Saturday, April 05, 2008

Don't lose this in the shuffle

JAMES RISEN and DAVID JOHNSTON at the New York Times remind us of the challenges faced when individuals or groups are not accountable to law.
WASHINGTON — Justice Department officials have told Congress that they face serious legal difficulties in pursuing criminal prosecutions of Blackwater security guards involved in a September shooting that left at least 17 Iraqis dead.

In a private briefing in mid-December, officials from the Justice and State Departments met with aides to the House Judiciary Committee and other Congressional staff members and warned them that there were major legal obstacles that might prevent any prosecution.
There are also questions about whether federal law applies to the Blackwater contractors.
Paul Kiel writes about this at TPM, citing the NYT article.

But that shouldn't bother us. It doesn't bother the folks at the State Department. According to AP:
The State Department says it will renew Blackwater USA's license to protect diplomats in Baghdad for one year, but a final decision about whether the private security company will keep the job is pending.

A top State Department official said that because the FBI is still investigating last year's fatal shooting of Baghdad civilians, there is no reason not to renew the contract when it comes due in May. Blackwater has a five-year deal to provide personal protection for diplomats, which is reauthorized each year.

Iraqis were outraged over a Sept. 16 shooting in which 17 civilians were killed in a Baghdad square. Blackwater said its guards were protecting diplomats under attack before they opened fire, but Iraqi investigators concluded the shooting was unprovoked. [Emphasis mine]
Don't you just love it? The FBI finds that Blackwater employees were unprovoked when they fired on Iraqi civilians but because the investigation is not completed THERE IS NO REASON NOT TO RENEW THE CONTRACT.
Federal agents investigating the Sept. 16 episode in which Blackwater security personnel shot and killed 17 Iraqi civilians have found that at least 14 of the shootings were unjustified and violated deadly-force rules in effect for security contractors in Iraq, according to civilian and military officials briefed on the case....

Investigators have concluded that as many as five of the company’s guards opened fire during the shootings, at least some with automatic weapons. Investigators have focused on one guard, identified as “turret gunner No. 3,” who fired a large number of rounds and was responsible for several fatalities.

Investigators found no evidence to support assertions by Blackwater employees that they were fired upon by Iraqi civilians. That finding sharply contradicts initial assertions by Blackwater officials, who said that company employees fired in self-defense and that three company vehicles were damaged by gunfire. [NYT]

How about ensuring that these unregulated goons are governed by either Iraqi or US law (or both) before you renew the fucking contract, Condi? Maybe you could borrow some of the lawyers spending all their time trying to protect Bush and Cheney's criminal asses to help you iron out the contract.

Makes me mad enough to spit nails.

--the BB


Torture - the "green light" - war crimes

A constitutional scholar asserts of Congress that "they do not want to deal with the fact that the President ordered war crimes."

[Emphasis mine]

Wake up, America!
--the BB

Oh, look! A shiny object!

It is to weep.

Glenn Greenwald has a post up today titled "The U.S. establishment media in a nutshell."

I invite you to ponder what he shares:
In the past two weeks, the following events transpired. A Department of Justice memo, authored by John Yoo, was released which authorized torture and presidential lawbreaking. It was revealed that the Bush administration declared the Fourth Amendment of the Bill of Rights to be inapplicable to "domestic military operations" within the U.S. The U.S. Attorney General appears to have fabricated a key event leading to the 9/11 attacks and made patently false statements about surveillance laws and related lawsuits. Barack Obama went bowling in Pennsylvania and had a low score.
Here are the number of times, according to NEXIS, that various topics have been mentioned in the media over the past thirty days:

"Yoo and torture" - 102
"Mukasey and 9/11" -- 73
"Yoo and Fourth Amendment" -- 16
"Obama and bowling" -- 1,043
"Obama and Wright" -- More than 3,000 (too many to be counted)
"Obama and patriotism" - 1,607
"Clinton and Lewinsky" -- 1,079
I think Greenwald's observation (following) needs to be blazoned across the sky until it sinks in:
Our nation's coddled, insulated journalist class reaches these conclusions about what Regular Folk think using the most self-referential, self-absorbed thought process imaginable. The proof that the Regular People are interested in these things is that . . . the journalists themselves chatter about it endlessly.

His full comments merit reading.
--the BB

Out and about

James Barry, "King Lear Weeping
Over the Death of Cordelia"

Yes, blogging here has been a bit light. Yesterday evening I headed out to join my best friend and his father for dinner followed by the Vortex Theatre production of Lear. They did a splendid job. Paul Ford, who "works across the street" (i.e., must teach drama at UNM), was excellent as Lear--moving from unwise assertions to indignation, from desperation to madness, and finally to a shattered kind of wisdom.

There was a certain "old home" feel for me last night. For years I attended the Aurora Theatre in Berkeley (and was a charter subscriber). They had a very intimate performance space at the Berkeley City Club (a Julia Morgan building) and a larger but still intimate space when they got their new theatre on Addison Street near the Berkeley Repertory Theatre. Our season seats were always in the front row, which meant that my feet were always on the stage. Whenever actors approached our corner, I pulled my feet back to give them space. The rest of the time I could stretch out (at 6'5", I find this a very important luxury).

Vortex has general seating and by the time we arrived the theatre was almost full. In a configuration I had not seen there before, the stage was in the center with seats rising on opposing sides (think basketball court). I was able to save a couple of spots for the others on one side and wound up on the opposite side, front row in the corner. Flashback! And a very comfortable and comforting situation for me. As usual, I pulled me feet out of the way when entrances and exits were made near me.

Modern dress, minimal props, zero scenery. It was great.

Today I dashed out early this afternoon, before finishing the world watch post, and had lunch with my friend Kathy. We yakked endlessly about many things, as usual. I came home by way of the drug and video stores, finished up the post that had been left hanging for hours, and am still catching up on my reading of political and religious blogs.

We are having lovely weather here in ABQ at the moment.

Not all that exciting, but that's my life at the moment.
--the BB

Interrogational drugs

In today's FISA update, mcjoan refers to comments by Jeff Stein at CQ on the use of interrogational drugs in light of the Yoo torture memo.
"Yes, I believe they have been used," Jeffrey S. Kaye, a clinical psychologist who works with torture victims at Survivors International in San Francisco, told me.

"I came across some evidence that they were using mind-altering drugs, to regress the prisoners, to ascertain if they were using deception techniques, to break them down," said Kaye.


Mcjoan concludes:
Here's yet another reason for Congress to, as Marty Lederman has argued, put a moratorium on "considering any administration legislative proposals until all of the memos have been disclosed and (appropriately) repudiated by the Department of Justice." That goes doubly for FISA.

