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Two cheers for President Obama.
President Obama, at the press conference yesterday with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu:
Now, Israel is going to have to take some difficult steps as well, and I shared with the Prime Minister the fact that under the roadmap and under Annapolis that there's a clear understanding that we have to make progress on settlements. Settlements have to be stopped in order for us to move forward.
I’m not a fan of Washington’s blue-ribbon commissions, where political compromises can trump the truth. But the 9/11 investigation did illuminate how, a month after Bush received an intelligence brief titled “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.,” 3,000 Americans were slaughtered on his and Cheney’s watch. If the Obama administration really wants to move on from the dark Bush era, it will need a new commission, backed up by serious law enforcement, to shed light on where every body is buried.
Members of Congress have been told in confidential briefings that Pakistan is rapidly adding to its nuclear arsenal even while racked by insurgency, raising questions on Capitol Hill about whether billions of dollars in proposed military aid might be diverted to Pakistan’s nuclear program.
Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, confirmed the assessment of the expanded arsenal in a one-word answer to a question on Thursday in the midst of lengthy Senate testimony. Sitting beside Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, he was asked whether he had seen evidence of an increase in the size of the Pakistani nuclear arsenal.
“Yes,” he said quickly, adding nothing, clearly cognizant of Pakistan’s sensitivity to any discussion about the country’s nuclear strategy or security.
Inside the Obama administration, some officials say, Pakistan’s drive to spend heavily on new nuclear arms has been a source of growing concern, because the country is producing more nuclear material at a time when Washington is increasingly focused on trying to assure the security of an arsenal of 80 to 100 weapons so that they will never fall into the hands of Islamic insurgents.
Hospitals and insurance companies said Thursday that President Obama had substantially overstated their promise earlier this week to reduce the growth of health spending.
Mr. Obama invited health industry leaders to the White House on Monday to trumpet their cost-control commitments. But three days later, confusion swirled in Washington as the companies’ trade associations raced to tamp down angst among members around the country.
After meeting with six major health care organizations, Mr. Obama hailed their cost-cutting promise as historic.
Broad Coalition Of Organizations And Individuals Launch “Restore Justice At Justice” Campaign | Press Release
Demands Redress For Those Politically Prosecuted Under Bush Administration, Beginning With Governor Don Siegelman And Paul Minor
Today a broad coalition of organizations and individuals dedicated to an honest and accountable government launched “Restore Justice At Justice,” www.RestoreJusticeAtJustice.com, a campaign to clean up the Department of Justice’s sad record of political prosecutions under the Bush Administration. These organizations, representing hundreds of thousands of members, have a strong track record of spurring action on crucial issues. The coalition has sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, available on the Restore Justice at Justice website, requesting that he quickly investigate and identify those targeted, and vacate their convictions, beginning with Alabama ex-Governor Don Siegelman and Attorney Paul Minor.
President Barack Obama plans to replace a "batch" of U.S. Attorneys in the next few weeks and more prosecutors thereafter, according to Attorney General Eric Holder.
"I expect that we’ll have an announcement in the next couple of weeks with regard to our first batch of U.S attorneys," Holder said Thursday during a House Judiciary Committee hearing which stretched out over most of the day due to breaks for members' votes. "One of the things that we didn’t want to do was to disrupt the continuity of the offices and pull people out of positions where we thought there might be a danger that that might have on the continuity--the effectiveness of the offices.But...elections matter--it is our intention to have the U.S. Attorneys that are selected by President Obama in place as quickly as they can."
Obama Dares Judge to Order Release Of NSA Spy Document
By David Kravets | Wired
Setting the stage for a constitutional showdown, the Obama administration dared a federal judge here late Friday to do what no judge has yet done: disclose classified data the government has declared a national security state secret.
The administration urged (.pdf) U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker to order such a disclosure in a 3-year-old lawsuit weighing whether a sitting U.S. president may bypass Congress and adopt a program of eavesdropping on Americans without warrants. Such an order, the administration said, could halt three years of convoluted litigation and force the appellate courts to weigh in on the hotly contested issue.
President Obama to restart Guantanamo Bay military tribunals
By Philippe Naughton | Times OnLine
Barack Obama is set to reverse the first formal decision of his presidency today with the expected announcement that his Administration will restart Bush-era military tribunals for Guantánamo Bay detainees.
