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Egyptians are walking the razor's edge of social media

The rise of the revolution in Egypt can be attributed in large part to social media:

Inside Egypt's Facebook Revolt
www.newsweek.com

After hundreds of arrests in Cairo Wednesday, some protest organizers have gone missing and are presumed jailed. Now activists are using Egypt’s oldest social medium to keep up the fight.

In the days leading up to this week’s street protests in Egypt, the largest the country has seen since the 1970s, Ahmed Salah was busy spreading the word around Cairo—“in every possible way,” as he put it. A veteran activist who said agitation is his genes, Salah, 45, tapped into his usual network, called family and friends, hit the streets, and posted updates on the Web. “On the 25th, we are trying to give people a bit of hope, and a chance to express themselves,” he said in a phone interview last week. But he said the regime would fight back.

As this Egyptian woman seems to be attesting to, it starts small and can build from there. And it was not without its risks: Make the jump»

New Facts Call Into Question DOJ Investigations Past and Present

By Andrew Kreig posted by Michael Collins

2010-07-26-NoraR.Dannehy.jpg

Four days before Connecticut's Nora Dannehy was appointed to investigate the Bush administration's U.S. attorney firing scandal, a team of lawyers she led was found to have illegally suppressed evidence in a major political corruption case.

This previously unreported fact from Dannehy's past calls into question her entire national investigation. The revelation similarly compromises the pending investigation by her Connecticut colleague, John Durham, who since 2008 has been the nation's special prosecutor for DOJ and CIA decision-making involving torture.

Here's the story, which the Justice Integrity Project I lead just broke in Nieman Watchdog:

In September 2008, the Bush Justice Department appointed Connecticut career federal prosecutor Nora Dannehy to investigate allegations that Bush officials in 2006 illegally fired nine U.S. attorneys who wouldn't politicize official corruption investigations.

But just four days before her appointment, a federal appeals court had ruled that a team of prosecutors led by Dannehy illegally suppressed evidence in a major political corruption case in Connecticut. The prosecutors' misconduct was so serious that the court vacated seven of the eight convictions in the case. Make the jump»

It is OK to criticize the Obama administration

And that is especially true when it involves the real big issues of our times... As long as that criticism is, ya know, based in the reality of the policies and not some insane rantings and ravings of fringe and conspiracy theory lunacies. Via Glenn Greenwald, Jon Stewart hit on some really big issues, last night and immediately after the somnambulic presidential address, and pulled no punches from the not so sleepy world of reality:

When ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero last week addressed the progressive conference America's Future Now, he began by saying:  "I'm going to start provocatively . . . I'm disgusted with this president."  Last night, after Obama's Oval Office speech, Jon Stewart began his show with an 8-minute monologue on Obama's executive power and civil liberties record which, in essence, provided just some of the reasons why Romero's strong condemnation is so justified.  None of this will be remotely new to any readers here, but it's still nice to see its being distilled so clearly by a voice which even the most hardened Obama loyalists have decided is a credible and trustworthy one (at least when he's mocking Sarah Palin and exposing Fox News; we'll see what reaction this provokes from them, if any).

There is no denying the truth in the accusations, nor IMHO the real importance of this issue that has been obscured with huge celebrations by Obama's most ardent supporters for tiny and relatively meaningless wins on comparatively less important issues, that Stewart makes in the video below the fold. Make the jump»

Open Thread Torture

Valtin at dKos put this group of links together at the bottom of his diary which I am going to lift for an Open Thread. His diaries at dKos or Firedoglake are well worth reading to get a very thorough overview of just what we have found out concerning experimentation in torture on prisoners and authorized by the Bush administration:

Other coverage:

Emptywheel/Firedoglake - Allowing Human Experimentation under the War Crimes Act by Marcy Wheeler

Balkinization - Paging Dr. Mengele: Medical Experimentation and the CIA Detainees

New York Times - Study Cites Breaches of Medical Ethics Against Terror Suspects, story by James Risen

Harpers (Scott Horton) - Bush-era CIA Human Experimentation Program Revealed

Truthout - Human Experimentation at the Heart of Bush Administration’s Torture Program by Jason Leopold

BoingBoing - Experiments in Torture: Physicians group alleges US conducted illegal research on detainees (interview w/report medical expert, Dr. Scott Allen

Mother Jones - Did the Bush Administration Experiment on Detainees?

