Dec
12

Friday Open Thread

By · Comments (0)

Torture me once, shame on you ….


Categories : Open Thread
Comments (0)
Dec
11

Becoming them

By · Comments (0)

A few years back I wrote an op-ed about extraordinary rendition flights and the case of Maher Arar, asking readers whether the Bush administration was fighting terrorists, breeding them, or becoming them. In a case of mistaken identity, Arar had been detained at Kennedy International while changing planes on his way home to Canada. He was taken by police in front of his family and sent to Syria where he was tortured for months. He’s been on Twitter recently for some reason:

Given the release of the SSCI torture report and this news from the Guardian, I guess the answer to my original question was all of the above.

Abu Ahmed (nom de guerre), a jihadist with misgivings about the brutality of the so-called Islamist State, spoke with Martin Chulov about the inner workings of ISIS and the rise of its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, at the Americans’ Camp Bucca prison in southern Iraq:

“We could never have all got together like this in Baghdad, or anywhere else,” he told me. “It would have been impossibly dangerous. Here, we were not only safe, but we were only a few hundred metres away from the entire al-Qaida leadership.”

Baghdadi had inside “a darkness that he did not want to show other people,” Abu Ahmed explained. But he hid it well from the Americans.

Baghdadi also seemed to have a way with his captors. According to Abu Ahmed, and two other men who were jailed at Bucca in 2004, the Americans saw him as a fixer who could solve fractious disputes between competing factions and keep the camp quiet.

“But as time went on, every time there was a problem in the camp, he was at the centre of it,” Abu Ahmed recalled. “He wanted to be the head of the prison – and when I look back now, he was using a policy of conquer and divide to get what he wanted, which was status. And it worked.” By December 2004, Baghdadi was deemed by his jailers to pose no further risk and his release was authorised.

“He was respected very much by the US army,” Abu Ahmed said. “If he wanted to visit people in another camp he could, but we couldn’t. And all the while, a new strategy, which he was leading, was rising under their noses, and that was to build the Islamic State. If there was no American prison in Iraq, there would be no IS now. Bucca was a factory. It made us all. It built our ideology.”

As Isis has rampaged through the region, it has been led by men who spent time in US detention centres during the American occupation of Iraq – in addition to Bucca, the US also ran Camp Cropper, near Baghdad airport, and, for an ill-fated 18 months early in the war, Abu Ghraib prison on the capital’s western outskirts. Many of those released from these prisons – and indeed, several senior American officers who ran detention operations – have admitted that the prisons had an incendiary effect on the insurgency.

Mission accomplished, eh?

(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)


Categories : International, Iraq, News
Comments (0)
Dec
11

Protestus Interruptus

By · Comments (5)

The Army of Mumpower decided late last night to cancel today’s rally in support of local police. (A #BlackLivesMatter counter protest had been planned.) While acknowledging that local protests have been peaceful, former Asheville City Councilman Carl Mumpower said obliquely that he was cancelling his rally so as not to provide “the opportunity” for that to change (emphasis mine):

“I try to be direct and honest,” Mumpower said. “To me, we have been far too tolerant in this community. There are a lot of aggressive minority voices who have come here not to uplift our culture, but kidnap it. That doesn’t call for silence or passivity in my view,” he said.

Outside people have come here with a broad insensitivity to the traditional culture and values of our community and that merits challenge.”

The challenge is how to do that without dismantling the local tourism-dependent economy. Unless, of course, one proposes ceasing all advertising and new home construction, rolling up the streets, and erecting gates at the county line.

Don’t like outside people? Stop inviting them!


Categories : Carl Mumpower, Local, News
Comments (5)
Dec
10

“Enough is enough”

By · Comments (0)

After #TortureTuesday, I needed a break from thinking about rectal rehydration.

