Thursday, February 03, 2005

We should all be proud to be Democrats tonight...

At first, it looked as if only a couple Democratic Senators would vote against Gonzales.

In the end, the vast majority of Democrats voted against him. Even better, here are Minority Leader Senator Harry Reid's (D-NV) comments on the issue:

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Our great Nation was founded on the idea of human rights. From the very beginning, we were designed to be a place where men and women could live free, a place where no man was above the law, a place where the state would never trample on the rights of individuals.

We did not always live up to our ideals.  Along the way, we stumbled. We have made mistakes.  But we always worked to correct our mistakes. We worked to uphold the core values that formed our national soul. Because of our unshakable belief in human rights, we became a ray of light, a beacon for people in other parts of the world.  America has been that beacon because we are a nation governed by laws, not by men.

We are a nation where no one, not even the President of the United States,is above the law.  We are a nation where our military is bound by the uniform Code of Military Justice and the laws of war.  And we are a nation that even at war stands for and upholds the rule of law.

There is no question gathering intelligence from suspects in our war on terror is critical to protecting this great Nation.  No one in this
Chamber would argue otherwise, I would think.  These are very bad people with whom we are dealing.  But when interrogation turns to torture, it puts our own soldiers at risk.  It undermines the very freedoms Americans are
fighting to protect.

We are a nation at war--a war in Iraq and a war against terrorism -- but this war does not give our civilian leaders the authority to cast aside the laws of armed conflict, nor does it allow our Commander in Chief to decide which laws apply and which laws do not apply.  To do so puts, I repeat, our own soldiers and our Nation at risk.  But that is what has occurred under the direction and coordination of the man seeking to be Attorney General of the United States, Alberto Gonzales, a man I personally like, but whose judgment on these very serious matters was flawed and is flawed. I have heard a great deal on this Senate floor about Judge Gonzales's background over the last few days, how his parents were migrant farm workers, and how he worked his way up from poverty.  It is an inspiring story, and it is one that resonates with me. I met with Judge Gonzales after the President sent his nomination to the Senate.  We talked about our childhoods, about coming from small rural towns, some would say without many advantages.  The fact that someone from a place called Humble, TX, and someone from a place called Searchlight, NV, have had an opportunity to achieve their dream is what America is all
about.

But, embodying the American dream is not a sufficient qualification to be Attorney General of the United States. The Attorney General is the people's lawyer, not the President's lawyer. He is charged with upholding the Constitution and the rule of law. The Attorney General must be independent, and he must be clear that abuses by our Government will not be tolerated.  Judge Gonzales's appearance before the Judiciary Committee raised serious questions about his ability to be that force in the Justice Department. That is why I am going to vote against him.

In 2002, Judge Gonzales provided legal advice to the President of the United States calling parts of the Geneva Conventions obsolete and quaint--that is what he said, they were obsolete and quaint--opening the door for confusion and a range of harsh interrogation techniques.

What are the Geneva Conventions?  At the end of the Civil War, people from around the world decided there should be some semblance of order in how war is conducted.  Starting in 1864, there was a convention adopted, and there have been four revisions to the Geneva Convention.  That is why it is referred to as the Geneva Conventions because it is, in effect, four treaties. This is basically an agreement concerning the treatment of prisoners of war, of the sick, wounded, and dead in battle. These are treaties that relate to what happens to human beings in war. These conventions have been accepted by virtually every nation in the world.

A former Navy judge advocate general, RADM John Hutson, said:

"When you say something down the chain of command, like `the Geneva Conventions don't apply,' that sets the stage for the kind of chaos we have seen."

The President signed an order accepting the reasoning of the Gonzales memo. The Presidential order was the legal basis for the interrogation techniques and other actions, including torture, which simply took as fact that the Geneva Conventions did not apply. Can you imagine that, the United States saying the Geneva Conventions
do not apply?  But that is what took place.

