Testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee, President Bush’s nominee to be assistant secretary of Defense for international security affairs, Mary Beth Long, criticized the Iraqi government’s failure to meet key legislative benchmarks. “At this time, I would give the Maliki government an ‘F’,” said Long. She added that Maliki’s government has not acted in an “exemplary manner” towards passing legislation. According to CongressDailyPM, Long’s statements “echoed findings in a GAO report released this fall that concluded that the Iraqi government had met only one of its eight legislative benchmarks.”
In 2002, as the CIA used “harsh tactics” to interrogate al Qaeda operative Abu Zubaydah, FBI agents involved in his detention increasingly “protested the aggressive methods that were used.” Reportedly, “one agent was so offended he threatened to arrest the CIA interrogators.” The Washington Post reports today that the tensions between the two agencies became so bad that FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III “eventually ordered the FBI team to withdraw from the interrogation” because of the tactics being used:
Tensions came to a head after FBI agents witnessed the use of some harsh tactics on Abu Zubaydah, including keeping him naked in his cell, subjecting him to extreme cold and bombarding him with loud rock music. [...]
FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III eventually ordered the FBI team to withdraw from the interrogation, largely because bureau procedures prohibit agents from being involved in such techniques, according to several officials familiar with the episode.
In his book, The One Percent Doctrine, Ron Suskind details how the Bush administration, having falsely claimed that their captive Abu Zubaydah was a key al-Qaeda operative with tons of information, had him tortured until he coughed up some bogus information. John Kiriakou, formerly of the CIA, told a different story to ABC, saying Zubaydah was tortured and gave up useful information but torture is wrong anyway.
Now FBI sources are striking back, sticking with a Suskindish version of events in which the torture didn’t accomplish anything useful. Dan Eggen and Walter Pincus have the story for The Washington Post. It’s hard to know where the truth lies here, and obviously I’m a biased observer at this point, but it’s hard to see what motive FBI people would have for going forward with their story if it’s false. It’s easy, by contrast, to see why administration and CIA sources who’d been torturing this guy might want to exaggerate how useful their torturing had been.
Last month, Iraq war vet Jordan Fox revealed that some wounded soldiers were being asked by the Pentagon to return part of their enlistment bonuses. Today, the House passed the Veterans Guaranteed Bonus Act to ensure that future soldiers aren’t treated like Fox. The legislation will ensure that members of the armed services who are discharged as a result of combat-related wounds receive the full compensation to which they are entitled by the Department of Defense. Rep. Jason Altmire (D-PA), one of the bill’s primary sponsors, spoke on the floor this morning. Watch it:
The tar sands are rightly called one of the world’s greatest environmental crimes, as I’ve written. No company that invests in the Canadian tar sands can legitimately call itself green.
Yet BP, the oil company that lavished millions on advertising its move “Beyond Petroleum,” announced this month it’s putting $3 billion into this dirtiest of dirty fuels!
BP is buying a half-share of the ironically named Sunrise field:
“BP’s move into oil sands is an opportunity to build a strategic, material position and the huge potential of Sunrise is the ideal entry point for BP into Canadian oil sands,” said Tony Hayward, BP’s group chief executive.
The company ultimately plans to produce 200,000 barrels of oil a day from the field.
Shame on you BP!
Just how bad are the tar sands environmentally? As The Independent explains:
How to peel a butternut squash. Time to give it a shot.
Number of journalists in 17 countries who died while covering the news in 2007 — the deadliest year since 1994, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. Iraq “led the list for the fifth year in a row, with 31 dead — one fewer than a year ago.”
Remember when Trent Lott was lavishing praise on Strom Thurmond’s 1948 run for president on a white supremacist platform? Remember how most of his fellow conservatives disavowed him? Well, here’s Senator Gordon Smith (R-OR) praising Lott’s defense of white supremacy. And then Orrin Hatch (R-UT) did it. And then Arlen Specter (R-PA) did it.
I kind of assume Specter’s too old to run for another term, and Utah’s the most Republican state in the country, but Smith needs to run for re-election in Oregon next year so I’m pretty surprised to see this sort of gaffe coming from him. It’s true that his second-degree praise of Thurmond and the Dixiecrats isn’t quite as egregious as Lott’s, but this is still pretty despicable.
One wag, employed in a position too reputable to make such jokes under his own byline, emails in: “doesn’t Jenna Bush qualify as the ultimate liberal fascist?” She is a teacher, after all. And female!
On CNN’s Larry King Live last night, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said that he would “absolutely” allow a gay man or woman to serve in his administration. “I have people who are homosexual that work for me in the governor’s office,” noted Huckabee:
KING: Could a gay be in your administration?
People are competent because — not with anything to do with their sexual orientation. I have people who are homosexual that work for me in the governor’s office. And it was not a qualification. I think you should never (INAUDIBLE)…
In the interview, Huckabee also indicated that he would not change the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy. Watch it:
Huckabee’s openess towards LGBT employees may indicate that he is personally tolerant towards gay men and women. But, as his reticence to change Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell shows, he is still in favor of using the power of government to discriminate against gay Americans.
Huckabee is against gay marriage, arguing that “civilization” may not survive if “what marriage and family means” is “rewritten.” As Governor of Arkansas, he “avidly” supported the state amendment banning gay marriage. That wasn’t the only anti-gay public policy Huckabee pushed in Arkansas:
– In 1997, Huckabee requested an amendment to a state Senate bill stating “that it is Arkansas public policy to prohibit sodomy to protect the traditional family structure.” [Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, 1/23/1997]
– In 1998, Huckabee supported banning gay men and women from acting as foster parents because “it is not in the best interest of children.” [Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, 7/29/1998]
– In 2003, Huckabee said “If you ask for survivor benefits to be paid to a same-sex survivor, I think we have a right to say no to that.” [Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, 7/3/2003]
Additionally, in the past, Huckabee has spoken of homosexuality using some of the most divisive and hyperbolic rhetoric possible:
– In a 1992 questionnaire for the Associated Press, Huckabee claimed that “homosexuality is an aberrant, unnatural, and sinful lifestyle, and we now know it can pose a dangerous public health risk.”
– In his 1998 book, Kids Who Kill, Huckabee compared homosexuality to necrophilia, decrying “publicly endorsed and institutionally supported aberrations–from homosexuality and pedophilia to sadomasochism and necrophilia.”
While Huckabee now wants to claim that he has no personal animus against gay Americans, his record suggests he has no problem using the powers of government to discriminate against them.