10 November 2006

War Crime Charges Sought Against Rumsfeld Over Prison Abuse

This story "broke" last night on Democracy NOW! but now Time has picked it up:
Exclusive: Charges Sought Against Rumsfeld Over Prison Abuse
A lawsuit in Germany will seek a criminal prosecution of the outgoing Defense Secretary and other U.S. officials for their alleged role in abuses at Abu Ghraib and Gitmo
Posted Friday, Nov. 10, 2006
Just days after his resignation, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is about to face more repercussions for his involvement in the troubled wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. New legal documents, to be filed next week with Germany's top prosecutor, will seek a criminal investigation and prosecution of Rumsfeld, along with Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, former CIA director George Tenet and other senior U.S. civilian and military officers, for their alleged roles in abuses committed at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison and at the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The plaintiffs in the case include 11 Iraqis who were prisoners at Abu Ghraib, as well as Mohammad al-Qahtani, a Saudi held at Guantanamo, whom the U.S. has identified as the so-called "20th hijacker" and a would-be participant in the 9/11 hijackings. As TIME first reported in June 2005, Qahtani underwent a "special interrogation plan," personally approved by Rumsfeld, which the U.S. says produced valuable intelligence. But to obtain it, according to the log of his interrogation and government reports, Qahtani was subjected to forced nudity, sexual humiliation, religious humiliation, prolonged stress positions, sleep deprivation and other controversial interrogation techniques.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs say that one of the witnesses who will testify on their behalf is former Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, the one-time commander of all U.S. military prisons in Iraq. Karpinski — who the lawyers say will be in Germany next week to publicly address her accusations in the case — has issued a written statement to accompany the legal filing, which says, in part: "It was clear the knowledge and responsibility [for what happened at Abu Ghraib] goes all the way to the top of the chain of command to the Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld ."

A spokesperson for the Pentagon told TIME there would be no comment since the case has not yet been filed.

Along with Rumsfeld, Gonzales and Tenet, the other defendants in the case are Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence Stephen Cambone; former assistant attorney general Jay Bybee; former deputy assisant attorney general John Yoo; General Counsel for the Department of Defense William James Haynes II; and David S. Addington, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff. Senior military officers named in the filing are General Ricardo Sanchez, the former top Army official in Iraq; Gen. Geoffrey Miller, the former commander of Guantanamo; senior Iraq commander, Major General Walter Wojdakowski; and Col. Thomas Pappas, the one-time head of military intelligence at Abu Ghraib.

Germany was chosen for the court filing because German law provides "universal jurisdiction" allowing for the prosecution of war crimes and related offenses that take place anywhere in the world. Indeed, a similar, but narrower, legal action was brought in Germany in 2004, which also sought the prosecution of Rumsfeld. The case provoked an angry response from Pentagon, and Rumsfeld himself was reportedly upset. Rumsfeld's spokesman at the time, Lawrence DiRita, called the case a "a big, big problem." U.S. officials made clear the case could adversely impact U.S.-Germany relations, and Rumsfeld indicated he would not attend a major security conference in Munich, where he was scheduled to be the keynote speaker, unless Germany disposed of the case. The day before the conference, a German prosecutor announced he would not pursue the matter, saying there was no indication that U.S. authorities and courts would not deal with allegations in the complaint.

In bringing the new case, however, the plaintiffs argue that circumstances have changed in two important ways. Rumsfeld's resignation, they say, means that the former Defense Secretary will lose the legal immunity usually accorded high government officials. Moreover, the plaintiffs argue that the German prosecutor's reasoning for rejecting the previous case — that U.S. authorities were dealing with the issue — has been proven wrong.

"The utter and complete failure of U.S. authorities to take any action to investigate high-level involvement in the torture program could not be clearer," says Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, a U.S.-based non-profit helping to bring the legal action in Germany. He also notes that the Military Commissions Act, a law passed by Congress earlier this year, effectively blocks prosecution in the U.S. of those involved in detention and interrogation abuses of foreigners held abroad in American custody going to back to Sept. 11, 2001. As a result, Ratner contends, the legal arguments underlying the German prosecutor's previous inaction no longer hold up.

Whatever the legal merits of the case, it is the latest example of efforts in Western Europe by critics of U.S. tactics in the war on terror to call those involved to account in court. In Germany, investigations are under way in parliament concerning cooperation between the CIA and German intelligence on rendition — the kidnapping of suspected terrorists and their removal to third countries for interrogation. Other legal inquiries involving rendition are under way in both Italy and Spain.

U.S. officials have long feared that legal proceedings against "war criminals" could be used to settle political scores. In 1998, for example, former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet — whose military coup was supported by the Nixon administration — was arrested in the U.K. and held for 16 months in an extradition battle led by a Spanish magistrate seeking to charge him with war crimes. He was ultimately released and returned to Chile. More recently, a Belgian court tried to bring charges against then Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon for alleged crimes against Palestinians.

