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Total number of comments: 51 (since 2013-11-28 15:36:06)

Charley James

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  • Top Ten Reasons Israel tried to Censor Bob Simon's Report on Palestinian Christians
    • As an American who happens to be Jewish, I was appalled - but not surprised - that Ambassador Oren would try to supress the 60 Minutes report. The behavior of the Israeli government towards both the Palestinian people and the American news media is disgusting.

  • Is Anti-Immigrant, Islamophobic Campaign Rhetoric fomenting Antisemitism in France?
    • Pres. Sarkozy is not a total stranger to immigrant-bashing, the French version of race baiting. When he was Interior Minister before being elected president, Mr. Sarkozy reacted to rioting in North African districts of Paris by going there and decrying the lack of "French values" by the rioters rather than speaking to the reasons underlying the social upheaval.

      Indeed, there has long been a strain of "the other" in French politics; Mr. Sarkozy is a bit ham-handed at it but Charles DeGaulle set the tone, if far more subtly. It's why people who live in Paris disdain those who are from the provinces, and why the country shows disdain for much that is not French.

      Mr. Sarkozy's racist campaigning may not have directly set in motion the events that resulted in a rabbi and children being shot to death but - like Bill O'Reilly's constant refrain of "Tiller the baby killer" - they do set in motion the belief in disturbed people that they are doing the right thing in murdering innocents.

  • Top 7 Ways Bin Laden Underestimated Joe Biden
    • Three things became evident to me in reading the material that came from the bin Laden compound.

      First, bin Laden and his immediate associates were woefully uninformed about people in the American executive, as evidenced by the comment about Joe Biden. They also did not understand much about the US for when a president is assassinated or the target of an attempt, even people who dislike the president rally in support. I lived through this three times, JFK, Reagan and Ford (who was shot at twice), and saw how the nation reacted. It was the same mistake Japan made about America when it attacked Pearl Harbor.

      Second, they had no intelligence or information at all about Biden's depth of experience and knowledge. This is rather surprising given how much info is available on-line. Much of what you included in your post is available at The White House website, the rest is at Wikipedia.

      Finally, bin Laden did understand - long before much of this country did - that Pres. Obama had a deep wellspring of courage and strength when it comes to truly protecting the country he leads - as opposed to the chicken hawk courage of his predecessor and the war party on Capitol Hill.

  • High Oil Prices Cushion Iran from Sanctions, Hurt Obama
    • A new book by Trita Parsi, "A Single Roll of the Dice: Obama's Diplomacy with Iran," lays out diplomatic opportunities squandered first by Bush-Cheney right after the fall of Saddam, and then twice by Pres. Obama. In each instance, the Iranian government agreed to all of the negotiating conditions laid down by the US and in each instance, Washington turned its back.

      According to the intensely reported book, Washington was filled with hubris in 2003, convinced that it would quickly mop up in Iraq and then march straight on to Tehran for a second regime change. Iran's letter, delivered through the Swiss, offered to stop funding Hamas and other terrorist groups as well as scale back its nuclear medicine and power program. We know how well that worked out for the Bushies.

      Twice during the Obama administration, Iran offered again to a complex arrangement in which it would stop enriching uranium and have Russia produce the nuclear "packs" Iran needed to make medical isotopes. The most recent came when the president of Brazil went to Tehran - at Washington's request - and was able to deliver a signed letter to The White House agreeing to esentially all of America's demands. But the letter arrived just as the administration had gotten Russia and China to go along with "crippling sanctions" at the UN. The State Dept. didn't trust Iran and so the offer was ignored.

      Suddenly, the US had two major nations angry with it: Brazil, which went out on a limb to do our bidding, and Tehran which felt humiliated.

      Now Pres. Obama is left trying to put the toothpaste back in the tube: Getting Iran to talk seriously and keeping Israel's warmongers from striking out on its own.

      This reminds me of Europe in 1914 which bumbled and stumbled its way into a war that no one actually wanted and no one could stop.

  • Khamenei Takes Control, Forbids Nuclear Bomb
    • Not only was Khamenei's speech not covered by US networks, todays New York Times carried a major article about how AIPAC is pressing Obama for a more aggressive posture yet never mentioned the Khamenei policy.

      It's not like the Iraq disaster happened in the dim, distant past and only old men in nursing homes remember the war. So how is it that the right wing war machine is able to gin up froth and folly for the second time in a decade and no one is shouting "The Emperor still doesn't have any clothes!!!"

