More bricks in the wall...
intriguing stuff --cho
Several apparently diverse elements from the news this morning all point to an agenda on the part of Bush Administration, but getting a clear picture of just what that overall agenda is, and what the goals might indicate, can be mind boggling.
Anyone want to see if there are some common threads here...?
- UBS to Write Down Another $19 Billion
The planned capital increase would come on top of a $13 billion infusion UBS received from the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation and an unidentified Middle Eastern investor this year.
UBS’s problems of the last year are a stunning reversal for an institution long known for its staid, conservative style. Beginning in 2005, UBS made a huge bet on mortgage securities, seeking the higher yields they offered and trusting that the AAA ratings they bore would protect the bank from outsize losses.
Eventually, UBS’s mortgage portfolio topped $100 billion.
“The losses at UBS are staggering,” Ms. Whitney of Oppenheimer said. “It’s hard to fathom another quarter of $18 billion or $19 billion write-downs, but this isn’t the end of their problems.”
That bit about the unidentified Middle Eastern investor (emphasis mine) caught my eye.
- Pentagon Releases Memo on Harsh Tactics
the memo noted, the president's wartime power as commander in chief would not be limited by the U.N. treaties against torture.
"Our previous opinions make clear that customary international law is not federal law and that the president is free to override it at his discretion," said the memo written by John Yoo, who was then deputy assistant attorney general for the Office of Legal Counsel.
The memo also offered a defense in case any interrogator was charged with violating U.S. or international laws.
Jameel Jaffer, director of the ACLU's national security project, said Yoo's legal reasoning puts "literally no limit at all to the kinds of interrogation methods that the president can authorize."
"The whole point of the memo is obviously to nullify every possible legal restraint on the president's wartime authority," Jaffer said. "The memo was meant to allow torture, and that's exactly what it did."
The memo concludes that foreign enemy combatants held overseas do not have defendants' rights or protections from cruel and unusual punishment that U.S. citizens have under the Constitution. It also says that Congress "cannot interfere with the president's exercise of his authority as commander in chief to control the conduct of operations during a war."
The memo was "withdrawn" when it became evident that it couldn't withstand scrutiny. The fact that it was even initially drafted and adopted, however, remains a major blow to any confidence in the underlying capacity of the Bush Administration to adhere to the law.
- Environmental Laws to Be Waived for Fence
Lawmaker Accuses Administration of Abusing Authority to Build Barrier at Mexican Border
The Bush administration will waive more than 30 environmental and land-management laws in order to finish building 470 miles of border fence in the Southwest by the end of the year, officials said yesterday.
The move, permitted under an exemption granted by Congress, will be the most sweeping use of the administration's waiver authority since it started building the fence to curb illegal immigration. It will affect environmentally sensitive areas in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.
Thirty environmental and land management laws, glibly and eagerly waved aside to create our own Berlin Wall. How sweet and continually irresponsible of both the Administration, and the Congress. Thanks, folks.
- Bush Pushes for NATO Expansion
On the eve of his last NATO summit, Bush lobbied fellow leaders on behalf of NATO expansion. He argued that the alliance should be open to all European democracies, for now the former Soviet republics Ukraine and Georgia but also others in the future. Arguing against the misgivings from France and Germany that opening the process to Ukraine and Georgia could overly harm relations with Moscow, a needed energy supplier, Bush said a larger NATO is not a threat to Russia.
Bush faces another Iraq milestone next week, when Gen. David Petraeus, the top military commander, and Ryan Crocker, the U.S. ambassador, report to Congress on the status of the war. The president is expected to make an announcement on troop levels shortly after their April 8-9 testimony, but he is widely expected to endorse their recommendation that any new decreases should wait until fall and only after officials ascertain that further drawdowns wouldn't compromise recent security gains.
The president also called for NATO members to both increase their defense investment to support alliance operations and, for those who have not done so already, to "step forward with additional forces" in Afghanistan, where Taliban and al-Qaida extremists are resurgent. He noted that bin Laden in a recent audiotape had renewed threats to strike in Europe.
On missile defense, Bush said the plans to base the shield in NATO members Poland and the Czech Republic were critical to defending against threats posed by rogue nations like Iran. He said U.S. intelligence shows that, "with continued foreign assistance," Iran could test an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the United States and all of Europe "if it should choose to do so."
Again, emphasis mine. It seems to me that Bush's push for a larger NATO is twofold: first, to ensure that there are plenty of bodies to go 'round for his wayward warfares, and second, to provide and ensure funding for his missile defense albatross.
I wonder what kind of additional analysis we might get on these scores by some more experienced analysts, who have got to be scratching their heads over the unifying factors behind the Bush Administrations various and sundry moves are.
That's it for me today. I'll cycle back to address any comments later this afternoon. One item not listed above is a piece I recently saw over on DailyKos by Deep Harm; it may be of interest to those seeking to flesh out any of the above items.
Here it is. Any relevance there, folks?