Progressive Politics Research and Commentary by Janette Rainwater
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     Minus Button which collapses the expandable menu The Return: A Book for Frances about Life and Death
           Minus Button which collapses the expandable menu  Preface
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  Minus Button which collapses the expandable menu You're in Charge: A Guide to Becoming Your Own Therapist
           Minus Button which collapses the expandable menu Introduction: The Art of Self Observation
           Minus Button which collapses the expandable menu  On Dreaming
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  Minus Button which collapses the expandable menu Since the New Deal: An Annotated Chronology of the Events That Have Changed the United States
           Minus Button which collapses the expandable menu  The C.I.A. (excerpt)
           Minus Button which collapses the expandable menu  Origins of the Cold War (excerpt)
           Minus Button which collapses the expandable menu  Some Quotations that Demonstrate the Underlying Philosophy Since the New Deal

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     Minus Button which collapses the expandable menu Afghanistan, "Terrorism," and Blowback  Minus Button which collapses the expandable menu About Anthrax
    Minus Button which collapses the expandable menu Some Thoughts on 9-11-2001

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   Minus Button which collapses the expandable menu The Starr Chamber and the Future of Democracy (September 16, 1998)
   Minus Button which collapses the expandable menu Let's Get Clinton and Before
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Janette's Blog

This was started around 2000 before the word "blog" was invented.
(Or at least in common use.)
I've resurrected it to start a 2009 blog.

May 17, 2009

Af-Pak--- Eric Margolis gets it right in this from the Winnipeg Sun:

U.S. stirs a hornet's nest in Pakistan
Last Updated: 17th May 2009, 1:06am

PARIS -- Pakistan finally bowed to Washington's angry demands last week by unleashing its military against rebellious Pashtun tribesmen of North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) -- collectively mislabelled "Taliban" in the West.
The Obama administration had threatened to stop $2 billion US annual cash payments to bankrupt Pakistan's political and military leadership and block $6.5 billion future aid, unless Islamabad sent its soldiers into Pakistan's turbulent NWFP along the Afghan frontier.

The result was a bloodbath: Some 1,000 "terrorists" killed (read: mostly civilians) and 1.2 million people -- most of Swat's population -- made refugees.
Pakistan's U.S.-rented armed forces have scored a brilliant victory against their own people. Too bad they don't do as well in wars against India. Blasting civilians, however, is much safer and more profitable.

Unable to pacify Afghanistan's Pashtun tribes (a.k.a. Taliban), a deeply frustrated Washington has begun tearing Pakistan apart in an effort to end Pashtun resistance in both nations. CIA drone aircraft have so far killed over 700 Pakistani Pashtun. Only 6% were militants, according to Pakistan's media, the rest civilians.

Pashtun, also improperly called Pathan, are the world's largest tribal people. Fifteen million live in Afghanistan, forming half its population. Twenty-six million live right across the border in Pakistan. Britain's imperialists divided Pashtun by an artificial border, the Durand Line (today's Afghan-Pakistan border). Pashtun reject it.
Many Pashtun tribes agreed to join Pakistan in 1947, provided much of their homeland be autonomous and free of government troops. Pashtun Swat only joined Pakistan in 1969.

As Pakistan's Pashtun increasingly aided Pashtun resistance in Afghanistan, U.S. drones began attacking them. Washington forced Islamabad to violate its own constitution by sending troops into Pashtun lands. The result was the current explosion of Pashtun anger. I have been to war with the Pashtun and have seen their legendary courage, strong sense of honour and determination. They are also hugely quarrelsome, feuding and prickly.

One quickly learns never to threaten a Pashtun or give him ultimatums. These are the mountain warriors who defied the U.S. by refusing to hand over Osama bin Laden because he was a hero of the anti-Soviet war and their guest. The ancient code of "Pashtunwali" still guides them: Do not attack Pashtun, do not cheat them, do not cause them dishonour. To Pashtun, revenge is sacred.

Now, Washington's ham-handed policies and last week's Swat atrocity threaten to ignite Pakistan's second worst nightmare after invasion by India: That its 26 million Pashtun will secede and join Afghanistan's Pashtun to form an independent Pashtun state, Pashtunistan. This would rend Pakistan asunder, probably provoke its restive Baluchi tribes to secede and tempt mighty India to intervene militarily, risking nuclear war with beleaguered Pakistan.

The Pashtun of NWFP have no intention or capability of moving into Pakistan's other provinces, Punjab, Sindh and Baluchistan. They just want to be left alone. Alarms of a "Taliban takeover of Pakistan" are pure propaganda.

Lowland Pakistanis repeatedly have rejected militant Islamic parties. Many have little love for Pashtun, whom they regard as mountain wild men best avoided.
Nor are Pakistan's well-guarded nukes a danger -- at least not yet. Alarms about Pakistan's nukes come from the same fabricators with hidden agendas who brought us Saddam Hussein's bogus weapons.

