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Sarah Palin’s Reflection, as Seen from the Abyss

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Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And when you look into the abyss, the abyss also looks into you. — Friedrich Nietzsche

Many of us have been wishing for just a modicum of news coverage on Joe Biden, whose presence on the national stage has been dwarfed to near non-existence by the paparazzi-style coverage of Sarah Palin– our media’s latest flash-in-the-frying-pan darling, who has stepped into the shoes previously occupied by such notables as Paris Hilton, Brittney Spears and Anna Nicole Smith. 

Be careful what you wish for. Joe Biden finally got some news coverage this past Thursday, as he was “interviewed” by Barbara West, an anchor for Florida station WFTV (see video, below), who regaled Biden with a series of classic “when did you stop beating your wife” questions on Marxism. 

This interview needs to be preserved in the annals of American history, so that future generations can see, firsthand, how fearmongering and demagoguery work. For historical perspective on how this has played out in America over the past 300+ years, read on. Otherwise, just vote. For cripe’s sakes, vote — and urge everyone you know to vote. And if, by chance, on November 4th, you find you’ve been caged or purged or challenged – call Election Protection at 1-(866) OURVOTE (1-866-687-8683). Click here for more info on protecting yourself from voter fraud.

HAS IT BEEN ONLY 316 YEARS?

From June through September of 1692, nineteen men and women, all having been convicted of witchcraft, were carted to Gallows Hill, a barren slope near Salem Village, for hanging. Another man of over eighty years was pressed to death under heavy stones for refusing to submit to a trial on witchcraft charges. Hundreds of others faced accusations of witchcraft. Dozens languished in jail for months without trials. Then, almost as soon as it had begun, the hysteria that swept through Puritan Massachusetts ended. — “An Account of Events in Salem,” from the University of Missouri — Kansas City website

As years passed, apologies were offered, and restitution was made to the victims’ families. Historians and sociologists have examined this most complex episode in our history so that we may understand the issues of that time and apply our understanding to our own society. The parallels between the Salem witch trials and more modern examples of “witch hunting” like the McCarthy hearings of the 1950’s, are remarkable. — from the Salem Witch Museum website

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 HAS IT BEEN ONLY 60 YEARS?

Below is a video with clips of various anti-communist footage, produced by the U.S. government during the McCarthy era, and designed to red-scare the bejeebers out of Americans. The Sarah Palin speech (see video at end of post) is a modern version of the same, just not yet whipped into the full frenzy that this sort of fearmongering ever-threatens to incite.  

HAS IT BEEN ONLY 7 YEARS?

In the wake of 9-11, the Bush Administration exploited our justifiable fear of terrorists to both squelch American dissent over their agenda, and to strong-arm Congress into approving all the legislation they enacted (e.g. the Patriot Act, FISA, extraordinary rendition and related torture laws), all of which were designed to sidestep both the spirit and letter of Constitutional law. Over the past 7 years this legislation has, word by word, dismantled our U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights. These documents have yet to be restored to the former integrity they held for over two centuries. While these fundamental changes to our democracy affect each and every American, we’ve fortunately been spared, thus far, some of the worst outcomes potential to this legislation, even as this potential will continue to loom over us until our Constitution and Bill of Rights are restored to their pre-Bush Administration integrity. We’ve been fortunate. Some, such as Maher Arar have not been so fortunate: 

For more on this case, see the full Congressional hearing (1 hour, 28 minutes) on this case, held in October 2007, here, which includes Maher Arar’s testimony. Also, see footage here (7 minutes) from a related hearing, in which an outraged Sen. Patrick Leahy demands answers from Atty. Gen. Alberto Gonzales regarding the extraordinary rendition and torture-outsourcing in the Maher Arar case. 

  

HAS IT BEEN ONLY 1 DAY?

In the above video, Sarah Palin resurrects the ghosts of Salem and the McCarthy era, as she weaves a scary tale of lies to suggest that Obama’s tax plan will turn American into a nightmare communist state. Inherent to this accusation is a promise to carry the torch of the Bush-Cheney Administration’s legacy of fearmongering, persecution and lawlessness.  History bears this out: certain people in America live in a constant state of fear. All they need is someone to take the stage and tell them, exactly, what it is they’re so afraid of: Witches? Socialists? Blacks? Muslims? Communists? The McCain Palin campaign is telling them exactly what they want to hear. 

dem·a·gogue: One who will preach doctrines he knows to be untrue to men he knows to be idiots — H.L. Mencken

  

WILL IT BE ONLY 9 DAYS?

Vote on November 4th. And do everything in your power to make sure that vote isn’t stolen from you. So much depends on this, with such a tremendous degree of voter fraud taking place by both Republicans and the Christian right. The extent of this fraud can only be known after the fact, when it’s too late to do anything about it.

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It’s October, and I’m surprised. Should I also be scared?

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Let’s see….  

1. Our economy — that venerable house of cards — is collapsing, and the architects show no signs that they intend to do anything but stack more cards into the rafters (to hell with the foundation, to hell with the people below).

2. The news media essentially serve as a 24-7 infomercial for McCain-Palin, and yet Obama is still ahead — by double digits, according to some polls —  which means that people aren’t lining up anymore to buy the Bush-Cheney line of bullshit.

3. And, lastly, according to a Sept. 30 article in Army Times, George Bush has officially done the utterly unprecedented: He ordered a brigade of troops to to begin patrolling U.S soil, beginning on Oct. 1st, as part of the new NorthCom force. Bush dispatched the brigade in case our country needs help with “civil unrest and crowd control or to deal with potentially horrific scenarios such as massive poisoning and chaos in response to a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or high-yield explosive, or CBRNE attack.”

Should I be scared? I am.

But it’s a safe bet that — since this post isn’t about Sarah Palin — no one will read it, which means that, on the topic of fearful things, I can plant my tin foil hat firmly on my head and talk without fear of reprimand.

According to the Army Times article, the 3rd Infantry Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team goes by the incredibly adorable name, “Sea Smurf” — which is the phonetically-correct moniker for it’s official name: CCMRF (the CBRNE Consequence Management Response Force). Their mission is slated to last for a year, during which time we can all take comfort in the words of Sea Smurf commander, Col Roger Clouter: “We’re going in to help American citizens on American soil, to save lives, provide critical life support, help clear debris, restore normalcy and support whatever local agencies need us to do, so it’s kind of a different role.”

Different, indeed. The brigade is equipped to use “the first ever nonlethal package that the Army has fielded,” which includes, “equipment to stand up a hasty road block; spike strips for slowing, stopping or controlling traffic; shields and batons; and, beanbag bullets.”

If the idea of soldiers patrolling your neighborhood with shields, batons and rubber bullets makes you nervous, take comfort in this: The Army Times article did issue a correction in early October, regarding the use of their non-lethal package. Accordingly, “A non-lethal crowd control package fielded to 1st Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, described in the original version of this story, is intended for use on deployments to the war zone, not in the U.S., as previously stated.”

Rubber bullets aside, one strategic problem with the Sea Smurf’s NorthCom mission is that, according to an April 2008 GAO report, Northcom has not bothered to involve local and state officials and governments — much less the National Guard — in their emergency preparedness planning and coordination efforts. In other words, NorthCom appears set to go it alone, leaving legislators, governors, mayors, the National Guard and the media,  to — I don’t know — step in line? 

The unprecedented pre-emptive deployment of NorthCom military troops onto U.S. soil was paved in October 2006 when Bush signed the John Warner National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2007.  A few lawmakers, such as Sen. Patrick Leahy, protested — as did governors across the country, who saw blazing red flags in the bills provisions. The governors banded together and repeatedly petitioned leaders on Capitol Hill with letters of protest, which were met, one by one, with silence. One such letter, signed by every member of the National Governors Association, read, in part:

This provision was drafted without consultation or input from governors, and represents an unprecedented shift in authority from governors . . .to the federal government….. We urge you to drop provisions that would usurp governors’ authority over the National Guard during emergencies from the conference agreement on the National Defense Authorization Act

So much for democracy. The bill passed like a hot knife through butter.

The roles of traditional emergency preparedness team workers seem to have been usurped by Air Force engineer and medical units, the Marine Corps Chemical, Biological Initial Reaction Force, a Navy weather team and members of the Defense Logistics Agency and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency. Whatever that means.

