Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Bush Goes Nuclear with Signing Statements

by Bluebear2
I’ve posted here before about the signing statements Bush has been adding to the bills he signs into law. Well it should come as no surprise that he is up to it again. Only this time it involves ignoring not just regulation by Congress, of trade in nuclear materials with India in this instance, but key provisions of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) that legislation was meant to in some wise uphold.

The Henry Hyde United States – India Peaceful Atomic Energy Cooperation Act legislation was the result of a year’s worth of negotiations in Congress, as well as years of work between India and the US. In part, this bill called for the US Department of Energy to work with the scientific community in India (not signatory to the NPT) toward non-proliferation and nuclear safeguards. In the bill, the president is called upon to issue determinations that India is following US and global non-proliferation goals. It requires that transfers to India meet the requirements of the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group, which the United States helped establish years ago to restrain nuclear trade. It was an attempt to let the president break the provisions of the NPT without really breaking it. But this was not good enough for Bush. He’s been wanting to break the NPT since he took office. He didn’t like the restrictions that the lowly Congress put on his nukuler proliferatin’, so he got out his pen and dismantled all the work so diligently constructed by others precisely to keep him from – technically anyway – turning us into a rogue state.

The Raw Story offers a glimpse of this presidential penmanship in this article:
First, President Bush took particular exception to a section declaring the policies of the United States, noting that his "approval of the Act does not constitute my adoption of the statements of policy as U.S. foreign policy." The statements of policy included opposition to nuclear weapons production by all non-nuclear weapons states, as well as promoting India's commitments to control the proliferation of nuclear fuel cycle technology, cooperate in preventing Iran's development of nuclear weapons, and limit expansion of existing nuclear arsenals in South Asia.
And what exactly is your foreign policy, George? Armageddon?

Wait, there’s more:
Next, President Bush said that a control placed by Congress on transfers to India of items that would run afoul of Nuclear Suppliers Group guidelines "unconstitutionally delegated legislative power to an international body," and he therefore considered the section "advisory" in nature.
I’m The Decider – advise away, I ain’t listening!
Then, the president declared that 8 sections of the bill in total had to be construed "in a manner consistent with the President's constitutional authority to protect and control information that could impair foreign relations, national security, the deliberative processes of the Executive, or the performance of the Executive's constitutional duties."
There it is – did you catch it? – that National Security line again!

This administration can only operate in secrecy, and when its secrecy is no secret, reasons of National Security is always the excuse. No habeas corpus rights for reasons of National Security; no privacy rights for reasons of National Security; no Bill of Rights for… oh, but I digress.

In another article, at The Raw Story, Democratic Senator Thomas Harkin of Iowa had this to say:
"With his recent signing statement, once again the president has shown he views Congress as a nuisance rather than an equal branch of government under the Constitution."
In a press release Sen. Harkin went on to say:
"…outrageous that the president has repeatedly stated the greatest threat to U.S. national security is a nuclear Iran, yet explicitly rejects Congress' declaration that it shall be the official policy of the United States that India will not use its nuclear technology to help develop Iran's nuclear weapons arsenal."
Democratic Rep. Edward Markey of Massachusetts, co-chair of the House of Representatives task force on non-proliferation added:
The president is "turning decades of U.S. international policy on its head -- and thumbing his nose at Congress at the same time."
It is time to call on our new Congress and the judiciary to put a stop to Bush’s end runs around the Constitution, hold him to the principle of Separation of Powers and to the laws of the land.

Two people already working to that end are: out-going US Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter (R-PA) with his legislation to give Congress the power to sue In Federal Court to challenge the signing statements; and in-coming U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) who has written a letter to Bush and publicly spoken out on the signing statements asking Bush to cease and desist the practice.

Also stepping into the ring is in-coming Chairman of the House International Relations Committee, Rep. Tom Lantos (D-CA), a supporter of the bill. In a new article out today, The Raw Story reports on the statement Rep. Lantos issued the same day the bill was signed:
Lantos' office released a statement explaining that he and others "spent more than a year shepherding the measure through the legislative process, resolving the concerns of some who said it would be detrimental to efforts to halt the spread of nuclear weapons."

