Archive for October 19th, 2006|Daily archive page

Heads Up: Dating Saddam?

Tom Engelhardt over at the Nation has an excellent Rovian conspiracy theory. The date set for Saddam’s sentencing is November 5, two days before the elections.

The US-backed special tribunal in Baghdad signalled Monday that it will likely delay a verdict in the first trial of Saddam Hussein to November 5. Why hasn’t the mainstream media connected the dots between the Saddam’s judgment day and the midterm elections?

[…]

A possible death-sentence for Saddam and his top lieutenants on November 5? Now, shouldn’t that raise a few eyebrows somewhere? If you happen to have a calendar close at hand, pull it over and take a quick look. That verdict would then come, curiously enough, just two days before the midterm elections. It’s the sort of thing that–you would think–that any reporter with knowledge of the US election cycle (no less of how Karl Rove has worked these last years) would at least note in an article. But no, you can search high and low without finding a reference to this in the mainstream media.

This is obviously designed to create a positive news blip. Pass the word and make sure the people you know realize this is an obvious political ploy to get a positive “We’re moving forward” message in the papers shortly before the elections. (November 5 is the last full newsday before Americans vote. )

I never thought I could use the following icky, but somehow appropriate sentence.

Karl Rove is clearly dating Saddam.
 

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Pre-Posted Post on the National Space Policy

Remember last week when I wrote about the new National Space Policy?

Well it appears the main stream media have finally found room for the story. Even though the White House thinks the policy isn’t very important, the Washington Post squeaked it in on the front page yesterday.

President Bush has signed a new National Space Policy that rejects future arms-control agreements that might limit U.S. flexibility in space and asserts a right to deny access to space to anyone “hostile to U.S. interests.”

The document, the first full revision of overall space policy in 10 years, emphasizes security issues, encourages private enterprise in space, and characterizes the role of U.S. space diplomacy largely in terms of persuading other nations to support U.S. policy.

The story kept the premier spot on Spiegel-Online for almost 24 hours.

Spiegel-Online October 16, 2006 

It seems I am not alone in thinking this document is slightly more militaristic than the previous version.

The administration said the policy revisions are not a prelude to introducing weapons systems into Earth orbit. “This policy is not about developing or deploying weapons in space. Period,” said a senior administration official who was not authorized to speak on the record.

Nevertheless, Michael Krepon, co-founder of the Henry L. Stimson Center, a nonpartisan think tank that follows the space-weaponry issue, said the policy changes will reinforce international suspicions that the United States may seek to develop, test and deploy space weapons. The concerns are amplified, he said, by the administration’s refusal to enter negotiations or even less formal discussions on the subject.

I guess it’s just pesky liberals that think America would station weapons in space. Well the liberals and Spiegel-Online. (Wait they are liberal) But the gist of the entire Spiegel article is that America is preparing a solo takeover of space and is not only planning on stationing weapons there, those weapons have already been developed.

The document George W. Bush signed in September 2002 caused a political earthquake, it presented his image of a “National Security Strategy”: the USA would enforce its interests by spreading its values to every part of the world – if necessary using preventative wars to protect against threats. Also known as the “Bush doctrine,” this infamous strategy led, among other things, to the Iraq war.

Now the US Administration has drafted a similar, if slightly more carefully phrased, strategy for space – the new “National Space Policy,” inconspicuously released a few days ago on the website of Bush’s Office of Science and Technology Policy.

The document officially put in to words what has long been US policy. The American military has already spent billions of dollars on the development of weapons that are supposed to be stationed in space including technologies for attacks on terrestrial targets and enemy satellites. [my translation]

If you didn’t read my early post or the original by Theresa Hitchens, director of the Center for Defense Information, and Haninah Levine, a CDI science fellow please do so. The information is much more compact. Hitchens has an excellent opinion and makes her living watching the government.

One thing I didn’t mention in my previous post. The old version of the National Space Policy was a simple government document. Now, in these days of heightened security, these kinds of things need to be explicitly declassified. That’s right, the words Unclassified are on every page of the NSP. I wonder if there is a classified, far more detailed version of the document.

Gee, I (well actually DefenseTech), scooped the Washington Post!

A Pre-Posted post if you will

A Burning Desire

President Bush signed the Military Commission Act of 2006 on Tuesday. Among other things, this removes the right of Habeus Corpus.