--the BB

Χριστε, ελεησον - 4/5/2008

The point of having so many headlines (with links) on any given topic is to have access to multiple perspectives on world events. I especially observe very different approaches from the French- and Spanish-speaking press (I usually sample from francophone Switzerland and France and from Spain and Mexico). English-language sources include headlines from the UK, India, Canada, South Africa, and Australia. I do not, myself, click on all these links--in fact, almost none of them. Simply perusing the headlines gives me a feel for what is happening around the world, where the crises are, and what the hot topics are. Once the links are in place, one may always pursue more information as time and interest allow.

Mugabe Faces an Uphill Battle in Presidential Runoff (Update5)
Bloomberg - 55 minutes ago
By Brian Latham and Antony Sguazzin April 5 (Bloomberg) -- President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe faces an uphill battle to win a runoff campaign after most voters supported opposition candidates in the March 29 election's House of Assembly races.
Zimbabwe Opposition Reluctant on Runoff The Associated Press
Zimbabwe Opposition Blocked From Filing Lawsuit New York Times

Fear returns to Harare as Mugabe thugs vow
Times Online - 3 hours ago
Robert Mugabe unleashed his most feared thugs on the streets of the Zimbabwean capital yesterday in a very public show of force as his party’s leadership united in a last-ditch bid for him to stay in power.

African delegation chief says no proof of fraud in Zimbabwe election
International Herald Tribune - 22 hours ago
AP FREETOWN, Sierra Leone: The head of the African Union's observer delegation says there is no evidence of fraud in last week's tense presidential election in Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe change could attract investors to region Reuters

Le MDC accuse Mugabe de faire monter la tension au Zimbabwe
L'Express - Il y a 39 minutes
L'opposition politique du Zimbabwe a accusé le président Robert Mugabe de déployer des miliciens pour fomenter des troubles et faire annuler les résultats des élections du week-end dernier. Morgan Tsvangirai, dirigeant du Mouvement pour le changement ...
Zimbabwe : l'opposition revendique sa victoire Le Figaro
Le recours en justice de l'opposition retardé au Zimbabwe Le Point

Mbeki: Situation in Zimbabwe 'Manageable'
Voice of America - 2 hours ago
By VOA News South Africa's president says the international community should exercise patience and wait for Zimbabwe's election results to be released before it makes any plans to intervene.
Mbeki says not time for action on Zimbabwe Reuters South Africa
Mbeki says no need for international intervention in Zimbabwe International Herald Tribune

Rival Resists Zimbabwe Runoff, Saying He Won
New York Times - 3 hours ago
The opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai said at a news conference in Harare on Saturday that his party was reluctant to take part in a runoff.

Police Fire on Tibetan Protesters; 8 Die
The Associated Press - 2 hours ago
BEIJING (AP) - Police fired on hundreds of protesters in a Tibetan area of western China, killing eight people, overseas activist groups said.
A Sovereign Spirit Washington Post
France uses Olympics to pressure China on Tibet AFP

China and the Olympics
Washington Post - 14 hours ago
This week, a Beijing court sentenced human rights activist Hu Jia to 3 1/2 years in prison for subverting state authority and to one additional year's loss of his "political rights.
Chinese Rights Activist Is Jailed New York Times
Concern for jailed China activist BBC News

Rama Yade dément avoir parlé de conditions pour les JO de Pékin
L'Express - Il y a 2 heures
Rama Yade, la secrétaire d'Etat aux Droits de l'homme, a démenti avoir parlé de conditions à la présence du président Nicolas Sarkozy à la cérémonie d'ouverture des Jeux olympiques de Pékin, le 8 août. Dans un entretien publié par Le Monde daté du 6 ...

Police arrest Tibetans trying to go to China
Reuters India - 1 hour ago
SRINAGAR (Reuters) - Indian police arrested at least 17 Tibetan exiles on Saturday who were trying to cross from India's remote Ladakh region into China to show solidarity with protesters in Tibet, police said.

No conditions on China before Olympics: France foreign minister
AFP - 2 hours ago
PARIS (AFP) - France has set no conditions on China for President Nicolas Sarkozy to attend the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics, but "everything is open", Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said Saturday.

Officials confirm Iran's role in brokering truce between Iraqi ...
International Herald Tribune - 1 hour ago
AP TEHRAN, Iran: Officials in Iran confirmed for the first time Saturday that the country played an important role in brokering a recent truce between the Iraqi government and anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.
Iraqi Premier Suspends Government Raids on Militias New York Times
Sermons show divide among Iraqi Shiites CNN

Iraqis angered by Blackwater contract renewal
Reuters - 1 hour ago
By Khalid Al-Ansary BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraqis expressed anger on Saturday at news the United States had renewed the contract of Blackwater, a private security firm blamed for killing up to 17 people in a shooting incident last year.
Iraqi official: Blackwater staying on 'is bad news' CNN International
State Department to Renew Deal With Blackwater for Iraq Security Washington Post

Iran loses ground in Iraq
Toledo Blade - 9 hours ago
But it is very like most of the reporting of battles in Iraq: "The deadliest clashes were in Basra, where at least 47 people were killed and 223 wounded in the two days of fighting," wrote the AP's Kim Gamel.
IRAQ: Maliki vs Sadr, round 5 Los Angeles Times
WAR IN IRAQ San Francisco Chronicle

George Bush rules out further Iraq troop cuts - 5 hours ago
By Tim Shipman in Washington President George W. Bush will signal next week that he will pull no more troops out of Iraq while he is president, once his troop surge ends in the summer.
Shorter Tours of Duty in Iraq and Afghanistan May Be Possibility Action 3 News
Troops to get shorter Iraq tours Baltimore Sun

NATO Summit - Russia - United States
No Frowns at Bush-Putin Talks
The Associated Press - 40 minutes ago
SOCHI, Russia (AP) - At a troubled time in US-Russian relations, there were no frowns when Vladimir Putin and George W. Bush got together for their last time as presidents.
President Bush in Russia for Talks with President Putin Voice of America
Missile plan on Bush-Putin agenda BBC News

Bush Supports Expansion of NATO Across Europe
New York Times - 2 hours ago
President Bush spoke before a crowd at St. Mark's Square in Zagreb, Croatia, on Saturday. By STEVEN LEE MYERS ZAGREB, Croatia - Addressing new NATO allies in a medieval town square here, President Bush on Saturday championed the alliance’s expansion ...
Bush, in Croatia, Says NATO Invite Vote of Confidence (Update2) Bloomberg
Bush sees NATO future for Macedonia Reuters

Keep away from our borders, Putin tells Nato - 18 hours ago
By Adrian Blomfield in Moscow and James Kirkup in Bucharest Vladimir Putin yesterday told Nato that it would become a "direct threat" to Moscow if it expanded further east.
Bush Says NATO Open to All in E. Europe The Associated Press
NATO's Georgia, Ukraine deal built on ambiguity Reuters

