Yesterday, Salim Ahmed Hamdan was found guilty of material support for terrorism, after being held in U.S. custody for seven years. Today, the military court at Guantanamo sentenced him to five and a half years in prison; the prosecution had asked for a minimum 30-year sentence. The Guardian notes, however, that Hamdan will not necessarily be free in five years:
No matter what penalty Hamdan had received, he is subject to possible indefinite detention by the US military.
The judge, Navy Capt. Keith Allred, said he did not know what would happen to Hamdan once his sentence is complete, but said he would likely be eligible for the same administrative review process as other prisoners.
Last month, Attorney General Michael Mukasey argued the U.S. should be able to imprison detainees “for the duration of the conflict” with “al Qaeda, the Taliban, and associated organizations.”
During an appearance on CNBC’s Squawk Box today, Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) senior policy adviser Douglas Holtz-Eakin disingenuously argued that the McCain’s health care plan would “buttress” “the traditional source of health insurance” and proudly proclaimed that under McCain’s plan, Warren Buffet and his secretary would receive the same health care subsidy:
This is actually not a plan that relies on the individual market, it relies on the traditional source of health insurance, which is employers. And it would buttress that by taking the traditional subsidy, that exclusion from tax, for private health insurance and spreading it more fairly. Instead of only getting it in the employer market, you would get it regardless of your source of insurance. And you get the same amount whether you’re rich or poor, $5,000 for every working family.
The key to real reform is to restore control over our health-care system to the patients themselves… When families are informed about medical choices, they are more capable of making their own decisions, less likely to choose the most expensive and often unnecessary options, and are more satisfied with their choices….Americans need new choices beyond those offered in employment-based coverage. Americans want a system built so that wherever you go and wherever you work, your health plan is goes with you. And there is a very straightforward way to achieve this.
As the Wonk Room has previously pointed out, rather than building on the “traditional source of health insurance,” McCain’s plan would tear it down. By equalizing the tax treatment of employer based coverage with insurance bought in the individual insurance market, the McCain plan would remove the employer’s incentive to provide coverage and could potentially unravel the current system. Here is why:
- McCain would entice healthy workers to buy cheaper but less substantive insurance in the individual market place.
- The exodus of healthier workers from employer-pools would increase the average health care costs for sicker employees who can’t find coverage in the individual market, forcing them to opt out entirely.
The one-size-fits-all tax cut offered by McCain, along with numerous other factors, will contribute to the increase. Under McCain’s plan, a chronically ill older patient, who require more care or more expensive care, would obtain the same amount for health care as a younger, healthier, or wealthier American.
Sicker or poorer Americans would not be able to stretch McCain’s $5,000 per family, $2,500 per individual tax credit to cover substantive insurance policies which meet their health needs.
Last night on Fox News, former top Bush adviser Karl Rove showed up on Hannity & Colmes to discuss the political topic du jour: gas prices and energy policy.
Co-host Alan Colmes noted that conservatives like Rove just want to drill for more oil with the “hope that seven years from now we bring down the price which Bush’s Energy Department says it wouldn’t do.” Rove then became agitated, saying to Colmes: “You’re wrong on your facts”:
ROVE: First of all the EIA does say that drilling would bring down prices. You’re wrong on your facts.
COLMES: That’s what they said.
ROVE: No, no no. That’s simply wrong. The Energy Information Agency [sic] which is a respected nonpartisan branch of our government does say if we expanded supply, it would reduce the price.
But its actually Rove who is wrong — or misleading at best. The group Rove cites to back up his “facts” — the Energy Information Administration — says that new drilling won’t start until 2018, and won’t ever have much impact on oil prices. The EIA’s assessment of offshore drilling:
For the lower 48 OCS [Outer Continental Shelf], annual crude oil production in 2030 is projected to be 7 percent higher—2.4 million barrels per day in the OCS access case compared with 2.2 million barrels per day in the reference case (Figure 20). Because oil prices are determined on the international market, however, any impact on average wellhead prices is expected to be insignificant.
The EIA’s assessment of drilling in the Arctic Refuge in Alaska:
ANWR oil production is not projected to have a large impact on world oil prices. [...] Assuming that world oil markets continue to work as they do today, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) could neutralize any potential price impact of ANWR oil production by reducing its oil exports by an equal amount.
And if Rove is going to cite the EIA for his misleading claim that U.S. drilling will reduce oil prices, he should at least get the name right. Its the Energy Information Administration, not the Energy Information Agency.
The U.S. military in Iraq “is segregating violent Iraqi prisoners in wooden crates that in some cases are not much bigger than the prisoners.” CNN reports:
The military released three grainy black-and-white photos of what it calls the “segregation boxes” used in Iraq. They show the rudimentary structures of wood and mesh. Some of the boxes are as small as 3 feet by 3 feet by 6 feet tall, according to military officials. They did not release a picture of a box that size.
The military said the boxes are humane and are checked every 15 minutes. It said detainees, who stand in the boxes, are isolated for no more than 12 hours at a time.
The U.S. and Iraq are close to a deal under which all American combat troops would leave by October 2010 with remaining U.S. forces gone about three years later, two Iraqi officials said Thursday.
A U.S. official in Washington acknowledged progress has been made on the timelines for a U.S. departure but offered no firm date. Another U.S. official strongly suggested the 2010 date may be too ambitious. A timetable is part of a security agreement being negotiated by U.S. and Iraqi officials.
