Friday, April 29, 2005
Another Lost Opportunity
A convicted terrorist was providing U.S. officials with very specific information about a terrorist attack three months before 9/11.
April 27 - In the spring of 2001, one of the U.S. government’s most valuable terror informants gave the FBI a far more alarming account of Al Qaeda plans to attack inside the United States than has ever been publicly disclosed, according to newly available court documents.
Algerian expatriate Ahmed Ressam, whose sentencing for a Millennium-eve plot to blow up the Los Angeles airport was unexpectedly postponed today, told bureau interrogators nearly four years ago that Al Qaeda commander Abu Zubaydah had been discussing plans to smuggle terrorist operatives and explosives into the country for the purpose of launching a strike on U.S. soil, the documents show.
The fresh documents, released in federal court in Seattle in recent days, shed new light on an issue that dominated last year’s hearings by the September 11 commission: precisely how much did the U.S. government know about Al Qaeda plans to strike inside the country in the summer of 2001 when the attacks on the World Trade Towers and Pentagon were in their final stages?
Ressam was scheduled to be sentenced today for his December 1999 attempt to smuggle a rental car filled with explosives across the Canadian border. He planned to use them to blow up Los Angeles airport on the eve of the New Year’s Eve 2000 celebrations. But after a dramatic hearing, in which prosecutors accused Ressam of ceasing his cooperation with the FBI two years ago and jeopardizing their cases against two terror defendants he had previously identified, U.S. Judge John Coughenour delayed the sentencing hearing so that Ressam could reconsider his stand. “I hope it’s not lost on Mr. Ressam, we need to see something happen in the next few months,” said Judge Coughenour.
Until his apparent change of heart, Ressam had been considered one of the U.S. government’s prized catches in the fight against terrorism, a hardened terrorist operative who had access to the highest levels of Al Qaeda but chose to cooperate with the FBI in the spring of 2001 when confronted with the prospect of spending the rest of his life in prison....
Posted by JLT at 12:33 PM
Detainee Questioning Was Faked, Book Says
The U.S. military staged the interrogations of terrorism suspects for members of Congress and other officials visiting the military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to make it appear the government was obtaining valuable intelligence, a former Army translator who worked there claims in a new book scheduled for release Monday.
Former Army Sgt. Erik Saar said the military chose detainees for the mock interrogations who previously had been cooperative and instructed them to repeat what they had told interrogators in earlier sessions, according to an interview with the CBS television program "60 Minutes," which is slated to air Sunday night.
"They would find a detainee that they knew to have been cooperative," Saar told CBS. "They would ask the interrogator to go back over the same information," he said, calling it "a fictitious world" created for the visitors.
Saar worked as a translator at Guantanamo from December 2002 to June 2003. During that time, several members of Congress reported visiting the base, but military officials said they do not know precisely how many toured it.
Saar also told CBS, and claims in his upcoming book, "Inside the Wire," that a few dozen of the more than 750 men who have been held at the U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo Bay were terrorists, and that little valuable information has been obtained from them....
Posted by JLT at 10:48 AM
A Useful Whitewash
"Bush views new report on spy lapses with favor," was the headline on the New York Times story previewing the latest commission that reported several weeks ago on the manifest and manifold U.S. government intelligence failures in detecting "illicit" weapons and weapons programs abroad. As well he might. The 600-plus-page report not only placed almost all of the blame for being "dead wrong" prior to the Iraq war on the intelligence agencies rather than on the politicos in the administration, but it didn't explore at all the question of whether the administration had pressured or circumvented intelligence agencies to get the intelligence it desire to justify a policy course it had already decided to pursue.
That's because, as the Washington Post reported it, "the panel that Bush appointed under pressure in February 2004 said it was 'not authorized' to explore the question of how the commander-in-chief used the faulty information to make perhaps the most critical decision of his presidency. As he accepted the report yesterday [March 31], Bush offered no thoughts about relying on flawed intelligence to launch a war and took no questions from reporters."
Posted by JLT at 7:31 AM
From Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI), Church, Ecumenism and Politics (New York: Crossroad, 1988) pp. 147-151.
...The state is not the whole of human existence and does not embrace the whole of human hope. Men and women and their hopes extend beyond the thing that is the state and beyond the sphere of political activity. This does not only apply to a state that is Babylon but to any and every state. The state is not the totality: that takes the load off the politician's shoulders and at the same time opens up for him or her the path of rational politics. The Roman state was false and anti-Christian precisely because it wanted to be the totality of human capacity. In that way it claimed what it could not achieve; and in that way it distorted and diminished men and women. Through the totalitarian lie it became demonic and tyrannical. Getting rid of the totality of the state has demythologized the state and thereby liberated men and women as well as politicians and politics.
But when Christian faith, faith in man’s greater hope, decays and falls away, then the myth of the divine state rises up once again, because men and women cannot renounce the totality of hope. Even when such promises dress themselves up as progress and monopolize the concept of progress and of progressiveness, nevertheless considered historically they are a going back behind the Christian thing that is new, a turning back on the scale of history. And even when they proclaim as their goal the complete liberation of mankind and the elimination of all domination, they stand in contradiction to the truth of man and in contradiction to his or her freedom, because they force people into what they can achieve themselves. This kind of politics that declares the kingdom of God to be the result politics and distorts faith into universal primacy of the political is by its nature the politics of enslavement; it is mythological politics.
To this, faith opposes the standard of Christian reason, which recognizes what man is really capable of creating as the order of freedom and can be content with this because it knows that man’s greater expectation lies hidden in God’s hands. Rejecting the hope of faith is at the same time rejecting the standard of political reason. To renounce the mythical hopes of a society free of domination is not resignation but honesty that maintains men and women in hope. The mythical hope of a do-it-yourself paradise can only drive people into fear from which there is no escape; fear of the collapse of their promises and of the greater void lurks behind it; fear of their own power and its cruelty.
So the first service that Christian fait performs for politics is that it liberates men and women from the irrationality of the political myths that are the real threat of our time.
It is of course always difficult to adopt the sober approach that does what is possible and does not cry enthusiastically after the impossible; the voice of reason is not as loud as the cry of unreason. The cry for the large-scale has the whiff of morality; in contrast limiting oneself to what is possible seems to be renouncing the passion of morality and adopting the pragmatism of the faint-hearted. But in truth political morality consists precisely of resisting the seductive temptation of the big words by which humanity and its opportunities are gambled away. It is not the adventurous moralism that wants itself to do God’s work that is moral, but the honesty that accepts the standards of man and in them does the work of man. It is not refusal to compromise but compromise that in political things is the true morality....
Posted by JLT at 7:26 AM
The Day I Prayed with George W. Bush to Receive Jesus!
To God be the Glory!
From my diary (Arthur Blessitt) dated April 3, 1984.
"A good and powerful day. Led Vice President Bush’s son to Jesus today. George Bush Jr.! This is great! Glory to God."...
Posted by JLT at 7:19 AM
Thursday, April 28, 2005
Abu Ghraib Torture Victim Speaks Out
04/27/05 "Herald-Tribune" - - NEW YORK -- A former prisoner who says he was the man under the black hood in the gruesome photo from Abu Ghraib speaks out on this week's edition of the PBS newsmagazine "Now."
"I remember the box, the pipes, even the two wires," Haj Ali says in reference to the photo which, with others like it, showed the world how U.S. soldiers were abusing Iraqi inmates.
"They made me stand on a box with my hands hooked to wires and shocked me with electricity," Ali recalls through an interpreter in his first in-depth American TV interview. "It felt like my eyeballs were coming out of their sockets. I fell, and they put me back up again for more."...
...But attorney Tom Wilner, who has filed suit on behalf of several detainees, argues they "are being held in conditions that are worse than the worst convicted murderer or rapist in the United States. Charles Manson lives in much better conditions than these people, and they haven't even been charged with a crime."
Haj Ali was released from Abu Ghraib as abruptly as he was arrested, "Now" reports - he was tossed off the back of a truck. He now runs a program to document accounts of continuing torture at the prison.
Posted by JLT at 4:16 PM
Will Cancer Vaccine Get to All Women?
Deaths from cervical cancer could jump fourfold to a million a year by 2050, mainly in developing countries. This could be prevented by soon-to-be-approved vaccines against the virus that causes most cases of cervical cancer- but there are signs that opposition to the vaccines might lead to many preventable deaths. The trouble is that the human papilloma virus (HPV) is sexually transmitted. So to prevent infection, girls will have to be vaccinated before they become sexually active, which could be a problem in many countries.
In the US, for instance, religious groups are gearing up to oppose vaccination, despite a survey showing 80 per cent of parents favour vaccinating their daughters. "Abstinence is the best way to prevent HPV," says Bridget Maher of the Family Research Council, a leading Christian lobby group that has made much of the fact that, because it can spread by skin contact, condoms are not as effective against HPV as they are against other viruses such as HIV.
"Giving the HPV vaccine to young women could be potentially harmful, because they may see it as a license to engage in premarital sex," Maher claims, though it is arguable how many young women have even heard of the virus.
Meanwhile in developing countries, where 80 per cent of deaths from cervical cancer occur, social taboos may be even more powerful. The head of the Indian Council of Medical Research, N. K. Ganguly, says it will take a big educational effort to convince parents. Vaccinating men could be the best way to prevent the spread of HPV among women.
HPV is extremely common. Half of all sexually active women between 18 and 22 in the US are infected. Most cases clear up, but sometimes infection persists and can cause cancer decades later. ...
