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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.
As part of its plans to close Guantanamo Bay, the Obama administration is considering holding some of the detainees indefinitely and without trial on US soil, US media reported Thursday.
President Barack Obama's "administration is weighing plans to detain some terror suspects on US soil -- indefinitely and without trial -- as part of a plan to retool military commission trials that were conducted for prisoners held in Guantanamo Bay," The Wall Street Journal said....
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who met with White House Counsel Greg Craig this week about the Guantanamo plans, told the Journal that the administration was namely seeking authority for indefinite detentions granted by a national security court.
US President Barack Obama has said the release of more photos of prisoner abuse by US soldiers is "of no benefit" and may inflame opinion against the US.
The pictures were not "sensational" and every case of abuse had been dealt with by the military, with action taken where appropriate, he said.
US Iraq Casualties Jump to 72,175
Compiled by Michael Munk | www.MichaelMunk.com
US military occupation forces in Iraq under Commander-in- Chief Obama suffered 11 combat casualties in the eight days ending May 13 as the official total jumped sharply to at least 72,175 with an update of "non-combat" victims. The total includes 34,696 dead and wounded from what the Pentagon classifies as "hostile" causes and more than 37,479 dead and medically evacuated (as of April 4, 2009) from "non-hostile" causes.*
The actual total is over 100,000 because the Pentagon chooses not to count as "Iraq casualties" the more than 30,000 veterans whose injuries-mainly brain trauma from explosions and PTSD - diagnosed only after they had left Iraq.**
In the first hour of his administration President Barack Obama affirmed his dedication to the rule of law:
Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils that we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man -- a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience sake.”
In his first full day in office President Obama said: “Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this administration."
The remarkable campaign and inspiring oratory of the first African-American to be elected to the planet’s most powerful public office sparked worldwide optimism and hope for new and creative approaches to serious national and international challenges.
Bush's 'Smoking Gun' Witness Found Dead
IndictBushNow files Freedom of Information Act lawsuit to get to bottom of story
The cover-up of Bush-era crimes is taking a shocking but not unexpected turn. A fateful move has been made and it is certain to backfire.
A prisoner who was horribly tortured in 2002 until he agreed - at the demand of Bush torturers - to say that al-Qaeda was linked to Saddam Hussein is suddenly dead. Several weeks ago, Human Rights Watch investigators discovered the missing inmate and talked to him. He had been secretly transferred by the administration to a prison in Libya after having been held by the CIA both in secret “black hole prisons” and in Egypt.
60 Minutes slights critics of controversial weapons
On May 10, CBS's 60 Minutes presented a remarkably one-sided report on unmanned Air Force drones firing missiles into Afghanistan and Iraq. Though the drones have been criticized for killing civilians in both countries, CBS viewers heard from no critics of the weapons.
Instead, correspondent Lara Logan seemed awed by the drones from the very start of the broadcast: "Every so often in the history of war, a new weapon comes along that fundamentally rewrites the rules of battle. This is a story about a revolution in unmanned aviation that is doing just that." She described the drones as "hunting down insurgents, every minute of every day," and as "one of the most important planes in the United States Air Force."
AS FEDERAL WAR POLICY SHIFTS, OREGON HOUSE TO VOTE ON KEEPING NATIONAL GUARD AT HOME
. . . would become first state to adopt new Guard law
The Oregon House is within days of scheduling a work session and floor vote on legislation preventing any future unlawful deployments of the Oregon National Guard. Cooperation between Rep. Dennis Richardson (R-Central Point) and Rep. Chip Shields (D-Portland) has led to bipartisan support for Oregon’s HB 2556, a bill that makes explicit the governor’s power to ensure the Guard is only used in the presence of a "valid Congressional enactment consistent with the Constitution of the United States of America." HB 2556-1 has gathered enough support to win adoption by the Oregon House, according to grassroots organizers who support it.
