Torture in Iraq

Remember when reports like this were used as the rationale to invade Iraq? Now we help them cover it up:

Prisoners held for months without charge in a secret jail in Baghdad were subjected to horrific torture over a period of months – including electric shocks and rape, claims suggest. A British citizen, who is still in detention, is among the men making the allegations.

The BBC has spoken to former prisoners who back up the picture of systematic abuse at the detention centre detailed in a new report by the US-based pressure group, Human Rights Watch.

The secret detention facility at Muthana airbase is now closed.

[…] The man does not want to reveal his identity for fear of retribution, but he is one of a number of people spoken to by the BBC whose stories of terrifying abuse are almost identical to accounts given to Human Rights Watch by former inmates of Muthana now in detention elsewhere.

“Some of us were sodomised, with sticks or sometimes steel pipes and they applied electric shocks to our genitals. They told us if we did not confess they would bring our mothers and sisters and rape them in front of us.”

Carl Jung, Genius

Oh, look. These are the exact same things the Republican always accuse ACORN of!

Orange County authorities are launching an investigation into possible voter registration fraud after a local newspaper reported over a hundred cases of voters being tricked into registering as Republicans by petitioners who asked them to sign petitions for, among other causes, legalizing pot.

The Orange County Register reported last week that the Orange County District Attorney’s office announced it would team up with the Secretary of State on the case, following a Register report that 99 written complaints were filed since March by voters who said they were registered as Republicans without their consent.

Another 74 voters reached by the Register said they, too, were unwillingly made members of the GOP.

In a lengthy investigation published earlier this month, the paper pointed to an $8 “bounty” offered by the California Republican Party for each new registration as a cause for the problems. It identified multiple petitioners who work for vendors “with ties to the California Republican Party.” Back in 2006, a similar scandal led to the convictions of several petitioners.

Not the Democratic Party. Not ACORN. Imagine that!

The Real Arizona Agenda

This makes sense, especially in light of alleged author Kris Kobach’s proud involvement with voter caging in Kansas – and his campaign to become secretary of state. From Greg Palast:

[Phoenix, AZ.] Don’t be fooled. The way the media plays the story, it was a wave of racist, anti-immigrant hysteria that moved Arizona Republicans to pass a sick little law, signed last week, requiring every person in the state to carry papers proving they are US citizens.

I don’t buy it. Anti-Hispanic hysteria has always been as much a part of Arizona as the Saguaro cactus and excessive air-conditioning.

What’s new here is not the politicians’ fear of a xenophobic “Teabag” uprising.

What moved GOP Governor Jan Brewer to sign the Soviet-style show-me-your-papers law is the exploding number of legal Hispanics, US citizens all, who are daring to vote — and daring to vote Democratic by more than two-to-one. Unless this demographic locomotive is halted, Arizona Republicans know their party will soon be electoral toast. Or, if you like, tortillas.

In 2008, working for Rolling Stone with civil rights attorney Bobby Kennedy, our team flew to Arizona to investigate what smelled like an electoral pogrom against Chicano voters … directed by one Jan Brewer.

Brewer, then Secretary of State, had organized a racially loaded purge of the voter rolls that would have made Katherine Harris blush. Beginning after the 2004 election, under Brewer’s command, no less than 100,000 voters, overwhelmingly Hispanics, were blocked from registering to vote. In 2005, the first year of the Great Brown-Out, one in three Phoenix residents found their registration applications rejected.

That statistic caught my attention. Voting or registering to vote if you’re not a citizen is a felony, a big-time jail-time crime. And arresting such criminal voters is easy: after all, they give their names and addresses.

Captives of Sheriff Joe’s prison, Maricopa County, Arizona
So I asked Brewer’s office, had she busted a single one of these thousands of allegedly illegal voters? Did she turn over even one name to the feds for prosecution?

No, not one.

Which raises the question: were these disenfranchised voters the criminal, non-citizens Brewer tagged them, or just not-quite-white voters given the José Crow treatment, entrapped in document-chase trickery?