Vladimir Poutine devant l'OTAN: main de fer dans un gant de velours
Tribune de Genève - Il y a 20 heures
BILAN | 00h03 Le sommet de Bucarest, en différant la candidature à l'Alliance atlantique de l'Ukraine et de la Géorgie, aura aussi marqué les limites du leadership des Etats-Unis. Un mois avant la fin de son mandat, Vladimir Poutine a fait hier le ...
Les adieux tendus de Vladimir Poutine à l'Otan Ouest-France
L'intérêt des États-Unis et celui de l'Europe dans l'Otan Le Figaro

Буш изрёк в Сочи очередной афоризм
Правда.Ру - 1 час назад
В Сочи с визитом прилете президент США Джордж Буш с супругой. Владимир Путин в сопровождении ряда российских официальных лиц продемонстрировал гостям макет объектов Олимпиады 2014 года в Сочи. Официальная часть встречи состоится в воскресенье. В ходе разглядывания макетов объектов будущей Олимпиады Путина и Буша сопровождали губернатор Краснодарского края Александр Ткачёв и генеральный директор Оргкомитета "Сочи-2014" Дмитрий Чернышенко. Особенно Буша заинтересовал горнолыжный комплекс «Лаура», ...
Финальный аккорд двух президентов НТВ.ru
Президент США впечатлён планами развития Сочи Вести.Ru

Russia and NATO: Points of Difference
Washington Post - 12 hours ago
· NATO expansion: Russia opposes membership for Ukraine and Georgia. NATO decided against road maps for the two but expressed confidence they would eventually join.
Video: Putin Speaks to NATO Leaders As Summit Ends AssociatedPress
Bush pledges to send more troops to Afghanistan Los Angeles Times

Tacha Putin de amenaza incorporar ex repúblicas soviéticas a la OTAN
La Jornada (México) - hace 7 horas
Bucarest, 4 de abril. En una inusitada presentación ante los jefes de gobierno de los países miembros de la Organización del Tratado del Atlántico Norte (OTAN), el presidente ruso, Vladimir Putin, expresó hoy su enojo por la expansión de la alianza ...
“Hola, felicidades amigo” La Crónica de Hoy
Escudo antimisiles de EU es una amenaza directa a Rusia: Putin El Porvenir

Ireland [Note: Taoiseach is the Irish term for Prime Minister]
Cowen to succeed Ahern
BBC News - 4 hours ago
By Shane Harrison Brian Cowen has been confirmed as the new Fianna Fáil leader, succeeding Bertie Ahern as Taoiseach on 6 May. He was the only candidate for the leadership, but will not officially become leader until a parliamentary party meeting on ...
Cowen set to become next Irish PM Reuters UK
Cowen to succeed Ahern as new Irish PM International Business Times

Global Economy
World Bank Calls on Sovereign Funds to Invest in Africa
New York Times - Apr 2, 2008
By STEVEN R. WEISMAN WASHINGTON - The president of the World Bank, Robert B. Zoellick, called Wednesday for the major government-owned sovereign wealth funds of Asia and the Middle East to join with the bank in investing in Africa.
World Bank Chief Wall Street Journal
World Bank looks to lure wealth funds into Africa Reuters

Brown calls for reform of international institutions
Times Online - 5 hours ago
GORDON Brown has called for an overhaul of international institutions to cope with the twin threats of global economic turmoil and climate change.
Gordon Brown warns on global financial crisis
Brown warns on global cash crisis BBC News

FARC: des milliers de Colombiens manifestent pour les otages - Il y a 11 heures
Des dizaines de milliers de manifestants, selon la police et les organisateurs, se sont réunis vendredi dans les rues des grandes villes colombiennes en faveur de la libération de tous les otages de Colombie. Environ 2800 personnes sont maintenues en ...
Les affections dont souffre d'Ingrid Betancourt
Colombie: les FARC contre une libération rapide d'Ingrid Betancourt RFJ

Continuará trabajando por la libertad de Ingrid Betancourt ...
La Jornada (México) - hace 7 horas
Caracas, 4 de abril. El presidente de Venezuela, Hugo Chávez, ratificó hoy su decisión de seguir trabajando para lograr la liberación de la ex candidata presidencial Ingrid Betancourt y demás rehenes, pero señaló que decidió cambiar de “táctica” ya que ...
Miles exigen a FARC liberar a cautivos El Universal (México)
Preven fracaso de misión francesa para atender a Ingrid Betancourt El Financiero (México)

International Justice - the Hague
JUSTICE INTERNATIONALE • "Le TPIY n'a plus aucune raison d'exister"
Courrier International - 4 avr 2008
Ex-combattant de l'Armée de libération du Kosovo (UCK) et homme politique, Ramush Haradinaj a été acquitté par le tribunal de La Haye. Une décision qui suscite la joie de Pristina et le dégoût de Belgrade. Le Tribunal pénal international pour ...
L'ex-premier ministre du Kosovo Ramush Haradinaj acquitté par le TPIY Le Monde
Le TPI acquitte l’ex-Premier ministre kosovar Libération

The women rose up early and came unto the Lord's tomb, and when they beheld there the Angel, they trembled in amazement. The tomb became radiant with life; the marvel filled the women with great awe. Thus they went to the disciples and they declared the Rising of the mighty One; Christ alone despoiled Hades by His strength; all those in corruption hath He raised, freeing them from fear of blame and reproach though the Cross's might.
--Saturday of Thomas Week, Pentecostarion

--the BB

Friday, April 04, 2008

Friday Prince Blogging - Archduke Karl

In Austria, where the constitution forbids noble titles, he is Karl Habsburg-Lothringen. Elsewhere he is His Imperial and Royal Highness, Archduke Karl Thomas Robert Maria Franziskus Georg Bahnam von Habsburg-Lothringen, Prince Imperial of Austria, Prince Royal of Hungary and Bohemia.

HI&RH was born January 11, 1961, the sixth child and eldest son of Crown Prince Otto von Hapsburg. Otto is the eldest son of Charles, the last Emperor of Austria and King of Hungary, and the current head of the Hapsburg family.

Karl Habsburg is the founder and president of the organization Paneurope-Austria (1987). On October 13, 1996 he was elected to the European Parliament (Austrian People's Party). Since January 19, 2002 he has been the Direcor General of UNPO (Unrepresented Nations and People Organisation).

Archduke Karl has lived in Salzburg, Austria, since 1981. On 31 January 1993, he married Francesca Thyssen-Bornemisza, the only daughter of Baron Hans Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza, a European industrialist known for his art collecting and multiple marriages, and his second wife, Fiona Campbell Walter, a leading British fashion model of the 1950s and 1960s.

The Archduke and Archduchess have three children.

HI&RH Archduchess Eleonore Jelena Maria del Pilar Iona of Austria (born February 28, 1994)

HI&RH Archduke Ferdinand Zvonimir Maria Balthus Keith Michal Otto Antal Bahnam Leonhard of Austria (born June 21, 1997), who is heir after his father of the House of Habsburg-Lothringen.

