.g.). But because Raimundo pulls no punches, he forces us to consider the degree to which Congressional foreign policy on the Middle East in particular has become virtually captive to the Zionist lobby (just as US policy toward Cuba is captive to the Cuban-American community and its lobby). He clearly goes too far, but how far should an analyst of this case go? Billmon is almost equally scathing.

One thing must be said, which is that there is no sinister cabal, that all this is just single-interest politics. The American system is one of checks and balances, and takes it for granted that there will be lobbies on both sides of an issue. But because there are no wealthy, organized, well-connected lobbies on the other side of AIPAC or the Cuban-American National Foundation (e.g.), US government policy ends up being unbalanced and often irrational on those issues. And, AIPAC functions as a foreign agent in the US without having to register as such, and some of its major officers clearly have been deeply involved in espionage for Israel for years. The last two points are uncontestable. Is this really a situation that serves the American people? Franklin, the "go-to" man at the Pentagon for then Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, was trying to get up a US war against Iran, and was soliciting AIPAC's help. We already know that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has tried as hard as he could to get the US into a war against Tehran. Do the rest of us, who already have one military occupation of a Middle Eastern country we're not comfortable with, have any say at all in this? Don't we need a PAC for Middle East Peace that could begin offsetting AIPAC, the War PAC? If the pro-Israeli lobby or the Israeli prime minister want wars in the Middle East, why don't they fight them themselves? By the way, AIPAC has for several years been attempting to get Congress to pass a law that would put it in charge of the Middle East professors, like myself, and in a position to punish our universities financially if any of us criticize it or Israeli policy. The most dangerous thing about key elements of the Zionist lobby is that they really do want to gut the US First Amendment when it comes to Israeli interests.

I hope everyone who reads this will consider writing their Congressional representatives and senators and asking them to work to see that AIPAC is made to register as the agent of a foreign power, given the repeated pattern whereby it acts as such.

So yeah, Billmon has had a couple things to say about the matter. I also liked this UPI bit "Analysis: Netanyahu: US Opposes? So what?" which talks about Netanyahu's campaign to capture some more settlements as part of his bid to take over the Likud Party. I won't quote it now, but if you want evidence of how an insane racial chauvinist campaigns in favor of territorial expansion, you've got it. On the flip side, reflections about the peace movement in the broader Jewish community.

To hell with Des Moines: Finally the oh so productive 'retail politics' of Iowa and New Hampshire are finished as Dems to Add Contests to 2008 Calendar (via the Kos). So two more states will join IA and NH in the early set of primaries. I hope it's New York and California, or maybe Oregon and Montana. Or Mississippi and Kentucky. Whatever. Anything would be an improvement. Montana governor Brian Schweitzer was named the nation's 2005 "Hot Governor" by Rolling Stone but his story got axed. "'Since Hunter S. Thompson left, Rolling Stone hasn't been worth reading,' Schweitzer said," according to the article.

Able/Danger mystery continues: Newsday writes that the Pentagon had some sorts of leads on lead 9/11 hijacker Mohammed Atta before the attack, but the defense intelligence program Able/Danger was shut down and huge amounts of data got deleted. I've got an exciting conspiracy linked below about this, naturally!

Shaffer explained in a telephone interview that although Able/Danger never had knowledge of Atta's whereabouts, it had linked him and several other Al Qaeda suspects to an Egyptian terrorist, Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman, who had been linked to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and later was convicted for conspiring to attack the U.S. Atta arrived in the U.S. some seven years after that bombing. But Shaffer and his attorney, Mark Zaid, emphasize that Able/Danger never knew where Atta was, only that he was connected to Abdel-Rahman and Al Qaeda.

"Not to say they were physically here, but the data led us to believe there was some activity related to the original World Trade Center bombing that these guys were somehow affiliated with," Shaffer said.

...[Senator] Specter sharply criticized the Pentagon for refusing to allow Shaffer, Phillpott, Smith and others who recall seeing the chart to appear and answer the committee's questions. "It looks to me as if it could be obstruction of the committee's activities," the senator said. Specter added that he was especially "dismayed and frustrated" by the committee's inability to hear from Shaffer and Phillpott, whom he described as "two brave military officers [who] have risked their careers to come forward and tell America the truth."

