Archive for September 7th, 2007

“Freedom is not a concept in which people can do anything they want, be anything they can be. Freedom is about authority. Freedom is about the willingness of every single human being to cede to lawful authority a great deal of discretion about what you do.”

Read the entire article – The Rocky Mountain Chronicle

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by Timothy V. Gatto

Odd, maybe a little paranoid, or just come right out and tell me that I’ve been reading into what this administration has done to the Constitution and our civil liberties and then tell me I’m right on the money. I watched Bill Clinton on Larry King last night. He had a lot to say, but none of what needed to be said. He talked about the war, he talked about the other candidates and of course, he talked about his new book and Hillary. I still like Bill Clinton, I wish he had talked about the very thing that most Americans fear: the loss of our rights under the Constitution.

The War, Larry Craig, and everything else in-between is fodder for discussion in this nation. What’s not however, is the way that the Constitution has been usurped by the Patriot Act. The basic liberties that Americans have always expected and enjoyed have been replaced by a document that gives the Federal Government far more power than the framers of our constitution had envisioned. The people, consistently frightened by a plethora of “terrorist attacks” that have never come, have given this administration far more power than any preceding it.

Nobody is talking about the Military Commissions Act of 2006 that gives the green light to “interrogations” to the point of organ failure, and the Insurrection Act (revamped) that gives the Federal Government control of the States National Guards for “police duties” in violation of Posse Comitatus. Nobody is talking about the new FISA Act that lets the Government tap our phones and read our e-mails.

Some people are reporting that the government has set up “free speech zones”: walled areas away from Bush and Cheney and no MSM coverage, far away from where they might be speaking. I don’t know about you, but I find this behavior by the government against the 1st Amendment. Why are all the Presidential Candidates not talking about this?

Where is John Edwards on the new powers of the Federal Government? Is he another that can’t wait to occupy “The Unitary Presidency” or does he want to scrap all of the underpinnings of a de-facto dictatorship, which, in reality is where we are headed unless we can turn these laws around. Remember that the citizens of this country are not the ones that must be muzzled and watched. Yet, every time the Federal Government enacts another law to fight this “war on terror” our basic liberties and freedoms are eroded. We have to have passports to go to Mexico and Canada. They want us to carry “Real-ID” that has all our information and is tied into a central database and quite possibly contain an RFID chip so they can tell where you are at all times. Is this something out of a science fiction book or what?

So where are all of our “Defenders of the Constitution”? The only one I hear raising hell is Ron Paul. How about you John Edwards, why is the government watching the people instead of watching for “the bad guys”? Are you and Biden and Obama and the rest comfortable with the status quo? You can bet Mike Gravel isn’t happy about it, but the MSM won’t give him a chance to express it. Dennis Kucinich should start making some noise about our civil liberties being expunged if he want’s to make a dent in the polls.

People are scared. They are scared and also becoming angrier by the day. People can only be afraid for so long. It’s the old “flight or fight” response. After the fear comes anger. You can feel it in conversations with ordinary Americans you talk to on the street. One of the biggest comments I hear is “Why are they doing this to us? I’m not al Qeada!” Why indeed is the operative question of the day, why indeed?

This is the way I see it.

Former Chairman of the Liberal Party of America, Tim is a retired Army Sergeant. He currently lives in South Carolina. A regular contributor to OpEdNews, he is the author of Kimchee Kronicles and is currently at work on a new novel.

U.S. President George W. Bush did not have a good day at the Sydney Opera House.

He had only reached the third sentence of Friday’s speech to business executives on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation forum when he made his first slip.

“Thank you for being such a fine host for the OPEC summit,” he said to Australian Prime Minister John Howard.

Oops, that would be APEC, the annual meeting of leaders from 21 Pacific Rim nations, not OPEC, the cartel of 12 major oil producers.

Bush quickly corrected himself. “APEC summit,” he said forcefully, joking that Howard had invited him to the OPEC summit next year (for the record, an impossibility, since neither Australia nor the U.S. are OPEC members).

The U.S. president’s next slip went uncorrected — by him, anyway.

Talking about Howard’s visit to Iraq last year to thank his country’s soldiers serving there, Bush called them “Austrian troops.”

White House relocates ‘Austrian’ troops

That one was fixed for him. Though tapes of the speech clearly show him saying “Austrian,” the official text released by the White House made it “Australian.”

Then, speech done, Bush confidently headed out the wrong way.

