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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

(Cross-posted at Daily Kos, My Left Wing, and ePluribus Media)

First and foremost: Hat tip to dirtroad for dropping a message in a message thread about an article that will constitute much of this diary.

I posted a diary yesterday about Jack Cafferty (CNN) picking up the story regarding DOJ's about-face on investigating the NSA wiretaps and parlaying it into his Question of the Day. The set-up, the question, and the responses Cafferty read are in the diary linked above.

It's important, though, to understand what they are "investigating" and prepare for the implications of any such "investigation". With that, follow me over the fold and we'll get right to it.

The article dirtroad was kind enough to highlight is by Thomas C. Greene from The Register. I'm going to pick and choose parts of the article, but the whole thing is worth a read.

DoJ investigators will examine how the data scooped up by the NSA is handled and applied when US citizens are affected. No doubt the government's practices will be measured against the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), although the Bush administration has claimed repeatedly that it answers to a higher authority.

My emphasis added. The first important thing to note is that this is not an investigation into the legality of the spying itself. It is an investigation into how the data is collected and handled. Right out of the gate, this assumes the practice itself is legal.

Continuing, an interesting observation:

This apparently proactive cooperation should strike Washington watchers as preemptive. If the Bushies are willing to concede the issue without a fight, it's most likely because they doubt there's much red meat to be had from it. That is, if they want this investigated first, it's because they want other things investigated last.

The media has made a great fuss about this program, so it should surprise no one if the combination of a whole lot of smoke and a small fire suits the administration quite well. If it keeps Congress and the press occupied, and only hurts the administration moderately, it's a Godsend.

Hm. Just, hm. I'm trying to work through what I think about that. Given first that the investigation is into the process and not the legality, I'm inclined to see the logic Greene applies to this, and I find it wholly consistent. Set a small campfire to distract people while the forest fire rages over the next ridge.

And the money quote:

The NSA spy scandal offers the administration many virtues as a national hobbyhorse. For one, it's painless and "clean"; no one has been bloodied, maimed, or killed by it. It doesn't melt anyone's skin like the incendiary weapons used in Fallujah; it doesn't blow up one's house and leave half of one's family deadU. It doesn't cause the premature burial of young Americans killed in Iraq, whose families need them far more than their country ever did. No one in Iraq is fighting for America, not even the Americans. The USA never needed that war; George W Bush alone needed it, and for a contemptible reason: he thought it would make him Great.


Indeed, the NSA spy program could be *just the media obsession the administration is looking for, now that the balance of power has shifted.

Hm again. What's that, you say? A mass distraction with the media's cooperation to distract us from doing things that really matter? Perish the thought.

I also found this interesting snippet from The Albany Times Union:

So why is Mr. Fine (DOJ OIG] suddenly joining the fray, given his past refusal to look into the program? One has to suspect the timing. Come January, some of the harshest critics of the spying program will be part of the new Democratic majority in Congress, and in a position to launch their own investigations and issue subpoenas. Thus, Mr. Fine may well be on a damage control mission. If he issues a report claiming the material obtained under the program hasn't been abused, and that there are safe guards in place to protect the privacy of Americans, the White House will be able to argue that the Democrats' investigations aren't necessary.

Two different but potentially related speculations on the why of this "investigation". The first argues distraction; the second argues damage control. In the comments to yesterday's diary, many raised legal questions as to whether or not the "investigation" can be used to protect potential witnesses called by the Democratic-controlled Congress. The argument, repeated by several commenters, was that the administration would use the "subject of an ongoing investigation" (thanks, Scotty) as a reason to decline to provide potentially damaging information to Congressional committees.

Now - what if it's all three? Republicans may have failed in their much-feared ability to deliver elections, but I don't believe any of us have been lured into a false sense of security that they are totally off their game and now rendered suddenly unable to see the landscape and orchestrate the best possible outcome for themselves.

In researching this, I tried to find the original letter that 23 Democrats sent to Fine some unspecified amount of time ago. All I could find specific to illegal wiretapping was a letter to the President (PDF):

We urge you to immediately direct Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to exercise his authority under 28 U.S.C. ยงยง 509, 510 and 515 to appoint a Special Counsel to investigate recent reports that the National Security Agency may have conducted warrantless surveillance on U.S. persons in violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and the 4th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. We know that the security of the American people depend on our law enforcement and intelligence agencies' interception of communications between terrorist agents. We believe that this surveillance can and must be performed according to the rule of law.


Unfortunately, Mr. Gonzales' recent testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee did little to answer our questions or dispel our concerns. Rather, the Attorney General's opaque testimony simply left us with even more questions about this program. Mr. Gonzales repeatedly refused to discuss what he called the "operational details" of this program, refusing to inform the Committee of such "operational details" as whether the Department discloses to the FISA court its use of information garnered from this program in obtaining warrants from the court - in other words, whether the Department was pursuing prosecutions based on evidence gathered in possible violation of FISA and the 4th Amendment. Press reports indicate that, in fact, evidence gathered under this program may have been used improperly to obtain warrants from the FISA court.



