Newest McCain official: President has “near dictatorial powers”

McCain reaches into the most deceptive propaganda organ in America to staff the highest level of his communications apparatus.

Bill Kristol today proudly announces that one of his Weekly Standard staff members, Michael Goldfarb, was just named the Deputy Communications Director of the McCain campaign. Last April, this newest McCain official participated in a conference call with former Senator George Mitchell, during which Mitchell advocated a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq. Afterwards, this is what Goldfarb wrote about what he thinks are the powers the President possesses in our country:

Mitchell’s less than persuasive answer [to whether withdrawal timetables “somehow infringe on the president’s powers as commander in chief?”]: “Congress is a coequal branch of government…the framers did not want to have one branch in charge of the government.”True enough, but they sought an energetic executive with near dictatorial power in pursuing foreign policy and war. So no, the Constitution does not put Congress on an equal footing with the executive in matters of national security.

As I noted at the time:

Until the Bill Kristols and John Yoos and other authoritarians of that strain entered the political mainstream, I never heard of prominent Americans who describe the power that they want to vest in our political leaders as “near dictatorial.” Anyone with an even passing belief in American political values would consider the word “dictatorial” — at least rhetorically, if not substantively — to define that which we avoid at all costs, not something which we seek, embrace and celebrate.

And the very idea that the Founders — whose principal concern was how to avoid consolidated power in any one person — sought to vest “near dictatorial power” in the President is too perverse for words. But that’s been the core “principle” driving the destructive radicalism of the last seven years, and it’s an extremist view that is obviously welcomed at the highest levels of the McCain campaign.

Kristol closes his boastful announcement by noting that the pro-dictatorial Goldfarb will return to the Weekly Standard after the campaign ends — “unless he’s appointed national security adviser in the McCain White House.” Somehow, McCain continues to be depicted in the media as a “moderate” and the like despite the enthusiastic support of our nation’s most crazed and unprincipled warmongers. But even more revealing is that McCain is now staffing his communications apparatus at the highest levels by reaching into Bill Kristol’s The Weekly Standard — one of the most deceptive propaganda organs of the Bush years. Does one even need to point out that there are few things more incompatible with one another than “straight talk” and The Weekly Standard?

UPDATE: Michael Goldfarb on waterboarding and other illegal interrogation practices internationally considered to be “torture” (h/t A.L.):

The Times indicts the Bush administration for exposing terrorists captured abroad to “head-slapping, simulated drowning and frigid temperatures.” Boo hoo.

McCain is a deeply principled opponent of torture and waterboarding which is why his new communications official’s view of objections to those techniques is “Boo hoo.”

UPDATE II: Last October, this is what Goldfarb wrote in arguing that telecoms deserve amnesty even if they broke the law in enabling warrantless spying on Americans:

[I]f federal agents show up at a corporate headquarters for a major American company and urgently seek that company’s officers for assistance in the war on terror, the companies damn well ought to give it as a matter of simple patriotism, whether the CIA wants a plane for some extraordinary rendition or help in tracking terrorists via email. . . . [T]o expect a company to resist a plea from the government for help in a time of war is ridiculous.

So, consistent with his President-as-Dictator vision, McCain’s new communications official believes that — as I wrote at the time — when “federal agents” come knocking at your door and issue orders, you better “damn well” obey — you had better not “resist” — even if the orders you’re being given are illegal, even if they’re designed to spy on Americans in violation of the law, and even if they’re intended to facilitate the torture of detainees. That’s what patriotic Americans do — they obey the orders of their near-dictatorial Leader, so sayeth the heel-clicking Michael Goldfarb. That’s a superb, and very mainstream, new addition to the maverick McCain team.

Glenn Greenwald
Jun. 02, 2008

Source: Salon

Terror law turns thousands of council officials into spies

Relatively junior council officials are giving permission for operations to spy on people
Relatively junior council officials are giving permission for operations to spy on people

Thousands of middle managers in local councils are being authorised to spy on people suspected of petty offences using powers designed to prevent crime and terrorism.Even junior council officials are being allowed to initiate surveillance operations in what privacy campaigners likened to Eastern bloc police tactics.

The Home Office is expected to be urged by the Commons Home Affairs select committee to issue guidelines to councils on the type of operations in which surveillance can be used.

Amid increasing concern in Parliament that the UK is slowly becoming a surveillance society, the committee has looked at the operation of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (Ripa), which some MPs say is being misused to focus on petty crime rather than serious offending.