He strode away from the lectern on a path that would have sent him over a steep drop. Howard and others redirected him to centre stage, where there were steps leading down to the floor of the theatre.

The event had inauspicious beginnings. Bush started 10 minutes late so that APEC workers could hustle people out of the theatre’s balcony seating to fill the many empty portions of the main orchestra section below, which is most visible on camera.

Even resettled, the audience remained quiet throughout his remarks, applauding only when he was finished.

A logistical glitch added to the woes. APEC security workers would not let members of the media who travel in Bush’s motorcade enter the Opera House with him, even though they are extensively screened and guarded by the U.S. Secret Service and routinely accompany him into public events.

As a result, while Bush spoke, the travelling media cooled its heels outside the landmark Opera House, shooting pictures and watching boats in the harbour.

From cbc.ca

By Sherwood Ross – The National Expositor 

The freedom to travel of more than 100,000 Americans placed on “watch” and “no fly” lists is being restricted by the Bush-Cheney regime.

Citizens who have done no more than criticize the president are being banned from airline flights, harassed at airports’, strip searched, roughed up and even imprisoned, feminist author and political activist Naomi Wolf reports in her new book, “The End of America.”(Chelsea Green Publishing)

“Making it more difficult for people out of favor with the state to travel back and forth across borders is a classic part of the fascist playbook,” Wolf says. She noticed starting in 2002 that “almost every time I sought to board a domestic airline flight, I was called aside by the Transportation Security Administration(TSA) and given a more thorough search.”

During one preboarding search, a TSA agent told her “You’re on the list” and Wolf learned it is not a list of suspected terrorists but of journalists, academics, activists, and politicians “who have criticized the White House.”

Some of this hassling has made headlines, such as when Senator Edward Kennedy was detained five times in East Coast airports in March, 2004, suggesting no person, however prominent, is safe from Bush nastiness. Rep. John Lewis of Georgia has also been mistreated. And it can be nasty. Robert Johnson, an American citizen, described the “humiliation factor” he endured:

“I had to take off my pants. I had to take off my sneakers, then I had to take off my socks. I was treated like a criminal,” Wolf quotes him as saying. And it gets worse than that. Nicolas Maduro, Venezuela’s foreign minister, said he was detained at Kennedy airport by officers who “threatened and shoved” him. And that was mild. Maher Arar, a Canadian software consultant was detained at Kennedy and “rendered” to Syria where he was imprisoned for more than a year by goons that beat him with a heavy metal cable.

After the Canadian furor over Arar’s illegal kidnapping and torture, he was eventually released as he had zero ties to terrorists. Yet the Bush gang refused to concede error; refused to provide documents or witnesses to Canadian investigators; and claimed last January it had “secret information” that justified keeping Arar on the watch list, Wolf noted.

Again, Chaplain James Yee, an American citizen born in New Jersey who had converted to Islam and had the Christian compassion to call for better treatment of Guantanamo prisoners, was nabbed in Sept., 2003 on suspicion of “espionage and possibly treason” and flung into the Naval brig at Charleston, S.C., where he was manacled, put in solitary for 76 days, forbidden mail and family visits, demonized in the media and warned he could face execution. Wolf writes, “Within six months, the U.S. government had dropped all criminal charges against Yee,” claiming it did so to avoid making sensitive evidence public, not because the chaplain was innocent.

Over and again, the Bush gang claims it can prove terrible crimes about suspects but, like the men imprisoned at Guantanamo, it repeatedly turns out to have “conspiracy” zilch in its briefcase rather than hard proof of actual misdeeds. Yet it goes on punishing hundreds of suspects with solitary confinement and worse without ever bringing them to trial. Globally, the number of such detainees is in the tens of thousands. Stalin would have understood.
Apparently, favorite targets of the Bush tyranny are peace activists like Jan Adams and Rebecca Gordon, detained at the San Francisco airport; a political leader such as Nancy Oden, of the Green Party, prevented from flying from Maine to Chicago; King Downing and David Fathi, both of the American Civil Liberties Union and both detained (proves ACLU’s case about Bush, eh what?); and Constitutional scholar Walter F. Murphy, of Princeton University, who had attacked the illegalities of the Bush regime. He was put on notice his luggage would be ransacked.

“When you are physically detained by armed agents because of something you said or wrote, it has an impact,” Wolf writes. “…you get it right away that the state is tracking your journeys, can redirect you physically, and can have armed men and women, who may or may not answer your questions, search and release you.”