  • Ayatollah Santorum Excommunicates Obama, Mainstream Protestants
    • So Mullah Rick finally revealed his true colors as the would-be leader of the American Taliban, something I always suspected he was more attuned to, and aspired to, than the presidency. The Terry Schiavo disgrace, which he led when still in the Senate, was an early hint and yesterday's speech is simply outright proof - for those who haven't gotten the hint along the way.

      For anyone who just occasionally reads Right Wing Watch (www.rightwingwatch.org), this kind of vile bile is commonplace among the extreme religious fringe in America but, as Bill Maher has pointed out frequently, now it has taken over mainstream Republican policy. It led to an illegal holy war in the Middle East under Bush-Cheney, and underlies much of the clammor for yet another crusade in the region, this time against Iran. But much of it has to do with simple xenophobia, battling the Other while insisting that "real Americans" adhere to a religious purity test.

      If Santorum's ideas weren't so dangerous, they'd be a perfect Monty Python bit.

  • Indian Investigators do not Suspect Iran in Israel Embassy Blast
    • Surprisingly, even BBC World News got caught up in the Israel propaganda buzzsaw - and BBC maintains a well-staffed bureau in India.

  • Top Ten Catholic Teachings Santorum Rejects while Obsessing about Birth Control
    • Once again, Santorum - and Gingrich for that matter - are shown to be nothing more than hypocrites, liars and "deli counter" Catholics, picking and choosing which church doctrine they want to follow. The country would be a lot better off if all politicians checked their religion at the door.

  • Hoekstra Blames Everyone but Himself for the Deficits He Voted for
    • As Paul Krugman and others have pointed out, the majority of the US national debt is held by - wait for it! - Americans. Indeed, the largest single holder of American debt is the Social Security Trust Fund since, by law, it can only invest the money it collects every payday in US government securities (and is why Social Security isn't a "Ponzi scheme" as right wingers have charged). In other words, we owe outselves. China's share is 8% of the total and, while substantial, is hardly the thing to worry about.

      Beyond being an outright lie, Hoeckstra's ad was revolting, vile, racist, xenophobic and just plain disgusting.

  • The Generals try to stop an Iran War
    • William Luers and Thomas Pikcering wrote an interesting piece on the Op-Ed page of today's "New York Times," suggesting that Pres. Obama take a page out of Richard Nixon's book and begin direct, high-level but secret discussions with Iran as Nixon did with China, asking three crucial questions: "What does Iran want, what do we want and what do we both want?"

      Perhaps the ruling clerics in Iran won't be as open to such an approach as Mao was with Nixon, or leadership of the Revolutionary Guards may prove to be a major stumbling block even if the leadership is receptive to a quiet American approach. And, for all we know, such an effort may already be underway. But since the administration keeps saying "all options are on the table," this kind of diplomatic opening may be the most viable - and least costly or damaging to Iran, to America and even to Israel.

  • Israel: No Iranian Nuclear Weapons Program; Barak: Any decision to Strike Iran "Far off."
    • This is big news, Dr. Cole. Not surprising, perhaps, is that it rated not a mention in any of the major, English-language media I read regularly, either yesterday or today - not even BBC or (as far as I could tell) The Independent or The Guardian.

      I suspect that Pres. Obama got on the phone and used both carrots and sticks to get the Israeli government to back off its publicly-stated views on Iran's supposed nukes. The shift may also explain why a major Hamas politician was arrested yesterday by Israel as he tried going to Jerusalem from Gaza - to divert domestic news attention away from the significant change in Israel's view of Iran.

  • Massacre alleged in Syria
    • There seems to be growing impatience with the Arab League in the streets of Syria. Last night, BBC World News did a piece from Homs that had a protestor saying on camera, in English, "All the Arab League does is issue ultimatums and all we do is die in our streets."

      I am beginning to wonder how effective the "monitors" will be, and how much mobility and freedom of movement the Syrian government will allow them once they do arrive in the country.

  • Iraq's al-Maliki Seeks Arrest of Sunni VP as Terrorist, Parliament in Uproar
    • So much for "bringing democracy to Iraq," which was the fourth or fifth lie used by Bush to justify invading a soverign nation who'd done no harm to the US or any other country when we sent in missiles and the Marines.

