Zebra 3 Report by Joe Anybody
Sunday, 4 January 2009
Gonzo Tries Covering His Tracks
Mood:  irritated
Now Playing: Alberto Gonzales writes a book to "hog-wash" his attrocties

WASHINGTON -- Alberto Gonzales, who has kept a low profile since resigning as attorney general nearly 16 months ago, said he is writing a book to set the record straight about his controversial tenure as a senior official in the Bush administration.

Mr. Gonzales has been portrayed by critics both as unqualified for his position and instrumental in laying the groundwork for the administration's "war on terror." He was pilloried by Congress in a manner not usually directed toward cabinet officials.

[Alberto Gonzales] 

    Alberto Gonzales

Interview Excerpts

Alberto Gonzales, in his most extensive comments since stepping down as attorney general last year, discussed his tenure as White House counsel and as the first Hispanic to lead the Justice Department. Read the excerpts.


How will history judge his work?

"What is it that I did that is so fundamentally wrong, that deserves this kind of response to my service?" he said during an interview Tuesday, offering his most extensive comments since leaving government.

During a lunch meeting two blocks from the White House, where he served under his longtime friend, President George W. Bush, Mr. Gonzales said that "for some reason, I am portrayed as the one who is evil in formulating policies that people disagree with. I consider myself a casualty, one of the many casualties of the war on terror."

His political problems started with the firings of nine U.S. attorneys in 2006, which grew into a firestorm that Mr. Gonzales said he never saw coming. In November of that year, Democrats had taken control of Congress and the power to conduct investigations of Bush administration policies.

His previous role of White House counsel put Mr. Gonzales at the heart of the administration's decision-making on issues relating to terrorism, making him an easier target than the president. Critics also said he allowed the Justice Department to become politicized through its hiring practices and prosecutions, favoring Republicans for plum positions and targeting Democrats for prosecution.

Mr. Gonzales fueled the fire by giving evasive answers to Congress, frequently responding "I don't recall."

Among other things, Mr. Gonzales said Tuesday that he didn't play a central role in drafting the widely criticized legal opinions that allowed the Central Intelligence Agency to use aggressive interrogation techniques on terrorism suspects and expanded the president's power to hold "unlawful combatants" and terrorism suspects indefinitely. He also said he told the truth to Congress about a classified eavesdropping program authorized by the president, and admitted to making mistakes in handling the U.S. attorney firings while maintaining that he made the right decisions. He says that while he bears responsibility as former Attorney General that "doesn't absolve other individuals of responsibility."

Mr. Gonzales, 53 years old, doesn't have a publisher for his book. He said he is writing it if only "for my sons, so at least they know the story."

The chapters on the Bush administration's surveillance program, which involved eavesdropping without court warrants, and other controversial aspects of his work, remain blank. That is in part because he remains under investigation regarding allegations of political meddling at the Justice Department.

The Harvard Law School graduate, onetime corporate lawyer and Texas judge also hasn't been able to land a job. He has delivered a few paid speeches, done some mediation work and plans to do some arbitration, but said law firms have been "skittish" about hiring him.

The biggest blow to Mr. Gonzales came during Senate testimony by James Comey, former deputy attorney general, who recounted dramatic details of a 2004 confrontation at the hospital bed of then-Attorney General John Ashcroft.

Mr. Comey had refused to sign a reauthorization of a secret government program, believed to be the eavesdropping initiative. Mr. Gonzales and Andrew Card, White House chief of staff at the time, drove to the hospital where Mr. Ashcroft was recovering from surgery to instead seek approval from him. Mr. Comey drove to the hospital to stop them. The episode highlighted a dispute between Justice and the White House over the surveillance program's legality.

In Tuesday's interview, Mr. Gonzales said Mr. Comey's characterization of the dispute was "one-sided and didn't have the right context," and gave the impression that he and Mr. Card were attempting to take advantage of Mr. Ashcroft. "I found Ashcroft as lucid as I've seen him at meetings in the White House," he said.

Mr. Gonzales was at a meeting in San Antonio the day of Mr. Comey's surprise testimony. "He didn't have the decency to notify anyone what he was about to testify," he said. "That was extremely disappointing." Mr. Comey declined to comment.

Mr. Gonzales also downplayed his role in formulating opinions that allowed the CIA to use aggressive interrogation methods, which included waterboarding. The memos have since been rescinded and replaced with opinions that explicitly call torture "abhorrent."

Mr. Gonzales said his role as White House counsel at the time was one among several administration lawyers who debated the opinions, but that in the end it was the Justice Department's call. John Yoo, the then-Justice official who had been assigned to draft the memos, had strong feelings and no one could have pressured him to write the memos a certain way, Mr. Gonzales said. Mr. Yoo didn't respond to a request for comment.

In one of his final acts before leaving office, Mr. Gonzales denied he was planning to quit, even though he had told the president of his intention to resign. Asked about the misleading comment Tuesday, he said: "At that point, I didn't care."

Posted by Joe Anybody at 2:13 PM PST
Friday, 2 January 2009
Israel rams Human Rights Boat with Mrs. McKinney & Aid Supplies
Mood:  irritated
Now Playing: Cynthia McKinney on boat that was rammed in International waters

Z3 Readers watch the video (link is in article below) where Cynthia Mckinney tells about being rammed by Isreal on International Waters. This boat is bringing first aid supplies to Gazza. There is more info on my website click here

- - - -  

Gaza relief boat

damaged in encounter with Israeli vessel


(CNN) -- An Israeli patrol boat struck a boat carrying medical volunteers and supplies to Gaza early Tuesday as it attempted to intercept the vessel in the Mediterranean Sea, witnesses and Israeli officials said.

"Our mission was a peaceful mission," says former U.S. Rep. Cynthia McKinney, who was aboard the Dignity.

"Our mission was a peaceful mission," says former U.S. Rep. Cynthia McKinney, who was aboard the Dignity.

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CNN correspondent Karl Penhaul was aboard the 60-foot pleasure boat Dignity when the contact occurred. When the boat later docked in the Lebanese port city of Tyre, severe damage was visible to the forward port side of the boat, and the front left window and part of the roof had collapsed. It was flying the flag of Gibraltar.

The Dignity was carrying crew and 16 passengers -- physicians from Britain, Germany and Cyprus and human rights activists from the Free Gaza Solidarity Movement -- who were trying to reach Gaza through an Israeli blockade of the territory.

Also on board was former U.S. Rep. Cynthia McKinney.

