Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Renders Obsolete ... Renders Quaint ?

Yesterday, while nursing a horrific Halloween hangover and the Senate was in closed session, I got a chance to check out a lecture by Phillippe Sands.

He's a noted legal scholar, and author of the book that helped blow the lid off the Downing St. Memos. Entitled "Lawless World: America and the Making and Breaking of Global Rules", it provides a hard legal analysis of the Bush & Blair administration's patently illegal warmaking & torture activities, and why this endangers us all. ( some release excerpts were published in the UK Guardian newspaper )

Having litigated before various International Courts and Tribunals, Prof. Sands sees a situation that will come back to haunt the participants, not so unlike the legal travails of leaders like Milosevic, Pinochet, or even Saddam Hussein. The knowing commission of an aggressive war was the principal war crime that put the Nazi leaders on trial at Nuremberg, and if such a climate of international justice still exists, imagine the things that could still be coming for British and even American officials.

The legal doublespeak of the Bush admin to justify war & torture on it's perceived enemies is especially troubling, especially for anyone attempting to imagine a so-called "civilized world". A world with mutually agreed upon standards, is important and Sands spoke of the type of agreements FDR negotiated for back in the 1940's when trying to end WWII.

here is a passage from his "Lawless World" book...

Imperfect as some of the international rules may be, they reflect minimum standards of acceptable behaviour and, to the extent they can be ascertained, common values. They provide an independent standard for judging the legitimacy of international actions. I do not think recent events have changed these basic assumptions or created a new paradigm.

However, he sees the dismissing to these standards when not convienent for the U.S a stupid move. Especially when we hypocritically expect our trade partners and other nations to respect our intellectual property or turn over criminals to our court system for trial. The very act of ignoring international laws has now provided opportunities for other rogue nations to act as they want, and is in fact making this world a more dangerous place, not safer. With multiple sources confirming that the Bush Administration's policy of detainment stretches far beyond Guantanamo, the U.S has detained many in "black site prisons."

When it came to detaining the prisoners that Bush called "unlawful combatants", the US military's own lawyers originally argued that the long standing principals of the internationally recognized Geneva Conventions applied regardless. However, in a hyped up post 911 climate, the rightwing U.S leadership basically said all the gloves are off, the rules no longer apply. White House General Counsel and now Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said, in 2002, that the war on terror "…renders obsolete the Geneva’s strict limitations on the questioning of enemy prisoners and renders quaint some of its provisions…"

Renders Obsolete... Renders Quaint ? ? ?

Characters like White House legal attack dogs Gonzalez and Ashcroft, Tate (and one must assume favored personal White House counsel Harriett Miers) all assisted Bush & co. in the quest to ignore any troubling treaties or precedents in their way. The lawyers themselves held the administrations hand as they cut outside the bounds of any obligations to abide by international agreements such as the Geneva Conventions, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Convention Against Torture. Recently the Washington Post editorial page even called Dick Cheney the "Vice President for Torture .

Sadly, we can clearly see a circumvention of our own US restrictions on torture, where US Assistant Attorney General Jay Bybee offered a novel interpretation of torture in which anything less than causing death by "organ failure" would not be consdered torture. Bybee also helpfully advised that Congress had no power to limit the president’s decrees with regards to acceptable interrogation procedures.

Even Colin Powell, who had stood by the admin and argued under a theory of "pre-emptive" self defense for invasion in Iraq, also argued that the only legal interrogation techniques were those outlined in the Army Field Manual.

2005 Report From Human Rights WATCH - Bush Administration and Torture ( 5 min mp3)

According to Sands, the legal ramifications and facts of an unwarranted act of aggression are indisputable and once rational unbiased minds interpret these haste actions taken by officials, these agressions are clearly outside the scope of international law and are in all probability criminal.

While the U.S seems to think itself immune to legal ramifications, other countries sometimes call this opinion into question.

The Iraq war’s legality was at least early on, an issue for Tony Blair's government, not due to any real respect for international law, but because it feared future prosecution. Sands' book reveals that the U.K's prime minister was conscious that the invasion, as an act of preemptive aggression, had little or no basis in international law but was determined to join with Bush and proceed regardless.

Lord Goldsmith, the U.K's Attorney General and top legal advisor, warned Prime Minister Tony Blair on 7 March 2003 of the illegality of the Iraq war without a second UN resolution sanctioning military action.

On 18 March 2003, Elizabeth Wilmshurst, Deputy Legal Adviser at the Foreign Office resigned her post because she believed the war was illegal. Two other high profile British leadership officials, Foreign Minister Robin Cook and Development Minister Clare Short, along with several junior ministers and government officials, also resigned because they felt the war was illegal.

Apparently UK military officials also were wary, “I spent a good deal of time recently in the Balkans making sure Milosevic was behind bars,” U.K general Mike Jackson was quoted saying in the Guardian newspaper “I have no intention of ending up next to him in the Hague.” This is a probability , as unlike the rogue nation known as the U.S, the U.K is a signatory to the I.C.C charter ( see: International Criminal Court ).