      I'm not sure if I am relieved or saddened by the fact that I won't be alive when historians get around to writing the sad chapter on this period of the American experiment. We destroyed a nation, killed nearly 5,000 of our own people plus another 100,000 Iraqi men, women and children, displaced another million or so, were responsible for triggering a massive ethnic cleansing and a civil war, and became a poster child for terrorist recruiters everywhere. Oh, yeah, and squandered nearly $1-trillion that would have been better spent on feeding, housing, educating and providing health care to our own people.

      Shame on us.

  • Christian Hate Group Targets Peaceful Muslim-Americans
    • There seems to be no depth to which the fringe right wing will stoop in promoting lies and distortions about any group of people who don't subscribe to its bizarre interpretation of the Bible, the Torah or the Quran.

      There is an on-line petition which will send messages to Lowes and other businesses that capitulated The FFA contends that 65 of 67 companies it has targeted have pulled their ads, including Bank of America, Campbell Soup Co., Dell, Estee Lauder, General Motors, Goodyear, Green Mountain Coffee, McDonalds, Sears and Walmart. The petition is at link to signon.org and people who object to what FFA is doing are encouraged to sign.

  • Israeli Ads against Marriage with American Jews are Part of a Population War
    • Apparently, Israeli political leaders haven't figured out that they are much more likely to stem the tide of outward emigration and make it more palatable for American, Canadian and European Jews to move to Israel if that government would stabilize the region by reaching a palatable peace accord with the Palastinians. Frankly, as an American Jew, I have no interest in taking a "holiday in hell" (as PJ O'Rourke titled one of his books, about being a war correspondent) as long as there is a chance that bombs or rockets might make the vacation my last. Why on earth would I want to live in a war zone, especially since I disagree with so many of Israel's foreign and domestic policies?

      More to the point, rather than running frankly offensive ads on US television, Israel would be better served by having its government start acting like a mature democracy and stop its illegal blockade of Gaza, its illegal settlement policy on the West Bank, and actually negotiate with the Palastinians rather than continue bullying its neighbors and the world.

  • GOPers Promise you War on Iran & Torture & Poverty
    • Leaders of the Republican Party have no concept of cause- and-event, and its shortsightedness is not limited to Iran. They are living in as much of a Condi Rice dream world that never actually existed on foreign policy issues as they do on domestic policy and events.

      The whole field of candidates seem to be part of a story line in a Laurel and Hardy movie rather than serious contenders for the American presidency.

  • Perry's Lapse likely owing to Bad Faith and Destructive Politics
    • Governor Goodhair (as the late Molly Ivins always called Perry, meaning there's no substance to the man) has been in Big Oil's hip pocket since he ran for Agriculture Commissioner. That he's been governor for so long says as much about Texans as it does about Perry.

  • Would Obama Greenlight an Israeli Attack on Iran?
    • It's been clear for some time that the leaders of Israel's government have no real idea what their deranged musings and ideological wet dreams are having on the world as a whole - and especially on the region where they live.

      The Prime Minister continues to behave like the playground bully and his foreign minister still thinks (if that's what he ever does) and act like he's the bouncer at a Moldavian nightclub. How did such a highly educated nation ever elect these mulyuks as its government?

      Hopefully, both the White House, and Israeli military and intelligence services are telling the "leadership" of the country that they're out of their mind.

  • Ganann: Police raids and violence against activists are Un-American
    • Thank you, Mr. Ganaan, for your service in uniform and especially now for your service on the streets.

  • Islamic Law not a problem in Bush's Afghanistan & Iraq, but a Problem in Libya?
    • CNN's continuing drift to the right, heading squarely into Fox territory, may partially explain the headline. The other reason is, as you suggest, far too few journalists covering the Middle East (Richard Engel at NBC and several reporters at BBC being notable exceptions) have any sense of Middle Eastern history or politics. The CNN headline about "raising eyebrows" makes it seem as if its staff went to a Bible college in Oklahoma rather than receiving any sort of real work schooling.

  • Karzai: Afghanistan would Side With Pakistan in War with US
    • Karzai has been a disaster ever since the Bushies plucked him from the obscurity in exile he richly deserved and parachuted him into Afghanistan to be Washington's proxy figurehead of the country.

      Not one more American soldier should give his or her life on behalf of this nutjob, nor should any US tax dollars be spent propping up his failed and corrupt regime. And yet we still see the parade of warmongers on the American right who gave us Karzai appearing on television or being quoted in MSM publications gnashing their teeth at the prospect of the US leaving in 2014.

      None of this would have been an issue if Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and their cadre in power had not started the Iraq fiasco instead of actually dealing with the then-existent threat in Afghanistan.

