Friday, February 24, 2006

William F. Buckley, defeatocrat.

Read it here.

Yeah. We've been saying it all along: "your postulates won't fly in this theater." But no, they told us that "you defeatocrats don't think Iraqis want liberty."

I'm dying to see what other wingers at NRO (and the half-brained blogosphere that worships them) have to say now.

Portgate II: Extraordinary rendition of national security

A few days ago, I wrote a diary (excerpted and frontpaged by Kos here) about how George Bush had violated the "security presidency" post-9/11 mentality ethic that had governed all of his previous unconstitutional and illegal endeavors with regard to national security issues.


The only thing I couldn't really figure out is why.  Many Kossacks had speculated that the Carlyle Group had a role to play in arranging the deal, but that didn't seem enough of an explanation for something that could appear to be such a callous violation of the public trust.


But after Sunqueen212's diary on the secret agreement between the Bush Administration and the UAE, it has all become clear to me:


This is the extraordinary rendition of our national security.


More below.

I assume most of us know what extraordinary rendition is.  In case you don't, Wikipedia sums it up nicely:


Extraordinary rendition refers to an American extra-judicial procedure, widely believed to be illegal, of sending criminal suspects, generally suspected terrorists or supporters of terrorist organisations, to countries other than the United States for imprisonment and interrogation. Critics have accused the CIA of rendering suspects to other countries in order to avoid US laws prescribing due process and prohibiting torture and have called this "torture by proxy" or "torture flights".


In short, extraordinary rendition is a method of letting the executive branch get done what it wants to do with regard to torture, interrogation and even summary execution of suspects without interference from Congress and the Judiciary, who would actually make decisions on whether such practices were in violation of the laws and customs of the United States.


Well, that's the exact same thing that has happened with Port security.  I shall now quote from the AP Article that Sunqueen212 wrote her diary on:


(They) did not require Dubai Ports to keep copies of business records on U.S. soil, where they would be subject to court orders. It also did not require the company to designate an American citizen to accommodate U.S. government requests. Outside legal experts said such obligations are routinely attached to U.S. approvals of foreign sales in other industries.


now why on God's green earth would they do that?


Well, let's say that you're interested--as this administration is--in not letting Congress or the Judiciary know what the executive branch is up to, what information it's requesting, and why it wants the information it's requesting.  There really is only one way to get that done:  make secret deals with foreign governments for the obtaining of information over which our courts have no jurisdiction.


And that's exactly what's going on here.  Why would the bush administration intentionally omit the requirement that records be kept on U.S. soil?  intentionally omit the requirement that a U.S. citizen be designated to handle all information requests on behalf of the government?  Because they are interested in making sure U.S. law doesn't apply.


Imagine that this port deal goes through with the specifications detailed in the AP article referenced above.  You will have a situation where the Bush administration--and perhaps any subsequent administration--can request any records, or any other piece of information at all, from any port owned by the UAE, without any judicial or congressional oversight.


It's my opinion that the reason Bush is so adamant about this deal is not so his daddy and his friends at the Carlyle group can make more obscene amounts of cash.  My opinion on it is that this is all part of Bush's power grab for the executive branch.


The travesty of it all, however, is that as bad as extraordinary rendition is with regard to torture suspects, this port deal is even worse.  At least with torture we export people to foreign countries of questionable merit to do our dirty work.  With this port deal, however, the Bush administration has imported a country of questionable merit into the United States--making a secret deal with a foreign government to be able to avoid the oversight and separation of powers mandated by the U.S. constitution.


To me, that constitutes treason.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Civil war, anyone?

So if it weren't for ports, what would the blogosphere be talking about today?

How about civil war in Iraq?

The destruction of the gold dome could be the beginning of the end. We can hope it's not, but this is just another piece of bad news that goes hand in hand with--and, yes, I will call it this--Portgate.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

PortGate--the annihilation of Bush's purpose.

We've seen a lot of discussion about DP World's imminent takeover of operations of 6 major U.S. ports.  We've seen the arguments both for and con concerning whether or not the takeover poses a legitimate threat to national security.  We've seen thereisnospoon comment on the failure to foresee the blowback of globalization.  We've seen RenaRF comment on the conservative self-shredding occurring among the members of the talking heads.


But whether or not the DPW deal really does pose a threat to national security; whether or not those who read Stiglitz can sit back and laugh at the neoliberalists' lack of vision; whether or not the talking heads are up in arms; the major point about Portgate is this:


By declaring his intention to veto, Bush has just annihilated his own self-declared purpose as president.

Let's start with one phrase: 9/11.


It happened.  And what happened after that?


The Bush consortium invaded Afghanistan, in clear response to the act of war perpetrated on our nation by Al-Qaeda and its Taliban allies.  So far, so good.  But then the response changed.  It changed from reaction to preemption.


Bush invaded Iraq.  The main point for invading Iraq wasn't so much that Saddam had already acted against us and needed retribution.  It was that there was a possibility that Saddam could be a threat--and in a post-9/11 world, we had no choice but to change our strategy from deterrence to preemptive invasion--because you can never be too careful.


Bush got the Patriot Act passed through, despite wide concerns about civil liberties--whether or not the government really did have the authority to monitor your library activities, among other things.  Why?  Because in a post-9/11 world, you can never be too careful.


Bush and Cheney authorized the use of torture--not just against terrorists, but against just about everybody.  Despite this clearly new-fangled and rather un-American methodology, Bush had a ready excuse: it was a few bad apples, and in a post-9/11 world, you can never be too careful.


Bush has repeatedly authorized domestic surveillance, wiretapping and data-mining, even in clear violation of the Constitution and Congressional statute.  The defense?  Ignoring any questions about whether or not the program is helping or harming national security, the justification is: in a post-9/11 world, you can never be too careful.


Time and time again, this president has said that his highest goal, superceding all others, and even superceding any previous precedent of executive authority--is to defend the American people.  He has shown time and time again that neither international law, nor federal law, nor the constitution, nor the Legislative or Judicial Branches of the Government of the United States, will prevent him from executing that duty as he and he alone sees fit.


The Bush presidency has not really been the "fuck-you" presidency.  Really, it has been the "I can act like a king because I do national security and after 9/11 you can never be too careful" presidency.


And right here, it all comes crashing down.  Because for many Bush supporters, it doesn't really matter whether Iraq helped or harmed national security.  It doesn't really matter whether the domestic spying program assisted or hindered surveillance of suspected terrorists.  It doesn't really matter whether the Patriot Act helps get new leads against terror suspects--because he's trying his best to do what he thinks is right, in their view, and if they agree with him on other issues, they'll be willing to forgive whatever mistakes have been made in his quest to protect the country, because he seems to care that much.


The Portgate scandal is crucial because Bush has violated his own doctrine.  When Bush said that we need to justify holding a Middle Eastern company to a higher standard, he showed that he in fact does not agree with the key point of his own doctrine: namely, that in a post-9/11 world, you can never be too careful.


And regardless of whether DPW is a national security threat, the fact that Bush for whatever reason has not taken the same "whatever it takes to defend the American people" approach on this issue that he has taken on Iraq, domestic surveillance, the Patriot Act and torture--that fact paves the way for questioning the motives of the other activities I mentioned--because if Bush really took the "you can never be too careful" approach to everything, why didn't he stop the DPW deal?


Bush has reneged the entire premise of his presidency.  And it's now time for us to capitalize.