HI&RH Archduchess Gloria Maria Bogdana Paloma Regina Fiona Gabriela of Austria (born October 15, 1999), whose godmother is Gloria, Princess of Thurn and Taxis.

I rather think that just as some royals are happy exhibitionists who complain about paparazzi but but nonetheless frequent public places, others are either quite reclusive or sufficiently dull that no one takes photo. I had a difficult time coming up with these photos. I found a very few more that were of poorer quality than these and didn't seem worth the bother to post.

If you like a bit of royal gossip, here is a link on the wild child who became a great art curator and ultimately heiress to a no-longer-extant empire. She is now settled down and, based on earlier days, I should not blame her if she stays out of the limelight now and enjoys family life and art instead.

Sorry, no videos this week. If you check YouTube under his name you get the funeral of his uncle instead.

--the BB

Slow Learner

Oh dear, I fear I may wear out this graphic header very soon.

Today McCain spoke at the spot where Dr. King was killed, and he admitted that he was wrong about opposing a holiday in King's honor. Kudos for that admission. However....

McCain: I voted in my first year in congress against it. Then I began to learn. And I studied. And people talked to me. And I not only supported it, but I fought very hard in my own state of Arizona for recognition against a governor who was of my own party. ...
As Markos Moulitsas notes:
McCain was 32 when King died. He was 47 when he voted against the holiday. He claims he didn't know about MLK that entire time? That it was merely "an issue"? The reporter is right, this wasn't an issue, it was basic knowledge of American history.
And Steve Benen comments:
If McCain "began to learn" and "studied" after his opposition to the King holiday in ‘83, he was a very slow learner. Four years later, he didn’t fight against a governor or his own party; he endorsed the governor’s move to eliminate a King holiday.

Six years after his House vote he began supporting a state holiday, but still opposed a federal King holiday. Eleven years after his vote, he tried to strip federal funding from the MLK Federal Holiday Commission. Seventeen years after his vote, McCain publicly endorsed South Carolina’s right to fly the confederate flag over its statehouse.

Now, in the interest of fairness, it’s worth noting that McCain ended up, years after the fact, in the right place, and reversed himself on practically all of his previous positions. Better late than never, I suppose.
Jake Tapper of ABC News:
In Arizona, a bill to recognize a holiday honoring MLK failed in the legislature, so then-Gov. Bruce Babbitt, a Democrat, declared one through executive order.

In January 1987, the first act of Arizona's new governor, Republican Evan Mecham, was to rescind the executive order by his predecessor to create an MLK holiday. Arizona's stance became a national controversy.

McCain backed the decision at the time.
The story does not add up well. If McCain came to the right place in the end, that's a good thing. But his story of how he got there is, shall we say, questionable. Let's go back to this bit: "McCain was 32 when King died. He was 47 when he voted against the holiday. " Where the hell was he all those years? What on earth did he not know about issues of civil rights in 1983?

How out of it was he then? How out of it is he now? Or is it all a tissue of lies?

This man should not be president.
--the BB

Emmaus Friday Five

Kirstin tagged me by e-mail, so I’ll give it a try.

From RevGalBlogPals.

With this Sunday's gospel reading in mind, that wonderful revelation of Christ to the companions on the Emmaus road, I wonder where you might have been surprised by God's revelation recently. How has God revealed him/herself to you in a:

The problem is that sticky word “recently.” It is much easier to look back over my life and name encounters that had profound and lasting effects on my life. Another qualifier in the assignment is “surprised,” which means I should think of God’s showing up or acting where I did not expect it. Sigh. I didn’t want to have to think this hard on a Friday afternoon. (Where’s my rum and coke?)

1. Book
“Darkslayer,” my own first novel (in the somewhat stalled process of revision). I knew that writing the book would reveal all manner of things about myself (for the close and discerning friends and my therapist, anyway). Although its themes are spiritual, the book wound up exploring larger issues and pointing to lots of interesting questions regarding God, Gospel, faith, and sanctification. That was not in my plan as author, so definitely a surprise and an ongoing challenge (in revision and the many planned sequels).

2. Film
Last spring some friends were visiting and we watched “Babel.” They were very into it and I watched it off and on. It is a fascinating illustration of our human inability to communicate and connect. I found it incredibly distressing and depressing. But it’s a good film, a salubrious confrontation with our brokenness and willfulness.

Ending on a happier note there is the beautifully filmed and challenging “The Kite Runner.” It also forces the viewer to look at the dark side of human behavior but contains a triumph of friendship in the end.

I watch lots of “fluff” films but it is the challenging ones that affect me more deeply.

3. Song
The Arab Conscience, Part II

I wrote about this a while back, having encountered it at Informed Comment, Juan Cole’s blog. I did not, at that time, embed it because I wanted lots of context for anyone who might watch.

I am going to go way beyond what is normally considered fair use to provide all of Juan’s prefatory comments:
The Arab Conscience and the 5th Anniversary of the Iraq War

The below is part of an anti-war "opera" sung by the most famous of the Arab videoclip stars (Nancy Ajram and Cheb Khalid are featured here). The whole is very long. The Zoom videoclip satellite channel is playing it repeatedly this week, apparently to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the Iraq War.

It begins with a man saying "We want to live in peace. Enough killing! Enough slaughter! Enough!"

"The Arab Conscience" is produced by Ahmad Al Aaryan, written by Karim Maatouk, Sayed Shawki, Ahmad Al Aaryan and Siham Shaashaa, composed by Tarek Abou Jawdeh and Khaled Bakry, and arranged by Adel Hakki. It has been performed at the Cairo Opera House.

Although the opera works within the framework of Arab nationalism, it has a strong anti-war theme and it is not sectarian. One singer has the refrain, "The origin of the human race is the human being; all the prophets are brothers/ Moses, Jesus, Muhammad reject aggression." This verse explicitly states the brotherhood of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, and daringly shows the Aqsa Mosque atop the Temple Mount as a site of Muslim-Jewish conflict while doing so, seeming to say that holy places should not be a basis for violence. The lyrics say God is love, God is peace. At one point the "love of the Gospels, the wisdom of the Qur'an" is celebrated, and Christians, Sunnis and Shiites are all called to peace.

For Americans, the most touching part would probably be the Egyptian songstress Amal Maher's libretto sung over a powerful visual condemnation of the September 11 attack on the World Trade Center in New York. I think she knew she would be singing over those unspeakable images. She turns away in horror as her stanza ends.

The images of US actions in Iraq, Abu Ghraib, etc., interspersed with a denunciation of the assassination of Lebanese leader Rafiq al-Hariri and of Israeli occupation forces' brutality to Palestinians, give a sense of how the Iraq War is viewed in the region, as yet another attack on the Arab nation. But there is also a critique of the internal divisions and use of aggressive violence by that nation. (It does not condemn what it sees as resistance to occupation; but I think the underlying message is that violence just begets more violence.)