Penhaul said an Israeli patrol boat shined its spotlight on the Dignity, and then it and another patrol boat shadowed the Dignity for about a half hour before the collision.

One patrol boat "very severely rammed" the Dignity, Penhaul said.

The captain of the Dignity told Penhaul he received no warning. Only after the collision did the Israelis come on the radio to say they struck the boat because they believed it was involved in terrorist activities, the captain said.

But Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor denied that and said the patrol boat had warned the vessel not to proceed to Gaza because it is a closed military area.

Palmor said there was no response to the radio message, and the vessel then tried to out-maneuver the Israeli patrol boat, leading to the collision. Video Watch Penhaul describe the boat damage »

The captain and crew said their vessel was struck intentionally, Penhaul said, but Palmor called those allegations "absurd."

"There is no intention on the part of the Israeli navy to ram anybody," Palmor said.

"I would call it ramming. Let's just call it as it is," McKinney said after the boat docked in Lebanon. "Our boat was rammed three times, twice in the front and one on the side. Video Watch Cynthia McKinney discuss the collision »

"Our mission was a peaceful mission to deliver medical supplies and our mission was thwarted by the Israelis -- the aggressiveness of the Israeli military," she said.

The incident occurred in international waters about 90 miles off Gaza. Israel controls the waters off Gaza's coast and routinely blocks ships from coming into the Palestinian territory as part of an ongoing blockade that also applies to the Israel-Gaza border. Human rights groups have expressed concern about the blockade on Gaza, which has restricted the delivery of emergency aid and fuel supplies.

Tuesday's collision was so severe, Penhaul said, that the passengers were ordered to put on their life vests and be ready to get in lifeboats. The Dignity began taking on water, but the crew managed to pump it out of the hull long enough for the boat to reach shore.

"It could have ended with people drowning if they hit us more square on," Dignity's captain, Denis Healey, said. "It could have gone down in minutes."

Palmor said the vessel refused assistance after the incident.

The boat was carrying boxes of relief supplies, volunteers and journalists to Gaza, the Palestinian territory that has been subject to an intense Israeli bombing campaign since Saturday.

Israel Tuesday lambasted McKinney -- the Green Party's 2008 candidate for the U.S. presidency and a former Democratic congresswoman from Georgia -- for taking part in the maritime mission.

In a written statement, the Consulate General of Israel to the Southeast, based in Atlanta, Georgia, said McKinney "has taken it upon herself to commit an act of provocation," endangering herself and the crew.

"We regret that during this time of crisis, while Israel is battling with the terrorist organization of Hamas and defending its citizens, that we are forced to deal with Ms. McKinney's irresponsible behavior," the statement read.

The trip was the Free Gaza Solidarity Movement's sixth in as many months.

Israel launched airstrikes against Gaza on Saturday in what Defense Minister Ehud Barak called an "all-out war" against the Palestinian militant group Hamas, which has ruled the territory since 2007. The Israeli military says its goal is to stop a recent barrage of rocket fire from Gaza into southern Israel. Video Watch the chaos in Gaza and Israel »

The Palestinian death toll has topped 375, most of them Hamas militants, Palestinian medical sources said Tuesday. At least 60 civilians have been killed in Gaza, U.N. officials said.

Hamas has pontinued to fire rockets at southern Israeli towns since the airstrikes began, Israel says. Six Israelis have been killed -- five of them civilians.

Hamas has vowed to defend Gaza in the face of what it calls continued Israeli aggression. Each side blames the other for violating an Egyptian-brokered cease-fire, which formally expired December 19, but had been weakening for months.


All About GazaIsraelCynthia McKinney

Posted by Joe Anybody at 6:22 PM PST
Updated: Friday, 2 January 2009 6:39 PM PST
Wednesday, 31 December 2008
Will You Publish This Story?
Mood:  sad
Now Playing: Will You Publish This Story?
Topic: WAR

Ok Z3 Readers here is one for ya: 

Will You Publish This Story?

By Nida Mariam

23 October, 2008
Combat Law


Lubna, a young woman from Baghdad, mother of four, stranded in Cairo, narrates her ordeals to Nida Mariam

She left al Doura, south Baghdad, in the darkness before dawn.
At five a.m. one morning, in mid-2006, 40 days after her father had been murdered by militiamen in front of her mother's eyes, Lubna Hamed Rasheed, 35 years old at the time, bundled up her belongings, collected her courage, and told her toddler, "As soon as we cross the Iraqi border, we will be out of danger."

There was a stream of cars moving together from her street. And when she, her children, and her neighbours got into the bus station, to take the land route to Syria, it felt as if all of Iraq was waiting to flee.

In the moments before Lubna was to arrive for our appointment, I quickly scanned my email to find the record I had been sent of her. No testimony about her experience in Iraq showed up. Five short depressing sentences describing her situation since she had come to Egypt—that was all I had.

The doorbell rang. Dressed in a black abaya, clutching her phone and a loosely wrapped headscarf casually under her chin, she walked in. She had something of a spark in her smile. She greeted us with warmth.

Few minutes later, seated side by side on the comfort of a couch, I suggested something through Omaima, our translator, who sat in front of us, “We can keep your name and other details anonymous, if you’d like.” Lubna stirred some sugar into her tea, set the spoon down on the metal tray, and shook her head resolutely, “No, I wish you could publish this. I want everyone to know.”

They shot her father in the leg when he tried to escape. They shot him eight times in all.. But the hospital report said it would have made no difference had they not shot, at all. By the time they took out their guns and fired, his spleen was already bleeding. They had beaten him up badly enough.

That morning, Lubna's mother ran out of her home in al Khadra, west Baghdad, to save her husband from the militiamen. Again and again, she kissed their feet, begging them to stop, begging them for mercy, begging them to leave.

I requested Lubna to tell us about her life in Egypt.

Lubna left Baghdad in the darkness before dawn in mid-2006. She bundled up her belongings, collected her courage, and told her toddler: "As soon as we cross the Iraqi border, we will be out of danger"

“I will speak in an Iraqi accent,” she stated, checking with Omaima that her speech was comprehensible, before offering us the first-round, watered-down version, of the trial that was her life.

“I have four children—three daughters and a son. In Iraq I was married to this Egyptian man, when I came here with my children, he divorced me.”

Trite and tragic, that’s how she began.

“We didn’t find any housing. I didn’t know what to do. For six months we were homeless. We slept in the street.”

That the divorce was ugly and unfair and unresolved was sad, not surprising. But the legal particularities of her marriage to that man unravelled a little later.