On this topic, the bi-partisan group of legislators that released the aforementioned April 2008 GAO report had a few things to say:   

I remain convinced that almost seven years after 9/11, the U.S. Northern Command, as presently structured, serves no real purpose and is a waste of taxpayers’ money. The only hope to transform this sham command into a viable asset for the American people would require major changes.  — Gene Taylor, D-Mississippi 

The United States Northern Command is supposed to be out in front in the Pentagon’s efforts to support civil authorities in emergencies. It should be planning and identifying possible equipment shortfalls. Above all, it should be working closely with state and local communities. Instead, the command is doing very little of this core activity. — Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont

Clearly, a bias against playing a supporting role to civilian authorities has resulted in large gaps in NORTHCOM’s ability to fulfill its stated mission. The fact is, governors and their National Guard are and will continue to be our nation’s first domestic military responders. And until they and NORTHCOM can work together more seamlessly, NORTHCOM’s ability to be of assistance in homeland response will continue to face significant challenges. — Chris Shays, R-Connecticut

NORTHCOM’s duty is to provide military support to States and the Department of Homeland Security, but it hasn’t fully figured out this emergency support mission. Any crack in our emergency preparedness capability today will become a gaping hole in our catastrophic response tomorrow. — Bennie Thompson, D-Mississippi

Instead of working with the governors, the National Guard Bureau and the State Adjutants General, Northern Command has held the country’s historic first military responders at arm’s length. Northern Command needs to accept its supporting role or get out of the way. — Tom Davis, R-Virginia
 

It is a curiosity. I mean, For more than 100 years – since the end of the Civil War – deployment of the U.S. military inside the U.S. has been prohibited under The Posse Comitatus Act (the only exceptions being that the National Guard and Coast Guard are exempted, and use of the military on an emergency ad hoc basis is permitted, such as what happened after Hurricane Katrina). Unless I missed something, a major hurricane has not hit the mainland in recent days, nor has a spate of riots broken out  in our major cities. And there’s no imminent threat of an impending chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or high explosive. Is there?  

Not that there’s a damned thing we can do about it. But I’m just saying….

Of course, it’s my prerogative to speculate on such things. After all, I am part of the tin-foil hat brigade, and have been since falling prey to tertiary Lyme Disease in 2002. Ever since, I’ve been on the vanguard with those who have long-believed in such unspeakable things as a Wall Street catastrophe, not to mention bizarre theories about bio-warfare pandemics, a second (and maybe a third) stolen election, 9-11 as a false flag operation, the Patriot Act, Dick Cheney’s oil imperialism agenda, the ascent of mercenary armies, martial law, internment camps, government-controlled media, geophysical warfare and so on — complete with all the legislative frills and scary, terrorist-bullying jargon necessary to making these newworldorder-ish things alternately possible, invisible, overt, covert and, ultimately, unstoppable.

 

Granted, a single brigade of Sea Smurfs dispatched to the blood red soils of Georgia, USA hardly seems like an overwhelming threat. But it is unprecedented, and it is also, um, un-American. So it’s only natural that I’d jump on board, in full-tin regalia, fully unsurprised — yet as surprised as the next person — by the house of cards, the McCain-Palin infomercials and the Sea Smurf Brigade. Only, unlike the steadfast tin soldier, I don’t feel so brave. And my heart’s not doing so well, either.    

 

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by Mantis Katz for the canarypapers

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Army Times: (Sept. 30, 2008)  Brigade Homeland Tour Starts October 1st

Salon.com: (Sept. 24, 2008) Why is a U.S. Army Brigade Being Assigned to the “Homeland”?

Patrick Leahy: (April 16, 2008) GAO: NORTHCOM Failing in Civil Support Mission

CQ.com: (Dec. 1, 2006)  Fine Print in Defense Bill Opens Door to Martial Law

Global Research: (October 9, 2008) FEMA Sources Confirm Coming Martial Law

The Progressive: (October 7, 2008)  Leahy Concerned About NorthCom’s New Army Unit

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Having created the conditions that produced history’s biggest bubble, America’s political leaders appear unable to grasp the magnitude of the dangers the country now faces. Mired in their rancorous culture wars and squabbling among themselves, they seem oblivious to the fact that American global leadership is fast ebbing away. A new world is coming into being almost unnoticed, where America is only one of several great powers, facing an uncertain future it can no longer shape. — From Asia Times  (October 10, 2008)  Wall Street: A New Iraq War

Aafia Siddiqui and Her 3 Children: Victims to an America that has lost its soul

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Aafia, You Are Not Alone

Aafia, You Are Not Alone

The post, below, is from September 2008. To see our most recent post on Aafia Siddiqui, published 1/19/2010, see:  The New American Justice: Aafia Siddiqui’s Trial by Water

UPDATED: If ever the official version of a story did not pass the smell test, it is the case of Aafia Siddiqui. The canarypapers recently published two posts on this case (on August 25th and  on August 29th) in an effort to urge protest against her mistreatment, to urge due process and proper medical care, and to spread what little is known of the facts regarding her case. Here, we offer updates on this case, as made available in the media and various web sites. We are also re-posting information to add your voice to those who are (1) urging a Congressional investigation into the facts of this case, (2) demanding proper legal rights, medical care and humane treatement for Aafia, and (3) demanding an investigation into the whereabout of Aafia’s two children, who are still missing, and demanding the return of her third child — 11-year-old Ahmed, who is a U.S. citizen — to her family, as he has been in the custody of Afghanistan intelligence officials for over one month now.

UPDATES: New links added 9/4/08 at bottom of post; new information in green text hroughout post.

UPDATE: New links added 9/8/08 at bottom of post in purple text.

UPDATE: New links added 9/19/08 at the bottom of the post in blue text.

Aafia Siddiqui’s son, Mohammad Ahmed, was finally released this week into the custody of his aunt, Dr. Fauzia Siddiqui. She described him to be traumatized, afraid and mentally disturbed, but in good health. He has so far given no details on his experiences while in custody. This is according to a Dawn Media Group story. The accounts in U.S. papers (e.g. NY Times, Washington Post) are deplorably inaccurate — for instance, suggesting the boy was Aafia Siddiqui’s ADOPTED son, despite well-publicized DNA tests to the contrary. This story continues to be heart-wrenching for the utter dearth of factual truth, and for the media perpetuation, without even a modicum of journalistic curiosity, of the myths in this case. The very real human tragedy of this story has yet to be told.

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Here’s how each of us can help Aafia Siddiqui and her children:

(1) Demand a Congressional investigation into this case by calling your Capitol Hill representatives via the Capitol Hill switchboard at 800-828-0498. Ask for your state representative, by name. You will be transferred to either voice mail or an aide. Leave a message that you, as a concerned American, want (1) an independent Congressional investigation into the case of Aafia Siddiqui (pronounced AUF-ia    Sa-DEEK-ia) and her three children, and that (2) you request that her current medical and legal needs be met according to U.S. and International laws regarding prisoners.

(2) Sign and send the letters of protest at the Asian Human Rights Commission site. These letters are forwarded to President Bush, to NATO headquarters, and to various authorities in Pakistan and Afghanistan. It is important that these officials know the world’s eyes are focused on this case.

(3) Attend her court hearing in Manhattan on September 3rd, 2008. Protests are scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. Her hearing is scheduled to begin at 10:00 a.m. at the United States District Court (U.S.D.C.) for the Southern District of New York (S.D.N.Y), located at 500 Pearl Street, Manhattan. It will be held in the Magistrates Court, 5th floor. Siddiqui refused to appear at this hearing, as she refused to undergo the pain and degradation of the requisite full-body strip-search. Her lawyers and court-appointed psychologist have requested she be transferred to a “less restrictive setting where she would not be subjected to strip searches and where she could receive more extensive (medical) care.” Judge Berman set a deadline of Friday, Sept. 12 for the defense to brief this issue, Wednesday Sept. 17 for the prosecution, with the next court appearance on Monday, Sept. 22. We will give more information on this as it becomes available.

(4) Send mail, publications or money to Aafia Siddiqui. There are specific regulations regarding these, which can be found, along with contact information and addresses, at the muslimmatters.org website. There is also contact information for her attorney at this site. NOTE: According to a September 1, 2008 report, Aafia is due to soon be transferred to a “better facility” where she will supposedly receive proper medical care. We will update this information as it becomes available.

See the bottom of this post for media updates on the Aafia Siddiqui case

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QUESTION AND ANSWER: Is the writer of this post “anti-American” or pro-terrorism? No. I am pro-human rights, and I am in favor of both due process and the protections provided by the Geneva Convention and (formerly) the U.S. Constitution, as I will explain:

In reading, it has come to my attention that, by making “anti-American” statements in my writings on the Aafia Siddiqui case, I may be promoting the agenda that I am (1) anti-American, and/or (2) in favor of a terrorist suspect attempting to murder U.S officials, Nothing could be further from the truth. First, I write as a U.S.-born, caucasion citizen, a enlightened and spiritual human being with no religious affiliation whatsoever, In fact, my own spirituality precludes identification with any organized religion, as I abhor the long history of violence generated from the divisiveness that seems inherent between religions. I have never met, nor spoken with, or corresponded in any way with a Muslim or any representative of any one from the Muslim community.  In the same breath, I add that I am not afraid of Muslims, the same as I am not inherently afraid of any person, based on their race, creed, religion, ethnicity or nationality. I am not a champion of Muslim causes, per se, except in cases, such as the Aafia Siddiqui case, where human rights are being grossly violated under the Geneva Convention, the U.S. Constitution and the basic common tenets that we should all hold in common, as human beings.

