Sunday, December 30, 2007

Diplomats expelled 'at behest of the US'

Mervyn Patterson and Michael Semple, the two UN diplomats dismissed from Afghanistan for making contact with the Taliban, were sent home after the US made complaints about them to the Afghan government.

But according to a senior Afghan intelligence source, American officials had been unhappy about meetings between the men and high-level Taliban commanders in the volatile Helmand province.

The source claimed that the US alerted Afghan authorities after learning that the diplomats were providing direct financial and other support - including mobile phone cards - to the Taliban commanders, in the hope of persuading them to swap sides.

"This warning came from the Americans," he said. "They were not happy with the support being provided to the Taliban. They gave the information to our intelligence services, who ordered the arrests."

A government source in Kabul said there were close links between Afghanistan's National Directorate of Security (NDS) and the US Central Intelligence Agency, adding:

"The Afghan government would never have acted alone to expel officials of such a senior level. This was information that was given to the NDS by the Americans.

Gordon Brown now discovers what it means to try to implement a policy which Washington are not in total agreement with.

Britain's "special relationship" with the US is only special as long as Britain is following the Bush doctrine.

Click title for full article.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

John Bolton on the Bhutto Murder

The US Pakistan policy is falling apart. John Bolton obviously thinks it's all going to Hell, but he still thinks that there is no option for the US other than to place their money on Musharraf.

And he still appears to think that the function of any Pakistan leader is to implement Western policies... and sees no link between that and the assassinations themselves.

Robert Fisk: They don't blame al-Qa'ida. They blame Musharraf

Fisk touches on the same things that I thought of when I heard Bush's comments about Bhutto's assassination: How quickly he was trying to steer the agenda. It's well worth reading.

By Robert Fisk.

Weird, isn't it, how swiftly the narrative is laid down for us. Benazir Bhutto, the courageous leader of the Pakistan People's Party, is assassinated in Rawalpindi – attached to the very capital of Islamabad wherein ex-General Pervez Musharraf lives – and we are told by George Bush that her murderers were "extremists" and "terrorists".

Well, you can't dispute that.
But the implication of the Bush comment was that Islamists were behind the assassination. It was the Taliban madmen again, the al-Qa'ida spider who struck at this lone and brave woman who had dared to call for democracy in her country.

Of course, given the childish coverage of this appalling tragedy – and however corrupt Ms Bhutto may have been, let us be under no illusions that this brave lady is indeed a true martyr – it's not surprising that the "good-versus-evil" donkey can be trotted out to explain the carnage in Rawalpindi.

Who would have imagined, watching the BBC or CNN on Thursday, that her two brothers, Murtaza and Shahnawaz, hijacked a Pakistani airliner in 1981 and flew it to Kabul where Murtaza demanded the release of political prisoners in Pakistan. Here, a military officer on the plane was murdered. There were Americans aboard the flight – which is probably why the prisoners were indeed released.

Only a few days ago – in one of the most remarkable (but typically unrecognised) scoops of the year – Tariq Ali published a brilliant dissection of Pakistan (and Bhutto) corruption in the London Review of Books, focusing on Benazir and headlined: "Daughter of the West".

In fact, the article was on my desk to photocopy as its subject was being murdered in Rawalpindi.
Towards the end of this report, Tariq Ali dwelt at length on the subsequent murder of Murtaza Bhutto by police close to his home at a time when Benazir was prime minister – and at a time when Benazir was enraged at Murtaza for demanding a return to PPP values and for condemning Benazir's appointment of her own husband as minister for industry, a highly lucrative post.

In a passage which may yet be applied to the aftermath of Benazir's murder, the report continues: "The fatal bullet had been fired at close range. The trap had been carefully laid, but, as is the way in Pakistan, the crudeness of the operation – false entries in police log-books, lost evidence, witnesses arrested and intimidated – a policeman killed who they feared might talk – made it obvious that the decision to execute the prime minister's brother had been taken at a very high level."

When Murtaza's 14-year-old daughter, Fatima, rang her aunt Benazir to ask why witnesses were being arrested – rather than her father's killers – she says Benazir told her: "Look, you're very young. You don't understand things."

Or so Tariq Ali's exposé would have us believe. Over all this, however, looms the shocking power of Pakistan's ISI, the Inter Services Intelligence.
This vast institution – corrupt, venal and brutal – works for Musharraf.

But it also worked – and still works – for the Taliban.

It also works for the Americans. In fact, it works for everybody. But it is the key which Musharraf can use to open talks with America's enemies when he feels threatened or wants to put pressure on Afghanistan or wants to appease the " extremists" and "terrorists" who so oppress George Bush.

And let us remember, by the way, that Daniel Pearl, the Wall Street Journal reporter beheaded by his Islamist captors in Karachi, actually made his fatal appointment with his future murderers from an ISI commander's office. Ahmed Rashid's book Taliban provides riveting proof of the ISI's web of corruption and violence. Read it, and all of the above makes more sense.

But back to the official narrative. George Bush announced on Thursday he was "looking forward" to talking to his old friend Musharraf.

Of course, they would talk about Benazir. They certainly would not talk about the fact that Musharraf continues to protect his old acquaintance – a certain Mr Khan – who supplied all Pakistan's nuclear secrets to Libya and Iran. No, let's not bring that bit of the "axis of evil" into this.

So, of course, we were asked to concentrate once more on all those " extremists" and "terrorists", not on the logic of questioning which many Pakistanis were feeling their way through in the aftermath of Benazir's assassination.
It doesn't, after all, take much to comprehend that the hated elections looming over Musharraf would probably be postponed indefinitely if his principal political opponent happened to be liquidated before polling day.

So let's run through this logic in the way that Inspector Ian Blair might have done in his policeman's notebook before he became the top cop in London.

Question: Who forced Benazir Bhutto to stay in London and tried to prevent her return to Pakistan?

Answer: General Musharraf.

Question: Who ordered the arrest of thousands of Benazir's supporters this month?

Answer: General Musharraf.

Question: Who placed Benazir under temporary house arrest this month?

Answer: General Musharraf.

Question: Who declared martial law this month?

Answer General Musharraf.

Question: who killed Benazir Bhutto?

Er. Yes. Well quite.

You see the problem? Yesterday, our television warriors informed us the PPP members shouting that Musharraf was a "murderer" were complaining he had not provided sufficient security for Benazir. Wrong. They were shouting this because they believe he killed her.
Click title for source.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Olbermann and Dodd discuss Bhutto's assassination.

