Mojo - March 2007

Right Wing Backs Terrorist When His Target is Ex-Prez Carter

| Sat Mar. 17, 2007 2:46 PM EDT

Remember the buzz about anonymous commenters damning their luck that the attempt in Afghanistan on VP Dick Cheney's life was unsuccessful? In fact, several commenters on my post yesterday about Donald Rumsfeld's recent hospitalization have accused me of wishing the former Secretary of Defense dead.

Well, in the spirit of tit for tat, I call your attention to Glenn Greenwald's blog post on responses at the major conservative blog Little Green Footballs to news that among the many—too many—things that KSM has confessed to was a plot to assassinate Carter. (How old is this guy?)

Greenwald's post is worth reading in its entirety, but here are a few of the choicest comments:

Can we furlough him--just so he can realize the Carter plot? Please? /Is this wrong?

Can we trade Carter to get the WTC and it's occupants back?

#31 Earth2moonbat Can we trade Carter to get the WTC and it's occupants back? Yes. Absolutely. We won't get them back in the trade, but we will have gotten rid of Carter, so there is still a net benefit.

Really, why would Islamic terrorists plan to kill Jimmy Carter...the man is their best friend.

"Mohammed also admitted to planning assassination attempts on former Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter." Even this schmuck had some good ideas.

Here are some supporting the torture that almost certainly, err, facilitated KSM's catch-all confessions:

But they got those confessions through torture! And worse than that, they probably hurt his feelings too.

They probably gained those confessions through brutal torture - you know, panties on the head and all.

Little Green Football's blogger-in-chief Charles Johnson has already blocked the link from Greenwald's post (which took time, Greenwald points out, that Johnson could have used to delete the comments), so check them out before they're gone.

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FAA Backs Down: Reinstates Inspector Fired for Talking to MoJo

| Fri Mar. 16, 2007 8:54 PM EDT

Mike Gonzales, the FAA inspector who had been on administrative leave for almost ten months, is back at work in the FAA's Scottsdale, Arizona, office. Gonzales, you may remember, was notified that the FAA had begun termination proceedings against him for supposedly "abusing his position" by escorting a Mother Jones reporter into a TIMCO aircraft-repair facility without identifying his guest as a journalist. The allegation was BS, as Frank Koughan, the reporter in question, demonstrated in this story, which features sound clips that clearly refute the FAA's allegations.

The irony is that the FAA could have avoided all this simply by letting its employees talk to Mother Jones in the first place. But instead they would only allow FAA staff to speak in their capacity as representatives of their union. Mother Jones honored that agreement, only to have the FAA harass staff who did speak to us. The original story on the FAA, "Waiting to Happen," painted a picture of an agency that is in bed with the industry it is supposed to regulate: By trying to muscle out one its own staff in order to protect the repair facility, the FAA only confirmed that its customer is the aircraft industry, not the flying public.

Adding to the outrage, remember that Gonzales was on full pay for the nine and half months he was placed on leave, a waste of taxpayer dollars that could have been better spent on letting him inspect aircraft!

Breaking: Rumsfeld Underwent Heart Procedure

| Fri Mar. 16, 2007 6:03 PM EDT

rumsfeld.jpgPolitico is reporting that Donald Rumsfeld was held overnight in the VIP unit of Washington Center for a heart procedure. He was released yesterday. No more information is available, but we'll keep you posted.

Mainstream Media Catching Up on KSM Doubts

| Fri Mar. 16, 2007 4:22 PM EDT

Ah, the blogosphere is again one day ahead of the MSM. Yesterday, when news of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed's confessions came out, Jim and I expressed our doubts. Now we're seeing the same sentiment in the AP, TIME, and Newsweek.

Robert Baer, CIA agent extraordinaire and popular author, writing in TIME:

On the face of it, KSM, as he is known inside the government, comes across as boasting, at times mentally unstable. It's also clear he is making things up. I'm told by people involved in the investigation that KSM was present during Wall Street Journal correspondent Danny Pearl's execution but was in fact not the person who killed him. There exists videotape footage of the execution that minimizes KSM's role. And if KSM did indeed exaggerate his role in the Pearl murder, it raises the question of just what else he has exaggerated, or outright fabricated...
Although he claims to have been al-Qaeda's foreign operations chief, he has offered no information about European networks. Today, dozens of investigations are going on in Great Britain surrounding the London tube bombings on July 7, 2005. Yet KSM apparently knew nothing about these networks or has not told his interrogators about them.
The fact is al-Qaeda is too smart to put all of its eggs in one basket. It has not and does not have a field commander, the role KSM has arrogated.

