Thursday, July 17, 2003

Enormously overblown

We (well, I) haven’t been paying enough attention to Guatemala, whose supreme court just overruled the constitution to allow former coup leader and scum Efrain Ríos Montt to run for president. He was overthrown 20 years ago next month, on my birthday. He has been head of the legislature since 1999, when he engineered the election of an admitted multiple murderer as president when the courts wouldn’t let him run. His party is now in total control of Guatemala, including the supreme court. Checking my old emails to see what’s been happening, I find a reference to Guatemala televising executions (June 2000), and paying pensions to old members of death squads (July 2002). Wonder what I’ve missed?

Evidently the creationist science fair site was a parody. I should have known it was too good to be true. Sorry.

The law setting up independent prosecutors, I thought, required that people investigated but not charged with anything would have their legal expenses reimbursed, as happened with Reagan and Bush the Elder. In fact, one of the ways in which Kenneth Starr abused his power was threaten to bring charges he knew wouldn’t stick in order to bankrupt people who didn’t cooperate with him. Now, a panel of the US Court of Appeals for DC has decided to stick the Clintons with 98% of their legal expenses for the Whitewater investigation, saying that even though no charges were filed, even if they’d just been private citizens someone else would have investigated them. Whether that someone else would instigate a $50 million (or whatever it was) witch hunt over a $100,000 failed land deal, the panel, whose majority was of course appointed by Republicans (and at least one of whom conspired to appoint Starr), did not say. This decision ratifies the sort of hunt & destroy methods used by Starr and the Republicans, which left Clinton with legal bills amounting to way more than his presidential salary over 8 years. Whatever one thinks of Clinton, we all know that a private citizen would not have been treated that way, and a multi-million-dollar debt should not be accepted as part of the trappings of office.

Lieberman and Dean are demanding that DCI Tenet resign over Yellowcake-gate. Why? The CIA is the only institution in the executive branch known to have made any effort to stop lies being told. It didn’t stop all of them, but with this administration that would be a task beyond the ken of mere mortals. They lie like others spam.

(Later): Dean seems to be saying that Tenet should resign not because he didn’t stop the lie, but because his taking responsibility for it now is an attempt to derail a proper investigation. OK, that’s fair.

Condi Rice on CNN about Yellowcake-gate: "It is 16 words, and it has become an enormously overblown issue." Yeah, totally overblown, like it was 19 words or something.

The Niger forgeries finally go public, in La Repubblica, and they are even cruder than we were told. 8 pages, at least a dozen obvious errors (a document dated July 1999 talking about negotiations in June 2000, for example), not counting as many spelling mistakes as you see in the average Nigerian scam (yes, I know that’s another country), and a crude drawing of the supposed Nigerien national emblem.

This is a must read. It’s about the parallel intelligence operation Rumsfeld established. If you’ve read other stories on that, you still have to read this one, which makes clear how amateurish and how out of control this administration has become. It also talks about the relationship between these spook-wannabes and a similar ad hoc group in Ariel Sharon’s office started for exactly the same reason, because Mossad refused to be as alarmist about Iraq as Sharon wanted. Newt Gingrich shows up in the article (see also an op-ed piece), as does Dick Cheney. Remember him? I suppose it shouldn’t be surprising that a vice president can disappear so completely, but the evidence is increasing that he’s been a very busy boy.

Take this quiz to find out how much of a threat you pose to the Bush administration.

Times headline: “Prostate Cancer – Is the Solution in a Man’s Hands?” Evidently masturbating a lot in your 20’s (er, 5 times a week, is that a lot?) is the key. And up to 50, just to be safe. Having lots of sex in your 20’s increases the risk of prostate cancer.

Ways in which Britain is now a colony of the US. It no longer has an independent military capability; not only can’t they use their own nuclear weapons without permission, for technological reasons, not any NATO or treaty arrangement, but the same applies now to cruise missiles, which work through a GPS system that the US controls. Ditto intelligence. The US has bases all over Britain and British possessions like Diego Garcia over which Britain has no control at all. And a recent extradition treaty requires that Britain hand over any of its citizens the US wants without any evidence being presented in a British court, but not the other way around. And the British papers have been making a fuss for days about the US holding 2 Brits at Guantanamo, and the British government can’t get them turned over to it. The article points out that if the UK really were the 51st state, its citizens would have more protection from the US government. This is the future of the world if the Bushies get their way, with nations exercising only so much sovereignty as the US will allow them.

On the other hand, the Guardian elsewhere notes that in the 1950s Britain planned to plant nuclear landmines in Germany to prevent a Soviet invasion, so it’s not like they were doing anything useful with their sovereignty when they had it.

Here’s something I hadn’t heard of: a program begun during the Depression under Hoover to deport Mexican immigrants to cut down unemployment. Some of the deportees had American citizenship.

I mentioned that the military will have a veto on defense lawyers for Guantanamo tribunal trials. Did I mention they’d have to pay for their own security clearances, thousands of dollars, and transport, and that if they talk to anybody about any detail of the case, like say the press, they can be Guantanamo? And the rules of evidence and the eavesdropping on lawyer-client conversations would leave any lawyer who participates to being sanctioned--quite correctly, I think--by their bar association. Meanwhile, Gitmo is up to its 29th suicide attempt.

Quote of the day: "President Bush made a comment a week ago, and he said 'bring it on.' Well, they brought it on, and now my nephew is dead."

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