Now when some wingnut asks you if you'd prefer to have Saddam back, you can answer 'yes'.
"Before the US-led invasion in 2003, women were free to go to schools,
universities and work, and to perform other duties," Senar added. "Now,
due to security reasons and repression by the government, they're being
forced to stay in their homes."
new constitution, approved in October 2005, makes Shari'a [Islamic Law]
the primary source of national law. According to Senar, however,
Shari'a has been misinterpreted by elements within the government and
by certain religious leaders, which has resulted in the frequent denial
of women's rights. This is particularly the case in matters pertaining
to divorce, she said.
Saeed, spokesperson for another women's NGO that helped conduct the
survey but which prefers anonymity for security reasons, said that some
religious leaders have also begun insisting that women wear the veil.
"Many husbands now force their wives to wear the veil, just because a
sheikh [religious teacher] said so," Iman said.
The Army Corps of Engineers has awarded a contract worth up to $385
million for building temporary immigration detention centers to Kellogg
Brown Root, the Halliburton subsidiary that has been criticized for
overcharging the Pentagon for its work in Iraq.
[the] "temporary detention facilities" [...] would be used,
the story said, in the event of an "immigration emergency."
Jamie Zuieback, an official with U.S. Immigration and Customs
Enforcement (ICE), explained such an emergency like this: "If, for
example, there were some sort of upheaval in another country that would
cause mass migration, that's the type of situation that the contract
That sounds a tad fuzzy...
To be sure. What kind of upheaval and "mass migration" are they talking about? In this article, an unclear source suggests:
[O]utside events have prompted large waves of immigration in the
past. Political upheaval and changes in immigration policy in nations
such as Haiti, Cuba and Rwanda have caused an influx of immigrants and
refugees from those countries at different times.
I feel so warm and fuzzy: KBR detention centers are just to keep
political, economic, and natural disaster refugees safe, warm, and
well-fed (OK, maybe not so well-fed)
until they can be resettled in the Land O'Poverty. Only one problem
with this justification: after the last large influx of refugees
(during the Mariel boatlift), the U.S. responded by clamping down hard on political and other refugees (and that was before 9-11). As per this article from the American Immigration Law Foundation:
News reports indicate that if a significant number of Cubans were to
seek freedom in the United States, the anticipated response from the
Bush Administration, dubbed “Operation Distant Shore,” would
involve “a dramatic escalation in the number of Coast Guard and
other military vessels patrolling the Florida Straits – a veritable
floating wall designed to interdict as many migrants as possible at
OK, feeling less warm and fuzzy now. BTW, you might not know just how few refugees the U.S. generally targets for admission each year:
Each year, the State Department prepares a Report to Congress on proposed refugee admissions,
then the U.S. President consults with Congress and
establishes the proposed ceilings for refugee admissions
for the fiscal year. For the 2005 fiscal year (i.e. October 1, 2004 -
September 30, 2005), the total ceiling is set at 70,000 admissions and
is allocated to six geographic regions: Africa (20,000 admissions),
East Asia (13,000
admissions), Europe and Central Asia (9,500 admissions),
Latin America/Caribbean (5,000
admissions), Near East/South Asia (2,500 admissions) and 20,000 reserve.
Additionally, ICE is planning to increase the capacity of its detention
facilities around the country, Zuieback said, particularly after
Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff pledged to end the
agency's unofficial "catch-and-release" policy for some illegal
Because ICE's detention facilities are frequently
full, there is nowhere to hold illegal immigrants who must have a
hearing before they can be deported. This includes most immigrants from
nations other than Mexico. In the past, those illegal immigrants have
been issued an order to appear for their court date, and then simply
released into the United States. The vast majority never show up for
Big surprise, but honestly. Why not just look the other way, so
"illegals" can go back to working in U.S. sweatshops and fields for no
benefits and a few bucks a bushel? Hey, I want my strawberries!
I wonder what KBR's contract has to do with the recent passing
(December 2005) of HR. 4437, the Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and
Illegal Immigration Control Act? According to Human Rights Watch:
The legislation undermines basic due process protections, human rights
obligations, and principles of fundamental fairness. Instead of a
comprehensive approach to immigration reform, H.R. 4437 is an
enforcement-only approach that fails to sufficiently protect
individuals in need of protection from persecution and torture, the
wrongly accused, and thwarts fair and efficient consideration of the
particular circumstances of individuals’ cases.
Of particular concern, the legislation would:
• Impose mandatory detention even when the individual is not a flight risk or threat to the community.
• Allow for the indefinite detention of non-citizens who cannot be deported.
