Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Wednesday, June 8, 2016 8:28 pm

Odds and ends for June 8

The House Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives was set up to “investigate” claims that Planned Parenthood was selling fetal tissue for profit, despite the fact that four federal and a dozen state investigations have found that PP did no such thing and despite the fact that the video fraudsters who raised those allegations have themselves been indicted. Now that committee has just — oops! — “accidentally” released information on several researchers and Planned Parenthood clinic staffers. This, of course, has happened in an era in which people working in any way with the abortion-rights movement are being threatened and even killed. Accident, my bony ass; this was a deliberate move by the committee chair, U.S. Rep. Marcia Blackburn, R-Tenn., to endanger and thereby intimidate people involved with Planned Parenthood. No, really; there is no other logical interpretation of her behavior. A House of Representatives with any ethics would expel anyone who willingly placed another human being in such danger, but that’s not the House of Representatives we have.

Former CIA agent Sabrina de Sousa has lost a court fight and will be extradited from Portugal to Italy to serve a four-year sentence for having taken part in the CIA’s “extraordinary rendition” kidnapping/torture program there. A number of legalities aren’t clear to me on this. But from a standpoint of responsibility, if not legality, if de Sousa is being held legally accountable, so must everyone above her in the chain of command who was involved. Otherwise, there’s no point.

Apparently sedition is the new right-wing hobby. A bunch of Utah yahoos is trying to prevent President Obama from designating historic, federally owned land, Bear Ears, as a national monument, which he has a perfect legal right to do. Naturally, Sen. Orrin Hatch and Rep. Jason Chaffetz, Republicans from that benighted state, are giving aid and comfort to those who would violate the law. I almost hope these yahoos do push this. This president showed at Malheur that he is not inclined to dance with seditionists, and the country approved of his actions by a wide margin. If a few traitors get shot behind it, I’ll sleep just fine, and if Hatch and Chaffetz get charged with giving aid and comfort to the enemy, so much the better. My government has been kissing seditious white ass for way too long.

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Wednesday, June 16, 2010 9:48 pm

It’s been a busy week …

… and while I was looking elsewhere, the Supreme Court ruled Monday that it’s now constitutional to kidnap people and torture them. This was in the case of Maher Arar, the Canadian whom we shipped to Syria to be tortured, which was great except that he was, um, well, innocent.

Oh, but we apologized. So that’s good.

Remember that crap the next time anyone whines at you about judicial activism, because I sure as hell don’t remember voting for anyone who wanted to repeal the Fifth Amendment or the Torture Victim Protection Act.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009 10:27 pm

As others see us

This is stunning, and I’d like to think that it will leave a mark:

MILAN — An Italian court convicted 22 CIA operatives and a U.S. Air Force colonel on kidnapping charges Wednesday in a stern rebuke to the U.S. government’s long-standing practice of covertly seizing terrorism suspects abroad without a warrant.

The guilty verdicts are the only instance in which CIA operatives have faced a criminal trial for the controversial tactic of extraordinary rendition, under which terrorism suspects are abducted in one country and forcibly transported to another.

The CIA began carrying out renditions during the Clinton administration but intensified their frequency under orders from the Bush White House after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. The Obama administration said in August that it would continue the practice, but pledged to take steps to ensure that rendition targets are not tortured, either by the CIA or by foreign spy agencies.

In winning the guilty verdicts, Italian prosecutors took a contrary view, saying they were determined to enforce the law in spite of political pressure from Rome and Washington to drop the case.

Yes, I’d like to think that it will leave a mark. However, I know it won’t.

For the U.S. government to do anything other than ignore this ruling would mean it would see itself as obliged to follow the law, and as we all know, that’s just so 9/10. The most the government will do is warn these 22 folks that there are certain other countries they probably ought not visit without armed bodyguards, and let it go at that.

(Memo to wingnuts: seeing the government as obliged to follow the law DOES NOT EQUATE TO “blaming America first.” Not on any logical level. Not anywhere in this dimension or any other I’ve ever frequented.)

Aimai at No More Mr. Nice Blog has a nice little summary of my thoughts on this case:

I’ve just spent several months explaining to my anxious, enraged, Obama supporting parental unit that no one who gets elected to our imperial presidency–neither democrat, nor republican, will ever roll back the tide of illegal and immoral actions that were taken in defense of our imperial way of life. Especially not internationally. But I’d like to see more discussion of this and its implication for our country going forward. Its not, to me, a question of supporting Obama or being disappointed in him. Its just a question of whether our country will ever voluntarily stop raping, torturing, looting, and kidnapping for international gain and advantage. Or whether we will simply, like other once great powers, stop using our privileged position only once we’ve lost the privilege to other, stronger, powers.

And there will be other stronger powers, almost certainly within my remaining lifetime. Right now we’re spending more on our military than the rest of the world combined, and that’s just the part that’s on-budget. It’s almost $700 billion in one year, and we’re sitting here claiming we can’t afford $90 billion a year for the same level of health care pretty much guaranteed to pretty much everyone in pretty much every other Western industrialized country.

The historian Paul Kennedy, in his 1987 book “The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers,” talked about the concept of “imperial overstretch,” the economic havoc that condition causes and the grim prognosis history suggests is in store. To his credit, he cautioned that he was not trying to predict the future; at the same time, his research suggests we must acknowledge that 1) we have become a military imperialist enterprise and that 2) in no other such case in recorded history have things ended well.

UPDATE: From ABC:

One of the 23 Americans convicted today by an Italian court says the United States “broke the law” in the CIA kidnapping of a Muslim cleric Abu Omar in Milan in 2003.

“And we are paying for the mistakes right now, whoever authorized and approved this,” said former CIA officer Sabrina deSousa in an interview to be broadcast tonight on ABC’s World News with Charles Gibson.

Former CIA intelligence officer Sabrina deSousa says the US “abandoned and betrayed” her and the others who were put on trial for the kidnapping of a Muslim cleric Abu Omar in Milan in 2003.

DeSousa says the U.S. “abandoned and betrayed” her and the others who were put on trial for the kidnapping. She was sentenced in absentia to five years in prison.

Representative Pete Hoekstra (R-MI), a member of the House Intelligence Committee, told ABC News that the trial was a disaster for CIA officers like DeSousa on the frontline.

“I think these people have been put out there. They’ve been hung out to dry. They’re taking the fall potentially for a decision that was made by their superiors in our agencies. It’s the wrong place to go.”

Now, here’s a question: How would Americans feel if Italian spies landed on our shores, kidnapped these 23 people and took them to, say, Turkey or Syria for torture? Or just kidnapped them to Italy and put them in prison there? How do you think we would be likely to respond?

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