I write as an American citizen who is profoundly saddened, alarmed and, ultimately afraid of the loss of these basic human rights through the Bush Administration’s flagrant disregard of these rights. I would, and I do, extend the same concern and outrage to any trampled citizen of the earth, no matter their race, creed, ethnic origin, or location on the map.  The Aafia Siddiqui case is but one such example. HIstory has shown that — throughout the world, and even withn the U.S. — over-reaching power, when driven by fear and a disregard for establised law, is a dangerous combination. Nazi Germany is one of the most notorious examples, but plenty of precedent exists on U.S. soil: slavery, ethnic cleansing of Native Americans, the Tuskegee experiment, the Jim Crow era, Japanese internment camps, the McCarthy hearings, and the current xenophobia (hatred/fear) toward Muslims that seeks to paint them all with the “Islamic terrorist” paint brush, thereby justifying a certain persecution of them, and a certain bending of their constitutional rights. There are many in the U.S. who feel that we have come dangerously close over the past 8 years to re-living a similar history to Nazi Germany through the over-reaching abuse of power, under the banner of “the war on terror.” Conversely, that the viewpoint of many Americans is fear-driven (much of this by the administration’s design) and are ignorant of the facts (also by design) has only allowed this abuse of power to flourish. It is a fact, not a conspiracy theory, that this administration has employed duplicity, lies, misinformation and propaganda to promote their lawlessness and to, indeed, prod the American people to condone and cheer on this lawlessness, in the name of doing “whatever it takes” to keep us safe.

We, at the canarypapers, find special exception in the case of Aafia Siddiqui. Here, we have a “terrorist suspect” who is accused of acts which she vehemently denies and, instead, claims that she has been imprisoned and tortured for the past 5 years, more than likely at the hands of U.S. officials in Afghanistan. Her physical, mental and emotional condition easily support this claim, as do the investigations of human rights organizations throughout the world. In this, we must — absolutely must — consider the alternative to the “official” version of her story: What if Aafia Siddiqui is telling the truth? WHAT IF Aafia Siddiqui is telling the truth? As stands — and by virtue of the built-in lack of due process for terrorist suspects — the chance of this truth seeing the light of day is slim. As fellow human beings, we must — absolutely must — demand due process and an independent and/or Congressional investigation into this case.

If we — as American citizens — have become so estranged from our humanity, our better selves, that we would condone persecuting another human being out of a fear and anger so great, that we give ourselves authority to presume the facts, rather than allow their proper discovery, then we have become like those very terrorists we claim to abhor. If we believe that it is fair for an innocent human being to be punished for the actions of others, then we are no different from those very terrorists we claim to abhor. If, in writing on Aafia Siddiqui, I have — in any way — seemed to embrace anti-Americanism, or a terrorist agenda, or have promoted a xenophobia of the Muslim community, it has not been my intention. In fighting for a just America — an America that adheres to both constitutional and international laws and treaties regarding human rights — I believe that I am fighting for the America envisioned by our founders, over 200 years ago, which is a very patriotic and American thing to do. My stance on the Aafia Siddiqui case is mine, alone, and has been influenced by no individual or group, beyond the Aafia Siddiqui, herself, as known to me by the research I have conducted on her case.

We, at the canarypapers, continue to allege, along with her family, her attorneys, human rights groups and many concerned individuals around the world that Aafia Siddiqui is a victim of the Bush Administration’s over-reaching “war on terror” that has secretly and illegally imprisoned and tortured hundreds, if not thousands of citizens around the world. We also allege, against the official versions given on this case, that Aafia Siddiqui was indeed arrested in April 2003, as then-reported (and later denied) by Pakistani and U.S. authorities/the FBI. We further allege that she spent the following 5+ years imprisoned and tortured, with most or all of those years spent in the United States’ notorious Bagram prison in Afghanistan, which serves a similar function to Guantanamo Bay, only without the facade of adhering to international laws regarding torture.

Pakistani Protesters Demonstrate on August 29th to Show Solidarity with Aafia Siddiqui

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If this case is “for real” how come most of us have never heard of it before?

The events and questions surrounding Aafia Siddiqui’s case have received little press in the U.S. media  — a deplorable oversight, given — if nothing else — her deplorable treatment in U.S. custody at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, NY. Her case is well known, however, in other parts of the world, especially her native country of Pakistan, where citizens have been gathering by the thousands for months now — demanding the release of Aafia and her 3 children from their secret detention. Her case is also well-known to human rights groups around the world, all of whom have reported for several years now, “credible evidence” that she was been held in secret detention facilities by U.S. and ally authorities, most likely in Afghanistan. Her case is also well-known by her own family, who has spent the past 5 years fighting for the truth on her disappearance, even as Aafia’s mother was threatened by Afghani authorities, at the time of Aafia’s disappearance in 2003, and warned to not make a case of her disappearance (the implication being that harm could come to Aafia and her children if the silence was not held).

Aafia’s case was also known to other prisoners at Bagram — by those “lucky” ones who didn’t die at the hands of their captors, or who were later deemed innocent and released after days, months or years of torture. One such “lucky” captor, held at both Bagram and Guantanamo, lived to write a book, in which he detailed the story of Prisoner 650. His story captured the attention of British journalist, Yvonne Ridley — a former “terrorist suspect” herself, who was imprisoned for a short time at Bagram. Earlier this summer, Ms. Ridley investigated Prisoner 650, who came to be known as “the grey lady of Bagram,” for the haunting screams of a woman being tortured in a prison that  — according to the FBI and the CIA — did not detain females. In the wake of Yvonne Ridley’s investigation, the public outcry over Aafia Siddiqui’s imprisonment grew overwheleming. Soon thereafter, she mysteriously re-appeared on a street in Afghanistan and was promply arrested — allegedly carring in her purse an arsenal of chemical and biological weapons and maps to NYC landmarks.  The offical versions between the Afghani and U.S. authorities widely contradict each other, particularly regarding the events that led to Aafia being shot several times in the abdomen.

Over 4,000 Demonstrate in Pakistan in a Show of Solidarity with Aafia Siddiqui

Over 4,000 Demonstrate in Pakistan in a Show of Solidarity with Aafia Siddiqui

The power of protest and why it’s our duty, as American citizens, to do this

If not for the protests of the many concerned individuals and groups, Aafia Siddqui might still be in Bagram. One would think that she might at least receive humane treatment, once on U.S. soil. Not so. She has been denied medical treatment, on the grounds that she is a “security risk” and despite that, according to her attorneys, her condition has being both frail and deterioating, with her wound oozing blood. She has been denied proper medical despite the urging of the Pakistani consulate, her attorneys and her family. It is our duty as fellow human beings and American citizens to continue the outcry. Demand that Aafia be allowed due legal process; demand that she be afforded proper medical care; demand that an independent investigation be conducted to determine the facts about her case; demand that her 12 year-old child, Ahmed, who is a U.S. citizen, be released from Afghan custody; demand an investigation into the whereabout of her other two children — her daughter, Miriam, and her son, Suleman — aged 5 years and 6 months, respectively, at the time of their disappearance in 2003.

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UPDATE: Aafia Siddiqui’s court hearing was yet another sad turn in this case, as she refused to attend the hearing — the same as she has refused meetings with her attorneys — solely to avoid the pain and degradation of the invasive, full-body strip searches she is required to undergo before these meetings.
According to one article, Siddiqui’s lawyers and the court-appointed psychologist have requested she be transferred to a “less restrictive setting where she would not be subjected to strip searches and where she could receive more extensive care.” Judge Berman set a deadline of Friday, Sept. 12 for the defense to brief this issue, Wednesday Sept. 17 for the prosecution, with the next court appearance on Monday, Sept. 22. Aafia’s attorney, Elizabeth Fink, continues to claim, as stated in her letter released this past Wednesday, that Aafia Siddiqui was held by the United States following her 2003 disappearance. Fink wrote that The Washington Post told her of “reliable sources in both the American and Pakistani government who have verified” that Siddiqui was held, first by Pakistani intelligence in 2003, and subsequently by the CIA. The Post declined to comment.

