We impeach over blow jobs, but not war crimes?

That’s pretty much the case:

George W. Bush’s speech on September 6 amounted to a public confession to criminal violations of the 1996 War Crimes Act. He implicitly admitted authorizing disappearances, extrajudicial imprisonment, torture, transporting prisoners between countries and denying the International Committee of the Red Cross access to prisoners.

These are all serious violations of the Geneva Conventions. The War Crimes Act makes grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions and all violations of Common Article 3 punishable by fines, imprisonment or, if death results to the victim, the death penalty.

But, just to be safe, Bush is trying to cover his ass. Guilty much, George?

At the same time, Bush asked Congress to amend the War Crimes Act in order to retroactively protect him and other U.S. officials from prosecution for these crimes, and from civil lawsuits arising from them. He justified this on the basis that “our military and intelligence personnel involved in capturing and questioning terrorists could now be at risk of prosecution under the War Crimes Act . . . ,” and insisted that “passing this legislation ought to be the top priority” for Congress between now and the election in November.

His profession of concern for military and intelligence personnel was utterly misleading. Military personnel charged with war crimes have always been, and continue to be, prosecuted under the Universal Code of Military Justice rather than the War Crimes Act; and the likelihood of CIA interrogators being identified and prosecuted under the act is remote — they are protected by the secrecy that surrounds all CIA operations.

The only real beneficiaries of such amendments to the War Crimes Act would be Bush himself and other civilian officials who have assisted him in these crimes — Rumsfeld, Cheney, Gonzales, Rice, Cambone, Tenet, Goss, Negroponte and an unfortunately long list of their deputies and advisors.

Where is the outrage?

Richard Clarke Weighs In on ABC’s 9/11 Fan Fiction

Check it out.

As someone who was directly involved in almost every event depicted in the fictionalized docudrama, “The Path to 9-11,” I believe it is an egregious distortion that does a deep disservice both to history and to those in both the Clinton and Bush administrations who are depicted.

Sadly, ABC’s Entertainment Division hired a production company and screen writer who were apparently unqualified to deal with this historically important subject matter. That error appears to have been compounded by the failure of some of the docudrama’s consultants to insure that the account was accurate. Some of the most outrageous scenes were removed after a recent senior level review. What remains, however, is not the true story as told by the 9-11 Commission.

Someday, we’d like to see ALL of it

We’ve seen bits of the satirical short “Truth in Advertising” before, but today Consumerist has what appears to be the entire first 12-minute chapter. We know there’s additional footage with another, perhaps subsequent storyline, but we’ve seen samples of that far less often than this one.

The real path to 9/11

Atrios points us to this excerpt from Al Franken’s book. Al’s a leftie, but everything in this summary is verifiable as far as I can tell. The bullet points:

  • The Clinton administration was becoming more and more convinced that AQ and OBL were going to be a big problem, so they created a far-reaching plan for their destruction. This plan was completed after the election, but before GWB’s inaugural.

  • Rather than hand Bush a fait accompli war, they instead passed on the plan.

  • The outgoing Clinton people put together multiple briefings for the incoming Bush people, including some comprehensive discussions of terror, OBL, and AQ. Said Sandy Berger, “I believe that the Bush administration will spend more time on terrorism in general, and on al Qaeda specifically, than any other subject.”

  • Impressed by his antiterror knowledge and bona fides, the Bush administration asked key counterterror bulldog Richard Clarke to stay on. Still, the impression the outgoing Clinton people had seems to have been that the Bush people thought they were obsessed with terrorism, and didn’t take the warnings seriously.

It gets worse. Of course, you knew that already.

What I Remember

I remember shaving.

I remember I was naked, hunched over my sink (the left one), still damp from the shower, face half covered in Barbasol. Craning, probably, to mow the recalcitrant part of my neck.