Lantos' office went on to specifically describe the efforts, noting that:

"A bill drafted by the Administration was scrapped in favor of a series of legislative steps that will ensure that India's civil and military nuclear programs remain separate, assert Congress' oversight prerogative as the agreement is implemented, and require reporting to Congress by the White House on India's cooperation with U.S. efforts to deter Iran's nuclear weapons ambitions."
Rep. Lantos is also pledging oversight in the next step of negotiations involving the U.S., India and the Nuclear Suppliers Group:
The next step for the US-India nuclear deal requires the two countries to negotiate an agreement with the multilateral Nuclear Suppliers Group on their cooperation and nuclear trade. Lantos particularly pledged oversight by his office on this stage of the process. "If there are problems with it," he explained, "Congress will take a look at it again. The administration has an obligation to follow the law."
Daryl Kimball, Executive Director of the Washington, DC-based Arms Control Association, is critical of the bill:
"The failing of this legislation is that it's based on hope and urgings," Kimball said. He added that Lantos and other advocates of the US-India agreement from both parties "energetically rejected amendments from members who wanted the bill to be more air-tight."
He was also critical of Bush:
"What needs to happen now," he insisted, "is vigilant oversight, and President Bush has shown he does not plan to faithfully execute [the provisions]."
Will these men get the veneer of NPT compliance put back in that legislation? Will they get NPT compliance put back in our country? What's going to put a stop to this guy's criminal pen?

Friday, December 22, 2006

A Coincidence Theorists' Guide to Real Paranoia

by Agent 99

[Warning: If you really want to understand about Lalo and The Engineer, you will have a lot of reading to do. The links are here, but it is heavy going, and you are not going to come away trusting our newest government department.]

Making a department out of homeland security may well be the final victory of stupid criminality over intelligent probity. In the ongoing battle between mainstream coincidence theorists and us nutty conspiracy theorists, a brilliantly illustrative exposition of which can be found at Winter Patriot's place, it's time to up the ante. We literally have nothing to lose and everything to gain by copping this attitude, and John Dean leads the way.
On why impeachment is off the table:

With forty-nine senators of the 110th Congress members in good standing with the Republican Party, and most of them rock-ribbed conservatives, even if the House produced evidence of Cheney personally water-boarding "Gitmo" detainees in the basement of his home at the Naval Observatory, with Bush looking on approvingly, there are more than thirty-three GOP Senators who still would not vote to convict. (Senate Republicans who have no problem with torture, or with removing the right to habeas corpus, and who refused to exercise any oversight whatsoever of Bush or Cheney, are hardly going to remove these men for actions in which they too are complicit.)
And so he proposes, with attitude, that we impeach cabinet members instead. His argument is airtight. Let's start with Chertoff, and replace him with someone who will help Congress dismantle this travesty of an administrative department.

Our sensibilities have been smacked upside our own heads like two-by-fours so many times in the last six years that it's become dull. There is no movement. No progress. No rising from it. Things are too dull in this cruel world, so I'm just gonna start rocking out, free associating, venting miscellany from under my heavy-duty tinfoil hat. So should you. The uncivilized realities of Third Millennium life in these United States need to be met with real creativity and powerful allegiance to decency. We're bogged down, and we need to give air to our hearts and minds.

Somebody at the ABA please reinstate John Dean. He has more than made up for his youthful mistakes.

My eyeballs have turned into raisins over the past few days in the process of fathoming a particularly agonizing PDF in the matter of the House of Death case. I'm working toward exposition of the vexing performance of ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement), an arm of this technologically advanced and devolved-to-outright-stupid new government department -- which somehow, and alarmingly, manages to solve some people's problems in elegantly evil ways, despite the hallmark doltishness of those who people its ranks. As you may already know, I can't research this stuff without experiencing it right here at my desk. So my mind is still riddled with the souls offended in the House of Death case, while boxing my way out of this outrage-overload induced stupor.

And I want to keep snooping, but I only find out The Engineer, a ranking stone cold murderating drug cartel henchman against whom ICE had entirely too much evidence, cops a plea for generally skunkish mayhem and gets 25 years, without leaving us access to the particulars of his crimes and connections. One stand-up kind of skunk. And Lalo, he of many names, turns out to be implicating Vicente Fox in this apocalyptic mess while fighting deportation for having been The Engineer's associate murderating skunk/snitch.

Dear friend to our administration, Vicente Fox! Great!

Which begins to make me crazy all over again. Which makes me -- still at least half fly on Sandy's (Sandalio Gonzalez) wall -- start freaking about how many people have been dying, and how many of my coworkers have been scared out of their wits on top of risking their lives to stop this action. Splits my personality in two. Harks up all the years I spent defending cops in the vast array of truly idiotic and frequently frightening picklements in which they do regularly find themselves. Is pitted against an antipathy formed by hearing of old hippies who were trying to put their kids through college with their dope patches being held at gunpoint while those college educations were being ripped out of the ground. It happens to me every time I turn around. In recent years I have found myself forgiving the CIA all its sins -- lost in the righteousness of Valerie Plame Wilson and her White Knight husband -- only to start suspecting it of more egregious ones. Same with the FBI. One minute they are helping me foil tree murdering banking fraud artists, and the next they're messing with Sibel Edmonds, and our country, in a big way. Same with the increasing nazification of my beloved California peace officers. Sometimes I'm just desperate to get up and knock all their blocks off, but the truth seems to be that there are seriously dedicated, honest patriots in all these organizations. KAOS has ripped the control from CONTROL is all. We gotta Get Smart here pretty soon or we're just toast.