Zoe Lofgren (D-CA)
Gary Ackerman (D-NY)
Rick Boucher (D-VA)
Lois Capps (D-CA)
John Conyers (D-MI)
Peter DeFazio (D-OR)
Anna Eshoo (D-CA)
Sam Farr (D-CA)
Raul Grijalva (D-AZ)
Mike Honda (D-CA)
Carolyn Maloney (D-NY)
Doris Matsui (D-CA)
Jim McGovern (D-MA)
George Miller (D-CA)
David Price (D-NC)
Jan Schakowsky (D-IL)
Adam Schiff (D-CA)
Bennie Thompson (D-MS)

The letter itself questions the legality. But the second paragraph I excerpted could reference the details echoed by Glenn Fine's letter - in other words, the process of collection and handling of information. I note also that, perhaps, this preemptive strike by DOJ is a way to get around what the Democrats requested, appointment of a Special Counsel.

So all you legal wonks out there - can Congress come back and reassert its request for a Special Counsel? If they do this, can they still conduct hearings and investigations of their own? And the larger question - should we even be paying attention to this?

I'll close with one thing from the article I began with, the one in The Register:

There are so many dark avenues for Congress to illuminate: arbitrary classification of "enemy combatants", indefinite detentions, extraordinary rendition, secret prisons, torture, military kangaroo courts, prisoner abuse, war crimes, phony intelligence used knowingly to justify a needless conflict. Along these avenues lurk unspeakable things involving blood and death, endless loneliness, profound loss, and enduring pain.

Greene essentially argues here that glomming onto this or any other warrantless wiretapping investigation utterly misses the point of what really matters.

You've Come This Far - So Read more & Comment!

posted by RenaRF at 1:51 PM 10 comments
Friday, November 24, 2006

(Cross-posted at Daily Kos and ePluribus Media)

As recently as late June of this year our esteemed Vice President, Darth Cheney, stood by his assertion that the insurgency was in its "last throes".

This bears some investigation. Things are coming together in Iraq and in the Middle East. I am surrounded by an intense feeling that this is a pivotal period in Iraq that is coming to a head and doing so quickly.

Stay with me over the fold as I work through this.

Juan Cole kicks us off.

Friday, November 24, 2006

233 Dead in Civil War Carnage
Health Ministry Besieged
3,000 Widows Created Each Month

So as Thursday began, Sunni Arab guerrillas surrounded and attacked the Ministry of Health, which is dominated by followers of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. The guerrillas trapped 2,000 employees in the compound and threatened to kill any who came outside. They also subjected the building to mortar fire. The ministry guards, who are probably Mahdi Army, kept them at bay but lost 7 men doing it. It took US and Iraqi forces 2 hours to respond, and the guerrillas were only finally dispersed by helicopter gunships. The siege probably came in revenge for the Mahdi Army attack on the Sunni-run Ministry of Higher Education two weeks ago.

If you're still recovering from your Turkey/Family Day, yesterday was a brutal and bloody day in Iraq. On a day where we were celebrating our national traditions, Iraqi civilians were brutally assaulted:

BAGHDAD, Nov. 24 -- A barrage of car bombs, mortar attacks and missiles battered the Shiite Muslim slum of Sadr City on Thursday afternoon, *killing around 200 people and injuring as many more* in the single deadliest assault on Iraqi civilians since the start of the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003.

This is yet another information point in what has long ago become a deadly environment for Iraqi civilians:

More than 1,000 Iraqis a day are being displaced by the sectarian violence that began on Feb. 22 with the bombing of the Shiite Askariya shrine in Samarra, according to a report released this week by the Geneva-based International Organization for Migration, a U.N.-associated group.

This increasing movement of Iraqi families, caused by the lack of security and by the growth of armed local militias and criminal gangs, is adding to the already chaotic governmental situation in Baghdad, according to U.N., U.S. and non-governmental reports released over the past weeks.

An email received by Juan Cole illuminates these events:

'It is desperate in Iraq, *worse then ever and there is no end in sight*. I had lunch with [a former high ranking medical educator in Iraq] two days ago. [He] noted that Iraq no longer has neuro-surgeons, no cardiac surgeons, few pediatric doctors - they are all gone, killed or fled to neighboring countries like him. He was given seven days to get out or be killed. He is one of the lucky ones. He and his family have an opportunity for a new life in the US. But what about all the others. Where are they to go?

Another friend, a Sunni sheikh of the Shammar tribe noted to me that *thousands of former officers are prepared to assault the G[reen] Z[one]*. It is no longer a matter of can they do it, they are *only mulling over the timing*. The breach of the Green Zone security the other day was a test of their ability to get in, and not a real attempt at a coup, though it is reported as such. Every Iraqi I talk to says unambiguously that the resistance attached to the former regime would take out the Shiite militias with barely a fight, but that the resistance will not commit wholesale revenge against the Shiite population. They just want to get rid of the "carpet baggers" from Iran.'