When NFL player-turned-Army Ranger Pat Tillman died at the hands of US troops in a case of "friendly fire," the spin machine at the Pentagon went into overdrive. Rumsfeld and company couldn't have their most high-profile soldier dying in such an inelegant fashion, especially with the release of those pesky photos from Abu Ghraib hitting the airwaves. So an obscene lie was told to Tillman's family, his friends and the American public. The chickenhawks in charge, whose only exposure to war was watching John Wayne movies, claimed that he died charging a hill and was cut down by the radical Islamic enemies of freedom. In the weeks preceding his death, Tillman was beginning to question what exactly he was fighting for, telling friends that he believed the war in Iraq was " [expletive] illegal." He may not have known what he was fighting for, but it's now clear what he died for: public relations. Today, after five years, six investigations and two Congressional hearings, questions still linger about how Tillman died and why it was covered up.
Meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, Obama has the chance to make good on real change in U.S. policy in the Middle East.
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is coming to Washington on May 18, for his first official visit with President Obama. If President Obama is serious about achieving a two-state solution in his first term, and therefore serious about bringing real pressure to bear on Israel, there will be no better time to do so. *
Obama, who has strongly supported the idea of a two-state solution since his campaign, has yet to articulate whether or not he is actually prepared to spend some of his massive political capital to exert serious pressure on Israel towards that end – for example by conditioning (even some) of the currently committed $30 billion in U.S. military aid to Israel, on a complete Israeli settlement freeze in the West Bank. If he means it, this could be the moment. Netanyahu’s campaign rejection of the two-state solution, his rejection of continuing the current Israeli-Palestinian diplomacy and instead limiting negotiations to economic issues, and his extreme racist Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman all serve to make a serious U.S. effort towards Israeli accountability not only timely, but less politically costly than ever.
Twitter Activism: A Special Prosecutor Is Who Needs To See The New Torture Pics, And We Need To Keep Demanding One
A Special Prosecutor Is Who Needs To See The New Torture Pics, And We Need To Keep Demanding One
Note: At the bottom of this, you'll find information on how to do Twitter activism on not only this action, but also on a variety of other actions, as well.
The big fuss this week was President Obama's total turnaround on releasing the new torture pictures. Despite stating that they were "not particularly sensational", in the next breath he argued that releasing them would put our troops at greater risk, two statements which when combined make no logical sense.
What's really going on here is that Obama has so far resisted in every possible way his duty under the law to appoint a special prosecutor, despite his affirmation that waterboarding is torture, and the arrogant public confessions of those who ordered that torture. Having underestimated the furor for prosecution that the
Skip first 3/4 of this but don't miss David Waldman forcing CNN to cover the topic of torture for war lies.
According to a report on prisoner abuse prepared for the Department of Defense by James Schlesinger, orders signed by Bush and Rumsfeld in 2002 and 2003 authorizing brutal interrogations “became policy” at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib.
Obama Is Becoming an Accessory after the fact to War Crimes
By Matthew Rothschild | The Progressive
Barack Obama is fast becoming an accessory after the fact to the war crimes that the Bush Administration has committed.
By not prosecuting the torturers and those who ordered the torture, and now by not even going public with the photo tortures he’d already agreed to release, Obama is doing Dick Cheney’s business for him.
Cheney’s been telling every news outlet that will have him on that a) we didn’t torture or do anything wrong and that b) everything we did was necessary to keep us safe.
The photos of our brutality that are in Obama’s possession could disprove these points in a hurry.
But now Obama, like Cheney, wants to hide the evidence.
MI5 and MI6 face 29 new allegations of torture in foreign prisons
By Duncan Gardham | Telegraph UK
A campaign group representing prisoners detained for terrorism has compiled reports from a large number of detainees and former detainees who claim that the security and intelligence services were aware of their torture and mistreatment and did nothing to stop it.
The Politics of Excusing Torture In The Name of National Security
By John W. Dean | Find Law
I would encourage those who are demanding exposure and prosecution to keep pounding their drums. Clearly, they are on the right side of this issue, and Obama knows it. While he is going to placate the national security bureaucrats from time to time in order to lead them effectively, hopefully the pressure for him to deal with the atrocious behavior of Bush and Cheney is only just getting started.
