Olbermann: Free Speech Monte + Thicker Than Blackwater + Fox & Friend + Worst Person (videos)

Dandelion Salad

heathr234

November 14, 2007

Free Speech Monte

Keith gives his report on the US Bridge Federation wanting to punish its members for holding up a sign that said they did not vote for Bush.

Thicker Than Blackwater

Keith gives his report on the House Oversight Committee hearing in which it was revealed that the State Department’s Inspector Howard “Cookie” Krongard had a serious conflict of interest with his brother’s ties to Blackwater and that he’s on their advisory board. Howard Krongard is charged with oversight of Blackwater in Iraq. Richard Wolffe weighs in.

Fox & Friend

Keith interviews Giuliani biographer Wayne Barrett about Rudy Giuliani given the recent revelations about the Regan lawsuit and the allegations about Fox News and recounts the historical ties between Giuliani and Fox News during his term as mayor in New York.

Worst Person

And the winner is….Brent Bozell. Runners up the Department of Homeland Security and Deroy Murdock.

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Anti-Bush Sign Has Bridge World in an Uproar

The Assassination of Hugo Chavez by Greg Palast (+ trailer vid)

Dandelion Salad

by Greg Palast
Reporting from Lago Agrio, Ecuador
Wednesday November 14

Before The Lord spoke unto Pat Robertson and told him to endorse Rudy Giuliani, family man, for President, the Reverend got a message that higher powers wanted him to arrange a hit on another President:

“Hugo Chavez thinks we’re trying to assassinate him. I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it.”

Robertson has a tough time separating Church and Hate. But when the vicious vicar declared it was time to take out the President of Venezuela, he was simply channeling the wishes of the Supreme Authority, Dick Cheney.

I’m asking you to see the story they don’t want you to see in the USA: from the original investigations filmed for BBC Television, “The Assassination of Hugo”– a special DVD documentary by myself and Rick Rowley. NOT for general release – ONLY available as a gift to donors to the not-for-profit Palast Investigative Fund.

Why must they kill Chavez?

With the help of guerrila cameraman Rick Rowley (”Fourth World War”), I flew to Caracas to get the answer – from Chavez himself. I also talked to the guy who took Chavez hostage in 2002. (I had to wear a wire for that one.)

The answer is right underneath Chavez’ feet. Oil. How much? According to the inside documents that fell into my hands from the Department of Energy – LOTS of oil, five times the reserves of Saudi Arabia.

The DVD includes Chavez himself, in our extended exclusive interviews. We go over the Bush plans – for his oil, and for his “elimination.” Sing along with the crooning champion of the poor – or, as George Bush titles him, “a demagogue awash with oil money.”

Watch the film – from Caracas malls to the oil tankers by helicopter – the story I guarantee you won’t get on the Petroleum Broadcasting System.

PLUS two incredibly important reports: “Ecuador: Oiled and Despoiled” – my journey into the mud for Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now, PLUS “Florida Con Salsa” – the theft of the Presidential Election in Mexico 2006.

Donate at least $50 and I’ll sign’m and send’m to you – or to whomever you designate for the holidays.

Make that donation at least $75 and I’ll also send you, signed, “Assassination” AND “The Elections Files,” my investigations for BBC, from the original report that busted open the phony “felon” purge by Jeb Bush to never-before-released interviews with Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and fired prosecutor David Iglesias on “caging” voters and the scheme to steal the next election.

Your tax-deductible donation keeps us digging for “Just The Facts, Ma’am.” I’m writing this in the rain forest in Ecuador, where oil is prevalent as snakes- but more poisonous. We donate our films to Democracy Now. BBC pays for some of our effort – but not the expensive work of investigation. That’s your job. YOU produce our work. “Palast’s stories are so relevant they threaten to alter history.” – Chicago Tribune

“Palast … is twisted and maniacal.” Hon. Katherine Harris

“America’s best investigative reporter … and the funniest.” Randi Rhodes, Air America Radio

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The Palast Investigative Fund is a 501c3 not-for-profit educational foundation. All donations are tax deductible. 100% of your donation goes to pay our out-of-pocket expenses and investigative team. (Note: Greg Palast takes no fee from the fund.) Make a donation and I’ll send you a signed gift, personalized in appreciation for your help. Or write “NO GIFT” and we’ll just send a note of our gratitude. Real reporting is real expensive – and you make it possible when Corporate Media won’t.

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

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The Assassination of Hugo Chavez DVD Trailer 

GregPalastOffice

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Greg Palast

The Lobby By Paul Craig Roberts

Dandelion Salad

By Paul Craig Roberts
November 13, 2007

Experts in the West and ordinary people in Arab lands have understood for many years that the United States does not have an independent policy toward the Middle East. President Jimmy Carter, a man of good will, tried to use American influence to settle the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the source of dangerous instability in the Middle East. However, Israel was able to block Carter’s attempt, while blaming Yasser Arafat. Carter’s plan would have given rise to a Palestinian state. Israel did not want any such state, because obvious military aggression is necessary in order to steal the territory of an official state with defined borders. It is much easier to steal land from a non-state.

By preventing the rise of a Palestinian state, Israel has been able to continue with its theft of the West Bank. Palestinians who have not been driven out have been forced into ghettos, cut off from schools, hospitals, water, and their olive groves and farmlands. In a recent book, President Carter called the existing situation “apartheid.” Carter was demonized by the Israel Lobby for his use of this word, but some experts consider Carter’s choice of words to be an euphemism for the continuation of what I. Pappe and N. G. Finkelstein call “the ethnic cleansing of Palestine.”

That the vast majority of Americans know nothing of this is testimony to the power of the Israel Lobby.

A number of writers have exposed Israel’s misbehavior and the power of the Lobby, but until now, the Lobby has been able to marginalize its critics by smearing them as “anti-Semites,” “Nazis,” and “Jew-haters.” In a new book, John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt have broken the Israel Lobby’s power to suppress truth by demonizing and intimidating all who would criticize Israel.

Mearsheimer and Walt are distinguished scholars holding distinguished appointments at the University of Chicago and Harvard University, two of America’s most distinguished universities. Their book, The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, published by the distinguished American publisher, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, is a masterpiece of scholarship and documentation. Footnotes comprise 23 percent of the book’s pages.

Mearsheimer and Walt easily succeed in making their case that neither strategic nor moral grounds can explain U.S. support for Israel. Only the power of the Israel Lobby can explain the juxtaposition of a dwindling moral and strategic case with ever-increasing U.S. backing for Israel, even to the disadvantage of U.S. national and strategic interests. Indeed, both executive and legislative branches are so completely compromised by the Lobby that the different elements of U.S. Middle East policy “have been designed in whole or part to benefit Israel vis-à-vis its various rivals.”

Chapter by chapter, Mearsheimer and Walt demonstrate the deleterious effects the Lobby has had on U.S. relations with Palestinians, Iraq, Syria, Iran, and Lebanon. The two scholars conclude:

“The lobby’s influence helped lead the United States into a disastrous war in Iraq and has hamstrung efforts to deal with Syria and Iran. It also encouraged the United States to back Israel’s ill-conceived assault on Lebanon, a campaign that strengthened Hezbollah, drove Syria and Iran closer together, and further tarnished America’s global image. The lobby bears considerable, though not complete, responsibility for each of these developments, and none of them was good for the United States. The bottom line is hard to escape, although America’s problems in the Middle East would not disappear if the lobby were less influential, U.S. leaders would find it easier to explore alternative approaches and be more likely to adopt policies more in line with American interests.”