I urge my American readers to try to watch the clip below even though they cannot understand the lyrics. (Though, note to the squeamish: the explicit violence may be hard for some to stomach.) Note that a lot of the performers here are Lebanese Christians; others are wealthy members of the new upper middle classes in the region, who speak English and sometimes have signed with American labels. They are condemning violence and war and intolerance.

The opera reminds me of the anti-war anthems at Woodstock in the US during the Vietnam War. There hasn't been anything quite like that on this side of the Atlantic. But the Arab world's Joan Baezes and Arlo Guthries are beginning to be heard. I discussed the Kuwait singer Shams's anti-Bush video here. Although some journalists, including the intrepid Helena Cobban, wrote in English about Shams, I don't know of any article about this opera, which is a major cultural event. I couldn't find a mention in Lexis. And, oddly, even a search of the Arabic web turned up no journalism or music criticism of it.

I really don't think that, in the medium term, Dick Cheney can defeat Nancy Ajram in the projection of soft power in the region.

So, with all that background, click only if you are prepared to face graphic violence while listening to a beautiful cry for an end to that violence.

4. Another Person
My friend Kathy, whom I met in the past year, is someone who faces life with a combination of endless curiosity, creativity, and compassion. The torrent of e-mails that pass between us range from the most trivial to the most profound matters. The three broad topics at the heart of it all are politics, spirituality, and relationships. She has not only a lively mind but also a very giving heart. She says nice things to me all the time—to the point of embarrassment—but perhaps this is a chance to repay those compliments.

5. Creation
Blossoms on my very young fruit trees have reaffirmed the promise of life this spring.

—the BB

Friday music video

Joe Sudbay featured this at Americablog. I have liked this song by Pink since the first time I heard it. Passing it on for all of you.

--the BB

Господи помилуй - 4/4/2008

Governmental incompetence/negligence
Body armor: BILLIONS in contracts awarded improperly
by occams hatchet
Thu Apr 03, 2008 at 08:56:14 PM PDT
The Army can't be sure some of its body armor met safety standards, partly because it didn't do proper paperwork on initial testing of the protective vests, a Defense Department audit said.

NATO Summit
Putin takes a softer tone at NATO summit
International Herald Tribune - 1 hour ago
By Steven Erlanger BUCHAREST: President Vladimir Putin of Russia complained Friday that NATO was not taking Russia's legitimate security concerns into account, but he also said that President George W. Bush was listening to Moscow's criticisms of a ...
Bush, Putin share spoils at 'crisis summit' CNN International
NATO's Georgia, Ukraine deal built on ambiguity Reuters

Entente cordiale au sommet Otan-Russie
TF1 - Il y a 59 minutes
Vladimir Poutine s'est dit "satisfait" de sa rencontre avec les dirigeants de l'Otan. Il n'y a pas eu d'éclats de voix et tous les participants ont obtenu ce qu'ils étaient venus chercher. A l'exception de l'Ukraine, de la Géorgie et de la Macédoine. ...
L'Otan et Poutine jugent leur sommet positif et constructif L'Express
Vladimir Poutine de mauvaise humeur au sommet de l’Otan France Info

Bush le dije a Putin: “la guerra fría termino”
El Economista (Suscripción) - hace 2 horas
El Canciller español afirmó que el Presidente estadounidense le dijo a su homólogo ruso, Vladimir Putin, "The cold war is over". Miguel Ángel Moratinos comentó que Putin mostró "voluntad de diálogo" incluso para resolver las divergencias entre la OTAN ...
La OTAN y Rusia decididos a superar sus divergencias sobre desarme ... Terra España

Putin se reúne con líderes de la OTAN
Voice of America - hace 3 horas
El presidente de Rusia, Vladimir Putin, se reunió con dignatarios de la OTAN, en Bucarest, este viernes, un día después que la alianza apoyara planes estadounidenses para instalar un sistema de misiles de defensa en Europa central. ...
Rusia critica planes de expansión de la OTAN Los Tiempos
Rusia considera una amenaza la ampliación de la OTAN hasta su frontera Terra España

Tibet - China
New Violence Reported in Tibetan Area
The Associated Press - 2 hours ago
BEIJING (AP) - Chinese state media says new violence has broken out in a volatile Tibetan region, leaving at least one government official seriously injured.
China's best face for the Olympics
Chinese netizens attack claims police joined Lhasa riot as "monks" Xinhua

Chinese Official in Tibet Calls for Swift Trial of Alleged Lhasa ...
Voice of America - 1 hour ago
By VOA News China's top law and order official in Tibet has called on judges in the remote region to swiftly try and judge Tibetans accused of involvement in recent rare anti-government unrest.
Exclusive: Chinese police kill eight after opening fire on monks ... Times Online

Pékin intraitable avec ses dissidents
Tribune de Genève - Il y a 18 heures
CHINE | 00h05 Pour la seconde fois en dix jours, un opposant au régime a été condamné hier. Quatre mois avant les JO et malgré les protestations occidentales. L'imminence des Jeux olympiques et les appels à la modération des pays occidentaux n'y ...
Hu Jia suivra les Jeux en prison Libération
Des dissidents chinois visés avant les JO Ouest-France

Tibetans take out bike rally in Delhi - 2 hours ago
Again stepping up their agitation against the Chinese crackdown in Lhasa, the Tibetan protestors took to the streets in Delhi. Scores of Tibetan youths on Friday drove around the capital on motorbikes as part of a rally to highlight their protest ...

Iraq PM seeks to ease tensions with militia
Reuters - 5 hours ago
By Khalid al-Ansary BAGHDAD, April 4 (Reuters) - Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said on Friday his security forces would stop arresting militiamen if they give up their weapons, apparently seeking to defuse tensions with Shi'ite cleric Moqtada ...
Iraqi Prime Minister Orders Freezing of Raids Against Militias Bloomberg
Al-Maliki ends security operations against Shiite militia (Roundup) Monsters and

Kennedy and Levin Want New Report on Iraq Released
Washington Post - 12 hours ago
By Karen DeYoung A new intelligence report on the situation in Iraq is "essential" to upcoming debates on the war, and its judgments should be publicly released, Sens.
New Intelligence Report Says Iraq Situation Improving Voice of America
US Study Finds Progress in Iraq, but Fragile Security and ... New York Times

Aides: Democrats say Iraq report might be too rosy
CNN - 1 hour ago
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Democrats are questioning whether the latest National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq is painting too rosy a picture by suggesting that President Bush's "surge" strategy is working, two senior Democratic congressional aides familiar ...
Maliki prêt à mener de nouvelles opérations contre l’Armée du mahdi L'Orient-Le Jour

