The Forgotten History of David Petraeus

In July, General David Petraeus was approved as CIA Director by both the Senate Intelligence Committee and then the full Senate, whose vote was an astounding 94-0, astounding because this is a man who was deeply implicated in war crimes, including torture.

While Petraeus’s record on backing both torture and death/terror squads in Iraq had been looked at before, literally no one brought up this record when the Obama administration’s nomination of Petraeus was being sped through the constitutional “advice and consent” process. The failure of any U.S. Senator to ask questions about Petraeus’s record on these matters demonstrates the utter bankruptcy of the two political parties, and even more, of U.S. civil society as a whole. Under the leadership of Barack Obama, torture has not only not been ended, its institutionalization has been solidified from the Bush years.

The dubious Yoo/Bybee/Bradbury OLC memos have been rescinded by President Obama’s executive order, but the underlying structure of the torture program, which continually metamorphizes so that its existence will not be endangered, remains. Now a primary figure involved in the torture program is head of the CIA. These are dangerous times.

What makes them even more dangerous is the extreme complacency and passivity of the U.S. press, blogger community, and human rights organizations, who never raised a peep over the nomination of Petraeus to head the CIA, and who have for the most part let violations of the UN Convention Against Torture treaty, which makes the handing of prisoners over to state authorities who are likely to torture them a crime, become a unremarkable minor detail in their political reporting and campaigning.

Training the Torturers and the Implementation of FRAGO 242

Petraeus was promoted to lieutenant general in June 2004, and was appointed the first commander of the Multi-National Security Transition Command Iraq (MNSTC). The MNSTC was organized to train Iraqi Security Forces, with the supposed aim of making them responsible for Iraqi state security. The context was the dismantling of the Iraqi Army under the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) of L. Paul Bremer. While the CPA was busy privatizing the Iraqi economy, the cobbled-together Iraqi forces were unable to fight the remnants of the Saddam Hussein regime, and the country was rent by sectarian conflict.

It was also in June 2004 that Fragmentary Order 242 was issued, instructing U.S. forces, as the UK Guardian reported, “not to investigate any breach of the laws of armed conflict, such as the abuse of detainees, unless it directly involves members of the coalition. Where the alleged abuse is committed by Iraqi on Iraqi, ‘only an initial report will be made … No further investigation will be required unless directed by HQ’.”

Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez, the Commander of US ground troops in Iraq, was the likely high official who signed off on this policy, but as the Guardian noted, “Frago 242 appears to have been issued as part of the wider political effort to pass the management of security from the coalition to Iraqi hands.” The policy amounted to turning Iraqi prisoners over to security forces trained by Petraeus’s MNSTC. The Iraqis tortured the prisoners, while U.S. forces were complicit, and if anyone wanted to intervene, the order tied their hands.

The Roundup for July 31, 2011

I took the day off. Anything happen while I was gone?

I’ll get to the debt deal in the morning. For now, some things over the weekend you may not have seen…

• Elizabeth Warren left the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on Friday. She promises to continue to fight for the agency from the outside. I think the odds are better than even money she just goes back to Harvard Law. Incidentally, Richard Cordray gets a confirmation hearing in the Senate Banking Committee on Thursday.

• Talks on a strategic partnership with Afghanistan are falling apart, but paradoxically, the Taliban talks would kick off great if the United Staes set a pullout date, according to a former Prime Minister.

• If it comforts you, Europe is completely fucked, perhaps more than we are. And mostly conservative governments are leading them through their mess.

• The Bank of America lawsuits related to their Countrywide division continue to roll out. I don’t think there’s any way for them to just write everything off with one big settlement.

• NY AG Eric Schneiderman is a rare bright spot in a bleak time.

• Who pays for the foreclosure crisis? Largely communities of color.

• Something pretty extraordinary is happening in Israel, with a mass movement inspired by Tahrir rising up against privatization.

Moderately successful talks with North Korea. They want to resume nuclear disarmament talks.

• Libyan opposition leaders are saying that a rebel faction of Islamists killed their top military commander, Gen. Younes. This just shows how little we understand about the rebels.

• California’s redistricting maps are out, with the commission successfully approving them. To the extent that it wasn’t an incumbent-driven system, it was a success. But as I said a long time ago, any legitimate redistricting process in this state wasn’t going to produce a more “moderate” map, it was going to produce a more Democratic map. And it did.

• Republicans are a spite-based political party.

