Archive for February 9th, 2007|Daily archive page

Fighting The Ghosts

There is an amazing op-ed in the Washington Post today.

If I have ever seen a more pointed reason for why America should not have invaded Iraq, why America should leave and why, if America chooses to stay, ultimately America will fail, it is in this statement.

A man with no face stares at me from the corner of a room. He pleads for help, but I’m afraid to move. He begins to cry. It is a pitiful sound, and it sickens me. He screams, but as I awaken, I realize the screams are mine.
The lead interrogator at the DIF had given me specific instructions: I was to deprive the detainee of sleep during my 12-hour shift by opening his cell every hour, forcing him to stand in a corner and stripping him of his clothes. Three years later the tables have turned. It is rare that I sleep through the night without a visit from this man. His memory harasses me as I once harassed him.
We have failed to properly address the abuse of Iraqi detainees. Men like me have refused to tell our stories, and our leaders have refused to own up to the myriad mistakes that have been made. But if we fail to address this problem, there can be no hope of success in Iraq. Regardless of how many young Americans we send to war, or how many militia members we kill, or how many Iraqis we train, or how much money we spend on reconstruction, we will not escape the damage we have done to the people of Iraq in our prisons.

I don’t think he wrote that piece for us. He wrote it for himself. Unfortunately many coming back from Iraq will see themselves in his words.

Go read it now. Blog it, e-mail it. Make sure people are aware of it. It is an important peace of prose.

While you’re at it, remind people of the movie Outlawed about the detention of Khaled El-Masri and Binyam Mohamed. (27 minutes, my original post here.) That is American policy and whether the conservatives say it is OK or not. This is how the world views America. This is the reality that the policies put in place by the Bush administration have created. Congragulations.

But back to Eric Fair.

Sir, you have done wrong. You are being punished for it. While I don’t condone what you have done, I salute you for what you are doing now.

I thank you for fighting your ghosts in public.

Feed WWF’s Press Guy to the Pandas

Look. I am a big fan of Pandas and Land-Lobsters. The WWF? Not so much.

Speigel Online pointed to a new study done for the WWF by one of the leading German economic think tanks. That wouldn’t have been so bad if the WWF press release hadn’t have been so..blaach. Spiegel reports,

The press release from the World Wildlife Funds (WWF) isn’t exactly squeamish in wording. “A sharp rise in heat related deaths and loss of productivity as a result of climate change threatens Germany by the end of the century, ” can be found on the web page of the environment and animal protection organisation. More and more days with extreme temperatures won’t just lead to a loss of between 0.1 and 0.5 percent of the GNP. A “tragic” result will also be the increase in heat related deaths: in the years from 2071 and 2100 an increase of between 5,000 and 15,000 deaths per year due to heat – “without acclimatization,” as the WWF laconically adds.

The press release doesn’t dedicate more than these two words to the central facts. The study itself, produced for the WWF by the Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW), sounds much different. Because it is based on a simple calculation. The IfW experts used the “Remo” model from the Hamburg Max-Planck-Institute for Meteorology that simulates the heat stress in Germany between 2071 and 2100 – and simply compared them to the conditions in 2003. [my translation]

Basically, since the summer of 2003 was the worst year in recent history for heat deaths not only in German but in Europe as a whole (France was especially hard hit), but the calculations are offset by a number of other factors. Indeed while the number of people dying due to the heat might go up, the number of deaths caused by cold winters will be reduced thus mitigating the first effect.

The study itself also points out even more important factors.

The presented effects of climate change on human heath are all – among other simplifications – estimated assuming that here is no adaptation to the higher summer temperatures. Since we are looking at a process that will take more then 50 years, this is of course, unrealistic. A number of measures as well as natural adaptation can and will occur. The inclusion of these factors is not possible considering the current level of knowledge and remains an area for future research.

It isn’t even clear whether adaptation to the increased summer temperatures combined with the reduction of cold related deaths might bring a positive balance. One interesting result of the study is to look at the related medical costs that might become necessary. The study isn’t great but it is not the we-are-all-going-to-die senario painted up front.

The problem is that the press release simply gives people like Senator I-Hate-Polar-Bears Inhofe more ammunition even if the study is well written. And the study itself really doesn’t say much more than “this is an important thing to look at.” *sigh*

Argueably, the press guy at the WWF and the discredited NASA press hack Michael Deutsch have some things in common. They are both interested in Global Climate Change and both spin things beyond recognition. Even if it is in opposite directions.

But to be honest. I’d just feed the WWF guy to their Panda. Unfortunately it wouldn’t do any good because Pandas only eat bamboo.

So let’s feed the WWF guy to Michael Deutsch.

Just the Fax Condi

While I’m on the subject of Rice, Michael Hirsh from Newsweek is pointing to a mistake made back when Rice was on the NSC that paved the way for more unilateral screeching at Iran.

The problem? A fax sent by the former pre-batshit-crazy-presidential Iranian government in 2003 requesting direct negotiations with Washington. The offer was ignored and of course America isn’t planning anything, there is no intent to attack Iran.

Still, “not planning or intending an attack” isn’t exactly the same thing as embracing diplomacy with Tehran. In fact, Bush has specifically rejected that idea unless Iran acts first to suspend its uranium-enrichment program. Mann, as well as former senior administration officials such as former secretary of State Colin Powell and his then-top deputy, Richard Armitage, say the president has ignored or played down a number of opportunities to negotiate—especially in the era before Ahmadinejad was elected in 2005. As Powell told NEWSWEEK in an interview this week: “You can’t negotiate when you tell the other side, ‘Give us what a negotiation would produce before the negotiations start.’”