For its part, the Bush Administration has rejected adherence to the International Criminal Court (ICC) on grounds that it could be used to unjustly prosecute U.S. officials. The ICC is the first permanent tribunal established to prosecute war crimes, genocide and other crimes against humanity.

here's the Democracy Now! Link:

You can listen to the audio there.


ok, what's with the media self censorship.
Click the link above and listen to both versions of the interview.

Here's the blog from the guy that posted it:
CNN tells YouTube to pull down video outing GOP party head Ken Mehlman
by John in DC - 11/09/2006 02:24:00 PM

I just got a cease-and-desist letter from YouTube, see below, regarding my CNN footage I posted. The footage, you'll recall, was from Larry King Live last night in which Bill Maher outed Republican Party chair Ken Mehlman as gay. It seems that CNN has suddenly decided that it no longer wants bloggers, or YouTube, posting any of its video, which is kind of surprising since I always thought we were doing a CNN a favor by constantly touting their network. Apparently I was wrong.

NOTE: You can still see the entire video on Huff Post.

CNN has also now edited the official transcript of Larry King Live, so that no one will ever know what really happened. Here is CNN's transcript:
MAHER: A lot of the chiefs of staff, the people who really run the underpinnings of the Republican Party are gay. I don't want to mention names, but I will on Friday night.

KING: You will Friday night?

MAHER: Well, there's a couple of big people who I think everyone in Washington knows who run the Republican...

KING: You will name them?

MAHER: Well, I wouldn't be the first. I'd get sued if I was the first. (A PORTION OF THIS TRANSCRIPT HAS BEEN REMOVED)

KING: Great way to close out this segment. It's poignant.
CNN didn't just edit out the naming of Mehlman as gay, they even edited out Larry's question, and Maher's answer, about why gay people sometimes work against their own people. Now why is that question being censored by CNN?

I plan to cut the video back to ten seconds, the crucial part where Bill Maher outs Mehlman, then put it back up (I also still have the 3 meg file, 1 minute 20 seconds long - as do lots of other people, including the Huff Post). I have a law degree from Georgetown and I know intellectual property law as it concerns journalism. You can post an 8 to 10 second video clip as fair use for news purposes, and that is what I plan to do. And if CNN and Google try to close down my YouTube account for using an 8-10 second snippet for news purposes, they're going to have serious problems.

Here's his link:

Washington Post rewriting history?

I got this from slashdot and clicked through to the bogsite:
"Friday, November 10, 2006
Extremely odd behavior from the Washington Post re: the President's Rumsfeld lie
(updated below - Update II)

It is now conclusively clear that President Bush lied last week, several days before the election, when he vowed definitively to reporters that Donald Rumsfeld would remain as Defense Secretary for the next two years. At the time he made that statement, he was deep into the process of replacing Rumsfeld, if not already finished, and the President knew that the statement he made about Rumsfeld was false at the time he made it. That is the definition of "lying."

There can be no reasonable dispute about this, since the President at his Press Conference not only admitted lying when he told the reporters that Rumsfeld would stay, but he even went on to explain his reasons for lying ("the reason why is I didn't want to inject a major decision about this war in the final days of a campaign. And so the only way to answer that question and to get you on to another question was to give you that answer"). The decision was clearly a fait accompli before the election, as the President himself said: "win or lose, Bob Gates was going to become the nominee."

The President's admission of lying was so glaring that even Byron York immediately described it as such (as did other conservatives such as James Joyner). So what are the consequences, the implications, the fallout? So far, virtually nothing, and the behavior of The Washington Post shows why that is the case:

As I noted in the post I wrote two days ago about the President's Rumsfeld lie, The Washington Post article which reported on the Press Conference, written by Michael Fletcher and Peter Baker, detailed the Rumsfeld lie and even described what the President did with unusual candor, i.e., that the President "appeared to acknowledge having misled reporters." It's so unusual to see a major newspaper accurately report on the President's dishonesty that I noticed and praised the Post's candor ("It's encouraging (although it should be commonplace) that the Washington Post is calling this what it is"). At the time, as I quoted in my post, this is what the Post article reported about the President's Rumsfeld explanation:

At his news conference, Bush called the election results a "thumping" but vowed to maintain his policy of refusing to pull U.S. troops out of Iraq "before the job is done." Bush indicated that he had made the decision to replace Rumsfeld before the elections, but he said he had not held a "final conversation" with the defense chief or talked to Gates at the time he told reporters in response to a question last week that Rumsfeld would be staying on.

