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.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

God-Bless-Our-Allies Watch

God bless our allies! Allies like Pakistan, who stands with us as a beacon of democracy against the terrorists! Allies like General Musharraf, who has sworn that although he took power in a military coup, he loves democracy and will do anything to protect it! Well, maybe not so much.

On November 3, “the Moosh,” as President Boosh likes to call him, declared martial law and suspended the Pakistani Constitution. He shut down the radio and television stations. He put his political opponents under house arrest. Blaming the judiciary for hampering the battle against terrorists, he disbanded Pakistan’s Supreme Court -- which was about to rule whether his win in the recent election was legal -- and put judges loyal to him in the replacement court.

The Moosh also amended an Army law so that civilians can be charged in courts martial. He has also declared that martial law will continue indefinitely, likely until after the “fair-and-free” elections sometime in the future.

The Moosh has declared that as soon as the new Supreme Court -- the one he installed and filled with his own lackeys -- validates his victory and declares him President, he is more than willing to restore democracy and become President.

“I had to take a drastic step to save the democratic process,” the Moosh proclaimed. Yes --- he had to destroy democracy in order to save it.

And where is OUR fearless leader, denouncing Musharraf for suspending of Pakistan’s Constitution, denouncing the bunch of lackeys appointed to a fake Supreme Court, and calling for all Pakistanis to rise up against the dictator so that Pakistan can become a democracy??? Pretty damn silent is where. A few press conferences, a single phone call to the Moosh, expressing support, and that’s about it…

So much for supporting Democracy and Freedom in the Middle East! You see, we only support democracy when it is convenient... And right now, it's not so convenient.

-John Locke

Just-Another-Giant-Step-Towards-Fascism Watch

Note that this post could also be entitled “If –Americans-Believe-This, The-Terrorists-Have-Won Watch”

Donald M. Kerr, the Deputy Director of National Intelligence, has opined that it is time for Americans to change their definition of privacy. Mr. Kerr claims that privacy can no longer mean anonymity. Instead, it should mean that the government and businesses have access to your private communications and financial information but that they should properly safeguard it.

Holy shit, people! What Mr. Kerr is proposing IS 1984. It IS The Handmaid’s Tale. It IS A Brave New World. It IS Fahrenheit 451. It IS a nightmare of obscene proportions!

Mr. Kerr is advocating that the benevolent US government see all and know all but somehow not act on what it knows or sees unless it deems your thoughts or actions to be inappropriate. This is a giant step towards fascism and a giant step towards a one-party system. After all, how could a minority party function if the majority party had all relevant information about its opponents?

For example, imagine if the government, controlled by the Democratic party, KNEW which Republicans were cheating on their wives, KNEW which Republicans were secretly gay, KNEW which Republicans are pedophiles… and had the phone calls, the emails, the letters, the photos, and the video to prove it. If that were the case, a LOT of Republicans would be exposed as cheaters, liars, and criminals. I think it would be safe to say that the Republican party wouldn’t last more than a few months.

EVERYONE has something to hide. Something you wouldn’t want your neighbors to know. Something you wouldn’t want your friends to know. Something you wouldn't want your employer to know. And if the government has that information and can use it against you, suddenly, you love the government; you love Big Brother.

The Boosh Administration is more than stupid and corrupt. More than incompetent and vile. The Boosh Administration is evil, and unless we are very careful, the evil will have us all.

-John Locke

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Naomi Wolf discusses airport detentions, legal torture, and Blackwater

Published at Huffington Post:

I have argued that in the closing stages of a `fascist shift', events cascade. I am hearing about them, even across the globe. Here in Australia I hear from the nation's best-know feminist activist, and former adviser to Paul Keating, Anne Summers, who was also at the time this took place Chair of the Board of Greenpeace International. Summers was detained by armed agents for FIVE HOURS each way in LAX on her way to and from the annual meeting of the board of Greenpeace International in Mexico, and her green card was taken away from her. `I want to call a lawyer', she told TSA agents. `Ma'am, you do not have a right to call an attorney,' they replied. `You have not entered the United States.'