Dodd, rightly, states that the elections should be postponed so that Bhutto's party can regroup.

The life and times of Benazir Bhutto

Bhutto assassinated

The assassination of Benazir Bhutto has threatened to send Pakistan into a spiral towards civil war. The manner of her killing - two bullets followed by a suicide bombing - is not unlike what one could expect from al Qaeda, however there are enough suspects to please any conspiracy theorist.

After all, this is not the first time an attempt has been made on her life, and the last time she made clear who she thought was responsible.

After the first assassination attempt in October, Bhutto spoke plainly about who she believed wanted her dead. "I know exactly who wants to kill me. They are dignitaries of General Zia's former regime who are behind extremism and fanaticism," she told the French magazine Paris-Match. Later she blamed "closet supporters" of the militants and spoke of her fear that retired military men wanted her dead. She pointed an accusing finger at the army's powerful intelligence arm, the Inter-Services Intelligence agency.

The military, and General Zia ul-Haq in particular, have long been her family's nemesis. Zia unseated her father in a coup in 1977 and hanged him two years later; for years there has been a bitter rivalry between Bhutto and the Pakistani military. While she was in exile, Pervez Musharraf, the general-turned-president, accused her of corruption and mismanagement. She in turn accused Musharraf of squeezing out democracy and last month described him as "contaminated". Yet she stopped short of accusing him directly of involvement in the assassination attempts against her.

Bhutto said that days before the October bombing she had sent Musharraf a letter warning of several different bomb plots against her, including names and telephone numbers of suspects. "I'm not accusing the government. I'm accusing certain people who abuse their powers," she said after that first attack. There certainly may be some within Pakistan's military or among retired officers who regarded Bhutto as a primary threat to their power and the stability of Pakistan, but without hard evidence of their involvement it will be difficult to make mere suspicions stick.

Indeed, it is reported that U.S. intelligence agencies yesterday were drawing up their own list of possible suspects in the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto -- a list that includes al-Qaeda as well as elements of Pakistan's own intelligence service.

At the top of the list, the officials said, is the al-Qaeda terrorist network and its legion of allies, including loosely affiliated groups that espouse similar views and, in some cases, share training facilities and other resources. But several officials said it is equally plausible that the assassination was carried out with the support -- or at least the tacit approval -- of Pakistani government employees. Most of the officials expressed doubt, however, that President Pervez Musharraf himself would have approved the killing.

Despite the wide range of suspects President Bush wasted no time before going on to national television to let us all know who he thought was responsible.
Speaking to reporters while vacationing at his ranch in Crawford, Tex., Mr. Bush attributed Ms. Bhutto’s death to “murderous extremists who are trying to undermine Pakistan’s democracy.”
Bush has based his entire Pakistan policy on backing Musharraf, a man who has already imposed martial law, arrested more than a thousand political opponents and lawyers and put the head of Pakistan's supreme court under house arrest, so the man the US president backs is hardly a great advertisement for Pakistan's democracy.

Nevertheless, Bush is putting the blame for Bhutto's death firmly at the door of al Qaeda because this fits in with his worldview. People who support democracy - and, for the purposes of backing "his" man, he puts Musharraf into this camp - are innately good and incapable of carrying out such an act.

The truth is that neither you, me nor President Bush have any way of knowing who exactly carried out this atrocity. But, having based US policy totally around supporting Musharraf, Bush now has no option other than to continue that course as the US's policies for Pakistan unravel.

What is clear is that many people in Pakistan are not willing to accept the narrative that Bush and others are seeking to impose on her assassination:
Her supporters turned violent when she was taken to a hospital in Rawalpindi, chanting slogans like “Killer Musharraf.

Indeed, before her death, Bhutto made clear who she would hold responsible should she be assassinated:
Two months before her death, former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto sent an e-mail to her U.S. adviser and longtime friend, saying that if she were killed, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf would bear some of the blame.

She cited his government's denial of her request for additional security measures after the October suicide bombing that targeted her upon returning to Pakistan from exile.

"Nothing will, God willing happen," she wrote to Mark Siegel, her U.S. spokesman, lobbyist and friend.

"Just wanted u to know if it does in addition to the names in my letter to Musharaf of Oct 16nth, I wld hold Musharaf responsible. I have been made to feel insecure by his minions and there is no way what is happening in terms of stopping me from taking private cars or using tinted windows or giving jammers or four police mobiles to cover all sides cld happen without him."

There will now be a rush to put all blame on to al Qaeda and to exonerate Musharraf and Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence.

However, every indication says that many people in Pakistan are not buying into that narrative.

Nawaz Sharif has already brushed off Bush's insistence that the elections must go ahead as planned and has stated that his party will boycott the elections of they go ahead in protest over Bhutto's death.
“The PML-N announced to boycott the January 8 elections against the brutal killing of Benazir Bhutto,” Nawaz Sharif said while addressing a press conference at the residence of party leader Raja Ashfaq Sarwar late at night. He also said that Pervez Musharraf was the root-cause of all problems being faced by the country as fair and free elections were not possible [while] he is in power. He also demanded that Pervez Musharraf should immediately quit as the federation of Pakistan was facing threats in his presence.
Bush's disastrous policy of backing Musharraf at all costs appears to be in tatters. What now for US policy towards Pakistan? What now for Musharraf?

The truth is that many of Pakistan's population do not back the policies that Musharraf and Bhutto were pushing, imposed as they are from Washington. How long can Washington insist that Pakistan's leaders follow a path of Western interest?

Is there a plan B?

Click title for full article.


The nutters on the right have wasted no time in identifying the true culprits here. It's the people of Pakistan themselves:
A recent CNN poll showed that 46 percent of Pakistanis approve of Osama bin Laden.

Aspirants to the American presidency should hope to score so highly in the United States. In Pakistan, though, the al-Qaeda emir easily beat out that country’s current president, Pervez Musharraf, who polled at 38 percent.

President George Bush, the face of a campaign to bring democracy — or, at least, some form of sharia-lite that might pass for democracy — to the Islamic world, registered nine percent. Nine!

If you want to know what to make of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto’s murder today in Pakistan, ponder that.