The answer was provided by a federal prosecutor who was sent on a crazy hunt all over the Western mesas looking for these illegal voters. “We took over 100 complaints, we investigated for almost 2 years, I didn’t find one prosecutable voter fraud case.”

This prosecutor, David Iglesias, is a prosecutor no more. When he refused to fabricate charges of illegal voting among immigrants, his firing was personally ordered by the President of the United States, George W. Bush, under orders from his boss, Karl Rove.

Iglesias’ jurisdiction was next door, in New Mexico, but he told me that Rove and the Republican chieftains were working nationwide to whip up anti-immigrant hysteria with public busts of illegal voters, even though there were none.

“They wanted some splashy pre-election indictments,” Iglesias told me. The former prosecutor, himself a Republican, paid the price when he stood up to this vicious attack on citizenship.

But Secretary of State Brewer followed the Rove plan to a T. The weapon she used to slice the Arizona voter rolls was a 2004 law, known as “Prop 200,” which required proof of citizenship to register. It is important to see the Republicans’ latest legislative horror show, sanctioning cops to stop residents and prove citizenship, as just one more step in the party’s desperate plan to impede Mexican-Americans from marching to the ballot box.

Watching The Deficit Hounds of Hell

I just watched Erskine Bowles pontificating at the first meeting of the President’s Bipartisan Fiscal Commission, and I just couldn’t get past my visceral reaction: I don’t trust any of these people.

And I don’t. I mean, Alan Simpson? The man who likes to talk about “senior citizens driving up to their gated community in a Lexus”? The man’s a weasel, he’s always been a weasel. So already I’m suspicious. Why the hell is he co-chairing this commission, anyway?

And it’s beside the point. Pay attention: The reason Franklin Roosevelt would not allow Social Security to be means-tested is that the political will to protect it would vanish as soon as it was perceived as a “welfare” program.

Alan Simpson knows that. They all know that. They just want to change it under the radar, because if it only goes to poor people, it’s a lot easier to destroy.

And Alan, you wizened old coot? The senior citizens in my neighborhood are on foot, walking up Thompson Street to the local food bank. (Which, by the way, Alan, has seen its client base go from 40 families a month to 450+.)

Erskine Bowles? Oh yeah, that gives me comfort. Bowles is there to put lipstick on the value-added tax pig.

Theoretically, a VAT would be joined with a reduction in income taxes on the lower economic brackets because without it, it’s highly regressive. But after what you saw in Congress about health insurance subsidies, ask yourself this question: Do you trust these people to look out for the poor and working class? Have you ever even heard them mention the poor and the working class? Because all I ever hear them do is babble on about this mythical “middle class” that no longer actually exists.

Let me call this deficit commission what it is: an escalation of war on the paycheck class.

People who are tied into the Beltway intravenous feeding system (politicians, staffers, think tankers, media) behave in terms of inclusion: that is, they tend to act as if everything said by the other members of the system is plausible and accurate – even when they know it isn’t. (This is the quality that leads to the rise in blood pressure for those of us watching at home.)

Those of us who are paying attention – yes, even lifelong liberals like me – are absolutely furious. Because this is just another Hollywood remake, and we already know how the story ends. (Hint: Millionaires and billionaires live happily ever after. Us? Not so much.)

The pointless, expensive wars, the massive defense contracts? “Absolutely essential” to national security (i.e. oil. I wonder if it’s ever even occurred to our leaders to simply buy oil at a fair price instead of trying to steal it?)

The Social Security exemption for those earning over $106,800 would be the best place to start. In case you’ve forgotten, let me remind you that Americans who earn less than $106,800 pay 6.2 percent of wages in Social Security taxes, while someone who earns a million dollars a year pays only 0.66 percent.

That wage exemption is a windfall for the wealthy, because it was put in place at a time when their income tax rate was 95 percent. Their income tax was lowered, but their Social Security taxes were never raised to make up the difference.

No, when they say “everything’s on the table”, they mean “only the things the rich and powerful want on the table are actually on the table.”

And we’re supposed to be too stupid to notice.

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