Our military lawyers, not people who are retired acting as Monday-morning quarterbacks, but our military lawyers who are working today, who are
experts in the field, have said the interrogation techniques authorized as a result of the Presidential order and allowed under the Gonzales reasoning were in violation of the U.S. military law, the U.S. criminal law, and international law.

According to RADM Don Guter, a former Navy judge advocate general:

"If we--we being the uniformed lawyers--that is, the lawyers who are in the U.S. military --  had been listened to and what we said put into practice, then these abuses would not have occurred."

So the people who serve in our military who gave legal advice said this should never have happened. After the scandal at Abu Ghraib and the recent allegations of abuse at Guantanamo, I expected at this hearing before the Judiciary Committee to hear Judge Gonzales discuss the error of the administration's policies and the legal advice he provided the President.

When he came before the committee, JudgeGonzales stood by his legal reasoning and the policy of his reasoning.  Judge Gonzales called the President's Geneva determination "absolutely the right decision."

With regard to the legal opinion Judge Gonzales solicited in the Justice Department so-called "torture memo," he stated at his hearing, "I don't have a disagreement with the conclusions then reached by the Department,"
even though the Department itself has now disavowed this legal reasoning.

I heard Senator Kennedy state that the Dean of Yale Law School, probably the No. 1 law school in the entire country, has said he has never seen legal reasoning as bad as the Gonzales memo.  That is pretty bad.

For example, military lawyers who are experts in the field have said without the order issued by the President, at Mr. Gonzales's behest, they
would take the position that the interrogation techniques used against Taliban prisoners and later in Iraq would be violations of U.S. military law, U.S. criminal law, and international law. So who are we to believe?  These people who are dedicated to making sure that they, as the legal officers of the U.S. military, do what is right? They say we should follow the Geneva Conventions.  Gonzales said - not necessary.

I will say a word about the interrogation techniques that were authorized. They included forced nakedness, forced shaving of beards, and the use of dogs, just to name a few.  Many are specifically designed to attack the prisoner's cultural and religious taboos. In describing them, the similarities to what eventually happened at Abu Ghraib are obvious.  Once you order an 18-year-old, a young man or woman, to
strip prisoners naked, to force them into painful positions, to shave their beards in violation of their religious beliefs, to lock them alone in the dark and cold, how do you tell him to stop?  You cannot.

We have seen the pictures of naked men stacked on top of each other in the so-called pyramid; rapes of men, rapes of women, leading in some cases to death.  How does one tell an American soldier that torture is a valid treatment as long as the Government says the prisoner is not covered by the Geneva Conventions?

Any student of history would know that the North Vietnamese said captured U.S. pilots were not protected as prisoners of war because there was no declared war.  That is what happened in the Vietnam war. They kept our men in solitary confinement for months, sometimes years at a time.

I will tell my colleagues about one of our men and what that man said about his treatment by the Vietnamese:

""It's an awful thing, solitary.  It crushes your spirit and weakens your resistance more effectively than any other form of mistreatment. Having no one else to rely on, to share confidences with, to seek counsel from, you begin to doubt your judgment and your courage."

Here, I would make an editorial comment that this man knows about any other kind of treatment.  He was brutally beaten, limbs broken. So he knows what he is talking about.

The man who said these words was a Navy pilot, LCDR John McCain.  For John McCain and all our soldiers serving across the globe, we need to stand against torture because of what it does to us as a country, to those serving now, to the future servicemen of our country, and what it does to us as a nation.

If we fail to oppose an evil as obvious as torture -- it is an evil and it is obvious it is wrong--then as President Thomas Jefferson said, I will "tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just."

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Reid, I salute you. You are a true American and a fantastic Democrat. You. Rock.

I am deeply proud to be a Democrat this day.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Banner... or not...