By JOHN FEFFER, FPIF
St. Augustine fooled around a lot as a young man. At one point during his philandering, according to his Confessions, the future Church Father uttered the immortal lines: "Give me chastity. But not yet."
President Obama has taken a very Augustinian approach to nuclear weapons. He has identified a desired goal. But at the same time, he's reluctant to give up old habits. "Give me nuclear abolition," Obama proclaims in public. With his day-to-day policies, however, the president is conveying a slightly different message: "But not yet."
The ratio of wounded to killed in Iraq is much higher than in previous conflicts, and is a far more accurate measure of the scale of violence in the country than the tally of combat deaths. In Iraq the ratio is 8 to 1, compared to Vietnam, where it was 3 to 1, or World War II, where it was 2 to 1. ...
... nine percent of all unemployment in the United States is attributed to combat exposure, as is 8 percent of all divorce or separation and 21 percent of all spousal or partner abuse. The impact of all this extends to behavioral problems in children, child abuse, drug and alcohol addiction, incarceration, and homelessness, all of which have implication that go well beyond the individual and reverberate across generations. ...
There’s a big piece of news about Dick Cheney and torture buried toward the end of this big Washington Post piece about the torture wars.
Specifically: The White House has decided to declassify and release a classified 2004 CIA report about the torture program that is reported to have found no proof that torture foiled any terror plots on American soil — directly contradicting Cheney’s claims. The paper cites “allies” of the White House as a source.
(The Intelligence Daily) -- A strange feeling of déjà vu arises while listening to the administration sell further U.S. military intervention in Pakistan (our Predator drones are already there).
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Michael Mullen claimed in late March that Pakistan's intelligence service has "close links with al Qaeda and the Taliban network." In fact, Mullen warned, the Pakistani intelligence service, ISI, is "offering logistical support to them (the Taliban)."
Cheney May Be Willing To Testify Under Oath About Torture Program | Think Progress | Submitted By Bob Fertik | Democrats.com
Senate and House Democrats should immediately schedule a date for Cheney to testify under oath.
Today on CBS´s Face the Nation, Vice President Cheney vigorously defended the Bush administration´s torture policies and his belief that by rejecting them, President Obama is raising "the risk to the American people of another attack." Cheney said that the Bush administration´s interrogation policies will one day be viewed as "one of the great success stories of American intelligence."
When host Bob Schieffer asked Cheney whether he would be willing to testify to Congress under oath, Cheney initially hedged, but then indicated that he would be willing to do so:
The Obama administration is preparing to revive the system of military commissions established at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, under new rules that would offer terrorism suspects greater legal protections, government officials said.
The rules would block the use of evidence obtained from coercive interrogations, tighten the admissibility of hearsay testimony and allow detainees greater freedom to choose their attorneys, said the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.
Pentagon’s Black Budget Grows to More Than $50 Billion
By Noah Shachtman | Wired
The Pentagon wants to spend just over $50 billion on classified programs next year, newly-released Defense Department budget documents reveal. “That’s the largest-ever sum,” according to Aviation Week’s Bill Sweetman, a longtime black-budget seer — a three percent increase over last year’s total.
The CIA has released a devastating document detailing the dates and explicit details of secret Congressional briefings in which members of Congress were told of the Bush administration’s torture techniques and when they had been used.
The document is explicit (PDF here). Most damning, perhaps, is its description of a meeting held between CIA staff and then-House Intelligence Committee Chairman Porter Goss and now-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, which shows that Pelosi was briefed on the Bush Administration’s torture techniques in 2002 — even though she’s publicly said she was never told about the use of waterboarding.
Cyber espionage and attacks from well-funded nations or terror groups are the biggest threats to the military's computer networks, a top US officer said.
Air Force General Kevin Chilton, who heads US Strategic Command, said he worries that foes will learn to disable or distort battlefield communications.
Chilton told reporters that even as the Pentagon improves its network defences against hackers, he needs more people, training and resources to hone offensive cyber war capacity.