With the U.S having likely already given Blair a due date for war, he was forced to gather support for participation despite not having the proper requirements, or justification for participating in the invasion. With just days left before the invasion, Lord Goldsmith, under great pressure, was forced to change his legal opinion, and provided a quick analysisthat neglected to describe how his previous opinion had been invalidated.

As Sands describes it:

“The ministerial code of conduct requires the full text of any advice to be made available in papers to the cabinet. None was provided. There was no discussion, and no minister raised any question as to the basis upon which the prime minister had decided that Iraq was in material breach of ( U.N) resolution 1441.”

Here's a piece of Goldsmith's now publically released memo to Blair:

...the argument that resolution 1441 alone has revived the authorisation to use force in resolution 678 will only be sustainable if there are strong factual grounds for concluding that Iraq has failed to take the final opportunity. In other words, we would need to be able to demonstrate hard evidence of non-compliance and non-cooperation.

This is essentially Goldsmith explaining we can't just b.s our way into a war , we need facts sir...

Euan MacDonald got all this analyzed months ago in his TransAtlantic Assembly blog, excerpted here:

Lord Goldsmith concludes his advice with a reminder of the requirement of proportionality, noting that, even if Resolution 1441 was alone sufficient to revive the authorisation in Resolution 678, any force used must be proportionate to the legitimate objectives in order to be legal. The force thus:

- must have as its objective the enforcement the terms of the cease-fire contained in resolution 687 (1990) and subsequent relevant resolutions;
- be limited to what is necessary to achieve that objective; and
- must be a proportionate response to that objective, i.e. securing compliance with Iraq's disarmament obligations.

He concludes by noting that regime change could be legal “if it can be demonstrated that such action is a necessary and proportionate measure to secure the disarmament of Iraq. But regime change cannot be the objective of military action.” Again, given the now widely-acknowledged fact that Iraq had no WMD to disarm, it is this kind of statement that may come back to haunt Blair. At the very least, it allows us to track the shifting justifications used in terms of the war: initially WMD, then, when the truth about their absence began to emerge, a refocusing on humanitarian concerns and on regime change itself as a legitimate objective. It is also interesting to note that, in the same breath as acknowledging humanitarian intervention as a legitimate basis for the use of force, Lord Goldsmith adds that “know of no reason why it would be an appropriate basis for action in present circumstances.” Therefore, while the “reasonably arguable” condition for legality would seem to absolve Blair from any suggestion that he acted contrary to legal advice, or in full knowledge that the war was illegal, there is still more than enough in this briefing to deeply embarrass him; and rightly so.

The U.N Security Council resolution 1441 referenced here specifically & deliberately refused to include a provision for military action, but the officials in question went ahead and utilized their own interpretations and pasted in parts of older resolutions 678 & 687 from 1991 dealing with the previous decades lovely Kuwait/Iraq conflict.

Unfortunately, this time around Blair's hard evidence was little more than a fabricated “dossier” on Iraq’s WMDs, which was apparently plagiarized from a ten year old doctoral thesis right down to some of the misplaced punctuation.

but ... with proper spin, legal adjuncts & a PR campaign... it's

Voila !

A NEW IMPROVED premptive invasion and takeover of a sovereign country... now with justifiable haste !!!

NEW E-Z FORM FORMULA !!!

Now your legal team can get things done with no more political difficulty than downloading and editing the proper form off our website !!!

Just Add Your Own Military ( and a few dozen billion$ worth of handy-capable defense contractors ... )

Why Wait !?! ... Why Weapons Inspect?!?

Reason Is 6/7th Treason and All This Can Be Yours !!!

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Which in the case of making a lame case for the War in Iraq:

It's clear why yesterday the Senate was finally called into closed session to discuss what was needed to get the ball rolling in the lacksadaisical investigation so far

It becomes apparent why discrediting Joe Wilson was so important to Cheney...and ultimately ends in the indictment of Libby late last week...

Because Joseph Wilson showed that these guys were ignoring the facts, they were shaping and misrepresenting the evidence, and essentially they were not interested in any one's opinion other than those reinforcing their own.

They didn't care about what U.N inspectors like Hans Blix or Scott Ritter had to say... They were not interested in Joseph Wilson's analysis, or even that of many in the CIA, they wanted "slam dunks".

F*ck finding the available truth, when they had their particular branded flavor of the truth to sell in the back...

Now A Message From Your Friendly Neighborhood WAL MART !!!

Robert Greenwald who has made the films Outfoxed & Unprecendented has a new flick coming this week, and the world's biggest retailer is fighting hard against this one...

The Ny Times on Tuesday reported about the PR War Room that Wal Mart has created in Bensonville full of Clinton & Reagen White House PR vets as corporate image hacks.