There is the Pakistan of our fantasy. The burgeoning democracy in whose vanguard are judges and lawyers and human rights activists using the “rule of law” as a cudgel to bring down a military junta. In the fantasy, Bhutto, an attractive, American-educated socialist whose prominent family made common cause with Soviets and whose tenures were rife with corruption, was somehow the second coming of James Madison.

Then there is the real Pakistan: an enemy of the United States and the West.
I would have thought a more relevant question might be why so many people in Pakistan support bin Laden. What is it that drives them towards such an extremist? If we are losing the battle of ideas, isn't it incumbent upon us to ask why? After all, we are constantly being told that this is a battle for our very existence. But, no... McCarthy insists that:
Whether we get round to admitting it or not, in Pakistan, our quarrel is with the people. Their struggle, literally, is jihad.
He then concludes that the people of Pakistan are simply not ready for democracy. The truth is that Bhutto would very likely have won at least a plurality in parliament, which surely undermines his argument that Pakistan is not ready for democracy.

In truth, as Bhutto constantly stated, it is the military dictatorship which breeds extremism, and it is that dictatorship which needs to be addressed.

However, as McCarthy makes clear, the worry is that the people of Pakistan - like the people of Palestine - might make the "wrong choice" if allowed a true democratic vote.
Popular elections have not reformed Hamas in Gaza or Hezbollah in Lebanon.
His solution?
If you really want democracy and the rule of law in places like Pakistan, you need to kill the jihadists first.
At moments like this, the mindset of people like McCarthy and those of the jihadists really do become impossible to differentiate.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Glenn Beck Gets Properly Owned

This is funny. Beck is reduced to making stupid faces instead of an argument.

Hat tip to The Largest Minority.

D-Senator Joe Biden on Bush's opinion of the NIE & Iran

As attacks on the NIE report start up again, lets hear what Biden has to say:

Iranian Jews say republic safe for them

I've covered the lies being perpetuated by the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews - concerning the supposed rescue missions they are carrying out for Iranian Jews - before, but a top Jewish community leader in Iran has felt the need to step forward and call their latest stories about the immigration of forty Iranian Jews to Israel as a "misinformation campaign".

Forty Iranians touched down in Israel on Tuesday after a secret journey which the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews have been keen to portray as people fleeing persecution in Iran.

Ciamak Morsathegh, who heads the Tehran Jewish Committee, claimed Wednesday that the immigrants were not Iranian because pictures broadcast on television in Israel on Tuesday did not show their faces. In Israel, the broadcasters did not show their faces because there was concern that publicity could lead to retaliation against their Jewish relatives or friends still in Iran.

"This is a misinformation campaign, a campaign of lies against Iran and its Jewish community. We can't confirm that 40 Iranian Jews landed in Israel," Morsathegh told The Associated Press.

A joint statement signed by Morsathegh and Morris Motamed, the only Jewish lawmaker in the Iranian parliament, also said the Iranian Jews have never been part of any "organized immigration" to Israel.

The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews offers $10,000 to any Jewish Iranian who will immigrate to Israel, although so far there have been very few takers with the vast majority of Iranian Jews insisting that they are in no danger at all in Iran.

Iran's Jewish community of about 25,000 people is protected by the country's constitution and remains the largest in the Muslim Middle East. Synagogues, Jewish schools and stores operate openly.

"We are one of the oldest communities in Iran. We are free to practice our religion. Anti-Semitism is a Western phenomenon but Jews have never been in danger in Iran," said Morsathegh, who spoke in his office in the Sapir Charity Hospital, which is run by Iranian Jews.

Morsathegh said Iran's Jewish community disagreed with Ahmadinejad when he called the Holocaust a "myth" but insisted his policies do not endanger Iran's Jewish minority.

While some of the Iranian Jewish immigrants in Israel were quoted as saying that they were scared to wear a skullcap in the streets in Iran, Morsathegh said it was "sheer lies."

"We are Iranian Jews and are proud of our nationality. No amount of money can encourage us to give up Iran. Our nationality is not up for sale," Morsathegh said.

Of course, this attempt to demonise Iran is simply part of a larger plan to encourage the public to see Iran as an unstable regime. The National Council of Resistance of Iran is a group who, in cooperation with leading neo-con figures, has for over a decade spared no effort to destroy any chance of a U.S.-Iranian détente.

Their latest attack is on the NIE summary which stated that Iran was not developing nuclear weapons.

Eight days after the NIE summary assured the world that Iran is not developing nuclear weapons at this time international media reported that NCRI dismissed the report's findings. No other Iranian opposition group has actively challenged the new NIE's credibility.

Going even farther, NCRI's Washington spokesman, Alireza Jafarzadeh, claimed that Iran's nuclear program is managed by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corp's (IRGC) scientists during a Fox News interview. As the most trusted branch of Iran's armed forces, the IRGC was late this year designated by the White House as a sponsor of international terrorism. The exile group has also echoed the Washington war party's claims that Iran is arming Iraqi resistance groups with advanced weapons resulting in U.S. casualties.

The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews and the National Council of Resistance of Iran have one thing in common; it is in both of their interests for the US to attack Iran.

We heard false claims and lies prior to the Iraq war. Here we go again...

Click title for full article.

Labour revolts against Brown

It all started so well for Gordon Brown and suddenly it all seems to be going south. Perception is all in a tabloid led environment like the UK and Brown does appear to have given the tabloids enough rope to hang him, if recent opinion polls are to be believed.

All is not lost, but it appears that his plans to allow police to hold terror suspects for up to 42 days without charge is heading for defeat in parliament.

A survey of Labour MPs by The Independent has uncovered a growing insurrection. Only 34 votes are needed to defeat the detention plans and at least 38 MPs – enough to wipe out Mr Brown's Commons majority of 67 – are vowing to oppose controversial moves to extend the existing 28-day maximum detention period.

The scale of the rebellion will alarm Labour whips determined to hit the ground running next year after the Prime Minister's disastrous end to 2007.

The problem for Brown's attempt to have the time police can hold a suspect without charging them extended is that neither he nor his government have ever provided a cogent argument as to why the 28 day term should be extended. The only argument ever put forward is the rather Blairite one that the police have asked for this. As if, in a parliamentary democracy, the job of government is to give the police exactly what they want at all times.

Brown works best when he not pursuing Blairite policies and his attempt to extend detention times has been, and I'm being generous here, a half hearted one. Indeed, he appeared to undermine the urgency of this supposed need by implying that he was flying a kite and would accept any extension that parliament would allow.