At the same time, however, he asserted that the US would consider using military force against an enemy who attacks and disrupts the nation's critical networks.
The concept of the "Long War" is attributed to former CENTCOM Commander Gen. John Abizaid, speaking in 2004. Leading counterinsurgency theorist John Nagl, an Iraq combat veteran and now the head of the Center for a New American Security, writes that "there is a growing realization that the most likely conflicts of the next fifty years will be irregular warfare in an 'Arc of Instability' that encompasses much of the greater Middle East and parts of Africa and Central and South Asia." The Pentagon's official Quadrennial Defense Review (2005) commits the United States to a greater emphasis on fighting terrorism and insurgencies in this "arc of instability." The Center for American Progress repeats the formulation in arguing for a troop escalation and ten-year commitment in Afghanistan, saying that the "infrastructure of jihad" must be destroyed in "the center of an 'arc of instability' through South and Central Asia and the greater Middle East."
The implications of this doctrine are staggering. The very notion of a fifty-year war assumes the consent of the American people, who have yet to hear of the plan, for the next six national elections. The weight of a fifty-year burden will surprise and dismay many in the antiwar movement.
WILL NATION THAT HOUSED 425,000 NAZIS IN WWII FIND ACCOMMODATIONS FOR 241 GITMO CAPTIVES?
By Sherwood Ross
The mean-spirited attitude of Republican politicians over repatriating Guantanamo’s remaining 241 inmates in the U.S. reflects both their irrational fears and loss of moral compass. House GOP leaders have introduced a “Keep Terrorists Out of America Act” that would give governors’ veto power to stop the transfer or release of detainees in their state. The same governors that never question the building of atomic bombs, napalm, biological, and other banned U.S. terror weapons in their jurisdictions can be expected to make hypocritical political hay out of this issue.
The continuing saga of the Pentagon pundit program just keeps getting curiouser and curiouser, as Alice in Wonderland might say.
The internal review concluded that the report “did not meet accepted quality standards” and “relied on a body of testimonial evidence that was insufficient or inconclusive.” The review found that the former senior Pentagon officials who devised and managed the program refused to speak with the inspector general’s investigators....Mr. Horstman’s memorandum said that no additional investigative work would be done to reissue the report because the public relations program has been terminated and the senior officials who oversaw it have left the Pentagon.
Source: No Criminal Case Likely Over Torture Memos
By Devlin Barrett, Associated Press Writer | ABCNews.com
Justice Department officials have stopped short of recommending criminal charges against Bush administration lawyers who wrote secret memos approving harsh interrogation techniques of terror suspects. A person familiar with the inquiry, who spoke on condition of anonymity, says investigators recommended referring two of the three lawyers to state bar associations for possible disciplinary action. The person was not authorized to discuss the inquiry.
The person noted that the investigative report was still in draft form and subject to revisions. Attorney General Eric Holder also may make his own determination about what steps to take once the report has been finalized.
US Troops Urged To Share Faith in Afghanistan | Submitted by Michael Munk | www.MichaelMunk.com
The US's highest ranking military officer has said it is not the US military's position to promote any specific religion, after Al Jazeera revealed footage of troops apparently preparing to convert Afghans to their Christian faith.
By LOLITA C. BALDOR, Associated Press
WASHINGTON – The U.S. military must reorganize its offensive and defensive cyber operations and will use a new command at a Maryland Army facility to create a digital warfare force for the future, the director of the National Security Agency says.
Lt. Gen. Keith Alexander, also the Pentagon's leading cyber warfare commander, said the U.S. is determined to lead the global effort to use computer technology to deter or defeat enemies, while still protecting the public's constitutional rights.
In testimony prepared for delivery Tuesday to a House Armed Services subcommittee, Alexander and other military leaders in cyber matters outlined the challenges to keeping up with rapidly changing technologies and the need for more resources and training. In blunt comments, Alexander acknowledged that cyber training for the Pentagon's work force is inadequate and must be improved.