The real danger is in the U.S. acting like an enraged mastodon, trampling Pakistan under foot, and forcing Islamabad's military to make war on its own people. Pakistan could end up like U.S.-occupied Iraq, split into three parts and helpless.
If this continues, at some point patriotic Pakistani soldiers may rebel and shoot the corrupt generals and politicians on Washington's payroll.

Equally ominous, a poor people's uprising spreading across Pakistan -- also mislabelled "Taliban" -- threatens a radical national rebellion reminiscent of India's Naxalite rebels. As in Iraq, profound ignorance and gung ho military arrogance drive U.S. Afghan policy. Obama's people have no understanding what they are getting into in "AfPak." I can tell them: An unholy mess we will long regret.

April 19, 2009

What do I think about the torture memos?

I knew going into this administration that I wasn't going to like everything that Obama did or proposed. But I promised to cut him some slack for the first six months, no matter what. There was a major bobble there on Day 29 when he upped the ante on Afghanistan-17,000 more troops when we should be getting the Hell out of there?
I tried to console myself that he probably knew more about the situation than I was privy to know and had some master plan that would save lives (and Afghanis tan) in the long run. It wasn't easy, but I hung in there.

Now- no more, Barack, and it hasn't been 100 Days yet. You get no special credit from me for releasing the torture memos. You were following the law to do that.
But it is illegal, unconscionable, immoral and most unwise to announce that those who tortured and who produced the twisted "legal" documents to condone torture will not be prosecuted.

I thought you wanted to redeem America's moral standing in the eyes of the world? This is not the way to do it.

And a memo author- former Assistant Attorney General Jay Bybee- is now a judge in the 9th Circuit Court? Please! The man should at a minimum be impeached and removed from office. (Actually, I wouldn't object to seeing him in an orange jump suit and shackled.)

What is most important to me is that officials- presidents on down- who commit crimes must have those crimes thoroughly investigated and revealed to the public with enough of a penalty exacted that future officials will be more law-abiding. Recent malefactors have been getting away unscathed.
1. Nixon got off scot-free thanks to the unconditional pardon by his successor Gerald Ford.
2. Reagan and Bush pére escaped any punishment thanks to the last-minute Bush pardons that hobbled the Walsh Investigation of the Iran-Contra Affair. Then when Clinton became president he declined to either investigate the Iran-Contra Affair and the crimes against the people of Central America. Or to prosecute those responsible.
3. Are the crimes of Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld-Ashcroft-et al - the illegal war against Iraq, its occupation, the tortures, the civil rights abuses of US citizens- also to go uncensored and unpunished with no reforms to prevent future misdeeds?
If so, Barack Obama, shame on you.

Now a bit of history:

In the past special prosecutors and Congressional committees have done good work in uncovering crimes and political misdeeds: Senator Tom Walsh of Montana investigating Teapot Dome in the early 20s, the Nye Committee of the '30s investigating the munitions industry in World War I, Judge Ferdinand Pecora and the banking scandal of the '30s, plus Senator Harry Truman's investigations of war industries as WW II was in progress - all come to mind.

The star in this group is the Church Committee of the mid-70s which came on the heels of Watergate and investigated civil rights abuses by US intelligence agencies, including attempts to assassinate foreign leaders. Many important reforms were put into place as a result- reforms that have been watered down or ignored by recent presidents. For the 14 reports that the Committee issued, see

(More recent "investigations" have been either cover-ups- the Warren Commission and the 9-11 Commission- are two examples or have been political ploys, such as Special Investigator Starr pursuing President Clinton.
[See my articles on Starr posted in "Archives" especially this one:]

How much protest from the American public will it take for Congress to appoint a truly independent Special Prosecutor with sub-p0ena power to investigate the eight years of Bush fils?

Well, at least Malia and Sasha got their dog. And a cutie he is.
If my great mutt, TomPaine, predeceases me, I want a Portuguese water dog.

April 14, 2009

I recommend your taking a look at Ray McGovern's article, Anatomy of Bush's 'Torture Paradigm' in today's

Here is an excerpt:

--- Who authorized the torture in our name? The Red Cross report lacks the earmarks of rogues or “rotten apples” at the bottom of some barrel.

President George W. Bush set the tone and created the framework, with strong support from Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

The first hints of what was in store came from the President himself in the White House bunker late on Sept. 11, 2001, at a meeting with his closest national security advisers after his TV address to the nation about the terrorist attacks that morning.

The vengeful bunker mentality prevailing at that meeting comes through clearly in the report of one of the participants, Richard Clarke in his book, Against All Enemies. Describing the President as confident, determined, forceful, Clarke provides the following account of what President Bush said:

“We are at war.… Nothing else matters. … Any barriers in your way, they’re gone.”