Apparently a section of LAX just beyond the security line is asserted to be `not in the United States' -- though it is squarely inside the airport -- so the laws of the US do not apply. (This assertion, by the way, should alarm any US citizen who is aware of how the White House argued that Guantanamo is not `in the United States' - is a legal no-man's land -- so the laws of the US do not apply.) Toward the end of her second five-hour detention she asked, `Why am I being detained?' `Lady, this is not detention,' the TSA agent told her. `Detention is when I take you to the cells out back and lock you up.'

Last week in Boston, while attending Bioneers by the Bay, I heard that one of the speakers for our event, an environmentalist named Gunter Pauli, was going to miss the time of his scheduled speech; he had been physically taken OFF THE PLANE by TSA agents and had to take a much later flight. More chillingly, the camerawoman doing my interview said that another well-known environmental writer found that his girlfriend was effectively `disappeared' for three days as she sought to enter the US from Canada. Lisa Fithian, an anti-globalization activist, was denied entry across the Canadian border in 2001 and was offered the choice of turning back or being arrested.

A friend emails me a story from USA Today about a 24-year-old college graduate who testified before Congress about her family of immigrants and the difficulties they face; shortly afterward, the entire family was arrested by immigration agents. Another online piece reports that Blackwater is setting up operations along the US/Mexico border and an insightful post on Daily Kos describes how the TSA list will revert from the airlines to the management of the Department of Homeland Security shortly and that by February we may well face the need to apply to the State for permission to travel. If this proposed regulation goes through, we will move from 1931 to about 1934--when the borders started to close-- with the stroke of a pen. Jews in America have hardwired into their DNA a sense of the distinction between those who got out before the borders closed and those who waited a moment too long.

Why should Congress impeach and prosecute this instant, not waiting till February? Why should this impeachment and prosecution be solidly bipartisan? After February it is the leaders on both sides of the aisle -- and the people writing these essays -- who are at most risk of being turned back at the border. People who can't leave in a police state are effectively silenced. And history shows that Republicans are at the exact same risk as Democrats of being violently silenced once liberties are lost. I am reading about IBM's close, profitable involvement with Nazi Germany -- much akin to Prescott Bush's well-documented close and profitable involvement with Nazi Germany through German industrialist, Fritz Thyssen. Right up to the top of the solidly Nazi hierarchy of the IBM affiliate, corporate executives were terrified of taking a wrong step in the eyes of the Party: `There are concentration camps', they would whisper to their US backers. The teenage son of one solid Nazi ally was taken hostage when he resisted Party orders. So alignment with the regime in a police state offers no ultimate protection.

Let us think like business consultants analyzing the decisions of a business that claims it is going to close its door in just a year. What kinds of decisions is it making? Here is a quiz, if you still doubt that we need to shift our thinking and recognize what appears to be 'a paper coup.':

- Is building a US Embassy in Baghdad the size of eighty football fields and at a cost of well more than half a BILLION dollars evidence of short- or long-term thinking?

- These walls would crumble if the next legitimate president independently ends the war. How about defending and expanding the basis for FISA violations at this late stage -- after all, these folks will be gone in a year?

- How about the decision to fight so hard for a US attorney who will defend the view that the President is above the law?

- Why would that matter so much in an administration folding its tents?

- Why the rush to establish Guantanamo as a permanent part of the landscape and even seek money at one point to double its size -- if the next President, a truly independent Republican or Democrat, might just close it down?

- Why the push to expand a war that makes no military or popular sense, rush through military tribunals that the next President might just disband, and, by the way, drum up a fresh new World War III?

- Do the neo-cons advising Giuliani look like a fresh page for an independent, transparent election or an ideological continuity of government in themselves?

- Do these look like the short-term tactics of a fading administration -- or the institutional strategic bases for some kind of new long-term beginning?

- Why work so hard to make sure that the man who defended the infamous "enemy combatant" concept will be the new Attorney General?