Opposition has come from some unexpected places:

It emerged as Sir Ken Macdonald, the Director of Public Prosecutions, delivered a damning verdict on Mr Brown's 42-day plans. He argued that the 28-day limit was working well, accusing ministers of wanting to pass laws based on a theoretical threat. "I think the basic point is whether you want to legislate on the basis of hypotheticals or whether you want to legislate on the basis of the evidence that we have acquired through practice," Sir Ken told BBC Radio 4's The World at One. "It seems to me that if you are legislating in an area which is going to curtail civil liberties to a significant extent, it is better to proceed by way of the evidence and the evidence of experience."

Nor are the rebels simply confined to the usual suspects:

The Liverpool MP Peter Kilfoyle, a former armed forces minister, said: "There's no evidence that more than 28 days is needed by police and the security services. All the key people are all quite satisfied with 28 days and that's where we should stick."

Chris Mullin, the MP for Sunderland South and a former foreign office minister, said: "In my time the number of days has gone from three to seven and 14 to 28 and I think that's quite enough."

Glenda Jackson, MP for Hampstead and Highgate and a former transport minister, said: "The Government's position seems to me absolutely illogical. It's not more time that is needed, it is more efficiency."

Fabian Hamilton, the Leeds North East MP, said he voted in 2005 for a 90-day maximum out of loyalty to the Government but would oppose 42 days. He warned: "We are eroding the liberties we hold so dear and that is what the terrorists want and we must resist that at all costs."

Alan Simpson, the Labour MP for Nottingham South, branded the proposal "crap". He said: "This could be part of a catalogue of self inflicted wounds by the Government."

Simpson sums it up best. A self inflicted wound. And it will be inflicted because Brown was trying to pass Blairite policies that he didn't believe in enough to make the case for them cogently and forcefully.

What's astonishing about this attempt by Brown is that it was only in November 2005 that Blair suffered his first parliamentary defeat when he attempted to increase the pre-charge detention period from 14 to 90 days. MP's agreed to a compromise of 28 days, but the battle left blood on the ground, and many of us thought it would be a long time before a Labour leader tried to increase it again.

I was surprised that Brown was so keen to reopen such a recent wound, but I am not remotely surprised by the reaction from Labour backbenchers. A self inflicted wound indeed.

Click title for full article.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Slavery: A Global Investigation.

Slavery is officially banned internationally by all countries, yet despite this there are more slaves , in the world today than ever before. In the four hundred years of the legal slave trade around 13 million people were shipped from Africa. Today there are an estimated 27 million slaves - people paid no money, locked away and controlled by violence. Multi-Award winning documentary makers Kate Blewett and Brian Woods - who produced the groundbreaking films The Dying Rooms, Innocents Lost and Eyes of a Child, saw this terrible exploitation with their own eyes. The result is an utterly devastating film.

Part 1:

Part 2:

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PM, Abbas to meet in bid to defuse Har Homa spat

Olmert has agreed to meet with Abbas in an attempt to solve the diplomatic spat that has broken out between both sides since Israel announced that it intended to build 307 housing units in the southeast Jerusalem neighborhood of Har Homa, on the Palestinian side of the Green Line.

Ha'aretz newspaper have explained why they think this misunderstanding has taken place:

Moreover, the Har Homa affair exposed the differences in the perceptions that both parties adhere to. As far as Israel is concerned, the neighborhood is an integral part of unified Jerusalem, and not part of the territories.

Construction at Har Homa is not subject to the same bureaucratic maze that any construction in the territories - be it a house, shack or electricity line - must endure before it is approved.

The Palestinians and their supporters in the international community do not make that distinction. To them, any Israeli construction east of the Green Line, which was Israel's border before the 1967 Six-Day War, is an illegal settlement. They treat construction in East Jerusalem much the same as they treat construction in the settlement blocs in the West Bank.
I find this simply extraordinary. The implication here is that international law is somehow confusing on this subject.

UN Res 242 calls for:
Withdrawal of Israel armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict.
Now the Israelis have tried to argue that, as the resolution does not call for withdrawal of armed forces from THE territories occupied, that the resolution can be met by withdrawal from SOME of the territory occupied.

To this end, as the Ha'aretz article clearly explains, the Israeli government have been treating East Jerusalem as "an integral part of unified Jerusalem, and not part of the territories".

This thinking is enshrined in Israeli law - passed by the Israeli Knesset on July 30, 1980 - in the form of the Jerusalem Law, which states that Jerusalem is Israel's "eternal and indivisible" capital.

However, this law was immediately rejected by the international community in UN resolution 478 which stated that the Jerusalem Law is "null and void and must be rescinded forthwith".

It is for this reason that I find the way Ha'aretz have explained this "misunderstanding" as simply extraordinary. The Israeli government cannot be unaware that the international community - with the possible exception of the United States - do not share their view regarding Jerusalem. Indeed, no country in the world has it's Israeli embassy in Jerusalem, with most country's housing their Israeli embassy's in Tel Aviv. Even the US, who have passed a law calling for their embassy to be moved to Jerusalem, have balked at actually doing so.

Moreover, the Palestinians have long claimed East Jerusalem as the capital of any future Palestinian state which makes the fact that the Israelis feel they can build there with impunity simply breathtaking.

The Israelis are claiming that this decision was made by "low-ranking government bureaucrats in the Housing Ministry" and "that Olmert was not informed of the decision in advance".

The international community are treating this claim with skepticism, and I have to say that I agree. The notion that Israel are unaware - especially at a time when the US is attempting to bring the two sides together - that building new houses in East Jerusalem is highly controversial, is simply unbelievable.

One can only hope that Olmert's claim that he was not informed, and that this decision was made by "low-ranking government bureaucrats in the Housing Ministry" is a precursor to Israel backing away from this outrageous plan.

Click title for full article.

Monday, December 24, 2007

The Evangelical Rebellion

Having used Christian fundamentalists for years to ensure that their corporate interests were maintained, the Republican party now see the fundamentalists rising up against them and demanding that their world view be promoted.