Her four children, though born in Iraq, were by virtue of their father, registered as Egyptian citizens at birth. Now that he had abandoned her, she had no one else to turn to in Egypt. “And we can’t go back to Iraq because my children are Egyptian and I don’t have anyone in Iraq. I don’t have a house in Iraq. I have nothing there,” she explains. But even if Lubna were to decide to go back to the dangers of Baghdad, she could not take her children with her. They would be denied entry. These were the citizenship laws of the Arab world. Despite their mother’s nationality, as children of an Egyptian immigrant, they had no current legal status in Iraq.

She lay down her cup of tea and reiterated for a second time that afternoon, “My children are not in school. I am very upset because my eldest daughter is 14 years old and cannot read and write.” She explained that her daughters had been out of the classroom for three years now.

But why, if they were Egyptian nationals, were her children not able to enrol in public school?

When Lubna finally found a place to live in October 6 City just months ago, she had approached the local school authorities, “But they wanted the children's documents from their schools in Iraq, and I couldn’t do that. I couldn’t bring them. My father was killed in the war. My brothers are in detention. I don’t have anyone to run for this and bring the papers.” For all she knows the teachers at that school are dead; and from what she remembers the US Armed

Forces occupy the building now.

And then there was the issue of rent. For five days the landlord had been knocking on the door, demanding the payment, threatening to throw her out again. The last time he had come she had pretended as if she was not home. She could not bear the thought of being back with her children on the street.
Was there anywhere that she had tried to go for assistance?

When Lubna went to the Cairo offices of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), she was turned away at the gate. The security guards informed her that, despite her Iraqi nationality, she was not eligible for refugee status. “Because my children are Egyptian, we can stay here, so they don’t consider me a refugee.” Omaima, who works extensively with all refugees and helps them with their applications to UNHCR, explained that though Lubna was, in a sense, a refugee, she had a better legal standing than other Iraqis in Cairo, who are granted recognition as asylum seekers primarily in order to be issued residency permits. These other Iraqis do not have the right to employment. As a mother of Egyptian nationals, Lubna has the right to live and work in Egypt.

Lubna’s life has been triumph more than tragedy. For one, despite the legalities surrounding the fact that her nationality is different than her children, she managed, against the odds, to bring them with her to Egypt

Lubna tried to work as a housemaid, but had a lot of problems because of that. She can’t leave her children out of her sight, often afraid to even take them outside. She thinks someone might kidnap them. She gets frightened every time the doorbell rings; she thinks someone has come to attack even though she knows ‘these things’ don’t happen in Egypt. “I have something like a phobia”, she reveals, “Maybe from Iraq, because our life was just in horror. I was seeing people being killed and being raped and being abducted and everything.”

Her mind switched tracks for a brief moment. “Will you publish this story?” she asked in anticipation. “Maybe someone will have a good heart to help me,” when the idea of what we had just begun started to sink in.


Lubna decided to leave al Doura because of "those men who cover their faces and only show their eyes". She doesn’t know who they are. Sectarian tensions erupted in this part-Shia, part-Sunni neighbourhood where people once inter-married. These men had gone in and mutilated her neighbour's son. These men started breaking in, looting houses, murdering people, and raping girls. There were blackouts, randomly. She no longer felt safe for her daughters and stopped sending them to school.

She used to make a good living off the lorry that was in her name. She didn’t ever have to work as such, as the lorry driver would transport cement and other building material from construction companies to markets around Baghdad. Then the men stole her lorry, and she lost everything.

The war did not leave anything behind.


The second time I met Lubna I drove out to her place in October 6 City, with my friend, Mai, who was kind enough to come and play translator. The weather was gorgeous and Lubna came out, her younger daughter and youngest son trailing behind, to the main street to meet us. Once again, her headscarf draped loosely around her head, she held her phone in her hand. And as before, there was warmth.

As we sauntered back to her block, and up her building stairs, I prepared myself for what I knew from the email would be in her apartment. Nothing. “Lives in a bare flat with not a single piece of furniture; needs clothing—has only one blanket for all five of them to sleep under,” part of it had read.

As we entered, Lubna’s two elder daughters emerged from the bedroom and gathered around us with shy smiles. The younger two children went out to the small balcony to play. We sat down on mats on the floor in the living room, and I gleaned from her manner a newfound sense of belonging, “We didn’t have a place before, but now this is considered our place,” she said. The worst had come to pass, and she was picking up the pieces and beginning to provide for her children a notion of normality that she knew she must maintain.

“You know what you’re like when you don’t sleep for a day?” Lubna directed the question toward me, to get me to fathom what it had been like when she was homeless on the streets. “I would take the children to many places, from morning to night, we would want to sleep but couldn’t. We were very tired.”

Poignant and pointed, she continued, “We’d stay around Saeeda Zainab, or outside the Iraqi embassy. Sometimes, if I had money enough from people at the masjid, we’d go to Mansoora, other times we’d go to Alexandria, and stay at the homes of other Iraqis. For example, in Syria, I met this Iraqi woman, so I went to spend the night with her. In Alexandria, I knew some Iraqi people so I went to spend the night with them. Sometimes I’d stay at some person’s place, sometime in the street, sometime in another person’s. I would just go because I needed to sleep.”

But it wasn’t as easy as that; there were issues of personal pride and cultural etiquette involved, “As soon as I started to feel that they were not very welcoming anymore, I would leave. I would take my children and walk in the streets again.” I hadn’t noticed, but Haneen, her eldest daughter had gone into the kitchen. She came out carrying a tin tray with three small glasses of tea. She set it down between us and rejoined our circle of conversation.


Months after Lubna’s husband had divorced her, her husband’s uncle’s wife called and asked to take her eldest daughter, Haneen, to their family home in upper Egypt for a wedding. Lubna went to the police station and signed papers to ensure that she was the sole legal guardian of her four children. She then made her husband’s uncle’s wife put her palm on the Koran and swear that she would return her daughter to her. Then she let Haneen go.

When her husband’s uncle’s wife returned to Cairo after the wedding she told Lubna that Haneen had decided to stay on with her father.

In upper Egypt, Lubna’s mother-in-law told Haneen that Lubna was dead. She then put Haneen to work in the field and to milk the cows in the shed, which Haneen did not want to do.

One day Haneen managed to call Lubna. She was crying. Her grandmother, Lubna’s mother-in-law, was planning to sell Haneen’s hand in marriage to a much older man for a sum of 9000 LE.

