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President Obama is about to order the beginning of the end of the U.S. war and occupation of Iraq. Or is he?
President Barack Obama said directly that he would be announcing “a way forward in Iraq that leaves Iraq to its people and responsibly ends this war.” As far as it goes, that sounds good. This is an indication that President Obama is largely keeping to his campaign promises, and that's a hopeful sign, reflecting the power of the anti-war consensus in this country.
If this plan were actually a first step towards the unequivocal goal of a complete end to the U.S. occupation of Iraq, it would be better than good, it would be fabulous. But that would mean this withdrawal would be the first step towards a complete withdrawal of all U.S. troops, pulling out of all the 150,000+ U.S.-paid foreign mercenaries and contractors, closing all the U.S. military bases, and ending all U.S. efforts to control Iraqi oil.
So far that is not on Obama's agenda.
Prosecutors Prepare Charges Against Final 'Enemy Combatant' in U.S.
By Carrie Johnson and Julie Tate | Washington Post
Federal prosecutors are preparing to charge Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri with providing material support to al-Qaeda terrorists in a groundbreaking move that would put the alleged sleeper agent under the jurisdiction of the U.S. court system, according to sources familiar with the issue.
Indicting Marri in a federal court marks a significant change from the policies of the Bush administration, which had argued that al-Marri should be tried in a military tribunal proceeding and that he could not use American courts to contest his legal status.
Afghanistan's Complex Nature of Fighting
By Tom Santoni | Central Florida Veterans For Peace
Note: Mr. Santoni’s views expressed in this article do not represent an official statement of position on behalf Veterans For Peace in regards to the Impeachment of President Barack H. Obama …yet.
How many Obama-ordered civilian deaths in foreign lands will you tolerate before speaking out and taking action? Three Pakistani children are three too many for me.
In a blatant and unmistakable act of war against a sovereign nation, Barack Obama, four days into his administration on Friday, January 23, 2009, as commander in chief of US armed forces, ordered the US military to launch Hellfire missile strikes on homes in northwest Pakistan, killing dozens of civilians including at least three children. The military was aiming to bomb al Qaeda and Taliban “suspects,” but there was some unfortunate “collateral damage”. Oops.
In the Wall Street Journal of January 24, the loathsome McCarthyite neocon David Horowitz gazed approvingly on the inauguration of Barack Obama. To Horowitz it meant the removal of an obstacle to war. Thus he wrote:
The Bush administration shut off a source of information last fall about abuse and neglect in long-term care facilities that people suing nursing homes consider crucial to their cases.
The change that affects the $144 billion nursing-home industry occurred with no public notice or attention, perhaps because of the array of last-minute rules that President George W. Bush’s appointees rushed out before leaving Washington last month.
“This is pretty stunning,” said Mark Kosieradzki, a plaintiff attorney in Plymouth, Minnesota. “Nobody was told. It was just done.”
By Dave Lindorff
Barack Obama’s first address to Congress provided Americans with yet another example of competent speechmaking, and I suppose, given that we’ve just endured eight painful years of oratorical farce, being able to listen to your president without wincing is something.
The problem is that the way forward proposed by the president as laid out in this address was almost always half-hearted, wrong-headed or doomed.
Obama declared at the outset of his address that the economic crisis was the major issue confronting the country, and while one could argue that this crisis is merely a symptom of much bigger issues, like the nearly completed deindustrialization of the nation, the death grip of militarism, and the growing political power of corporations, one could also concede that there is an urgent need to deal with the deepening recession.
The Seven Intellectual Underpinnings of the Obama Code: George Lakoff
By George Lakoff | Buzzflash
As President Obama prepares to address a joint session of Congress, what can we expect to hear?
The pundits will stress the nuts-and-bolts policy issues: the banking system, education, energy, health care. But beyond policy, there will be a vision of America—a moral vision and a view of unity that the pundits often miss.
What they miss is the Obama Code. For the sake of unity, the President tends to express his moral vision indirectly. Like other self-aware and highly articulate speakers, he connects with his audience using what cognitive scientists call the "cognitive unconscious." Speaking naturally, he lets his deepest ideas simply structure what he is saying. If you follow him, the deep ideas are communicated unconsciously and automatically. The Code is his most effective way to bring the country together around fundamental American values.