  • Qaddafi's People's Temple
    • Not more than two hours passed after Qadaffi's death was conformed before a whole parade of totally discredited neo-con's began showing up on Fox News to breathlessly decry the potential pitfalls of the regime's collapse - as they did after the people of Tunisia and then Egypt overthrew their own dictators.

      Perhaps Andy Borowitz best described the right wing response: "Former Vice-President Dick Cheney also congratulated the Libyan people, releasing the following official statement: 'With Gaddafi gone, Libya's right to determine its future is now safely in the hands of multinational oil companies.'"

  • Is an Iranian Drug Cartel Behind the Assassination Plot against the Saudi Ambassador?
    • Thr entire "foiled plot" sounded fishy from the moment the news breathlessly broke yesterday. From what I heard on both BBC News and PBS' NewsHour, it sounded as if either a rouge element inside Quds who controlled some aspect of the drug trade in Iran or it was amateurs passing themselves off as Qud operatives whose real intent had more to do with drugs or drug money rather than an assassination and bombing plot.

      I suspect that the FBI may have botched this as badly as it botched the "anthrax plots" investigations over the past 10 years.

  • Panetta Slams Israeli Isolation; Is Israeli Policy Destabilizing US Allies?
    • For those on the American right and their fellow travellers such as AIPAC who are supporters of Israel's current policy, an analogy might be apt.

      How do they think the US would react if Mexico illegally occupied the area around, say, El Paso to stop cross-border violence and illegal gun smuggling from the US, grabbing more and more land so Mexicans could build "settlements?" It is exactly the same situation as exists on the West Bank today. (The analogy can be carried even further since the US forcibly stole Texas from Mexico back in the early 1800s.)

      Israel's security will not come at the point of a gun (or from its 100-plus nuclear weapons). It's a shame that, in using force against the Palestinians, Israel has not just isolated itself from the world, it is isolating itself from many of its Jewish supporters (such as J Street) around the globe.

  • Al-`Awlaqi Should have been Tried in Absentia
    • Juan, the exception seems to be limited strictly to individuals who disappear once a trial has begun; fleeing after a pre-trial appearance doesn't count.

      So, as I wrote in my comment below, the issue of an al-Awlaqi - which doesn't fall under the Crosby rule - still raises a significant number of constitutional, legal and ethical issues around the problem of neutralizing (and not in the "hit man" meaning of the word) a threat people like him pose.

    • The issue of extrajudicial arrests and executions is a thorny one, and English common law – even our own Constitution – evolved in a time long before there were multi-national terrorists with access to the Internet and a global audience.

      While I deplore the assassination of Anwar al’Awlaqi for a whole host of reasons, I also wonder how we as a society deal with direct threats posed by people – American citizens or not – who are beyond the reach of police, FBI, CIA or military units, making their capture for trial problematic. On the one hand, simply assassinating al’Awlaqi goes against everything this nation stands for and risks turning him into a martyr; on the other, how do we contain or neutralize a threat that already has carried out at least three plots, two of which were thwarted, to attack US citizens and is actively inspiring others to do the same thing?

      I’m not sure there are any easy answers. Changing federal law to allow a FISA-like secret court to issue a warrant isn’t the right approach; the existing FISA court has a dismal record of allowing the government to conduct a raft of constitutionally questionable activities just on the say-so of the FBI and Justice Dept. affidavits. The un-Patriot Act is a black mark against the rights and liberties of ordinary citizens and has done little to actually stop or capture actual real or potential terrorists, so another version of it isn’t the answer, either.

      As a long-time member of the ACLU, I am against any attempt to further weaken the provisions of the Constitution and our sacred Bill of Rights. At the same time, I am deeply troubled by the legal and ethical issues raised by people such as al-Awlaqi and the threats they pose.

  • Visiting Liberty Square (Occupy Wall Street)
    • Thanks for visiting Liberty Square, Dr. Cole, and then giving us almost more coverage of what is going on than any of the mainstream media has done since the protests began - with the possible exception of Rachel Maddow on MSNBC and Keith Olbermann on Current TV.

      The linked, first-person, article in your report, "Why I Was Maced At The Wall Street Protests," is outstanding, as well, and worth reading. For one thing, it is the only piece I've read that identified NYPD Deputy Inspector Anthony Bologna as the perpetrator of the unprovoked macing of peaceful protestors who were penned inside a corral set up by other officers.