Not only is H.R. 4437
unnecessarily punitive, but it fails to deal with a key cause of the
problem: the enormous mismatch between certain United States
immigration policies and the increasing demands for workers – often
undocumented immigrants – to fill low-wage, service sector jobs.
[A] news story about construction of
government detention centers should give us all pause.
Considering what took place in Nazi Germany, as well as the shameful
incarceration of Japanese-Americans in 1942, no detention camp should
be built without the widest possible public scrutiny.
Bottom line: The contract cries out for greater attention. So far, the
government's expressed reason for building them is insufficient and
ill-defined. And even if the camps do relate to illegal immigration,
their purpose could be changed overnight.
Scary indeed, given the criminal thugs in charge these days. And now for the final icing on the corporate cake:
KBR also has faced allegations that, through subcontractors, it hired
numerous illegal immigrants to perform rebuilding work in the Gulf
Coast region following Hurricane Katrina and paid them subminimum wages.
The reasons why Alito should not be confirmed are about as clear and distinct as it gets. There's his membership
in Concerned Alumni of Princeton (in 1972, when it was still the 60's,
people... a college student that was a member of such a sexist,
conservative, good-ol-rich-boys club would have to have been a
certifiable freak, no doubt unable to get laid even in the age of free
love). There's his view that it's OK to strip-search 10-year-old girls, and more generally strip-search people who aren't named in warrants. There's his dissenting option
(in a case upholding waiting periods and notification of parents in
cases of minors seeking abortions---bad enough, to be sure) against the
cases's also striking down a spousal notification requirement (and not
to worry about cases where said husband is abusive or said couple is
separated -- after all, the "vast majority" of married women seeking
abortions tell their husbands of their own free will). Speaking of
abortion, Alito is on record (1985) that the Constitution ''does not protect
the right to an abortion," flatly contradicting Roe v. Wade. Oh, and there's Alito's repeated judgments against worker's rights
(if you click through on anything, do so on previous link; you might
want to put on a bib first first because your jaw is going to drop),
and in general in favor of fucking over individuals in the most stunningly poorly argued and blatant of fashions, in favor of entities with power and money:
confirmed, Alito would tip the high court's delicate balance radically
to the right. Nearly always favoring the government, corporations and
universities, Alito has ruled against individual rights in 84 percent
of his dissents.
Oh, and don't forget he's a creepy non-recuser,
who doesn't mind judging cases involving (and it goes without saying,
ruling in favor of) corporations in which he has a personal financial
interest (to the non-minor tune of 390K). Perhaps worse of all, as
regards the consequences of installing this power-sucking freak on the
court, are his views on executive power:
[I]n a speech to the Federalist Society in November 2000, while a
sitting appellate judge, Alito claimed almost limitless powers for the
presidency and criticized other courts for limiting executive power.
''The president has not just some executive power," he declared, ''but
the executive power -- the whole thing."
[...] Alito favors an almost monarchic executive...
Despite the repeated setbacks to the Bush administration and its allies
and Alito's own far-right record, most observers expect him to be
confirmed. Blocking Alito would take a filibuster supported by at least
41 senators. Though the Democrats have 45 senators (counting
independent James Jeffords), the Senate Democratic leadership frets
that a filibuster would divert attention from other Republican woes,
might make Democrats look obstructionist, and might lead Republicans to
use the so-called ''nuclear option," abolishing filibusters on judicial
fretting about other Republican woes, are they? If Alito gets in he'll
give them something to really fret about. But it seems that it isn't
enough for some Democrats not to be able to just say no (talk about battered person syndrome). No, some Democrats want to moreover lick the foot that kicks them, by voting for Alito. Why? As Tim Johnson (D-Sd) spins it: ya see, he's just not radical enough to block:
"I am troubled by Judge Alito's apparent views on matters such as
executive power, his past opposition to the principle of one person,
one vote, and his narrow interpretation of certain civil rights laws,"
Johnson said. "Even so, I cannot accept an argument that his views are
so radical that the Senate is justified in denying his confirmation."
Anti-coeducation, anti-Roe, anti-worker and individual rights, personal
corruption unbefitting any decent person much less a Supreme Court
Justice, and pro-executive-monarchy. So just what would it take for
Johnson to find a nominee radical enough to block? Maybe the nominee
would have to do something as bad as this.
Meanwhile, to add gross insult to injury, another Democrat---Robert
Byrd, West Virginia---has chosen to close the long chapter of his
tenure as (in the main) a stand-up Democrat by casting his vote for
Alito. Evidently his decision is motivated, in part, by his desire to
win a record-breaking ninth term as senator, against a monetarily strong opponent.