Posted by JLT at 4:04 PM
Claims and evaluations of Iraq's proscribed weapons
This reference file is an inventory and critical analysis of the claims made about the weapons and programmes that Iraq is proscribed from having under the terms of Security Council Resolutions 687 (1991), paragraphs 10 and 12: that is, nuclear, chemical and biological weapons as well as ballistic missiles with a range greater than 150km. The file was compiled before UNMOVIC and IAEA inspectors were withdrawn from the country on 18 March 2003, and the evaluations contained have not been altered in light of subsequent information. However, suggestions for further reading continue to be added in light of the new information that has come to light since that date. These sections are marked "Key post-war readings", and are at the end of some sub-sections on particular weapons categories.
This reference file is not about Iraq's overall compliance with that resolution or subsequent resolutions on Iraq, including SCR 1441 (2002). For example, it does not attempt to analyse the extent of Iraq's obstruction of inspectors from UNSCOM, UNMOVIC or IAEA. It is instead a presentation of what is actually known about the weapons and programmes themselves. For the UN inspectors who were in Iraq, discovering what is unknown about the history and present status of these items was the task at hand. Inspectors engaged with the possibility of Iraq's retention or development of non-conventional weapons, and reported to the Security Council on this basis. However, a set of evaluations can also be made of the likelihood of Iraq's non-conventional weapons programmes, given the material available. No overall judgements are made in this reference file, but material is presented that should allow a more well informed opinion to be reached....
Posted by JLT at 3:21 PM
Crippled by Their Culture
For most of the history of this country, differences between the black and the white population--whether in income, IQ, crime rates, or whatever--have been attributed to either race or racism. For much of the first half of the 20th century, these differences were attributed to race--that is, to an assumption that blacks just did not have it in their genes to do as well as white people. The tide began to turn in the second half of the 20th century, when the assumption developed that black-white differences were due to racism on the part of whites.
Three decades of my own research lead me to believe that neither of those explanations will stand up under scrutiny of the facts. As one small example, a study published last year indicated that most of the black alumni of Harvard were from either the West Indies or Africa, or were the children of West Indian or African immigrants. These people are the same race as American blacks, who greatly outnumber either or both.
If this disparity is not due to race, it is equally hard to explain by racism. To a racist, one black is pretty much the same as another. But, even if a racist somehow let his racism stop at the water's edge, how could he tell which student was the son or daughter of someone born in the West Indies or in Africa, especially since their American-born offspring probably do not even have a foreign accent?
What then could explain such large disparities in demographic "representation" among these three groups of blacks? Perhaps they have different patterns of behavior and different cultures and values behind their behavior....
...The culture of the people who were called "rednecks" and "crackers" before they ever got on the boats to cross the Atlantic was a culture that produced far lower levels of intellectual and economic achievement, as well as far higher levels of violence and sexual promiscuity. That culture had its own way of talking, not only in the pronunciation of particular words but also in a loud, dramatic style of oratory with vivid imagery, repetitive phrases and repetitive cadences.
Although that style originated on the other side of the Atlantic in centuries past, it became for generations the style of both religious oratory and political oratory among Southern whites and among Southern blacks--not only in the South but in the Northern ghettos in which Southern blacks settled. It was a style used by Southern white politicians in the era of Jim Crow and later by black civil rights leaders fighting Jim Crow. Martin Luther King's famous speech at the Lincoln Memorial in 1963 was a classic example of that style.
While a third of the white population of the U.S. lived within the redneck culture, more than 90% of the black population did. Although that culture eroded away over the generations, it did so at different rates in different places and among different people. It eroded away much faster in Britain than in the U.S. and somewhat faster among Southern whites than among Southern blacks, who had fewer opportunities for education or for the rewards that came with escape from that counterproductive culture.
Nevertheless the process took a long time. As late as the First World War, white soldiers from Georgia, Arkansas, Kentucky and Mississippi scored lower on mental tests than black soldiers from Ohio, Illinois, New York and Pennsylvania. Again, neither race nor racism can explain that--and neither can slavery.
The redneck culture proved to be a major handicap for both whites and blacks who absorbed it. Today, the last remnants of that culture can still be found in the worst of the black ghettos, whether in the North or the South, for the ghettos of the North were settled by blacks from the South. The counterproductive and self-destructive culture of black rednecks in today's ghettos is regarded by many as the only "authentic" black culture--and, for that reason, something not to be tampered with. Their talk, their attitudes, and their behavior are regarded as sacrosanct.
The people who take this view may think of themselves as friends of blacks. But they are the kinds of friends who can do more harm than enemies.
Posted by JLT at 10:11 AM
Onward, Christian Fascist Soldiers
...I can’t help but recall the words of my ethics professor at Harvard Divinity School, Dr. James Luther Adams, who told us that when we were his age, and he was then close to eighty, we would all be fighting the “Christian fascists.”
He gave us that warning twenty-five years ago, when Pat Robertson and other prominent evangelists began speaking of a new political religion that would direct its efforts at taking control of all major American institutions, including mainstream denominations and the government, so as to transform the United States into a global Christian empire. At the time, it was hard to take such fantastic rhetoric seriously. But fascism, Adams warned, would not return wearing swastikas and brown shirts. Its ideological inheritors would cloak themselves in the language of the Bible; they would come carrying crosses and chanting the Pledge of Allegiance.
Adams had watched American intellectuals and industrialists flirt with fascism in the 1930s. Mussolini’s “Corporatism,” which created an unchecked industrial and business aristocracy, had appealed to many at the time as an effective counterweight to the New Deal. In 1934, Fortune magazine lavished praise on the Italian dictator for his defanging of labor unions and his empowerment of industrialists at the expense of workers. Then as now, Adams said, too many liberals failed to understand the power and allure of evil, and when the radical Christians came, these people would undoubtedly play by the old, polite rules of democracy long after those in power had begun to dismantle the democratic state. Adams had watched German academics fall silent or conform. He knew how desperately people want to believe the comfortable lies told by totalitarian movements, how easily those lies lull moderation into passivity.
Adams told us to watch closely the Christian right’s persecution of homosexuals and lesbians. Hitler, he reminded us, promised to restore moral values not long after he took power in 1933, then imposed a ban on all homosexual and lesbian organizations and publications. Then came raids on the places where homosexuals gathered, culminating on May 6, 1933, with the ransacking of the Institute for Sexual Science in Berlin. Twelve thousand volumes from the institute’s library were tossed into a public bonfire. Homosexuals and lesbians, Adams said, would be the first “deviants” singled out by the Christian right. We would be the next. ...
Posted by JLT at 9:02 AM
"Jesus was a terrorist" by the Dead Kennedys
Jesus was a terrorist
Enemy of the state
That's what the Romans labeled him
So he was put to death
He died for his beliefs
What's changed today?
Today bible-thumping cannibals
Reap money from his name
Buy cable networks & power
With old ladies' checks
If Jesus saw Pat Robertson
What do you think he'd say?
Tax free then re-write our laws
And sick 'em on you
Women don't control their bodies
TV preachers do
Censor everything from bathing suits
To science books
From the schoolroom to the bedroom
They want our thoughts - or else
They treat us like the Romans
Used to treat the Christians
Even some church-going folks are scared
Modern catacombs of fear
Built with money, power, and threats
Rock 'n Roll is labeled porn
Sell a record, you're under arrest
Instead of fighting AIDS
They try to stop us having sex
They brag that they won't quit
Till they take dominion over our lives
Is freedom of speech such a terrorist act
Is spiritual peace such a satanic threat
Believe what you want
But we'll fight to keep
Our heads from being cemented in your sand
Posted by JLT at 7:05 AM
The Government We’re Stuck With
Are you trapped in an abusive relationship with your government? Does it do all the taking and none of the giving? Has it become increasingly demanding and dependent? Today's column is "The Government We're Stuck With" -- Read Joe's columns the day he writes them.Does it refuse to admit being at fault? Does it always insist on being the dominant partner, while refusing to accept its own responsibilities? Does it run up huge bills and stick you with the payments? Is it secretive and evasive about its activities, while denying you your own space and privacy? Does it demand your undivided love, while remaining emotionally distant from you and indifferent to your basic needs?
If you answered yes to all these questions, you have a problem. In fact, you have the same problem every American taxpayer has.
What’s more, there’s no solution. If you had a spouse that behaved like your government, you could not only break free of the relationship, you might be able to collect damages or even have the offender jailed, or at least ordered to stay away from you. But the cost and inconvenience of divorcing your government is prohibitive. You have to leave your home, move far away, and start a completely new life.
For many people, the problem is aggravated by denial — the need to pretend that everything is all right because many other governments are even worse. They feel guilty if they criticize their own government, which constantly tells them how lucky they are not to be living elsewhere. It’s as if an alcoholic, adulterous wife-beater were to keep reminding his wife that she’s fortunate he’s not O.J. Simpson.
The modern state stands ready to release you from all your duties to your own family, while constantly increasing your political obligations. You can divorce your spouse, neglect your parents, abandon or abort your children. But you’d better pay your taxes, most of which will be spent for the benefit of people you’ve never met and have never agreed to support.
This system of forcing some to pay others’ way is justified as “compassion,” but it’s an inversion of the natural order of love, the family-centered affections that modern liberalism despises as narrow and selfish. It’s typical of the champions of the all-absorbing state that even as they treat the family as something a child must be protected from, they try to clothe the state itself in the warm metaphors of “family,” “community,” and “village.” ...
Posted by JLT at 6:55 AM
Brigadier shocks and awes: there is no war on terrorism
The so-called global war on terrorism does not exist, a high-ranking army officer has declared in a speech that challenges the conventional political wisdom.
In a frank speech, Brigadier Justin Kelly dismissed several of the central tenets of the Iraq war and the war on terrorism, saying the "war" part is all about politics and terrorism is merely a tactic.
Although such wars were fuelled by global issues, they were essentially counter-insurgent operations fought on a local level. This would result in Australian soldiers fighting in increasingly urban environments.