There is nothing anti-Semitic about this book. Mearsheimer and Walt do not challenge Israel’s right to exist or the legitimacy of the Israeli state. They believe the U.S. must defend Israel from threats to its survival. They even regard AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, as a legitimate American lobby and not as an unregistered agent of a foreign state.

The motives of the two scholars, apart from respect for truth and the obligation to speak it, are to further Israel’s and America’s legitimate interests. Mearsheimer and Walt agree with numerous Israeli historians and commentators that Israel’s policy toward Palestine and the Arabs, together with the Lobby’s suppression of critics, have been “directly harmful to Israel.” The inflexibility that Israel has imposed on U.S. foreign policy has America mired in wars—now a half decade or more old—in Iraq and Afghanistan. Even as Muslim rage threatens to engulf America’s puppet in Pakistan, vice president Dick Cheney, Israel and its neoconservative allies strive to initiate war with Iran.

This is a high price to pay for Israeli territorial expansion even if the U.S.-Israeli policy of war and coercion succeed. If military aggression fails to bring the Middle East under the hegemony of the U.S. and Israel, the dangers to energy flows and Israel’s existence could result in the use of nuclear weapons.

It is literally insane for the United States to expose the world to such risks for the sake of Israel’s misguided policy toward Palestine.

Other scholars, especially those whose sense of justice is offended by the cruel oppression Palestinians suffer at the hands of Israel, are more critical than Mearsheimer and Walt. The latter do Israel and the Lobby a service by defining the issue as one of U.S. and Israeli legitimate national interests rather than casting it as a case of crimes, inhumanity, and injustice.

Instead of legitimate national interests, James Petras, Bartle Professor Emeritus of Sociology at Binghamton University in New York, sees “a level of crimes parallel to those of the Nazis in World War II.” (The Power of Israel in the United States, 2006). Petras writes that

“the architects of the Iraqi war planned a series of aggressive wars of conquest based on the principle of domination by violence, torture, collective punishment, total war on civilian populations, their homes, hospitals, cultural heritage, churches and mosques, means of livelihood and educational institutions. These are the highest crimes against humanity.”

“The worst crimes,” Petras writes, “are committed by those who claim to be a divinely chosen people, a people with ‘righteous’ claims of supreme victimhood.”

It remains to be seen how much more blood and treasure Zionist fanaticism will extract from Americans. But one thing is certain: the Israel Lobby is far too powerful for America’s good and Israel’s.

Forty years ago the Lobby was sufficiently powerful to force President Lyndon Johnson to cover up the intentional Israeli attack on the USS Liberty that resulted in 34 Americans dead and 174 wounded. Admiral Thomas Moorer, Chief of Naval Operations and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff declared: “No American President can stand up to Israel.”

Forty years later the Israel Lobby is able to reach into Catholic universities and to overturn tenure decisions. The courageous scholar Norman Finkelstein was denied tenure at DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois, because he is an effective critic of Israeli policies.

In America today academics and intellectuals who fail to toe the Lobby’s line are unlikely to receive support from conservative or liberal foundations. Even Mearsheimer and Walt’s article, “The Israel Lobby,” commissioned by the Atlantic Monthly and from which their book evolved, had to be published overseas in The London Review of Books when the Atlantic Monthly’s editors’ courage failed them.

American patriots who glorify in their country’s status as the “sole superpower” have much to learn about the subservience of their country’s foreign policy to a tiny state of five million people.

There is no better place to begin than with Mearsheimer and Walt’s The Israel Lobby.

COPYRIGHT CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.

Paul Craig Roberts [email him] was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan Administration. He is the author of Supply-Side Revolution : An Insider’s Account of Policymaking in Washington; Alienation and the Soviet Economy and Meltdown: Inside the Soviet Economy, and is the co-author with Lawrence M. Stratton of The Tyranny of Good Intentions : How Prosecutors and Bureaucrats Are Trampling the Constitution in the Name of Justice. Click here for Peter Brimelow’s Forbes Magazine interview with Roberts about the recent epidemic of prosecutorial misconduct.

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

see

The Deadly Embrace – Zion-power and War: From Iraq to Iran by James Petras

U.S. too often follows Israel’s lead in diplomatic situations By Paul Findley

Why Dems and Republicans Bow to the Israel Lobby By John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt

The Israeli Lobby (AIPAC) (video; April 07)

So Who’s Afraid of the Israel Lobby? By Ray McGovern

‘The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy’ by John Mearsheimer & Stephen Walt

Israel Lobby

In the Hands of the Military By Chris Hedges

Dandelion Salad

By Chris Hedges
Truthdig
November 12, 2007

The last, best hope for averting a war with Iran lies with the United States military. The Democratic Congress, cowed by the Israel lobby and terrified of appearing weak on defense before the presidential elections, will do nothing to halt an attack. The media, especially the electronic press, is working overtime to whip up fear of a nuclear Iran and tar Tehran with abetting attacks against American troops in Iraq. The American public is complacent, unsure of what to believe, knocked off balance by fear and passive. We will be saved or doomed by our generals.

The last wall of defense that prevents the Bush administration from targeting Iran, an attack that could ignite a regional conflagration and usher in apocalyptic scenarios in the Middle East, runs through the offices of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates; Adm. William Fallon, the head of the Central Command (CENTCOM); and Gen. George Casey, the Army’s new chief of staff. These three figures in the defense establishment have told George W. Bush and the Congress how depleted the U.S. military has become, that it cannot manage another conflict, and that a war with Iran would make the war with Iraq look like an act of prudence and common sense.

The reliance on the military command, however, to be the voice of reason in the debate about a new war is not a healthy sign for our deteriorating democracy. Compliant generals can always be found to carry out the Dr. Strangelove designs of a mad White House. Those who resist implementing decisions can easily be removed. The protective cover provided by these figures in the defense establishment could vanish.

[…]

via Truthdig

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When the military starts looking like our savior, we’d better look out. by The Other Katherine Harris

When the military starts looking like our savior, we’d better look out. by The Other Katherine Harris

by The Other Katherine Harris
Featured writer
Dandelion Salad

The Other Katherine Harris’s blog
Nov. 14, 2007

Much admiring notice has lately been taken of Shrub’s new Central Command chief, Admiral William J. Fallon, a font of soothing noises about Iran. This week he reassured the Financial Times that a strike is “not in the offing” and earlier this fall, he spread the same message all over the Persian Gulf region — delighting potentates and other stakeholders in the oil-blest dreamscapes of Doha and Dubai. As was widely reported, he said on Al Jazeera TV, “I expect that there will be no war and that is what we ought to be working for. We ought to … do our utmost to create different conditions.”