From then on, with the help of a sympathetic aunt, Haneen would call Lubna crying almost every week. Lubna used all the tactics she had. And even threatened to fax President Mubarak and inform the police until she had her daughter back. It took eight months before Lubna had Haneen back in her custody.


Lubna’s life has been triumph more than tragedy. For one, despite the legalities surrounding the fact that her nationality is different than her children, she managed, against the odds, to bring them with her to Egypt.

When coming to Egypt via Syria, the fact that she was Iraqi and her children Egyptian caused her much trouble. She explained, “I had my passport, I could easily get into Syria with no visa, because I am Iraqi. But as Egyptians, my children should have a visa, even simply to pass through.” Furthermore, as they were minors they were all registered on her husband’s passport, and he had already left. With no Egyptian embassy operating in Iraq at the time, Lubna had to issue them some strange one-way transit document that nobody had seemed to recognise and sign a paper promising to leave Syria for Egypt in two weeks time. But the authorities wouldn’t let her in easily, the bus driver begged the police on her behalf. Lubna faced much harassment from then. Then they let her through into Syria but refused to let her take the road to Jordan. They insisted she take a flight. And then there was a ray of luck, “The Egyptian ambassador sympathised with me, when he saw me crying at the Egyptian embassy. He called me in, asked them to bring me food, and he took the children and got their photos taken for the travel document, even though it was after hours, and at 2 pm the embassy closed its doors. But he sympathised with me when he saw the little one crying. He was a young man, and had very good, kind manners.” She considers him the one who saved her life, kept her family intact. By then, however, Lubna was already out of money, so she sold her cell phone, borrowed money from some generous refugees and bought five plane tickets to Cairo. She arrived in Cairo with not a guinea in hand.

Lubna’s present legal predicament is her own nationality. Her passport has expired. “I wanted to renew my passport and when I went to the Iraqi embassy they ask me where my mehram is! I went three times to Iraqi embassy in Mohandiseen last month.” Lubna is 37 years old she and is still considered a minor and requires an immediate male relative in order to renew her citizenship documents. The male relative has to be Iraqi so even her husband coming, were he to oblige her, would not do. Lubna has no other relatives in Egypt. With her father dead, and her brothers traumatised, she has no one to help her from Iraq.

“How can I bring those here?

Everyone has their own problems and we are all scattered around the globe, I cannot reach any of them. How can I bring you someone if I don’t have anyone?” she asks rhetorically. As for protection for her children, “They said, ‘we are not responsible for them, they are Egyptian, ’” explaining how she is falling through the crack. Lubna’s situation presents the precariousness of a woman’s legal status in the current socio-political milieu of the Middle East.

Despite her divorce and everything else, Lubna has kept her children together, and when I asked if they have any physical or psychological problems because of everything they’ve been through, she praises God, “Besides Mohammed’s cough, the kids are fine, mashallah.” The toll has perhaps all been borne by her, “I have a problem. I get nauseous quite often. When I put cold water I feel better, and it affects this area,” physically indicating a searing pain around the crown of her head. “The pain stays,” she says, “And sometimes I feel faint.”


Before the fall of Baghdad, Lubna says she would never bother to have breakfast at her home in al Doura: "I would take a cab, and go to my mother's in al Khadra to have breakfast there every morning. Every morning, I would go to have breakfast with her. We would have thick cream and hot bread.”

“We were something beautiful back then."

That is:

> before her father was killed;

> before her mother withdrew from social life;

> before her brothers were tortured;

> before her family was scattered—her sisters seeking asylum in Syria, her brothers getting detained in Buka prison and Abu Ghraib;

> before her brother-in-law was caught in a landmine;

> before her cousin was cut up;

> before another was blown up;

> before yet another went to the market and never returned;

> before all of that,

> before the fall of Baghdad, while still sitting around and chatting in the garden over breakfast, they were something beautiful.






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Posted by Joe Anybody at 12:48 AM PST
Tuesday, 30 December 2008
Mood:  incredulous
Now Playing: Pardon Me

Impeach Bush To Stop Pardons

48919 of 100000 people have signed – see totals by state and Congressional District.

Dear Representative and Senators,

President George Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney stand accused of 39 grave and impeachable offenses, including war crimes, torture, warrantless wiretapping, and outing a covert CIA operative.

Most of these offenses are felonies for which Bush and Cheney can be criminally prosecuted after they leave office. But prosecutions will be impossible if Bush issues blanket pre-emptive pardons for Dick Cheney, Scooter Libby, other senior officials, and even himself.

Can Bush do this? Absolutely. Gerald Ford set the precedent in 1974 when he gave Richard Nixon a blanket pre-emptive pardon for any crime he "may have committed."

Presidential pardon power is nearly unlimited under the Constitution. We support efforts in Congress to outlaw pre-emptive or self-pardons, but even if a bill passes Congress before Bush leave office, Bush will certainly veto it. So how can we stop Bush's pardons?

The Founding Fathers clearly anticipated a corrupt President might pardon his co-conspirators, and specified impeachment as the remedy.

George Mason, the father of the Bill of Rights, argued at the Constitutional Convention that the President might use his pardoning power to "pardon crimes which were advised by himself" or, before indictment or conviction, "to stop inquiry and prevent detection."

James Madison, the father of the U.S. Constitution, added that "if the President be connected, in any suspicious manner, with any person, and there be grounds to believe he will shelter [pardon] him, the House of Representatives can impeach him; they can remove him if found guilty."

As your constituent, I urge you to impeach George Bush and Dick Cheney before they issue pardons. But if that fails, I urge you to impeach George Bush and Dick Cheney afterwards for issuing pardons that constitute obstruction of justice and abuse of power.

A post-inaugural impeachment would prohibit those impeached from ever holding federal office, either elected or appointed. Arguably, impeachment would also nullify pre-impeachment pardons and permit prosecutions. Finally, impeachment would tell future Presidents they cannot abuse their pardon power to put themselves above the law.

In 1776, Thomas Paine famously wrote, "in America, the law is King." Congress must not allow a President to commit crimes with impunity, or it makes the President a King - or worse, a Dictator.

Posted by Joe Anybody at 11:42 PM PST
SPIEGEL & CHOMSKY - Interview about Americas Democracy 2008
Mood:  chatty
Now Playing: A One Party USA Government - As if you didnt know

One left libertarian vote

Barack Obama hasn't won

Anarchist OpinionSPIEGEL: Professor Chomsky, cathedrals of capitalism have collapsed, the conservative government is spending its final weeks in office with nationalization plans. How does that make you feel?