Chris Hedges has a wonderful article over at Truthdig about the way the Republicans are panicking over the campaign of Mike Huckabee:

The rise of Mike Huckabee as a presidential candidate represents a seismic shift in the tactics, ideology and direction of the radical Christian right. Huckabee may stumble and falter in later primaries, but his right-wing Christian populism is here to stay. Huckabee represents a new and potent force in American politics, and the neocons and corporate elite, who once viewed the yahoos of the Christian right as the useful idiots, are now confronted with the fact that they themselves are the ones who have been taken for a ride. Members of the Christian right, recruited into the Republican Party and manipulated to vote against their own interests around the issues of abortion and family values, are in rebellion. They are taking the party into new, uncharted territory. And they presage, especially with looming economic turmoil, the rise of a mass movement that could demolish what is left of American democracy and set the stage for a Christian fascism.

The corporate establishment, whose plundering of the country created fertile ground for a radical, right-wing backlash, is sounding the alarm bells. It is scrambling to bolster Mitt Romney, who, like Rudy Giuliani or Hillary Clinton, will continue to slash and burn on behalf of corporate profits. Columnist George Will called Huckabee’s populism “a comprehensive apostasy against core Republican beliefs.” He wrote that Huckabee’s candidacy “broadly repudiates core Republican policies such as free trade, low taxes, the essential legitimacy of America’s corporate entities and the market system allocating wealth and opportunity.” National Review’s Rich Lowry wrote that “like [Howard] Dean, his nomination would represent an act of suicide by his party.”

Huckabee spoke of this revolt on the “Today” show. “There’s a sense in which all these years the evangelicals have been treated very kindly by the Republican Party,” he said. “They wanted us to be a part of it. And then one day one of us actually runs and they say, ‘Oh, my gosh, now they’re serious.’ They [evangelicals] don’t want to just show up and vote, they actually would want to be a part of the discussion.”

The Republicans have used these people for decades and have now created a rod for their own back. They deserve everything that befalls them.

The rest of us, however, do not.

Huckabee has ties to the Dominionist branch of the Christian right which believes that "society should be governed exclusively by the law of God as codified in the Bible, to the exclusion of secular law".
A decades-long refusal by most American fundamentalists to engage in politics at all following the Scopes trial has been replaced by a call for Christian “dominion” over the nation and, eventually, over the Earth itself.
So the Republicans, who have long denounced Islamics and their fearful wish to have the world live under Sharia law, now have a man running for their top job who would like to impose a Christian version of this on the entire planet.

I can think of no better reason as to why religion should be kept out of politics than the mutterings of these nutcases.

Click title to read Hedges full article.

Bloody William Kristol's New Year's Predictions

He lives in a fantasy world this guy... Republicans to win in 2008? Perhaps he really doesn't understand the damage that he and his fellow neo-cons have done to the Republican movement..

Olmert rules out ceasefire as strikes on Hamas continue

Ehud Olmert has ruled out any chance of a ceasefire in Gaza, despite offers from Hamas, and has vowed to wage "true war" between Israel and the Palestinian group.

In recent days there have been suggestions that Hamas, which won Palestinian elections early last year and then seized full control of Gaza in June, was seeking a ceasefire with Israel.

Last week Ismail Haniyeh, a Hamas leader, raised the idea in a rare telephone conversation with an Israeli television journalist. Egyptian mediators have reportedly also put forward a ceasefire proposal on behalf of Hamas.

But Olmert said there would be no talks with any group that failed to meet the principles of the Quartet of Middle East negotiators - the US, the UN, the EU and Russia - which last year called on Hamas to recognise Israel, halt violence and accept previous peace agreements. Hamas has refused to accept the three principles.

"Whoever accepts the Quartet principles will be - in principle - a partner for negotiations," Olmert said. "Whoever is unwilling to do so, to our regret, cannot be a partner for dialogue. This policy will not change."

This is a common refrain of Olmert's which ignores the fact that Hamas have already offered to recognise Israel as part of it's power sharing deal with Fatah after Israel, the US and the EU refused to accept the results of the Palestinian elections:
Despite face-saving denials from Hamas over the extent of its political concessions, Mr Abbas yesterday secured an agreement that commits all parties in government to recognise Israel and authorises him to negotiate a final agreement to establish an independent Palestinian state on territories occupied in 1967.

Mr Abbas's aides described Hamas's endorsement of the agreement, drawn up by Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, as a "surrender to reality" and "showing the world that the Palestinians are partners for peace".

"The document recognises the state of Israel and the PLO," said Mr Abbas's spokesman, Walid Awad. "Hamas has signed the document and has recognised the PLO and its agreements. It's clear. It is an important way forward, a way forward for the Hamas moderates."

Olmert is now setting out to destroy Hamas altogether, whilst claiming that he is simply trying to stop rocket attacks into Israel.

Yesterday Haim Ramon, Israel's deputy prime minister, confirmed that his government wanted to topple Hamas.

"We are fighting Hamas and are seeking to weaken its control of Gaza, and bring about the end of its reign there. Hamas should hand over control of Gaza to the Palestinian Authority," he said.

And all the while, despite the recent Annapolis summit, illegal land grabbing continues.

In a separate development, an Israeli cabinet minister confirmed that Israel had new plans to build apartments in two settlements in East Jerusalem and in the occupied West Bank. The announcement brought quick condemnation from Palestinian leaders and presents a new obstacle to attempts to revive peace talks between the two sides.

Under the first phase of the US road map, which once again is being used as the basis for talks, Israel has committed to halting all settlement activity and to removing some of its furthest settlements.

However, Israel's construction ministry has budgeted plans to build 740 new settlement apartments next year: 500 in Har Homa, in East Jerusalem, and another 240 in Ma'ale Adumim.

So Olmert is refusing to accept a ceasefire whilst continuing to build on occupied land. And there were cynics like myself who dismissed Annapolis as a photo opportunity. What were we thinking?

Click title for full article.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Grodin to Hannity: "I Didn't Say You Were a Nazi. I Said Your Co-Host Was a Nazi"

Grodin is very good. This is posted simply because it's slightly whacky... And watch Hannity condemn political bomb throwers... He can only name people on the left who practice this... There are no right wingers who do this I presume... Not even Hannity and Fox News.

Bush Dodges Huckabee Attack

Bush, whilst refusing to get involved in the primaries, states that he is "confident" that the Republicans will hold the White House in 2008.

Well, he's never cared much for tedious reality anyway...

Blair called for BAE inquiry to be halted.

Tony Blair personally called for a halt into the criminal investigation concerning possible bribery involving Saudi Arabia, and he did so despite the Attorney General attempting to dissuade him that it was not right for the government to intervene in criminal investigations. This has all been revealed by court documents which the Guardian is linking to on it's website.