Increasingly, reputable figures are starting to talk about `a coup.' Jim Hightower notes in an important essay, "Is a Presidential Coup Under Way?," that a coup is defined in the dictionary as a sudden forced change in the form of government. (He also spells out the basis for a rigorously modeled impeachment and criminal prosecution.) Daniel Ellsberg's much-emailed speech on recent events notes that, in his view, a `coup' has already taken place. Ron Rosenbaum speculates in an essay on Slate about the reasons the Bush administration is withholding even from members of Congress its plans for Continuity of Government in an emergency -- noting that those worrying about a coup are no longer so marginal. Frank Rich notes the parallels between ourselves and the Good Germans. And Congress belatedly realizes as if waking from a drugged sleep that it might not be okay for the Attorney General to say the President need not obey the law. Congress may realize why Mukasey CAN'T say that `waterboarding is torture' -- the minute he does so he has laid the grounds for Bush, Cheney and any number of CIA and Blackwater interrogators to be tried and convicted for war crimes. They are so keenly aware that what they have been doing is criminal that laws such as the Military Commissions Act of 2006 have been drafted specifically to protect them and the torturers and murderers they have directed from criminal prosecution. That is why insisting that Mukasey say that waterboarding is torture is, in spite of the alarming apparent defection of Feinstein and Schumer, an important tactic and even the perfect opening for the impeachment bid that Kucinich is bringing on November 6th to be followed by Congressional investigations into possible criminality.

This is the "Blackwater Tactical Weekly." (Yes, Blackwater has its own weekly e-newsletter.) Look at "Islamist protest in N.Y. - 'Mushroom cloud on way'" -- it is reasonable to speculate that Blackwater is focusing on becoming more active domestically in managing domestic protests and rallies. (Regarding this particular rally, note the repetition of the White House `Mushroom Cloud' sound-bite and other signs bearing current White House talking points, that are attributed to alleged Muslim protesters in New York City. The US has a long history of using agents provocateurs -- people dressed as those they are targeting, who pose as conveying a more violent or threatening message than that of the real group itself or who commit acts of violence to stigmatize the group. The Cointelpro program of the 1970's discredited many rallies in this way. An alleged or infiltrated violent, threatening Muslim rally would be the perfect defensible trigger for a Blackwater response.)

See also that Blackwater may be exploring the management of private flights in US airports because of a threat or `threat' to private aircraft. ("Extremists may target private US planes: TSA.") This entry point to the air travel system would seem defensible -- after all Blackwater personnel do in fact guard airports around the world, for example in Bosnia. The danger is that a bleeding of Blackwater into US airport security in general would affect a coup in essence -- quite quickly and serenely -- even as a coup in fact need not be declared. It is a short step from managing private plane and private airport security to aiding the TSA -- which is a branch of Homeland Security -- and Homeland Security and Blackwater have already worked in alliance with one another in New Orleans. A TSA agent blogged about having signed up for Blackwater -- at ten thousand a month, which is a lot more than TSA agents make now and a real incentive -- but I have no evidence of reverse movement. The White House recently announced that the Watch List and No-Fly List together have 775,000 citizens and that they are adding 20,000 A MONTH. This trend on both sides, if not confronted, points to an easy slide to a paramilitarized domestic flight experience in the US and a routine aggressive searching of hundreds of thousands of citizens, the growth being exponential enough so that being aggressively searched could easily soon become a common experience at airports. Nothing at present prevents Blackwater agents from being deployed to help or replace the TSA domestically. Or from being deployed at the next New York City rally such as the one that is being featured on their website. And airports being the lifeline of freedom, if you are scared to fly or can be bullied, interrogated, tasered or worse when flying, you are no longer free. History shows that there is no easy retroactive movement toward a free society once travel is truly restricted.

The Mukasey hesitation on torture is our cue to call a halt to these crimes. (By the way, strapping victims to boards to prepare them for torture was common at Buchenwald.)

Congress must ask:

- What is torture?
- Has it happened?
- Who ordered it?
- How high up the chain of command does this go?
- And what does our system of laws say about such crimes and those who commit them?