Brazilian military joins battle against dengue epidemic
CNN - 3 hours ago
(CNN) -- Soldiers and firefighters have joined the fight against dengue, a sometimes deadly mosquito-borne disease that has infected at least 55000 people in Brazil this year.
Outbreak of Dengue Fever in Brazil Calls for Military Support eFluxMedia
Brazil's Military Mobilizes Against Dengue Washington Post

Mugabe Considers Presidential Runoff Delay, MDC Talks (Update1)
Bloomberg - 1 hour ago
By Brian Latham and Antony Sguazzin April 4 (Bloomberg) -- Robert Mugabe's party in Zimbabwe is considering ruling by decree to delay a runoff of the presidential election, or forming a temporary coalition government with the opposition, two top party ...
Video: Offices Raided Following Zimbabwe Elections AssociatedPress
Zimbabwe Police Search Opposition Party Offices, Arrest Journalists Voice of America

Mugabe Leadership Discusses Options
New York Times - 1 hour ago
By MICHAEL WINES The inner circle of President Robert G. Mugabe of Zimbabwe met on Friday to decide how to handle the outcome of elections that the opposition contend the president lost.
As Zimbabwe Waits for Election Results, Mugabe's Legacy Comes ... Voice of America

Oposición de Zimbabwe declara que Mugabe quiere “guerra
Milenio - hace 4 horas
Hace casi una semana fueron las elecciones. Foto: AP Por primera vez en los 28 años que lleva en el poder, el partido ha perdido su mayoría en el Parlamento, según los resultados oficiales. Johannesburgo/Harare.- Casi una semana después de que se ...
Listo Mugabe para segunda vuelta electoral en Zimbabwe El Porvenir
Robert Mugabe se aferra al poder; insiste en que no perdió la ... La Jornada (México)

Zimbabwe : l'opposition dépose un recours
Le Figaro - Il y a 4 heures
L'opposition a introduit vendredi un recours en urgence pour obliger la commission électorale à publier les résultats de l'élection présidentielle. Le dénouement de la présidentielle zimbabwéenne de samedi approche. Le Mouvement démocratique pour le ...
Recours de l'opposition pour obtenir les résultats de la ... Le Parisien
Paris demande à Harare de relâcher deux journalistes étrangers Le Monde

Mugabe busca con los miembros de su partido una salida a la crisis ... - hace 6 horas
HARARE.- Robert Mugabe está reunido con los miembros de su partido para intentar solucionar la crisis que afecta a Zimbabue tras las pasadas elecciones generales. Segú han manifestado portavoces del partido, se espera que el gubernamental ZANU busque ...

More US troops for Afghan force
BBC News - 1 hour ago
The US intends to send a "significant" number of extra troops to aid Nato's effort in Afghanistan in 2009, Defence Secretary Robert Gates said.
US Commits to More Troops in Afghanistan The Associated Press
NATO Summit Opens with Appeals for Greater Effort in Afghanistan

Réouverture de la rue Ledra, au coeur de la capitale chypriote
L'Express - Il y a 10 heures
Chypriotes grecs et turcs ont rouvert jeudi matin la rue Ledra, au coeur de Nicosie, symbole de la partition de l'île divisée depuis 1974. Les quelque 80 mètres de la rue fermée depuis 1963 ont été rouverts aux piétons à 9h27 précises (06h27 GMT) au ...
La politique intérieure turque rejaillit sur la question chypriote Courrier International
La rue Ledra, symbole du conflit chypriote, est rouverte Le Figaro

The universal glory born of mortals, who hath given birth unto the Master, the heavenly gate: let us praise Mary the Virgin, the song of the bodiless hosts, and the adornment of the faithful. For she was shown to be a Heaven and a temple of the Godhead; destroying the wall of enmity, she ushered in peace and opened the Kingdom. Possessing, therefore, this anchor of faith, we have as champion the Lord Who was born of her. Take courage, therefore, take courage, O ye people of God; for He shall fight thine enemies, since He is the Almighty One.
--Theotokion of Friday of Thomas Week, Pentecostarion

--the BB

The Feast of Martin Luther King, Junior

His biography from the Nobel Prize site:
Martin Luther King, Jr., (January 15, 1929-April 4, 1968) was born Michael Luther King, Jr., but later had his name changed to Martin. His grandfather began the family's long tenure as pastors of the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, serving from 1914 to 1931; his father has served from then until the present, and from 1960 until his death Martin Luther acted as co-pastor. Martin Luther attended segregated public schools in Georgia, graduating from high school at the age of fifteen; he received the B. A. degree in 1948 from Morehouse College, a distinguished Negro institution of Atlanta from which both his father and grandfather had graduated. After three years of theological study at Crozer Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania where he was elected president of a predominantly white senior class, he was awarded the B.D. in 1951. With a fellowship won at Crozer, he enrolled in graduate studies at Boston University, completing his residence for the doctorate in 1953 and receiving the degree in 1955. In Boston he met and married Coretta Scott, a young woman of uncommon intellectual and artistic attainments. Two sons and two daughters were born into the family.

In 1954, Martin Luther King accepted the pastorale of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama. Always a strong worker for civil rights for members of his race, King was, by this time, a member of the executive committee of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the leading organization of its kind in the nation. He was ready, then, early in December, 1955, to accept the leadership of the first great Negro nonviolent demonstration of contemporary times in the United States, the bus boycott described by Gunnar Jahn in his presentation speech in honor of the laureate. The boycott lasted 382 days. On December 21, 1956, after the Supreme Court of the United States had declared unconstitutional the laws requiring segregation on buses, Negroes and whites rode the buses as equals. During these days of boycott, King was arrested, his home was bombed, he was subjected to personal abuse, but at the same time he emerged as a Negro leader of the first rank.

In 1957 he was elected president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an organization formed to provide new leadership for the now burgeoning civil rights movement. The ideals for this organization he took from Christianity; its operational techniques from Gandhi. In the eleven-year period between 1957 and 1968, King traveled over six million miles and spoke over twenty-five hundred times, appearing wherever there was injustice, protest, and action; and meanwhile he wrote five books as well as numerous articles. In these years, he led a massive protest in Birmingham, Alabama, that caught the attention of the entire world, providing what he called a coalition of conscience. and inspiring his "Letter from a Birmingham Jail", a manifesto of the Negro revolution; he planned the drives in Alabama for the registration of Negroes as voters; he directed the peaceful march on Washington, D.C., of 250,000 people to whom he delivered his address, "l Have a Dream", he conferred with President John F. Kennedy and campaigned for President Lyndon B. Johnson; he was arrested upwards of twenty times and assaulted at least four times; he was awarded five honorary degrees; was named Man of the Year by Time magazine in 1963; and became not only the symbolic leader of American blacks but also a world figure.

At the age of thirty-five, Martin Luther King, Jr., was the youngest man to have received the Nobel Peace Prize. When notified of his selection, he announced that he would turn over the prize money of $54,123 to the furtherance of the civil rights movement.