Speaking at a conference on future warfighting, Brigadier Kelly, the director-general of future land warfare, also suggested that the "proposition you can bomb someone into thinking as we do has been found to be untrue"....
Posted by JLT at 6:46 AM
Wednesday, April 27, 2005
Exploding toads baffle German experts
BERLIN (AFP) - Hundreds of toads have met a bizarre and sinister end in Germany in recent days, it was reported: they exploded.
According to reports from animal welfare workers and veterinarians as many as a thousand of the amphibians have perished after their bodies swelled to bursting point and their entrails were propelled for up to a metre (three feet).
It is like "a science fiction film", according to Werner Smolnik of a nature protection society in the northern city of Hamburg, where the phenomenon of the exploding toad has been observed.
"You see the animals crawling on the ground, swelling and then exploding."
He said the bodies of the toads expanded to three and a half times their normal size.
"I have never seen such a thing," said veterinarian Otto Horst. So bad has the death toll been that the lake in the Altona district of Hamburg has been dubbed "the pond of death."...
Posted by JLT at 3:28 PM
A YEAR AGO this week, the release of shocking photographs of naked and hooded Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib prison alerted the world to serious human rights abuses by U.S. forces. Those images, it turned out, were the tip of an iceberg: Subsequent investigations by the media, human rights groups and the military itself revealed hundreds of cases of torture and abuse of detainees in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Guantanamo Bay prison, including scores of suspicious deaths. A trail of documents showed that abusive interrogation techniques, such as the use of dogs and painful shackling, had been approved by senior military commanders and the secretary of defense. Even more extreme practices, such as simulated drowning and the withholding of pain medication, were authorized for the CIA at White House meetings presided over by President Bush's counsel.
All these facts are undisputed. Yet Pentagon officials have now made it known that the last of the official investigations of prisoner abuse, by the Army inspector general, has ended by exonerating all but one senior officer, a female reserve brigadier general who was not directly involved in the abuses and who received an administrative reprimand. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld; former CIA director George J. Tenet; and Alberto R. Gonzales, the former White House counsel who is now attorney general, are excused: In fact, they were never directly investigated. The only people to suffer criminal prosecution from one of the most serious human rights scandals in U.S. history remain a handful of lower-ranking soldiers, including seven reservists implicated in those first photographs from Abu Ghraib. That the affair would end in this way is even more disgraceful for the American political system than the abuses themselves.
Because there has never been a truly thorough or independent investigation -- the Bush administration and Republicans in Congress have repeatedly rejected calls for a commission or a special prosecutor -- we may never fully know how such widespread and serious war crimes came about. But even the limited disclosures that have taken place make clear the culpability of several senior officers whom the Army has exonerated...
Auburn man ordered to pay support for child that's not his
AUBURN, Maine -- A District Court judge ruled three years ago that Geoffrey Fisher no longer had to pay child support for a child that wasn't his.
But that hasn't stopped the state from revoking Fisher's driver's license and coming after him for thousands of dollars it says he owes in back payments....
...At that point, one branch of the human services department told him he could no longer see the girl because he wasn't the father, while another said he owed $10,000 and couldn't have a driver's license because he was the father....
Posted by JLT at 11:40 AM
U.S. Figures Show Sharp Global Rise In Terrorism
State Dept. Will Not Put Data in Report
The number of serious international terrorist incidents more than tripled last year, according to U.S. government figures, a sharp upswing in deadly attacks that the State Department has decided not to make public in its annual report on terrorism due to Congress this week.
Overall, the number of what the U.S. government considers "significant" attacks grew to about 655 last year, up from the record of around 175 in 2003, according to congressional aides who were briefed on statistics covering incidents including the bloody school seizure in Russia and violence related to the disputed Indian territory of Kashmir.
Terrorist incidents in Iraq also dramatically increased, from 22 attacks to 198, or nine times the previous year's total -- a sensitive subset of the tally, given the Bush administration's assertion that the situation there had stabilized significantly after the U.S. handover of political authority to an interim Iraqi government last summer....
The State Department announced last week that it was breaking with tradition in withholding the statistics on terrorist attacks from its congressionally mandated annual report. Critics said the move was designed to shield the government from questions about the success of its effort to combat terrorism by eliminating what amounted to the only year-to-year benchmark of progress.
Posted by JLT at 11:28 AM
The Scent of Jesus
Mother’s Day is less than two weeks away, so I surfed the Internet this afternoon trying to find the perfect gift. Something unique, something special. Never mind flowers, dinner, or a spa treatment. I wanted to get my mother something she’d never expect—and never forget. And I finally found it: His Essence—a candle that’s supposed to smell like Jesus.
At first, I thought, what a lousy gift! Imagine, for a moment, what Jesus must have smelled like after a typical day in his life. The guy walked everywhere, never stopped, all over Judea, Samaria, Galilee, and up into Phoenicia and Syria. He probably didn’t shower often, and it’s unlikely that he wore Mennen Speed Stick. And we know that he once washed the feet of his disciples instead of his own. Indeed, it is fair to say Jesus must have smelled pretty ripe most of the time.
I don’t think my mother wants that kind of b.o. wafting through her home, at least she didn't when my father lived with us.
But as I read up on His Essence candles, I learned some good news—Jesus didn’t smell like a homeless preacher! He smelled sweet, like myrrh and aloes and cassia....
Posted by JLT at 9:04 AM
Many Say End of Firearm Ban Changed Little
Despite dire predictions that the streets would be awash in military-style guns, the expiration of the decade-long assault weapons ban last September has not set off a sustained surge in the weapons' sales, gun makers and sellers say. It also has not caused any noticeable increase in gun crime in the past seven months, according to several metropolitan police departments....
...What's more, law enforcement officials say that military-style weapons, which were never used in many gun crimes but did enjoy some vogue in the years before the ban took effect, seem to have gone out of style in criminal circles....
...Mr. Luth of DPMS, however, said that his sales had been increasing for years, to the law enforcement community, the civilian market and an unexpected new clientele. "We've picked up new customers with the troops returning from Iraq," he said, "who had never shot an AR-15 before and now want one."...
Posted by JLT at 8:51 AM
Is Rudolph’s plea a cop-out?
Pardon the paranoia, but something smells about the deal to let killer-bomber Eric Rudolph cop a plea and avoid a trial.
The Justice Department says it decided to spare Rudolph a death-sentence trial in exchange for information about the locations of relatively small amounts of explosives. Bull!
A determined prosecutor might have extracted the map to the dynamite with a promise not to seek the death penalty. And Rudolph’s trial could have proceeded.
Former U.S. Attorney Kent Alexander says a trial and death sentence would have made “a martyr” of Rudolph, so waiving the trial was a good idea.
That is a curious position for Alexander, who was the government’s chief lawyer in Atlanta when Rudolph planted a bomb at the 1996 Olympics that killed one person and injured scores of others.
If the martyrdom-avoidance defense worked for Rudolph, can you imagine what it might do for alleged Fulton courthouse killer Brian Nichols, the self-proclaimed “black warrior,” when he is ready for trial in heavily black Atlanta?
The government says Rudolph set off four bombs — the most famous one at the Olympics, another at an Atlanta gay bar, a third at a Sandy Springs family-planning office and a fourth at a Birmingham abortion clinic. At the end of his run, he had killed two people, wounded at least 120 and terrified thousands.
He is as much a terrorist as 9/11 plane-hijacker Mohammed Atta or Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh. ...
...Why did Washington agree to skip a trial that may have revealed the answers to all those questions? One possibility: The Justice Department doubted the ability of its attorneys to deliver a guilty verdict. The prosecutorial record in comparable cases is spotty at best. (The feds nailed McVeigh but struck out with Terry Nichols in the Oklahoma City bombing.)
If you’re a conspiracy theorist, you have another answer. The government is reluctant to dig deeply into Rudolph’s background or to identify publicly the forces that inspired him to become a pro-life killer. Letting him enter a guilty plea serves the purposes of the politically-attuned Justice Department as well as the defense. That sounds a bit nutty, you say? That explanation is no nuttier than a leading lawman’s assertion that Rudolph’s avoidance of trial “finally brings closure” to the case. Surely he is kidding.
One other thing: The government through the media has embedded in the national mind a portrait of terrorists as sinister-looking, bearded Middle Easterners who pray five times a day and have a fondness for taking flying lessons.
The trial of Eric Rudolph might have given us another picture: fair-skinned, clean-cut men claiming to be Christians, wearing fatigues and speaking American English, not unlike you and me.
Taken a step further, a picture might even be drawn of a home-grown terrorist who embraces the culture of life and then uses the tools of the death to protect that culture. The parallels with a president who speaks in defense of the sanctity of life, yet has built his legacy on death penalties and two overseas wars might make the U.S. judiciary a bit too uncomfortable.
Posted by JLT at 8:49 AM
Do You Hate the State?
I have been ruminating recently on what are the crucial questions that divide libertarians. Some that have received a lot of attention in the last few years are: anarcho-capitalism vs. limited government, abolitionism vs. gradualism, natural rights vs. utilitarianism, and war vs. peace. But I have concluded that as important as these questions are, they don’t really cut to the nub of the issue, of the crucial dividing line between us.
Let us take, for example, two of the leading anarcho-capitalist works of the last few years: my own For a New Liberty and David Friedman’s Machinery of Freedom. Superficially, the major differences between them are my own stand for natural rights and for a rational libertarian law code, in contrast to Friedman’s amoralist utilitarianism and call for logrolling and trade-offs between non-libertarian private police agencies. But the difference really cuts far deeper. There runs through For a New Liberty (and most of the rest of my work as well) a deep and pervasive hatred of the State and all of its works, based on the conviction that the State is the enemy of mankind....