In private, he supposedly vowed as early as last winter that an attack on Iran “will not happen on my watch” and added, “There are several of us trying to put the crazies back in the box.” This (from an anonymous source) was cited by Inter Press in May — and seemingly backed up by Fallon’s outright refusal to place a third carrier group in the Gulf to intimidate Iran last summer.

Continue reading

Secret Societies: The Bilderberg Group (7 min video)

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setfree69

A History of the Bilderberg Group The Secret Society of Secret Societies, the one whom dictates to all the others.

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Who Runs The World And Why You Need To Know Immediately By Carolyn Baker (updated)

Losing the War on Terror by Jennifer

Jennifer ..


by Jennifer
featured writer
Dandelion Salad
Justice and Peace

Losing the War on Terror

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

“This is not for that purposes of killing Americans…this is for the purpose of driving them crazy. They are cowboys and will react without thinking”.

~ Abu Mus’ab al Zawahiri

Immediately following the events on 9/11, Americans were asking the question of ‘Why?’ Like so many who watched the twin towers fall, I found myself asking the same question. In response to this question, media talking heads and political pundits gladly and simply answered this question by telling us, “They hate us because we are free”. In combination with the use of the word they, this statement fails to address the complexities of US history and the Arab world. Little did the American people understand the implications of what this talking point meant at the time, it was imperative that the Bush Administration dehumanize the entire Arab world so rather than discuss bin Laden or al Zawahiri and give us the entire history of al Qadea, the people who committed the crimes of September eleventh became people without families, lives, names, faces, or real complaints against US policies…the people who committed these crimes became They.

In most societies, dropping bombs on and dismembering innocent little girls whose mothers take them to preschool everyday, love their daddies, like to eat bananas, and dream of becoming a doctor or teacher someday is unacceptable. If the American people were told the truth about the military engagement we were about to embark on, they never would have supported it. For example, during the bombing campaign that started in October of 2001, over twenty thousand civilians were killed in Tora Bora. Out of this bombing just one Taliban leader was killed (The Secret History of al Qaeda 2006). While conducting “The War on Terror”, it is imperative Americans only think of Them or They rather than to think of the hundreds of thousands of people brutally murdered by cruel and ruthless weaponry, including little girls like the one described above.

Also important to note (and what the Bush Administration does not want you to think about) is exactly how, the use of our military has allowed bin Laden to successfully take on the most powerful and wealthy nation in the world, and all while living in the mountains of Afghanistan, with little to no financial means, primitive use of technology, and pathetic amounts of weaponry compared to the military arsenal the US possesses. It appears that bin Laden understands the reality of human nature far better than we. He understands that if we brutally and repeatedly murder, maim, and dismember civilians in the Arab world, especially the most vulnerable, women and children, people will rise up against us and resist. Bin Laden can continue his successful war of attrition without ever lifting another finger, issuing another fatwa, or releasing one more video tape. As evidenced by intelligence reports released from the United States itself, the occupation of Arab lands and continued bombing of innocent civilians is recruiting jihad fighters faster than we can kill them.

According to journalist and author Abdel Bari Atwan, “The insurgents are not only winning this bloody war, but winning it spectacularly. No matter how many insurgents coalition forces kill, the are always faced with a new wave of young men longing to be martyred and take as many of their enemies with them as they can… The popularity of the insurgency among ordinary Iraqi civilians is another sign of US failure.” And it continues to grow; anti-American sentiment among Muslim populations and sentiment around the entire world have continued to deteriorate. In a paper released in July of 2005 by Chatam House, International security experts noted that the situation in Iraq has provided ‘a boost to the al Qaeda network’s propaganda, recruitment and fundraising, caused a major split in the coalition, and provided an ideal targeting and training area for al Qaeda-linked terrorists’.

Included with American intelligence reports connecting the US Occupation with an increase in terrorism and radicalism around the globe are two studies released by the Saudi government and an Israeli think tank, both show that the majority of foreign fighters were not jihadis before the Iraq war, but were ‘radicalized by the war itself’ (Abdel Bari Atwan 2006). The radicalization of the Arab world is not successful because of the ideology of radical Islam or al Qaeda, it is so successful due to the needless death, economic hardships, and continued marginalization of an entire group of people that is being imposed by US policy and the “War on Terror”.

The American Government calls them They, as Americans, it is time for us to start recognizing Them for who They actually are. Human beings, with hopes, love, and dreams. In fact, They are just like Us.

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Al Gore and the Nobel Peace Prize by Jennifer

11.13.07 Uncensored News Reports From Across The Middle East (video; over 18 only)

Dandelion Salad

Warning
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This video contains images depicting the reality and horror of war and should only be viewed by a mature audience.

Selected Episode

Nov. 13, 2007

linktv

For more: http://www.linktv.org/originalseries
“Barak Proposes Golan Heights to Syria,” Al Arabiya TV, UAE
“Peres & Abbas Address Turkish Parliament,” IBA TV, Israel
“Turkish & Israeli Presidents Meet in Turkey,” Egypt Satellite Channel, Egypt
“Hamas Pays Palestinian Employees Despite International Boycott,” Al Aqsa, Gaza
“Israeli-Arab City Swapped for Illegal Settlements in East Jerusalem,” Al Jazeera English, Qatar
“Bhutto Wants to Form an Alliance with the Opposition,” Al-Alam TV, Iran
“Iran Strengthens Ties with China,” IRIB2 TV, Iran
“Internal Iranian Conflict Over Nuclear File,” Abu Dhabi TV, UAE
Produced for Link TV by Jamal Dajani

Torturing Palestinian Detainees by Stephen Lendman

Dandelion Salad

by Stephen Lendman
Global Research, November 14, 2007

B’Tselem is the conservative Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories with a well-deserved reputation for accuracy. A group of prominent academics, attorneys, journalists and Knesset members founded the organization in 1989 to “document and educate the Israeli public and policymakers about human rights violations in the Occupied Territories, combat the phenomenon of denial prevalent among the Israeli public, and help create a human rights culture in Israel” to convince government officials to respect human rights and comply with international law.

Its work covers a wide range of human rights issues that include detentions and torture. In May, 2007, it prepared a detailed 100 page report titled “Absolute Prohibition: The Torture and Ill-treatment of Palestinian Detainees” that’s now available in print for those who request it. This article summarizes its findings that represent a joint effort by B’Tselem and HaMoked: Center for the Defense of the Individual that was founded in 1988 to support Palestinian rights during the first intifada in the late 1980s.

Since the early 1990s, B’Tselem published more than ten reports on Israelis’ use of torture and mistreatment of Palestinian detainees. This is the latest one in an effort to raise public awareness and help abolish these abhorrent practices. The findings are based on testimonies solicited from a small “unrepresentative” sample of 73 Palestinian West Bank residents who were arrested between July, 2005 and January, 2006, agreed to tell their stories, and who met predetermined criteria for the study.

They were chosen from the names of 4460 Palestinian detainees whose relatives contacted HaMoked for help to locate their whereabouts. HaMoked provides this service because Israel violates international law and its own military regulations by denying family members any information about who was detained or where they’re being held. From its many years investigating Israeli torture, B’Tselem believes the information in this report accurately reflects the types and extent of Israeli abusive practices.