      Beyond the specifics, this fledgling movement - if that is what it is - won't have any impact until the cause is taken up by middle class adults, senior citizens and the clergy. Once the group in Liberty Square is joined by soccer moms with their kids, middle managers with their families, and people approaching retirement, the media will continue to ignore the story. Thinking back to Viet Nam, it wasn't until the ranks of protests were swelled by these people that the anti-war voice was heard and reported on by newspapers and television.

  • Greater Middle East Turns More Dangerous for US
    • And so much of this was exacerbated by George W Bush invading Iraq for no legitimate reason whatsoever. When a large and powerful nation not only invades s country illegally, but maintains more than 100 permanent military bases around the world to secure "Pax Americana" it is going to be resented. People will find ways to attack the Empire. Since even the Secretary of Defence has stated we are beyond the era of "gunboat diplomacy," why does the US still insist on such a large footprint.

      And now the neo-con's are trying, once again, to suggest that the US - or its surrogate, Israel - start a war with Iran. Are people crazy? Have they learned nothing from the past 10 years?

  • Israeli Likud Gov't Buffeted by Turkish Suit, Massive Protests
    • Doesn't this sound awfully familiar: "Right wing politics is about government favoring the rich over the rest of the population, about using ethnic divisions, alleged threats to the nation, and other diversions to justify to the mass of voters as to why they should elect a party that will take money and resources away from them and give it to the super-wealthy."

      If Israeli domestic politics is anything like that in the US, then I think a combination of large, public demonstrations and turning the coalition out of office is the only thing that will turn the tide - and thinking - in Jerusalem.

      The same thing is needed in the US to get rid of the far right wing-dominated, ideologically driven, remains of the Republicans in Congress and the Senate.

  • Rebels Consolidate Control over Tripoli as Qaddafi's Mass Killings Discovered
    • Ms. Klein's book, cited by Super390, did an excellent job of highlighting everything that was wrong about the Bush-slash-neo con policy towards Iraq, from before the invasion until Bush, Cheney, et al, slunk out of office in 2008. As for Mr. Chalbi's current loyalties, he's always been a charlatan so he'll slither up next to Iran for as long as he thinks it is in his best interests to do so.

      Dr. Cole has pointed out a number of key and very significant differences, Phil D, between Iraq and Libya, and why a Chalabi-type character is unlikely to come to any real power.

    • This was reported widely in 2004 by a number of media outlets including "The New York Times," "The Washington Post" and "The New Yorker" magazine. Seymour Hersh did a great deal of reporting on how the Bush administration either ignored the voluminous amount of post-invasion planning done by career officers at The State Dept., or prevented military officers working in civil administration to develop their own plans.

      Instead, The White House sent in hundreds of right wing ideologues who thought they could privatize everything, and then turn the country over to Ahmed Chalibi - the man who was the Bush Administration's favorite Iraqi because he kept feeding Dick Cheney and the CIA (which employed him and funded his political organization) utter falsehoods about Saddam's so-called "WMDs" - which, while not true, was what Cheney wanted to hear.

  • The Audacity of the Gaza Flotilla
    • As an American and as a Jew, I am ashamed and angrered by the United States government's unrelenting policy of allowing Israel's continued assualt on Palestinian non-combatants in Gaza.

      Why is it that right wing parties - whether here, in Israel or elsewhere - always manage to be on the side of oppression and harm? I am especially puzzled by the fact that Democrats, who should know better, always kowtow to AIPAC and its fellow travellers by not insisting that US support of Israel will be contingent on Jerusalem actively find a solution to the problem Isreal has largely created over the past 20 years.

      Maybe it is time to begin applying targetted sanctions against Isreal until it starts acting like a rational member of the world community.

  • Carle and Cole on CNN: More Details about Bush/CIA Sting of Cole
    • I believe the CIA spokesperson about as much as I would believe a two year old who said he hadn't eaten a cookie as he wipes crumbs off his face.

      I doubt that the Justice Dept. will do anything meaningful because The White House put the kaybosh on investigating anything illegal done during the Bush Administration. But the Senate needs another Church Commission, with subpeona power, to dig deeply into not just the unfortunate incident involving Prof. Cole but how the entire national security apparatus behaved during the Bush years.

  • Repeal the PATRIOT Act is the Lesson of Bush White House Spying
    • Further to my earlier post, in looking at the history of the Bush Administration, it strikes me that it seems quite likely the phone call was probably make by David Addington or convicted felon Scooter Libby - perhaps acting in response to something Dick Cheney suggested or asked about.