Pentagon to permit testimony: Following the hearing, Specter announced that the Pentagon had agreed to allow Shaffer, Phillpott and three other witnesses to testify in public next month, though a Specter aide said Tuesday that the Pentagon now insisted the hearings be closed.

.....Able/Danger was an experiment in a new kind of warfare, known as "information warfare" or "information dominance." One of the program's missions was to see whether Al Qaeda cells around the world could be identified by sifting huge quantities of publicly available data, a relatively new technique called "data mining."

The data miners used complex software programs, with names like Spire, Parentage and Starlight, that mimic the thought patterns in the human brain while parsing countless bits of information from every available source to find relationships and patterns that otherwise would be invisible.

Weird. Anyway the article also features some classic pre-9/11 bits such as the Phoenix memo and the arrest of Zacharias Mussaoui (so on the day of 9/11, the Minneapolis FBI had Nicholas Berg's email password inside Mussaoui's laptop. Random but interesting......)

War Porn: A very disturbing site called nowthatsfuckedup.com features images sent in by U.S. soldiers of dead people, blown to bits and so forth, from overseas, and this has been characterized as "the new pornography of war" (also The Porn of War at The Nation). Like any incredibly shady site, it's hosted in the Netherlands, so it's unlikely that lawyers can really get to them. It is very disturbing.

It seems like this is part of a very disturbing glorification of violence, using the aesthetic of death to provide meaning -- in other words, a surface manifestation of the inner emotional state that drives wars and murder. In contrast are the (warning: very graphic links) other photo galleries that can be found online that are intended to illustrate the horrors of Iraq, in order to encourage an end to the conflict. And there are those photos of flag-draped coffins coming into Dover Air Force Base in the United States that Bush was always obsessed with hiding from us. (thememoryblog, by the way, is excellent for more news on censored and concealed news like this)

Zarqawi-Goldstein update: I found another story about the ghost-like, eerie quality of how the Abu Musab al Zarqawi figure continues to generate media reports, while everyday Jordanians doubt he's still alive at all. This was by Dahr Jamail, who also has the Iraq casualty photo galleries linked above.

IRAQ MESS - time to grab our marbles and book it: Reuters: "Reuters says US troops obstruct reporting of Iraq." Now they are saying there is ONE fully functional Iraqi battalion. Great. Time to produce some kind of really important strategic benefit by blowing the hell out of some town (Sadah) eight miles from the Syrian border. I'm sure this will produce the same fine effects as the fourth time that the U.S. captured Samarra. Classified documents are talking about withdrawal strategies. "US Generals Now See Virtues of a Smaller Troop Presence in Iraq." as in:

"the generals said the presence of U.S. forces was fueling the insurgency, fostering an undesirable dependency on American troops among the nascent Iraqi armed forces and energizing terrorists across the Middle East."

The WaPo says that well, Bush is under pressure because Iraq is dissolving, and the Saudis are getting more vocal about noting this in public, which is not their usual style at all:

For all the public confidence, however, the Bush administration in private is nervous about this sensitive last stage, which will establish whether Iraq’s disparate religious and ethnic factions can stay together in a single nation — and whether civil war can be avoided, according to U.S. officials and experts on Iraq.

The administration has come under growing pressure at home and abroad over the past two weeks, with dire warnings from Arab allies and a prominent international group about the looming disintegration of Iraq. In an unusual public rebuke of U.S. policy, Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister called a news conference in Washington last week to predict Iraq’s dissolution. He said there is no leadership or momentum to pull Iraq’s Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds back together and prevent a civil war. Other countries have expressed similar concerns in private, according to U.S. and Arab diplomats.

IRAQ Withdrawal Options Summary: Retired Lt. General William Odom adds that the Iraq war was "greatest strategic disaster in United States history". I mentioned Odom's analysis of What's really wrong with 'cutting and running' earlier. Michael Schwartz had a widely read reflection on why immediate withdrawal would be the better option now. Juan Cole's list of ten war demands for Congress, Billmon's sullen yet wise perspective and Robert Dreyfuss' view represent an excellent cross-section of thinking about the options for getting the U.S. away from this sorry vortex. Billmon's view of the War Porn site finally pushed him over the edge about the war, giving him the mental picture of growing, incipient Fascist tendencies in this country:

So I've been promising myself for a while now that I would break cover and at least admit that I'm not sure withdrawing from Iraq is the morally right thing to do, and have deep doubts about the arguments in favor of it.