Torture, abuse or degrading treatment are abhorrent in any form for any reason, and long-standing international law forbids these practices under all circumstances. The four 1949 Geneva Conventions banned any form of “physical or mental coercion” and affirmed sick, wounded, war prisoners and civilians must be treated humanely. All four conventions have a common thread called Common Article Three that requires all non-combatants to be treated humanely at all times. There are no exceptions for any reasons, and violations are grave breaches of Geneva and other international law that constitute crimes of war and against humanity.

Nonetheless, the 1987 Landau Commission (headed by retired Israeli Supreme Court Chief Justice Moshe Landau) cited the “necessary defense” provision in the Penal Law to recommend using “psychological and moderate physical pressure,” to obtain evidence for convictions in criminal proceedings. Its justification was that coercive interrogation tactics were necessary against “hostile terrorist activity” it defined to include not just threats or acts of violence but all activities related to Palestinian nationalism.

Later in September, 1999, Israel’s High Court of Justice (HCJ) responded to the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel’s petition (PCATI) and issued a landmark decision (reversing Landau recommendations) and barred the use of torture against detainees. It was, however, a hollow gesture as at the same time it ruled pressure and a measure of discomfort were legitimate interrogation side-effects but should not be used to break a detainee’s spirit. It then added a giant loophole allowing interrogators to use physical force and avoid prosecutions in “ticking time bomb” cases even though international law allows no exceptions, and Israeli authorities could claim that excuse for anyone in custody.

Since its occupation of Gaza and the West Bank (the OPT) in 1967, Israel imprisoned over 650,000 Palestinians according to the Palestinian peace and justice group MIFTA. That’s equivalent to about one-sixth of the OPT’s population today. The security services currently hold around ten to twelve thousand Palestinian men, women and children in its prisons under deplorable conditions with many under administrative detention without charge. Based on earlier assessments by Hamoked, B’Tselem estimates as many as 85% of them are subjected to torture and mistreatment in custody even though most of them aren’t accused of terrorism. These practices are routinely and systematically used against political activists, students accused of being pro-Islam, sheikhs and religious leaders, people in Islamic charitable organizations, relatives of wanted individuals or any man, woman or child Israel targets for any reason.

B’Tselem’s May, 2007 report states that the Israeli Security Agency (ISA – formerly called the General Security Service or GSS) admits to using “exceptional” methods that include “physical pressure” of interrogation in “ticking bomb” cases that can be used as an excuse to abuse anyone. In addition, law enforcement officials openly admit harsh measures are approved retroactively so that Palestinian detainee rights can be freely violated without fear of recrimination. In other words, ISA interrogators know the rules – don’t ask permission, use any methods you wish, and don’t worry about the consequences after the fact. There won’t be any, and it shows in what detainees told B’Tselem.

They reported being “softened up” for interrogation from the moment of their arrest to when ISA agents took over. Abuses at the outset included beatings, painful binding, swearing, humiliation and denial of basic needs. The ISA procedure then included seven key forms of abuse that violated the detainees’ dignity and bodily integrity. They were inflicted to break their spirit, but international law calls it torture when it includes verified intent, severe pain or suffering, improper motive, and involvement of the state. All those conditions apply to Israeli abusive practices that included:

— isolation that prohibited detainees from contact with family, an attorney or ICRC representatives; this exacerbated detainees’ sense of powerlessness by creating a situation in which they’re completely at the mercy of interrogators; it’s also known to cause them serious psychological harm when continued for extended periods;

— psychological pressure from solitary confinement in “putrid, stifling cells three to six square meters in size” with no windows or access to daylight and fresh air; a fixed overhead light on 24 hours a day; walls made of rough plaster making them uncomfortable or impossible to lean against; a water faucet on one wall and some cells with sinks; a usually dirty and damp mattress and “filthy putrid” blankets on the floor; nothing else in cells; reading and writing materials not allowed; in many cells, toilets were holes in the floor; detainees denied all human contact except for guards and interrogators.

— physical conditions in solitary confinement cells are regulated in Criminal Procedure Regulations issued by Israel’s Minister of Internal Security with the approval of the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee; they don’t apply to “security detainees,” however, so cells have no bed, chairs and most often no sink; nothing else provided including use of a telephone and right to have visitors provide items; cells were too small to walk around in, and no daily outside exercise was allowed;

— detainees weakened from lack of physical activity, sleep deprivation and inadequate food; they’re denied basic needs like food and liquids, medicines or the right to relieve themselves; throughout long hours of interrogation, they’re shackled to a chair unable to move hands or legs even minimally; they had nutritional deficiencies and food received was inadequate, cold, improperly cooked, flavorless and often repulsive in appearance; many detainees resisted eating as long as possible;

— shackling in the “shabah” position that’s the prolonged and painful binding of detainees’ hands and feet to a standard-sized unupholstered, metal frame, rigid plastic chair fixed to the floor with no armrests; hands tightly bound behind the back in adjustable plastic handcuffs and connected to a ring at the back of the seat to stretch them uncomfortably below the backrest; legs bound to the chair’s front legs; detainees were unable to get up throughout interrogation that on average lasted eight consecutive hours without a break and on the first day ran 12 hours; later in the interrogation period, sessions shortened to four or five hours;

— interrogations only for a small portion of this time; for most if it, interrogators were out of the room; at those times air conditioning turned up to uncomfortably cold levels; most often only one meal served during a day’s interrogation; very sparing toilet privileges allowed; nearly all detainees complained of severe back, neck, shoulder, arms and wrist pain during interrogation; numbness or loss of sensation in limbs also reported; the Israeli High Court of Justice (HCJ) ruled in 1999 that all “shabah” shackling procedures are unlawful since they violate rules for “reasonable and fair interrogation” and injure detainees’ dignity and well-being; ISA interrogators ignore the ruling with impunity;

— cursing and humiliating strip searches of detainees as well as shouting, spitting in the face and other related abusive practices; detainees forced to strip naked and submit to body searches while being yelled at and mocked;

— intimidations made to include threats of physical torture (called “military interrogation”), arrest of family members and destruction of homes;

— using informants (“asafirs”) to get information that’s not abusive as such but is a very questionable method following preparatory “softening up.”

B’Tselem then discussed “special” interrogation methods that mostly involve physical violence:

— sleep deprivation for 30 to 40 hours during which detainees left painfully shackled in interrogation rooms; guards frequently awakened detainees between midnight and 5AM; various type oppressive noises used at night to interfere with sleep;

— use of “dry” beatings that included punching, kicking all parts of the body, striking with rifle butts and face slapping; detainees hit with clubs, helmets and other objects; heads slammed against a wall, floor or hard surface; beatings inflicted when detainees’ hands were bound behind their back, and they were blindfolded; additional beatings during physical inspections with their hands cuffed;

— painful binding with handcuffs or other devices tight enough to cut off blood flow circulation and cause swelling;

— sharp twisting of the head forcefully and suddenly sideways or backwards;

— forced “frog” crouching on tiptoes with cuffed hands behind the back accompanied by shoving or beating until detainees lost their balance and fell forward or backward; this method inflicts pain by increasing pressure on leg muscles and also hurts wrists after falling;

— use of forced “banana” position that involves bending the back in a painful arch while the body is extended horizontally to the floor on a backless chair with arms and feet bound beneath it.