Michael Hirsh, who has broken some important scoops on the Iraq War, writes in Newsweek about how the KSM case is a perfect illustration of how not to fight a war against terror:

Had the case been handled properly, KSM's confession to plotting 9/11 and many other actual or planned terror acts could have made him a "showcase defendant" for America's cause, rallying support and allies around the world. "He could have been charged within six months of his detention and prosecuted in a proceeding, which would have added to the reputation of our country for justice," says [Scott] Horton[, a human rights attorney.]
Instead, the legal black hole is only getting deeper. The transcript released Wednesday night indicates that KSM's references to his previous treatment are all carefully redacted. [John] Sifton [of Human Rights Watch] and others say the redactions clearly indicate that KSM was referring to his secret interrogations—during which he might well have been physically abused. The question of whether such dubiously extracted testimony could be used in any legal proceeding will probably prolong his case for years to come.
Sifton notes, accurately, that the administration has been wildly inconsistent over the past six years. Some terror suspects are held without recourse to habeas corpus at Gitmo; others have been prosecuted in the U.S. courts. In one case involving a Pakistani father and son living in New York, Saifullah and Uzair Paracha, the two have been treated completely differently. "The young Paracha is in federal prison. The older is at Gitmo," said Sifton. (The father, Saifullah, was arrested in Bangkok; his son in the United States, both on suspicion of agreeing to help an Al Qaeda operative sneak into the United States to carry out a chemical attack.) "There are no principles guiding this. It would be fine if the "war on terror" were just a metaphor, but it's not," says Sifton.

And the AP:

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed's claims that he was responsible for dozens of successful, foiled and imagined attacks in the past 15 years relies on a loose definition of the word "responsible." Officials say the 9/11 mastermind was key to some plots but a bit player in others...
While there apparently is truth in much of the statement, several officials said, there's also an element of self-promotion. They view the claims as at least in part a rallying cry to bolster his image and that of al-Qaida...
One official cautioned that many of Mohammed's claims during interrogation were "white noise" — designed to send the U.S. on wild goose chases or to get him through the day's interrogation session.

Look -- KSM is a nasty, nasty dude. I said as much when I blogged about him yesterday. And I'm sure he's guilty of enough to be executed a dozen times over. But when the military releases a statement from a terrorist mastermind owning up to every unresolved high-profile terrorist act over the last ten years and releases with it no photos, no video, no audio, and no corroborating evidence, I have questions. I think, given the Bush Administration's record of being forthright with the nation, we all should.

Update: Colleagues report that the mainstream media began debunking KSM's claims as early as yesterday morning. So, kudos to the appropriate parties. I only found the print articles today, which led to this blog post.

Valerie Plame to Congress: I Was Covert

| Fri Mar. 16, 2007 1:46 PM EDT

One of the unresolved issues of Plamegate is whether or not Valerie Plame was covert when she was outed as a CIA agent in Bob Novak's column. Conservatives have long maintained that she was not (Sean Hannity earlier this month: "She did not meet the criteria, in any way, shape, matter or form as a covert agent.") and have speculated that because no one was ever charged with revealing the name of a covert agent, Plame must not have met the strict definitions of "covert" under the law. Reporting from over a year ago said that Plame did covert work within five years of the leak, but was unlikely to do any more.

Well, for what it's worth, Valerie Plame went before Congress today and said that she was in fact covert. She's in a position to know, obviously. ThinkProgress has video, but her statement was:

"In the run-up to the war with Iraq, I worked in the Counterproliferation Division of the CIA, still as a covert officer whose affiliation with the CIA was classified."
"While I helped to manage and run secret worldwide operations against this WMD target from CIA headquarters in Washington, I also traveled to foreign countries on secret missions to find vital intelligence."

Update: A congressman is claiming that CIA Director Gen. Michael Hayden recently told Reps. Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Silvestre Reyes (D-TX) explicitly that "Ms. Wilson was covert."

The Ethanol Debate

| Fri Mar. 16, 2007 11:59 AM EDT

Maybe Fidel and Hugo aren't so dumb! Stanard Schaefer in Counterpunch points out that the ethanol binge already has driven corn prices through the roof and, now wrapped in the Bush (and most Democrats') free trade mantra, promises to earmark corn in the developing world for export, thus, removing land from the production of food.

"There are other potential problems," he says. "In Indonesia, ancient forests are being burned up to make room for oil-palm biofuel. They're already digging up the rainforests in Brazil to plant soybeans that will be used in NutriSystem microwavable food packages designed to help fat Americans lose weight. As demand for ethanol increases to be equal to current oil consumption, it is almost guarantees forests will be dug up in the Global South to plant more sugar cane, since after all that is where it grows best. How then can ethanol be called carbon neutral when it will increase deforestation, when its promoters such as BP are notorious human rights violators, when companies such as BP are under a grand jury investigation for spilling 267,000 gallons of oil in Prudhoe Bay?"