No, really! Read John Dean's latest. It's a shot in the arm for all of us, after we get over the agony of knowing we must swallow our revenge lust in favor of applying wisdom with alacrity. Just do it. Get it behind you so attitude will out.

I'm asking myself how come The Engineer just goes to prison, but Lalo is having to fight deportation. Could it be that decent people within the alphabet soup didn't want Lalo being locked up with no way to trace what the heck he did and knew and could tell us about? Someone in law enforcement got a gander at how neatly The Engineer had been tucked away without leaving tracks for the prosecution of a dazzling array of criminals large and small? Is there a damn tug-of-war going on within our government for decency to somehow prevail over all this filth that has, clearly, been holding the day for entirely exasperatingly much longer than even the nitwit coincidence theorists among us can even stand? John Dean's piece begins to look prettier by the minute.

I'm reeling from finding out that US Customs, along with the Border Patrol and INS, have been folded into DHS, AND they have emerged in this new skin as CBP (Customs and Border Protection) and ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement), along with a bunch of other things that need to operate smoothly and competently, and don't just now. Of course they don't! The whole department was set up by criminals through the offices of a sub-intellectual drunk sociopath who is holding Barney hostage in the White House. Feast your eyes on it. Read it and weep. Oh. My. God. It's as if they're taking everything upon which they want tight control, turning all of the agencies into enforcement and intelligence and examination and investigation offices (E-I-E-I-O's). Old MacDonald has bought the farm.

It's been creeping me out for quite a while that the Secret Service was moved there. The protection of presidents and former presidents, et cetera, has been moved from the long-entrenched safety of the Treasury Department. The service with extremely high and exacting standards, once thought inviolable, has been put into the service of criminals. Do I have to spell out what that means? Only one feature of this is that a bungler can really easily be made to seem as if he's an evil genius, or vice versa. Any American with benefit of a grade school civics lesson under their belt will not have any idea how to separate one from the other, and can be relied upon to default to the idea that bungling is what's holding the day. Perfect.

No, really! Read John Dean.

A glance at ICE's public face seems to tell one that there is very little they do not cover. If it seems to be missing, they probably just haven't gotten to it yet. And, don't worry, it's somewhere else under the DHS umbrella anyway. ICE's specialty seems to be: Doing whatever the administration tells them. What do you call those? Henchmen? What if Lalo, who had been recruited as a US Customs informant before it became ICE under the umbrella of DHS, was aiding in the currently fashionable practice of manufacturing threats to thwart, being allowed to conduct his drug trafficking operations unmolested in exchange for setting up patsies to make ICE agents look righteous? DHS wants to seem indispensable, not omitting trampling all over other agencies in furtherance of this goal. What if Lalo's gig has been throwing felons with whom Mexican drug traffickers are fed up to ICE? What if he was a gift to us from a foxy someone whose unimpeded War-on-Drugs-profiteering must not ever be impeded? ICE would be acting like ICE has been acting for certain then.

Is anybody getting my drift? No, really! Read John Dean. Set aside the inescapable fact that we are bound by the Constitution to impeach these fiends in the White House, and have been for years and years, because it has been set aside for years and years. If there will be no way to induce them to do their duty in this respect, John Dean has a positive plan that could help a lot.

And, it's a way to get our herd of whistle-blowers heard at last.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Sister Sites & Cultural Correctness

by Bluebear2
Map courtesy of ODT Maps.com

Homeyra of Forever Under Construction in Tehran, Iran and Ann of Reclaiming Space in Sydney, Australia have asked me to join with them as a Sister Site. Ann has brought this idea forward in the last half of this article at Reclaiming Space.

This sounds like an interesting proposition and could be fun too.

Homeyra and I have already been conversing for a couple of months in the comment sections of our blogs and I was introduced to Ann several weeks ago when I first read her article on the Sister Site idea.

Both of them have already listed me in their blog rolls as one of their Sister Sites along with other friends of theirs. Homeyra, "From the Axis of Evil" has taken to calling me "From the Land of the Great Satan" -- which, in honor of the season has temporarily been changed to "From the Land of the Great Santa".

Currently we are thinking of things we could do as Sister Sites to explore our respective countries and what it is like living within them.

Since beginning blogging, I have had the pleasure to meet a number of interesting people from around the world through links they left with their comments or from links at the sites of visitors.

In some ways it's kind of like learning to swim. Being rather naive of other cultures I find myself proceeding cautiously, not wanting to offend anyone. My main purpose being to spread kindness and good will.