• Iraq is less safe than a year ago, according to a top US advisor. I guess that’s why we’re providing them with their very own wiretapping system.

• We could see preliminary regulatory proposals on fracking come out of the EPA, mainly targeted at air pollution.

• The Yucca Mountain commission basically recommended giving up on Yucca Mountain as a nuclear waste repository.

• Obama’s faith-based initiatives head downplays the separation of church and state.

• We’re a week away from the Wisconsin recall elections, and there are millions sloshing around on TV in the recall races.

• Watch for a conscience clause on the regulations mandating free birth control distribution as part of the health care law.

• I’m guessing that the Spanish elections will be a slaughter for the current government.

• How many times can the world be appalled by state-sponsored violence in Syria before they act?

• One week into the FAA shutdown, and the only people profiting are Delta Airlines.

• Pam Geller’s been covering her tracks in the wake of the Norway attacks.

• The California Supreme Court will hear oral arguments as part of the Prop 8 case on September 6. This would be a ruling on whether the defendant-intervenors have standing to appeal. If they don’t, Judge Vaughn Walker’s ruling would stand, and same-sex couples in California would be able to marry.

• Yes, that’s the ticket – Bush was just showing steely resolve during those 7 minutes when he was freaked out of his mind reading The Pet Goat. Just keeping everyone around him calm. Considering the enormous capacity for acceptance of bullshit in this country, I’m guessing that explanation will fly.

Yo Constitutionalist! Choking on Impeachment?

Woe is me! My representative in Congress is a vile Rethuglican! In other words, quite unworthy of being associated with the likes of Abraham Lincoln, let alone his scraggly, bloodstained beard.

Yet no less a sophist than a bi-partisan consensus of her colleagues, no doubt, and so worthy, too, of last night’s “in your face” letter from yours truly…

SUBJECT: Two Burning Questions

Dear Rep. Buerkle: 

With the party’s righteous and historic reading of the U.S. Constitution at the start of the 112th Congress, and with the party determined to cut spending, I must ask you:

1). Why has not the party introduced Articles of Impeachment against President Barack Obama for his flagrant violation of the Constitution in his prosecution of war against Libya?

2). Why has not the party introduced legislation to end funding for the war against Libya?

I look forward to your reply.

Shall I hold my breath waiting for a satisfactory response? Or shall I ready the barf bag in preparation for a heaping helping of “Constitutionalist” sophistry?

Any words of wisdom on what I might expect and how best I might respond?

My brief, but heartfelt note to the White House

Intended for President Obama, I sent the following note to the White House through its website:

“Thanks again to “negotiations” that start with giving the other party most of what they want, Democrats come away with nothing in this latest capitulation to the Republicans.  Two trillion in cuts, and no taxes from the people who can afford it.  After 45 years, I’m sitting here with tears in my eyes, and ashamed to be a Democrat.  At a time when we need a fighter, we’ve got a talker and backdown artist. I’ve had enough. I can’t support you anymore.”

I truly believe in fighting the good fight, but this President has shown he doesn’t have the stomach for the toughest battles.  He has shown himself willing to take any semblance of power and force (14th Amendment? Nah.) off the table in favor of caving in to those whose agenda is to dismantle what progressives fought and died for to make realities.

What would  Bill Clinton or Bobby Kennedy done with a 60-seat Senate and majority House?  Obama let’s the Republicans drag out the same playbook of bad-faith negotiations, coupled with bipartisan meetings that produce nothing other than a late stage GOP walkout, and, ultimately, a disciplined, unanimous, rejection of his proposal once it’s put to a vote.  Courage, the fearful cartoon dog has more brains and spine than to over and over buy into this.

Throughout this country, Republicans are becoming the the objects of voter derision for their overreaching agendas and attacks on the middle class that have nothing to do with job creation, and Obama is so tone deaf, he can’t make hay from the political loathing being directed at the governors of Florida, Michigan, Ohio, New Jersey, and Wisconsin.  He can’t successfully fight a do-nothing House that’s had all of twelve bills become law, and none of those have to do with jobs.  This is the guy who, once he has his opponent dazed and slumping on the ropes, gives them a baseball bat, draws a yellow “X” on his forehead, and let’s them swing at it as hard as they can.  That doesn’t work for me.  I’ve had enough.