But something happened on my way to a confession: I came across the Nation article on nonwthatsfuckedup.com, which meant I had to take a good, hard look at the psychopathic side of the American spirit, and consider its implications not just for the war on terrorism and the occupation of Iraq, but its role in the emergence of an authentically fascist movement in American politics, one which feeds on violence and the glorification of violence, and which has found an audience not just in the U.S. military (where I think -- or at least hope -- it's still a relatively small fringe) but in the culture as a whole.

I don't have time at the moment to explain fully why and how this peek at the banality of evil changed my thinking, although I'll try to cover it in a future post. Suffice it to say that my visit to nowthatsfuckedup.com was a reminder of the genocidal skeletons hanging in the American closet. It left me with the conviction -- or at least an intuitive premonition -- that an open-ended war in Iraq (or in the broader Islamic world) will bring nothing but misery and death to them, and creeping (or galloping) authoritarianism to us.

Jim Lobe had an excellent article about whether "Can the US Military Presence Avert Civil War?" This article is required reading. (Also it's worth recalling that Niall Ferguson was at my table when I had lunch with Michael Ledeen):

The growing spectre of a full-scale civil war in Iraq -- and the likelihood that such a conflict will draw in neighbouring states -- has intensified a summer-long debate here over whether and how to withdraw U.S. troops. Some analysts believe that an immediate U.S. withdrawal would make an all-out conflict less likely, while others insist that the U.S. military presence at this point is virtually all there is to prevent the current violence from blowing sky-high, destabilising the region, and sending oil prices into the stratosphere.

The Bush administration continues to insist it will "stay the course" until Iraqi security forces can by themselves contain, if not crush, the ongoing insurgency. But an increasing number of analysts, including some who favoured the 2003 invasion, believe Washington will begin drawing down its 140,000 troops beginning in the first half of next year, if for no other reason than the Republican Party needs to show voters a "light at the end of the tunnel" before the November 2006 elections.

.....In fact, some of these analysts believe that a civil war -- pitting Sunnis against the Kurdish and Shia populations -- has already begun. "A year ago, it was possible to write about the potential for civil war in Iraq," wrote Iraq-war booster Niall Ferguson in the Los Angeles Times. "Today that civil war is well underway," he asserted. While that remains a minority view, the likelihood and imminence of civil war in Iraq is no longer questioned by analysts outside the administration.

Ferguson blames the situation on Washington's failure to deploy a sufficient number of troops in Iraq to crush any insurgency. But a report released Monday by the International Crisis Group (ICG) pointed the finger at the U.S.-sponsored constitutional process, which will culminate in a national plebiscite Oct. 15, as having further alienated Sunnis from the two other major sectarian groups. Barring a major U.S. intervention to ensure that Sunni interests are addressed, according to the report, "Unmaking Iraq: A Constitutional Process Gone Awry", "Iraq is likely to slide toward full-scale civil war and the break-up of the country."

......"We created the civil war when we invaded (Iraq); we can't prevent a civil war by staying," Odom wrote last month in an essay entitled "What's Wrong with Cutting and Running?" He and Bacevich both argued that, instead of creating a vacuum in Iraq that would draw in neighbouring powers, Washington's withdrawal would force neighbours and other great powers -- who have been relegated to the sidelines by the Bush administration's high-handedness -- to form a coalition to ensure a conflict would not get out of hand.

Some of the administration's critics, however, argue that an immediate withdrawal will indeed make things far worse, particularly for Iraqis. "I just cannot understand this sort of argument," wrote University of Michigan Middle East expert Juan Cole on his much-read blog (www.juancole.com). "The U.S. military is killing a lot of Iraqis, but whether it is killing more than would die in a civil war would depend on how many died in a civil war," he wrote. "A million or two could die in a civil war, and that's if the war stays limited to Iraq, which is unlikely."