While I could hardly give a damn about being "Politically Correct" I do want to be "Culturally Correct". The difference being that Political Correctness is a form of coercion. It categorizes things into predefined groups or objects without regard to variances and nuances, whereas Cultural Correctness tries to recognize those variances and nuances. IMHO anyway.

Therefore, when homeyra ran a photo of two men having tea on a Persian Rug with traffic whizzing by, I was tempted to make a comment about them being on a flying carpet. It was the first thing that came to mind when I saw the photo.

Figuring that it could be a big insult to say such a thing I left another comment instead. The western view of Ali Babba and all such would show through and my new friend would think I was a moron. Well, it wasn’t but a few comments later when I see my error. All the other commenters were talking about the magic carpet aspect. I ended up getting a good natured ribbing for my attempt at "Correctness".

Perhaps expanding one’s visions through Sister Sites along with a big dose of humor could be a step in the right direction towards bringing peace and understanding in this world.

Friday, December 08, 2006

John and Cynthia

by Agent 99

Cynthia McKinney risked her life for her country today, and it hasn't even been the first time. Upholding her oath of office, she introduced a bill of impeachment against those filthy madmen traitors in the White House on this, the twenty-sixth anniversary of John's death, and her last day in the House of Representatives. It's hero day at my house. So I want to mention her here where I'm remembering a hero, who died for us as surely as Christ ever did, because she officially is a hero now too. Not just an American hero, a world hero. Make no mistake about it. The world depends on passing her bill.

Will the next Congress really can her bill? Can we let them? No. Too many have died, have consciously risked and given their lives, for the love of freedom and peace -- for us -- for us to turn away now.


And then act.

And don't stop till we have saved the world.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Ray Gun Certified Safe For Use

By Bluebear2

UPDATE 12/26/06

Old Turk has provided us this Link to a video and transcript from Information Clearing House pointing to the suspected use of similar but more deadly versions of high energy beam weapons in Iraq.


As previously discussed here, the U.S. Military has created a “non-lethal” ray gun that supposedly will merely heat the skin of those subjected to its use.

David Hambling at Wired News reports that this weapon is now certified safe for use.

According to documents obtained for Wired News under federal sunshine laws, the Air Force's Active Denial System, or ADS, has been certified safe after lengthy tests by military scientists in the lab and in war games.

The ADS shoots a beam of millimeters waves, which are longer in wavelength than x-rays but shorter than microwaves -- 94 GHz (= 3 mm wavelength) compared to 2.45 GHz (= 12 cm wavelength) in a standard microwave oven.

The longer waves are thought to limit the effects of the radiation. If used properly, ADS will produce no lasting adverse affects, the military argues.

Documents acquired for Wired News using the Freedom of Information Act claim that most of the radiation (83 percent) is instantly absorbed by the top layer of the skin, heating it rapidly.

The certification of this weapon is yet another in the seemingly endless line of faith-based initiatives taken by this, heedless of everything, especially consequences, administration:

The ADS was developed in complete secrecy for 10 years at a cost of $40 million. Its existence was revealed in 2001 by news reports, but most details of ADS human testing remain classified. There has been no independent checking of the military's claims.

But this time they are being careful to protect their image:

The ADS technology is ready to deploy, and the Army requested ADS-armed Strykers for Iraq last year. But the military is well aware that any adverse publicity could finish the program, and it does not want to risk distressed victims wailing about evil new weapons on CNN.

From one of the documents received by Wired News, which discusses its use in urban areas, we find the motivation offered to volunteers for the testing:

Risk Assessment:
Potential Benefits: The volunteer subjects will receive no direct benefit or compensation for participation.
The volunteer subjects will benefit from direct knowledge that an effective non-lethal weapon system could soon to be in the inventory. The benefit to the DoD is more rapid acquisition of a non-lethal weapon system needed by war fighting commanders. Human effects data are essential, not only for optimizing weapon design parameters, but also for answering questions related to policy acceptability for the use of such a weapon.

Risk-Benefit Ratio:
The benefits listed above are large relative to the risks to subjects, producing an acceptable risk-benefit ratio.

What incentive! I think I'll rush out and volunteer now. It even sounds like fun:

If you want to halt your participation during a scenario, raise your hands over your head and run out of the playing area. You must count to 15 before resuming your participation in the scenario. The operator and field supervisor will coordinate to not reengage you as a target until after these 15 sec have passed. This will allow the temperature of your skin to cool down.

Depending on your role, you may be exposed multiple times to the ADS energy. The scenarios may be video taped and, in certain instances, infrared images will be recorded. These recordings will allow the research team to evaluate how groups of people behave when exposed to ADS.

So there you have it folks. If you are caught in the ray hold up your hands and run from the playing field, returning only after at least 15 seconds.

Oh, by the way, be sure to remove all jewelry, eyeglasses, contact lenses and body piercings prior to running through the rays!