      After all, it was Addington and Libby who were responsible for outing Valerie Plame. If they'd destroy the career of a valuable and highly experienced CIA operative to strike a political blow, why not go after a hapless academic?

    • When you return to the United States, I hope that you contact both your member of Congress and the ACLU to pursue this matter as far as possible. We've known since at least 2003 that the Bush Administration not only acted illegally over and over again, but sought to subvert the Constitution. Remember that it was Bush The Younger himself who told a meeting in 2002 where the pre-ordained war in Iraq was being discussed, "Don't throw the Constitution in my face. The Constitution'sjust a goddamned piece of paper!"

      That the Obama Administration decided - before the president was even inaugerated - not to pursue an investigation into war crimes and crimes against humanity by the "loyal Bushies" will forever be a black mark in history against it.

  • Israeli Troops kill 20, wound Hundreds at Golan
    • As an American Jew and member of "J Street," I am appalled by the actions of Israel not just in the Golan Heights massacre but in its overall treatment of Palestinians in general.

      There was absolutely no reason or justification for the IDF to shoot unarmed and peaceful protestors. And I am disgusted by the "Israel Right Or Wrong" attitude not just by that nation's government but by organized cabals in the US led by AIPAC, who do as much intimidation of members of Congress as does the NRA and Tea Party loonies.

      There will never be peace in that region of the world until the US demands that Israel act like a civilized nation and stop grabbing land that hasn't belonged to it for some two or three thousand years. If Americans follow the Israel logic, then the US and Britain ought to give back the entire North American continent to its aboriginal peoples.

  • Carbon Emissions Record, Food to Double in Price
    • The Inuit people of the Canadian Arctic have an oral history tradition that goes back thousands of years. In their telling, never has the Arctic ice been so thin nor appear so late and disappear so early as is happening now.

      Meanwhile, no-nothings like Sen. James Inhofe and his puppet masters at C Street poo-poo climate change as nonsense (because it will only affect brown and black heathens in Africa and India) and think there's nothing that needs to be done to avert catastrophe - because he and his ilk don't want to believe decades of research by thousands of legitimate scientists.

      Oh, wait. Most of the climate change deniers also deny the existence of science. Odd, isn't it, that the same people who think there's nothing to see here also think that the universe is only 8,000 years old.

      There was a time in my life when people like this were dismissed as lunatic fringers. How did they start being taken seriously by anyone?

  • The Revolution was not Televised: Gil Scott-Heron RIP
    • Gil Scott-Heron scared the daylights out of my parents when I was at university, but then so did Bob Dylan and John Lennon. But Gil's words resonated with people of my generation who saw through the nonsense and wouldn't play the game anymore.

      It's ironic, in a way, that the white middle class in this country are now in the same position as African-Americans were in the 1960s and 1970s, being deprived of their own social and economic justice by the same "rich old white men" who kept trying to preserve the old order back when I was a kid.

      RIP

  • Pakistani Military between Rock and Hard Place
    • Could you post tomorrow on this al Jazeera story about Iran:

      "A political dispute between Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president, and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the country's supreme leader is reported to have intensified.

      "Ahmadinejad is said to be contemplating resigning after Heidar Moslehi, the intelligence minister he had sacked, was reinstated by Khamenei.

      "The president is understood to have shirked some of his duties and skipped cabinet meetings for the past ten days in anger over the decision."

      Many thanks.

    • Perhaps I've been left too cynical after eight years of Bush and Cheney so forgive for being just a wee bit suspicious about these stories suddenly coming from ISI and other Pakistani "sources" claiming that it was slipping intelligence about Osama to the US all along. If that were, in fact, the case, then why was Washington so concerned about letting Pakistan know about the raid in advance?

      Giving the ISI the benefit of the doubt for a moment, it's true that not the entire organization is riddled with Taliban and al Qaeda supporters and moles. But there is enough of a problem of infiltration in the ISI to make me question how such a secret - that calls were being traced by ISI to inside the bin Laden compound - would not have been slipped to someone who knew someone who knew a courier who knew the courier.

      It stretches credulity to the breaking point.

  • No need for Torture. Did a Telephone Call to al-Qaeda in Iraq Unravel Bin Laden?
    • I almost lost my lunch when I saw Donald Rumsfeld on TV last night saying, first, that waterboarding isn't torture (despite US laws defining it as such) and, second, that it's how information on bin Laden's courier came into the possession of interrogators.