Wolf traces the “watch list” back to a 2003 directive from Bush to his intelligence agencies to identify people “thought to have terrorist intentions or contacts.” After the list was given to the airlines, CBS-TV’s 60 Minutes got a copy. The list was 540 pages long and there were 75,000 names on it of people to be taken aside for extra screening.

The more stringent “no fly” list has 45,000 names on it, Wolf reports. Prior to 9/11, the list had just 16 names, but 44,984 suspects were quickly manufactured to justify the creation of the vast airport security apparatus at God knows what cost to American taxpayers.

One ludicrous “no fly” story concerns John Graham, president of the nonprofit Giraffe Heroes Project, an organization that honors people who stick their necks out. A former government careerist who served in Viet Nam, Graham is an inspired speaker that receives standing ovations from groups such as West Point cadets, yet is kept from flying from his Langley, Wash., base by the National Security Agency. NSA won’t tell him why, either. Maybe they have “secret” information on him, too.

Author Wolf notes that dictatorships from Hitler’s Germany to Pinochet’s Chile have employed arbitrary arrests to harass critics. And Bush’s airport detention policies are more of the same. As Wolf writes, “being free means that you can’t be detained arbitrarily.” Somebody ring the fire bell!
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(Sherwood Ross is a Miami, FL-based writer who has worked in the civil rights movement, and for major dailies and wire services.)

By Eugene Robinson – Washington Post Writers Group

GOOD MORNING, Vietnam. The most fascinating aspect of President Bush’s no-holds-barred campaign to keep Congress from meddling in his foolish and tragic war is the way he has begun invoking the Vietnam War -not as a cautionary lesson about hubris and futility but as a reason to push ahead (whatever “ahead” might mean) in Iraq.

Say what you want about the man, but he’s full of surprises – and I’m not talking about the unannounced visit he made Monday to Anbar province. With the pivotal report from Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker due to land next week, and with the Iraqi government having made zero progress on political reconciliation, it’s no surprise that the Decider would decide to be photographed touring the one part of Iraq where he can claim any measure of success.

But seeking support for the war in Iraq by reminding the nation about Vietnam? I’d feel better if I thought this was just some exquisitely subtle, deeply cynical gambit, yet I have the sinking feeling that Bush actually believes the nonsensical version of history he’s peddling. I fear the man is on a mission to rewrite the past.

Last month, Bush told the Veterans of Foreign Wars at its Kansas City convention that “one unmistakable legacy of Vietnam is that the price of America’s withdrawal was paid by millions of innocent citizens whose agonies would add to our vocabulary new terms like ‘boat people,’ ‘re-education camps’ and ‘killing fields.’ ”

He added: “Here at home, some can argue our withdrawal from Vietnam carried no price for American credibility – but the terrorists see it differently.”

Lest anyone think this was merely a random rhetorical spasm, outgoing White House political czar Karl Rove wrote an article in the conservative National Review last week that included this passage: “If the outcome (in Iraq) is like what happened in Vietnam after America abandoned our allies and the region descended into chaos, violence and danger, history’s judgment will be harsh. History will see President Bush as right, and the opponents of his policy as mistaken – as George McGovern was in his time.”

What?

For the record, the illegal U.S. bombing of Cambodia destabilized that country and boosted the Khmer Rouge, who eventually took power and exterminated those “millions” in the “killing fields.” The monstrous Khmer Rouge regime was finally ousted by … none other than the communists who took power in Vietnam after the American withdrawal. Oh, and it was President Richard Nixon who negotiated and began the U.S. pullout. President Gerald Ford presided over the fall of Saigon. Both of them were Republicans, as I recall.

And George McGovern, who never got to be president, was right.

Bush, Rove, Dick Cheney and the other principal architects of the Iraq war never served in Vietnam – in fact, they went to great lengths to put distance between themselves and the military adventure they now describe as both necessary and noble. At the moment, though, I’m less concerned about their hypocrisy than their distortion of history.

To say the United States should not have withdrawn its forces from Vietnam is to say that there was something those forces could have done -something beyond napalm, carpet-bombing, destroying villages in order to save them – that would have led to some kind of “victory.” Of course, Bush and the others don’t say what that special something might have been, because they don’t know. They’re seeing nothing but a historical mirage.

Bush seems to want to return to a golden age when America confidently threw its weight around wherever, whenever and however it pleased. The problem is that no such golden age existed. American power has always had its limits, and there have always been some wars that simply couldn’t be won.