On the evening of April 4, 1968, while standing on the balcony of his motel room in Memphis, Tennessee, where he was to lead a protest march in sympathy with striking garbage workers of that city, he was assassinated.

Prayers of the People

Mohandas Gandhi taught that “prayer is not an old woman's idle amusement. Properly understood and applied, it is the most potent instrument of action.” With this in mind, let us pray and act for freedom, justice, and peace.

We remember the conviction of Martin Luther King, Jr., that “freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.”
We pray for courage and determination by those who are oppressed.

We remember Martin’s warning that “a negative peace which is the absence of tension” is less than “a positive peace which is the presence of justice.”
We pray that those who work for peace in our world may cry out first for justice.

We remember Martin’s insight that “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly.”
We pray that we may see nothing in isolation, but may know ourselves bound to one another and to all people under heaven.

We remember Martin’s lament that “the contemporary church is often a weak ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. It is so often the arch-supporter of the status quo. Far from being disturbed by the presence of the Church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the Church’s silent and often vocal sanction of things as they are.”
We pray that neither this congregation nor any congregation of Christ’s people may be silent in the face of wrong, but that we may be disturbers of the status quo when that is God’s call to us.

Please offer your own intercessions, petitions, and thanksgivings.
Here the People may name their own prayers aloud.

We remember Martin’s “hope that dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away and the deep fog of misunderstanding will be lifted from our fear-drenched communities and in some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all their scintillating beauty.”
In faith we commend ourselves and our work for justice to the goodness of almighty God.

The Presider concludes
Almighty God, by the hand of Moses your servant you led your people out of slavery, and made them free at last: Grant that your Church, following the example of your prophet Martin Luther King, may resist oppression in the name of your love, and may secure for all your children the blessed liberty of the Gospel of Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

--From the Freedom Mass, St. Cuthbert's Episcopal Church, Oakland, California

This man affected me profoundly when I was a student in high school, a very middle-class, conservative, Baptist white boy. The moral power of standing up for what is right without resorting to violence impressed me deeply. Today, on the feast of his martyrdom for justice, I honor him and give thanks for his witness.

The Freedom Mass is one of the liturgies I crafted for St Cuddy's.

Keep dreaming. Keep witnessing. Proclaim truth. Demand justice.

--the BB

Who's supporting the troops?

From Kagro X:
I probably should be giving you the background and the facts about what's being called "the new GI Bill," introduced by Sen. Jim Webb before getting right to the heart of the matter. I should tell you about how it updates the antiquated system of educational rewards for veterans so that they really can get a decent education paid for in exchange for their service, unlike the paltry crumbs they're offered today. And then I should reveal in a way calculated to lightly shame Senator McCain, but still leave the door open for him to save face and join in, that he has not yet joined 50 of his colleagues from both sides of the aisle who have already cosponsored this bill.

But instead, I'm going to let these Iraq veterans -- brought to you by VoteVets and Brave New Films -- do that, while I myself get right to the "straight talk," to borrow a phrase: John McCain is a lousy prick for not getting on this bill on day one.

You know it. I know it. These vets know it.

--the BB

Thursday, April 03, 2008

It would be nice to send a signal (with teeth) to the Oval Office

David Swanson at reports the following, after Rep. Conyers spoke with some of the folks involved in a sit-in.

Also, Conyers said that he has drafted and is circulating to his colleagues a letter to Bush that says that if he attacks Iran impeachment hearings will begin.
If this is indeed the case, let's make our position known so Conyers will know we have his back.

You can let the House Judiciary Committee know your opinion at (202) 224-3121.
I hope they have the articles already drawn up and ready for a vote. Lots of fine legal minds have been working on articles of impeachment for some time now.
--the BB

A fish rots from the head

Given the track record of the Bush Crime Ring, could anyone really be so naive as to believe, when the Abu Ghraib story broke, that it was only a matter of a few bad apples in the lower ranks? I know I sure as hell did not.

Over time more and more information comes to light, timelines and checklists are filled in, and dots get connected.

Some significant pieces of evidence have emerged in the past few days and it is all rather overwhelming. IANAL, as they say (I am not a lawyer). I have not pored over the relevant documents in detail. I have, however, read a number of articles by those who have researched or read said documents. They made frequent allusions to being ill or having headaches in the course of the reading.

The ugly truth is beginning to emerge into the daylight.

The issue of torture begins, where I always suspected it began, at the top--among the counsels of the attorneys for the President, Vice President, and Secretary of Defense and with Rumsfeld himself. One may only infer the involvement of Cheney and Bush but I believe we may deem it an unverified certainty, especially in the case of Cheney since a driving force in the whole affair is David Addington, at that time Cheney's legal counsel and now his chief of staff.

One of the pieces of the puzzle that was just released, thanks to the ACLU demanding it under the FOIA, is one of the infamous memos by John C. Yoo, then a member of the Office of Legal Counsel advising the President and now a professor of law at Boalt Hall School of Law, University of California, Berkeley. He is famous for his contributions to the theory of a "unitary presidency," the PATRIOT Act, and theories related to detention and treatment of prisoners that flout the Constitution and international law.

If you have the time and inclination to read a long, but carefully written and readable, article that lays out the timeline of America's descent into torture, I highly recommend Phillippe Sands' article "The Green Light" in the May 2008 issue of Vanity Fair. It takes a while to plow through but will reward you with a clear idea of what took place and who the players were. It ends with the hope that some day, somehow, war criminals will find themselves before international tribunals and called to account. The article also reveals some of the lengths they have gone to to protect themselves from accountability, at least within the "American justice system." [Sorry, I had to put quotes around it, given our current realities.]

In addition to the fine work of Sands, there are shorter articles on sundry blogs, mostly wrestling with the revelations stemming from the Yoo Memo (81-page .pdf file). Remember, there is also the Bybee-Yoo Memo, the Haynes Memo, and yet another Yoo Memo we have not yet seen.

Glenn Greenwald at Salon- "John Yoo's war crimes"
"It depends on why the President thinks he needs to do that." Yoo wasn't just a law professor theorizing about the legalization of torture. He was a government official who, in concert with other government officials, set out to enable a brutal and systematic torture regime, and did so. If this level of depraved criminality doesn't remove one from the realm of respectability and mainstream seriousness -- if not result in war crimes prosecution -- then nothing does.