I remember getting half done and absently turning off the bathroom fan so I could hear Bob Edwards on the clock radio. I remember thinking his voice sounded funny. I remember realizing he was saying words that didn’t make sense, or at least words that I didn’t want to make sense. Some planes had crashed. Into a building, maybe? I kept shaving. Then, in the midst of discussing Bush’s first remarks on the attacks, he started stumbling over his words. Bob Edwards never stops; he’s a radio pro.

[That was] President Bush speaking this morning in Florida; he is on his way back to Washington now cutting short his visit to Florida where he was to promote his education programs this morning reading to elementary schoolchildren. The President may be the only one in the air at this hour; the Federal Aviation Administration has grounded air traffic in the United States because of reports that these planes that crashed into the World Trade Center (pause) today (pause) reports that these, uh, these planes were hijacked so the FAA has grounded these, ah, air traffic.

One of the Towers of the World Trade Center appears to have completely collapsed.

(26:45 into the NPR feed)

I stopped shaving and went downstairs to the TV, the absurd boom TV I won in an employee referral raffle scam before my firm started circling the drain sometime in summer 2001 (fuck you, Texaco). The story was set by then, and the only plot point yet to fire was the collapse of the second tower. I watched for a while before heading back upstairs to finish getting ready for work.

Which is weird. I guess the scale of the thing hadn’t really sunk in. It never occurred to me to stay home. At some level, I guess I wanted to be with my friends in the office — drain-circler or no, I still worked with a great group of people (this would last only another month, before bankruptcy and purchase and layoffs and office closure came in October).

About half the office was in; those with families and children and commutes were staying at home, but plenty of us were huddled around the TV in the break room, or perpetually reloading Cnn.com. The phones got lots of use; we had an office in downtown Manhattan, and wanted to make sure our friends were safe, too. We got lots of email. Rumors flew. Most were bullshit.

Midmorning, I got a call from Rob, one of my oldest friends. He’d been en route from Austin to visit our mutual friend Jack in Hawaii when the grounding order came, and was therefore stuck in Houston. “I’m in a cab; what’s the address of your house?” I had him come to my office instead, where I gave him the keys to my Porsche and instructions to come back in an hour. For some reason, I couldn’t leave yet.

Nothing happened in that hour. Rob came back. I left work — nobody was working — and we went for food. It was a beautiful day, cloudless and cool and dry. Chinese Cafe was open, bless them. After lunch, somewhat desperate for something to do, we went over to Rice, Rob’s alma mater, hoping for cheap alcohol. It felt like that kind of day. Neither campus pub was open yet, but there was no shortage of shell-shocked students. We went back to my house and caught Branagh’s “Henry V” on cable just in time for the St. Crispin’s Day speech. Nobody had any more interest in cable news, especially since it was already clear there’d be no new information. The girl I’d been kind of dating drove in, unwilling to spend the day alone in her apartment. My roommate came home; his girlfriend Lindsey came over. The five of us went to eat at a bar and grill around dinnertime, and we saw Carl. He looked somewhat worse for wear; an analyst for Merrill-Lynch, he knew the building, and I’m sure knew people who worked there. We drank. We went back home. We watched another movie (“Withnail and I”). Lauren went home. We all went to bed.

Rob stayed most of the week, sleeping on the couch, until his girlfriend could drive over and pick him up. Nobody I knew did any real work for a while after, but I’ll be damned if I can remember anything much else from that week.

Weirdly (or not, depending on how you look at these things), soon after 9/11 I started long-distance dating Mrs Heathen, who was living in DC at the time. We’d been emailing all summer, reconnecting (we’d been friends in college, but lost touch) and when I got busy at work and took too long to reply, she chastised me. I wrote her an actual physical letter as sort of a joke apology and mailed it during the first week of September. When she finally got back to her house after dealing with the Washington of September 11, my letter was the only item in her mailbox.

So here we are. Tell me what you remember, if you want.

How is it this guy still has a job?