Thus restrictions on personal liberty, on the right of free expression of opinion, including freedom of the press, on the right of assembly and association, and violations of the privacy of postal, telegraphic and telephonic communications, and warrants for house-searches, orders for confiscations as well as restrictions on property rights are permissible beyond the legal limits otherwise prescribed.

If you just got cold shivers reading the above passage, good. I didn’t quote the newest move toward an American dictatorship; rather it is the first paragraph of the decree signed by Hindenburg in February 1933, just after the Reichstag burned . It effectively ended the Weimar Republic and signalled the start of the Nazi regime. The next paragraph allowed the federal government, in case of danger to the public, the right to take over the state governments. Both of these provisions were enacted permanently or ‘until further notice.’ But for just a moment, an instant, you might have imagined an American Congress and an American Senate passing legislation with that language. The leap isn’t quite as far to see George W. Bush signing it. Doesn’t that give you pause to think?

I am currently reading Richard J. Evans’ ‘The Coming of the Third Reich,’ the source for the text I used above. On Tuesday, I reached the part of the book where the Reichstag is burned by the Dutch social malcontent and arsonist Marinus van der Lubbe. This happened about a week before federal elections and was used by the Nazis to ban the Communist party, the third strongest political power in pre-WWII Germany. Goebbels used the fire to whip up a feeling of fear, suggesting that the communist party was posed to overthrow the government and install a godless, evil regime.

If you have never heard of Richard Evans, he is one of the premier historians of the Third Reich. His fifteen minutes of fame outside academia came during the Irving vs. Lipstadt libel trial in 2000. David Irving sued Professor Lipstadt over her representation of him in her book ‘Denying the Holocaust’, a discussion of Holocaust ‘revisionists.’ The full transcripts and many of the expert reports can be found at Holocaust Denial on Trial. Evans wrote the expert witness report examining Irving’s validity as a historian. 

Very soon after we had begun our examination of Irving’s work along the lines sketched out above, it became clear that Irving did all of these things [i.e. deliberately manipulate and distort documents, suppress evidence, wilfully mistranslate documents , consciously use unreliable or discredited testimony, falsify historical statistics, or apply one standard of criticism to sources which undermine their views and another to those which support them]. Penetrating beneath the confident surface of his prose quickly revealed a mass of distortion and manipulation in every issue we tackled that was so tangled that detailing it sometimes took up many more words than had been devoted to it in Irving’s original account. […] A similar knotted web of distortions, suppressions and manipulations became evident in every single instance which we examined. We have not suppressed any occasion on which Irving has used accepted and legitimate methods of historical research, exposition and interpretation: there were none.

Needless to say, Irving lost the trial. In a judgement almost as entertaining and educational as the Dover ruling, Justice Gray blasts Irving, basically discrediting him as a historian or anything but an extremist, right-wing talking head. Irving now languishes in an Austrian prison for entering the country despite a court order denying his entry. This order came a direct result of Irving’s attacks on the reality of the holocaust. Naturally, I could have used the above quote to describe the distortions used by the current administration to justify the Iraq war; but that would be hyperbole.

Returning to 1933, in what would now be considered a terrorist act, an unemployed Dutch construction worker set fire to the seat of the much weakened Weimar government. Even though all evidence pointed to an isolated incident perpetrated by a deranged individual, Hitler and the Nazi government used this act as a pretext to claim that the fire had been a communist plot, a prequel to the overthrow of the government. The Nazis spread a feeling of fear and terror, projecting a threat to the country and stability in every socialist nuance.

The Stormtroopers were unleashed, smashing and destroying the offices of the communist party and the homes of the party members, who were arrested and taken to the precursors of concentration camps. While many of these people were no friends of democracy or the republic, the arrest was not for any specific crime, it was enough to be in the wrong party, at the wrong place, at the wrong time. These detainees had no right to counsel; some were tortured; some were killed. They had no recourse to justice and no possibility for appeal. Often tried under any pretext, the verdict and the penalty were clear before the trial started.

Seven years later, the first buildings in Auschwitz were being erected. Few could have foreseen the impending dangers.

To complete my nightmare, I would reach even farther back into history. The Founding Fathers were heavily influenced by the two greatest periods of democracy the world has ever known, democratic Athens and republican Rome. Both of these nations (OK, one was a nation-state – picky, picky, picky) were the most powerful entity in the areas they occupied at the time they existed, both had elections and were highly advanced technologically. One minor point is often overlooked though. Both of these experiments failed. Let’s hope that bad things don’t come in threes.

I, for one, have a burning desire not to see the Capital building set on fire in two weeks.