Prison killings also occur like the October 22 one at the notorious Ketziot Detention Center in the Negev desert where 2300 Palestinians are held under very harsh conditions. It happened at 2AM when prison guards began searching tents and strip-searching inmates in a deliberate middle of the night provocation. Prisoners resisted and about 550 members of the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) Metsada riot dispersal unit responded with excessive force by beating them with plastic clubs and rifle butts as well as firing rubber-coated bullets, live ammunition, tear gas and stun grenades that set tents ablaze and caused as many as 250 inmate injuries and at least nine serious ones. During the assault, Mohammed Al Ashqar was killed after being shot in the head.

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) maintains that prisoner abuse, repressive tactics and killing Palestinians is official Israeli policy that’s become even worse under current IPS director, Beni Kaniak. PCHR reports he instituted these punitive measures:

— reductions in food and cleaning materials rations;

— additional items prisoners forbidden to have;

— confiscated prisoners’ money and prevented none sent from families to reach them;

— widespread use of solitary confinement;

— periodic movement of prisoners to new facilities to prevent any sense of stability;

— repeated unannounced harsh late night raids like the October 22 one at Ketziot.

These tactics and Palestinian detainee torture and abuse are condoned “under the auspices of the Israeli law enforcement system.” B’Tselem reported since 2001, Israel’s State Attorney’s Office got over 500 complaints of these practices but investigated none of them. Overall, instances of detainee mistreatment are rarely looked into and even fewer ever result in indictments. Further, despite its 1999 ruling, Israel’s High Court of Justice (HCJ) aids ISA interrogations by refusing to accept even one of hundreds of petitions brought before it for redress. HCJ also lets ISA conceal information from detainees that abusive orders were issued against them or that legal petitions were filed on their behalf. It further allows evidence obtained under torture to be used in criminal proceedings.

B’Tselem and HaMoked are committed to ending Israel’s use of torture against Palestinian detainees. They cite the example of the US Army’s September, 2006 Field Manual for Human Intelligence Collector Operations as a proper guide to conducting interrogations even though authorized physical and psychological brutality became official administration policy under George Bush post-9/11. Nonetheless, this manual covers 18 interrogation methods experience showed work under varying situations and conditions. They range from establishing trust between interrogator and detainee to the use of ruses and psychological manipulation. In all cases, they don’t involve torture or other unlawful practices.

It’s one thing to have rules and laws and another to abide by them. The US under George Bush condones and practices “the harshest interrogation techniques ever used by the Central Intelligence Agency” according to once secret Department of Justice (DOJ) legal opinions. It’s no different in Israel where the ISA systematically and routinely uses banned interrogation measures with impunity. B’Tselem and HaMoked want these practices ended and urge the Israeli government to halt them by enacting enforceable laws “strictly prohibiting torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment” in accordance with international law.

They further recommend every complaint of abuse and torture be investigated by an independent body, persons found to have broken the law to be prosecuted, and that “every detainee receives minimum humane conditions.”

Israel claims to be a civilized state. It’s about time it acted like one.

Stephen Lendman is Research Associate of the Centre for research on Globalization. He lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

Also visit his blog site at www.sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to The Steve Lendman News and Information Hour on www.TheMIcroEffect.com Mondays at noon US central time.

Stephen Lendman is a frequent contributor to Global Research. Global Research Articles by Stephen Lendman
The CRG grants permission to cross-post original Global Research articles on community internet sites as long as the text & title are not modified. The source and the author’s copyright must be displayed. For publication of Global Research articles in print or other forms including commercial internet sites, contact: crgeditor@yahoo.com

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Israel: My god, what did we do? h/t: ICH

I Miss George Michael Evica by Colin McEnroe + George Evica Dies; Longtime Radio Commentator by Susan Campbell

My deepest sympathies to Mariana and her family at this sad time.

From the words of his daughter, Mariana:

My Dad was a first generation environmentalist, truth-seeker of the highest order, an empowerer of the people and grass-roots activist and broadcaster.

The dossier on my father (indeed my whole family) must be substantial, if his earlier FOI requests are any indication (they included *transcripts* of his radio broadcasts – mind you, we didn’t *publish* transcripts…that means some Intelligence hack sitting around relatively locally (since the show was not syndicated) and writing down every word my father spoke on his show, Assassination Journal.)

…his controversial research…he had his detractors…but by and large was revered for his scholarly research and investigative reporting regarding JFK, RFK, the plots to kill Fidel Castro, the War on Drugs, Iran/Contra, and *so much more*.

~ Lo

Dandelion Salad

I Miss George Michael Evica

by Colin McEnroe
Nov. 14, 2007

If you miss him too, you can sort of bring him back with these high-res video clips.

It was George Michael Evica (deftly rendered here by the great Susan Campbell) who taught me that art arises from the creation myth, that every culture has a foundation story in which something breaks. The apple is bitten, the egg is cracked, the fire is stolen. Something has gone terribly wrong and perfection is shattered.And art, said George Michael, can be understood as the collective effort to dance and sing and paint and write until the fissure is healed and the crack is sealed and perfection is restored. Which will never happen. And yet we try, because we’re hard-wired to do so. We crave restoration, and we hurl ourselves against the wall of night as we strive for it.

Continued…

***

George Evica Dies; Longtime Radio Commentator

Professor Aired WWUH’s `Assassination Journal’

By Susan Campbell

Courant Staff Writer
November 12, 2007

How convenient, to label someone a nut.

Dismissing someone as unbalanced takes the pressure off the rest of us, and allows us to go about our business.

For two generations, George Michael Evica was known internationally as the grandfather of all John F. Kennedy assassination researchers. The University of Hartford emeritus professor of literature emphatically held that the commonly accepted wisdom – that malcontent Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in shooting the president in November 1963 – was a lie.

In the minds of some, that placed Evica in the same school as people who believe in Bigfoot, but for people who listened to his multiple lectures at JFK assassination conferences, to his nearly 40 years of Hartford classroom lectures, or to his long-running weekly half-hour radio show on WWUH, “Assassination Journal,” Evica was a heavily resourced, highly intelligent nudge toward the truth.

Continued…

see

http://www.legacy.com/HartfordCourant/DeathNotices.asp?Page=LifeStory&PersonID=97834000

http://www.legacy.com/HartfordCourant/GB/GuestbookView.aspx?PersonId=97834000

House Dem. Talking Points on New Iraq Bill By David Swanson

The bill is H.R. 4156. Go tell your congressperson your feelings.

~ Lo

Dandelion Salad

By David Swanson
After Downing Street
Nov. 14, 2007

Here’s the Iraq bill the U.S. House of Representatives will vote on, on Wednesday:
http://www.afterdowningstreet.org/downloads/bridgebullbill.pdf

Here are the actual talking points the Democratic misleadership thinks will coat this pig with lipstick:

“Iraq Redeployment Bill

1. “Requires the redeployment of US troops from Iraq to begin within 30 days of enactment, with a target for completion of December 15, 2008;”

No, the counter-recruitment movement and the worst year of U.S. Army recruiting since the Vietnam War requires the withdrawal, not redeployment, of a small number of troops. Targets are for archery camp, not for dictators. Asking Bush and Cheney to agree to a “target” or a “goal” that you know they will never attempt to meet is not helpful or appropriate. We can do that. You are the United States Congress. The first half of the U.S. Constitution is devoted to making you the most powerful branch of our government. Have you read it?