Here’s a link to video of Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s keynote address to the “Managing the Economy” conference this week in Washington, D.C. The event was sponsored by Americans for Financial Reform, the Economic Policy Institute, and the Roosevelt Institute. (sorry, no embed; transcript here)

The speech is being called Warren’s sharpest rebuke to date of President Obama’s nomination of investment banker Antonio Weiss for Treasury’s undersecretary of domestic finance. It is another example of “the revolving door at its most dangerous” between Washington and Wall Street, Warren believes, and for a nominee unqualified for the job and from an industry already overrepresented in Washington. The Boston Globe cites an unnamed Treasury official as being unaware of “any prominent Wall Street officials currently serving at the department.”

While Warren spoke alone, she cited her own exprts.

Georgetown law professor Adam Levitin on Weiss’ qualifications:

Read More→


Categories : National, News
Comments (0)


Categories : Open Thread
Comments (3)

Image Public Domain, by And all this time I thought regulatory capture of the Supreme Court just had to do with the sitting justices. Reuters’ lengthy, 3-part series on the attorneys who appear most frequently before the Supreme Court is titled, “The Echo Chamber.” Really, though, these lawyers need their own “Lifestyles of” show. (An overwhelmingly white-male cast, of course.)

A Reuters examination of nine years of cases shows that 66 of the 17,000 lawyers who petitioned the Supreme Court succeeded at getting their clients’ appeals heard at a remarkable rate. Their appeals were at least six times more likely to be accepted by the court than were all others filed by private lawyers during that period.

They represent less than 1 percent of lawyers who file appeals to the Supreme Court, yet appear in 43 percent of the cases the court heard from 2004 through 2012. Fifty-one of the 66 represent firms whose work is primarily for corporations. “It’s the nature of the business,” Ashley Parrish, a partner at King & Spalding told reporters. Which is why firms avoid individuals’ cases against current or prospective corporate clients. Pro bono First Amendment and criminal cases that don’t conflict with moneyed clients’ interests are the exception.

Read More→


Categories : National, News
Comments (0)
Dec
09

The Decree

By · Comments (0)

Obama does the Colbert Report’s The Word Decree.


Comments (0)
Dec
08

Workingman’s Dems

By · Comments (0)

Power house mechanic working on steam pump. Lewis Hine, 1920. Public Domain.

Like a lot of columns dissecting the Democrats’ nonperformance this fall, Thomas Frank’s in Salon focuses on how Democrats have largely abandoned their erstwhile working-class base. Mocking David Brooks’ call for a “common project” to fight the scourge of “classism,” Frank believes instead we need a project to help wealthy professionals understand the struggles of working people:

By “we,” I mean the Democratic Party. Once upon a time it was the dedicated champion of the interests of average people, but today Democrats are hemorrhaging the votes of the white working class. This catastrophic development is the pundit subject du jour, replacing the happy tales of demographic inevitability of two years ago. Since the beginning of September, according to Lexis-Nexis, there have been no fewer than 46 newspaper stories predicting, describing and analyzing the evaporation of Democratic appeal among this enormous slice of the electorate.

This is not merely disastrous, it is pathetic. What kind of lamestain left can’t win the working class . . . in year seven of a crushing demonstration of the folly of free markets? What kind of political leadership can’t figure out a way to overcome the backlash sensibility after four decades?

Read More→


Comments (0)
Dec
07

Sunday Morning Music

By · Comments (0)

And the people bowed and prayed to the neon god they made.


Comments (0)

Out here in the Laboratories of Democracy, ALEC is testing market-based solutions to problems other market-based policies created. But unless one of these solutions barrels right into you (ask Mike Stark), you might not know about it ahead of time.

You know when you hear a speech (or read a quote) by a not-as-crazy conservative and a phrase strikes your ear a little odd? After you baroo, the speech continues and you shrug it off as random weirdness. Something I learned during the George W. Bush administration was to pay attention to those odd phrases. They are usually either racial dog whistles or else a reference to some issue conservatives know about and the left needs to (unless you like getting blindsided). That happened again here recently.

Read More→


Comments (0)