Chomsky: The times are too difficult and the crisis too severe to indulge in schadenfreude. Looking at it in perspective, the fact that there would be a financial crisis was perfectly predictable, its general nature, if not its magnitude. Markets are always inefficient.

'The United States Has Essentially a One-Party System'

The linguist and public intellectual Noam Chomsky has long been a critic of American consumerism and imperialism. SPIEGEL spoke to him about the current crisis of capitalism, Barack Obama's rhetoric and the compliance of the intellectual class.

SPIEGEL: Professor Chomsky, cathedrals of capitalism have collapsed, the conservative government is spending its final weeks in office with nationalization plans. How does that make you feel?

Chomsky: The times are too difficult and the crisis too severe to indulge in schadenfreude. Looking at it in perspective, the fact that there would be a financial crisis was perfectly predictable, its general nature, if not its magnitude. Markets are always inefficient.

SPIEGEL: What exactly did you anticipate?

Chomsky: In the financial industry, as in other industries, there are risks that are left out of the calculation. If you sell me a car, we have perhaps made a good bargain for ourselves. But there are effects of this transaction on others, which we do not take into account. There is more pollution, the price of gas goes up, there is more congestion. Those are the external costs of our transaction. In the case of financial institutions, they are huge.

SPIEGEL: But isn't it the task of a bank to take risks?

Chomsky: Yes, but if it is well managed, like Goldman Sachs, it will cover its own risks and absorb its own losses. But no financial institution can manage systemic risks. Risk is therefore underpriced, and there will be more risk taken than would be prudent for the economy. With government deregulation and the triumph of financial liberalization, the dangers of systemic risks, the possibility of a financial tsunami, sharply increased.

SPIEGEL: But is it correct to only put the blame on Wall Street? Doesn't Main Street, the American middle class, also live on borrowed money which may or may not be paid back?

Chomsky: The debt burden of private households is enormous. But I would not hold the individual responsible. This consumerism is based on the fact that we are a society dominated by business interests. There is massive propaganda for everyone to consume. Consumption is good for profits and consumption is good for the political establishment.

SPIEGEL: How does it benefit politicians when the populace drives a lot, eats a lot and goes shopping a lot?

Chomsky: Consumption distracts people. You cannot control your own population by force, but it can be distracted by consumption. The business press has been quite explicit about this goal.

SPIEGEL: A while ago you called America “the greatest country on earth.” How does that fit together with what you've been saying?

Chomsky: In many respects, the United States is a great country. Freedom of speech is protected more than in any other country. It is also a very free society. In America, the professor talks to the mechanic. They are in the same category.

SPIEGEL: After travelling through the United States 170 years ago, Alexis de Tocqueville reported, "the people reign over the American political world as God rules over the universe." Was he a dreamer?

Chomsky: James Madison’s position at the Constitutional Convention was that state power should be used "to protect the minority of the opulent against the majority." That is why the Senate has only a hundred members who are mostly rich and were given a great deal of power. The House of Representatives, with several hundred members, is more democratic and was given much less power. Even liberals like Walter Lippmann, one of the leading intellectuals of the 20th century, was of the opinion that in a properly functioning democracy, the intelligent minority, who should rule, have to be protected from “the trampling and the roar of the bewildered herd.” Among the conservatives, Vice President Dick Cheney just recently illustrated his understanding of democracy. He was asked why he supports a continuation of the war in Iraq when the population is strongly opposed. His answer was: “So?”

SPIEGEL: “Change” is the slogan of this year’s presidential election. Do you see any chance for an immediate, tangible change in the United States? Or, to use use Obama’s battle cry: Are you "fired up”?

Chomsky: Not in the least. The European reaction to Obama is a European delusion.

SPIEGEL: But he does say things that Europe has long been waiting for. He talks about the trans-Atlantic partnership, the priority of diplomacy and the reconciling of American society.

Chomsky: That is all rhetoric. Who cares about that? This whole election campaign deals with soaring rhetoric, hope, change, all sorts of things, but not with issues.

SPIEGEL: Do you prefer the team on the other side: the 72 year old Vietnam veteran McCain and Sarah Palin, former Alaskan beauty queen?

Chomsky: This Sarah Palin phenomenon is very curious. I think somebody watching us from Mars, they would think the country has gone insane.

SPIEGEL: Arch conservatives and religious voters seem to be thrilled.

Chomsky: One must not forget that this country was founded by religious fanatics. Since Jimmy Carter, religious fundamentalists play a major role in elections. He was the first president who made a point of exhibiting himself as a born again Christian. That sparked a little light in the minds of political campaign managers: Pretend to be a religious fanatic and you can pick up a third of the vote right away. Nobody asked whether Lyndon Johnson went to church every day. Bill Clinton is probably about as religious as I am, meaning zero, but his managers made a point of making sure that every Sunday morning he was in the Baptist church singing hymns.

SPIEGEL: Is there nothing about McCain that appeals to you?

Chomsky: In one aspect he is more honest than his opponent. He explicitly states that this election is not about issues but about personalities. The Democrats are not quite as honest even though they see it the same way.

SPIEGEL: So for you, Republicans and Democrats represent just slight variations of the same political platform?

Chomsky: Of course there are differences, but they are not fundamental. Nobody should have any illusions. The United States has essentially a one-party system and the ruling party is the business party.

SPIEGEL: You exaggerate. In almost all vital questions -- from the taxation of the rich to nuclear energy -- there are different positions. At least on the issues of war and peace, the parties differ considerably. The Republicans want to fight in Iraq until victory, even if that takes a 100 years, according to McCain. The Democrats demand a withdrawal plan.

Chomsky: Let us look at the “differences” more closely, and we recognize how limited and cynical they are. The hawks say, if we continue we can win. The doves say, it is costing us too much. But try to find an American politician who says frankly that this aggression is a crime: the issue is not whether we win or not, whether it is expensive or not. Remember the Russian invasion of Afghanistan? Did we have a debate whether the Russians can win the war or whether it is too expensive? This may have been the debate at the Kremlin, or in Pravda. But this is the kind of debate you would expect in a totalitarian society. If General Petraeus could achieve in Iraq what Putin achieved in Chechnya, he would be crowned king. The key question here is whether we apply the same standards to ourselves that we apply to others.

SPIEGEL: Who prevents intellectuals from asking and critically answering these questions? You praised the freedom of speech in the United States.