2. “Requires a transition in the mission of US forces in Iraq from primarily combat to: force protection and diplomatic protection; limited support to Iraqi security forces; and targeted counter-terrorism operations;”

Call it whatever you want. They’re not occupying YOUR country. People in Iraq sometimes used to have good moments. Their lives were constrained by a brutal dictator, but they had predictability, stability, and even good times. They now have almost unmitigated misery. Over a million of them are dead. Over 4 million have been displaced. You have done this to them by funding your occupation of their country. Your first act must be to stop funding genocide. Period. Stop funding it. No more bills.

3. “Prohibits deployment of any troops not fully equipped and trained; waivable with a presidential national security certification;”

Do you not understand that even when you require Bush and Cheney to do things, they laugh at you? How seriously do you think they take waivable suggestions? The American people consider waivable requirements of Bush and Cheney to be indications that you are either insane or believe we are remarkably stupid, and we know you’d never think we were stupid.

4. “Extends to all US government agencies and personnel the limitations in the Army Field Manual on permissible interrogation techniques;”

So do the Eighth Amendment and the Convention Against Torture and the Geneva Conventions. So what? The question is what you are going to do about it. Pretending that until this moment the CIA was permitted to torture is a way of granting immunity, when you should be drafting indictments and articles of impeachment.

5. “Provides $50 billion to meet the needs of the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan but defers the consideration of the remainder of the President’s nearly $200 billion request.”

Name me one troop who believes he or she is going to get that $50 billion or any sliver of it. I dare you to pass this bill with an amendment that makes it conditional on majority approval by the active duty troops in Iraq whose bodies you hide behind. Give them a choice of coming home or “being funded,” and your whole charade will collapse.

This is a bill first and foremost to do what you bury in your final talking point: throw another 50 billion dollars at the occupation of Iraq. You’ve consciously avoided banning the use of this money for attacking Iran. You’ve required no withdrawal, no closing of bases. You’ve not used the power of the purse. You’ve not so much as mentioned mercenaries or contractors. You’ve not explained where this $50 billion will come from, mush less all the other resulting costs. Your own study says we’ve already spent $1.5 trillion. And you want to spend more? Again, are you insane?

Bush just signed the biggest military pork bill in history. Withdrawing from Iraq is pocket change. You can pass a bill to fund a withdrawal if you want to, but this isn’t it. This is a bill to fund more occupation.

Ninety of you committed to not voting for bills like this one: http://afterdowningstreet.org/peacepledge If you do not stand by your word, your word will be known as worthless henceforth.

Speaker Pelosi, if you are willing to cut off the money should Bush not accept your latest bill (as if the Senate will), then why not cut the money off now? There are lives in the balance and your top concern is being able to “blame” Bush for saving them? You need to get out more. Talk to people. Listen to them.

Here’s something they just told pollsters at American Research Group: 94% of Democrats say Cheney has abused his power, 69% say he’s committed impeachable offenses, 63% say he should be removed from office. You only said impeachment was off the table for Bush, not Cheney. And, even then, you said you could not predict where investigations might lead.

Stop funding genocide, Nancy, and allow the Judiciary Committee to do it’s job, and your desk will be covered with flowers and your coffers overflowing.

Any of your gang who votes to fund more war will have only impeachment as a path to redemption. If they fail there, they will be utterly worthless, and you will be to blame.

Email Congress: http://www.democrats.com/peoplesemailnetwork/124

Phone Congress: 202-224-3121.

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

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Anti-War Voters Lash Out at Democrats They Helped Put in Office

Tell Congress: Vote No on Wednesday on Funding the Occupation

Slip Sliding Away: House Votes on Iraq War Funding Today, November 14

The Dog that Didn’t Bark: The Story I’d Like Bill Moyers to Cover by Andrew Bard Schmookler

Dandelion Salad

by Andrew Bard Schmookler
Atlantic Free Press
Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Bill Moyers as American Hero

Bill Moyers is one of those Americans who remind us about what has been good about America. His voice has been one of the important remnants of decency and integrity for our times.

Believing that, I have had hopes over the past three years that Mr. Moyers would take on still more than he has of the mantle of prophetic truth-telling. Few Americans can compare with his stature, prominence and moral standing, so I believed Bill Moyers might really be able to help awaken America and change the political dynamic of our endangered nation. And I still do.

Mr. Moyers has indicated, however, that he considers himself to be a journalist, not an activist. And as a journalist he has indeed made an important contribution.

But the state of the nation remains extremely perilous, and –as I expressed in my “Lament of a True Patriot” (at http://www.nonesoblind.org/blog/?p=919)– the American body politic has not responded to this threat in the way that our Founders intended for us to. And in view of the continuing need for more boldness in defense of our American democracy to confront and counter the utter brazenness of the Bushite assault on our democratic heritage, I have not relinquished my hopes for Mr. Moyers to come forward still more boldly to confront the present assault on our democratic heritage. And to do so as a journalist.

THE STORY OF A LIFETIME FOR ANY JOURNALIST TO INVESTIGATE

The public needs a full report on how the American free press failed to sound the alarm as the lawlessness and the dishonesty of this regime became evident.

The lawlessness of this presidency is, I would assert, one of the most significant and consequential stories in American history. And one that, as a journalist, Mr. Moyers has helped to cover. But that’s not the story I’m asking him to cover now.

Instead, I am suggesting that Mr. Moyers investigate the story of how the free press in America has failed to fulfill the vital function our Founders intended. It was precisely for this kind of situation, after all –the emergence of a presidency claiming to be above the law, usurping virtually dictatorial powers– that these great men enshrined “freedom of the press” in our Constitution. In the face of a lawless presidency, the press was to represent the interests of the people, sounding the alarm even though that required standing up to the regime.

But our corporate media have, by and large, done the very opposite.

I’ll not spend time here documenting that assertion. It’s been done elaborately in many places by many people.

THE DOG THAT DIDN’T BARK

Suffice it to say that Mr. Moyers could do the nation a great service if he put his considerable journalistic skills, and his priceless reputation for integrity and basic human decency, to work in investigating our malfunctioning alarm system and ask such questions as these:

· Why is it that the corporate media spent vastly more investigative energy reporting to the American people about a sexual indiscretion by an American president than in investigating abundant signs that a sitting president has been conducting a coordinated and comprehensive assault on the rule of law?

· What accounts for the fact that the press treated Nixon’s crimes which, in comparison with today’s, were relatively limited and minor, as a matter of great national importance, but has refused to give to today’s altogether unprecedented presidential assault on the Constitution any such front-and-center attention?

· Did the mainstream American system of journalism fail to grasp the importance of the story or did they choose to ignore or minimize it? And how, and why?