Posted by JLT at 6:50 AM
ANALYSIS-Once taboo words 'civil war' now spoken in Iraq
BAGHDAD, April 26 (Reuters) - Civil war. It's a phrase everyone in Iraq has strenuously avoided for the past two years.
Yet now, with no government formed three months after elections, and tensions deepening between Iraq's Muslim sects and other groups, it's on many people's minds.
Several clashes between Sunni and Shi'ite Muslims in events apparently unrelated to the two-year-old anti-U.S. insurgency have highlighted the danger in recent months.
Whereas once politicians were not willing to utter the term for fear of dignifying it, it is no longer taboo....
...The failure to form a government in the immediate aftermath of the ballot, when the nation was buoyed by the fact more than 8 million people defied threats and voted, has allowed distrust to grow as all sides scramble to secure a share of power.
"The huge window of opportunity created by the success of the elections has been frittered away in the politics of personal gain and internecine squabbling," said Toby Dodge, an Iraq expert at Queen Mary University of London....
Posted by JLT at 6:47 AM
Tuesday, April 26, 2005
UN investigator who exposed US army abuse forced out of his job
The UN's top human rights investigator in Afghanistan has been forced out under American pressure just days after he presented a report criticising the US military for detaining suspects without trial and holding them in secret prisons.
Cherif Bassiouni had needled the US military since his appointment a year ago, repeatedly trying, without success, to interview alleged Taliban and al-Qa'ida prisoners at the two biggest US bases in Afghanistan, Kandahar and Bagram.
Mr Bassiouni's report had highlighted America's policy of detaining prisoners without trial and lambasted coalition officials for barring independent human rights monitors from its bases.
Prisoners captured in Afghanistan and elsewhere in the region are held at US bases, often before being shipped to Guantanamo Bay. Human Rights Watch called on Saturday for a US special prosecutor to investigate the Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, and Charles Tenet, the former-CIA director, for torture and abuse of detainees in jails around the world, including Abu Ghraib in Iraq. They should be held responsible under the doctrine of "command responsibility," it said.
On Friday, the US army investigation into the torture of prisoners at Abu Ghraib cleared four out of five top officers of responsibility for the scandal which shocked the world when it broke a year ago. The only officer recommended for punishment is Brigadier General Janis Karpinski, who was in charge of Iraqi prisons at the time.
The UN eliminated Mr Bassiouni's job last week after Washington had pressed for his mandate to be changed so that it would no longer cover the US military.....
Posted by JLT at 1:56 PM
Sex as a Weapon
A discussion of the Christian men's movement — Iron John for fundamentalists, Promise Keepers to the tenth power — is best begun with some mean-spirited fun. Not because there is anything laughable about loving Jesus or thinking about gender, but because the language with which conservative evangelical men combine these two passions, at conferences and in "cell groups" and in books with titles such as You, The Warrior Leader; The Barbarian Way and Fight on Your Knees often seems as if it's been lifted directly from Beavis & Butt-Head, absent the adolescent giggles. The movement itself is deadly earnest, and worse, a threat — legally, emotionally, sometimes physically — to all those who can't or won't conform to its perversely precise dream of a nation of sexually self-regulating spiritual warriors. I’ll get to that. But first, some yuks.
Take, for example, God's Gift to Women (the title of a manliness guide for young men), male "headship" of the American family. Women can't get enough of good headship, but a man must be careful; a woman's hunger for his headship may lead him to abuse its potency through the sin of anger. A few years ago, I learned in an evangelical magazine what to do in such a situation: push your anger down and store it inside your heart, where Jesus will work it over it until it is ready to be "released," transformed into "white-hot brother love."
Christian men love some brothers more than others. Most loved of all, besides J.C., may be the Scottish warrior William Wallace, basis for the film Braveheart. In Wild at Heart: Discovering the Secret of a Man's Soul — still a hardcover bestseller four years after publication — John Eldredge writes of a present given to him by his wife: "Stasi slipped out of the room with the words, ‘Close your eyes . . . I have a surprise for you.'" When she tells him to look, Eldredge finds "a Scottish broadsword exactly like the one used by William Wallace. I had been looking for one for several months."
Apparently, Braveheart isn't just for lovers. In God's Gift To Women: Discovering the Lost Greatness of Masculinity, Eric Ludy writes of his youthful "introduction to ultimate manhood" in the form of Wallace, "one of history's most provocative men." Ludy, who opens his book by recounting a recurring nightmare of being "ushered in front of a mob of scrutinizing females" who find him inadequate, describes the image of William Wallace, riding to battle, that won him over: "His countenance was calm but intense. His sword was drawn. His cheeks were suffused with blood." Ludy asks himself, "Who is this man? And how can I get what he has?"....
...Lesbians, as one might imagine, are not popular among evangelicals; but then, they are not really imaginable. In the theology of "Jesus plus nothing," there is no room for anything that is not man-God (or God-man, if you're particular about such things), and that includes female sexuality. Many of the man-manuals advise loving attention to wives and speak of the joys of married, heterosexual sex as a bulwark against the culture (which is queer by definition, since it is not Christ-centered, a peculiar oxymoron at the heart of the faith), but they also teach a "sensitivity" that is called to stand in for the sins of their cavemen fathers. In an interview with New Man, a Christian magazine, John Hagee, a popular pastor who is the author of What Every Man Wants in a Woman, explains what, in turn, every woman wants in a man (which is odd, since Hagee's wife, Diana, is the author of a book of that name, and would have presumably been the more logical explicator): "nonsexual affection."
Well, sure. That this is news to anyone is hard to believe. But more shocking is Hagee's announcement that nearly every woman he's counseled over the years has told him that "It's really no big deal if I never have sex again with my husband." This makes sense only if one accepts the division of identity increasingly popular in evangelicaldom: young men are knights and young women are virginal maidens, and even after marriage that formula, in a sense, continues: Men must get dirty in battle, women must stay pure at home. Sex is for the fellas. ...
...But with Christian womanhood restored and redeemed, a crucial character in the Christian conservative morality play has gone missing: the seductress. It is no longer acceptable to speak of loose women and harlots, since sexual promiscuity in a woman is the fault of the man who has failed to exercise his "headship" over her. It is his effeminacy, not hers, that is to blame. And who lures him into this spiritual castration? The gay man.
Christian conservatives loathe all forms of homo- and bisexuality, of course, but it is the gay man (singular; he's an archetype) who looms largest in their books and sermons and blogs and cell group meetings. Not, for the most part, as a figure of evil, but one to be almost envied. "The gay man" is the new seductress sent by Satan to tempt the men of Christendom. He takes what he wants and loves whom he will and his life, in the imagination of Christian men's groups, is an endless succession of orgasms, interrupted only by jocular episodes of male bonhomie. The gay man promises a guilt-free existence, the garden before Eve. He is thought to exist in the purest state of "manhood," which is boyhood, before there were girls.
Most Christian conservatives are deadly earnest in their proclamations of love for the sinner, even as they hate the sin. Indeed, that love is at the heart of books like Wild at Heart, and Jim George's A Man After God's Own Heart, and Every Man's Battle, a self-help manual for giving up masturbation which was co-authored by a couple of buddies. They love the gay man because he is a siren, and his song is alluring; and because they believe that the siren is nonetheless stranded at sea, singing in desperation from a slippery perch on a jagged outcrop of stone. The gay man, they imagine, is calling to them; and they believe they are calling back — as if all of human sexuality was a grand and tragic game of Marco Polo.
Posted by JLT at 12:53 PM
Gallup: 50% of Americans Now Say Bush Deliberately Misled Them on WMDs
Half of all Americans, exactly 50%, now say the Bush administration deliberately misled Americans about whether Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, the Gallup Organization reported this morning.
"This is the highest percentage that Gallup has found on this measure since the question was first asked in late May 2003," the pollsters observed. "At that time, 31% said the administration deliberately misled Americans. This sentiment has gradually increased over time, to 39% in July 2003, 43% in January/February 2004, and 47% in October 2004."
Also, according to the latest poll, more than half of Americans, 54%, disapprove of the way President Bush is handling the situation in Iraq, while 43% approve. In early February, Americans were more evenly divided on the way Bush was handling the situation in Iraq, with 50% approving and 48% disapproving....
There are some people out there who are Christians...who believe that homosexuality is a sin. You know what? I'm a Christian. I do believe that it's a sin. You know what else? I believe divorce is a sin. Guess what? I've been divorced. Guess what? Jesus talks about divorce a lot more than he talks about homosexuality. I don't know why people obsess over it so much, but they do. Wait a second, I do know why they obsess over it. Because they get votes bashing gays.
-- Joe Scarborough
Posted by JLT at 10:03 AM
Report Finds No Evidence Syria Hid Iraqi Arms
U.S. investigators hunting for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq have found no evidence that such material was moved to Syria for safekeeping before the war, according to a final report of the investigation released yesterday.
Although Syria helped Iraq evade U.N.-imposed sanctions by shipping military and other products across its borders, the investigators "found no senior policy, program, or intelligence officials who admitted any direct knowledge of such movement of WMD." Because of the insular nature of Saddam Hussein's government, however, the investigators were "unable to rule out unofficial movement of limited WMD-related materials."
The Iraq Survey Group's main findings -- that Hussein's Iraq did not possess chemical and biological weapons and had only aspirations for a nuclear program -- were made public in October in an interim report covering nearly 1,000 pages. Yesterday's final report, published on the Government Printing Office's Web site ( http://www.gpo.gov ), incorporated those pages with minor editing and included 92 pages of addenda that tied up loose ends on Syria and other topics.