Turns out Rummy didn’t just fail to plan for postvictory Iraq; he actively refused to do so. From an interview with Brigadier General Mark Scheid, chief of the Logistics War Plans Division:

“The secretary of defense continued to push on us … that everything we write in our plan has to be the idea that we are going to go in, we’re going to take out the regime, and then we’re going to leave,” Scheid said. “We won’t stay.”

Scheid said the planners continued to try “to write what was called Phase 4,” or the piece of the plan that included post-invasion operations like occupation.

Even if the troops didn’t stay, “at least we have to plan for it,” Scheid said.

“I remember the secretary of defense saying that he would fire the next person that said that,” Scheid said. “We would not do planning for Phase 4 operations, which would require all those additional troops that people talk about today.

The Army knew better. Rummy ignored them. Look where we are.

Score one for Logic

Back in the run-up to the absurd Iraqi war, we pointed out repeatedly that at the end of the day, Al Qaeda didn’t think any more of Saddam than they did of us, and that the feeling was probably mutual. We figured Hussein was a secular, neo-Stalinist dictator. He had no more patience with theocracy than do we, but for starkly different reasons.

Turns out, we were right.

A Senate report released today says that Saddam Hussein had a hostile relationship with al-Qaida and that the Iraqi dictator viewed the terrorist organization as a threat to his regime. In fact, according to the report, Hussein even tried to kill al-Zarqawi. The report also says that the US government was warned by several intelligence agencies that the Chalabi’s Iraqi National Congress, the US’s only source of WMD allegations, was unreliable.

There’s more, of course.

It’s Friday. We’re sick. Deal with it.

Omnibus Morning Post:

  • ABC may be backing off and has stated they’ll make some changes to the 9/11 movie to remove some of the “inaccuracies” (i.e. “lies”). It remains to be seen how much they can actually polish this turd, though. We expect it’ll still amount to GOP propaganda.

  • The Senate has, at long last, passed the pork database bill. This, at least, is good news.

  • Some attorneys and prominent GOP leaders are a bit upset about Bush’s proposal to try detainees in “tribunals” without allowing the accused to see the evidence against them. The unspoken bit in this move by Bush is that he’s obliquely admitted that he’s maintained secret CIA prisons to avoid US laws and jurisdiction. That’s illegal, and there ought to be repurcussions.

  • Bush’s bill attempting to retroactively legalize his warrantless wiretapping has stalled in the Senate due to insufficient support.

ABC to Facts: Drop Dead

They’re assuring the right-wing blogosphere that the film will run as-is, and that “the message of the Clinton administration failures remains fully intact.” They’ve also refused to allow those maligned by the film — President Clinton, Madeleine Albright, etc. — to see advance copies of the work despite their clear willingness to share it with any right-winger with a domain name (or Oxy addiction).

Oh, and it gets worse. MediaMatters notes that the ABC-sponsored teaching materials accompanying this box of tripe falsely suggest that Iraq had WMD, and link Iraq to 9/11. Yeah, you read that right: ABC is lying to schoolkids about actual history.

Even the Bushites say ABC is full of it

Via ThinkProgress:

Last night on MSNBC’s Scarborough Country, Roger Cressey — a top counterterrorism official to Bush II and Clinton — blasted ABC’s docudrama “The Path to 9/11.” Cressy said “it’s amazing . . . how much they’ve gotten wrong. They got the small stuff wrong” and “then they got the big stuff wrong.” He added that a scene where the Clinton administration passes on a surefire opportunity to take out bin Laden is “something straight out of Disney and fantasyland. It’s factually wrong. And that’s shameful.” (emph. added.)

They’ve got video. If you haven’t already, go tell ABC what you think of this crap.

So you know, just in case

TruthOut has a couple pieces in their archives noting Clinton’s actual antiterror steps. The Right loves to assert he didn’t do anything, or didn’t do enough, when it came to bin Laden, but the facts disagree.