Government memos stamped "Secret" reveal that the then attorney general, Lord Goldsmith, twice tried in vain to stop Blair interfering in the criminal investigation. His chief of staff told the cabinet secretary, Gus O'Donnell, on October 3 2006: "The attorney general is of the firm view that, if the case is in fact soundly based, it would not be right to discontinue it."
As I covered at the time, the Saudis were threatening to withdraw intelligence assistance to the UK if the case proceeded; a simply extraordinary threat from a nation who had seen so many of it's citizens take part in the 9-11 attacks on the US.
This followed Saudi threats of "repercussions" if the Serious Fraud Office investigation into bribery allegations involving the Saudi royals and the arms group BAE was allowed to proceed.

But Blair wrote a "Secret and Personal" letter to Goldsmith on December 8 2006, demanding he stop the investigation. He said he was concerned about the "critical difficulty" in negotiations over a new Typhoon fighter sales contract, as well as a "real and immediate risk of a collapse in UK/Saudi security, intelligence and diplomatic cooperation".

Blair said these were "extremely difficult and delicate issues" but he knew that constitutionally "any intervention you make ... must be your decision alone". Politicians normally have no right to interfere in a criminal case.

Here, as usual, Blair not only demands that he must be obeyed, but by stating that "any intervention you make ... must be your decision alone", he demands that Goldsmith also takes the heat for Blair's decision.

Goldsmith attempted to refuse Blair's pressure and met him three days later to tell him that "while he could see the force of [Blair's] points ... he was concerned that halting the investigation would send a bad message about the credibility of the law in this area, and look like giving in to threats."

Blair at this point told Goldsmith that "higher considerations were at stake".

Blair also reportedly vetoed a proposal that BAE could plead guilty to lesser corruption charges, saying that this would not assuage the anger of the Saudi royal family.

So it was Blair all along. And it is another example of his one man style of government. Indeed, he had personally assured the Saudis in the previous July that the investigation into the Al-Yamamah deal would be stopped.
The diplomat is said to have delivered a 12-page letter drawn up by a Saudi law firm demanding a detailed explanation of why the investigation was still continuing.

The Saudis had been given the impression during a meeting with Blair in July last year that the inquiry would be stopped, say the sources.

“The Saudis are claiming in this letter that the British government has broken its undertaking to keep details of the Al-Yamamah deal confidential,” said a source who has read the document.
So, the court papers reveal Blair delivering on his promise to the Saudis over the head of his own Attorney General.

Blair's decision was widely criticised at the time by both his own MP's and international bodies, but by that time Blair was heading for the door and simply didn't care what we thought of him.

What's interesting about these papers is how they reveal Blair, far from acting as part of a collective, is actually making the decisions on his own whilst demanding that the Attorney General give him cover. Not unlike the way in which he behaved in the run up to the Iraq war.

It's hard not to see this as a very distinct pattern in Blair's behaviour. Push through your own highly controversial views, force the Attorney General - through his pathetic inability to resign on a point of principle - to accept your logic, and then claim your actions are legal by citing the opinion of the very Attorney General who has opposed you all along.

It's astonishing. And yet, that is what Blair did; time and time again.

Click title for full article.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Man tortured by CIA tells his story

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Part 5:

Why Do The Democrats Think They Have No Choice But To Cave?

Hat tip to Crooks and Liars.

Bush Lawyers Discussed Fate of C.I.A.Tapes

Bush has famously said that he "has no recollection" of any discussion of the videotapes of CIA interrogations of some al Qaeda suspects or of plans to destroy the tapes.

I love the fact that "no recollection" isn't even a proper denial. It's bang in the middle of Alberto Gonzales's territory of, "I don't recall".

However, it is emerging that many people within the Bush administration had very strong opinions about those tapes and what should be done with them.

At least four top White House lawyers took part in discussions with the Central Intelligence Agency between 2003 and 2005 about whether to destroy videotapes showing the secret interrogations of two operatives from Al Qaeda, according to current and former administration and intelligence officials.

The accounts indicate that the involvement of White House officials in the discussions before the destruction of the tapes in November 2005 was more extensive than Bush administration officials have acknowledged.

Those who took part, the officials said, included Alberto R. Gonzales, who served as White House counsel until early 2005; David S. Addington, who was the counsel to Vice President Dick Cheney and is now his chief of staff; John B. Bellinger III, who until January 2005 was the senior lawyer at the National Security Council; and Harriet E. Miers, who succeeded Mr. Gonzales as White House counsel.

It was previously reported that some administration officials had advised against destroying the tapes, but the emerging picture of White House involvement is more complex. In interviews, several administration and intelligence officials provided conflicting accounts as to whether anyone at the White House expressed support for the idea that the tapes should be destroyed.

One former senior intelligence official with direct knowledge of the matter said there had been “vigorous sentiment” among some top White House officials to destroy the tapes.

Bush's attempt to keep the courts out of the investigation has stalled with a court insisting that the Bush administration answer questions regarding the destruction of the tapes and whether or not their destruction has violated a court order.
In June 2005, Kennedy ordered the Bush administration to safeguard "all evidence and information regarding the torture, mistreatment, and abuse of detainees now at the United States Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay."

Five months later, the CIA destroyed the interrogation videos. The recordings involved suspected terrorists Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri. The Justice Department argued that the videos weren't covered by the order because the two men were being held in secret CIA prisons overseas, not at the Guantanamo Bay prison.

To claim that the videos weren't covered by the court order, as the persons detained weren't being held at Guantanamo Bay, might turn out to be technically correct; but we are still left with lawyers at the top of the Bush administration scrambling around trying to cover up just what they have been engaging in over the past few years.

It's an unedifying spectacle to say the least. And, as they are so anxious to hide what they have been doing from the public gaze, there is certainly room to argue that - for all their legal linguistics - they know that if we ever saw what they have been doing, we would condemn it as illegal.

Click title for full article.

Bush's bid to punish Iranian banks stalls

It's always astonishing to me how little facts seem to effect the behaviour of the Bush administration. For instance, when the NIE recently reported that Iran were not developing a nuclear weapon, one might have been forgiven for thinking that Bush's desire to impose further sanctions upon Tehran had been dealt some kind of devastating blow. But no, Bush has continued to talk of the Iranian threat as is the NIE report simply did not exist.

What's interesting is how other country's are refusing to play Bush game.