Nature - Medics performed 'interrogation research'
Counterpunch - CIA Experiments in Torture by PHR report co-author Stephen Soldz

Scientific American - Did CIA doctors perform torture research on detainees?

Washington Post - Without conscience: Medical experimentation and torture (op-ed)

Salon.com - PHR report: CIA personnel engaged in human experimentation

Empire Burlesque - Echoes of Mengele: Medical Experiments, Torture and Continuity in the American Gulag by Chris Floyd

American Prospect (Tapped) - Report: U.S. Experimented on Terror Detainees

UK Guardian - CIA doctors face human experimentation claims [Correction: This story apparently is from last year, referencing another story on an earlier PHR report, "Aiding Torture". I'm leaving it here for reference only, as the coverage is still germane.]

UK Daily Telegraph - Doctors Helped CIA Perfect "Torture" Technique

This is an Open Thread. Make the jump»

War Criminal Bush: Go backwards! "I'd do it again", I did a heckuvajob!

"Yeah, we waterboarded Khalid Sheikh Mohammed," Bush told a Grand Rapids audience Wednesday, of the self-professed 9/11 mastermind. "I'd do it again to save lives."

huffingtonpost.com

Bold text added by the diarist

President Obama says "We can't go backwards"

Ex-President and Unindicted war criminal George W. Bush is basically saying "Why not go backwards, look at the wonderful legacy I have left you!"

Yeah, those were WAR CRIMES, the kind Reagan forbid and made illegal under US law, but, now that you have reminded us that the only thing in your legacy that you want to remind us of is how torture worked in your book, I say we encourage George W. to keep talking. Keep reminding us of that legacy, Georgie, cause you sure didaheckuvajob.

More below the fold Make the jump»

ACLU's Investigation Unveils BushCo Told 9/11 Commission "Not To Cross A Line"

Via a Facebook update by Naomi Wolf comes the news that the ACLU uncovered a memo from the Bush era that warned the 9/11 Commission not to "cross a line" in its investigation and not to probe too deeply.

Leaked confidential documents have revealed that senior officials from the former US administration had warned a 9/11 investigation panel against probing too deeply into the terrorist attacks.

In a letter obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the 9/11 Commission was refused permission to question terror suspects, with the Bush administration arguing that by doing so the panel would "cross" a "line" and obstruct the administration's efforts to protect the nation.

Wolf's link includes a reference to an OpEd News article by Sahil Kapur that offers this additional insight:

The 9/11 Commission, officially called the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, was formed by President Bush in November of 2002 "to prepare a full and complete account of the circumstances surrounding the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks" and to offer recommendations for preventing future attacks.

"The Commission staff's proposed participation in questioning of detainees would cross that line," the letter continued. "As the officers of the United States responsible for the law enforcement, defense and intelligence functions of the Government, we urge your Commission not to further pursue the proposed request to participate in the questioning of detainees."

FireDogLake's Marcy Wheeler speculates that this was an attempt by the Bush administration to ensure that its torture of certain detainees, which has since been widely documented, remained secret.

"[W]hoever made these annotations appears to have been most worried that Commission staff members could make independent judgments about the detainees and the interrogations," Wheeler wrote on her blog. The official "didn't want anyone to independently evaluate the interrogations conducted in the torture program."

Eventually, the commission's co-chairs harshly criticized the administration for having purportedly "destroyed" tapes of its interrogations with terror suspects, as Raw Story reported last year.

Destruction of -- and loss of -- evidence seemed to be a hallmark of the Bush Administration's years in the White House. Story highlights from the CNN link about the missing emails from the US Attorney scandal:

Story Highlights

• NEW: White House spokeswoman says 5 million official e-mails may be missing

• White House admits it should have kept e-mails on private GOP system

• Chairman of Senate Judiciary Committee doubts e-mails are deleted

• Committee investigating whether U.S. attorneys' firings were politically motivated

At some point, hopefully before the Obama Administration gets too far along on its own path, someone will have the fortitude and wherewithall to send a huge cleaning van up to the White House to help mop up the mess left by the previous Administration, ideally in time to help ensure that the current Administration is given a much clearer mandate to work with, and ideally to help it stay within the bounds of Constitutional law and proper common ethical standards.