Asked about that comment, Bush said he made it because "I didn't want to inject a major decision about this war in the final days of a campaign," Bush said. He appeared to acknowledge having misled reporters, saying, "And so the only way to answer that question and to get you onto another question was to give you that answer."

He added later, "Win or lose, Bob Gates was going to become the nominee.

But at some point, the Post fundamentally changed this article (without leaving any indication that it did so). Now, in that same Post article, the passage I quoted about the President's having acknowledged that he "misled reporters" is gone entirely -- just disappeared, deleted with no trace -- and instead one finds only this:

He said that he had begun to contemplate Rumsfeld's exit before the election -- even while he was publicly vowing that he would keep the defense secretary through the end of his term and insisting that polls forecasting Republican defeat were wrong. "I thought we were going to do fine yesterday," Bush insisted. "Shows what I know." But "win or lose, Bob Gates was going to become the nominee."

At some point, the Post changed what was the accurate reporting -- that Bush expressly acknowledged that he "misled" reporters because he had "indicated that he had made the decision to replace Rumsfeld before the elections" -- by claiming in the new version that he merely "contemplated" Rumsfeld's exit before the election. Worse, the Post deleted entirely the accurate statement that the President "appeared to acknowledge having misled reporters." (If one does a search of the Post for the deleted paragraphs, the article will still come up in the Post's search engine, but the entire passage is nowhere to be found in the article).

Ironically, the explanation for why this happened may be found in today's Howard Kurtz column, the whole point of which is to explore the unbelievably stupid question of whether Bush's lie about Rumsfeld was "on par with [meaning: as bad as] President Bill Clinton's hair-splitting defense in the Monica S. Lewinsky investigation that 'it all depends on what the definition of is is'"? In other words, was Bush's pre-election "untruth" about management of the Iraq war as bad as Clinton's lie about sex with Monica? In the course of pondering that idiocy (even quoting "experts" comparing the two lies), Kurtz says this:

Did the president of the United States make a rare admission on national television that he had told an untruth?

Or had he merely engaged in a dodge of the sort that is common in politics?

Journalists by nature shy from pinning the "liar" label on any political leader, but President Bush's acknowledgments that he had not been forthcoming about his plans to dump Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld have kicked up a fuss at the White House and sparked a debate about the limits of presidential evasion.

As Kurtz's own column illustrates, journalists most certainly do not "shy away from pinning the 'liar' label on any political leader." All of the wise and brave pundits and other Beltway luminaries -- one after the next -- fell all over themselves calling Bill Clinton a "liar" continuously because he claimed not to have had sex with Monica Lewinksy. In that instance, they were more than happy to use the word "liar" as clearly and freely as can be imagined.

Journalists "shy away" from pinning the "liar label" not -- as Kurtz claims -- "on any political leader," but on the specific political leaders who currently occupy the White House. And for proof of that, Kurtz need look no further than his own newspaper, which appears to have engaged in some sort of Stalinist-like purging of history by zapping out of existence the Post's accurate detailing of the President's Press Conference admission of lying.

So the President got caught lying to the American people, several days before an election, about a matter of unquestionable importance -- namely, who will manage our war in Iraq and, more broadly, will the President change how the war is being managed? And not even the President claims there was some national security "justification" for lying. It was a pure political calculus: "I didn't want to inject a major decision about this war in the final days of a campaign."

(And incidentally, this is not the first time Bush lied this way; last May, he assured reporters that Treasury Secretary John Snow was not leaving and specifically stated that Snow "has not talked to me about resignation," even though Snow had already told the President he was leaving and the decision to replace Snow had already been made and finalized). All Howie Kurtz can do is wonder whether this was as "on par with" the Greatest Evil Ever -- Bill Clinton's lie about Monica Lewinsky.

Why did The Washington Post delete the passage in its own article detailing how the President misled reporters when he answered their questions about Rumsfeld? Presidents simply do not have the right to lie to Americans about important matters of public concern, particularly before a major election. If we don't embrace and enforce that standard, what standard exists? And if newspapers like the Post are too afraid to detail dishonest statements that come from our highest political officials -- to the point where they publish such revelations only to then surreptitiously delete them -- what possible purpose do journalists serve?

UPDATE: It seems that some people (including certain bloggers) are missing the point of this post completely. The crux of the post is not about Bush's lie regarding Rumsfeld, but instead, is about how The Washington Post reported this lie, and then un-reported it. Some of the confusion may be my fault (although the post title, by itself, seems to make that sufficiently clear), but this comment from sysprog is highly clarifying and, in its own right, worth reading.

UPDATE II: Even Newt Gingrich recognizes that the President essentially acknowledged at his Press Conference that he lied about Rumsfeld, and Gingrich objects:

"We need candor, we need directness," said Gingrich, a potential 2008 presidential candidate."We need to understand the threats we faced with are so frightening and so real, the danger that we'll lose two to three American cities so great, that we cannot play games with each other, cannot manipulate each other, we have to have an open and honest dialogue, and I found yesterday's staments at the press conference frankly very disturbing."