So, rather than retiring with principles intact, in the process
preventing generations of Americans (and non-Americans, for that
matter) from suffering Alito's presence on the court, Byrd takes a dive
so he can enter his 90th year as a Senator. Ah, vanity.
Kerry, by way of admirable contrast, has called for a filibuster. Do what you can to support it; the decent life you save may be your own.
A total of 46,000 uncounted overvotes unambiguously for Gore and 17,000
of them unambiguously for Bush. If I understand this correctly, this
means that Gore won the state not by a few hundred or a thousand votes,
but by approximately 30,000 votes. It wasn't even close. (Of course,
that is without accounting for the butterfly ballot or the
African-American non-felons illegally purged from the voter list.)
Why did the overvotes overwhelmingly favor Gore? Dehaven-Smith points
out that they were overwhelmingly African Americans, and offers the
One of the things I found that hadn't been
reported anywhere is, if you look at where those votes occurred, they
were in predominantly black precincts. And (when you look at) the
history of black voting in Florida, these are people that have been
disenfranchised, intimidated. In the history of the early 20th century,
black votes would be thrown out on technicalities, like they would use
an X instead of a check mark.
So you can understand why African Americans would be so careful,
checking off Gore's name on the list of candidates and also writing
Gore's name in the space for write-in votes. But because of the way the
vote-counting machines work, this had the opposite effect: the machines
threw out their ballots.
This could be the most heartbreaking thing about Florida 2000:
African-American voters, who were used to getting screwed out of their
votes, took measures to be absolutely sure that their votes counted --
and as a result got screwed out of their votes.
But at least we can say to everyone: Not only did Gore win Florida and thus the election, but it wasn't even close.
I just spent the last hour reading this series of posts on Obsidion Wings about the reprehensible Lindsey Graham amendment to limit habeas corpus. I feel sick.
suppose that everyone has certain nightmares that haunt them deeply in
some far corner of their consciousness. My most vivid one is being
imprisoned for something I didn't do and having no hope of ever being
freed. (I'm certain it comes from growing up with an authoritarian
father who refused to hear explanations for perceived transgressions.)
The Darkness At Noonscenario literally terrifies me. It's one of the main reasons I'm a liberal.
This widely circulated Washington Post article
from today, in which a lawyer describes his indisputably innocent
client's incarceration in Guantanamo is chilling. I would hope that it
would make at least a handful of Senators consider supporting the
Bingaman Amendment, which will undo at least some of the damage.
Republican senate is using habeas corpus as a political football. South
Carolinian Lindsay Graham, the sponsor, is undoubtedly feeling
tremendous pressure because of his "soft" stance on torture (I still
can't believe we are even talking about it) and this is his way of
restoring some manly credentials. But there is no excuse for the
Democrats who signed on to this. Nor is there any excuse for the Blue
state moderates either.
There was obviously some back room
dickering on this bit of legislation and that makes me about as sick as
anything about this whole thing. They're playing politics with habeas
corpus for Gawd's sake. This isn't some fucking highway bill or a farm
subsidy. It's the very foundation of our system of government and the
single most important element of liberty. If the state can just declare
someone an "unlawful combatant" and lock them up forever, we have voted
ourselves into tyranny.
I know it's bad form to bring this up, but it's worth mentioning at this moment. Historian Alan Bullock put it this way:
came to office in 1933 as the result, not of any irresistible
revolutionary or national movement sweeping him into power, nor even of
a popular victory at the polls, but as part of a shoddy political deal
with the 'Old Gang' whom he had been attacking for months… Hitler did
not seize power; he was jobbed into office by a backstairs intrigue.
don't make back-room deals in which you fuck with the very basis of our
system of government. It is irresponsible in the extreme. Considering
the people we are dealing with, it's especially risky. You just don't
know what they are going to do.
It's bad enough to do it when
the administration is riding on a wave of popularity. To do it when
there is no good political reason is mind-boggling. Like I said, it's
one thing for little Lindsay to have to prove he's not a Democratic
eunuch. It's quite another for anybody who isn't a Republican from the
deep south to feel the need to back this horror.
Katherine at Obsidion Wings concludes her (and Hilzoy's) masterful series with this:
you agree, if not with our conclusions, than at least that this is
maybe important and complicated enough that we could stand to wait a
few weeks, please call your senators, and ask them to vote for Jeff Bingaman's S. AMDT 2517 to bill S. 1042. And please consider asking other people to do the same.
This one is worth making a call for. it's important.
The men from Blackwater USA arrived in New Orleans right after Katrina
hit. The company known for its private security work guarding senior US
diplomats in Iraq beat the federal government and most aid organizations
to the scene in another devastated Gulf. About 150 heavily armed
Blackwater troops dressed in full battle gear spread out into the
chaos of New Orleans. Officially, the company boasted of its forces
"join[ing] the hurricane relief effort." But its men on the ground told
a different story.