For supporters of the President, it is crucial to understand the Code in order to talk overtly about the old values our new president is communicating. It is necessary because tens of millions of Americans—both conservatives and progressives—don’t yet perceive the vital sea change that Obama is bringing about. The word "code" can refer to a system of either communication or morality. President Obama has integrated the two. The Obama Code is both moral and linguistic at once. The President is using his enormous skills as a communicator to express a moral system. As he has said, budgets are moral documents. His economic program is tied to his moral system and is discussed in the Code, as are just about all of his other policies.
Behind the Obama Code are seven crucial intellectual moves that I believe are historically, practically, and cognitively appropriate, as well as politically astute. They are not all obvious, and jointly they may seem mysterious. That is why it is worth sorting them out one-by-one.
Former British resident Binyam Mohamed arrives back in Britain tomorrow after his release from Guantanamo Bay. British and US lawyers claim that sustained beatings - which have only recently stopped - have left him with severe psychological and physical problems....Lieutenant colonel Yvonne Bradley, Mohamed's US military attorney, added: "He has been severely beaten. Sometimes I don't like to think about it because my country is behind all this."
Binyam Mohamed will return to Britain suffering from a huge range of injuries after being beaten by US guards right up to the point of his departure from Guantánamo Bay, according to the first detailed accounts of his treatment inside the camp.
John Bresnahan reports:
Former Bush adviser Karl Rove was a no-show today at his scheduled deposition deadline for the House Judiciary Committee's ongoing probe into the U.S. attorney firings -- setting up a major decision for President Obama on how to respond to congressional subpoenas.
A new report released just hours ago reveals that U.S.-made white phosphorus artillery shells among other U.S. weapons were found throughout Gaza. When white phosphorus munitions are used in densely-populated civilian areas as Israel has, it violates international humanitarian law’s prohibition on indiscriminate attacks and amounts to a war crime.
In light of this new finding, we are urging Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to immediately call for:
* an investigation into Israel’s use of U.S. arms in Gaza
* a suspension of U.S. military aid to Israel and
* to urge the United Nations to impose an arms embargo on all parties in the conflict
Samia Salman Al-Manay'a, 16 years old, was asleep in her home in the Jabalia refugee camp in Gaza, when a phosphorus shell landed on the first floor of the house on January10th. Ten days later, from her hospital bed, she spoke to our delegation.
"The pain is piercing. It's as though a fire is burning in my body. It's too much for me to bear. In spite of all the medicine they are giving me the pain is still so strong."
U.S. soldiers forced to return to active duty haven't received the pay bonuses they were promised five months ago, advocates say.
The 13,000 soldiers, who were made to remain on active duty beyond their enlistment period by so-called stop-loss orders, are entitled to monthly bonuses of up to $500 under a plan approved last year by Congress and was set to take effect Oct. 1. But the soldiers are still waiting to see the bonuses, USA Today reported Monday.
Gitmo detainee who claimed torture is freed | MSNBC
Former British resident is first to be released since Obama took office
A Guantanamo prisoner who claims he was tortured at a covert CIA site in Morocco returned to Britain a free man Monday after nearly seven years in U.S. captivity — the first inmate from the U.S. prison camp freed since President Barack Obama took office.
Binyam Mohamed, once accused by U.S. officials of being part of a conspiracy to detonate a "dirty bomb" on American soil, flew to a British military base.
He was released after being interviewed for four hours by police and immigration officials. He had to fill out new paperwork for residency since his permit expired in 2004.
Mohamed's claims of torture, abuse and extraordinary rendition are at the heart of several lawsuits. Lawyers on both sides of the Atlantic are suing for secret documents they say prove the United States sent Mohamed to Morocco and that Britain knew of the mistreatment — a violation under the 1994 U.N. Convention Against Torture.
By Dave Lindorff
If Democrats want to come out of this economic crisis with a powerful mandate to continue running the country, they need to bag the nonsensical talk of “bi-partisanship” and tackle two big lies that have been stymieing progressives for decades.
The first lie is that the only solution to the nation’s deepening health care crisis, which now has over 42 million people—roughly one in seven Americans—living without any health insurance or ready access to medical care, is a combination of limitations on treatment and continued reliance on the private health insurance industry.