According to prison staff, Aafia spends most of her time in the cell crying, a description eerily similar to the accounts written about Prisoner 650, “the grey lady of Bagram,” who was described in exactly the same terms. Aafia is also reported to be terrified for her three children, and terrified that her 11-year-old son, in the custody of Afghani intelligence officials, is being denied food. Despite repeated requests by her attorneys, and repeated orders by judges in the case, Aafia continues to be denied medical care for her injuries, and continues to be denied psychological care, including a mental health evaluation by a therapist trained in evaluating torture victims. Aafia Siddiqui has fallen through the cracks of international law, and has fallen through the safety net of a U.S. Constitution unraveled by this administration. These facts speak for themselves as much as the speak for the truth that her case is proving to be a worst-case scenario — a case that proves, regardless of its outcome, the consequences of removing the checks and balances from the tenets of human justice. No human being should be allowed to endure the suffering of this particular hell. (see the updated links in green, below)

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A Disclaimer, of sorts, regarding the facts of the Aafia Siddiqui case

We’re no amateurs at researching the goings-on by the Bush Administration. If we’ve learned anything over the past 8 years, it’s that this administration excels in disseminating disinformation. This disinformation is then served up to the American public as if it were news, when, in fact, it’s little more than a PR campaign to promote their various agendas: propaganda, by definition. Under these circumstances, fact-finding becomes an onerous task. One cannot take, on face-value, the offical accounts as given by our government, but must wade through a convuluted trail of (past and present-day) government and congressional documents, reports and investigations, along with independent investigations, individual accounts, and media reports & investigations — most of these drawn from select media outlets elsewhere in the world, where information and perspectives tend to be more factual. Doing this type of research over time, one develops a sixth-sense: something is just not right here; this does not pass the smell test.

As any one who’s ever concoted a big lie could tell you, it’s difficult to maintain a watertight case. Over time, the loose ends begin to fray. Things start to leak. The bigger the lie, the more complicated and, ultimately impossible it becomes to keep the lies straight. As my mother used to say, “Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.”

While this administration excels at disinformation, deception and outright lies (while discrediting their detractors, via the ‘conspiracy theorist’ or ‘terrorist appeaser’ labels) they are fairly sorry at covering their asses. To this end, when they can’t discredit the facts/fact-finders, they will alternately resort to more lies, resort to defamation of character, resort to withholding answers behind a cloak of “security reasons,” and so on. As a last resort, as we’ve recently seen with Karl Rove, they will simply thumb their noses at the Congress and the American public. Because of these things — not to mention that both our President and Vice-President have been accused of myriad war crimes and have been brought up on charges of impeachment for these crimes, all of which were born from sytematic campaigns of lies and duplicity about supposed terrorist activities around the world —  we tend to err on the side not believing the offical statements issued by this administration, particularly regarding their ‘intelligence’ on terrorism and terrorist suspects.  The way we see it, if the Bush-Cheney Administration can cook the intelligence to deceive this country into going to war with Iraq, it would surely be a snap to do the same for an individual human being — which is exactly what many allege this administration has done to hundreds, if not thousands of human beings throughout the world since September 11, 2001.

With the above caveats in mind, we can state with utter certainty that, in our research of the Aafia Siddiaui case, we find that the “official” accounts do not pass the smell test. In recent weeks, we’ve seen various “new” information crop up, bolstering the terrorist charges waged by this administration’s against Aafia Siddiqui: money trails, alleged contacts, her travels, etc. After researching these allegations, we’ve chosen to not provide links to them, as we find no credible evidence to support these allegations, beyond the say-so of anonymous “U.S. officials.”

The fact is (and, if you’ll read/listen carefully to the news, you’ll see that this is true) nearly all of the accusations waged by the U.S. against other countries and individuals in this unholy war on terror have been sourced from un-named “U.S. officials,” nearly always speaking only on the condition of anonymity, usually for ‘security reasons.’ Our belief — and we believe history will one day bear this out — is that each and every official statement quoted by un-named or anonymous “U.S. officials,” (aka White House sources, military analysts, Pentagon spokesmen, etc. ,etc.) was originally sourced from none other than the Grand Poo-Bah, himself: Dick Cheney, the man behind the curtain in Emerald City.

Our own facts about the Aafia Siddiqui case — arrived at through careful research and deliberation — may be imperfect (Is her son 11 or 12 years of age? Is her mother living or not? Where were Affia and her three children before their disappearance in 2003 — en route to her uncles’ house, or in hiding from the FBI’s terrorist alert against her?) Alternately, our facts may be dead-on accurate. One thing for certain: the Bush Adminsistraton did a particularly poor job of covering their asses in this case. Of all the reports and incidents we’ve researched over the past 7 years, the official version of Aafia Siddiqui’s case has been the most convoluted,  the most contradictory, the most gap-filled, the most deception-filled, the most suspicious and, ultimately, the most tragic case we’ve seen.

Worst-case scenario, if she is indeed guilty of any of the charges waged against her, she deserves a thorough, independent investigation into these charges and to the imprisonment and torture she alleges she suffered over the past five years. She deserves the basic human rights afforded by international treaties: the right to due legal process, the right to proper medical care, the right to know what happened to her children who, at the ages of 7 years, 5 years and 6 months were surely not deserving of whatever treatment has since befallen them.

Feel free to question our facts on Aafia Siddiqui. As always, we’re proud of the research we do, and are glad to share it with others.

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LINKS TO MORE RECENT NEWS REPORTS ON THIS CASE:

PakTribune: September 1, 2008 – Dr Aafia to be shifted to better facility soon: US authorities have indicated to the Pakistan government that Dr Aafia Siddiqui, who is suffering from bullet wounds, will be shifted to another facility by next week, which is less intrusive and offers better medical care.

RadianceViewsWeekly: September 1, 2008 – Musharraf’s Nemesis: What luck for rulers that men do not think, said Adolf Hitler. The Fuhrer should know, having proved himself a successful, if rather demented, leader of men. Successive rulers of Islamic Republic of Pakistan seem to have been driven by this cynical piece of wisdom….. Perhaps, Musharraf could have gone on and hung on in there for some more time, if only he had not so enthusiastically enlisted Pakistan in Bush’s war. Maybe our man had no option but jump on the neocon bandwagon when Colin Powell made that rather persuasive call on a cold day in September, the day the greatest military power on earth was shaken to its roots. Maybe it has spared Pakistan the fate of Afghanistan and brought it billions in US aid.   But what the country has gained by joining this directionless, disastrous war is nothing compared to what it has lost. Thousands of innocents have paid with their lives for the Bush-Mush war. And God only knows how many individuals like Dr Aafia Siddiqui, the MIT-educated scientist, have simply disappeared into the nameless gulags around the world. And the whole country, coupled with Afghanistan, has been transformed into a vast battlefield; the main front of the war that, we are reassured, is being fought for the promotion of Democracy and Human Freedom, whatever that means.

NewsPostOnline: September 1, 2008 – Boy found with “terrorist suspect” Dr. Aafia is her son, but denies: Ahmed, the 11-year-old boy said to have been apprehended along with ‘terror suspect’ Pakistani-American doctor Aafia Siddiqui was identified as her son, although he denies that he is in any way related to her.

(Editor’s note: A reminder: this 11 year-old boy is legally a U.S. citizen. He was arrested with his mother in mid-July. International law forbids treating children as criminals, yet he has been interrogated serveral times by the FBI and has been held in the custody of Afghan’s intelligence service for the past month. Knowing that the U.S. does not necessarily bar torturing the children of terrorist suspects, in order to gain information (see video below), it is haunting to contemplate the circumstances that would lead to an 11 year-old boy to deny being related to hs own mother, while yet being unable to give details on his ‘real’ family.)

ThaindianNews: August 31, 2008 – Afghan Government to Free Pakistan Terror Suspect Dr. Aafia’s Son Soon: After repeated requests from Islamabad, the Afghanistan Government has reportedly promised to Pakistan to return soon one of the three sons of Pakistani scientist and terror suspect Dr Aafia Siddiqui, who was arrested in Afghanistan earlier this month and presently being tried in the US for terror charges. The New York-based human rights body the Human Rights Watch had also urged the Afghan government earlier this week to free the child, who is said to be a US citizen by birth.

AFP: August 30, 2008- Afghanistan will free son of Pakistani scientist ‘soon’:  The young son of Pakistani scientist Aafia Siddiqui will be returned to his family “soon” by Afghanistan after he was arrested with her more than a month ago, Foreign Minister Rangeen Dadfar Spanta said Saturday.

Two letters from Aafia Siddiqui’s uncle, written in 2004: These two letters are said to be written by Dr. Aafia’s maternal uncle, published in Dawn daily English newspaper, Karachi, Pakistan in 2004. These letters offer a detailed timeline of this case, according to her uncle.

UPDATE: New links added 9/4/08

Daily Times: Aafia Siddiqui refuses to appear in court, in protest -Dr Aafia Siddiqui refused to appear in a New York court on Thursday in protest against the humiliating treatment to which she is being subjected and because of her traumatised physical, mental and emotional condition.