Some patrolled the streets in SUVs with tinted windows and the
Blackwater logo splashed on the back; others sped around the French
Quarter in an unmarked car with no license plates. They congregated on
the corner of St. James and Bourbon in front of a bar called 711, where
Blackwater was establishing a makeshift headquarters. From the balcony
above the bar, several Blackwater guys cleared out what had apparently
been someone's apartment. They threw mattresses, clothes, shoes and
other household items from the balcony to the street below. They draped
an American flag from the balcony's railing. More than a dozen troops
from the 82nd Airborne Division stood in formation on the street
watching the action.
The other day I was thinking that at least the Third Amendment was unlikely to come under threat anytime soon. Guess I was wrong.
In an hourlong conversation I had with four Blackwater men, they
characterized their work in New Orleans as "securing neighborhoods" and
"confronting criminals." They all carried automatic assault weapons and
had guns strapped to their legs. Their flak jackets were covered with
pouches for extra ammunition.
When asked what authority they were operating under, one guy said,
"We're on contract with the Department of Homeland Security." Then,
pointing to one of his comrades, he said, "He was even deputized by the
governor of the state of Louisiana. We can make arrests and use lethal
force if we deem it necessary." The man then held up the gold Louisiana
law enforcement badge he wore around his neck. Blackwater spokesperson
Anne Duke also said the company has a letter from Louisiana officials
authorizing its forces to carry loaded weapons.
"This vigilantism demonstrates the utter breakdown of the government,"
says Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights.
"These private security forces have behaved brutally, with impunity, in
Iraq. To have them now on the streets of New Orleans is frightening and
possibly illegal." [...]
A possibly deadly incident involving Quinn's hired guns underscores the
dangers of private forces policing American streets. On his second night
in New Orleans, Quinn's security chief, Michael Montgomery, who said he
worked for an Alabama company called Bodyguard and Tactical Security
(BATS), was with a heavily armed security detail en route to pick up one
of Quinn's associates and escort him through the chaotic city.
Montgomery told me they came under fire from "black gangbangers" on
an overpass near the poor Ninth Ward neighborhood. "At the time, I
was on the phone with my business partner," he recalls. "I dropped the
phone and returned fire."
Montgomery says he and his men were armed with AR-15s and Glocks and
that they unleashed a barrage of bullets in the general direction of the
alleged shooters on the overpass. "After that, all I heard was moaning
and screaming, and the shooting stopped. That was it. Enough said."
Then, Montgomery says, "the Army showed up, yelling at us and thinking
we were the enemy. We explained to them that we were security. I told
them what had happened and they didn't even care. They just left." Five
minutes later, Montgomery says, Louisiana state troopers arrived on the
scene, inquired about the incident and then asked him for directions on
"how they could get out of the city." Montgomery says that no one ever
asked him for any details of the incident and no report was ever made.
"One thing about security," Montgomery says, "is that we all
coordinate with each other--one family." That co-ordination
doesn't include the offices of the Secretaries of State in Louisiana and
Alabama, which have no record of a BATS company.
What the hell is going on here? You guessed it:
Blackwater's success in procuring federal contracts could well be
explained by major-league contributions and family connections to the
GOP. According to election records, Blackwater's CEO and co-founder,
billionaire Erik Prince, has given tens of thousands to Republicans,
including more than $80,000 to the Republican National Committee the
month before Bush's victory in 2000. This past June, he gave $2,100 to
Senator Rick Santorum's re-election campaign. He has also given to House
majority leader Tom DeLay and a slew of other Republican candidates,
including Bush/Cheney in 2004.
William Schulz, executive director of Amnesty's Washington-based
branch, speaking on "Fox News Sunday," defended the human rights
group's recent criticism of U.S. treatment of detainees at the naval
base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
The U.S. is maintaining an archipelago of prisons around the world,
many of them secret prisons, into which people are being literally
disappeared, held in indefinite, incommunicado detention without access
to lawyers or a judicial system or to their families," Schulz said.
"And in some cases, at least, we know they are being mistreated, abused, tortured and even killed."
Senior Democrats are calling for the closure of America's detention
centre in Guantanamo, Cuba, saying it has become a "propaganda and
recruitment tool" for terrorists in the wake of continued allegations
of prisoner abuse.
A leading senator, Joseph Biden of Delaware, suggested the time had
come to consider a gradual closure of the facility, arguing its
worsening reputation around the world was helping to recruit people
bent on hurting the US.
"This has become the greatest propaganda tool that exists for recruiting of terrorists around the world ..."