Bush wants us to remember Vietnam? Fine, then let’s remember those iconic images – the Viet Cong prisoner being executed in cold blood with a pistol shot to the temple; the young girl running naked and screaming from a napalm attack. Let’s remember how little we really understood about Vietnamese society. Let’s remember how wrong the domino theory proved to be. Let’s remember how much damage prolonging an unpopular war did to our armed forces and our nation, and how long it took us to recover.

Thanks for the reminder, Mr. President. When you talk about “victory” in Iraq and the Petraeus report discerns a light at the end of the tunnel, we’ll think of Vietnam.

Eugene Robinson’s e-mail address is eugenerobinson@washpost.com.

Zogby Poll: 51% of Americans Want Congress to Probe Bush/Cheney Regarding 9/11 Attacks; Over 30% Seek Immediate Impeachment

67% also fault 9/11 Commission for not investigating anomalous collapse of World Trade Center 7

Kansas City, MO (Zogby International) September 6, 2007 – As America nears the sixth anniversary of the world-churning events of September 11, 2001, a new Zogby International poll finds a majority of Americans still await a Congressional investigation of President Bush’ and Vice President Cheney’s actions before, during and after the 9/11 attacks. Over 30% also believe Bush and/or Cheney should be immediately impeached by the House of Representatives.

The 911truth.org–sponsored poll also found that over two-thirds of Americans say the 9/11 Commission should have investigated the still unexplained collapse of the 47-story World Trade Center Building 7 at 5:20 p.m. on September 11, 2001.

WTC 7 housed the mayor’s emergency bunker and offices of the SEC, IRS, CIA and Secret Service and was not hit by any planes but still completely collapsed into its own footprint nearly eight hours after the Twin Tower attacks. FEMA did not explain this collapse, the 911 Commission ignored it, and the promised official study by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is now 2 years overdue.

Janice Matthews, executive director of poll sponsor 911truth.org, observes: “The supermajority response to the WTC Building 7 question signals an increasing public concern about this remarkable event — up from 38% last year. We can perhaps credit this rising awareness to the millions who have recently witnessed videos or Youtube clips of this skyscraper’s descent and the outspoken demands for a new WTC inquiry from over 150 architects and engineering professionals, including NIST’s own former Fire Science Division Chief, Dr. James Quintiere. Another contributory factor is the increased questioning among Hispanics, Blacks and Asians whose responses appear significantly more critical of the 9/11 Commission than Whites, sometimes twice as critical.”

Strategy aide W. David Kubiak adds, “While only 32% seek immediate Bush and/or Cheney impeachment based on their current personal knowledge, a clear majority of citizens still seems hungry for a full exposure of the facts. The results suggest widespread public support for legislators like Rep. Dennis Kucinich who pledge to investigate unanswered 9/11 questions in the relevant congressional committees this fall. We hope more of our representatives find the spine to respond to this escalating dissatisfaction with the dubious accounting we have received thus far.”

9/11 family member and 911truth.org advisor Donna Marsh O’Connor notes, “I’m not sure this poll is at all surprising.  Over half of those polled want more answers from Congress, from those they hired to represent them.  One quarter of the country knows enough to want to impeach both.  Doesn’t it just mean people need figures they consider credible to tell them whether key details add up or not? Truth advocates need to press their case in Congress, on college campuses, in church groups with reason and absolute discipline regarding what can and cannot be proven.  The strongest evidence needs to reach the people—including people who hate computers. We must present it calmly. Like whispering so that people reach in to hear.”  

Poll Sponsor

The Zogby poll was conceived and commissioned by 911truth.org and paid for with generous assistance from individual project donors and Visibility911.com. 911truth.org is a national information clearing house and grassroots resource center for the US 9/11 truth movement. The group is dedicated to investigation, education, organizing, and accountability regarding the recent criminal misuse of government to promote fear, repression and endless war.

Survey Methodology

This is a telephone survey of adults nationwide conducted by Zogby International from August 23 to August 27, 2007. The target sample is 1,000 interviews with approximately 71 questions asked. Samples are randomly drawn from telephone cd’s of national listed sample. Zogby International surveys employ sampling strategies in which selection probabilities are proportional to population size within area codes and exchanges. As many as six calls are made to reach a sampled phone number. Cooperation rates are calculated using one of AAPOR’s approved methodologies and are comparable to other professional public-opinion surveys conducted using similar sampling strategies. Weighting by region, party, age, race, religion, and gender is used to adjust for non-response. The margin of error is +/- 3.1 percentage points. Margins of error are higher in sub-groups.