Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Terrorists will likely think twice before engaging machine-gun-packing robots

You’ll be happy to know that the Pentagon will soon deploy robots that, in its words, “pack heat.” Says the toy’s human (I assume) owner, Army Sgt. 1st Class Jason Mero, “Terrorists will likely think twice before engaging machine-gun-packing robots.” They still can’t go faster than 5 mph, though.

Last week I started to write an analysis of the Justice Dept’s 42-page “zenith of his powers” memo in support of domestic spying the terrorist surveillance program. Can’t remember why I deleted what I wrote, except that one part of my rant was undercut when I realized that the phrase about the president being the “sole organ” in foreign relations actually came from some 1936 Supreme Court decision. For the record, the Constitution gives the president precisely three things he can do in foreign relations: 1) appoint ambassadors, with the approval of the Senate, 2) sign treaties, which must be ratified by 2/3 of the Senate, 3) run the military, when Congress has declared war. Anyway, there’s a piece not far from what I would have written by Jacob Weisberg at Slate. On Bush’s assertion that the Sep. 2001 Congressional Gulf of Tonkin resolution gives him the right to do anything he felt like doing, whether it was mentioned or not, and going so far as to claim that that was what Congress meant to do, even though, unlike the authors of the Constitution, almost all of the 2001 congresscritters are still alive (or what passes for life in Congress) and capable of speaking (and speaking and speaking; or in Joe Biden’s case, speaking and speaking and speaking and speaking and speaking and speaking and speaking and speaking), Weisberg says “Bush as much as declares: ‘I determine what my words mean and I alone determine what yours mean, too.’” Especially frightening when Bush knows so very few words, can pronounce even fewer, and understands the meaning of yet fewer. What struck me about the white paper was that most of it was not about legal and constitutional issues, as one might expect from a Department of Justice document, but the same old “9/11! 9/11! 9/11! Be afraid, be very afraid!” rhetoric. Weisberg notes that while it cites the Hamdi case, which denied the Bushies the right to detain people forever without a hearing, in which O’Connor wrote that a state of war is not a blank check, “The Justice Department memo, however, cites Hamdi as ballast for its stance that when it comes to spying domestically, Bush has not only a blank check but a wallet full of no-limit platinum cards.”

When Britain deports people to countries with questionable human rights records, it makes those countries promise, cross their hearts, not to torture or kill them, and gets an independent monitor to keep tabs on them. They want to start deporting Libyans, so they’re trying to recruit an independent monitor there... Qaddafi’s son.

Bush went on a field trip to the No Such Agency today, where “officials learn information about plotters and planners and people who would do us harm.” Or the 3 P’s, as they’re known in the world o’spooks.

Here he is, looking around for Jack Bauer, or at least Chloe.

Here is the worst violation of the truth in advertising laws ever.

And the caption for this one I’ll leave up to you.

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