· President Bush just set a record in the history of American polling: fully 50 percent of the American people now “strongly disapprove” of this president, even more than was the case with Nixon during Watergate. In earlier times, the mainstream media would make much more of such a historic development, and would flesh out the story by going out, for example and actually asking people just what it is generates their strong disapproval. But of course there’s been no such coverage. Why is that?

· Just this past week, the number of Americans who think the nation to be on the right track got down to just one in five. One would think that such a plunge in a vital sign of our democracy would be an important piece of news. Shouldn’t the mainstream media be asking the American people just what track they think the nation is on and what there is about it they regard as wrong? Where are they?

“The Dog That Didn’t Bark” is a famous phrase from a Sherlock Holmes tale, where the silence of a guard dog proved the essential clue, for it showed that the dog was on friendly terms with the culprit. Someone with great credibility is needed to find out if the American media have been quiet for the same reason.

So I conclude by saying that by uncovering and presenting this story Bill Moyers would be performing a profound service to the nation!

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Why Are They So Afraid of Ron Paul? by Justin Raimondo

Dandelion Salad

by Justin Raimondo
Antiwar.com
November 14, 2007

Neocons and sectarian leftists unite to smear the antiwar Republican

As I predicted last month, the only consistently antiwar candidate on the Republican side of the aisle is breaking through – but in a spectacular manner that I certainly did not foresee. Suddenly, Paul is everywhere, from the Sunday morning talk shows to the length and breadth of the blogosphere. His amazing $4.2 million-in-one-day fundraising feat has entered the annals of presidential politics as the long-promised fulfillment of Internet-based political fundraising. And the myth that it’s all online and not translatable into real people is belied by his recent 5,000-strong Philadelphia rally and similar events in Iowa and elsewhere. Paul has become the equivalent of a rock star among the young, and his appeal goes way beyond the usual libertarian crowd: liberals and conservatives, all races and cultural types, from home-schooling Christians to San Francisco pagans and everything in between. On the Internet, and in the streets, the Ron Paul Revolution, as his followers have dubbed their movement, is taking off.

The conventional wisdom, prior to this breakthrough, was that the Paul campaign was political vaporware, existing exclusively online and not in the material world. Yet that meme is quickly falling by the wayside as his polling numbers are rocketing upwards, from New Hampshire to Nevada. The money windfall – a result that the official campaign had nothing to do with, and which was generated entirely by Paul’s independent supporters acting entirely on their own initiative – has made an advertising blitz possible, with at least two television ads and several radio ads running in early primary states.

Continued…

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

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Ron Paul distortions and smears by Glenn Greenwald

Ron Paul on Face the Nation (video; 11.11.07)

High Treason! Ron Paul, Kucinich, Bernard Kerik by William Mac (video)

Ron Paul Drums Up Support At Rally + Philadelphia Rally (videos)

Paul-Ron

Ron Paul distortions and smears by Glenn Greenwald

Dandelion Salad

by Glenn Greenwald
Monday November 12, 2007

(updated below – Update II – Update III – Update IV – Update V – Update VI)

I’m not trying to be Ron Paul’s advocate but, still, outright distortions and smears are distortions and smears. In an otherwise informative and legitimate (and widely-cited) post today about Paul’s record in Congress, Dave Neiwert claims:

Even though he claims to be a “libertarian”, he opposes people’s freedom to burn or destroy their own copies of the design of the U.S. flag.

He then links to two bills which Paul introduced in Congress which would, in essence, amend the Constitution in order to allow prohibitions on flag burning. But Neiwert’s claim here is, in one respect, completely misleading and, in another respect, outright false (in both cases, I assume the error is unintentional). Unlike Hillary Clinton — the Democratic Party front-runner who, “along with Sen. Robert Bennett, a Utah Republican, introduced a bill that would make flag burning illegal” — Ron Paul was and is vehemently against any and all laws to criminalize flag burning, including the constitutional amendment he introduced. He introduced that amendment solely to make a point — one he makes frequently — that the legislation being offered to criminalize flag burning was plainly unconstitutional, and that the only legitimate way to ban flag burning was to amend the First Amendment.

Indeed, he only introduced those flag-burning amendments in order to dare his colleagues who wanted to pass a law banning flag burning to do it that way — i.e., the constitutional way. When introducing his amendments, he delivered an eloquent and impassioned speech on the floor of the House explaining why he considered anti-flag-burning measures to be “very unnecessary and very dangerous.” And he urged his colleagues to vote against them, including the ones he introduced:

As for my viewpoint, I see the amendment as very unnecessary and very dangerous. I want to make a few points along those lines. It has been inferred too often by those who promote this amendment that those who oppose it are less patriotic, and I think that is unfair. . . .

It has also been said that if one does not support this amendment to the flag that they are disloyal to the military, and that cannot possibly be true. I have served 5 years in the military, and I do not feel less respectful of the military because I have a different interpretation on how we should handle the flag. But nevertheless, I think what we are doing here is very serious business because it deals with more than just the flag.

First off, I think what we are trying to achieve through an amendment to the Constitution is to impose values on people — that is, teach people patriotism with our definition of what patriotism is. But we cannot force values on people; we cannot say there will be a law that a person will do such and such because it is disrespectful if they do not, and therefore, we are going to make sure that people have these values that we want to teach.

Values in a free society are accepted voluntarily, not through coercion, and certainly not by law, because the law implies that there are guns, and that means the federal government and others will have to enforce these laws.

Rep. Paul did exactly the same thing with the invasion of Iraq, which he opposed. He argued (accurately) that the only constitutional method for Congress to authorize the President to invade another country was to declare war on that country. The Constitution does not allow the Congress to “authorize” military force without a war declaration. Rep. Paul thus introduced a Declaration of War in the House on the ground that such a Declaration was constitutionally required to invade Iraq — and he then proceeded to vote against the AUMF (because, unlike Hillary Clinton, he actually opposed the invasion). Thus, saying that Paul wants to outlaw flag burning (as Neiwert’s post does) — or that he supported the war in Iraq — is just false. * * * * *

This raises a broader point. It has become fashionable among certain commentators to hurl insults at Ron Paul such as “huge weirdo,” “fruitcake,” and the like. Interestingly, the same thing was done to another anti-war medical doctor/politician, Howard Dean, back in 2003, as Charles Krauthammer infamously pronounced with regard to Dean that “it’s time to check on thorazine supplies.” Krauthammer subsequently said that “[i]t looks as if Al Gore has gone off his lithium again.”

For a long time now, I’ve heard a lot of people ask: “where are the principled conservatives?” — meaning those on the Right who are willing to oppose the constitutional transgressions and abuses of the Bush administration without regard to party loyalty. A “principled conservative” isn’t someone who agrees with liberals on most issues; that would make them a “principled liberal.” A “principled conservative” is someone who aggressively objects to the radicalism of the neocons and the Bush/Cheney assault on our constitution and embraces a conservative political ideology. That’s what Ron Paul is, and it’s hardly a surprise that he holds many views anathema to most liberals. That hardly makes him a “fruitcake.”

Hillary Clinton supported the invasion of a sovereign country that had not attacked us and could not attack us — as did some of the commentators now aggressively questioning Ron Paul’s mental health or, at least, his “seriousness.” She supported the occupation of that country for years — until it became politically unpalatable. That war has killed hundreds of thousands of people at least and wreaked untold havoc on our country. Are those who supported that war extremist, or big weirdos, or fruitcakes?