U.S. officials have held out the possibility that Syria worked in tandem with Hussein's government to hide weapons before the U.S.-led invasion. The survey group said it followed up on reports that a Syrian security officer had discussed collaboration with Iraq on weapons, but it was unable to complete that investigation. But Iraqi officials whom the group was able to interview "uniformly denied any knowledge of residual WMD that could have been secreted to Syria," the report said.
The report, which refuted many of the administration's principal arguments for going to war in Iraq, marked the official end of a two-year weapons hunt led most recently by former U.N. weapons inspector Charles A. Duelfer....
Sunday, April 24, 2005
Ryan Dobson, son of Focus on the Family founder James Dobson is a on a roll these days. "Chrsitian Rap" artist, author, evangelical heart-throb and all around hip dude, the younger Dobson is quite the renaissance man. In fact, Dobson has written a new book, just in time to take full advantage of pre-Rapture shopping season. "Be Intolerant" is the title of this soon to be classic primer on hate and it is clearly aimed at the rather vacuous minds of hip, young, evangelical dudes and chicks everwhere.
The book's thesis attmpts to make the spiritual case for intolerance as a spiritual precept.The author supports his dubious assertion with the usual out of context and non sequitur scriptural references. Of course, being a "Chrsitian Rap" artist, Ryan is especially well equipped to convey the message of the Republikan Christ's intolerance and judgement to today's youth in their own language.
With a bleached out "do", skateboard in hand and some really cool, "black dude" outfits, one can just imagine swarms of nubile little white, evangelical chicks ripping up their abstinence pledges in the front row of one of Dobson's "rap" concerts.
Before I continue on with the subject at hand, I have to get something off my chest and it just won't wait for a later post. You see, if there is one thing about evangelical Chrsitianity that really pisses me off it is the way they attempt to slither into the main body of youth culture and insert the name of Jesus in places where it just doesn't belong. It's bad enough that I have to endure the agony of seeing my country's good name dragged through the mud and trampled on by half-witted miscreants and moral pygmies. Oh, and let's not forget the Jehovah's Witnesses' fetish for littering my front porch every month with their "come to Jesus" comic books. All of this I can deal with, but please, do NOT mess with my music! And while I'm on this little tirade, I have to say how much it irks me when I see the prefix "Christian" attached to various company names like, for example, "Christian" Contracting" or, maybe "Christian" Cleaning" or the like. But what about "Christian Pest Control?" How about a "Chrsitian Car Wash" or a yummy "Christian Burrito?" This obnoxious trend leads me to wonder what will happen when other religions want to get in on the action. Will I be relegated to having my car serviced at a "Greek Orthodox Oil and Lube?" Perhaps my legs will look silky smooth in a new pair of Hassidic Hose? Well, I think I've vented enough for now at your expense. Sorry. I'll get back on topic, I promise.
Ryan Dobson is but a symptom of the malignancy that underlies the new tone of belligerance from the religious right. The idea that gays, Muslims and women who won't shave their legs for Jesus can be bullied with impunity by Christians (and should be) is a pathetic testament to our collosal backslide on civil rights in general over the past several years....
Posted by JLT at 10:09 AM
Religious Leaders To Senator Bill Frist: Drop Out Of “Justice Sunday” Or Risk Dividing The Country
...Behind these activities lies a fundamental assumption by Republican operatives and their conservative religious allies that they own religion in America. They demand that religious people vote only their way. They claim that "values voters" in America belong to them, and they disrespect the faith of those who disagree with their agenda. There are better words for this than just "politically divisive" or "morally irresponsible." For these are not merely political offenses, they are religious ones. And for offenses such as these, theological terms are better - terms such as idolatry and blasphemy....
Posted by JLT at 9:27 AM
Saturday, April 23, 2005
It's time to tell the truth
I AM A CHURCHGOING, Bible-believing Baptist, but I recently learned that I'm not a Christian. Indeed, I've not only learned that I'm not a Christian, I've also learned that I'm anti-Christian and hostile to religion. Why? Because I dare to disagree with a certain political and legal agenda....
...It's time to tell the truth. There is no "filibuster against people of faith." Religious people are on both sides of the debate about the filibuster and certain Bush-nominated judges. And it's wrong for one of the country's foremost political leaders to lend legitimacy to a contrary notion. Just as no one should have to pass a religious test in order to hold political office, no one should have to pass a political test in order to claim religion or morality....
...Just as the government always perverts the faith it promotes, politicians cheapen the religion they seek to embrace when they push partisan politics in churches. When Jesus cast the moneychangers out of the temple, He said, "My house shall be called the house of prayer."...
...Dr. Frist is wrong to seek political advantage through this event, and his error is compounded by his tacit approval of these illegitimate claims of persecution and the smearing of others as "anti-religious" simply because they differ on certain political and legal issues.
When I hear attempts to manipulate people in the pews, I always think of one of my grandmother's favorite Bible verses: "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind" (2 Timothy 1:7).
Posted by JLT at 3:57 PM
A German Lesson: the Fallacy of One True Path
...These questions revolve around what Benedict learned from this formative period of his life, and how it influenced his later service, theology and, potentially, his papacy. He was a witness to Nazi Germany's all-consuming racism, brutal conquest of other peoples and mass murder. Unlike John Paul II, whose papacy and capacious heart for Jews was marked by his living through the Holocaust in Poland, Benedict curiously has spoken little about the horrors publicly. Instead, he has pointed to both Nazism's and modern civilization's rejection of Christianity and its truth to justify his insistence that Catholicism ought to resist many aspects of modernity, including "relativism" — by which he centrally means the false notion that other religions are valid paths to God. As an account of the sources of Nazism and its horrors, this is selective and false; as a lesson learned from Nazism, it is selective and deeply troubling.
Benedict's conflation, under the rubric of "relativism," of the horrors of Nazism, a creed of extreme intolerance, with modernity and pluralism today is self-evidently bizarre. It also ignores several facts: Contrary to Benedict's explicit claim in his memoirs, the church hardly "stood firm" against Nazism. Although dissenting from Nazism in many matters, the church, in the name of its true God, willingly collaborated with Nazism and fascism on others. Christian intolerance — its anti-Semitism — was the sine qua non for the emergence of Nazi racial anti-Semitism and for the Nazis' capacity to enlist so many Christians in their war against the Jews. And although the Catholic Church was not responsible for the Holocaust, it is also a fact that, in many ways, substantial parts of the church avidly aided various aspects of the Nazis' persecution of the Jews. The church, for example, supported the Nazis' and fascists' anti-Semitic race laws, and the Slovakian episcopate explained to the Slovakian nation why its government, headed by a priest, must deport the country's Jews. With regard to Jews, the church was not the fundamental antidote to the problem, but part of it....
...Benedict's theology that the church must single-mindedly combat relativism with an imperial insistence on the world adhering to the church's one true path shows that he has not learned perhaps the most essential lesson of the 20th century. Religious and secular creeds that have fought pluralism (which the Nazis deprecated as a Babel-like confusion) by trying to institute a uniform adherence to a single truth have produced colossal catastrophes. Whatever one thinks of "relativism," history shows that the cure of fighting modernity and pluralism with synchronizing orthodoxy is worse than the alleged disease.
I do not mean to suggest that Benedict's imperial certitude — in his biographer John Allen's formulation, his "ecclesiastical totalitarianism" — is the same as the Nazis' or the Communists', or even Osama bin Laden's. The church remains an immensely powerful political institution that commands the attention of the world and affects the lives of the more than 1 billion Catholics, and to some degree all others who have relations with them. Yet it has no wish to physically conquer and coerce those who disagree and has no capacity to do so.
Benedict would additionally say that the difference is that his truth is the Truth. But so did the others. Including those who made him a teenage witness to the mass murder of the Jews.
Posted by JLT at 3:54 PM
You say you're supposed to be nice to the Episcopalians and the Presbyterians and the Methodists and this, that, and the other thing. Nonsense. I don't have to be nice to the spirit of the Antichrist. I can love the people who hold false opinions but I don't have to be nice to them.
-- Pat Robertson, The 700 Club, January 14, 1991
Posted by JLT at 8:18 AM
Friday, April 22, 2005
Bush administration eliminating 19-year-old international terrorism report
WASHINGTON - The State Department decided to stop publishing an annual report on international terrorism after the government's top terrorism center concluded that there were more terrorist attacks in 2004 than in any year since 1985, the first year the publication covered. ...
... But other current and former officials charged that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's office ordered "Patterns of Global Terrorism" eliminated several weeks ago because the 2004 statistics raised disturbing questions about the Bush's administration's frequent claims of progress in the war against terrorism....
Posted by JLT at 1:51 PM
What the Republicans Could Learn from Hayek
I was talking to someone tonight about whether there is a unifying theme to the Republican setbacks of this winter and spring -- Social Security, the Bolton nomination, and DeLay, to name the three biggies. I don't want to make more than should be made of things that are very much in media res, but I think the answer is simple and predictable: A command-control system like the White House-led Republican congressional system can be absolutely formidable for a certain period of time. But when it breaks down, it breaks down completely. The collapse is sudden, and total. Signals get crossed, backs get stabbed, the suddenly leaderless pawns in the system start acting for themselves, with no system or structure to coordinate their individual impulses.
Is this happening? I don't know, but it's getting close. I thought I'd seen it before, but each time they've pulled it back together. This time, I think there's too much happening at once.
The irony of all this for conservatives is that if they actually read Hayek and got anything out of it other than "government sucks," they would know this. Hayek's libertarianism was very pragmatic. Centrally controlled systems are flawed above all because they have no mechanism to correct their own errors, unlike distributed, self-organized systems. The Democrats in the Clinton years always operated in chaos, no one followed the party line, and there was a cost to that, but in the chaos and improvisation they found ways to get out of the holes that they had dug for themselves. The Rove/DeLay/Frist system doesn't have any means for correcting its mistakes -- look at the blank, lost looks on the faces of Senators Lugar and Chafee yesterday when they just had no idea what to do with a nomination that had fallen apart and couldn't fulfill their promises....