Chomsky: The intellectual world is deeply conformist. Hans Morgenthau, who was a founder of realist international relations theory, once condemned what he called “the conformist subservience to power” on the part of the intellectuals. George Orwell wrote that nationalists, who are practically the whole intellectual class of a country, not only do not disapprove of the crimes of their own state, but have the remarkable capacity not even to see them. That is correct. We talk a lot about the crimes of others. When it comes to our own crimes, we are nationalists in the Orwellian sense.

SPIEGEL: Was there not, and is there not -- in the United States and worldwide -- loud protest against the Iraq war?

Chomsky: The protest against the war in Iraq is far higher than against the war in Vietnam. When there were 4,000 American deaths in Vietnam and 150,000 troops deployed, nobody cared. When Kennedy invaded Vietnam in 1962, there was just a yawn.

SPIEGEL: To conclude, perhaps you can offer a conciliatory word about the state of the nation?

Chomsky: The American society has become more civilized, largely as a result of the activism of the 1960s. Our society, and also Europe's, became freer, more open, more democratic, and for many quite scary. This generation was condemned for that. But it had an effect.

SPIEGEL: Professor Chomsky, we thank you for this interview.

Interview conducted by Gabor Steingart


Posted by Joe Anybody at 11:44 AM PST
Friday, 26 December 2008
Cheating ... The red light traffic cameras
Mood:  amorous
Now Playing: Teens copying enemies' license plates to get revenge via speed cameras

Z3 Readers here is an article about smekids who are copying enemies' license plates to get revenge via speed cameras

The whole article is below .... there are comments on that website

Cheating ...

The Red Light Traffic Cameras



Revenge can be a Driving bad thing...

Teens are known for having a lot of time, some seriously outrageous ideas for filling that time, and a slightly obsessive need for revenge. Add a few residential speed cameras into that mix, and what you have is a creative perversion of the entire speed camera system. Teens in Maryland have evidently been printing out the license plates numbers of rival teens, putting them on their own cars, and then purposely blasting by speed cameras posted in residential neighborhoods. The rival teen -- or his parents -- then gets a $40 citation in the mail.

The police say they haven't heard anything about it, and the local government doesn't sound like it has come up with any way to prevent or limit the habit. Which means that teens will be teens, and parents will be left to complain about it and fight the citations in court. Said one parent, "I hope the public at large will complain loudly enough that local Montgomery County government officials will change their policy of using these cameras for monetary gain. The practice of sending speeding tickets to faceless recipients without any type of verification is unwarranted and an exploitation of our rights." Oh, these kids today...


Posted by Joe Anybody at 5:02 PM PST
Saturday, 20 December 2008
Torture and the obligations to proscute violaters
Mood:  loud
Now Playing: TPM Cafe` Blog on the Responsibility of Torture Oversight

Hi Z3 Readers Check out the pattern of accountability that is taking 8 years to Wake Up "smell" the following article was found on TPM's website.... check this out I copied & pasted the full article below 



Blown away

 by a letter to the Editor


On Thursday the NY Times published a page-long editorial, The Torture Report, indicting, of course, not just the behavior of torture but the government's:

legally and morally bankrupt documents to justify their actions, starting with a presidential order saying that the Geneva Conventions did not apply to prisoners of the "war on terror" -- the first time any democratic nation had unilaterally reinterpreted the conventions.

[italics mine]
And the Times ediiorial board asked that:

A prosecutor should be appointed to consider criminal charges against top officials at the Pentagon and others involved in planning the abuse.

My response, when I read that editorial?  Finally!

Yes, I've long wanted such a prosecutor.  Who among us with a conscience could hear about what happened to US prisoners (in Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantanamo, and black sites) without concluding it was torture?  And who could read the "torture memos" themselves without feeling our country had betrayed its own ideals in addition to the Geneva Conventions?

Yet this morning, I learned something new.  In a letter to the editor in response to the same editorial:

Re "The Torture Report" (editorial, Dec. 18):

If we are to comply with the Geneva Conventions, political considerations will not relieve the president of his obligation to undertake prosecutions of top officials for the authorization of torture. The conventions themselves require adherents to hold such prosecutions.

This is a question of law, not politics; and those who try to politicize it are rightly dismissed as outlaws.

If defendants have legal defenses, they can raise them. Our legal system will address them, as it does all defenses raised by the accused. The country and the world can then judge the validity of those defenses and our judiciary's decisions on them.

This is the only way to restore our reputation as law-abiding citizens of the world. It has the added virtue of being the right way.

Vincent J. Canzoneri
Newton, Mass., Dec. 18, 2008

The writer is a lawyer.

[my bold]

That line blew me awayWe are obliged to hold prosecutions.  We are obliged.

So I did a little digging.  With the intention of understanding this obligation.  And stumbled upon this article in the Nation, which I commend to your attention.   And there I read:

A growing body of legal opinion holds that Obama will have a duty to investigate war crimes allegations and, if they are found to have merit, to prosecute the perpetrators.
I also learned:

Obama's nominee for attorney general, Eric Holder, speaking to the American Constitution Society in June, described Bush administration actions in terms that sound a whole lot more like "genuine crimes" than like "really bad policies":

Our government authorized the use of torture, approved of secret electronic surveillance against American citizens, secretly detained American citizens without due process of law, denied the writ of habeas corpus to hundreds of accused enemy combatants and authorized the use of procedures that violate both international law and the United States Constitution.... We owe the American people a reckoning."
Wow!  That really nails it!

And if:
Outside the Beltway, a movement to hold Bush administration officials accountable for torture and other war crimes after they leave office is gradually emerging...
Please count me among them!

Now that I've recognized our duty, I feel I must call all of us to become a chorus in this cause.  I have long thought that groups should be convened throughout our nation to study the Constitution.  I have believed we must make sure, in addition, that our nation sign all UN treaties it has failed to sign, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and others.  But now I'm convinced our nation needs to study its own complicity in failing to not only declare human rights but uphold them - in every particular.

Will War Crimes Be Outed?

Thus asks The Nation.  And concludes:

There are a myriad of reasons for urgently holding the Bush regime to account, ranging from preventing unchallenged executive action from setting new legal precedent to providing a compelling rationale for the immediate cessation of bombing civilians in the escalating Afghan war.

But the issue raised by Bush administration war crimes is even larger than any person's individual crimes. As Thomas Paine wrote in Common Sense, "A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong gives it a superficial appearance of being right." The long history of aggressive war, illegal occupation, and torture, from the Philippines to Iraq, have given the American people a moral education that encourages us to countenance war crimes. If we allow those who initiated and justified the illegal conquest and occupation of Iraq and the use of torture at Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo to go unsanctioned, we teach the world--and ourselves--a lesson about what's OK and legal.