Voice of America: Mystery Shrouds Case of Pakistani Scientist Linked to Terrorists – A Pakistani woman who is charged with trying to murder U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan refused to appear for her arraignment in New York City Thursday. Defense lawyers say Aafia Siddiqui is unable or unwilling to submit to a required strip-search due to wounds she suffered when she was arrested nearly two months ago and that she urgently needs medical and psychological care. VOA’s Walter Wisniewski has more.

Washington Post: Pakistani Tortured, Her Attorney Says Lawyer Calls for Mental Evaluation — Lawyer Elizabeth Fink told a federal judge in New York that Aafia Siddiqui, who disappeared in Pakistan with her three children in March 2003, needs a full psychological evaluation to determine whether she has post-traumatic stress disorder and is competent to help in her own defense. Fink also urged that Siddiqui, 36, be examined by experts on the effects of torture.

Press Trust of India: Pakistani neuroscientist Aafia Siddiqui, suspected of having links with al-Qaeda, would plead innocent to the charges of attempted murder of US personnel during interrogation in Afghanistan in July, her lawyer said.

TheNewsAfghan Government Contacts Aafia’s Sister (Sept. 1, 2008) The government of Afghanistan contacted the family of Dr Aafia Siddiqui late on Sunday night and assured Aafia’s sister that they were ready to hand over her 11-year old son Ahmed Siddiqui to the family.

The Muslim News: Alleged al-Qa’ida suspect denied medical treatment (August 29, 2008)  Wheelchair-bound and only able to communicate with her lawyer through a hole at the bottom of her cell door, Dr Aafia Siddiqui is a ghost of the vibrant woman she was six years ago, and looks a far cry from the stark picture painted by US authorities as the vicious al-Qa’ida suspect charged with assault with a deadly weapon and attempted murder on FBI officers while in custody.

NDTV Pak-born U.S. scientist’s hearing deferred (September 5, 2008) The indictment hearing of Pakistan-born US scientist Aafia Siddiqui, with suspected links to Al-Qaida, was postponed as she refused to be strip searched. The 36-year-old neuroscientist has been charged with trying to kill the American interrogators after her arrest in Afghanistan. She was expected to plead innocence to the charges. But Aafia could not be brought to court as she refused to be strip searched, which is mandatory while moving prisoners from lock up to court.

Office of the High Commisioner for Human Rights (UNHSHR): THE GENEVA CONVENTION Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War

LINKS ADDED 9/8/08:

GEO TV: Pakistan seeks repatriation of 5 Pakistani held in Guantanamo

Daily Times: Six Pakistani women have fuelled international headlines in the past week. Five of them are the hapless victims of the grotesque live burial that took place in rural Balochistan earlier this month, punished for going against tribal tradition and flouting the will of the men for whom they were mere chattel. The sixth is Dr Aafia Siddiqui, the MIT-trained Pakistani neuroscientist who was recently indicted in a court in New York “for attempting to murder and assault US nationals” while incarcerated at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan.

LINKS ADDED 9/19/08:

Daily Times – Pakistan (9/14/2008): Asian Human Rights Commission slams detention of Dr. Aafia’s son (Editor’s note: This story was written 1 day before the release of Aafia Siddiqui’s son, as detailed in accounts, below)

Washington Post: Family Frees Son of Pakistani-Al Qaeda Suspect (Editor’s note: Reading this article, the lack of journalistic curiosity in this case is both puzzling and deplorable.That this paper perpetuates the myth that Aafia’s son, Mohammad Ahmed, was adopted — despite well-publicized DNA tests to the contrary — and that his name is Ali Hassan, despite well-publicized records to the contrary, reads more like complicity with the criminal activities of U.S. officials than an account written by the independent media in a supposed democracy.)

New York Times: Afghans Repatriate Son, 12, of Pakistani Indicted in U.S. (Editor’s note: Again, a deplorable lack of journalistic curiosity to report on a case that is so riddled with inconsistencies, that it reads like jibberish. Note also that they persist in calling him Ali Hassan, despite that his name is Mohammad Ahmed).

LA Times: Afghanistan frees son of alleged ally of al Qaeda (Editor’s note: Again, a profound lack of journalistic integrity to this story)

International Tribune: Son of al Qaida suspect returned to Pakistan (Editor’s note: ditto the above, although there are a few additonal details included, concerning the name change)

BBC: Detainee’s son handed to Pakistan (Editor’s note: Finally a story that appers to be mostly factual and actually calls the boy by his correct name.)

Associated Press: Afghanistan frees son of al Qaida suspect (Editor’s note: again, another account riddled with inconsistencies, not the least of which is calling Mohammad Ahmed by the name Ali Hassan, one of several name changes given to him by Afghani authorities. What a farce)

Counterpunch: The Horrendous Case of Aafia Siddiqui: Where Are Her Children?

Asian Pacific Post: Family Fear Siddiqui’s Death

DAWN: Aafia’s Son Freed by Kabul, Flown to Islamabad

DAWN: Aafia Siddiqui suffering from psychosis

Arab News: Afghanistan frees son of Pak scientist held by US

Daily Times – Pakistan (editorial) Periscope: The Wrong Side of Right

Daily Times – Pakistan: Pak Senators Refused Access to Guantanamo Detainees, Granted Permission to See Aafia Siddiqui

The International News: Chid of Conflict

Ohmy News: Aafia Siddiqui’s Son Released to his Aunt — Pakistani rights activist lauds deposed top judge for taking up issue

Online International News Network: Fauzia Siddiqui refuses to allow media to talk to Aafia’s son:

ISLAMABAD: Dr. Fauzia Siddiqui sister of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui has refused to allow media to talk to Ahmad Siddiqui son of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui saying that he was yet in a state of shock.
While talking to Private TV Channel she expressed Ahmad’s profound happiness on return of Ahmad Siddiqui and said that Aafia’s son name was changed many times. “Though, Ahmad had matured but he was mentally disturbed, therefore, Ahmad cannot be allowed to talk to media, “ She maintained. In response to a question she said that Ahmad Siddiqui would be shifted from Islamabad within two or three days and government was also assisting them in this connection. She also thanked the government for making efforts for return of Ahmad Siddiqui, and expressed her gratitude to media, civil societies and people for projecting the issue, hoping that Dr. Aafia Siddiqui would soon return to Pakistan along with her two other children. Similarly, in letter addressed to President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani, Interior Minister and other officials she has thanked them for helping Siddiqui family at all fronts.
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Could the Bush Administration Order the Torture of Children and Burying Alive of Prisoners?

A simple yes or no would have sufficed. In this House Judiciary Hearing, White House attorneys John Yoo and David Addington are asked this very question, to determine the administration’s torture policies regarding children and burying prisoners alive.  Yoo and Addington are the two leading architects of the Bush administration’s policies on torture. Their testimony revealed few answers (none, actually), as even the simplest questions yielded evasive sleights-of-hand maneuvers, such as the sort of ‘legal speak’ lawyers are known to employ when evading answering a question. Here, with a 5-minute time limit on the testimony, we see the Judiciary committee members grow increasingly frustrated and, at turns, outraged (accusing Yoo, at one point, of playing “Beat the Clock”) as each attempt to get a straight answer is stonewalled by Yoo and Addington.  Longer versions of this testimony are available on YouTube.

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by Mantis Katz, for the canarypapers

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On the Occasion of the 7th Anniversary of 9-11….

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On the occasion of the 7th anniversary of September 11th, a call for mourning: A call for mourning for the lives lost, a call for remembrance of all that was lost that day; a call for questions to be asked, and for questions to be answered; A call for 9-11 to no longer be exploited by any political party or person for political gain.

On the occasion of the 7th anniversary of September 11th, a wake up call: a call for mourning, a call for remembrance, a call for truth.

 

The Elephant in the Room – Part 1 of 10

Winner: Best Documentary – London Independent Film Festival. 2008

 The Elephant in the Room is a documentary following British filmmaker Dean Puckett through his journey into the 9/11 Truth Movement: a global movement of ‘conspiracy theorists’ who believe that the official explanation about what happened on 9/11 is totally or partially inaccurate. The filmmakers travel from middle England, across Europe and to New York for the six year anniversary of the attacks, where the film takes one final twist as we are introduced to the 9/11 first responders who are suffering from various grave health difficulties due to the toxic dust that they breathed in trying to help their country during the weeks after this tragic event. Told with a personal hands on approach that avoids advancing any one position, the film asks the question: are these crazy conspiracy theorists? Or is 9/11 Truth a credible political movement?