I checked out the websites like Wal Mart Watch, and soon found discussion boards that were forums for disgruntled employees, and activists but also ended up being peppered occasionally by uncensored and staunch Wal-Mart defenders.

I find the apologists for Wal Mart’s well known behavior particularly intriguing. For example “David in Zack AR” mentions a child labor investigation against the company in which he says :

“The report said it found no ev idence of violations of federal loaws or regulations.” (sic)

This is a distortion of the investigations findings and the incidents that prompted such an investigation. The federal investigation did find Wal-Mart had allowed youth workers in three states to operate hazardous equipment…

Wal-Mart agreed to pay $135,540 in fines, provide training on child labor laws to store managers, and post visible warning signs indicating age restrictions on all company-owned hazardous equipment.

Wal-Mart though used this challenge as an opportunity for it’s lawyers and lobbyists to foist a deal that weakens federal oversight of workplace issues in the future.


After the Jan 11th "child labor" settlement, a report was later issued by the Department of Labor’s inspector general that scolds the DOL’s internal agency Wage and Hour Division (WHD) for reaching an unprecedented sweetheart compliance agreement with the massive retail chain that offers Wal-Mart 15 days’ written notice before any future WHD inspections of Wal-Mart stores. It precludes inspectors from making impromptu visits and essentially let’s the fox guard the henhouse, it is an outrage…

Wal-Mart was not required to admit any wrongdoing, and the retailer, consequently, has denied the Labor Department’s allegations.

The DOL inspector general complained the deal showed “serious breakdowns” in the way DOL’s WHD crafts such agreements, without guidelines or oversight. Since the Jan 11th deal, on June 27, the DOL issued a new set of procedures and
guidelines for developing, negotiating and reviewing settlement agreements.

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Interesting factoid in a Sunday NY Times magazine piece excerpted from the upcoming book by Maureen O'Dowd...

A study by "Four British universities indicated that a high I.Q. hampers a woman's chance to marry, while it is a plus for men. The prospect for marriage increased by 35 percent for guys for each 16-point increase in I.Q.; for women, there is a 40 percent drop for each 16-point rise."

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so d'ya get board of my recycled rants, furtive fact finding & would ya just like some music ?

I bet ya do...

o.k then...

In honor of the Bush admin's belief the world spun off it's axis and international law was obliterated on 9-11-2001... Living in a New World


Here's politically fired up Alabama born & based bluesman Willie King...

He lives in Freedom Creek AL, has battled social injustices since the 1960's civil rights movement and keeps it relevant, raw and real. His tune "Terrorized" puts in bluntly...


Talk about terror/Peoples I been terrorized all my days. . . . You took my name and you know you left me in chains/Wouldn’t let me go to school/And you know I couldn’t read or write. . . . They gave me the news/And they called me a fool. . . . You know they come around and hung me/Hung me from the tallest oak tree/And you talk about terror?/I been terrorized all my days."


Willie King at home on Freedom Creek, Old Memphis, Alabama

This tune here, the lead track off the same album, is a bit more thankful, hopeful & sentimental, and takes that groovy country preacher vibe into a sweet loving space replete with a fluid sax riff...

Willie King & The Liberators - Living In A New World (2003)


Here's the first song off the freak folk EP that came out from Mr. Sam Beam (a.k.a Iron & Wine) earlier this spring on Sub Pop.


Woman King

Sub-Pop 0665

Iron & Wine, “Woman King” ( 2005)



Chicago's Bloodshot Records has snagged the watery domestic rights to push the sounds of Michigan's fine garage rock champions known as The Detroit Cobras...

Detroit Cobras: "I Wanna Holler (But The Town's Too Small)"

If you are a fan of indiscriminate governemnt sponsored torture, you'll no doubt recall the epic & darkly brilliant Terry Gilliam film of the same name, and you'll know doubt recall the classic theme sung by Geoff Muldaur. Here's the queen of ethereal doing her thing to the Michael Kamen (r.i.p) score, a version that never made the film, but appears on the soundtrack !!!

Kate Bush - "Brazil " (1985)



Influential U.K bluesman Long John Baldry died this past summer after a 45 year career, but his website lives on... Here's an acoustic duet taken from vinyl with the former singer of his 1965 era Steampacket blues band, who by the time this track was recorded had since become a star with The Faces.

2nd from left is Long John, and on the right... we speak of a Scotsman known as Rod Stewart...


Long John Baldry w/ Rod Stewart - "Mother Ain't Dead" (1972)

and here's one more for the road from the guy that the Rolling Stones opened for on their first ever gig, and whom gave Elton John & Rod Stewart some of their first shots at performing live in his band...

from a 1993 live album, his first ever, called On Stage Tonight , Baldry's Out


Long John Baldry - It Ain't Easy

Patriotic bonus - Louie plays the "Name That Torture" game on Air America



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