As countries like Chile, Turkey and Argentina can attest, restoration of democracy, civic morality and the rule of law is often a slow but necessary process, requiring far more than simply voting a new party into office. It requires a wholesale rejection of impunity for the criminal acts of government officials. As Rep. Robert Wexler (D-FL) put it, "We owe it to the American people and history to pursue the wrongdoing of this administration whether or not it helps us politically.... Our actions will properly define the Bush Administration in the eyes of history."

[italics mine]

Z3 readers ....This was copied from, and reposted here for the common good for mankind and a civilized societies education of human rights and government accountability :


Posted by Joe Anybody at 12:16 PM PST
Updated: Saturday, 20 December 2008 12:27 PM PST
Friday, 19 December 2008
Galveston Cops Beat up 12 year old - and call her a "Hooker"
Mood:  don't ask
Now Playing: Cops accuse 12 year old girl of being a prostitute in 2006

Who can blame Galveston plainclothes police who thought a 12-year-old girl standing outside her house (flipping the switch on the circuit breaker as her mother has asked her to do) was a prostitute? After all, she was wearing "tight shorts" according to the vigilant officers, and she happened to live only two blocks away from a location where someone had complained that prostitution was taking place.

So the three brave officers did the natural thing: they allegedly jumped the girl and beat her up, according to Courthouse News and the Houston Press.

As Dymond headed toward the breaker, a blue van drove up and three men jumped out rushing toward her. One of them grabbed her saying, “You’re a prostitute. You’re coming with me.”

Dymond grabbed onto a tree and started screaming, “Daddy, Daddy, Daddy.” One of the men covered her mouth. Two of the men beat her about the face and throat.

As it turned out, the three men were plain-clothed Galveston police officers who had been called to the area regarding three white prostitutes soliciting a white man and a black drug dealer.

After the incident, Dymond was hospitalized and suffered black eyes as well as throat and ear drum injuries.

I guess the silly family expected an apology from the police. Like I said, silly. Instead, here's what happened.

Three weeks later, according to the lawsuit, police went to Dymond’s school, where she was an honor student, and arrested her for assaulting a public servant. Griffin says the allegations stem from when Dymond fought back against the three men who were trying to take her from her home. The case went to trial, but the judge declared it a mistrial on the first day, says Griffin. The new trial is set for February.

UPDATE: This case was filed on 22nd August 2008, and the alleged attacked occurred in August 2006, according to this court document. Here is the Courthouse News article.

Here's the filing in the Texas Southern District Court.

I emailed Radley Balko about the apparent age discrepancy that some commentator have brought up. On a couple of social networking pages, the girls says she's 17, which would have made her 15 in 2006, not 12, as the article indicates. Radley says:

My guess would be that she exaggerated her age on her profile for those pages (as teen girls will do). This track results page puts her birth year at 1993. If her birthday comes later than August, she'd have been 12 when the incident took place.

Prostitution raid on 12-year-old honor student

Posted by Joe Anybody at 6:55 PM PST
Thursday, 18 December 2008
Mood:  irritated
Now Playing: STOP WAR & RACISM


ANSWER logo2

tell a friend 1

Stop the siege and blockade of Gaza!
Send a letter to Bush and Congress: End U.S. Aid to Israel!

The humanitarian crisis facing the Palestinian people in Gaza has reached an especially grave level. The deprivation of food and water is the deliberate purpose of the U.S.-backed Israeli government's decision to close border crossings into Gaza.

Gaza 3All crossings for goods coming into the Gaza Strip, home to 1.5 million Palestinians, are closed. The Palestinians are completed blockaded. A United Nations report issued today states that the blockade and siege of Gaza, which began 18 months ago after the democratic election of the Hamas government, has now resulted in a 49% unemployment rate for the citizens of Gaza. Gaza City residents are without electricity for up to 16 hours a day and half the city's residents receive water only once a week for a few hours. The UN report added that 80% of Palestinians living in Gaza are obliged to drink polluted water.

The United National Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) has been forced to suspend food distribution for both emergency and regular programs. The Agency has run out of flour and has now suspended food deliveries to 750,000 Palestinians in Gaza.

The Israeli Occupation Forces have escalated their military attacks on the people in Gaza. Civilians have been killed and Palestinian houses and other civilian premises have been targeted for destruction. This is a deliberate policy to starve and strangle a whole people by depriving them of food, water, fuel and medical supplies.

The U.S. government is bankrolling the Israeli government and its criminal actions. Israel receives $15 million dollars a day and is the largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid in the world. The U.S. Military Industrial Complex and the leadership of both the Republican and Democratic parties support Israel because they view the Israeli government as a extension of U.S. power in the Middle East. The Palestinian people deserve the support and solidarity of people around the world. They deserve our support not only in the face of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, but in their struggle for self-determination including the right to return to their homes from which they were evicted by the forces of colonial occupation.

Join with people around the country and around the world who are demanding an end to U.S. aid to Israel. This is an urgent situation and we must all act now. You can send a letter with our easy click and send system demanding an end to U.S. aid to Israel. Without U.S. aid, the Israeli siege and blockade of Gaza could not be continued. Click this link now to send a letter to the State Department and elected officials in Congress.

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Posted by Joe Anybody at 10:48 PM PST
Updated: Thursday, 18 December 2008 11:06 PM PST
Wednesday, 17 December 2008
Shoes Thrown in Iraq
Mood:  incredulous
Now Playing: Sign petition for the release of Muntather Al-zaidi

Shoes Thrown in Iraq

By Najlaa  A. Al-Nashi, with Noah Baker Merrill

It was only a few seconds - the shoes were flying toward President Bush, and with them a huge insult in Iraqi tradition.

You may have heard the news that an Iraqi journalist threw his shoes at the American president, but as an Iraqi I'd like to share with you a few details about the journalist, and why he did that.

Muntather Al-Zaidi, the journalist mentioned in the reports, is 28 years old. He is from the Southern city of Nasiriyah, and lives in Baghdad. He works for the Egyptian-owned Al-Baghdadiya channel, but he is Iraqi.

Muntather is well-known among those who know him as being against the occupation. Several months ago, he promised his brother that, if he was ever selected to interview President Bush, he would throw his shoes at him as a sign of his outrage and opposition to Bush's role in the suffering of his people and the destruction of his country. At the time, his brother thought it was nothing more than words spoken in an angry moment.