Rice was asked again this week about a dramatic opening for such a negotiation that took place in late April and May of 2003, when Iranian officials, using their regular Swiss intermediary, faxed a two-page proposal for comprehensive talks to the State Department. According to the document, a copy of which was obtained by NEWSWEEK, Tehran plainly laid out the two countries’ “aims” and proposed “steps” to resolve them “in mutual respect.” The document, believed to reflect the views of Iran’s president at the time, the moderate Mohammad Khatami, proposes negotiations on most of the main outstanding issues of interest to Washington—including Iran’s nuclear program, its support for Hizbullah and Hamas and terrorism in general, and stabilizing Iraq. Some officials who saw the proposal at the time, including Hillary Mann and her husband, Flynt Leverett, the former National Security Council (NSC) senior director for Mideast under Rice, have angrily criticized Rice and the administration for not taking it seriously.

An examination of the document is very interesting.

Some of the points on the table for Iran would probably have been acceptable to a normal government.

Iran wanted off the Axis of Evil list. The Americans should finally smackdown the Iranian People’s Mujahideen (MKO), an anti-Iranian group already officially declared to be a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the US . (The Human Rights Watch doesn’t like the MKO and not even the French think these guys are OK. Probably using the old “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” kind of logic, the neo-cons have tried to get the MKO un-designated. 150 Members of Congress and several top Administration officals, including former Attorney General John No-Naked-Statues-In-My-Justice-Department Ashcroft have lobbied to get the designation changed.)

Less acceptable would have been “Full access to peaceful nuclear technology, biotechnology and chemical technology” and “Abolishment of all sanctions: commercial sanctions, frozen assets, judgments(FSIA), impediments in international trade and financial institutions.”

This would have been like building nueclear reactors in North Korea to keep them from building a bomb. Where would that have led? (What? The Norks built the bomb from material that had been under seal until America found an excuse to renege on that deal? Oh. Whatever. They are still so Axis of Evil!)

And what was Iran offering? No WMD’s and full cooperation with the IAEA, decisive action against terrorists like al Quaeda, coordination on the stabilization in Iran. Nothing important.

Oh. And on those pesky Israel/Palestine/Lebanon problems?

  1. stop of any material support to Palestinian opposition groups (Hamas, Jihad etc.) from Iranian territory, pressure on these organizations to stop violent action against civilians within borders of 1967.
  2. action on Hizbollah to become a mere political organization within Lebanon
  3. acceptance of the Arab League Beirut declaration (Saudi initiative, two-states-approach)

No. Nothing there to talk about. Letting Israel “kick Hizbollah’s ass” was far more effective. And Palestine seems to have settled down nicely since 2003.

The article goes on to talk about both the unclear origins of the document and the fact that everyone is now saying they didn’t see it. No one had anything to do with it. They know nothing— absolutely nothing. But the article also points out that the President and his closest advisors also don’t believe the Iranian government is legitimate and that Iran is a “ripe apple.” That’s comforting.

Oddly, despite everything the Administration screws up, the pressure on Iran may be working. There are signs that Iranians aren’t too happy with Ahmadinejad. (Who would be?) Thus Iran may at least be coming back to the table on the nuclear thing.

But the Iranians are also holding a military exercise this month and are claiming to have tested missiles could sink “big warships.” While the exercise thing is true, experts are saying the missile thing is BS. Of course, the US also claimed Iran couldn’t take pictures of the American carriers using UAVs.

So Condi. Just give us the facts not the spin.


Gary Ackerman, Democratic New York Congressman, is trying to get America defeated in Iraq!

Yes, the same Congressman who ‘accidentally’ voted against pornography, managed the following exchange with Condoleezza Rice on Tuesday,

“Well, it seems that the military has fired a whole bunch of people who speak foreign languages — Farsi and Arabic, et cetera. After they train them . . . for 63 weeks, and presumably they all passed all kinds of security things,” Ackerman said. “For some reason, the military seems more afraid of gay people. . . . And if the terrorists ever got a hold of this information, they get a platoon of lesbians to chase us out of Baghdad.”

Ackerman suggested that the State Department hire back those people to do “what you’re suggesting would cost a lot of money to do and to train.”

“Can we have some kind of union of those two issues? Can we marry up these two — or maybe that’s not the right word. . . . Can we have some kind of union of those two issues?” Ackerman asked, sparking laughter.

So, it is not just the terrorist loving, dreadlocked, flashing-cartoon-character-spreading jihadists trying to bring America to its knees. No a Democratic congress will happily help by tying the shoelaces of liberty together.

Oh. Sure. Degrade and defame the face of religion. Where are the all the really homophobic evangelical preachers when you need them? Like Ted Haggard Pal Barnes Pat Robertson? (In treatment or doing leg presses? Oh.)

And considering the fact that the quote “And if the terrorists ever got a hold of this information, they get a platoon of lesbians to chase us out of Baghdad” obviously originated in a cave in the Hindu Kush, one can only shutter to think what is next.

What? Condi seriously considering hiring platoons of lesbians to work for the State Department; sort of marrying diplomatic efforts with girl on girl action?

Rice promised to look into it. Last night, Ackerman said in an interview that, after the hearing, he received a call from an aide to Rice who said that his suggestion was being taken seriously.

Rut Rho Elroy.

The homosexual destruction of America has begun! First Ted he’s-all-better-now Haggard now the State Department! Where will this end? A secret sex tape with Ann Coulter and Mary Matlin?

But one person knew this might happen. No wonder Laura Bush torpedoed any hope Condi might have had for the presidency by saying she didn’t have any real family or supportive friends. She secretly knew that Condi doesn’t hate homosexuals.

But I bet the terrorists will probably find the idea of lesbian platoons kind of hot.

(Hat Tips: Wonkette, FreedomToServe)