The Elephant in the Room – Part 2

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The Elephant in the Room – Part 3

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The Elephant in the Room – Part 4

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The Elephant in the Room – Part 5

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The Elephant in the Room – Part 6

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The Elephant in the Room – Part 7

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The Elephant in the Room – Part 8

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The Elephant in the Room – Part 9

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The Elephant in the Room – Part10 of 10

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Other films related to 9-11 and truth 

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An upcoming film: Zeitgeist will premiere on October 2nd, 2008 at the 5th Annual Artivist’s Flim Festival in Los Angeles Film Festival. See trailer and high-definition, 2-hour film (available online thru Oct 3rd) here

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Loose Change 9-11   See full-length film here.

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Check out this website: The FeelGood Foundation works to assist and improve the lives of the 9-11 first reponders and their families. Learn more about them here, where you can also browse their shop and/or make a tax-deductible donation. Below is their mission statement: 

The primary mission of the FealGood Foundation, a non-profit organization, is to spread awareness and educate the public about the catastrophic health effects on 9/11 first responders, as well as to provide assistance to relieve these great heroes of the financial burdens placed on them over the last five years. A secondary goal of our Foundation is to create a network of advocacy on 9/11 healthcare issues. We not only advocate for Ground Zero workers, but show others how they can advocate for themselves and help others through grassroots activism.

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Putting Lipstick on a Pig: McCain’s Pygmalion Complex with Sarah Palin

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Quick: What’s the difference between Joe Biden and a hockey mom running for vice-president? Answer: One of them is a pit bull-of-a-politician with a world of foreign-policy and lawmaking experience, while the other is, uh, Sarah Palin.

 Okay, so it’s not exactly a punch line, and it’s not exactly funny, unless you’re the sort who enjoys watching a slow-motion train wreck — a potential destination in our country’s itinerary, as the American public struggles with the weighty decision over whether to vote for a qualified politician of substance, education, experience and stature, or vote for Sarah Palin. One can only hope that John McCain has an awfully big tube of lipstick, because he’ll need it to put lipstick on that pig. To do this, he’ll need to accomplish three things. Here, the recently afflicted McCain’s pygmalion complex will come in handy.   

The Road to the White House in 3 Easy Steps

First, John McCain needs to keep convincing the American public that education, intelligence and experience are inherently bad things. This has been, so far, neatly accomplished by attaching the “elitist” label to those who speak with even a modicum of intelligence on matters of import, or, alternately, sticking the “elitist liberal” label to anyone who deigns to disagree with McCain’s kamikaze candidacy. The second step McCain needs to accomplish is a to give Sarah Palin a crash course in U.S. and world history, domestic and foreign policy, constitutional law, political science, presidential diplomacy, how to use a salad fork, and so on, while infusing her with the nuts-and-bolts nuances and the grasp of language necessary to speaking and acting authoritatively on such matters. The third step is to sequester his creation from the world — just like his predecessor, Professor Henry Higgins, did with Eliza Doolittle — while Sarah makes her Pygmalion transformation from Alaska’s shrill-voiced, caribou-killing, liar of a First Lady, to McCain’s Fair Lady.

The McCain campaign began working on that third step during the RNC convention, as they lobbed pre-emptive strikes toward the media, calling them sexist (while being at a loss, when asked, to produce evidence of this) and by attaching the “elitist liberal” label to the media. So it came as no surprise, after all this foreshadowing, when the McCain campaign announced they’d put a gag order on Sarah Palin: for now, there will be no questions, no interviews; Sarah Palin will give only scripted speeches and choreographed interviews to the American public. 

If this sounds familiar, there’s a reason for that. McCain — following ever-steadfastly in Bush’s footsteps — has actually taken a page from Bush’s ‘pre-packaged news’ campaign. Remember? It’s not been that long, really, since the American public learned that our evening news was being manufactured by the Bush Administration — produced by various government agencies, such as the Dept. of Defense, and delivered by actors posing as journalists, who were paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to ask scripted questions of authorities, who were also being paid hundreds of thousands of dollars, to give scripted answers — all designed to tell the American people what to think about issues, such as the war in Iraq and Medicare reform. Perhaps McCain will also take a page from George Bernard Shaw’s script, and only allow Palin to talk about the weather and other people’s health, should she be pressed into giving unscripted comments.

“The rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain, and in Hertford, Hereford and Hampshire, hurricanes hardly ever happen”

Prof. Henry Higgins had an easier job of it — tasked with teaching only the linguistic facets of speaking on foreign places. Eliza had only to aspirate her h’s and draw her a’s into a long phoneme, while Sarah Palin will be expected to speak authoritatively on topics about which she currently commands next-to-nothing, in the way of knowledge or experience. Prof. Higgins also had more time — with a full six months to teach Eliza Doolittle to speak properly before her debut at the Embassy Ball (see photo, above /left).  McCain has a mere 26 days to teach Sarah Palin the fundamentals, beyond God’s plan, of war and peace before her second-coming in the vice-presidential debate on October 2nd. McCain’s hope is, of course, that once Sarah Palin has been refined with the proper tutoring, scripting and blocking, the American people will greet her encore performance with the sure belief that she always owned the knowledge, experience, temperament and good judgment to be vice-president of the United States.  

A tricky balancing act: How to give American women a voice, while telling them to shut up

The problem for the McCain campaign is the pesky media, not a factor in Higgins’ day. The media will likely continue hounding the McCain team, obsessing on highly personal details about Sarah’s life, such as her qualifications and experience, riddled as these are with discrepancies, controversy, scandals and lies. The media will no doubt question, too, the motives behind the McCain campaign’s decision to put a gag order on Sarah Palin. Feminists of good standing might also begin to question how the Republican Party — which is acting like they, themselves, invented the feminist cause and have simultaneously addressed the grievances of the suffragette movement in one fell swoop —  can also parade their poster child out with a gag across her mouth. But we trust the McCain campaign to do a good job with this. As we’ve learned over the past 8 years, if there’s one thing the Republicans do well, it’s putting on a good show: convincing the American people it’s raining, while they piss down our backs. On this note, we can hardly wait to see the unveiling of McCain’s pygmalion creation.

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by Mantis Katz, for the canarypapers

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Related links of interest:

salon.com: Sarah Palin and Mark Halperin’s complaints of “liberal media” 

….The very notion of the “Liberal Media” is one of the most inane myths in American politics — something spat out and repeated in the lowest right-wing sewers for so long that it has become conventional wisdom — but Halperin’s frequent vouching for that myth, in his role of “journalist,” illustrates all one needs to know about him. The media’s contempt for both John Kerry and Al Gore was matched only by their reverence for George Bush’s swagger. The first several months of media coverage this year was dominated by Jerimiah Wright, lapel pins, bowling scores, Bittergate and elitism. And it is highly unlikely that there has even been a time in American history when the media was as subservient to Government as they were during the Bush era. It’s literally hard to imagine a claim that ought to be more discredited in general than the notion of the “liberal media” and its “anti-Republican bias”….

TheModerateVoice: The Sarah Palin Cone of Silence 

Rumors are slowly crystallizing into confirmed reports when it comes to the dating phase of America’s relationship with Sarah Palin. Following our brief introductions, this particular shiddach will apparently be overseen by Team McCain adhering to ancient traditions – there will be no future dates without strict chaperones in attendance and the conversations will be passed through the mothers. Should we wish to know anything further about the Alaska Governor, the campign team will define what it is we should know and when we will find out about it….

Lastly…. Somewhere during the process of learning what exactly a vice-president does, Sarah will also need to take a crash course in what a vice-presidential candidate does — specifically, what a vice-presidential candidate on the McCain ticket does, to promote the McCain platform, about which she is also apparently clueless.  

 

A REVIEW OF THE BIG SPEECH: When is a little knowledge dangerous? When it’s Sarah Palin.

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The talking heads are unanimous: Sarah Palin gave a command performance last night. Truly, she did — if you’re the sort who likes your scripts well-delivered, on-cue, by a skilled actress. Our local theatre group has many such talents.