Keith Vaz, chairman of the Commons Home Affairs select committee, told The Times: “I am personally shocked by the numbers involved in surveillance by the local authorities. It is important we make sure there is proper accountability and transparency in the way this operates.” The committee, which has concluded an investigation into the surveillance society and is to publish its report in eight days’ time, is understood to have been concerned at the lack of guidance from central government to local authorities on how powers under the Act should be used.

Councils are increasingly allowing anyone of a “service manager” grade rather than high-ranking officials with a legal background to authorise surveillance operations. Relatively junior council officials are giving permission for operations to spy on people, their homes, obtain their telephone records and discover who they are e-mailing.

“A lot of councils are making the proactive decision to use these powers more,” a spokesman for Lacors, the central body that oversees local authorities, said.

“They think it’s a fantastic tool. Inevitably, more middle-management staff will be called on to authorise surveillance.”

Read moreTerror law turns thousands of council officials into spies

Bob Barr A Poor Representative Of Liberty

The Libertarian Party recently nominated former Republican Congressman Bob Barr as their presidential nominee. This nomination represents a compromise of the principles that the Libertarian Party used to stand for. Party members decided that they were going to sell out the principles of their party in exchange for some coverage in the corporate controlled media. Is some coverage in the establishment media worth having a man at the front of the party with an incredibly dubious past pertaining to freedom and liberty? Although it is possible that Barr might have changed his ways and realized his mistakes for not abiding by the Constitution, his record speaks for itself. Barr voted in favor of the Patriot Act, worked for the CIA throughout the 1970s and supported the phony war on drugs for several years. The Patriot Act is one of the most tyrannical pieces of legislation ever passed in the history of the United States. The war on drugs is entirely against the principles of the Libertarian Party. Considering Barr’s record of supporting anti-freedom policies and legislation, he is not a suitable choice to vote for in the general election. If you want to vote for a candidate that believes in liberty and the Constitution, write in Ron Paul.

Barr won the nomination over Mary Ruwart who would have been a fine candidate to promote the Libertarian cause. Ruwart is an author who has supported the cause of individual freedom for many years. She is a long time member of the Libertarian party and had none of the baggage that Barr has. By selecting Barr as the presidential nominee, the Libertarian Party has selected a poor representative.

Below is a blurb from a Bloomberg report talking about how Barr has upset many Libertarians with his dubious past.

Barr has angered Libertarians by backing what they view as abuses of government, including efforts to crack down on drugs and his vote for the Patriot Act, which gave the government expanded powers, such as wiretapping, to fight terrorism. Civil libertarians condemn his co-sponsorship of the Defense of Marriage Act, which prohibits federal recognition of same-sex marriages, and his opposition to abortion.

Read moreBob Barr A Poor Representative Of Liberty

Depleted Uranium Shells Worse Than Nuclear Weapons

(NaturalNews) The use of depleted uranium (DU) munitions by the U.S. military may lead to a death toll far higher than that from the nuclear bombs dropped at the end of World War II.

DU is a waste product of uranium enrichment, containing approximately one-third the radioactive isotopes of naturally occurring uranium. Because of its high density, it is used in armor- or tank-piercing ammunition. It has been fired by the U.S. and British militaries in the two Iraq wars and in Afghanistan, as well as by NATO forces in Kosovo and the Israeli military in Lebanon and Palestine.

Inhaled or ingested DU particles are highly toxic, and DU has been classified as an illegal weapon of mass destruction by the United Nations.

The United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority has estimated that 50 tons of DU dust from the first Gulf War could lead to 500,000 cancer deaths by the year 2000. To date, a total of 2,000 tons have been generated in the Middle East.

Read moreDepleted Uranium Shells Worse Than Nuclear Weapons

‘Rude’ police punishing middle classes to hit Home Office targets

Police are targeting the law-abiding middle classes over minor misdemeanours so they can meet government targets, a report claims.

Officers are having to put Home Office targets before serving the public and are becoming increasingly alienated from ordinary people as a result.

Members of the public find officers to be “rude” and accuse them of neglecting their duties and failing to respond to reports of crime.

The report, by the think-tank Civitas, said political interference meant incidents that might previously have been regarded as innocuous were now treated as crimes.

Police performance is measured in “sanction detections” which means officers have detected or cleared a case by charging someone, issuing a penalty notice or giving a caution. Many officers are expected to complete a certain number each month.

Arresting or fining a normally law-abiding person for a trivial offence is a good way of achieving the target and pleasing the Home Office.