Starting in 1995, Clinton took actions against terrorism that were unprecedented in American history. He poured billions and billions of dollars into counterterrorism activities across the entire spectrum of the intelligence community. He poured billions more into the protection of critical infrastructure. He ordered massive federal stockpiling of antidotes and vaccines to prepare for a possible bioterror attack. He order a reorganization of the intelligence community itself, ramming through reforms and new procedures to address the demonstrable threat. Within the National Security Council, “threat meetings” were held three times a week to assess looming conspiracies. His National Security Advisor, Sandy Berger, prepared a voluminous dossier on al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden, actively tracking them across the planet. Clinton raised the issue of terrorism in virtually every important speech he gave in the last three years of his tenure. In 1996, Clinton delivered a major address to the United Nations on the matter of international terrorism, calling it “The enemy of our generation.”

From here

Also, from a rundown of specific steps taken by the Clinton administration:

Roger Cressy, National Security Council senior director for counterterrorism in the period 1999-2001, responded to these allegations in an article for the Washington Times in 2003. “Mr. Clinton approved every request made of him by the CIA and the U.S. military involving using force against bin Laden and al-Qaeda,” wrote Cressy. “As President Bush well knows, bin Laden was and remains very good at staying hidden. The current administration faces many of the same challenges. Confusing the American people with misinformation and distortions will not generate the support we need to come together as a nation and defeat our terrorist enemies.”

Measures taken by the Clinton administration to thwart international terrorism and bin Laden’s network were historic, unprecedented and, sadly, not followed up on. Consider the steps offered by Clinton’s 1996 omnibus anti-terror legislation, the pricetag for which stood at $1.097 billion.

Now, could he have done more? Sure. Probably so. But the idea that he did nothing, or acted contrary to our interests, or was somehow derelict in his duty on this point is pure fantasy.

Olbermann to Bush: “Have you no sense of decency, sir?”

Strong beer, but spot on, again, as he is wont to be. This week Bush joined his Defense secretary in linking those who would question his policies with those who failed to corral the Nazis prior to World War II. This absurd and cynical ploy included an attempt to poison the very notion of “media” for his listeners — or, at least, those feebleminded enough to fall for it.

Crooks and Liars has both the video and the transcript of Olbermann’s response. I urge you to at least read what he has to say.

He begins:

It is to our deep national shame — and ultimately it will be to the President’s deep personal regret — that he has followed his Secretary of Defense down the path of trying to tie those loyal Americans who disagree with his policies — or even question their effectiveness or execution — to the Nazis of the past, and the al Qaeda of the present.

Today, in the same subtle terms in which Mr. Bush and his colleagues muddied the clear line separating Iraq and 9/11 — without ever actually saying so — the President quoted a purported Osama Bin Laden letter that spoke of launching, “a media campaign to create a wedge between the American people and their government.”

Make no mistake here — the intent of that is to get us to confuse the psychotic scheming of an international terrorist, with that familiar bogeyman of the right, the “media.”

The President and the Vice President and others have often attacked freedom of speech, and freedom of dissent, and freedom of the press.

Now, Mr. Bush has signaled that his unparalleled and unprincipled attack on reporting has a new and venomous side angle:

The attempt to link, by the simple expediency of one word — “media” — the honest, patriotic, and indeed vital questions and questioning from American reporters, with the evil of Al-Qaeda propaganda.

That linkage is more than just indefensible. It is un-American.

More on ABC’s fictional 9/11 movie

Turns out, they’re planning on making it look even more like a documentary by running it without commercials, and Scholastic is even providing a teacher’s study guide to accompany the film so that schoolchildren can discuss this pack of lies in the classroom as though it were a definitive historical account. Gotta start that indoctrination early!