      Besides being a liar, among other things Rumsfeld's timeline is all wrong. Information on the courier's workname, or code name, didn't emerge until 2009. And, as your post indicated, it wasn't for another year that analysts were able to begin piecing together tiny little pieces of a very complex picture that led to the courier.

      When Rumsfeld speaks, remember this is the man who was chased all over Paris for several nights by a prosecutor who wanted to detain him for questioning on torture and sextraordinary rendition. Rummy was forced to hide in the US embassy until he could be spirited secretly onto an airplane that snuck him out of France.

      Bush, Cheney, Ashcroft (now the ethics officer of the secretive paramilitary organization formerly known as Blackwater - sheesh!), Rumsfeld, Bybee, Yoo, the whole lot of them should have been investigated, charged and put on trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Instead, they are free to roam freely, making totally false statements with impunity.

  • It's Official: Tunisia Now Freer than the U.S.
    • The whittling away at the Fourth Amendment and our individual liberties began with Richard Nixon when he created “enemy lists” of people who were audited regularly by the IRS and had their mail opened (including my parents), and thought he could get away with breaking into the office of the Democratic National Committee and ransacking the offices of Daniel Ellsburg’s psychiatrist. It accelerated under Reagan and was raised to a fine art by George W. Bush and Dick “Shotgun” Cheney. While I am deeply disappointed that Barack Obama has dismantled only a handful of the worst of the Bush-era abuses, at least he imposed some restrictions and limits on the FBI, NSA and CIA, and – as far as we know – has not expanded the government’s blatant abuse of its power that was an everyday thing under the Bush reign of error.

      The crux of the issue was that Cheney was never a small “d” democrat nor does he believe in actual democracy and freedom. For decades, he spouted flimsy nonsense about a so-called “unitary executive,” tried arguing when he wasn’t busy burying the Constitution that the Vice President’s office was its own branch of government, and took Supreme Court justices such as Clarence Thomas and Anton Scalia on junkets at a time when the Court was deciding cases in which Cheney had a direct interest.

      America’s own Axis Of Evil – Bush, Cheney and Jay Bybee at the Justice Dept. – were our own version of Mubarak, Khadafy, Kharzhi, Saddam and Ben Ali, et al: Corrupt, self-aggrandizing little men who acted like dictators in their use of “secret police,” and abused their power daily. That they have never been brought to justice is as dark a stain on America as was their eight years in office.

      Until the country can come to grips with its past, and reconcile what it did to destroy our freedom in the name of preserving our freedom, we are doomed to relive that period over and over again. And the world will never see us in quite the same light as it once did.

  • Million-Person Marches and the Army Backs Off
    • Is it also possible, Dr. Cole, that at the direction of The White House and State Dept., the Pentagon - which has 30-plus years of close general-to-general ties with various branches of the Egyptian military - sent "back door" messages to their friends in Cairo that the Army better not even think of firing on peaceful demonstrators?

      This notion was posited by several guests last night on The Rachel Maddow Show and it makes some sense. At the same time, the civilian leadership at the Pentagon was making public noises about "reviewing" military aid to Egypt. In effect, the Obama Administration effectively neutralized the Egyptian military which is heavily reliant on the US$2-billion in annual aid from America.

      Also all but uncovered today was news that the Jordanian government resigned after demonstrations in Amman (and possibly other cities). US media hardly paused in its coverage of Cairo and even al Jazeera (English) noted the development only in the crawl that runs along the bottom of the screen.

  • Aljazeera's Leaks Reveal Sham 'Peace Process,' Israeli Stonewalling
    • Neither AIPAC nor J Street have made any statement yet (it's noon EST on Monday as I post this) regarding the devastatingly embarassing (for Israel) leaks. The Guardian's pick-up of Aljazeerah's coverage is extensive and ground-breaking. As with the Wikileaks cables, we see once again the perfidy of the Bush administration when it came to not backing its own Middle East peace process which, sadly for both Israel and the Palestinians, hasn't changed much in the Obama administration.

      When will The White House finally tell Israel enough is enough, and tell the Palestinian negotiators to stop trying to appease a bully who repeatedly goes back on promises it makes?

  • Beck: You're Going to Have to Shoot them in The Head
    • Dr. Cole is correct in writing that what comes out of Glenn Beck's mouth is usually only heard from people who have been commited to loony bins under court order. He is totally degranged, most recently when he said on the "Today Show" that he's in the same category as Jon Stewart and The Simpsons. Huh? Stewart is smart, intelligent, witty and urbane; Homer, his friends and family are funny, biting, perceptive and brilliant.

      The only way in which Beck is similar to The Simpsons is that he makes me shout "D'oh!" when he says something stupid - which is often. The only way he is remotely akin to The Daily Show is when he says "We'll be right back after this message" before a commercial break.

      Also, Stewart and Matt Groening use satire and exaggeration to make a point - as satirists have always done. They never have suggestion shooting members of Congress "in the head."

  • Top Ten Horrible Things done to Us by Outgoing Sen. Joe Lieberman
    • Sorry, Mr. Weatherby, but in the last 10 years Joe Lieberman's main motivation appeared to be spiting the people he saw as "betraying" him and representing the interests of the insurance industry in CT rather than his constituents. It's why he lost a primary battle six years ago. His whining, meandering and fact-challenged retirement announcement was typical of his self-aggrandizing, fact denying view of the world since the 2000 election.

      A "self thinker" would not have said "America should listen to Sarah Palin" - which, fortunately, it did and rejected her and John McCain (the man who catapaulted her from the obscurity she so richly deserved). A "self thinker" would not have been a loud supporter of George W. Bush's war built on deliberate lies. A "self thinker" would not have used all of the insurance industry's talking points in objecting to either "Medicare for all," something he once supported, or a public option. A "self thinker" would have understood that friends will tell their friends that what they are doing is wrong, immoral and illegal - which the US has never done with respect to Israel.

      Joe Lieberman doesn't have "guts," as you called it; he is a petty, small-minded man, angry man who betrayed his own beliefs.

    • And not a moment too soon. Sen. Lieberman has done more damage to more people and to his country for longer than perhaps any sitting US Senator.

  • Stewart: Aljazeera Pays More Attention to First Responders than Senate Republicans, US Networks
    • Sorry, Arturo, but you have it completely backwards. "Comedians" since the days of court jesters have told truths wrapped in laughs. During the days of the old Soviet Union, one of the most popular and widely-read magazines was "Krocodile," which told inconvenient truths about the power elite wrapped in the format of very funny satire.

      One of the reasons behind the great success of The Daily Show and The Cobert Report lies in their ability to provide glaring truths about politics, social justice issues, the military and the power elite in the US all in the guide of comedy.

    • In fact, the first responders on last night's Daily Show - along with all of the others who are ill as a result of their work at Ground Zero - have been cut off from their benefits as a result of being put on long-term disability or simply removed from the department where they worked. None of the four men were eligible for health plans or LTD, and have been fighting for nine years (in some cases) to have their medical condition affirmed as "work related" by Worker's Compensation boards in multiple states.

    • I saw the Daily Show last night and Jon Stewart's outrage, while controlled and measured, was barely contained. Rightly so. As one of the first responders he had as a guest put it, "My brothers and sisters are proud to work on Christmas and New Years and weekends, so it seems to me that the Senate can work long enough to pass this bill."

      Stewart deftly laid into Mike Huckabee, a paid Fox shill, for his network - like the political party it represents - finding a way to demagogue about 9/11 every chance it gets, except on the Republican stall everything tactics that have caught the bill that would help these people. When The Huckster tried to dance around Stewart's questions, he simply wouldn't let Huckabee get away with it.

      Jon Stewart has replaced Walter Cronkite as the most trusted news anchor in America. Stewart modestly claims he does "fake news" but it he tells more truths every night than Fox, ABC, NBC and CBS does in a month.

  • BP Platform Blow-Out was covered up in Azerbaijan: Wikileaks
    • Following links within links takes us through the looking glass. At the same time as The Guardian was publishing cables relating to BP's unconscionable behavior in Azerbaijan, The Telegraph was reporting on leaked cables in which the Swedish Justice Minister told the US it had to keep its intelligence sharing arrangement with America informal 'lest it have to be revealed to Parliament.

      The cables reported on by The Telegraph (www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/wikileaks/8202745/WikiLeaks-Swedish-government-hid-anti-terror-operations-with-America-from-Parliament.html) goes a long way in explaining why Sweden is acting as Washington's lap dog in trying to keep Julian Assange in jail. "The cable claimed that the 'current Swedish political climate makes any formal terrorist screening information agreement highly difficult.'"

      I'll bet!

      So much for Sweden's so-called "neutrality." As I write this, the British court hearing into Sweden's petition is about to begin. I hope the judge hearing the appeal read The Telegraph, which throwns both a bright light and serious questions on Sweden's real interest in this case.

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