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No Surprise: Republicans Also Dodge "Is Homosexuality Immoral" Question

| Fri Mar. 16, 2007 11:26 AM EDT

I slammed Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama for this yesterday, so I suppose I should do the same with the Republicans: John McCain, Mitt Romney, and Rudy Giuliani have all refused to give a straight response on whether or not homosexuality should be considered immoral. Romney and Giuliani, who have a history of supporting the gay community, actually come off as pretty good guys, though, and I think their relatively nuanced answers are worth evaluating in full. Each candidate's response taken from this Politico article...

McCain:

"The senator thinks such questions are a matter of conscience and faith for people to decide for themselves. As a public official, Senator McCain supports don't ask, don't tell." --McCain spokesman Danny Diaz. Per the AP, McCain was asked about the matter on the campaign trail in Iowa yesterday and declined to answer.

Romney, who once was a strong supporter of gay rights:

"I think General Pace has said that he regrets having said that, and I think he was wise to have issued an apology, or a withdrawal of that comment. I think that we, as a society, welcome people of all differences, whether there are differences in ethnicity, faith or sexual preference, and I think he was wise to correct his comment and to suggest that that was an inappropriate point to have made."

Giuliani, who supported civil unions as mayor of New York:

"We should be tolerant, fair, open, and we should understand the rights that all people have in our society."

Sam Brownback, who is crazy:

Sen. Sam Brownback... not only affirmed his view that homosexuality is immoral but sent a letter of support on behalf of Pace to the White House.

Still More KSM Doubts

| Fri Mar. 16, 2007 10:59 AM EDT

Jonathan's and my blogs yesterday raised questions about Khalid Sheikh Mohammed's confessions. Today suspicions continue to grow. Larisa Alexandrovna of Raw Story suggests in her blog, At-Largely, that at least one of KSM's targets didn't exist when he decided to blow it up.

KSM says in his confession: "I was responsible for planning, training, surveying, and financing for the New (or Second) Wave of attacks against the following skyscrapers after 9/11: ...Plaza Bank, Washington state."

Larisa looked up Plaza Bank's website and found that the Plaza Bank was not founded until 2006. According to their official Web site:

"Founded in early 2006, with a vision of creating the leading commercial bank in the Pacific Northwest, Plaza Bank's story quickly captured the hearts and passion of some of the region's leading business minds. From Jack Creighton, former CEO of Weyerhaeuser and United Airlines, to former Seattle Mariner Edgar Martinez, and nationally acclaimed salon operator Gene Juárez, the story of a bank founded to bring "class to the mass" simply could not be contained."

Department Of Labor Ignores Law, Fails To Protect Nuclear Industry Whistle-Blowers

| Thu Mar. 15, 2007 8:32 PM EDT

Though federal law requires the Department of Labor to safeguard whistle-blowers from reprisal, the department has been ignoring the law with regard to those who have complained about environmental and nuclear safety problems. Rep. John Dingell of Michigan, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Commission, is accusing the DOL of being compliant in blacklisting, which is a violation of federal law.

According to DOL documents Dingell obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, over 60% of nuclear industry-related whistle-blower settlements since 2000 have included permanent bans on working for the employer in question. The Government Accountability Project has petitioned the DOL to prohibit the bans. The department says it is "giving careful consideration" to the petition. One supposes that under this administration, "giving careful consideration" to the prospect of obeying the law should be looked at as progress.

Copyright? Right, Right, Viacom and Google Are Both Bullies

| Thu Mar. 15, 2007 5:55 PM EDT

We won't bore you with another news article about Viacom lunging at Google's YouTube jugular. But there's oh so much more to learn about these finicky media giants beyond copyright squabbles.

Dollars may be at issue with this lawsuit but its content that's the real battleground. With each merger or media consolidation and with each ownership change, content is owned and determined by fewer, wealthier folks. News organizations are dealing with content wars in all kinds of ways, such as buying out older employees and investing more in online and niche operations. Eric Klinenberg offers, another take on the media melee, arguing that the hunt for larger profit margins among traditional media companies, not the Internet and its subversion of original content, is what is in fact killing the news. And for well over 25 years Viacom has been trying smash the little guys with media mergers.

What do DreamWorks, Infinity Broadcasting, King World, BET, Blockbuster, Paramount, Showtime, UPN, and VH1 all have in common? They are all part of the Viacom/CBS media machine. Google, too, is not exactly an innocent bystander in the media intimidation game. The gobbler in many a merger, the fledgling giant runs fast and loose with that little thing called privacy. So we'll see how things play out with this lawsuit, but truth be told they might just end up being one company someday, all owned by Time Warner maybe?

For a doomsday scenario for media in general check out the Museum of Media History's mockumentary EPIC 2012 that predicts the final collapse of the Fourth Estate.

--Gary Moskowitz