Evidence of Bush War Crimes Entered Into Court Records

Via The Existentialist Cowboy, A court case concerning an attempted arrest of Bush in Canada gets about as politically charged as it can get:

Today the trial of Splitting the Sky commenced. Splitting the Sky attempted a citizens' arrest on credibly accused war criminal George W. Bush on March 17, 2009, and was arrested and jailed for doing so by police. Try as its representatives might to disguise their motivations with the kind PR spin doctoring we witnessed in the court today, the Calgary Police, the RCMP and its contractors were under the Harper government's strict political orders to protect the Alberta home turf of the current minority government that came to power as the holder of the Bushite franchise in Canada. Some have termed this historic proceeding as "The Trial of Splitting the Sky versus George W. Bush." From what I witnessed firsthand on day one, the government attempt to manage this highly volatile convergence of law and politics was an exciting affair.

For those of you that might try to point out the lack of the word "alleged" in front of the "Bush War crimes" part of the title, this has already been dealt with legally as Canada had already documented some war crimes of the Bush administration previously in court leading to their placing the USA on its torture watch list:

Make the jump»

Open Thread - Ridiculously Shrill Republicans on Reconciliation

The GOP is in full freak out mode because the Democratic party is going to use the budgetary process of reconciliation. But they are only harping on this because it is the Democratic party using reconciliation, and using it to fix healthcare if they do it right, and not the Republicans that use reconciliation far more often and to do things like mess the budget up by drowning the nation in debts with their Ronnie Reagan trickle-down voodoo tax cuts for the uber rich.

The GOP tried THE BIG LIE about reconciliation being the "Nuclear Option" in order to muddy the waters of the debate. But the little fact that the "Nuclear Option" was a Republican attempt to eliminate the filibuster altogether so they could ram through far right wing activist judges was just a little too fresh in everyone's memory and the fact reconciliation is a simple budget fix more often used by Republicans is clearly apparent. And as hard as it would be to believe that there were even more right wing extremist judges than the five GOP SCOTUS activist judges that handed election funding over to foreign owned corporations and their lobbyists recently, and as much as Bush's Alito and Roberts appointments deserved to be Borked
back to the typically extremist torture loving Federalist Society rocks these criminals crawl out from under, none of that had anything to do with budgetary issues and reconciliation as Healthcare Reform does.

More often used by the GOP than the Democratic party, as well. Though reconciliation is used to get around filibusters it has nothing to do with going nuclear on political appointees by completely eliminating the filibuster. Not even the Heritage Foundation can coherently make an argument for this stupidity.

A small part of Healthcare Reform is a simple budgetary issue and it will pass through reconciliation. Get over it.

While in the majority the GOP abused reconciliation to kick the poor and middle class just as the GOP have always abused the filibuster to kick Americans when they were in the minority. Just look at what Bunning was doing to the unemployed and Medicare with his recent filibuster.

The GOP claimed reconciliation should never be used for Healthcare Reform. Even though Republicans used reconciliation for Healthcare Reform often and the GOP used it to cut things like Medicare and Medicaid.

Reconciliation Usage – Republicans 14, Democrats 5

The Republicans will act as though they have never used reconciliation to get what they wanted when they could not get past the Democratic minority. Which, of course, is complete hogwash.


Reconciliation have been used 22 times, 19 times it has not received a presidential veto (reconciliation fun fact, President Clinton is the only president to have vetoed a reconciliation bill). Of those 19 times, can you guess which party was in control of the United States Senate for 14 of them? I will give you three guesses but you will only need one. That is
right, the Republican Party.



The Brookings Institution
was kind enough to put together a list of the bills that were passed using reconciliation, you can find it here. Here is a look at the top ten Republican usages:



1981 Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act: This act made major spending cuts into social programs including welfare and food stamps.


1982 Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act: This act reauthorized the welfare and food stamps cuts as well as making changes to the federal pay grades.


1985 Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act: This act actually did something good, it created the COBRA program. While COBRA is a often not affordable it is a good idea. And look at that, the Republicans where the ones that used reconciliation to create it.


Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act: This is the act that ended welfare. Enough said.


Balanced Budget Act of 1997:
This act was the first step of the Clinton Administration to balance the budget. It also included the creation of the Children’s Health Insurance Program.



Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997: Clinton era tax cuts that were passed by the Republicans in the Senate using reconciliation.


Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001: President Bush’s first round of tax cuts for the wealthy.


Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003: President Bush’s second round of tax cuts for the wealthy.


Deficit Reduction Act of 2005: Made cuts to Medicaid and Medicare spending, as well as student loan programs.


Tax Increase Prevention and Reconciliation Act of 2005: Extended Bush Administration tax cuts including cuts on capital gains. It also included a temporary alternative minimum tax fix.