He condemned Bush's admission that in making last week's statement about Rumsfeld, he had known he was being misleading.

"It's inappropriate to cleverly come out the day after an election to do something we were told before the election would not be done," Gingrich said. "I think the timing was exactly backwards and I hope the President will rethink how he engages the American people and how he communicates with candor."

Gingrich has all kinds of politically self-interested motives for trying to distance himself this way from this increasingly and unprecedentedly despised President, but he is right about what the President did. If Byron York, James Joyner and Newt Gingrich can all recognize and say that the President admitted to lying at his Press Conference, why did The Washington Post delete that passage and deprive its readers of that knowledge?

01 November 2006

Fastest Waves Ever Photographed

Cool stuff from another blogger:

You can check out the links and pics at the link in the title.

"Pictures of the fastest moving waves ever photographed were presented this morning at APS Division of Plasma Physics meeting in Philadelphia. These shots are more than your typical pretty pictures – they represent a major advance in wakefield accelerator technology, a technology that could make tabletop high-energy particle accelerators a reality.

The matter waves, which are oscillations moving through a plasma, are known as wakefields because they are created in the wake of an ultra-intense laser pulse. The waves travel at 99.997% of the speed of light and generate electric fields exceeding 100 billion electron volts/meter.

The ability to create huge electric fields makes wakefields a promising method for shrinking the size of accelerators from miles long (like those at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, FermiLab and CERN) to tabletop. Small accelerators would allow universities and hospitals to take advantage of the research and medical applications afforded by an accelerator without competing for time at a major particle accelerator facility.

Much work remains before tabletop accelerators can be a reality – particularly in understanding the interactions between a wakefield, the accelerated electrons, and the laser pulse. The ability to photograph wakefields is exciting news for scientists because it allows them to explore these interactions and compare theoretical predictions to real data.

Former Agent Says Google and CIA in Partnership

Former Agent Says Google and CIA in Partnership

Is Google's quest to manage the world's information leading straight to the CIA?

Former CIA clandestine case officer Robert David Steele made some very hot comments on his appearance on the Alex Jones radio show. Steele cites his contacts within the agency with the information that Google and the CIA are involved with one another.

Steele said, "I think that Google has made a very important strategic mistake in dealing with the secret elements of the U.S. government - that is a huge mistake and I’m hoping they’ll work their way out of it and basically cut that relationship off."

In reference to Google's fight against the U.S. Department of Justice for the privacy of its users, Steele claims that it was an elaborate charade intended for the public eye.

"Google was a little hypocritical when they were refusing to honor a Department of Justice request for information because they were heavily in bed with the Central Intelligence Agency, the office of research and development," concluded Steele.

From reports, Steele did not bring evidence to light in order to back up his claims, and neither Google nor the CIA are yet commenting on the matter.


U.S. intelligence unveils spy version of Wikipedia
Tue Oct 31, 2006 6:39pm ET
...see below for the link to the above titled article.

This from Wikipedia:
"Intellipedia is a classified wiki that runs on JWICS, the top-secret network Intelink that links the 16 agencies that comprise the U.S. intelligence community. It is not accessible to the public.
Intellipedia is a project of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence - Intelligence Community Enterprise Services (ICES) office headquartered in Fort Meade, Maryland. As of October 2006, it contains 28,000 pages and 3600 users.[1] It includes information on the areas, people and issues of interest to those communities. Intellipedia uses MediaWiki, the same software used by the Wikipedia free-content encyclopedia project.[2] Unlike Wikipedia, Intellipedia also contains a great deal of non-encyclopedic content including meeting notes and items of internal, administrative interest. The wiki provides so much flexibility that several offices throughout the community are using it to maintain and transfer knowledge on daily operations and events. Anyone with access to read it has permission to create and edit articles.
Since Intellipedia is intended to be a platform for harmonizing the various points of view of the agencies and analysts of the Intelligence Community, Intellipedia does not enforce a neutral point of view policy.[citation needed] Instead, viewpoints are attributed to the agencies, offices, and individuals participating, with the hope that a consensus view will emerge. A number of projects are underway to explore the use of the Intellipedia for the creation of traditional Intelligence Community products. In the summer of 2006 a National Intelligence Estimate on Nigeria was started using Intellipedia as the main collaboration tool.[1]
A sister project is being run on the U.S. Government Secret-level network known as SIPRNet. It is intended to serve a similar purpose for U.S. diplomats and DoD personnel who are the predominant users of this network. As of September 2006, this wiki had over 13,000 articles.

For the Reuters article click the following link:

For the Wikipedia article, click the title to this...