If it takes hearings and possible prosecutions to restore the rule of law and maintain a free society, then it is past time for the hearings to begin.

AT&T Whistleblower on retroactive immunity

From TPMmuckraker:

Earlier today we flagged that Mark Klein, who uncovered a secret surveillance room run by the NSA while employed as a San Francisco-based technician for AT&T, is in Washington to lobby against granting retroactive legal immunity to telecommunications companies. In an interview this afternoon, Klein explained why he traveled all the way from San Francisco to lobby Senators about the issue: if the immunity provision passes, Americans may never know how extensive the surveillance program was -- or how deeply their privacy may have been invaded.

"The president has not presented this truthfully," said Klein, a 62-year old retiree. "He said it was about a few people making calls to the Mideast. But I know this physical equipment. It copies everything. There's no selection of anything, at all -- the splitter copies entire data streams from the internet, phone conversations, e-mail, web-browsing. Everything."

What Klein unearthed -- you can read it here -- points to a nearly unbounded surveillance program. Its very location in San Francisco suggests that the program was "massively domestic" in its focus, he said. "If they really meant what they say about only wanting international stuff, you wouldn't want it in San Francisco or Atlanta. You'd want to be closer to the border where the lines come in from the ocean so you pick up international calls. You only do it in San Francisco if you want domestic stuff. The location of this stuff contradicts their story."

That's what's at stake in the telecom immunity provision, Klein believes. If the surveillance-related lawsuits are invalidated by a provision in the intelligence-committee-passed FISA bill, then the extent of the program -- at least between 2001 and 2006 -- will remain the exclusive purview of the Bush administration, the communications firms and the handful of Senators selected to review legal justifications for the program. "These are not babes in woods. They knew what they were doing," Klein said. "The violation of the Constitution is where they split off -- where the splitter splits off full copies of a datastream, and connects to other companies' internet stuff, like Sprint or GlobalCrossing. They don’t want people to understand that. They want to portray it like the president does, that it's a handful of international phone calls. That's the soundbite, and that’s not true. It affects millions of people domestically."

Klein has been public with his insider account for nearly two years, with precious little publicity to show for it, thanks to the relative paucity of national media in San Francisco. Coming to Washington might have changed that: his day was packed with press calls and face time with at least a half-dozen Congressional staffers, mostly from Democratic Senators Joe Biden, Sheldon Whitehouse and Barbara Boxer. Press attention and one-on-ones in the corridors of power might be nice, he said, but it's not enough. "I'm not impressed by people with speeches pretending to be on your side," he said. "I want to see votes. In our favor."

The Senate Judiciary Committee will vote on the surveillance bill tomorrow.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Bush-Taking-Lessons-From-Musharraf Watch

This wasn't a real article on the web, but it could be, given the lack of appetite the Boosh administration has for reining-in their friend, dictator-turned-evil-dictator Musharraf (after all, what's better for the region -- democracy or brutal dictatorship?):

Boosh Vows to Learn Lesson From Musharraf

Taking a super-duper-harsh stance, Preident Bush's top national security aides said U.S. financial backing for Pakistan will likely go uninterrupted despite Musharraf's recent declaration of a state of "emergency".

Pakistan has received billions of dollars in aid and bribes since Musharraf threw his lackluster support behind the U.S.-led war on terror after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

"We believe that the best path for Pakistan is to eventually return to a weakened but quasi-constitutional path and then to hold elections sometime in the distant future," said Rice, who then promised that Musharraf will still receive our money really no matter what he does.

Musharraf reiterated to foreign ambassadors Monday that he was committed to a long-term transition to democracy, as long as he gets to stay in power. "As long as I stay in power, we will eventually have a democracy!" he exclaimed. He then went on a long diatribe against "activist judges" who -- incredibly enough -- seek to enforce the country's Constitution. Under a state of emergency, parliamentary elections scheduled for January could be pushed back a year, a decade, or possibly more, according to the government.