Posted by JLT at 1:46 PM
Deliberately Destroying America's Soul
At the U.S. Army War College's 16th Annual Strategy Conference last week, a senior Department of Defense strategist defined U.S. "Grand Strategy" as the export of freedom and democracy. He added that the U.S. military would play a huge role in implementing the strategy. In short, and to paraphrase, the official said: "Get ready, soldiers, you're going democracy-crusading."
Exporting freedom and democracy is not a Grand Strategy. It may be an ambition, an obsession, or – most likely – a hallucination. ...
...like Wilson, Bush is ill-served by some of his advisers, public and private. Wilson had House, Page, and Lansing, each of whom put British interests above American and pushed us into world war. Bush has Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, and Perle, who seem to conflate Israel's interests with America's and are pushing us toward a war with Islam. Indeed, U.S. elites across party lines bask in this American-killing conflation.
Wilsonianism is nothing more than cynically promising oppressed people freedom that cannot be delivered without using force. As an anti-military, provincial bigot, Wilson knew this. He knew Americans would not allow their sons to be killed in large numbers so that 1919 Bosnia-Herzogovinians could vote. He also knew the rhetoric of "self-determination" and "teaching people to elect good men" would cost him nothing. He did not care what it cost the foreigners who believed his twaddle; they could not vote.
Today's Wilsonians, with father-and-son Bush in the van, are far more dangerous to America than the late, unlamented Wilson. Their ignorance of the Founders' intentions and lack of any semblance of the Founders' wisdom have made them democracy-crusaders in every blood-spilling sense of the phrase. Knowing nothing of, and thus having no respect for, the long and bloody post-Runnymede struggle of Americans and their ancestors to build an equitable democracy at home, the new Wilsonians are using – and intend to expand the use of – the U.S. military to seek overseas the unobtainable, war-inducing goals of the crazed Woodrow....
Posted by JLT at 7:17 AM
Office of papacy remains point of contention with evangelicals over biblical guidelines
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--While the world’s attention focused on the Vatican as a new pope was elected April 19, the evangelical outlook toward the Roman Catholic Church’s top leader stood firm....
...“History demonstrates that the consolidation of authority into the hands of one person, no matter how well meaning that person may be, can result in the abuse of power,” he said....
Posted by JLT at 7:10 AM
Thursday, April 21, 2005
There were not sufficient reasons to unleash a war against Iraq. To say nothing of the fact that, given the new weapons that make possible destructions that go beyond the combatant groups, today we should be asking ourselves if it is still licit to admit the very existence of a 'just war.'
- Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, May 2, 2003
Posted by JLT at 3:23 PM
Suit against prayer spurs backlash
'If they don't like it - go to another school,' one resident said of religious minorities
...The lawsuit accuses the district of promoting Christianity in the classroom. It claims that students who participate in the Bible club at Selbyville Middle School receive preferential treatment, and at least two teachers espoused their religious beliefs in class.
Dobrich brought her concerns to the school board last year - which then adopted new policies. But the lawsuit said the policies have not been enforced and have not been available to parents who have asked for copies. Because she spoke up, Dobrich said, her family was persecuted and sometimes threatened. "Everything changed," she said. Friends were suddenly cold to her and her family, sometimes refusing to make eye contact in public.
At least one person who supports Dobrich, Dr. Jeff Hawtof, considered retracting his comments, saying that once Dobrich spoke publicly, she committed "social suicide."
Hawtof knew others who supported Dobrich and her lawsuit but have refused to come forward, fearing that it would alienate them and, potentially, their livelihoods. ...
Posted by JLT at 3:04 PM
... Over the last twenty years or so, the most radical members of the right wing have claimed they've owned the core American values that I've just enumerated; moreover, they've claimed that liberals have tried to defeat them. Therefore, they argue, liberals are trying to ruin the American way of life. They claim that liberals are a threat to our very future. For those who question this assumption, they need only to listen to talk radio, Fox news and the Republican leadership who pass for responsible voices in our democracy.
Their methods are not surprising. Because here is their dirty little secret: The far right must gain its identity from imagined enemies. Because without these imagined enemies, the ultra-right wing is not viable. Without the imagined enemies, you just have - America. It is an America struggling with competing interests among its core values. It should try to help the poor while building wealth for us all; it should try to lead the world without exploiting or dominating it; it should not be ashamed of a faith in God but should never discriminate against those of different beliefs; and it should try to figure out balances between those "right and left" policy disputes, such as protection of the environment versus encouraging development.
This is the true American value: We are a nation of compromises. The Constitution is a document of concessions between competing interests. We weigh the right of the accused against the power of prosecutors; we weigh the power of judges against Congress and the president; we weigh the power of the people against the strength of the government.
Yet this is the problem with the right wing today. When a political faction encourages an atmosphere that makes these competing principles evil and corrupt - even the idea that there should be competition among them - it threatens the very essence of America. It must be said outright: These strange Americans are fighting against the founding values of this nation.
The radical reactionaries (it is absurd to call them conservatives) have convinced about half of Americans that the basic American values - the values of balancing various competing interests - are evil and anti-American. This is where the future of America is threatened, and it must be fought at every turn.
What we have seen is the creation of a culture of hate in America, and that is not too strong of a characterization. The radicals vilify those who disagree with them -they must do this to survive. For without the enemies that they themselves imagine, they are nothing. After the imagined enemies are gone, they have nothing to rant against, except the notion of American values. Therefore, if they lose their enemies, they lose America.
America is a balancing act. Sometimes we slip off the wire. No one said it would be easy. No one said it was simple. It's a work in progress, and it always will be. The danger to America is when we allow those who vilify basic American values to have the loudest voices.
Posted by JLT at 2:57 PM
Forgotten belief in First Amendment haunts America, Baptists, Shurden says
...Shurden lamented the fact that sermons in a Baptist church on religious liberty, freedom of conscience and separation of church and state that once were “old hat” now cause a negative energy in the room that he called “sanctuary electricity.”
Even more discouraging, Shurden said, “sanctuary electricity will become sanctuary applause” if you preach sermons “that reinforce prejudices that the phrase ‘separation of church and state’ is not in the Constitution,” that “the First Amendment has been misinterpreted and taken too far,” or that “certain religious groups in this country need to conform to our particular religious customs.”
A group of four pastors, speaking in an April 15 panel discussion, said promoting religious liberty and church-state separation is becoming difficult even in moderate Baptist congregations.
"It seems to me that the first line of battle today for us as we wage a kind of battle for religious liberty is to keep our own people on board," said David Sapp, pastor of Second-Ponce de Leon Baptist Church in Atlanta. "And I think that's probably radically different from other periods of Baptist history."
Both Sapp and Hardy Clemons, retired pastor of First Baptist Church in Greenville, S.C., said pastors need to be less fearful when talking to their congregations about their support for religious freedom.
"Look for times and places when you can articulate an advocacy for religious liberty," Clemons said. "Congregations will support us far more than we think they will. And those of you who are laity have enormous power to encourage your clergy to do precisely that."
Shurden, in his keynote address, said Baptists have become “an historically illiterate people” in regard to the First Amendment.
“With age, we Baptists have developed cataracts,” Shurden said. “Our denominational vision, once crystal clear on First Amendment issues, today is opaque. Impervious to the light of our denominational history and family commitments, we have blocked out heroic chapters of our very own story.”
Shurden said that part of the reason for Baptists’ cloudy vision is the subtle, ambiguous language used to describe the issues of the day, such as “faith-based charity,” “prayer in public schools” and “vouchers for taxpayers.”
In addition to forgetting their denominational story, Shurden suggested Baptists also have to address a stubborn secularism and a baffling pluralism.
“Historically, Baptists have been willing to take on secularism in the free market of ideas,” Shurden said. “They have done it with success. And they have done it without the aid and assistance of government.”...
Posted by JLT at 2:55 PM
How Americans Were Seduced by War
Americans have been betrayed. Sooner or later Americans will realize that they have been led to defeat in a pointless war by political leaders who they inattentively trusted. They have been misinformed by a sycophantic corporate media too mindful of advertising revenues to risk reporting truths branded unpatriotic by the propagandistic slogan, "you are with us or against us."
What happens when Americans wake up to their betrayal? It is too late to be rescued from catastrophe in Iraq, but perhaps if Americans can understand how such a grand mistake was made they can avoid repeating it. In a forthcoming book from Oxford University Press, The New American Militarism, Andrew J. Bacevich writes that we can avoid future disasters by understanding how our doctrines went wrong and by returning to the precepts laid down by our Founding Fathers, men of infinitely more wisdom than those currently holding reins of power.
Bacevich, West Point graduate, Vietnam veteran, and soldier for 23 years, is a true conservative. He is an expert on US military strategy and a professor at Boston University. He describes how civilian strategists – especially Albert Wohlstetter and Andrew Marshall – not military leaders, transformed a strategy of deterrence that regarded war as a last resort into a strategy of naked aggression. The resulting "marriage of a militaristic cast of mind with utopian ends" has "committed the United States to waging an open-ended war on a global scale."
The greatest threat to the US is not terrorists but the neoconservative belief, to which President Bush is firmly committed, that American security and well-being depend on US global hegemony and impressing US values on the rest of the world. This belief resonates with a patriotic public. Bacevich writes, "in the aftermath of a century filled to overflowing with evidence pointing to the limited utility of armed force and the dangers inherent in relying excessively on military power, the American people have persuaded themselves that their best prospect for safety and salvation lies with the sword."
