Friday, January 27, 2006

Kidnap the wives

Is this the tip of another iceberg?

Documents Show Army Seized Wives As Tactic

By CHARLES J. HANLEY, AP Special Correspondent

The U.S. Army in Iraq has at least twice seized and jailed the wives of suspected insurgents in hopes of "leveraging" their husbands into surrender, U.S. military documents show. ...

...In one memo, a civilian Pentagon intelligence officer described what happened when he took part in a raid on an Iraqi suspect's house in Tarmiya, northwest of Baghdad, on May 9, 2004. The raid involved Task Force (TF) 6-26, a secretive military unit formed to handle high-profile targets.

"During the pre-operation brief it was recommended by TF personnel that if the wife were present, she be detained and held in order to leverage the primary target's surrender," wrote the 14-year veteran officer.

He said he objected, but when they raided the house the team leader, a senior sergeant, seized her anyway.

"The 28-year-old woman had three young children at the house, one being as young as six months and still nursing," the intelligence officer wrote. She was held for two days and was released after he complained, he said....

via The Raw Story.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Filibuster Alito

Editorial from today's New York Times

January 26, 2006
Senators in Need of a Spine
Judge Samuel Alito Jr., whose entire history suggests that he holds extreme views about the expansive powers of the presidency and the limited role of Congress, will almost certainly be a Supreme Court justice soon. His elevation will come courtesy of a president whose grandiose vision of his own powers threatens to undermine the nation's basic philosophy of government — and a Senate that seems eager to cooperate by rolling over and playing dead.

It is hard to imagine a moment when it would be more appropriate for senators to fight for a principle. Even a losing battle would draw the public's attention to the import of this nomination....
Last paragraph:

... A filibuster is a radical tool. It's easy to see why Democrats are frightened of it. But from our perspective, there are some things far more frightening. One of them is Samuel Alito on the Supreme Court.

Call or Fax your Senators LINK

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Also Loathsome

Robert Casey and Ed Rendell, both Pennsylvania Democrats, endorsed Alito.

Casey is campaigning for the nomination to run against Santorum for the Senate and Governor Rendell is up for reelection.

With Democrats like these, who needs Republicans? Rendell, at least, could easily have dodged making an endorsement. Was he so afraid of the Right that he felt compelled to appease them?

Fuck both of these guys.

LINK via Atrios.

Casey's campaign number: 215-567-4190

Governor Rendell's number: (717) 787-2500.

If you call you might want to remind them that the Alito nomination is about more than Roe vs Wade, which is likely the issue that most concerns these cowardly Democrats.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Most loathsome

The BEAST 50 Most Loathsome People in America, 2005

Don't cheat yourself. Read all 50 entries.

Via 3 Quarks Daily

Stop Alito

The Alito nomination is as good a place as any to draw the line and bring the Bush agenda to a halt. Though congressional Democrats can't impeach,there certainly is enough reason for them to stop cooperating with Republicans on everything and at least clog the Bush engine.

By now Bush’s negatives must have taken us to the point where congressional Democrats’ self serving interests intersect with positions of principle.

Torturers and proud of it

From CNN:

FORT CARSON, Colorado (AP) -- A military jury on Monday ordered a reprimand but no jail time for an Army interrogator convicted of killing an Iraqi general by stuffing him headfirst into a sleeping bag and sitting on his chest.

Chief Warrant Officer Lewis Welshofer Jr. also was ordered to forfeit $6,000 salary and was largely restricted to his barracks and workplace for 60 days....

...The defense had argued a heart condition caused Mowhoush's death, and that Welshofer's commanders had approved the interrogation technique.

Prosecutors described Welshofer as a rogue interrogator who became frustrated with Mowhoush's refusal to answer questions and escalated his techniques from simple interviews to beatings to simulating drowning, and finally, to death.

I am ashamed of what we have become and what we tolerate. All our nightmares of what would happen if Bush became president are coming true.

Monday, January 23, 2006

If we make a bigger mess, we make more money

Halliburton has been giving our troops contaminated water, according to an AP story posted on this site: Halliburton Watch

Water supplied to a U.S. base in Iraq was contaminated and the contractor in charge, Halliburton, failed to tell troops and civilians at the facility, according to internal documents from the company and interviews with former Halliburton officials.

Although the allegations came from Halliburton's own water quality experts, the company once headed by Vice President Dick Cheney denied there was a contamination problem at Camp Junction City, in Ramadi.

"We exposed a base camp population (military and civilian) to a water source that was not treated," said a July 15, 2005, memo by William Granger, the official for Halliburton's KBR subsidiary who was in charge of water quality in Iraq and Kuwait.
"The level of contamination was roughly 2x the normal contamination of untreated water from the Euphrates River," Granger wrote in one of several documents.
The Associated Press obtained the documents from Senate Democrats who are holding a public inquiry into the allegations Monday.

In another, more detailed, article on the same Halliburton Watch website, the whistle blowers are identified and a possible Halliburton motive emerges in the final paragraph.

...Former KBR employees and water quality specialists, Ben Carter and Ken May, told HalliburtonWatch that KBR knowingly exposes troops and civilians to contaminated water from Iraq's Euphrates River. One internal KBR email provided to HalliburtonWatch says that, for "possibly a year," the level of contamination at one camp was two times the normal level for untreated water...

The final two paragraphs:

Carter and May also describe instances where a site manager urged everyone to conceal contamination information from the company's health and safety department. According to May, statements were made in an "All Hands Meeting" by then Site Manger Suzanne-Raku Williams, Warren Smith, and acting Medic Phillip Daigle suggesting that if anyone became sick, it was probably from the handles from the port-a-lets toilets and not from water contamination. In response, Ken May resigned out of disgust and frustration. In an email to superiors, he chastised KBR for what he said was "retaliatory behavior from dishonest site management" and "inaction" that "compromised" camp safety and the health of the people who work there. He expressed concern over "the lack of oversight from the outside to investigate, redirect, and periodically monitor" the water to assure a healthy workplace. "Unfortunately, because of the lack of regards for my wellbeing [and] no response or action from KBR/Halliburton I have no recourse other than to resign," he said in an email to his supervisor.

Carter and May's experience is not uncommon at KBR, where former employees have described instances of being ostracized or terminated if they dare to speak out against company negligence, mismanagement or malfeasance. Other former KBR employees have testified about being fired or urged to quit or conceal information after pointing out low-cost solutions to simple problems. But, a cynic might note, allowing small problems to grow into expensive ones through purposeful neglect actually boosts KBR's profits as there is a profit guarantee of 1% to 3% over cost for the LOGCAP III contract. As with all of KBR's "cost plus" military contracts, the more expensive the problem, the greater the fee paid to KBR from the government. So, it would seem there is actually a built-in incentive not to prevent small problems or reward whistleblower employees like Carter and May when neglect will result in a costlier problem down the road and more profits for KBR.
emphasis mine.LINK