Bush administration officials are reportedly looking on with keen interest, and are studying whether or not a state of emergency could be used in a similar fashion here in the US.

"I like it," stated one senior administrative source, who was not authorized to speak publicly, "It's simple and effective. By blaming terrorists, we can suspend the Constitution, all the while claiming that we're protecting the public. The public, being stupid, will believe pretty much whatever we tell them, particularly if it involves terrorists. We've been kicking this idea around for a couple of years now, and based on Musharraf's success, it looks like it could work as well or better in the US."

Unsuprisingly, the idea has already gained a number of converts among the populace. "I love President Bush" declared one ardent enthusiast, "Why not declare martial law here now, even without an emergency? Then we could have four more decades under our Beloved Leader". Joe Lieberman then went on to question how anyone who does not have anything to hide would be afraid of an all-powerful executive branch...

Yeah, you laugh in disbelief now, but just wait until an "emergency" happens in the US around the time of elections.

-John Locke

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Republican in Democratic Clothing Watch

Senator Feinstein recently voted to move Judge Leslie Southwick's nomination to the 5th Circuit US Court of Appeals out of committee and onto the Senate floor. Ms. Feinstein cast the deciding vote and was immediately saluted by numerous Republicans for her "aye" vote. In 2001, Mr. Southwick ruled that it was appropriate to strip a lesbian mother of her child, implying that homosexuality is choice and stating that had the mother made a different "choice", she might have kept her child. That's really what we need in our appeals court system: more Republican appointees with a bent for homophobia and racism. Shame on you, Leslie Southwick, and shame on you, Dianne Feinstein!

Not that she cares a rat's ass for what I believe is important, but here's what I wrote to her:

Dear Senator Feinstein:

I am extremely disappointed in your vote to move Judge Leslie Southwick's nomination out of committee and onto the floor of the Senate for a confirmation vote. Mr. Southwick's prior rulings indicate that he is both a homophobe and a racist. The fact that you would support President Bush's nomination of a person like that defies belief. You ought to be ashamed.

John Locke

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Stupid Republican Representative Watch II

Still catching up on all my most recent letters to my "representatives". This one I wrote in August to my stupid Republican representative, who absolutely LOVES Boosh's War and spouts all of the typical Republican talkingpoints about how great the war is going and how great the war is in general... I got a form letter back from him that spouted a lot of nonsense about how Iraq is critical to winning the "War on Terrah".

Dear Congressman XXXX:

This email is to formally ask you to support “cutting and running” in Iraq. I honestly don’t care what you call it, but you need to bring our troops home now.

Why anyone would trust the Bush administration to do anything, much less prosecute a war or give an honest appraisal of how that war is going, is beyond me. The Bush administration lied us into the war and the Bush administration has mismanaged the war so badly that it really couldn’t be any worse if they had planned it to catastrophically fail. With the war costing us about 100 US soldiers and $12 billion every month, I for one am not willing to see another soldier die or spend another dollar in a war that has absolutely nothing with the war on terror, has cost hundreds of thousands of Iraqis their lives, and has radicalized the world against us. Our involvement in World War II didn’t even last this long. President Bush recently compared Iraq with Vietnam; he is right, but in a way he did not intend. Iraq is a quagmire which we cannot win; we can throw as many troops and as much of our national resources at it as we want, but we cannot win because the Iraqi people do not want us there. Instead of focusing on Afghanistan (where the real fight is), we are wasting soldiers and resources in a civil war where both sides view us as targets. The Bush administration cannot be trusted to give an honest report to Congress or to be honest with the American people. Please get us out of Iraq now.

Please note that the American public is not going to be fooled by the current sleight-of-hand proposal being floated by the Bush administration – that of promising a limited troop reduction sometime possibly maybe perhaps in the next six months. I look forward to seeing you vote immediately against any more funding of the troops and will take great pleasure in voting against you in the next election if you don’t.