The Bush administration's new policy of penalizing Iranian banks is facing a critical challenge as financial institutions in Russia, China and much of the Middle East decline to cut ties, analysts and diplomats say.

Even Afghanistan and Iraq have so far declined to take action against Bank Melli, Iran's largest public financial institution, which was among the first foreign banks to open branches in Kabul and Baghdad.

"Nothing is happening," Sinan Shabibi, governor of the Central Bank of Iraq, said recently by telephone.

The world reaction to the U.S. sanctions on Bank Melli, which operates as Iran's central bank overseas, will determine whether President George W. Bush's new tool against Iran is a failure or a success, analysts say.

It's very strange to see Bush - the supposed leader of the free world - yet again embark on a course of action that many nations simply refuse to follow. Once again, Bush is insisting that reality is what he says it is rather than what the rest of the planet know it to be.

And they're calling him on it:

Russia and China, two of the Security Council members that can veto the move, have called the U.S. bank sanctions arbitrary and unhelpful. President Vladimir Putin of Russia portrayed the blacklisting of Bank Melli as senseless and dangerous, like "running around like a madman with a blade in one's hand."

Wang Baodong, press counselor for the Chinese Embassy in Washington, said China did not support the "arbitrary imposition of sanctions."

Bush will, of course, insist that other nations do his bidding; but Putin's analogy of a madman with a blade in his hand has hit home with many people. There are many of us who wonder what the sanctions are for. Bush could reasonably argue that they were needed whilst Iran refused to suspend uranium enrichment, as long as it was supposed that this uranium enrichment was for the procurement of nuclear weapons. Now that his own NIE report has ruled this out, then Bush is arguing that Tehran should have sanctions imposed simply for enriching uranium, which is her right under the NNPT.

Reality might not matter much to zealots like Bush and Cheney, but the rest of the world still cares for such triflings, and Bush is going to find it very hard to get the rest of the world to agree to sanctions now that the NIE have let the cat out of the bag.

Click title for full article.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

“We would be aiding and abetting the President in his illegal actions, his contempt for the rule of law, and his attempt to hide his lawbreaking".

Ted Kennedy gave a great speech denouncing Bush's demand for retroactive immunity for the Telecoms in the new FISA bill...

"It's painfully clear what the President's request for retroactive immunity is really about. It's a self-serving attempt to avoid legal and political accountability and keep the American public in the dark about this whole shameful episode. Like the CIA's destruction of videotapes showing potentially criminal conduct, it's a desperate attempt to erase the past.

The Senate should see this request for what it is, and reject it. We should pass this amendment to strike Title II from the FISA bill. Our focus should be on protecting national security, our fundamental liberties, and the rule of law—not protecting phone companies that knew they were breaking the law."

Monday, December 17, 2007

US Must Reevaluate Its Relationship With Israel

Scott Ritter has written an article that is published on Anti-War.Com concerning America's relationship with Israel that is bound to ruffle few feathers.

He calls for the US to reevaluate it's relationship with Israel completely and compares the present Israeli government to a drunk in charge of a car "holding a pistol to our head, demanding that we stop interfering with the vehicle's operation and preventing us from getting out of the car".

Objective criticism of Israeli policies is almost unheard of in American politics, where Democrats and Republicans regularly fall over themselves to spout the current Israeli political line. Ritter is putting his neck on the line and will, no doubt, be accused of Antisemitism and all the other stock in trade insults for daring to question the US's relationship with it's Middle Eastern ally.

He is primarily concerned with recent comments from the Israeli's concerning the NIE report which stated that Iran had stopped seeking a nuclear bomb around 2003. Avi Dichter has famously stated that this NIE report may well lead to a war, a claim which I notice Ehud Olmert has been doing his best to dampen down.

Ritter states:

In threatening the world with war because America opted for once to embrace fact instead of fiction, Israel, sadly, has become like a cornered beast, lashing out at any and all it perceives to threaten its security interests. The current Israeli definition of what constitutes its security interests is so broad as to preclude any difference of opinion.

Israel at present can have no friends, because Israel does not know how to be a friend. Driven by xenophobic paranoia and historical grievances, Israel is embarked on a path that can only lead to death and destruction. This is a path the United States should not tread. I have always taken the position that Israel is a friend of the United States, and that friends should always stand up for one another, even in difficult times. I have also noted that, to quote a phrase well known in America, friends don't let friends drive drunk, and that for some time now Israel has been drunk on arrogance and power. As a friend, I have believed the best course of action for the United States to take would be that which helped remove the keys from the ignition of the policy vehicle Israel is steering toward the edge of the abyss. Now it seems our old friend is holding a pistol to our head, demanding that we stop interfering with the vehicle's operation and preventing us from getting out of the car. This is not the action of a friend, and it can no longer be tolerated.

He then calls for a reevaluation of the US policy of aid to Israel and asks that it should be "linked to Israeli behavior modification" stating that, "like a child too long spoiled by an inattentive parent, Israel has grown accustomed to American largess".

He states that this is "a relationship that has destroyed our credibility around the world and drags us dangerously down the path toward another irresponsible military misadventure in the Middle East".

He is a brave man to point out how ridiculously biased towards Israel are both American politicians and the political coverage of the Middle East in the US.
Witness the pro-Israel bias displayed when discussing the situation in southern Lebanon, the air strike in Syria, or the Iranian situation, and the retarding of any effort toward a responsible discussion of anything dealing with Israel becomes apparent.
He then points out how the neo-cons surrounding Bush are totally playing along with this Israeli dominated view of Middle Eastern politics, as if Israeli interests and those of the US are somehow interchangeable.

It must be understood that the government of Ehud Olmert is acting in a post-9/11 environment, with considerable facilitators in the administration of President Bush, including the vice president. These two factors combine to create a cycle of enablement that allows a purely Israeli point of view to dominate American policy. If the Israeli point of view were built on logic, compassion, and the rule of law, then this tilt would not constitute a problem. But the Israeli point of view is increasingly constructed on a foundation of intolerance and irresponsible unilateralism that divorces the country from global norms. In this day and age of nuclear nonproliferation, the undeclared nuclear arsenal of Israel stands as perhaps the most egregious example of how an Israel-only standard destabilizes the Middle East. It is the Israeli nuclear weapons program, including its strategic delivery systems, that is the core of instability for this very volatile region.