Or how about her recent support for Joe Lieberman’s Iran warmongering amendment, or her desire to criminalize flag burning, or her vow to strongly consider an attack on Iran if they obtain nuclear weapons? Is all of that sane, normal, and serious?

And I read every day that corporations and their lobbyists are the bane of our country, responsible for most of its ills. What does it say about her that her campaign is fueled in large part by support from exactly those factions? Are she and all of her supporters nonetheless squarely within the realm of the sane and normal? And none of this is to say anything of the Giulianis and Podhoretzs and Romneys and Krauthammers and Kristols with ideas so extreme and dangerous, yet still deemed “serious.”

That isn’t to say that nobody can ever be deemed extremist or even crazy. But I’ve heard Ron Paul speak many times now. There are a lot of views he espouses that I don’t share. But he is a medical doctor and it shows; whatever else is true about him, he advocates his policies in a rational, substantive, and coherent way — at least as thoughtful and critical as any other political figure on the national scene, if not more so. As the anti-Paul New York Sun noted today, Paul has been downright prescient for a long time in warning about the severe devaluation of the dollar.

And — as the above-cited efforts to compel Congress to actually adhere to the Constitution demonstrate — few people have been as vigorous in defense of Constitutional principles as those principles have been mangled and trampled upon by this administration while most of our establishment stood by meekly. That’s just true.

Paul’s efforts in that regard may be “odd” in the sense that virtually nobody else seemed to care all that much about systematic unconstitutional actions, but that hardly makes him a “weirdo.” Sometimes — as the debate over the Iraq War should have demonstrated once and for all — the actual “fruitcake” positions are the ones that are held by the people who are welcome in our most respectable institutions and magazines, both conservative and liberal.

* * * * * *

This whole concept of singling out and labelling as “weirdos” and “fruitcakes” political figures because they espouse views that are held only by a small number of people is nothing more than an attempt to discredit someone without having to do the work to engage their arguments. It’s actually a tactic right out of the seventh grade cafeteria. It’s just a slothful mechanism for enforcing norms.

Under the right circumstances, enforcement of norms might have some utility. Where things are going relatively well, and the country has a healthy political dialogue, perhaps there isn’t much of a need to expand the scope of ideas that we consider “normal.” Having all the people whose views fit comfortably in the mainstream stigmatize as “fruitcakes” all those whose views are outside of the mainstream might, under those happy circumstances, bear little cost.

But our country isn’t doing all that well right now. Our political dialogue isn’t really vibrant or healthy. It seems rather self-evident that it is preferable to enlarge the scope of ideas that we consider and to expand the debates that we engage. The “norms” that have prevailed over the last six years have led the country quite astray and are in need of fundamental re-examination, at the very least. That a political figure (or pundit) clings loyally to prevailing norms isn’t exactly evidence of their worth, let alone their mental health. The contrary proposition might actually be more plausible.

There is something disorienting about watching the same people who cheered much of this on, or who will enthusiastically support for President a candidate who enabled and cheered much of it on, trying to constrict debate by labeling as “weirdos” and “fruitcakes” those who have most aggressively opposed it all. As the debates of 2002 should have proved rather conclusively, the arguments that are deemed to be the province of the weirdos and losers may actually be the ideas that are right. They at least deserve an honest airing, especially in a presidential campaign with as much at stake as this one.

* * * * * *

For anyone with any questions about what this post means and, more importantly, what it does not mean, please see here (Update II).

UPDATE: Bruce Fein is an example of a conservative who — by virtue of his outspoken opposition to Bush lawbreaking — has generated substantial respect among Bush critics, including many liberals. Yet Fein hasn’t changed his views at all. He is, for instance, emphatically pro-life, and rather recently urged that “President George W. Bush should pack the United States Supreme Court with philosophical clones of Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas and defeated nominee Judge Robert H. Bork.” Fein is still a hard-core conservative, but a principled one. At least in that regard, I would compare Fein to Paul.

On another note, I wrote in my prior post concerning Paul that I found the efforts (by Neiwert and others) to smear him by linking him to some of his extremist and hate-mongering supporters to be unfair (for reasons I explained here). Neiwert responded and compiled what he thinks is the best evidence to justify this linkage here.

For reasons I’ll detail at another time, I found virtually all of that to be unpersuasive, relying almost entirely on lame guilt-by-association arguments that could sink most if not all candidates (the only arguably disturbing evidence in this regard is this 1996 Houston Chronicle article, which Neiwert didn’t mention, and the pro-Paul response is here). Everyone can review the evidence — all of which is quite old and very little of which relies on any of Paul’s own statements — and make up their own minds.

UPDATE II: Interesting, and otherwise passed on without comment (h/t selise):

Ron Paul talks about Dennis Kucinich (video)

UPDATE III: For a sense of how consistently Paul applies his principles regarding the proper role of the federal government, consider his emphatic opposition to a Congressional Gold Medal to be awarded to Ronald and Nancy Reagan, on the ground that “appropriating $30,000 of taxpayer money is neither constitutional nor, in the spirit of Ronald Reagan’s notion of the proper, limited role for the federal government” (on the other hand, his recent vote in favor of the Congressional resolution to condemn MoveOn.org, which he’d presumably justify on the ground that it is non-binding, certainly seems in tension with his underlying view of federal power). There is certainly ample ground to dispute Paul’s view of the proper, constitutional role of the federal versus the state government in various matters. That is probably a worthwhile debate to have. But the claim that Paul’s federalism is just an unprincipled ruse to promote some sort of neo-Nazi or racist agenda is plainly belied by such acts, and is exactly the type of dishonest smear designed to discredit his views without bothering to do the work to engage and refute them.

UPDATE IV: The aforementioned Bruce Fein is legal counsel to the Ron Paul campaign. Liberal pro-choice feminist Naomi Wolf recently sang Paul’s praises, hailing him as “the outsider Republican presidential candidate who has long upheld these [constitutional] values and who was an early voice warning of the grave danger to all of us of these abuses.”

Have Bruce Fein and Naomi Wolf been concealing a neo-Nazi agenda which they are finally able to express through the Ron Paul campaign, or are they simply impressed by the obvious convictions and intense (though rare) passion he brings to issues which they seem to think are of vital importance — restoration of our constitutional framework and the rule of law, along with principled opposition to America’s imperialistic and militarized role in the world?

UPDATE V: There are many hysterical reactions to this post around, attributing to me all sorts of things I didn’t say. But this comment at Orcinus — explaining part of the appeal of some of Ron Paul’s positions while disagreeing with much of what I wrote — is quite insightful, though I don’t concur with all of it.

UPDATE VI: On all of these topics, HTML Mencken adds some important insights.

h/t: Antiwar.com

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see
Bruce Fein on Impeachment (video; updated)

Why Did Ron Paul Vote Against Impeachment? By Manila Ryce

Ron Paul on Impeachment of Cheney, Bush, Clinton (+ video)

Naomi Wolf: I Have a Lot of Respect for Ron Paul! (video)