Sarah is to be commended for her seamless delivery of this one-man act, peopled as it was with such a diversity of characters: plucky, all-American hockey-mom of five (being unfairly persecuted by the elite liberal media) who rose to be mayor of Wasilla (a small town, whose size is being disrespected by the elite, liberal media), and who then rose to become governor of Alaska (a state which, if you elect Sarah Palin,  promises to give us cheap gas and oil, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and staunch terrorism everywhere), whereby she proved her skills as a maverick politician, bucking a corrupt, good-old-boy system to restore truth and transparency to Alaskan politics (pay no mind to the man behind the curtain) and will do the same for the corrupt, good-old-boy system in Washington (which is run by politicians whose job skills pale in comparison to hers) because, for one thing, she represents ‘real’ Americans, (not those bitter, unpatriotic ones who aren’t proud of their country in both good and bad times, such as when that country lets its citizens fall, en masse, through the cracks into joblessness and financial despair, while paying $16 billion per month for two wars, while its leadership has become the scorn and ridicule of the world, for its lawlessness and bullying) not those liberal, elist democrats, who know nothing about fiscal responsibility, and just want to spend, spend, spend and run our lives through big government (that’s $140 per bitter household, per month, to fund the two wars) and, for another thing, she is better qualified to be vice-president than Barack Obama and Joe Biden rolled together (her qualifications, by now, should be self-evident to all, unless you’re with the liberal, elitist media) and, plus, she can ‘hold her own’ against the big boys (careful on your attacks, angry elitist liberals, or they’ll pull the sexism-card) as we saw in the sarcastic, condescending, disrespectful attacks she so skillfully waged, and with such relish, on Obama and Biden (as their class act — evidenced in the constant, outward respect they’ve shown for Sarah and her family this week — was lost on her, which I guess makes Obama and Biden weak on terror), proving that Sarah Palin is therefore tough enough to stand up to the terrorists and terrorist nations in the world (how, exactly, do you pronounce all these crazy Islamic terrorist words?)  and ready to carry the maverick mantle with her running-mate, John McCain (did I mention he’s a POW?) all the way to the White House, where she is prepared, on day one, to be vice-president, a mere heartbeat from the presidency (“What is it, exactly, that the VP does every day?”)

The problem is — the same as it was before she delivered her speech celebre — Sarah Palin can only aspire to *act* as if she had command of the facts, can only aspire to *act* as if has the depth of experience to qualify her to competently hold high office, can only aspire to *act* presidential. And she can only aspire to maintain this act, so long as there is a crew of players behind the scenes to arrange the sets and feed her the lines. 

This was the very problem from which George Bush (and, by extension, all of us) suffered for the past 8 years. He brought to the White House a college degree in business, a term as governor, and a set of ideals borrowed from his father. He brought little else in the way of credentials, unless you count his bull-headed insistence that he knew what he was doing, despite his profound ignorance of constitutional law and political science, and a perplexing lack of curiosity over the goings-on in his administration. Here, he was ready-made to be the very leader he became: a hapless, button-eyed puppet to a man named Dick Cheney who did, indeed, own an impressive command of the facts — not to mention a shrewd eye for business, as CEO of a corporation whose life blood is war and oil, and a shrewd team of lawyers, such as David Addington, who exploited and tinkered with the the Constitution to give Dick Cheney unprecedented power.

The State of the Union

In the wake of this malignant tinkering, our government body, our Constitution and our Bill of Rights have undergone radical changes over the past 8 years, the likes of which most Americans are unaware and would be incredulous to believe. In the course of this change, the checks and balances in our Constitution — designed to protect us from such an invasion from within — were exploited by Cheney and Addington to render powerless any attempt to cut such a malignancy from the government body. When people say that Dick Cheney is the most powerful man in the world, it is no hyperbole. And when people say that Dick Addington is the most powerful man you’ve never known, they are not kidding. For evidence, one need look no further than the powerlessness of our lawmakers on Capitol Hill, despite that some have fought tooth and nail to stop this seemingly unstoppable force that has undermined our Constitution and our democracy.

The video, below, gives about as succinct an example as you could find. Here, in the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee hearing this past June, committee members sought answers to a simple question: “Could our president order the torturing of the children of terrorist suspects, or the live burial of terrorist suspects, to extract information?” In the skilled hands of Cheney attorneys, Addington and Yoo, it is possible to dodge answers and stonewall the hearings, through clever semantics, legal “sleights of hand,” and stalling to run-out the clock on the 5-minute time limit on testimony. Most Americans are oblivious to the existence of such hearings, which makes all the more concerning the blind acceptance many Americans have extended to Sarah Palin’s thin credentials. This shows a lack of understanding, an ignorance of the real-time issues a president confronts in the course of his or her job — issues that are layered in myriad nuances, that require specific skills and depths of experience. These credentials are sorely lacking in Sarah Palin. Her ridicule of Barack Obama during her speech, when she jeered that he is the sort who would stand up for the rights of terrorist suspects, demanding they be read their rights, reveals a proufoundly dangerous way of thinking for a leader of a democratic society. Granted, there are many, many Americans who would advocate and cheer-on the hanging death of terrorist suspects, without due process or a trial to prove or disprove their innocence. Those who believe it is fair for an innocent human being to be punished for the actions of others, are no different from those very terrorists we claim to abhor.

Americans wave the flag as vigorously today as they did 8 years ago, even as the democracy over which that flag unfurls has become a shadow of its former self. Constitutional law may not be as sexy as mooseburgers, assault rifles and hockey moms but, when it comes to maintaining a democracy, the Constitution has proven itself to be indispensible for over 200 years. What this country needs, first and foremost, is a strong leader with an eye toward restoring our moral compass, and with the knowledge, experience and ability to work with our other lawmakers to restore our Constitution. Without this, the flag we honor represents a democracy that no longer quite exists, except in myth. 

Substance vs. Subtext

There are many in this country who felt a certain gratitude this past May, when Sen. Obama announced one of the goals he intends to accomplish during his first 100 days in office: “I would call my attorney general in and review every single executive order issued by George Bush and overturn those laws or executive decisions that I feel violate the constitution.” Being a Harvard law school graduate, and serving as the president of the Harvard Law Review, and teaching constitutional law for 12 years affords him the credentials to not only aspire to such a task, but to undertake it with some competency. Indeed, some would rightfully claim that the six years Obama served in the Illinois State Senate, followed by nearly 4 years in the U.S. Senate, only add these credentials. There is little doubt that he would receive a wide round of applause from his fellow lawmakers in Congress for undertaking this necessary and most patriotic task to restore our Constitution to its pre-Cheney integrity. This is but one step, and a tiny one at that, given the enormity of change our country has seen over the past 8 years — change that could never have taken place in the open, but which thrived in dark secrecy, which is why so few Americans appreciate the urgency of what lies before us.   

Sarah Palin said it best near the end of her speech: “For a season, a gifted speaker can inspire with his words.”

Sarah Palin may very well be a woman deserving of a mother-of-the-year award and an award for the most popular governor in the country. She would make an inspiring spokesperson for pro-lifers, and a powerful role model for business women everywhere. She needn’t be vice-president to deliver Alaskan oil to the American people. She needn’t be vice-president to address the ongoing need to erase sexism in this country. She can develop this role in her current position as governor of Alaska. 

But Sarah Palin is not ready to be leader of this country, particularly as we emerge from such a dark chapter in the history of our democracy. She gives a great speech, but owns such a shallow command of the facts, as to be dangerous. Here, Sarah Palin is ready-made to be just the leader she’s being groomed to be: a walking, talking PR campaign, whose job is to deliver scripted pep talks, to inspire the uninspired into believing there’s nothing wrong with this country that can’t be fixed with some good old-fashioned, Sarah Palin-style Alaska politics because, godknows, there surely couldn’t be millions of others out here who, given license, could parade out onto a stage and speak with such authority over events of which they know next-to-nothing, thereby insulting an entire country of thinking, intelligent people — men and women alike, but especially women, and most especially those women truly qualified to the vice-presidency. I’d like to think, anyway, that few would embarrass us, as she did, by the cheap relish she enjoyed while hurling the sarcastic, condescending insults she was scripted to wage at her opponents. 

I Feel a Gag Order Coming On

In this vein, we are going to see, in the coming days, the media coerced into silencing the voices of dissent against Sarah Palin. Or, at the very least, softening the criticism. After all, she’s a woman. The media will comply, of course. After all, they’re a business. They’ll bend over backward to avoid getting stuck again with that damned sexist label and being shut-out by the McCain campaign. Maybe 10, 20 years down the road, women will rise again, demanding not only the same rights as men, but the same treatment and the same expectations. For now, chin up, America. Sarah’s got your back. The show must, the show will go on. And, with your help, Sarah Palin is ready to step into George Bush’s shoes and reprise the role of hapless, albeit more glamorous, button-eyed puppet to the Cheney agenda for war and oil, rot and ruin. The American public believes otherwise at their own peril.

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by Mantis Katz, for the canarypapers

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Sarah Palin for Vice President: Credentials, schmedentials

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Pay no mind, Ms. Palin, to those who would question your credentials. As  John McCain and the entire Republican party would say: Credentials, schmediantials. Who need credentials when you’re a maverick?  And if the past eight years are any indication, they’re probably right.