John Locke

Spineless Democrat Watch II

I am catching up on all the letters I've sent to my "representatives" over the past few months... This is an email I sent in August to Nancy Pelosi (Speaker of the House) and Harry Reid (Senate Majority "Leader") when I found out that the Spineless Democrats had caved at the last minute and given the Boosh everything he wanted and more in terms of unlimited and unchecked executive power:


I cannot tell you how shocked, disgusted, and disappointed I was to find out that the spineless "Democrat" party had voted to give President Bush and the executive branch MORE power. I've come to expect that from the Republicans, but not the Democrats. There is no one on this planet who less deserves this kind of blind trust than President Bush -- who has repeatedly shown that he is not worthy of any trust whatsoever. The executive branch does not need more power. Any wiretapping should be done with a warrant and with strong court oversight. Allowing Bush to wiretap without a warrant is stupid; and as the FISA court determined, illegal and unconstitutional. Don't shortsell the Constitution. Don't surrender our civil liberties to the Republican fearmongers. For the love of all that is good in America, please stand up and perform your sworn duty to uphold the Constitution. Please dismantle this unsurpassed infringement on civil liberties, provide a system of checks and balances, and thereby protect Americans. If you don't, the terrorists will have won.


John Locke

Mukasey-Is-A-Tool Watch

This is a letter I sent on Friday to Senators Feingold, Feinstein, and Schumer. Just after I sent it, Feinstein and Schumer announced that they were spineless crapweasels and would be voting for Boosh's Tool, Michael Mukasey...

Dear Senator XXXXX:

I am writing to urge you to vote against the current nominee for US Attorney General, Michael Mukasey, in committee.

If Mr. Mukasey cannot determine whether or not waterboarding is torture, he is simply not qualified to act as Attorney General. Waterboarding has been widely recognized as torture since the Spanish Inquisition. Without a doubt, waterboarding is torture and must be condemned.

If Mr. Mukasey is refusing to answer the question in a straightforward manner because it might lead to prosecutions and convictions of Bush Administration officials, then he has demonstrated his unwillingness to be independent from the Bush Administration. After the fiasco of Alberto Gonzales, America needs an honest, independent Attorney General.

The US cannot be party to any further torturing of prisoners, no matter how heinous the suspected or alleged crimes. Please vote against Mr. Mukasey in committee and do not allow his nomination to reach the full Senate.

John Locke

Stupid Republican Representative Watch

This is the email I recently sent to my stupid Republican representative, who voted against SCHIP the first time (and who I have no doubt will vote against it again and again and again, all the time, making up more and more stupid reasons why he voted against it):

Dear Representative XXXXX:

I was pleased to see that the Democrats have revised the SCHIP bill to address most if not all of your concerns (including the illegal immigrants issue and the adult coverage issue, about which you seemed so concerned in your October letter to me). Consequently, I look forward to seeing you vote "yes" on the upcoming SCHIP vote today!

-John Locke

Spineless Democrat Watch

This is a letter I wrote to Nancy Pelosi on September 11, 2007 regarding Boosh's War. Obviously, I was (and am) very upset at the lack of motivation on the part of the Democrats. Cowards!

Dear Madame Speaker:

The Bush/Petraeus proposal of letting the surge continue until maybe, possibly, perhaps the summer of next year is simply not acceptable. I am not willing to see another US soldier die or pay another single tax dollar so that George Bush can foist his monumental and catastrophic Iraq quagmire on the next President. I can see through this tactic. My family can see through it. My friends can see through it. And I believe that the American public can see through it.

Please do not fund the war anymore. PERIOD. Stop paying for the war and force George Bush's hand and get our troops out of Iraq now.

I'm tired of you guys and the American public being played like a fiddle. Bush has lied and lied and lied and lied and lied. The "mission" was "accomplished" years ago. The insurgency was in its "final throes" years ago. The surge was only going to last a "couple of months" and was designed to help the Iraqis "stand up as we stand down". Now, the President and Petraeus state that the surge will continue until next summer, at which time, we will be back where we were in November 2006. This is intolerable. I can't tell you how angry this makes me. The President and his henchmen are treating the American public like idiots.


John Locke