And senior U.S. officials in Baghdad and Washington told NBC News that any agreement on withdrawing American forces would not likely include a “specific timetable” but be based on “security conditions at the time.”
Today, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) is in Wilmington, OH and being forced to address DHL’s merger with Airborne-Express, which may cost roughly 8,000 jobs in the area. In a private meeting, “residents will ask McCain for help in stopping DHL’s proposal to quit using the airport as a hub,” which would put the air park out of business.
In a townhall on July 9, a resident asked McCain what he would do to mitigate the merger’s effects on the area. “I want to be able to keep our nonprofits alive,” she said, crying. McCain said the impact of the merger on area jobs is a “terrible blow”:
MCCAIN:This is a terrible blow. Um, if there’s an anti-trust implication that’s associated with this, I certainly would seek a thorough investigation … I’ve got to look you in the eye and give you some straight talk; I don’t know if I can stop it or not. Or if it will be stopped it. … In fact, some more straight talk: I doubt it. Ok?
“In the meantime, there are manufacturing jobs that have been lost all over the state of Ohio, and it’s been a terrible trauma,” he said. Watch it:
Today, McCain is dealing with the fallout from the merger. But five years ago, McCain’s campaign manager lobbied heavily for the deal. The AP reports that Davis “lobbied the Senate to accept the proposal by DHL to buy Airborne Express for $1.05 billion.” Davis’s lobbying firm reaped the benefits:
Filings in the Senate show Davis’ lobbying firm, Davis Manafort, was hired to help both companies deal with Congress, where objections over DHL’s foreign ownership arose. Davis and a partner earned their firm $185,000 for the DHL-Airborne Express work that year, records show.
“McCain took steps that helped Davis’s clients” and thwarted Sen. Ted Stevens’s (R-AK) “effort to insert language into legislation that would prohibit foreign-controlled companies such as DHL from holding certain military contracts,” the Washington Post reported in June.
Sen. George Voinovich (R-OH) called the situation “one of the worst job catastrophes that any community in this nation is facing.” Will McCain deliver straight talk about the role that he and his campaign manager had in helping shuttle through the DHL deal?
“McCain, a four-term Arizona senator, also had a role in the DHL deal with Airborne Express. As chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, McCain urged then-Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Ted Stevens to abandon proposed legislation that would have prohibited foreign-owned carriers from flying U.S. military equipment or troops. Airborne Express said the measure was aimed at torpedoing its merger with DHL.”
On the Diane Rehm radio show yesterday, senior John McCain (R-AZ) adviser and former Koch Industries lobbyist Nancy Pfotenhauer defended McCain’s flip-flop in support of offshore drilling by repeating the conservative myth that “we survived Hurricanes Katrina and Rita with no significant spills.” She claimed that the technology has been “refined enough” to “protect environmentally sensitive areas”:
And then there was a concern in the past about the technology. Did the technology exist, was it refined enough if you will, no pun intended, to be able to protect environmentally sensitive areas. And so — he’s been a conservationist all his life — he was concerned about that. And I think the things that have happened since then . . . [W]hen we survived Hurricane Katrina and Rita with no significant spills, I think that had a very powerful impact on his feeling about the technology.
Listen here (and watch a photo montage of Katrina’s oil spills):
McCain’s dirty energy spokeswoman is echoing the false claim she made July 14 on MSNBC:
When Senator McCain opposed lifting the ban in the past, it was because there were concerns about environmental capability. Like, could we do this and still maintain a pristine environmental um uh climate and and area around the drilling? And basically, what we’ve seen is the technology has progressed to the point where we could do that. We withstood Hurricanes Rita and Katrina and didn’t spill a drop.
ThinkProgress reported that MSNBC’s David Schuster confronted her with the facts and forced her to retract her false claim on July 17:
SCHUSTER: In fact, the US Minerals Management Service said that Katrina and Rita caused 124 offshore spills for a total of more than 743,000 gallons of refined products in spills. So Nancy, do you want to take back what you said?
PFOTENHAUER: Well, I actually do. I was misinformed, and my embarrassment aside . . .
Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal reported that Iraqi cleric Muqtada al-Sadr “intends to disarm his once-dominant Mahdi Army militia and remake it as a social-services organization.” Commenting on the article on his radio show yesterday, right-wing talker Rush Limbaugh joked that Sadr, whom he calls “Mookie,” had “thrown his hands in with the left over there” and that “his boys are going to become community organizers.” Limbaugh then compared Sadr to American civil rights organizations, saying they are both intent on “disrupting the society“:
Seriously, that’s what he’s going to do. They’re going to — social services, education, social justice. I guess Mookie’s thrown his hands in with the left over there. He’s going to throw down the weapons and start disrupting the society much like the civil rights organizations here in this country have tried to do to ours.
CNN reports that the militia is being “reorganized largely into a cultural movement called the Momahidoun and elite military cells dedicated to ‘armed resistance against the occupiers,’ according to Sheikh Salah al-Obadiah.”
CBS News reports, “Israel is building up its strike capabilities amid growing anxiety over Iran’s nuclear ambitions and appears confident that a military attack would cripple Tehran’s atomic program, even if it can’t destroy it.” The country has also “purchased 90 F-16I fighter planes that can carry enough fuel to reach Iran, and will receive 11 more by the end of next year.” According to the Times of London, President Bush has given an “‘amber light‘ to an Israeli plan to attack Iran’s main nuclear sites with long-range bombing sorties.”