That John Yoo is a full professor at one of the country's most prestigious law schools, and a welcomed expert on our newspaper's Op-Ed pages and television news programs, speaks volumes about what our country has become.
Emily Bazelon - "Yoo's Utter Glib Certainty" at Slate:

What takes my breath away about the Yoo memos, now that we can finally read them, is their air of uttery certainty. One after another, complex questions of constitutional law are dispatched as if there's no cause for any debate. The president has all the war-making power. Congress has none. The president's commander in chief powers extend to interrogations (no matter how far from the battlefield in space and time they take place). Guantanamo Bay detainees and enemy aliens enjoy no constitutional protections. And then the pages Jack points us to, which include "Congress can no more interfere with the President's conduct of the interrogation of enemy combatants than it can dictate strategic or tactical decisions on the battlefield." In other words, Congress cannot prohibit any sort of treatment that the president chooses to allow. No wonder Jack Goldsmith thought Yoo was reaching far beyond where he needed to go, not to mention what the state of the law would actually support. And yet he brooks no doubt. It's as if he's writing as a Supreme Court justice, not a government lawyer. Which is understandable in one sense, since the Office of Legal Counsel functions like the government's internal Supreme Court—but also exhibits the terrifying results of dishonest, glib analysis by lawyers drunk on that very power.
Marcy Wheeler at Emptywheel - "Acting Counsels and Torture"

There are several articles at Firedoglake.

Christy Hardin Smith - "Yoo Torture Memo: I'll Take Addington at Cheney's Behest for $1,000, Alex..."
If you've missed Jane Mayer's brilliant reporting on the internal dynamics of the Cheney/Addington pull on national security policy toward the ugly side of the tracks, now is a good time to catch up. This on the Mora memo about torture and this on David Addington is a good start. There is also this background from Frontline's piece on Redefining Torture -- the whole thing is worth perusal.
Christy again - "Deciphering The Scratchings Of The Torture Consiglieri"
Am still trying to force my way through the read of the Yoo memorandum in its entirety. Painful does not begin to describe it.
Christy offers good links for learning more in her posts.

Christy's third stab at it - "Yoo Memo Deliberately Undercuts Military Law — Rumsfeld Kabuki, Anyone?"
Having read through and digested the Yoo memorandum that was recently declassified, the most striking feature of it -- beyond its utter twisting of the law in a "might equals right" stomach churning justification tango -- is that it reads like a document written in an after-the-fact criminal defense posture. Especially Part IV of the memorandum which spends pages outlining potential defenses and the mindset needed therefor should anyone be accused of committing war crimes or criminal acts.

That this flies in the face of the UCMJ and the Field Manual appears to have no meaning to Mr. Yoo. That it downgrades the precepts behind all the human rights law advances that the United States used to champion for the betterment of people in more repressive societies is just a minor inconvenience for Mr. Yoo and his "superiors." That we will be generations in the repairing of this, if ever? Not even mentioned.
Looseheadprop weighs in by saying "The Yoo Memo–Time to Stop Crying and Get to Work"
Prop begins thus:
It took me all day yesterday to get through the Yoo memo. [pdf's] I kept tearing up. My law partner asked me if someone close to me had died. It's going to take more research and analysis than I can do in a day to demonstrate even a tiny fraction of the misstatements, misapplications of law, and outright lies in this, ahem, document (I'd like to call it something else, but if I let my temper get the better of me, the research and analysis will never get done).

You can expect several posts from me on this topic. You should not take my word for it that it is a written horror, I should demonstrate that for you.
And toward the end Prop writes this:
So, the legal authority Yoo is citing to support his stunning assertion "that the laws of war make clear that prisoners may be interrogated for information concerning the enemy, its strength and its plans" not only DOESN'T SAY YOU ARE ALLOWED TO ASK FOR THAT INFORMATION, IT SAYS THE EXACT OPPOSITE. Sorry, didn't mean to shout. What Article 17 says is that you can only ask for name, rank/regiment, birthdate and serial number, period.

Oh yeah, and it also says specifically that you can't torture.

So, the Prop wonders, what could be the authority in footnote 9 supporting this amazing assertion? Hmmm? Could it be the earlier memo written by none other than.......wait for it....John Yoo?!?? Yoo's boss, Bybee may have signed off on it, but it is widely believed to have been primarily authored by Yoo. So, Yoo's authority is ....John Yoo.

Not a statute, not a court opinion, himself.
To which I might add, without really knowing it to be the case: "(or what Addington told him to write)."

Jay Carney at Time -
By this incredibly dangerous and misguided reasoning, any interrogator who tortured or cruelly mistreated a prisoner could not be held responsible so long as he wasn't inspired by malice or sadism -- as long as, in other words, he was just following orders. As long as he administered it dispassionately almost any kind of physical or mental torture would be condoned, by Yoo's reasoning. Moreover, virtually anything an interrogator did to a prisoner could be justified so long as the President deemed it necessary as matter of national self-defense.
Paul Kiel puts together a timeline at TPM.

Marty Lederman at Balkinization - "The Torture Memo to Top All Torture Memos"
The Yoo memo effectively gave the Pentagon the green light to disregard statutory limits on torture, cruelty and maltreatment in the treatment of detainees. This is the version of the 2002 Torture memo, which was addressed only to the CIA and the torture statute, as applied to the numerous statutes restricting the conduct of the armed forces. None of those statues, you see, limits the conduct of war if the President says so. It is, in effect, the blueprint that led to Abu Ghraib and the other abuses within the armed forces in 2003 and early 2004. Here, finally, is Part One of that memo, and here is Part Two.
Yoo tries to defend himself in Esquire.

Jonathan Turley, the professor of constitutional law whom Keith Olbermann consults, says on Countdown:
Turley:”…It’s really amazing, Congress, including the Democrats, have avoided any type of investigation into torture because they do not want to deal with the fact that the president ordered war crimes. But, evidence keeps on coming out. The only thing we don’t have is a group picture with a detainee attached to electrical wires.” [Emphasis mine]
Dan Froomkin at the Washington Post:
And the memo’s author — John Yoo, then a deputy in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel — was a longtime ally and notoriously pliant scribe for the radical legal views of Vice President Cheney and his chief enforcer, David S. Addington.

Yoo’s memo is a historic document. It is the ultimate expression of Cheney’s belief that anything the president or his designates do — no matter how illegal, barbaric or un-American — is justifiable in the name of national self-defense.

It is also an example of how enabling zealots to disregard the rule of law and the customary boundaries of human conduct leads to madness.
h/t to Crooks and Liars for the video and the Turley and Froomkin pointers.

Now, granted, we are not discussing resident aliens in this particular context, but we are dealing with who is encompassed within the law and who is not. I therefore think there is some applicability to a principle of the Torah.

You shall have one law for the alien and for the citizen: for I am the Lord your God.
(Leviticus 24:22)

As for the assembly, there shall be for both you and the resident alien a single statute, a perpetual statute throughout your generations; you and the alien shall be alike before the Lord. You and the alien who resides with you shall have the same law and the same ordinance.
(Numbers 15:15-16)

Amendment VIII

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
It was not "a few bad apples." This came from Cheney and Rumsfeld at the very least and was consented to by Bush (because the decisions of the president are repeatedly invoked in the matter).

--the BB