I really don’t know if I have enough strength to sit out an election without voting, but I know I can go without volunteering for GOTV, manning phone banks, giving my limited dollars, or even talking a candidate up to my friends and relatives.  The Republicans and the flat-Earther stooges known as the Tea Party on well on their way to ruining this country, and Obama has proved he’s not strong enough to stop them.  I can no longer support that.  I’ve had enough.

last minute Desperate Duopolist Deception/Sell-out to Raise Debt Ceiling

Reports of a ‘deal’ of duopolist democrats and repugnants surfaced, at a desperately too-late hour with about 50 hours until the children in Washington DC voted in favor of raising the debt ceiling ‘deal’ that refused to end militarist spending and to fund domestic programs – making any rise in the debt ceiling unnecessary- answering their bilderberg handlers instruction to consolidate obscene more wealth for the 400 ruling oligarchs, spinning multiple and ever more profound collapse for 99.5% of the us and world populace.

What’s Driving Public Debt? Tax Cuts, Wars Account For Nearly Half Of Public Debt By 2019

The [purported] Budget deal (as outlined by a cloaked facebook user posting with a persona: ‘Backdoor Draft’):
1) Seniors are safe 95% and future Seniors are 90% safe
2) Defense will be cut at 18% per year
3) Bush tax cuts will expire automatically and taxes will go back to Clinton years.HIGHer rates
4) Subsidies to oils and farms are open to be cut or eliminated
5) Educational grants and reeducation or retraining programs face 20% cuts

Obama has trotted out, at the last minute, a false deal that raids Social Security – read caves to the Repugnicans – for his six wars, endless militarist spending, his billionaire unjust enrichment welfare program – to justify raising the nation debt ceiling to over 16 trillion dollars through 2013. The built-in defensive spending triggers are not serious and will not take effect. The lack of accountability shows an Insidious facism that completely blurs any separation between government and corporatist enterprise.

Uh. More wealth polarization and social collapse result from their Executive-Legislative deal. Before this latest sham raising the debt ceiling, 80% of us population possess only 7% of the total financial wealth. 40 cents of every tax dollar goes to pay on the debt, the other 50 cents goes to militarist adventurism, leaving 10 cents on every taxpayer dollars for actual programs.

For the immediate past thirty years and counting the democrat has allowed the repugnant (1/2 the duopoly also known as ‘Republicans’) spend until the cows come home and be blamed for it. This ‘willful blindness’ political theatre duopolist instruction is given by the illuminati for the simple purpose to enslave. It worked. People have the right to overturn these inequities. Will we? Or accept the illuminat-order enslavement/Mass extinction Agenda 21 symbiosis with Climate Disruption of the bankster doing.

Our Revolutionary Communities Response:

the People’s budget deal:

1) Seniors are safe 105% and future Seniors are 105% safe
2) Militarist spending will be cut at 40% per year until 8% of current spending
3) Bush tax cuts will expire automatically and taxes will return to top marginal corporate tax rate under Eisenhower (52%)
4) Subsidies to oils and agribusiness are eliminated
5) Educational grants and reeducation or retraining programs 50% increases
6) a Green jobs New Deal for everyone who wants a job, k-post-doc education, and Quality of Life watershed revitalization

If the Faustian bargain is negotiated to continue endless war and tax cuts on upper income brackets, while raiding Social Security – mostly benefitting the elderly, a self-supporting, not-contributing-to-the-tax-burden program, we fire Congress by having an us summer of revolution encircling the Capitol for as long it takes for the People’s Demand to be Met: no one leaves until they resign.

Shut Down the rapacious us war machine and bankster illuminati! shut down all gas-oil-coal-nuclear power and gmos! the world Peoples’ Permanent Revolution General Strike!

Japan Starts to Understand the True Cost of Nuclear Power, Cabinet Recommends Cutting Reactors

The respected Japanese newspaper, Asahi Shimbun, headlines today (7/31/11) in its English language version an article by Shinichi Sekine,

Cabinet recommends cutting nuclear reactors ,

“The Cabinet of Prime Minister Naoto Kan presented on July 29 an interim report on new energy policies. The basic thrust of the policies is that Japan will “decrease its number of nuclear reactors.”…..

“We are going to create a society in which we can meet energy needs without nuclear power,” [Prime Minister] Kan said at a news conference July 13 in response to the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.”

Of course vested interests howled in protest, claiming that it is not realistic to eliminate nuclear power, but the people of Japan see things differently.