Read more‘Rude’ police punishing middle classes to hit Home Office targets

This Is What The CIA Thinks Of Freedom of Information Act Requests

After CIA Director Michael Hayden publicly admitted that the CIA has, in fact, waterboarded detainees, the agency could no longer cling to its last excuses for covering up the use of the very word “waterboarding” in CIA records. As a result, yesterday we obtained several heavily redacted documents in response to an ongoing Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit brought by the ACLU and other organizations seeking documents related to the treatment of prisoners in U.S. custody overseas.

While the documents do, in fact, reveal the word “waterboarding” or some variation, they leave pretty much everything else to the imagination. The pages that haven’t been completely withheld (many of them contain the words “Denied in Full” instead of any actual content) have the clandestine blacked-out look that’s become a sort of trademark of this administration. This is my favorite:

One of the documents is a heavily redacted version of a report (PDF) by the CIA Office of the Inspector General (OIG) on its review of the CIA’s interrogation and detention program. The report includes information about an as-yet-undisclosed Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel opinion from August 2002. Interestingly, this opinion appears to be the same OLC memo authorizing specific interrogations methods for use by the CIA that is being withheld by the CIA as a classified document in the ACLU’s FOIA litigation — but the OIG report refers to this document as “unclassified.”

The CIA continues to withhold many more documents that should not be secret. The incomplete response to the ACLU’s demand for records reflects a complete disregard for the right of the American public to know when and how often the government has employed illegal interrogation methods.

Read moreThis Is What The CIA Thinks Of Freedom of Information Act Requests

Cheney can only call Iraq a success if he has a mindset like Hitler

Cheney Tells New York’s G.O.P. He Sees Success in Iraq War

At a Midtown hotel ballroom, the vice president declared that the U.S. was “succeeding brilliantly” in Iraq and assailed Democrats on taxes, gas prices and national security.
By NICHOLAS CONFESSORE
Published: May 30, 2008
Source: The New York Times

Here is a (small) listing of what Cheney calls successes:

Related article: The Canadian National Newspaper:

Over 70,000 deaths, and over 1 million disabilities among American soldiers attributed to Iraq Wars says U.S. government data

”More than 1,820 tons (3-million, 640 thousand pounds) of radioactive nuclear waste uranium were exploded into Iraq alone in the form of armour piercing rounds and bunker busters, representing the worlds worst man made ecological disaster ever.

U.S. investigative researchers have discovered an official U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs official, but not well publicized count, of 73,846 U.S. soldiers who have perished as an apparent result of Depleted Uranium based bio-chemical warfare exposure. This exceeds an estimate of 58,000 U.S. soldiers who had been killed in relation to the Vietnam War.

Well over 200,000 American soldiers could be killed by 2010, as a result of the after effects of exposure to U.S. dirty bombs.

Over One million U.S. soldiers have apparently been disabled from Depleted Uranium based biochemical exposure. Over one million Iraqis have also been documented to have been killed.

Related article: Chicago Tribune

Military suicide rate increased again

An Army official said Thursday that 115 troops committed suicide in 2007, a nearly 13 percent increase over the previous year’s 102.

“…the VA estimates that 18 veterans a day — or 6,500 a year — take their own lives, but that number includes vets from all wars.”

Related article: AP

Wartime PTSD cases jumped roughly 50 pct. in 2007

The number of troops with new cases of post-traumatic stress disorder jumped by roughly 50 percent in 2007 amid the military buildup in Iraq and increased violence there and in Afghanistan.

Records show roughly 40,000 troops have been diagnosed with the illness, also known as PTSD, since 2003. Officials believe that many more are likely keeping their illness a secret.

Related article: Counterpunch

War Abroad, Poverty at Home

“The US Senate has voted $165 billion to fund Bush’s wars of aggression against Afghanistan and Iraq through next spring.”

“The “world’s only superpower” is so broke it can’t even finance its own wars.”

“During the eight wasted and extravagant years of the Bush Regime, the once mighty US dollar has lost about 60% of its value against the euro.”

“The dollar has lost even more of its value against gold and oil.”

“Before Bush began his wars of aggression, oil was $25 a barrel. Today it is $130 a barrel.”

And here we have Dick Cheney calling this “succeeding brilliantly” !!!

Iraq, which means “The Land of the Gods”, is destroyed and poisoned by depleted uranium for thousands upon thousands of years.

Taking these effects into account the Bush Administration has destroyed this country utterly and totally.

Dick Cheney can only call this a success if he has a mindset like Hitler or worse.

For his bank account and for the New World Order all of this may be seen as a success but for nobody else.