As you can see Republicans have not been shy about using this method of passing bills that could not beat a 60 vote threshold. They are not even consistent in their objections about creating health care programs as both COBRA and CHIP (not to be confused with SCHIP, which is a state program and created by Democrats) were created under their use of reconciliation.


This is a rule the Senate put in place and is allowed to use or abuse it just like the filibuster.

Now? Republicans want to complain about the Parliamentarian because they say he will side with Harry Reid when it comes to deciding what is and what is not allowed to go through reconciliation.

Did I mention that the Parliamentarian the GOP is complaining about was a Bush hire? Even More even shriller Republicans Below The Fold...

Make the jump»

WPost’s Ignatius Forgives the CIA Again and Again

By Melvin A. Goodman 
Aug 26th, 2009

The Washington Post’s David Ignatius simply cannot get off the wheel he spins for the Central Intelligence Agency. Only two days after the release of the 2004 CIA study of the detention and interrogation program, which provides sordid and sadistic details of an illegal and immoral program, Ignatius still opposes any criminal review of the conduct of CIA officers and echoes the CIA line that it is “glad to be out” of the interrogation business.

He even cites deputy director of the CIA, Stephen Kappes, one of the key ideological drivers for the policy of detention and interrogation, as someone who “doesn’t want to have anything to do with interrogation.”

Ignatius strongly believes that it is time for the CIA to “get on with it,” which was the signature line of former CIA director Richard Helms, who Ignatius considers the “savviest spymaster this country has produced.” Let’s forget that Helms lied to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1973 on the overthrow of the elected government in Chile and that a grand jury was called to see if he should be indicted for perjury.

Make the jump»

"HE KEPT US SAFE"

THE DECLINE OF AMERICAN CHARACTER

THE "CRINGING WIMP" GENERATION


For years we hear little else, "But he kept us safe." The "but" refers to bankrupting the country, stealing elections, suspending Constitutional Rights, poisoning the air and water and turning the country over to racketeers from oil, drug, insurance and crooked financial services..........

Bagram Detainnee Abuse


Ex-detainees allege Bagram abuse

Wednesday, 24 June 2009 Allegations of abuse and neglect at a US detention facility in Afghanistan have been uncovered by the BBC. Former detainees have alleged they were beaten, deprived of sleep and threatened with dogs at the Bagram military base. The BBC interviewed 27 former inmates of Bagram around the country over a period of two months. The Pentagon has denied the charges and insisted that all inmates in the facility are treated humanely. All the men were asked the same questions and they were all interviewed in isolation.......

Make the jump»

ABC News Exclusive: Ex-Gitmo Prisoner

Recently Released Gitmo Detainee Talks to ABC News
Held Seven Years, Former Aid Worker Tells ABC News He Was Tortured
This report is up at ABC News site and probably will be telecast tonight. Make the jump»

The Biggest Lie

Promoted. Originally posted 2009-06-04 18:53:40 -0400. -- GH

 

The Big Cheney is caught in the Biggest Lie. Make the jump»

The Moral Strangulation of America

BENEATH THE SPIN • ERIC L. WATTREE

The Moral Strangulation of America 

In my last article I pointed out that the character of America is being fundamentally changed. In less than two generations we've gone from citizens who were politically engaged and socially aware, to zombies who simply accept what we're being told by our favorite demagogues. We've gone from citizens who held our politicians' feet to the fire, to a group of cattle who allow our politicians to dictate what is, and what isn't, off the table - in spite of our instinctive clamor for the simple adherence to the law. We've allowed politicians to go from representatives with the single mandate of do our biding, to so-called leaders who dictate to us what's in our best interest. As a direct result, the script has been flipped - we now define what's in the people's best interest, by what's in the best interest of the politicians who are supposed to defer us. Make the jump»

Ninety-five percent of Foreign Suicide Bombers in Iraq Motivated by Cheney's Torture Program


Former Vice President's claim invalidated by veteran interrogator.

Directly from foreign fighters held in an Iraqi prison, this veteran US interrogator tells us, '...we heard day in and day out, foreign fighters who had been captured, state that the number one reason they had come to fight in Iraq was because of torture and abuse. What had happened in Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib.

The Big Cheney's sermon to fellows at the AEI/PNAC school of propaganda could reduce the chances for his prosecution. But the faith of the chickenhawks that was parroted in Dick Cheney's speech, is overwhelmed by the forceful first-hand experience related by Senior Interrogator Matthew Alexander.

He was actually there.

Make the jump»

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