“However, support for a nuclear-free society is spreading among the general public. A recent Asahi Shimbun opinion poll showed that 77 percent support a nuclear-free society.”

The Wall Street Journal ran a great article on Friday,

“Japan Snaps Back With Less Power – Economy Survives Reactor Shutdowns, and Tokyo Rethinks Nuclear Policy (7/29/11)

TOKYO—When the March 11 tsunami knocked out more than half of the nuclear power plants serving the Tokyo area, it set off one of the biggest unplanned experiments in a modern society: Could a metropolis of 30 million people get by after losing about a fifth of its power supply?

After a steaming July in Japan filled with 90-degree-plus days, the preliminary answer is in, and it is yes. Not only has Tokyo Electric Power Co. kept the lights on all summer, it has so much extra capacity on most days that it could power New York City, too.”

Even the corporate elite was trying to avoid a confrontation with this ground swell of public opinion

“”Over the mid- to long-term, it is desirable to move toward shrinking nuclear power by phasing out aging reactors and promoting renewable energy,” said a statement by the Japan Association of Corporate Executives after its summer meeting in July.”

Energy conservation is in full swing. Load leveling is being done on a massive scale, with factories maximizing production at off hours. Even the famous Japanese corporate dress code has been changed for warmer offices.

Clearly Japan has learned a lesson in the economics of nuclear power. Cleaning this up is going to be far more expensive than what they planned for when they decided nuclear power was cheap.

Don’t jump to any conclusions and think that the Murdoch owned Wall Street Journal has realized that Green and Clean means saving big money. The same day they carried an opinion piece from a writer based at both the WSJ and a major Washington right wing propaganda bureau, the American Enterprise Institute, entitled

“Powering Down Japan -Naoto Kan’s dangerous gamble on cutting off 30% of the electric supply with a nuke shutdown.”

The right wingers love to call the rational cost benefit analysis of nuclear power “radical” if it includes the additional cost to society of accidents, health effects, waste disposal, and of course the nightmare of nuclear proliferation. There is nothing “radical” about doing the math right. The right wingers are the radicals here, claiming that we can engineer and build perfect systems, something that we should have learned about from the Tower of Babel or the Titanic.

Let the industry funded hacks talk all they want about “Safe Guards” and “Redundant Safety Systems” but if you can not handle the consequences of something blowing up and burning down to the ground, don’t build it, because no matter how well we design and build things, they will never be more perfect than the people building them.

(A somewhat longer version is cross posted at )

Challenging the Left from the Left: A How-To guide

Jane is correct here:


In districts that are solidly progressive Democrat, a challenge from the left can work to move the left, leftward.


This won’t matter for those in solidly repub or blue dog districts for now, but in the areas that are solidly progressive caucus areas, this can be a game changer.


I can’t be the only person here that lives in an area that uniformly votes for the more leftist candidate. Over here, voters are pretty smart, and vote for the candidate that usually votes in the interest of this population.

But this is not good enough when it comes to national issues like health care. The progressive caucus absolutely must move to the left there.


So: (and this is the how-to part)


2) come up with back-up candidates

3) use whatever means at your disposal (fdl diaries, etc) to promote your leftist challenge candidate

4)  meet with local faith community leaders to explain why you’re doing what you’re doing

5) FLYERS. Go to Kinkos and print out short educational flyers about HCR, etc. Inform the masses about how we were screwed over in HCR and what the sane alternatives are.

A Worm’s Eye View

"worm" by daz smith on flickr

If I might beg your indulgence, I’d like to offer you the perspective of someone who depends solely on the “entitlements” that will remain a bargaining chip with which to get the middle class some kind “tax reform” or whatever it is they’re supposed to do if this particular little austerity package manages to get through.

First off I’ll sit up and pay attention when the damned Democrats quit referring to a benefit that I fricking PAID for for almost 50 years an “entitlement”. That’s Republican terminology and I’m tired of the people who are supposed to be going to bat for the rest of us using it, especially when they use it in exactly the same negative context as the wingers do. I also want to know what their definition is of “reform”.

They may not have agreed to any specific entitlement “reforms” (yet)… dammit, WTF can’t we just call them benefit cuts because that’s all “reform” could POSSIBLY consist of… but the door is definitely still open and they’re still on the table and the outcome is still going to be dependent on the same kind of crap we’ve been looking at for the last two weeks.

The quotes are from an email from the White House: (more…)