– The Infinite Unknown

Pentagon to shift funds to pay for Iraq war

The Pentagon plans to shift $9.7 billion of its overall budget to pay for war operations but warned on Wednesday it will run out of money if the U.S. Congress does not approve more funding by mid-July.

The Defense Department, with major operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, sent Congress requests to transfer $5.7 billion to the Army’s personnel account from the personnel accounts of other branches of the U.S. armed services.

It also asked Congress for permission to move $4 billion from the services’ operations and maintenance accounts to the Army and U.S. Special Operations Command, whose troops train local security forces and conduct counterterrorism missions.

If approved, the transfers will allow the Pentagon to continue operations until late July, according to department spokesman Bryan Whitman.

“I don’t want to leave you with the impression that this provides us a whole lot,” he said.

“This $9.7 billion reprogramming only buys another few weeks of operations until the department as a whole will then run out of critical funding.”

Read morePentagon to shift funds to pay for Iraq war

Late in the Term, an Exodus of Senior Officials

Scores of High-Level Political Positions Are Vacant or Are Being Filled by Temporary Appointees

With eight months left in President Bush‘s term, scores of senior officials already are heading for the exits, leaving nearly half the administration’s top political positions vacant or filled by temporary appointees, federal statistics show.

More than 200 pending nominations are languishing on Capitol Hill, bogged down in political fights between Democrats and the White House.

At the same time, agencies have begun preparing for a new administration, including plans to temporarily install career employees in senior positions at the Department of Homeland Security during the transition. The White House also has taken the unusual step of ordering federal agencies to stop proposing regulations after Sunday — meaning that new rules on issues including greenhouse gases and air-traveler protection are unlikely to be finalized before Bush leaves office.

In many ways, the work slowdown and higher appointee turnover is typical of any changing of the political guard in Washington. But the process now occurs over years rather than months, and experts say it threatens to hamper the important work of agencies, whether it be improving public health, promoting affordable housing, fighting crime or providing for the nation’s security.

“You’ve got almost two years of pure chaos,” said Paul C. Light, an expert on the federal bureaucracy at New York University’s Wagner School of Public Service. “The civil servants don’t know who they’re supposed to be talking to. They’re receiving no direction. Congress isn’t being talked to. The president isn’t really doing anything. It’s really a highly vulnerable time for running a government.”

Many experts say it is an especially bad time for vacancies, with two wars being waged abroad and a housing crisis and slumping economy at home. David E. Lewis, an assistant professor at Princeton University who has just written a book on presidential appointments, noted that the botched response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005 was exacerbated by high turnover and vacancies at the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“If you told people on Wall Street that every four years or eight years, you were going to lop off the top of a Fortune 500 company and say the company would operate normally, you’d be called crazy,” Lewis said. “There is no question that it matters. Turnover and vacancies in politically appointed positions hurts performance.”

Scandal has thinned the administration’s ranks, as well. Dozens of appointee jobs have become vacant since ethical crises at the General Services Administration, the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Justice Department, to name a few.

Read moreLate in the Term, an Exodus of Senior Officials

FILE SHARING: Anti-piracy strategy will help government to spy, critic says

Fears raised changes could lead to policing of legal activities like buying DVDs online

The way Canadians use the Internet and technology – from downloading music to buying new cellphones – could face unprecedented restrictions under new federal policies that critics say are being decided behind closed doors.

The Conservative government has been involved in international talks in recent months to develop an international anti-counterfeiting strategy to reduce Internet piracy and the flow of counterfeit goods. But critics say that instead of cracking down on rogue Internet users heavily involved in illegal file sharing, the agreement seems poised to dramatically increase the government’s ability to police the activities of Canadians, even when they legally purchase music files, DVDs and electronic equipment such as cellphones and personal video recorders.

“This is an attempt here to create a very broad umbrella that strikes at the very heart of every day activities for millions of Canadians,” said Michael Geist, law professor at the University of Ottawa and Canada Research Chair of Internet and e-commerce law.

The issue is gaining significant momentum after a discussion paper on the anti-counterfeiting strategy that purportedly originated with the U.S. government was leaked on the Internet a few days ago. One of the most contentious proposals is to “encourage” Internet service providers to monitor the online activities of their customers and report activity that may infringe copyright law – a move that amounts to spying and could undermine the privacy of Canadians, Prof. Geist said.

The changes may also give border guards the authority to search laptops and personal music recorders to look for any illegally obtained material.

Read moreFILE SHARING: Anti-piracy strategy will help government to spy, critic says