When doctors started reporting that some of the victims of the US bombing of several villages in Farah Province last week—an attack that left between 117 and 147 civilians dead, most of them women and children—were turning up with deep, sharp burns on their body that “looked like” they’d been caused by white phosphorus, the US military was quick to deny responsibility.
US officials—who initially denied that the US had even bombed any civilians in Farah despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, including massive craters where houses had once stood—insisted that “no white phosphorus” was used in the attacks on several villages in Farah.
Official military policy on the use of white phosphorus is to only use the high-intensity, self-igniting material as a smoke screen during battles or to illuminate targets, not as a weapon against human beings—even enemy troops.
Now that policy, and the military’s blanket denial that phosphorus was used in Farah, have to be challenged
A little over three years ago, SBS Dateline, an Australian television program, released leaked photographs from the U.S. prison in Iraq, Abu Ghraib.
It is believed that the pictures being held back by the Obama administration may include some of these shots that most of the US press ignored, although RAW STORY ran them in 2006.
After the posting of the photos, the ACLU released the following statement exclusive to RAW STORY.
We get reaction to the Senate hearing on torture from private investigator and attorney John Sifton, executive director of One World Research, which carries out research for law firms and human rights groups. Sifton has conducted extensive investigations into the CIA interrogation and detention program. He says any investigation of Bush administration torture and rendition should include an estimated 100 homicides of prisoners in US custody.
D.C. Area Residents Opposed to Af-Pak War Hold Sunday Rally | Press Release
On the heels of a Congressional vote for more war funds, passed at the behest of the White House, local peace and justice activists will hold a Sunday afternoon rally calling for an end to continual war and occupation of Afghanistan, and drone bombings of Pakistan.
Following a House of Representatives vote Thursday approving $96.7 billion in additional war funding, local activists organized an anti-war rally to be held Sunday, 1:30 PM in Lafayette Park. Among the speakers are Ray McGovern, a former senior CIA analyst; Medea Benjamin, co-founder of Code Pink Women for Peace and Global Exchange; and Erik Leaver a senior policy analyst with the Institute for Policy studies.
StratCom and the Domination of (Cyber) Space
By Tim Rinne | State Coordinator, Nebraskans for Peace | Submitted by Bruce Gagnon | http://space4peace.blogspot.com/
It seems an unlikely place from which to try to dominate the world.
A remote Air Force base in rural Nebraska, twelve miles south of Omaha.
There's even a cornfield across the road.
But it's where George Bush was rushed for safekeeping on 9/11. And today, it's where the White House continues to wage its international 'War on Terror' and to pursue its goal of dominating space.
And, as it now turns out, cyber space.
Obama now says releasing the additional torture photographs would inflame anti-American opinion and put our troops in greater danger. But who's he really trying to protect by trying to keep the photos under wraps?
Human rights activists expressed disappointment with President Obama's decision to restore revamped military commission trials for detainees at Guantanamo Bay.
As TomDispatch readers are well aware, James Carroll is a man who knows something about the dangers of mixing religious fervor, war, and the crusading spirit, a subject he dealt with eloquently in his book Constantine's Sword: The Church and the Jews. A former Catholic priest turned antiwar activist in the Vietnam era, he is a weekly columnist for the Boston Globe, and was perhaps the first media figure to notice -- and warn against -- a presidential "slip of the tongue" just after 9/11, when George W. Bush referred briefly to his new Global War on Terror as a "crusade." He was also possibly the first mainstream columnist in the country to warn against the consequences of launching a war against Afghanistan in response to those attacks -- the disastrous results of which we now see daily.
Carroll's focus on fundamentalist religion and violence is long standing. In print and in other ways, he has spoken out and worked against militarism and intolerance, and has focused on the ways in which religion and violence are increasingly merging into a toxic brew capable of setting our planet aflame. Most recently, he's publicly put both his own practice of Catholicism and the perilous state of his church -- perched as it is at the edge of a fundamentalist precipice with a new Pope who threatens to push it into the void -- under a microscope.