The second lie is that Social Security, the single most important economic “safety net” under the lives of America’s elderly, its disabled, and children who lose a wage-earning parent, is headed for “bankruptcy” and needs to have its already skimpy benefits cut back.
On February 12, Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair told Congress that the global economic crisis was the most serious security challenge facing the United States and that it could topple governments and trigger waves of refugees, the Los Angeles Times reported.
President Obama will hold a "fiscal responsibility summit" in Washington next Monday with the goal of reining in government spending. Watch out.
With our federal budget deficit heading toward $1.4 trillion this year, or nearly 10% of our overall economy, something must be done. Look out.
Obama adviser John Podesta says the summit is the first step in a process to help the public "understand how the financial balance sheet of the federal government comes back into order."
Translation: Middle class and poor folks are going to really get nailed.
According to the Washington Post Obama's team has invited big business, economists and a range of other "special interests" to the event which will feature five breakout sessions. Larry Summers (refer to Naomi Klein interview here) will lead the discussion on Social Security. Hold onto your hat.
Obama's DoJ Sought Dismissal of Missing E-Mails Lawsuit
by Jason Leopold | The Public Record
One day after he was sworn in as President of the United States and in the same week signing executive orders ushering in a new era of government transparency, Barack Obama's Justice Department quietly filed a motion in federal court to dismiss a long-running lawsuit that sought to force the Bush administration to recover as many as 15 million missing White House e-mails.
The American military is shipping battlefield equipment through Jordan and Kuwait, testing possible exit routes in advance of a U.S. withdrawal in Iraq, military officials said.
The convoys — carrying armored vehicles, weapons and other items — mark the Pentagon's first steps in confronting the complex logistics of transporting the huge arsenal stockpiled in Iraq over nearly six years.
It's also part of a wider assessment, ordered by U.S. Central Command, to decide what items the military can transfer, donate, sell or toss away once a full-scale withdrawal is under way, Marine Corps and Army officials told The Associated Press.
The Obama administration, siding with former President George W. Bush, is trying to kill a lawsuit that seeks to recover what could be millions of missing White House e-mails.
Two advocacy groups suing the Executive Office of the President say that large amounts of White House e-mail documenting Bush's eight years in office may still be missing, and that the government must undertake an extensive recovery effort. They expressed disappointment that Obama's Justice Department is continuing the Bush administration's bid to get the lawsuits dismissed.
During its first term, the Bush White House failed to install electronic record-keeping for e-mail when it switched to a new system, resulting in millions of messages that could not be found.
The Bush White House discovered the problem in 2005 and rejected a proposed solution.
The name search took a year, while the company became persona non grata in Iraq, but now it's a reality. The notorious Blackwater Worldwide has officially rebranded itself Xe. According to a company memo, "Xe will be a one-stop shopping source for world class services in the fields of security, stability, aviation, training and logistics."
Note: Obama has selected Ogden for deputy attorney general. The Senate Judiciary Committee is going to vote on his confirmation 2-26.
David Ogden and the New Pornographers: Why the Senate Should Reject His Nomination
by Matthew Schmitz, Public Discourse
February 12, 2009
David Ogden has impressive legal credentials, but his long career as a pornography-industry attorney casts doubt on his ability to enforce laws meant to protect children.
David Ogden graduated from Harvard Law School, clerked for Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun, and worked in the Justice Department under President Bill Clinton. He brings to his Senate confirmation hearings a long résumé that shows him to be an effective and savvy advocate. Nonetheless, the Senate should decline to confirm as Deputy Attorney General a man who has a long history of representing the pornography industry and opposing laws designed to protect children from sexual exploitation.
Same Old Smoke and Mirrors
By John Perry
Court gives Obama a week to decide
By JOSH GERSTEIN, Politico
A federal appeals court has agreed to give President Barack Obama a little more time—but only a little— to decide whether to support...
...one of President Bush’s most controversial uses of executive privilege. The new administration had asked for a two-week extension until March 4 to decide whether to fight a judge’s ruling that Bush could not use executive privilege to shield his aides from testifying before Congress – a case likely to have implications for whether Karl Rove will have to testify.
However, in an order filed Thursday, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals gave the Justice Department only until Wednesday to settle on its position.