"A U.S. withdrawal would not cause the Sunnis suddenly to want to give up their major demands; indeed, they might well be emboldened to hit the Shiites harder," wrote Cole, who favours both the withdrawal of most U.S. ground troops and, in the absence of NATO or U.N. peacekeepers, the maintenance of Special Forces and U.S. airpower in the region precisely to prevent sectarian forces from escalating the conflict into a conventional civil war, as in Afghanistan.

Bing West reporting from Fallujah for Slate.com talks about the Emerging Iraqi Army and life in Fallujah in a series of articles. He was a Pentagon official, so the tone is towards "Rah-Rah!!" but it's still well-done. Ah, the Berg/Zarqawi story pops up here too. Anyway. 'C', an anonymous officer who served in Afghanistan and Iraq, related to Human Rights Watch how he couldn't get those in the chain of command to do anything about widespread torture practices. This quote says it all:

[At FOB Mercury] they said that they had pictures that were similar to what happened at Abu Ghraib, and because they were so similar to what happened at Abu Ghraib, the soldiers destroyed the pictures. They burned them. The exact quote was, “They [the soldiers at Abu Ghraib] were getting in trouble for the same things we were told to do, so we destroyed the pictures.”

....My company commander said, “I see how you can take it that way, but…” he said something like, “remember the honor of the unit is at stake” or something to that effect and “Don’t expect me to go to bat for you on this issue if you take this up,” something to that effect.

"Officials Fear Chaos if Iraqis Vote Down the Constitution". The suspicious sentiment of the moment:

"Nobody will be surprised to lose Anbar, and maybe one other province," one Pentagon official said. "We're not going to lose three."

Juan Cole reflects on the recent war protests and spineless Democrats. Fred Kaplan in Slate writes that the damned Constitution coming down the line in Iraq will be a disaster, and he hopes it's defeated:

The basic fact about Iraqi geography is that the Kurdish north and Shiite south have lots of oil, while the Sunni center does not. Read in this context, the basic fact about the Iraqi Constitution is that it strengthens the north and south, lets them form semiautonomous regions and expand them into super-regions—in short, it lets them dominate the country's politics and economics—while leaving the Sunnis with nearly nothing. It leaves the very faction that needs to be assimilated, if Iraq is to be a secure and viable nation, unassimilated.

Former Iraqi Army officers sat around and discussed why they wished that the old Army was still in existence, by Patrick Cockburn:

It was meant to be a moment of reconciliation between the old regime and the new, a gathering of nearly 1,000 former Iraqi army officers and tribal leaders in Baghdad to voice their concerns over today's Iraq. But it did not go as planned.

General after general rose to his feet and raised his voice to shout at the way Iraq was being run and to express his fear of escalating war. "They were fools to break up our great army and form an army of thieves and criminals," said one senior officer. "They are traitors," added another.

.....The meeting, in a heavily guarded hall close to the Tigris, was called by General Wafiq al-Sammarai, a former head of Iraqi military intelligence under Saddam who fled Baghdad in 1994 to join the opposition. He is now military adviser to President Jalal Talabani.

His eloquent call for support for the government in his fight against terrorism did not go down well. He sought to reassure his audience that no attack was planned on the Sunni Arab cities of central Iraq such as Baquba, Samarra and Ramadi, as the Iraqi Defence minister had threatened. He said people had been fleeing the cities but "there will be no attack on you, no use of aircraft, no bombardment by the Americans". The audience was having none of it.

......The meeting was important because the officer corps of the old Iraqi army consider themselves as keeper of the flame of Iraqi nationalism. One of them asked General Sammarai to stop using the American word "general" and use the Arabic word lewa'a instead.

In conversation, the officers made clear that they considered armed resistance to the occupation legitimate. General Sammarai told The Independent that he drew a distinction between terrorists blowing up civilians and nationalist militants fighting US troops.

One of the Senior Fuck-Ups, Joint Chiefs Chairman Richard Myers, is finally retiring to somewhere else that he can pointlessly bomb. Alex Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair bitterly lament the spinelessness of Democrats as they "Sink Deeper into the Ooze." A final bit about the AIPAC == War Party meme today:

For those interested in some of the reasons for this incredible abdication [of Democrats avoiding the recent war protest], we can cite former National Security Agency staffer and muckraker Wayne Madsen who reported two days after the rally that "according to Democratic insiders on Capitol Hill AIPAC put out the word that any member of Congress who appeared at the protest, where some speakers were to represent pro-Palestinian views, would face their political wrath."