Seriously, this thing is fucked. Richard Clarke — who knows a thing or two about terrorism, bin Laden, and what’s actually been done — points out what bullshit is in this film. Scenes like that are clear fabrications (the refutation is in the public record!) designed to lay the blame for this not at Bush’s administration — which pointedly ignored a daily briefing called “Bin Laden Determined to Strike Within US” — but instead at the Right’s favorite whipping boy, Bill Clinton. This, of course, despite the briefing the Bush folks got from Clinton’s antiterror squad (including Clarke) as well as Clinton’s own strikes against Bin Laden during his administration (for which he was lambasted by the Right, natch). We quote:

The actual history is quite different. According to the 9/11 Commission Report (pg. 199), then-CIA Director George Tenet had the authority from President Clinton to kill Bin Laden. Roger Cressy, former NSC director for counterterrorism, has written, “Mr. Clinton approved every request made of him by the CIA and the U.S. military involving using force against bin Laden and al-Qaeda.”

ABC, obviously feeling the heat, is seriously stonewalling the folks raising questions about this piece of tripe. In response, Firedog Lake has a list of questions they’d like answers to, though we’re sure ABC will remain silent. We do wonder, however, whether this clearly political film will trigger any sort of equal time claims.

ThinkProgress has a page up to help you tell ABC what you think about their blatantly political film, and the harm it can do to our sadly undereducated nation. Use it.

Dept. of You’ve Got To Be Shitting Me

So, this morning we woke up to discover that the domain name for IBP had expired (on 8/30, no less; that it worked until yesterday was a grace period). Visits to the site redirected to Network Solutions. Oops. Turns out, the owner of record was the founding artistic director — who left in 2001, and whose email presumably hasn’t worked since. Double Ooops.

After consulting with the managing director, we — in our dual capacity as Head Nerd and President — got on the phone to NetSol to see if we couldn’t get this taken care of. Sure enough, we could, even if we’re not on the domain record already. Great!

Heathen: “So, what’s your annual rate for domains now?”

Them: “$34.95, but it drops to $19.95 if you buy five years, which is a much better deal!”

Heathen: (paraphrased) “OMGWTF!!!!!!!1!!!1!!!!!”

Er, right. NetSol — perhaps the 2nd least favorite network company, behind Verisign — is still charging NEARLY FORTY BUCKS A YEAR for basic registrations. To put this in perspective, the official Heathen registrar, GoDaddy, charges $8.95 for single year registrations, with discounts for multiyear. NetSol is charging over 350% of the prevailing OpenSRS rate, with no value add.

When we picked our jaw up off the floor, we managed to ask how they could possibly justify this, and also about the process involved in transferring the domains to another, more reasonable, less evil registrar. This was, apparently, the keyword, and presently we were on the phone with someone in Customer Care — presumably, the prior department was “Customer Assrape” — who offered us $8.75 a year. When asked how they could possibly justify the higher rates, especially when they back off so quickly, we got a bunch of mumbo-jumbo. However, the upshot is that Infernal Bridegroom’s .com and .org registrations are now fixed. And next summer, when we get close to the expiry again, we’re totally moving these over to an OpenSRS registrar that doesn’t try to fuck us.

Dear ESPN: Whisky. Tango. Foxtrot.

We might’ve watched some of the FSU-Miami game tonight, if you hadn’t decided to put EIGHT SEPARATE FUCKING PICTURES onscreen at once. We honestly don’t know how long it lasted, but just a brief exposure to this nightmare was enough. (Honestly, we’d be happiest if both teams lost.) What is this, TV for meth addicts? Jesus Tapdancing Christ on a Segway, people, it looks absurd on our TV — 55 inches! — so we can only imagine how sucktastic it’d be on a smaller set.

Our “Liberal” Media

ABC plans to run a “docudrama” about the run-up to 9/11 that exonerates the current administration (despite their utterly failure to take seriously the warnings of the outgoing staff as well as the briefings received months prior to the event) and lays the blame wholly at Clinton’s feet (despite the strikes he ordered, dismissed by the GOP at the time as “Wag the Dog politics”). Needless to say, we’re sure this will contribute to the absolutely astounding level of ignorance of the American people.