When, later in the discussion, Secretary Rumsfeld noted that international law allowed the use of force only to prevent future attacks and not for retribution, Bush nearly bit his head off.

“No,” the President yelled in the narrow conference room,
“I don’t care what the international lawyers say, we are going to kick some ass.”

‘Taking the Gloves Off’

In the weeks that followed, the air in Washington hung heavy with demons of retribution. Afghanistan was invaded in October 2001, and during a prisoner uprising on Nov. 25, a CIA officer was killed there.

A young American citizen, John Walker Lindh, was discovered among the prisoners in the area. There was not the slightest evidence that Lindh had anything to do with the killing.

But documents show that U.S. Joint Special Operations troops were told that the office of the Defense Secretary’s counsel (William J. Haynes II, was Pentagon general counsel at the time) had authorized an Army intelligence officer “to take the gloves off and ask whatever he wanted” of Lindh.

Despite urgent intervention by Justice Department ethics attorney Jesselyn Radack, Lindh was not properly read his rights. Instead, the FBI agent on the scene ad-libbed in an offhand way, “You have the right to an attorney. But there are no attorneys here in Afghanistan.”

Lindh had been seriously wounded in the leg. Despite that, U.S. troops put a hood over him, stripped him naked, duct-taped him to a stretcher for days in an unheated and unlit shipping container, and threatened him with death.

Parts of his humiliating ordeal were captured on film (a practice that became tragically familiar with the photos of Abu Ghraib).

In her book, Canary in the Coalmine: Blowing the Whistle in the Case of John Walker Lindh, attorney Radack comments that official documents pertaining to this case provide “the earliest known evidence that the Bush Administration was willing to push the envelope on how far it could go to extract information from suspected terrorists.”

(Because she protested, Radack was fired as Justice Department legal ethics advisor, put under criminal investigation, and even added to the “no-fly” list.)---

April 13, 2009

I am as happy and relieved as anyone that Captain Phillips has been rescued and is unharmed. However, I am troubled by the possible unintended consequences of killing the three pirates (and then arresting the fourth who had gone aboard an American warship as a negotiator.)

Will any or all of the 200 hostages of other nationalities held in Somalia be killed in retaliation?

Surely negotiations in future piracy captures will be even more difficult.

Most commentators seemed to have little understanding that Somalia is a failed state, there is NO government, and people are literally starving. Instead the piracy was termed a "business."

Someone just sent me the following from the Independent of January 5 by Johann Hari, titled "You are being lied to about pirates."

Quoting from the article:
---In 1991, the government of Somalia collapsed. Its nine million people have been teetering on starvation ever since - and the ugliest forces in the Western world have seen this as a great opportunity to steal the country's food supply and dump our nuclear waste in their seas.

Yes: nuclear waste. As soon as the government was gone, mysterious European ships started appearing off the coast of Somalia, dumping vast barrels into the ocean. The coastal population began to sicken. At first they suffered strange rashes, nausea and malformed babies. Then, after the 2005 tsunami, hundreds of the dumped and leaking barrels washed up on shore. People began to suffer from radiation sickness, and more than 300 died.

Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the UN envoy to Somalia, tells me: "Somebody is dumping nuclear material here. There is also lead, and heavy metals such as cadmium and mercury - you name it." Much of it can be traced back to European hospitals and factories, who seem to be passing it on to the Italian mafia to "dispose" of cheaply. When I asked Mr Ould-Abdallah what European governments were doing about it, he said with a sigh: "Nothing. There has been no clean-up, no compensation, and no prevention."

At the same time, other European ships have been looting Somalia's seas of their greatest resource: seafood. We have destroyed our own fish stocks by overexploitation - and now we have moved on to theirs. More than $300m-worth of tuna, shrimp, and lobster are being stolen every year by illegal trawlers. The local fishermen are now starving. Mohammed Hussein, a fisherman in the town of Marka 100km south of Mogadishu, told Reuters: "If nothing is done, there soon won't be much fish left in our coastal waters."---

Does this change the piracy picture a bit for you?


December 20, 2005

Some Really Good News!

1. The Minority Report of the House Judiciary Committee finds that "there is substantial evidence the President, the Vice President and other high ranking members of the Bush Administration misled Congress and the American people regarding the decision to go to war with Iraq; misstated and manipulated intelligence information regarding the justification for such war; countenanced torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and other legal violations in Iraq; and permitted inappropriate retaliation against critics of their Administration." . . . "these charges clearly rise to the level of impeachable misconduct" . . . .

for John Nichols' article on the three resolutions that John Conyers has introduced:
     HRes. 636 for a select committee to investigate the charges above
     HRes.637 to consure Bush
     HRes.638 to censure Cheney




© Janette Rainwater 1997-2004

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