Madsen wrote that three members of Congress had been scheduled to speak at the rally ­ McKinney, Woolsey and John Conyers. "Word is that AIPAC will direct its massive campaign to Wolsey's neo-con and pro-Iraq war primary challenger, California state assemblyman Joe Nation, who has strong connections to the RAND corporation."

USS Cole-Wayne Madsen conspiracy time: Meanwhile Wayne Madsen has a new really exciting conspiracy theory involving the famous Israeli art students, John O'Neill, September 11, Douglas Feith and Marc Zell, Able/Danger, Islamic militants in Bosnia, Plame's Brewster Jennings front company, Sibel Edmonds, Michael Chertoff, the USS Cole bombing (actually an Israeli missile, according to Madsen's unnamed CIA source) and the rest. Not worth betting the lunch money on, but a very entertaining counter-narrative about the ideologies and paranoia of our times. Time for Deep Politics, Comrade. But Madsen takes heart with all the breaking scandals, as I do on his site:

After almost five years of incessant outrages by the Bush regime, I have never been more optimistic that the tide may be beginning to turn.

UK Times: "Iraq's Relentless March of Death." Via lies.com (love the banner pic) we get a bit about Statements from the Leaders (via Kevin Drum):

Asked whether the insurgency has worsened, Casey said it has not expanded geographically or numerically, “to the extent we can know that.” But he noted that current “levels of violence are above norms,” exceeding 500 attacks a week. “I’ll tell you that levels of violence are a lagging indicator of success,” he added.

So he is having trouble fully vaulting into lie territory, unlike Rummy. Lies.com also notes that surprisingly, adept liars' brains are built differently - with more white matter and less neurons in the prefrontal cortex.

 Abpub 2005 09 30 2002532395

Boeing and Bell Helicopter have apologized for running an advertisement for the V-22 Osprey aircraft that features soldiers invading a mosque. "It descends from the heavens. Ironically it unleashes hell... Consider it a gift from above." That's pretty fucked up. Apparently the building in the image says "Muhammed Mosque" in Arabic. Wow. Almost as ill-conceived as the boondoggle Osprey itself.

Abu Ghraib Photo Bomb: We are set for another batch of Abu Ghraib media to be released, much to the chagrin of the Pentagon leadership, who prefer to frame the issue as destabilizing and pointlessly inflammatory media. However, it is also excellent evidence for the American people that the Pentagon leadership does not deserve to keep their jobs, which is obviously the most important thing in the fucking world.

Former CIA dude Ray McGovern notes that the chain of command is constantly ducking responsibility for torturing people and all that. Stories of the 'New Boss' Iraqi security agencies are really scary, such as the story from Khalid Jarrar's detainment that I mentioned a while ago. You can almost taste the insanity and paranoia now generating inside those new Iraqi government agency buildings (actually, like Abu Ghraib, they're the same buildings as Saddam's day).

Paul Craig Roberts summarizes your basic reasons that Bush is stirring up some more wars with Iran and North Korea.

The Misc File: "India loses political credibility in anti-Iran vote" (IPS):

India, a country that aspires to be a superpower in Asia, lost its political credibility among the world's developing nations last week when it voted against Iran at a meeting of the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna. 

The headline in a leading Indian national newspaper said it all: "India's shameful vote against Iran." The criticism kept snowballing, as the media, academics and mainstream and left-wing politicians in New Delhi crucified the government of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for abandoning one of its longtime political and economic allies in Asia.

Well that's enough fun for today. With a little luck, let this post stand as this website's high water mark of charting the World's Sordid Affairs, the sinister inverse point, the final crest of the high and terrible wave we've been on. The opposite of this:

And that, I think, was the handle - that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn't need that. Our energy would simply prevail. There was no point in fighting--on our side or theirs. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave.

So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right sort of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark--that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back.

Time is on our side. I'm moving to Minneapolis.