Muntather's last reporting assignment, which ran last month, was an investigation of the conditions for Iraqi widows and orphans. As a result of three wars, the rule of a dictator, devastating sanctions, and a disastrous occupation, it is estimated that 5 million children are without at least one of their parents and there are 1.5 million widows.  As he prepared this report, he was deeply impacted by what he saw, and he can be seen crying in the film that was broadcast in Iraq.

Now let's have a look at what's going on in Iraq, and how these events are viewed among Iraqis:

At Baghdad University and Al Mustansiriya University, students have refused to study or attend classes. Instead, they are protesting and asking for the release of Muntather by Iraqi security forces.

From all over the world, Iraqis are sending messages thanking Muntather and his family for their son's message. In TV interviews and with phone calls, Iraqis are expressing their support of his actions.

Many Iraqis inside and outside their country are saying that "for each action there is a reaction". Bush hurt everyone, they say, and so why is he surprised when he is met with an angry and insulting response on behalf of the people of Iraq?

In Iraq, the traditional community is deeply rooted in tribal relationships. Whether Sunni or Shi'i (and some tribes contain members of both sects), in Iraqi tradition if a member of a tribe takes an action or is in trouble, members of his tribe will represent him and will be responsible for supporting him. But in Muntather's case, tribal leaders from throughout Iraq, from the North to South and from East to West, have claimed him as their son. They have said that they want him released safe and sound, offering to pay whatever fine the government will set for him.

Muntather's actions have, for these days, united Sunnis, Shiites, and Christians. It united Iraqis as Iraqis. And it only took a few seconds. Sunni and Shiite tribal leaders have publicly asked that Muntather not be referred to using his tribal affiliation (Muntather Al-Zaidi), because they believe his tribal affiliation now encompasses all the tribes of Iraq: They've asked for him to be referred to as "Muntather Al-Iraqi" (Muntather the Iraqi). At the same time, the tribal leaders have said that they hope it is now clear that they have only one enemy - the occupation of Iraq.

The Iraqi response shows clearly that Muntather's actions have triggered a deep release in Iraqi society. It gives an indication to the outside world how much so many Iraqis oppose the occupation and the ongoing presence of foreign troops in their country, but have been without a voice that cut through the walls of silence and the filtered mainstream media.





It is important to be clear that this action by a single man does not arise from his role as a journalist, or from some specific incident or time in his life.  It comes from an Iraqi man who, like all of his people, has suffered greatly from occupation, from the actions of mercenaries like those employed by Blackwater Worldwide,  from the torture of Iraqis by American soldiers at Abu Ghraib prison and elsewhere, and from the sectarian violence that the occupation has cultivated, fueled, and allowed to thrive. Muntather himself was kidnapped a few months ago, though thankfully he was released alive.

Now let's stop to analyze the situation. Why do so many Iraqis consider Muntather "their son", and why are they calling him a hero? Why are people printing his photo and distributing it in many parts of Iraq as a symbol to promote Iraqi courage and freedom?

His actions expressed the same anger and pain they feel. But his actions gave it a voice, and in that one small action he lit a spark in them that reminds them of their history and their dignity. His symbolic act of protest told the whole story, cutting through the carefully constructed image that has been built by Bush and his supporters since they defied the UN and the world to invade and occupy Iraq.

Getting back to responses:

More than 200 Iraqi and Arab lawyers have volunteered to defend him in Iraqi courts, if they are given that opportunity.

One Iraqi businessman signed a blank check and called on Munthather to make it out for any amount, as long as the businessman could receive the shoes that Muthather threw. Another man from Saudi Arabia offered 10 million dollars for the shoes.

Muntather's nephew is about 6 years old. He was shown on video carrying another pair of his uncle's shoes, and he told Al-Baghdadiya Channel that he was prepared to throw this second pair of shoes, too, if they wouldn't release his uncle.

In Egypt,  Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Palestine, there have been strong expressions of support, including protests and celebrations.

Many Iraqis are saying that the situation in Iraq now is like it was before the revolution in 1920 which threw out the British occupying forces. They're saying that Muntather might be a spark for a new revolution in his country. In recent days, there have been protests all over Iraq asking for Muntather's release. Crowds in Najaf threw shoes at occupying forces. The streets of Iraq are filled with anger as people learn that Muntather has been beaten and tortured while in the custody of US-supported Iraqi forces.

Yesterday in Jordan, a good Iraqi friend of mine got into a taxi cab. For Iraqi refugees in Jordan, riding in a cab often means insults, scorn, and disdain from Jordanians and Palestinians unhappy to have so many Iraqis seeking refuge in their country. But this time, it was different. The cab driver treated her with respect. Recognizing her Iraqi accent, he said he'd take her anywhere she wanted to go, and he would do it with pleasure, because she was one of the "shoe throwers".

His case is not just a personal case - it is a national concern. Yesterday parliament had a meeting to help in releasing him. The news yesterday was that within two days he would likely be released, after having paid the fine for his actions under Iraqi law - 200 Iraqi dinars, or, after the catastrophic collapse of the Iraqi economy in recent years, less than twenty US cents.

Today, though, the situation remains tense, and has worsened. The Iraqi government says he will likely have to serve 7-15 years in jail, with no possibility of paying a fine to be released. But in spite of this news, it does seem as if they will have to release him soon. If they don't, they risk losing the tenuous control they have in many parts of Iraq. Muntather's actions could serve as a spark bringing Iraqis to unite to oppose the occupation and the US-supported government. Anyone who knows Iraqi history knows very well what the anger of the tribes can do.

Before the British were thrown out of Iraq in 1920, there was a recently-signed agreement on the status of occupying forces in the country. Under the pressure of a sustained national uprising opposing foreign occupation, the troops left far sooner than the British occupiers had hoped. It may well be that the agreement that Bush and Nouri Al-Maliki signed just before the "moment of the shoes" will fail before 2011, following the same course. Many Iraqis today hope so.

Meanwhile, Muntather is still in jail, where he has suffered serious injuries, including what are likely a broken hand and arm, an injury to his eye, and possibly to his legs. Today there were protests in many of Iraq's governorates demanding his release.

I remember, in the early days of 2003, it was said that invading US troops would be "greeted with flowers". No one said anything about how Iraqis would say farewell to Bush and his occupation.

Please take a moment to sign this petition demanding Muntather's immediate release from Iraqi security forces.

Posted by Joe Anybody at 6:36 PM PST
Updated: Wednesday, 17 December 2008 6:38 PM PST

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