And, as always - highlighting Western hypocrisy - lies the undeclared nuclear arsenal of our ally; the elephant in the room that the West agree not to talk about as it chides Iran and others for daring to chase nuclear technology.

They'll come out of the woodwork to attack Ritter for daring to raise the subject, but his article is well worth reading.

You can do so by clicking the title.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Bill Clinton: Barack Obama is a Risk - Charlie Rose-Hillary

No surprise that Bill is taking this line.

UK troops return Basra to Iraqis

British troops have taken a significant step towards returning home:

British troops have transferred control of Basra province to the Iraqi authorities, four-and-a-half years after the invasion.

The handover marks a significant milestone towards Britain's final withdrawal from southern Iraq.

Brown has quietly set about excavating the Brits from Blair's Iraq war mess ever since he came to power and today marks the most obvious step towards their eventual withdrawal. Under Blair, this would never have been done without the White House's approval as Blair was always determined to leave British troops where they were if only to provide cover for Bush's refusal to contemplate an American withdrawal whilst he remains President.

The Americans have immediately started counter briefing against the British withdrawal.

"I don't know that there is going to be a security vacuum more than there has been," said Frederick Kagan of the American Enterprise Institute. "The British haven't been patrolling very aggressively anyway. The situation is never going to go back to the status before because all kinds of things have changed."

Michael O'Hanlon, a senior analyst at the Brookings Institution, said Shiite rivalries notwithstanding, the security situation is not so dire as it sometimes appears.

"The vacuum is already there. But I don't think things are catastrophic. It is not anarchic and it is not a state of civil war," he said. "It is more like the Wild West, or a region of competing mafia dons. That's not good, of course, but it's also not horrible."

One is left wondering, listening to these comments, of what kind of state Baghdad will be in when the Americans finally succumb to reality and leave.

I wonder if they will manage to avoid leaving it looking like a "region of competing mafia dons"?

Click title for full article.

Keith Olbermann on Bill Moyers

Olbermann is brilliant. Here he defends himself in front of Moyers. And he does it well...

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Saturday, December 15, 2007

Climate deal sealed by US U-turn

After days of wrangling the US finally did a U-turn in Bali, shortly after their intransigence provoked booing from the rest of the delegates present, and agreed that future negotiations will have to ensure "deep cuts in global emissions".

In order to obtain this the EU had to remove the inclusion in the road map of a specific reference of 25% to 40% emissions cuts by developed countries by 2020, which scientists have said are necessary to avoid dangerous climate change. The US said that this would "prejudge" the outcome of the negotiations.

However, the US have had to drop their demand for stronger action from poorer nations, the demand which set off the booing from the rest of the delegates.

The document coming out of the meeting, the "Bali roadmap", contains text on emissions cuts, the transfer of clean technology to developing countries, halting deforestation and helping poorer nations protect their economies and societies against impacts of climate change such as rising sea levels and falling crop yields.

The roadmap sets the parameters and aims for a further set of negotiations to be finalised by the 2009 UN climate conference, to be held in Denmark.

The US was the principal focus of opposition from activists
By that stage, parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and Kyoto Protocol should have agreed on a comprehensive plan for curbing global warming and adapting to its impacts.

This will include firm emissions targets for industrialised countries to replace those in the Kyoto Protocol which expire in 2012, some softer form of targets or ambitions for major developing countries, and mechanisms for leveraging funds from carbon trading to protect forests and fund adaptation projects.
The final draft is weaker than it could have been because of US intransigence, but it's certainly a step in the right direction.

As I have always thought, we will simply have to wait for a wiser occupant of the White House to fully commit to the actions needed. But, with this document, even Bush has conceded that "deep cuts in global emissions" are needed.

Click title for full article.

Friday, December 14, 2007

House votes to outlaw CIA waterboarding

The U.S. House of Representatives has ignored a threatened White House veto and voted to outlaw harsh interrogation methods, such as simulated drowning, that the CIA has used against suspected terrorists.

On a largely party line vote of 222-199, the Democratic-led House approved a measure to require intelligence agents to comply with the Army Field Manual, which bans torture in compliance with the Geneva Conventions on the treatment of prisoners of war.

The measure, part of a sweeping intelligence bill, passed amid a congressional probe into the recent disclosure that the CIA destroyed videotapes of al Qaeda suspects undergoing waterboarding, a simulated drowning.

Many countries, U.S. lawmakers and human rights groups have accused the United States of torturing terror suspects since the September 11 attacks.

President George W. Bush says the United States does not torture, but the administration will not disclose what interrogation methods it has approved for the CIA.

It's slightly bizarre to watch the House of Representatives voting to outlaw something that should already be illegal under the Geneva Conventions, but this is the reality of Bush's America.

He decides ad hoc which international laws America will agree to be bound by, despite the fact that the US is a signatory to all of the laws that he is currently in the process of ignoring. As Dana Perino famously stated the US will not be asking any international court to assist it as it redefines the convention - despite this being a requirement of international law - and will be relying solely on a US definition of what the law states.

Of course, right wingers like Bill O'Reilly have come off the fence to argue that waterboarding is necessary to keep Americans safe, so they're actively arguing that "harsh methods" need to be used. This goes beyond the usual argument of "is or isn't it legal" and takes us into the territory of "if it works, we must use it". As O'Reilly put it, "Waterboarding saves lives" and it's not for politicians to argue morality if it might cost lives.

This will no doubt be Bush's thinking as he promises to veto this latest vote.

In threatening to veto the House-passed measure, which now awaits Senate action, the White House argued it would prevent the United States from conducting "lawful interrogations of senior al Qaeda terrorists."

House Democratic Leader Steny Hoyer countered that the current administration had blurred the line "between legitimate, sanctioned interrogation tactics and torture."

"There is no doubt our international reputation has suffered and been stained as a result," Hoyer told colleagues.

Backers of harsh interrogation say it is needed to pry vital information out of enemy combatants. But critics say torture is inhumane and such information is often unreliable.

The US's reputation worldwide is in tatters and people like O'Reilly actively arguing that the US should use methods that most of the world accept is torture only shows how the moral compass of the American right has become so skewered as to render them deeply immoral people.

Bush's veto when it comes will further emphasise this point. The American right now appears to consist of Malkin-like hate mongers no longer attempting to hide the fact that they embrace a world view that most reasonable people - and a majority of Americans - have long ago rejected.

The nutters are truly running that particular asylum.