Bush at UN: it might be time for a bathroom break; Tal Afar as Ethnic Civil War; Iraqi Super Provinces; Gazans visit Egypt

 Us.I2.Yimg.Com P Rids 20050914 I R2587077477Colin Kennedy emailed me this excellent Reuters photo. Apparently Bush noted to Condi Rice at the UN World Summit, "I think I may need a bathroom break?" Not exactly decisive sounding leadership for going to the Pot. But either way I think it sets the tone.

"Nightmare is over as study says cheese doesn't cause bad dreams." A weird little Apple story.

Three Voting Rights / tech conferences come to Twin Cities this weekend, Ohio election official caught taking $10,000 from Diebo

Via a good story in the Pulse this week by Burt Berlowe, I heard that there are three different gatherings about the state of Democracy in these United States over in Minneapolis this week. Maybe I should snoop around, see if I can get some of those sweet hackable voting machine memory cards. Pulse:

Forty years later, the right of people of color to cast their ballots freely and equally is still being questioned.

To find evidence of that, look no further back than the last two presidential elections, both of which were fraught with efforts to deny minorities their right to vote. Black names were purged from Florida voting lists; Ohio voters in minority precincts stood in line for up to 10 hours while their white counterparts had virtually no wait at all; and in our own Minnesota, Native-American ID cards were challenged.

In contrast to four decades ago, the culprits in this case have come not primarily from the White House but from the state houses—specifically the office of those in charge of running elections, the secretaries of state. In 2000, it was Florida Secretary of State Kathryn Harris who led efforts to keep blacks away from the polls. In 2004, Ohio’s Kenneth Blackwell drew fire for alleged discriminatory election practices. In Minnesota, secretary of state Mary Kiffmeyer has used various tactics to make voting more difficult for minority populations. All three of these secretaries were Republican Party activists—Harris and Blackwell both were state coordinators of George W. Bush’s presidential campaign.

This weekend the ongoing conflict between the secretaries of state and voters of color will be played out in the Twin Cities. While the two entities will not meet face to face, their agendas will collide in separate but intersecting events.

On Friday, Minneapolis will host one of a series of national public hearings sponsored by the Voting Rights Project, Lawyers Committee on Civil Rights (LCCR) and several other concerned organizations. It will be held all day at the Dorsey and Whitney Law Firm in downtown Minneapolis. 

The object of the event will be to assess the impact of the Voting Rights Act on individuals and communities as a proposed renewal of some its provisions draws near. The event will feature a series of panel discussions by experts in voting rights followed by open public testimony. Citizens are invited to attend and testify about their voting experiences.

[.......]

Beginning that same Friday and continuing through the following Monday, the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) will stage its annual summer convention at the Radisson Riverfront Hotel in downtown St. Paul. Some 300 to 400 secretaries and/or their representatives from 40 states are expected to attend the four-day conference. Voting rights and election reform issues of various kinds are among the items up for discussion. 

Minnesota will also host a third event with some relationship to the electoral process, immediately following those two mentioned here. There will be an international E-Democracy conference July 26 and 27 at the U of M Humphrey Center. Julian Bowery will be a featured speaker, and one session focuses on the use of computer technology in voting and data collection. Go to DoWire.org for more information.

[.......]

Most of the relevant election-related issues, including HAVA, will be discussed during the last day of the conference. The public is invited to attend any of the open sessions for a fee of $250 a day or $475 for the entire event by registering at the NASS web site.

In addition to the conference business, delegates will be treated to cruises, tours and parties during the conference, most of which are paid for by conservative corporate sponsors, including voting machine manufacturers who sell their products to state election officials. Among them is Accenture, a company with a history of questionable electoral practices, including close ties to the Republican Party, a role in the purging of felons from the roles in Florida in 2000, and numerous breakdowns and failures. 

Ellen Theisen of Voters Unite, a national election reform advocacy organization, is critical of this practice. 

“Not only are the voting machine manufacturers directly sponsoring much of this conference, most of them are also corporate affiliates of the National Association of Secretaries of State, paying up to $20,000 a year for the privilege,” she said. “When the Secretaries of State are under this constant influence from the vendors, it’s difficult to see how they can make objective decisions about our voting systems.”

Take a look @ blackboxvoting.org and Velvet Revolution for the latest on the fine field of shady county officials and the voting machine companies that love them.

Syndicate content