Check this banner:

[UPDATE]: Ok, the banner won't work. So, just head here: http://newsfare.com/no-to-gonzales

I’d like everyone to call their Senators and ask them to vote no on Gonzales. We probably won’t win this one, but it’s good to show a unified Democratic front. The more unified, high-publicity moves like this that we make, the better. We have to stand up for ourselves, or the GOP will have no opposition.

Friday, January 28, 2005

No to Gonzales

I find it unreal that we’re even bringing this guy up to a vote. The simple fact that we even have to ask if he’s opposed to torture means he shouldn’t be considered. To all the Senators out there, every single Democrat should be voting against this guy - there is no excuse not to.

That’s all there is to it.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Huh.

... it worked. I have to say, it’s kinda confusing the way they have it, but it still worked. Smoothly, too. OK, now I have no more excuses and i have to get to work on writing out that plan.

Testing...

Yeah, more testing. I’m trying some new software for blogging, called MacJournal. It’s from the fine folks at Mariner Software.

I’m still trying to figure it out, really. If it works, I’ll be able to outline that plan I was talking about.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Kerry shows he gets it...

The particular "it" I'm referring to here is the Iraq War and the Middle East situation.

Now, hear me out here.

I think Iraq is a grand opportunity at this point. The problem is that Bush, who doesn't care about anything but looting, was re-elected, and by the time 2008 rolls around it's going to be the second greatest challenge this country has ever faced.

We can succeed in Iraq. It is possible, but not without help. If we rebuilt our European ties, we can get UN troops in. Unless they dedicate at least 300,000 troops, however, we're still going to have to be there.

I think Kerry gets the most important step to securing Iraq is to build it using Iraqis being paid good wages, using funding from the whole world. Iraq is going to be a very, very big problem for [b]everyone[/b] if the world justs pull out right now. If we all unite to tackle this problem, we can rebuild Iraq from the ground up, and the most important part of that is to use well-paid Iraqi labor.

Let's think about this. The unemployment rate in Iraq, last I heard, makes us look like we're in the height of WWII (in terms of employment). It's astoundingly high.

So it's being torn apart by bombs, no one can get a job, and power and water are still sparse. No wonder the Iraqis are pissed off.

The thing to do here is rebuilt the power, water, and road grid (as well as hospitals, schools, and other social structures) using [b]Iraqi[/b] labor, paid at good wages. That not only takes care of the Iraqi infrastructure, it also handles the unemployment. The good jobs and the infrastructure will generate more good jobs.

At this point, the insurgency is going to struggle. Bad. It's hard to find recruits for suicide bombers when everyone is getting good jobs. "You want me to do what? No thanks. Good luck with that. I'm going to go over here and get a good job to provide for my family." Then you're going to have a significant portion fo the insurgency fighters going "Hmmm... get shot by UN Soldiers... or get a good job and provide for the family... hey, al-hard-to-pronounce-terror-leader? I'm leaving. 'BYE!"

Before you know it, the insurgency leaders are going to be in their now-empty hideouts asking "Hey, where'd everybody go?"

Of course, all of this hinges on the two main points: rebuild Iraq using well-paid Iraqis, and get UN military and financial support. That's the key to winning.

The benefits of winning include a more stable middle east. Think about it. If we win Iraq (which requires that the Iraqis like us), and only a Democrat can do that, the Middle East is going to realize that America isn't bad. It's the Republicans that are bad. America and Americans are not.

I think Kerry gets this.

Next up, the biggest challenge we've ever faced, and "How To Destroy the GOP With A Single Plan".

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays (take that, O'Reilly!) from everyone at MovingLeft.

OK folks, I'm rested, back, and done with school for the semester. Here's what's going to happen. I think I was pushing myself too hard last time, and the blog become a chore instead of a pleasure. This time, I'm going to write any thoughts I feel like writing, instead of thinking about commenting on every piece of news that comes my way.

Tomorrow or the day after (depending on when I work) I'll be updating the links with a bunch of new stuff.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Common Sense

Funny.