See, Americans have a short attention span for detail and a large appetite for fluff. So there are many in this country who will never hear the the criticims being made against your record, beginning with your current involvement in the State of Alaska’s investigation for governatorial abuse of power, an impeachable offense. (Read here for the take, according to a fellow Alaskan). There’s good guys, and there’s bad guys in this world–you’re either with us, or you’re ag’in’ us. The GOP assures us you’re a good guy, Ms. Palin, which is a stamp of approval on your executive decision to break the law and pressure the State Safety Commissioner, Walt Monegan, into firing your ex-brother-in-law, trooper Mike Wooten (on charges waged by you and your sister, which have yet to be substantiated) and to then retalitate and fire Walt Monegan, on bogus charges, for not firing your ex-brother-in-law. All the while, of course, you lied about all the phone calls you and your surrogates made to Walt Monegan, during the course of pressuring him into firing your ex-brother-in-law. You lied. That is, until you found out some of the calls had been taped. I admit, it looks bad. Not to worry. As your potential-predecessor, Dick Cheney (a maverick in his own right) could tell you, when it comes to breaking the law, the ends sometimes do justify the means. And even if they don’t, it doesn’t matter, because Americans aren’t really paying attention, anyway, and even if they are, it doesn’t matter because, if the people complain, all you have to do is stare them in the eye and say, “So?”  Besides, unless the media tell us to think otherwise, the investigation into your abuse of power will have been forgotten by next week.

Americans have an even shorter attention span for elitist, ethical debates — particularly if that debate is between people, like yourself, who are simply trying to get the job done, and short-sighted tree-hugging liberals, always yelling about their global warming fairy tales, or about saving the latest animal-of-the week. It should come as no surprise, then, you’ll get no argument from most Americans over the slaughering of habituated Katmai National Park grizzly bears in Katmai Reserve, or the aerial shooting of wolves and bears in Alaska , a brutal program designed to increase moose and caribou populations for hunters — both programs which you, as governor, support. 

Nor will most Americans debate the ethics of the oil and gas drilling you’ve proposed in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and throughout the sensitive lands and waterways of Alaska, no matter how much the ‘science’ says this will ruin America’s wilderness treasures and will threaten highly endangered populations of polar bears and beluga whales. Fact is, most Americans will probably cheer your refusal to release the scientific papers held in your office, sourced from both state and federal scientific analyses that concluded “two-thirds of the world’s polar bears would likely be extirpated by mid-century, due to loss of sea ice, including all those off Alaska.” After all, these darned scientific papers (see Anchorage Daily News, the Alaska Wildlife Alliance ) were threatening your drilling and pipelines. To heck with the science on threatened polar bears and beluga whales! (But, just to be safe, Ms. Palin, it’d be a good idea to keep wearing that polar bear lapel pin).

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from TIME magazine: Leaving Polar Bears Out in the Cold

In January, Sarah Palin wrote in a New York Times op-ed piece, “[polar bears] are worthy of our utmost efforts to protect them and their Arctic habitat. But adding polar bears to the nation’s list of endangered species, as some are now proposing, should not be part of those efforts.” In May, the Alaskan governor opposed the Interior Department’s listing the polar bear as threatened, and prompted the ire of environmentalists and animal rights activists. In August, Palin, who has long advocated opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling, rallied her fellow Alaskan officials to sue Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne, arguing that extending protection to the polar bear under the Endangered Species Act is unwarranted and will hinder Alaska’s gas industry and offshore drilling development.

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Honestly, Ms. Palin, if I didn’t know better (and I’m not so sure that I do) I’d think you’d been formally schooled in Dick Cheney’s take-the-oil-lands-by-subterfuge-from-their-cold-dead-hands strategy, along with a course in public speaking from George Bush. As your recent statements on oil, foreign policy and energy independence indicate, you are at least as well-versed as George W. Bush on topics of import: 

When I look every day, the big oil company’s building is right out there next to me, and it’s quite a reminder that we should have mutually beneficial relationships with the oil industry.

I thought when we hit $100 a barrel for oil it would have been a psychological barrier that would have caused Congress to reconsider, but they didn’t.

I beg to disagree with any candidate who would say we can’t drill our way out of our problem…

I am encouraged with [John McCain’s] evolved thinking on offshore drilling, and I think he might come along on ANWR if he sees our 2,000 acres for himself.

The GOP agenda to ramp up domestic supplies of energy is the only way that we’re going to become energy independent, the only way that we are going to become a more secure nation — and I say this, of course, looking at the situation we are in right now, at war, not knowing what the plan is to ever end the war that we’re engaged in, understanding that Americans are seeking solutions, and they are seeking resolution in this war effort, so energy supplies, being able to produce and supply domestically, is going to be a big part of that.

[And so] kind of on a personal level, when I talk about, umm, the plan for the war, you know, let’s make sure we have a plan here, and respecting McCain’s position on that.

Does this embarrass you at all? Not to worry. Running on the GOP ticket, you needn’t worry about mangling the English language and talking gibberish. It’s become a bit of a tradition over the past 8 years. Fact is, by running as a woman on the GOP ticket, you needn’t worry about much of anything at all. As a woman on the GOP ticket, you are entitled to claim that you are every bit as capable as any man, while simultaneously crying “Fowl!” if a man talks over your head. (Hillary Clinton, you’re not!) As the Republicans and the media have already made clear, Joe Biden will risk looking like a bully or an elitist if he hammers you or talks over your head on foreign policy, so he has little choice but to dummy-down the national dialogue, another thing that has become tradition over the past 8 years. 

Truth is, you needn’t worry about anything you’ve ever done, or anything you ever will do, because you, Sarah Palin, are a friend to big oil. In a country addicted to oil, you are what’s called, in AA rooms across American, a drunkard’s dream. So long as you keep us supplied, we’ll keep your dirty little secrets. We won’t dwell overlong on your original support for Ted Stevens infamous $398 million “bridge to nowhere” behemoth of a pork-barrel project. Instead, we’ll focus on your later opposition to the bridge. And we won’t argue the GOP’s orwellian claim that you fight big oil, even as it takes only two words “Palin + oil” to google the truth that you are in bed with big oil. And to make sure the folks in Alaska don’t mind, you’re giving them $1200 bonuses, not unlike the recent Bush bonus plan, designed to shut us up. After all, you’re a maverick. Anything goes. As a maverick, you are entitled to say one thing, then do another. You are entitled to do the exact opposite of what you say you are doing, then turn around the next day and do what said you’d never do. Anything goes. That’s the beauty of being a maverick.

And just because you’re unqualified to the job, doesn’t mean you can’t be a maverick. Some of our most famous mavericks were also the most profoundly unqualified to the job. Just look at George Bush. Besides, John McCain can bring you up to snuff in no time, tutoring you in the finer points, according to John McCain’s world view, of constitutional law and political science, U.S. and foreign policy, international diplomacy, the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere (including knowing the difference between a Sunni and a Shia), along with the basics of how to manage a $2.9 trillion budget, which should be a snap to an ex-beauty queen with a degree in journalism, who’s spent the past 20 months governing a state with a population the size of Charlotte, NC. — qualifications which, according to the GOP and the media, exceed those of a four-year U.S. Senator with a Harvard law degree, who served as President for the Harvard Law Review, and who taught constitutional law for 12 years, and served 6-years in the Illinois State Senate. 

Fact is, Ms. Palin — if the past 8 years are any indication — your lack of qualifications may actually be your greatest asset. See, we live in a time when Americans tend to look down their noses at politicians elitists who engage in intelligent, thoughtful discourse. We don’t cotton to folks who tout ideals like like careful deliberation and diplomacy appeasement. What Americans want is something easy to grasp — and the more entertaining, the better. Substance matters little and, here, you have a real edge over Obama-Biden. Tell us how there’s nothing wrong with America that couldn’t be fixed with prayer in schools. Tell American women they don’t need Roe v. Wade. Tell us it’s part of god’s plan for a 16-year old victim of incest to carry her father’s child to term. Tell us how a mother of five can have it all: juggle a 12-hour work day, while simultaneously carrying a platform for family values, without sacrificing the special needs of a 4-month old infant. Show us your beauty pageant photos juxtaposed next to the footage of you firing off an assault rifle. Keep wearing that polar bear lapel pin. Tell us, Ms. Palin, how you shoot the moose and grind its flesh into mooseburgers, and you’ll have us eating out of your pretty little hands.

Will John McCain’s latest trophy be America’s VP Darling Sweetheart?
(1) Ex-beauty queen, Sarah Palin, Miss Wasilla 1984!  (2) Trophy candidate, Sarah Palin, poses beside her own trophy, the carcass of a slaughtered grizzly bear; (3) Proud caribou hunter, Sarah Palin, encourages her freshly slaughtered trophy to smile for the camera. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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“Sarah Palin for Vice-President: Credentials, Schmedentials” — by Mantis Katz, for canarypapers.com

See also: Here it is, Sarah Palin: A Job Description for Vice President

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