Secrecy and Denial as Pakistan Lets CIA Use Airbase to Strike Militants
By Tom Coghlan, Zahid Hussain, and Jeremy Page | Times On Line | Click through for online video | Submitted by Michael Munk | www.MichaelMunk.com
The CIA is secretly using an airbase in southern Pakistan to launch the Predator drones that observe and attack al-Qaeda and Taleban militants on the Pakistani side of the border with Afghanistan, a Times investigation has found.
Court: Chinese at Guantanamo Can't Be Freed in U.S.
From Bill Mears | CNN
Attorney General Eric Holder said Wednesday he will travel to the Guantanamo detention center next week as a "first step" in a process to determine what to do with detainees held there. Holder told reporters after a speech on civil rights that he will make the trip to Cuba on Monday with the Justice Department's point man on counterterrorism, Matt Olsen. Spokesman Dean Boyd termed the trip "the beginning of a review process." Holder told reporters review of the Guantanamo detainees' individual cases has begun and officials are "making progress," but he declined to be more specific.
By MICHAEL J. SNIFFEN, Associated Press
WASHINGTON – Despite President Obama's vow to open government more than ever, the Justice Department is defending Bush administration decisions to keep secret many documents about domestic wiretapping, data collection on travelers and U.S. citizens, and interrogation of suspected terrorists.
In half a dozen lawsuits, Justice lawyers have opposed formal motions or spurned out-of-court offers to delay court action until the new administration rewrites Freedom of Information Act guidelines and decides whether the new rules might allow the public to see more.
In only one case has the Justice Department agreed to suspend a FOIA lawsuit until the disputed documents can be re-evaluated under the yet-to-be-written guidelines. That case involves negotiations on an anti-counterfeiting treaty, not the more controversial, secret anti-terrorism tactics that spawned the other lawsuits as well as Obama's promises of greater openness.
Is Obama "Yooing?" Time to Create a Clean-up Team To Identify and Cancel Bad Bush Rules, Edicts and Policies
By Rob Kall, www.opednews.com
Obama is "Yooing"-- using his advisers, like Dubya used John Yoo, to cover his decisions to make wrong choices-- currently, on separation of church and state and presidential privilege. We need to nip this in the bud.
There are different kinds of leaders. Some return the stolen possessions of victims-- things stolen by their predecessors. And some continue to enjoy the stolen goods, whether they be artistic masterpieces, tribal lands... or democratic and constitutional rights.
Obama’s potential nominee to head The Department of]Justice’s Office of Legal Policy, Mark Gitenstein, worked as a lobbyist for the Chamber of Commerce between 2000 and 2008, helping his law firm earn more than $6 million in fees, according to federal lobbying records. Obama has set forth strict rules against lobbyists working for him and so Mr. Gitenstein will have to get a waiver. VR Is vehemently opposed to this appointment because of the obvious conflict of interest under which Mr. Gitenstein will labor and because of his work for the Chamber, an organization has been engaged in pervasive illegal and corrupt activity regarding elections nationwide at the behest of big business and Karl Rove.
Co-authored by Linda Milazzo and Georgianne Nienaber
To: The Honorable Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State, Washington, DC 20520
To: The Honorable Susan Rice, US Ambassador to the United Nations, United Nations Plaza, New York, NY 10017
Dear Secretary Clinton and Ambassador Rice,
The humanitarian situation in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo is disintegrating and it is time for the United States to intervene publicly and forcefully. According to report after report from human rights organizations, including Human Rights Watch (HRW), the violence is escalating, and the United Nations does not have enough peacekeeping troops to contain the violence. Already more innocents have died than in the Rwandan genocide of 1994. The world cannot say again that it had no idea of the scope of this disaster. Rwanda can no longer be given a free pass because of its suffering during the genocide, and Rwandan President Paul Kagame must be held accountable for the alliance he has formed with Congolese President Joseph Kabila who is turning a blind eye to the crimes committed against innocent Hutu civilians in eastern Congo.
In an urgent communiqué to independent media, the Congolese National Congress for the Defense of the People (French acronym, CNDP), is asking to meet with you precipitously regarding the Rwandan government’s unwarranted detention of CNDP leader, General Laurent Nkunda, and the corresponding increase in massacres of Congolese civilians since his January 22nd arrest. As documented by Human Rights Watch on February 13, 2009: