The Watch

The Watch is concerned about the increasing pressure towards feudalism in the United States from corporations, social regressives, warmongers, and the media. We also are concerned with future history concerning our current times, as non-truths which are “widely reported” become the basis for completely false narratives.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Worst. Chimperor. Evar.

Sean Wilentz, a professor of history, gives us a foretaste of the feast of scorn that will follow this stench-ridden den of murderers into history in the clearly-too-tentatively-titled "The Worst President in History?":

Bush, however, is one of the rarities in presidential history: He has not only stumbled badly in every one of these key areas, he has also displayed a weakness common among the greatest presidential failures -- an unswerving adherence to a simplistic ideology that abjures deviation from dogma as heresy, thus preventing any pragmatic adjustment to changing realities. Repeatedly, Bush has undone himself, a failing revealed in each major area of presidential performance.

It goes on and on, detailing Bush's failings on account of his well-documented lies, his simple-minded idiocy in his rush to war, his terrible, regressive tax policy disasters, the rampant and outrageous overreach of executive powers. It seems like the list will never end. Read the whole thing.

More suspicions confirmed

This Sunday the CIA's head of covert operations in Europe appeared on 60 Minutes and basically said what we all knew was true: that everyone knew the uranium claims were bogus, that Bush knew that they knew, and that he went forward with his lie anyway. He also confirmed that Joe Wilson was not lying, that the Bush administration sucked up all intelligence which supported their pre-conceived rush to war, and ignored all intelligence which would not help them sell the urgency of our illegal invasion to the US public. You can see the salient parts of the video at Crooks&Liars.

Here is the interesting part. This guy told all of this to all of the committees who were supposed to be "investigating" Bush's war crimes. The Robb-Silverman Commission. The Roberts Committee (just part 1, of course). All of it points to war crimes, trumped up to support an illegal invasion, and our government has been covering for these criminals every step of the way. Josh Marshall concludes:

Now, quite a few of us have been arguing for almost two years now that those reports were fundamentally dishonest in the story they told about why we were so badly misled in the lead up to war. The fact that none of Drumheller's story managed to find its way into those reports, I think, speaks volumes about the agenda that the writers of those reports were pursuing.

"I was stunned," Drumheller told me, when so little of the stuff he had told the commission's and the committee's investigators ended up in their reports. His colleagues, he said, were equally "in shock" that so little of what they related ended up in the reports either.

What we know now is what we've long suspected. That these commissions knew that what Cheney/Rove did was illegal, immoral, and totally treasonous. And that they acted out what they saw as their mission: covering for this President's hide, covering up, covering up.

Warmongering with a Bang

A classic tactic in fooling all of the people some of the time and getting wars started is to blow something up (or have something blow up), and then use the explosion as the “reason” that everyone has to march off to war for you. Pearl Harbor, The Maine, The Gulf of Tonkin, Archduke Ferdinand – the list is rather long, and includes actual warlike attacks as well as simple errors and trumped up lies. History will eventually tell us what category the 9/11 explosions fall into. But, it’s not really possible that this misadministration hasn’t learned this lesson. Things going Boom = getting your war on.

Currently, we know that Bushco has only six months in which to get a war started to distract us all from the massive voting fraud which will undoubtedly accompany the 2006 elections. The GOP is running scared, and the last thing they want is either house of Congress being controlled by Democrats, as watery as their resistance has been up until this point. For a Democratic House or Senate will give have subpoena power, and then the jig will be up.

So, what to do, if you are Bushco, and need an excuse to rally the people around you so that you can “pre-emptively” invade another country? A GOP operative comes right out and admits to Time magazine that an attack against Iran would be primarily motivated by national politics:

Presidential advisers believe that by putting pressure on Iran, Bush may be able to rehabilitate himself on national security, a core strength that has been compromised by a discouraging outlook in Iraq. "In the face of the Iranian menace, the Democrats will lose," said a Republican frequently consulted by the White House.

But how to really get the ball rolling, war-wise? Nothing says “anchors aweigh” like an explosion. And what kind of explosion could this cabal blame on terra-ists? Why, the nuclear kind, of course. Now, they aren’t total madmen. They probably wouldn’t blow up lots and lots of their fellow Americans just to keep the gravy train rolling. Maybe just a dirty bomb.

There has been lots of speculation about the next attacks and when and by whom they would be staged. But there is some weirdness going on in western Pennsylvania that is totally setting off alarm bells.

First, came this story: Two men driving a truck out of Houston, stopped in Chicago to pick up a bag with $500,000 in it, and proceeded to drive to the Beaver Valley Power Station, a nuclear power plant near Pittsburgh. They claimed they were there to pick up some tools for a contractor. The security guards at the plant stopped them to do a routine inspection, but they drove away. A state trooper pulled them over with a warrant, found the packages of money (in small bills, mostly $20s). The men were detained and released, apparently questioned by the FBI, who assured the public that they didn’t think terrorism was involved. The NRC is “satisfied” that there is no problem here.

The men subsequently give at least three versions of their story to different officers and media outlets. First they say it was their boss' money and they were supposed to buy a truck with it. Then they claim the money isn't theirs and they don't know how it got there. Finally, they claim that "a man" put the money in their truck and it was supposed to go back to Houston. (This stretches credulity a bit, don't you think? That they would drive onto a nuclear site with unknown contents in their truck?)

That’s weird enough, but it turns out the men were employees of Bechtel, run by Bush-friendly George Schultz (to whose house Dumbya had to flee last week after students marching blocked his entrance to Stanford). Bechtel is a contracting company which profits mightily from warmongering and is deeply involved in looting the treasury in the “rebuilding” of Iraq. So you tell me, is it likely that these two Bechtel employees were performing a drug transaction on the grounds of a nuclear power plant (as is maintained by the officials who are being questioned). Or is it more likely they were picking up something a little more radioactive?

Remember, explosions start wars, and the only thing that might save Bushco’s skin at this point is a new war. Strange stuff.

Impeachment: DIY

Here is a fine how do you do. Apparently, federal impeachment proceedings can be initiated by state legislatures. Who knew? So now, instead of having to wait for the GOP-controlled House to start impeachment, both Illinois and California have proposals in their legislatures to call for impeachment proceedings to be initiated. There are also rumblings in Maine. Gee, Dubya. What have you done to deserve this?

Friday, April 07, 2006

A light-hearted romp with DHS agents

Here's a nice little story about a run-in with DHS agents. The quick version is a teacher asked a couple of people in a car to please move because they were in the way of school buses. The thugs proceeded to handcuff him and just generally act like power-abusing a-holes. Couple this with all of the stories about sexual abusers working for the Department of Homeland Security and it is pretty clear that DHS has been filled with power-tripping thugs, happy to get in on the criminal enterprise that is Bushco.

However, Tuesday afternoon Pickett's niceness turned to anger, disappointment, and betrayal when, as Pickett was directing bus traffic, he said he was handcuffed and roughed up and humiliated by the very people that were supposed to protect him.

"I walked up to him and said, 'Sir, you need to move.' That's when he said 'I'm a police officer. I'm with Homeland Security ... I'll move it when I want to.' That's when he started grabbing me on my arm," Pickett said.

The department also said it's looking into what happened, and that Pickett's version is wrong. It claims he was antagonizing the officers.

Several people were outside of the school, watching the incident take place, and those witnesses agree with Pickett's story.

"At that point I intervened and I went up to the gentleman and said, 'Mr. Pickett is an employee here,' and they said that didn't matter," said Englewood media specialist, Terri Dreisonstok.

"'We're with Homeland Security,' and on and on they went, and pretty soon, before you know it, he's handcuffed and slammed against a car," Brinson said. "All the children are watching, they're all upset."

Nice. The age of the brownshirts looms upon us.

Suspicions confirmed

As if in some bizarre hurry to prove my recent point about wild conspiracy theories evolving into received GOP wisdom quite quickly, we have had two examples of this in just the last 48 hours that illustrate the case nicely (and another historical example).

First, the historical example of Michael Moore claiming in Fahrenheit 911 that of the dozens of Bin Laden family members in the US on September 11th, the vast majority were hustled out of the country on flights during the ban on international flights and most left without even being interviewed in a cursory way by authorities. When Moore first made this claim, the howls of outrage by Bush supporters were scary. How dare Moore make such a scurrilous claim? The episode is widely regarded as completely true nowadays, and was confirmed by the 9/11 commission. (thanks to zbdent).

And now, on to the more recent examples. Remember when Bob Novak revealed the identity of an undercover CIA agent whose job was to track nuclear weapons in foreign countries? After that, the administration made the completely incoherent argument that Joe Wilson was obviously lying because his wife was an undercover CIA agent whose job was to track nuclear weapons in foreign countries. Therefore he definitely wouldn’t know anything. (I never have understood that argument very well).

At that point, logical people put together that someone had disclosed a state secret and endangered our intelligence networks to reveal this “damning” fact. Since Wilson’s wife’s job status was being presented by the Bushies as something that helped Bush’s argument for war, and since nobody in the administration seemed at all upset that her status had been disclosed, those of us who weren’t braindead came to the conclusion that Bush or Rove or Cheney had deliberately disclosed the information. This conclusion was treated by the conventional media as wild-eyed conspiracy theory.

Fast forward to this week. Patrick Fitzgerald reveals that Libby claims that Cheney claims that Bush declassified the contents of the NIE before he released the information to Judy Miller, bypassing the actual legal method for declassification. Does the White House deny this? No.

A senior administration official, speaking on background because White House policy prohibits comment on an active investigation, said Bush sees a distinction between leaks and what he is alleged to have done. The official said Bush authorized the release of the classified information to assure the public of his rationale for war as it was coming under increasing scrutiny.

You see? This is exactly what us wild-eyed conspiracy theorists suspected years ago. Bush outed a CIA agent to make sure he could rush us into war. Now that the White House is admitting it, Bushco will claim that it was the patriotic thing to do (though before the White House admitted it, anyone making that exact claim was labeled a terrorist sympathizer).

And there is another example. First Bush claimed that he was getting a warrant to wiretap anyone. When that lie was no longer operable, he admitted that he was spying BUT ONLY on international calls between Al Qaeda and American phones. Now, of course, it is not hard to speculate that this collection of criminal thieves has long been doing domestic spying without warrants on the media, on members of Congress, and on their political opponents. After all, with all of the justification they’ve been doing for all of their other crimes (“warrantless wiretapping is good for Merika!"), it would be easy for them to justify spying on, say, John Kerry. After all, Bush claims that Kerry’s election would have been bad for the War on Terra, so it’s only righteous and prudent that he should protect America by spying on his political foes. And with every drip, we are moving relentlessly towards that conclusion. The latest not-so-surprising revelation? That Alberto Gonzales “wouldn’t rule out” that this administration could decide to spy on purely domestic calls if they thought Al Qaeda was involved. Whatever. Remember, the ONLY reason the FISA court exists is to prevent abuse of government spying. This administration has been sidestepping that court for years and, QED, is abusing their power. How long until the fact that they’ve been wiretapping (and probably blackmailing) the media and Democratic politicians comes to light, followed by the earnest justification that they had to do it to protect the country from terra-ists? My guess is not long now.

Remember, if you have a bad, awful suspicion about something this criminal enterprise might be doing, that soon the GOP will be claiming that of course they are doing it, and thank god, because it's the right thing to do.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

PNAC history

Democratic Underground keeps archives and historical documents created by its contributors in the hopes of creating an organizational memory, something which the US could use as well. If you are interested in learning more about the Project for a New American Century, please see their latest PNAC primer update:

Feeling confident that all plans were on track for moving aggressively in the world, the Bush Administration in September of 2002 published the "National Security Strategy of the United States of America." The official policy of the U.S. government, as proudly proclaimed in this major document, is virtually identical to the policy proposals in various PNAC white papers and similar ones from other think tanks, such as the American Enterprise Institute, the operational hub of Washington's neo-cons.

Chief among these proposals are: 1) "Pre-emptive" wars should be launched, even if there is no meaningful provocation or imminent threat, whenever the U.S. thinks a country may be amassing too much power and/or could provide some sort of competition in the "benevolent hegemony" region. A later corollary rethinks the country's atomic policy: nuclear weapons would no longer be considered defensive, but could be used offensively in support of political/economic ends; so-called "mini-nukes" could be employed in these regional wars. 2) International treaties and opinion are to be ignored whenever they interfere with U.S. imperial goals. 3) The new policies "will require bases and stations within and beyond Western Europe and Northeast Asia."


In other words, Bush & Co. would move the war plans forward and, in the interim, try to cobble together some reasonable-sounding "intelligence" that could justify the invasion. Hence, Cheney's red-hot anger that the CIA couldn't, or wouldn't, come up with the proof required, so Rumsfeld then established his own in-house Office of Special Plans, staffed with PNAC political types rather than intelligence analysts. The required "intelligence" was pasted together from unreliable raw data and rumors from dubious exiles supplied by Ahmad Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress. That "intelligence" was stove-piped directly to Cheney in the White House, thus avoiding having to vet it through the government's professional analysts, and the green light was turned on, with Powell delivering the laughable pack of lies to the U.N. Security Council in February 2003. The Council wouldn't vote for a specific authorization for war and so Bush hastily launched "shock-and-awe" bombing and the ground-invasion of that country before the international community could organize itself effectively to resist.

Bush two months later, standing under a huge "Mission Accomplished" banner, declared that the U.S. "has prevailed" over the Iraqis. Expecting to be welcomed as "liberators," and with no Plan B to rely on in case that didn't happen, the U.S. soon became bogged down fighting a mostly nationalist insurgency that continues until this day, one that grows in ferocity because the U.S. was responsible not only for an enormous loss of Iraqi civilians as "collateral damage," numbered in the tens of thousands, but also because of lack of employment for young men and the much-publicized torture and humiliation of tens of thousands of detained Iraqis. Iraq then became a magnet, and perfect training ground, for jihadist fighters from all over the Middle East.

Tom Delay, kingmaker

Before we all bid a tearful goodbye to this incredibly corrupt slimeball, who will either now head to jail or rat out 3/5s of the corrupt GOP machine (whichever Jeeezus tells him to do), let's not forget his roll in bringing us the Chimpus Imperilus:

On the Wednesday before Thanksgiving 2000, when the eyes of the nation were fixed on the Stephen P. Clark Government Center in downtown Miami, where a Dade County canvassing board was reviewing 10,750 uncounted ballots in Florida's disputed presidential contest between Democrat Al Gore and Republican George W. Bush, a riot orchestrated by DeLay's top aides and allies and carried out by Republican operatives flown in from Washington stopped the count. In so doing, DeLay's Izod-clad minions assured that the Bush campaign's Florida co-chair, Katherine Harris, would, in her capacity as secretary of state, be able to certify a 537-vote "win" for the Republican when the recount deadline arrived. It was that certification that allowed Florida Governor Jeb Bush to sign a Certificate of Ascertainment designating twenty-five Florida electors pledged to his brother. The paperwork was immediately transferred to the National Archives, where it would eventually be cited by the US Supreme Court in its decision to award the Florida electoral votes, and with them the presidency, to Bush.

DeLay's role in the recount, though little reported and even now little understood outside the inner circles of the Republican and Democratic parties, was definitional.

Furious that the Florida Supreme Court had on November 21, 2000, ordered a real recount of disputed ballots in the race that would decide the presidency, the House Republican leader had issued a statement that declared: "I hope this misguided ruling will be vigorously challenged."

DeLay was not making an idle threat. He was delivering marching orders to the troops in his war on democracy.

On the following day, a crowd of Republican aides and lobbyists flown in from Washington swarmed into the Goverment Center, chased Democratic observers out of the building and began banging on the doors of the area in which the recount of the key county's ballots had begun. Leading the "rioters" in chants of "Stop the Count" was Tom Pyle, a policy analyst in DeLay's office. This "vigorous challenge" to the count proved successful. The three-judge panel of canvassers--who after going through only a handful of the disputed ballots had already identified more than 150 additional votes for Gore--was shaken. After a team of sheriff's deputies restored order, the judges asked for a police escort to return them to the recounting room. There, they voted unanimously to stop the count. The additional votes for Gore that had already been discovered were discarded. Vote totals from Florida's most populous county reverted to pre-recount figures.

David Leahy, the supervisor of elections for the country, admitted that the riot "weighed heavy on our minds" as the decision to stop the recount was made. US Representative Carrie Meeks, a Democrat in Miami, was blunter. "The canvassing board bowed under pressure," she said.

That pressure was applied by DeLay, who would say after the US Supreme Court locked in the results for Bush: "This is something I've been working on for twenty-two years. I mean, we got it."

Your worst suspicions are (probably) true

It's funny how some stories go from wild-eyed conspiracy theories, to suspicions with no proof, to certainties, to fact, sometimes in a short period of time.

For example, there were stories that came out shortly after Bush was handed the presidency by Scalia, in which American citizens' right to assemble and protest the President peacefully on public property was being curtailed by the Secret Service. "Surely that can't be true," I thought. "Even if it were, people will recognize how ugly and unconstitutional that is and stop it." But the stories kept coming, and quickly turned into fact. By the 2004 election, even the Democratic party was sequestering protesters in chain-link fenced "first amendment zones" for the national convention. Conspiracy theory had turned to nightmarish norm in less than four years.

After 9/11, there were wild conspiracy theories that Bush had warning about the attacks and didn't do anything. Vague rumors to that effect came out slowly. Eventually, George Tennant confirmed it. And then the proof was revealed in the President's daily brief of August 6, 2001 (released to the world about 3 years later). Once again, our awful, laughable suspicions proved only too correct.

Then, in the run-up to war, there was the suspicion that Bush had planned to go to war with Iraq all along, that war in Iraq was one of the reasons it was so important that the war profiteers made sure he got installed as president. It surely seemed that way watching him warmonger and lie to get us into Iraq. Those vaguely uneasy feelings were confirmed by Richard Clarke and Paul O’Neill (both after they had left the administration, conveniently). On top of that, there is the stated invasion plans for Iraq published by the Project for a New American Century from 1998. Also their statement that what this country really needed was a “new Pearl Harbor” (which has since been removed from their “Rebuilding America’s Defenses” report – even they seem to have some kind of sense of shame or at least bad publicity – but you can read all about it at Wikipedia), which proves that while there is still doubt that this administration directly caused 9/11, there is ample proof that many of them didn’t think it would be such a bad thing. Most of the authors of that report had or have high positions in the Bush administration.

Colin Powell’s presentation to the UN on scary Iraq was initially hailed as a great success, with only small, nagging suspicions that he was talking out of his hat. Three years later, this speech is roundly considered Powell’s lowest moment (even lower than covering up the My Lai massacre or his involvement with Iran-Contra), filled with untruths and mendacity that he knew to be false at the time.

For a long while, people suspected that this administration was using the PATRIOT act to spy on Americans, and probably without a warrant. At first Bush denied this, then the NY Times found out it wasn’t true and sat on the story for a year (wouldn’t want to hurt Bushy’s re-election chances by revealing blatant law-breaking now, would we, NYT?) while Bush continued to tell bald-face lie after bald face lie about it. Finally, the suspicions became accusations which were denied until they couldn’t be denied any longer. And now the administration declares that yes, of course, they were breaking the law for our own good, and what are we going to do about it? Suspicion becomes truth.

At every turn, we find that our worst, most far flung, suspicions do not give these mendacious thieves enough credit for the depths they will sink to.

Finally, we come to the war itself. For a long time, it was suspected that Bush was driving us into a war that he himself knew was unnecessary, illegal, and avaricious. Since that time, it has certainly been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that he knew he was lying. We know now that he suggested ways to provoke Saddam into providing a justification for a war against Iraq. And we know now that Bush’s main excuses for war, uranium ore and aluminum tubes, were both known by this administration to be bogus. Joe Wilson’s NY Times op-ed piece, and the controversy that grew out of it, forced Bush to back off his yellowcake claims. And now it seems there is documentary evidence that this government knew that the aluminum tube claims they were making were completely bogus as well. And that protecting the existence of that document until the 2004 elections were safely over explains why Rove and Libby would risk perjury charges to hide what was going on.

. . . according to Waas, since October 2002 there has existed a smoking-gun that proved Bush had been told that some intelligence officials thought the tubes were for conventional weapons, not nukes -- well before he repeated the tale in his 2003 speech.

That leads to the second, equally important point. Waas also reports that Rove thought as early as the summer of 2003 that the document was radioactive enough to potentially destroy Bush's re-election chances. Waas adds that Bush advisers thought that if doubts about the tubes came out, it would be much harder to shield Bush from criticism for them than it was for the uranium tale -- because there apparently existed hard evidence that the president had been told of those doubts.

Thanks to Waas, for the first time, we may now know for a fact that Rove and other Bush advisers viewed the truth about the run-up to war as something that could destroy his re-election prospects. It is entirely plausible that Bush advisers calculated that if it came out that they’d outed Plame, Congress would have been forced by the resulting firestorm to run a far more aggressive investigation of Bush’s pre-war deceptions – and possibly uncover the smoking gun Waas reports on, among other things. Remember, Libby and Rove testified in early 2004, during the heat of a presidential campaign which Rove himself had apparently concluded was at risk if existing hard evidence of Bush’s deceptions surfaced.

So it seems plausible that Libby and Rove sought to minimize the chance of the aggressive congressional oversight that might have resulted if it became known that they’d outed Plame. In short, misleading the grand jury about Plame may simply have been a key piece of a broader effort to get past the election before the truth about the run-up to the war surfaced to sink his campaign.
White House officials, including Bush himself, withheld critical information it had about doubts over supposed evidence of Saddam's nuke ambitions in order to better make the case for war. Then they subsequently discovered that hard evidence existed of that duplicity. Then, anxious that this evidence might surface before the 2004 reelection, they engaged in a relentless campaign to cover up what really happened during the Iraq run-up and to prevent an aggressive congressional investigation until after the election. They relied on Pat Roberts to run a pseudo-investigation; they withheld the daily briefs; they leaned on Hill allies not to talk to the press. And they obscured their role in the outing of Plame to prevent an outcry that would have certainly forced Congress and the press to probe far more aggressively than they did. And they succeeded: If Congress and the press had been more aggressive -- and this may be the real significance of Waas's story -- it's perfectly possible that John Kerry would now be president.

When every bad motivation you speculate about these guys turns out to be true in spades, you begin to notice a pattern. If the pattern holds, it’s only a matter of time before we get the memos that show how the deliberate theft of the elections in 2000 and 2004 were conceived and carried out.