If Americans persist in these misconceptions, America will "share the fate of all those who in ages past have looked to war and military power to fulfill their destiny. We will rob future generations of their rightful inheritance. We will wreak havoc abroad. We will endanger our security at home. We will risk the forfeiture of all that we prize."
Bacevich understands that the problem is not how to deal with terrorism but how to deal with the hubris, laden with catastrophe, that America is God’s instrument for bringing history to its predetermined destination...
...The new American militarism would be inconceivable, Bacevich writes, "were it not for the support offered by several tens of millions of evangelicals." Books written about "militant Islam" could equally describe militant evangelical Christianity. How did a Christian doctrine of love and peace become an apology for war?
Bacevich explains that evangelicals, aghast at Vietnam era protests of America’s war against "godless communism," turned to the military as the repository of traditional American virtues. For evangelicals, endtimes doctrines converged eschatology with national security. Prophecies merged America’s fate with Israel’s. Islam inherited the role of godless communism and became the target of the war against evil. America emerged with the "same immensely elastic permission to use force previously accorded to Israel." ...
Posted by JLT at 12:37 PM
Andrew Bacevich on the New American Militarism
We are now in an America where it's a commonplace for our President, wearing a "jacket with ARMY printed over his heart and 'Commander in Chief' printed on his right front," to address vast assemblages of American troops on the virtues of bringing democracy to foreign lands at the point of a missile. As Jim VandeHei of the Washington Post puts it: "Increasingly, the president uses speeches to troops to praise American ideals and send a signal to other nations the administration is targeting for democratic change."
As it happens, the Bush administration has other, no less militarized ways of signaling "change" that are even blunter. We already have, for instance, hundreds and hundreds of military bases, large and small, spread around the world, but never enough, never deeply enough embedded in the former borderlands of the Soviet Union and the energy heartlands of our planet. The military budget soars; planning for high-tech weaponry for the near (and distant) future -- like the Common Aero Vehicle, a suborbital space capsule capable of delivering "conventional" munitions anywhere on the planet within 2 hours and due to come on line by 2010 -- is the normal order of business in Pentagonized Washington. War, in fact, is increasingly the American way of life and, to a certain extent, it's almost as if no one notices.
Well, not quite no one. Andrew J. Bacevich has written a book on militarism, American-style, of surpassing interest. Just published, The New American Militarism, How Americans Are Seduced by War would be critical reading no matter who wrote it. But coming from Bacevich, a West Point graduate, Vietnam veteran, former contributor to such magazines as the Weekly Standard and the National Review, and former Bush Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin, it has special resonance.
Bacevich, a self-professed conservative, has clearly been a man on a journey. He writes that he still situates himself "culturally on the right. And I continue to view the remedies proferred by mainstream liberalism with skepticism. But my disenchantment with what passes for mainstream conservatism, embodied in the present Bush administration and its groupies, is just about absolute. Fiscal irresponsibility, a buccaneering foreign policy, a disregard for the Constitution, the barest lip service as a response to profound moral controversies: these do not qualify as authentically conservative values. On this score my views have come to coincide with the critique long offered by the radical left: it is the mainstream itself, the professional liberals as well as the professional conservatives who define the problem." ...
The Normalization of War
By Andrew J. Bacevich
At the end of the Cold War, Americans said yes to military power. The skepticism about arms and armies that pervaded the American experiment from its founding, vanished. Political leaders, liberals and conservatives alike, became enamored with military might.
The ensuing affair had and continues to have a heedless, Gatsby-like aspect, a passion pursued in utter disregard of any consequences that might ensue. Few in power have openly considered whether valuing military power for its own sake or cultivating permanent global military superiority might be at odds with American principles. Indeed, one striking aspect of America's drift toward militarism has been the absence of dissent offered by any political figure of genuine stature....
...This new aesthetic has contributed, in turn, to an appreciable boost in the status of military institutions and soldiers themselves, a fourth manifestation of the new American militarism.
Since the end of the Cold War, opinion polls surveying public attitudes toward national institutions have regularly ranked the armed services first. While confidence in the executive branch, the Congress, the media, and even organized religion is diminishing, confidence in the military continues to climb. Otherwise acutely wary of having their pockets picked, Americans count on men and women in uniform to do the right thing in the right way for the right reasons. Americans fearful that the rest of society may be teetering on the brink of moral collapse console themselves with the thought that the armed services remain a repository of traditional values and old fashioned virtue.
Confidence in the military has found further expression in a tendency to elevate the soldier to the status of national icon, the apotheosis of all that is great and good about contemporary America. The men and women of the armed services, gushed Newsweek in the aftermath of Operation Desert Storm, "looked like a Norman Rockwell painting come to life. They were young, confident, and hardworking, and they went about their business with poise and élan." A writer for Rolling Stone reported after a more recent and extended immersion in military life that "the Army was not the awful thing that my [anti-military] father had imagined"; it was instead "the sort of America he always pictured when he explained… his best hopes for the country." ...
...Soldiers, it turned out, were not only more virtuous than the rest of us, but also more sensitive and even happier. Contemplating the GIs advancing on Baghdad in March 2003, the classicist and military historian Victor Davis Hanson saw something more than soldiers in battle. He ascertained "transcendence at work." According to Hanson, the armed services had "somehow distilled from the rest of us an elite cohort" in which virtues cherished by earlier generations of Americans continued to flourish.
Soldiers have tended to concur with this evaluation of their own moral superiority. In a 2003 survey of military personnel, "two-thirds [of those polled] said they think military members have higher moral standards than the nation they serve… Once in the military, many said, members are wrapped in a culture that values honor and morality." Such attitudes leave even some senior officers more than a little uncomfortable. Noting with regret that "the armed forces are no longer representative of the people they serve," retired admiral Stanley Arthur has expressed concern that "more and more, enlisted as well as officers are beginning to feel that they are special, better than the society they serve." Such tendencies, concluded Arthur, are "not healthy in an armed force serving a democracy." ...
...More recently still, this has culminated in George W. Bush styling himself as the nation's first full-fledged warrior-president. The staging of Bush's victory lap shortly after the conquest of Baghdad in the spring of 2003 -- the dramatic landing on the carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, with the president decked out in the full regalia of a naval aviator emerging from the cockpit to bask in the adulation of the crew -- was lifted directly from the triumphant final scenes of the movie Top Gun, with the boyish George Bush standing in for the boyish Tom Cruise. For this nationally televised moment, Bush was not simply mingling with the troops; he had merged his identity with their own and made himself one of them -- the president as warlord. In short order, the marketplace ratified this effort; a toy manufacturer offered for $39.99 a Bush look-alike military action figure advertised as "Elite Force Aviator: George W. Bush -- U.S. President and Naval Aviator."...
Posted by JLT at 12:23 PM
General: Insurgents in Iraq planning attacks
A retired Army general just back from a fact-finding trip to Iraq has warned the U.S.-led multinational coalition that insurgents may be planning spectacular large-scale attacks to slow the momentum of recent military and political gains there.
“The insurgency is viable and resilient and has the capacity to achieve significant surprise,” Gen. John Keane told The Hill this week. “We can expect more attacks. They have the capacity to plan a coherent operation for large-scale effect.”
Keane, who spent about a week in Iraq late last month at the request of Lt. Gen. John Vines, commander of Multinational Corps Iraq, said the insurgents “know the political and psychological momentum is shifting” on the heels of the successful Jan. 30 nationwide elections....
Posted by JLT at 12:15 PM
Wednesday, April 20, 2005
Unborn Baby Ornament - US Troop Model
Protect our troops - from the womb to the war. What if the fetus you were going to abort would grow up to be a soldier bringing democracy to a godless dictatorship?
Plastic replica of an 11-12 week old fetus, 3" long, holding a firearm in its precious little hand, with an assortment of other military paraphernalia, encased in a translucent plastic ornament, with a patriotic yellow ribbon on top. Includes a metal ornament hanger. If only a womb were this safe, attractive and reasonably priced!
Show that you support the "culture of life" by buying and proudly displaying one of these patriotic unborn Americans....
Posted by JLT at 2:43 PM
Flame On High
I've been having some major Adelphia cable problems so posting is sporadic and I apologize. It's been a rough couple of days for me anyway. Seeing Ann Coulter feted on the cover of Time magazine as a mainstream political figure instead of the deranged, murderous extremist she actually is was quite a shock. And then a friend sent me the links to the Free Republic thread discussing the death of Marla Ruzicka, which made me so nauseous that I had to shut down for a while.
It has become clear to me that we are frogs being slowly boiled to death. And the media are enjoying the hot tub party so much that they are helping to turn up the heat....
...While Ann Coulter makes the cover of Time for writing that liberals have a "preternatural gift for striking a position on the side of treason," her followers actually side with Iraqi insurgents against an American charity worker. At freeperland and elsewhere they laughed and clapped and enjoyed the fruits of the enemy's labor. This is because if you listen to Ann and Rush and Sean and Savage and all the rest of these people you know that there is no greater enemy on the planet than the American liberal. That's what Ann Coulter and her ilk are selling and that is what Time magazine celebrated with their cover girl this week....
Posted by JLT at 2:33 PM
Waco, Oklahoma City, and the Post-9/11 Left-Right Dynamic
Ten years ago, on April 19, 1995, the largest terrorist attack in U.S. history on American soil occurred when an explosion brought down the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City and snuffed out the lives of 168 individuals, including nineteen children.
After the initial shock, the political implications began to surface. Clinton implicitly blamed the attack on right-wing talk radio and its "purveyors of hate and division," and many left-liberal pundits echoed the same line. Reactionary anti-Clintonism – opposition to the gun grabbing, the social engineering, and the taxing and spending of the Clinton regime – was the root cause of the Oklahoma massacre, we were told. The more libertarian and less establishment wing of the conservative movement was the culprit.
Either forgotten or distorted at the time was the connection between Oklahoma and Waco. Exactly two years before the Oklahoma City bombing, the FBI put the finishing touches on the federal government’s fifty-one-day standoff with the Branch Davidians, finalizing the embarrassing chapter in federal law enforcement by sending a tank through the home of David Koresh and his followers, injecting the building with poisonous CS gas, launching incendiary devices at the building and shooting with machineguns those who attempted to escape the inferno. About eighty civilians, including about twenty children, died at Waco, and Timothy McVeigh referred to the attack at Oklahoma City as payback for what the federal government did two years earlier.
Those who pointed this out in the days after Oklahoma were walking on eggshells. The left-liberal establishment, along with most of the Republican politicians, did not want to think of Oklahoma as somewhat explainable – even if in no way excusable – in the context of the criminal acts of the U.S. government. To say that State violence paved the way to terrorist violence was condemned as making excuses for the latter. Even worse, to focus too much on the federal government’s atrocity at Waco, or even its run-of-the-mill bureaucratic despotism in general, became seen as somehow aiding the enemies of American civilization and even encouraging mass murders like Tim McVeigh....
...On September 11, 2001, the largest terrorist attack on American soil, the hijacking of four planes and the destruction of the World Trade Center, part of the Pentagon, and more than three-thousand American lives, far exceeded in bloodshed, property damage and government reaction what had happened about six and half years earlier in Oklahoma.
But this time, the Republicans were in power.
"You are either with us or you are with the terrorists," uttered by the Republican president, became the new slogan for most of the conservative movement. Concerned and thoughtful Americans, libertarians, liberals and even some conservatives, pointed out that 9/11 occurred as a result of decades of inexcusable U.S. foreign policy – atrocities such as the First Gulf War, the sanctions in Iraq that killed hundreds of thousands of children, the stationing of U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere, the propping up of anti-democratic tyrants in the Middle East and the military support of Israel – and these concerned and thoughtful Americans were accused of aiding the enemy, defending the terrorist attacks, siding against America. As Bush rammed the PATRIOT Act through Congress, erecting the surveillance state that conservatives rightfully feared Clinton wanted to implement throughout the 1990s but never had the political capital to do so, many conservatives this time went along with the federal power grab, agreeing with the new post-9/11 John Ashcroft that "those who scare peace-loving people with phantoms of lost liberty… only aid terrorists, for they erode our national unity and diminish our resolve. They give ammunition to America's enemies, and pause to America's friends." ...
...The bipartisan support for police-state responses to Oklahoma and 9/11 also blurs the issue. So too does the bipartisan support and whitewashing of most federal atrocities, whether in the Middle East or on American soil, demonstrate that this is not a Republican vs. Democratic issue, at least not as far as the establishment is concerned. After all, it was during the first Bush regime that the Waco siege was initially planned and the Ruby Ridge massacre was conducted, and it was Clinton’s Madeline Albright that called hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqi children a price well "worth it" to put pressure on former U.S. ally Saddam Hussein.
The American police state and warfare state often draw criticism predominantly from either the left or right, depending on the partisan flavor of the regime. During Waco, although some bold leftists saw through the federal lies, there was silence among mainstream liberals, who didn’t want to agree with the right-wing "extremists" that Clinton had done something so awful. In thinking of Iraq today, even conservatives who should know better, and realize on some level that this in not in any way a proper response to 9/11 – that indeed this is the kind of intervention that led to 9/11 – are reticent to agree with the "extremist" far left on American foreign policy.
The left and right disagree on many issues, but such crucial ones such as aggressive war and the dangerous federal police state have drawn similar criticisms from people on both sides, often at different times. For liberty to triumph, the more libertarian wings of both left and right need to see their common goals, see through the partisan smokescreens, and recognize, at all times, that opposition to and fundamental criticism of the State do not necessarily imply hatred of America or solidarity with its most murderous enemies....
Posted by JLT at 9:49 AM
More Christian schools opting for faith-based cheerleading
...It's an approach that's growing into big business for the two leading Christian cheerleading companies, FCC in Georgia and Christian Cheerleaders of America in Winston-Salem, N.C. FCC now works with 15,000 cheerleaders a year in faith-based camps and competitions, with a staff of 100 coaches. CCA teaches 7,000 cheerleaders a year and recently built a 27,000-square-foot gym.
"We felt that Christian schools needed somewhere to go that's just for them," said Rose Clevenger, founder and president of CCA. At secular camps, "they can feel uncomfortable with the dress code, or maybe they have inappropriate music. Typically cheerleaders look like sex symbols and don't dress appropriately."
The camps work just like secular ones, but with devotional time added in mornings and nights. Most of the instructors are college cheerleaders who went to Christian schools when they were younger, and they're encouraged to talk about their faith. They tell campers that cheering is a God-given talent that can spread Christian lessons.
"We think it can even be an act of worship," said John Blake, FCC's event coordinator. "Being excellent at what you do in any facet of life, that can be a testimony about your faith."...
Posted by JLT at 9:43 AM
Air Force Cadets See Religious Harassment
AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. (AP) -- Less than two years after it was plunged into a rape scandal, the Air Force Academy is scrambling to address complaints that evangelical Christians wield so much influence at the school that anti-Semitism and other forms of religious harassment have become pervasive.
There have been 55 complaints of religious discrimination at the academy in the past four years, including cases in which a Jewish cadet was told the Holocaust was revenge for the death of Jesus and another was called a Christ killer by a fellow cadet....
...More than 90 percent of the cadets identify themselves as Christian. A cadet survey in 2003 found that half had heard religious slurs and jokes, and that many non-Christians believed Christians get special treatment.
''There were people walking up to someone and basically they would get in a conversation and it would end with, `If you don't believe what I believe you are going to hell,''' Vice Commandant Col. Debra Gray said.
Critics of the academy say the sometimes-public endorsement of Christianity by high-ranking staff has contributed to a climate of fear and violates the constitutional separation of church and state at a taxpayer-supported school whose mission is to produce Air Force leaders....
...The board chairman, former Virginia Gov. James Gilmore, warned Rosa that changing things could prove complicated. He said evangelical Christians ''do not check their religion at the door.''...
Posted by JLT at 7:18 AM
Waco as Metaphor
Mass murder and U.S. foreign policy
On April 19, 1993, agents of the U.S. government assaulted the Branch Davidian "compound" at Waco, Texas – a religious community of Adventists under the leadership of David Koresh – killing 74 men, women, and children, including 12 children younger than five years of age. It was an act of state terrorism so blatant that our government and its media enablers have spent 12 years, several official reports [.pdf], and a lot of time and energy lying about the circumstances surrounding the event and covering up the truth. The parallels with the Iraq war are all too obvious in that, first of all, the Waco attack was an act of U.S. state terrorism. Even more striking, however, is the propagandistic penumbra that hung over both events, generated, of course, by the government and its apologists, one that only dissipated well after the smoke over the battlefield had cleared. When the "fog of war" lifted and the truth came out, the reality of what had occurred sunk in – and questions about who we are, and what we as a nation thought we were doing, began to be asked.
As in Iraq, so in Waco: the government was fed false "intelligence" by officials with their own agenda, who, in turn, were given information about the Koresh group by a number of "defectors." Sound familiar? These ex-members claimed that "child abuse" was rampant among the Koreshians, although a nine-week investigation conducted in 1992 by the Texas Bureau of Child Protective Services found zero evidence of this....
...In the aftermath, a series of exculpatory reports were issued that tried to whitewash the role of law enforcement in precipitating the tragedy, but the truth came out in any case – and it wasn't pretty. The main justification for going in there and trying to arrest Koresh to begin with had been his alleged possession of illegal firearms – purportedly a massive cache of deadly high-grade automatic weapons – but the warrants authorizing the entry were sealed for the duration of the siege, and their contents were only made public in June 1993.
What evidence was there that these firearms existed and that they were illegal? The answer is: none. Koresh had been brought to the attention of federal authorities by a suspicious UPS delivery man who had delivered a box of empty hand grenade shells to the Branch Davidians' home. A federal agent then inspected UPS records and found similar deliveries of weapon-related materials, but according to the report issued by the Department of the Treasury, two weapons experts examined the same records and concluded that not a single illegal weapon had been delivered to Koresh.
No weapons of mass destruction! Now doesn't that ring a bell?...
...However, the U.S. government wasn't about to convict itself of mass murder. The Treasury report disregarded both logic and the facts to come to the conclusion that the raid had been justified after all, but not without getting highly creative. The method they used to arrive at their predetermined verdict was to anticipate the theory behind the Bush Doctrine. They rationalized the assault on Waco as a preemptive strike against what Koresh and his followers might have done under certain conditions....
...Waco and Iraq – in both instances, we're talking about the slaughter of the innocents, in the case of the latter as many as 100,000 innocent civilians. These twin atrocities were engineered by agenda-driven U.S. government officials and covered up by a campaign of lies, government propaganda, and a complacent media – all of it finally culminating in an orgy of destruction and mass murder.
It is, I fear, a sign of the times. The Clinton administration came up with the doctrine of military preemption long before that son of a Bush ever dreamed of the White House – and, what's more, they applied that doctrine on our own soil, against Americans. The liberals went along with it, and so did the neoconservatives – who were horrified that the reaction of most real conservatives was to become more militantly "anti-government." (Alas, to no avail.) To all those liberal Democrats out there who are horrified by the Iraq war and its consequences, just remember this: before there was a Donald Rumsfeld in the Pentagon, there was a Janet Reno in the Department of Justice.