Chaos. Adding a twist to the entire situation is the latest ultimatum from Shiite Cleric Muqtada al-Sadr:

Powerful Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr is threatening to withdraw support from Iraq's government if Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki meets President Bush next week, an al-Sadr representative said Friday.

Such a move could jeopardize the stability of the administration of al-Maliki who has relied on the support of both the United States and his fellow Shiites.

The White House said talks between Bush and al-Maliki in Jordan next week would go ahead as planned. Al-Maliki's office has not responded to the threat by Salih al-Akeili, a member of the al-Sadr bloc in Iraq's parliament, that aired on Iraqi TV.

The move came as attacks on Sunni mosques were reported in apparent retaliation for a bloodbath in a Shiite area on Thursday.

This puts incredible pressure, as the article notes, on Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. Needing the support of both the US /and/ Al-Sadr, Al-Maliki will alienate one faction or the other if he either proceeds with his meetings with Bush or pulls out of those meetings with Bush. Al-Sadr's statement (or warning) is the throwing down of a proverbial gauntlet that Al-Maliki will have to address.

As I am writing this, CNN is reporting that a spokesman for Al-Sadr has said that Iraqi forces, backed by US forces, have entered Sadr city from the Eastern and Northeaster sides of the city to impose calm and control on the area. Coalition aircraft and helicopters are reported to be involved in this effort.

This just gets worse and worse. Iraqi civilian attacks and deaths are at an all-time high. The price these people are paying for our hubris is astonishing and shameful. I find it difficult to believe that there is even a /question/ about going big, going long, or going home.

I have a read a variety of even-handed voices arguing against going home. The basis for their argument is, of course, that to go home now will plunge Iraq into a pattern of violence and civil war that is unconscionable. I hear and understand these arguments. But at some point, the only choices left are bad ones. That is the state in which we find ourselves today. We have so badly botched the "liberation" of Iraq that not only are we faced with utter and complete defeat - we are faced with empowering other nations who seek to do us harm.

At let me be clear: we don't have to be attacked, at home or abroad, to suffer this harm. Case in point: Iran and Syria. Both are emerging as the only potential way out of the death and destruction our incursion into Iraq has created. Via the Boston Globe:

The Iranian parliamentary speaker, Gholam Ali Haddad Adel, told the official Islamic Republic News Agency that Saturday's summit in Tehran is designed to bring Iran, Syria, and Iraq closer together. "We hope the summit will boost relations between the three countries," he said.


The United States insists Iran and Syria are helping fuel the turmoil in Iraq, and it wants Iraqi leaders to send a strong message to Tehran to stop interference. Iran is believed to give backing to Shi'ite militias accused in Iraq's sectarian violence, and Syria is accused by the United States of turning a blind eye to Iraqi insurgents that use its territory as a base.

At the same time, the Bush administration is under increased pressure at home to open a dialogue with Iran and Syria to help calm Iraq. The Tehran summit may be an attempt by the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, to show that any dialogue over his country's role in Iraq will be on his terms.

Consider this: four years ago, could anyone, regardless of politics, have envisioned a /worse/ outcome? We are, despite our protestations, driving power and influence to Iran and Syria. They're no fools. Our administration likes to paint these two countries with language that leaves the impression of a backward people, archaic in their mindset and tactics. Yet every move we make in Iraq lends credence to the /idea/ that only Iran and Syria can exert influence that will help calm the bloodshed in Iraq. Iran and Syria are playing this /perfectly/. The fact that they are instrumental in creating the chaos they seek to assist in controlling is irrelevant.

We have allowed this.

There were a plethora of options as we planned our incursion into Iraq. I was adamantly against this war from the beginning. HOWEVER - once the war itself was begun, I resigned myself to wishing most aredently for excellent planning and execution on the part of the United States. I am frequently reminded of one of the best lessons I learned from a childhood neighbor who was also a Pastor at a local Methodist church. He encouraged my parents to bring me to his "Children's Sermon", which they did. In one of those sermons, he took a traditional tube of toothpaste and paper plate. He squeezed that toothpaste out onto the plate in front of the assembled children. He handed me the plate with the mound of toothpaste and said one thing:

"Now put it back in."

Of course I couldn't. And I am frequently drawn back to that lesson as events unfold in Iraq. We squeezed the tube and we can't put it back in. And we opened the door for Iran and Syria to come out with increased influence and position in the region as being the /only ones who can save the carnage/ that occurs every day in Iraq.

I choose "Go Home". The /best/ we're left with at this point is to apply a tourniquet to our reputation and simply stop the bleeding. We're going to lose the limb. There's no helping that. And it's going to take time and new leadership to allow us to be healthy again. I don't expect to see restoration of our reputation in the world in my lifetime. But we have to start working towards that end /NOW/ if there's any hope.

Apologize and leave. It's the only option left to us.

You've Come This Far - So Read more & Comment!

posted by RenaRF at 11:20 PM 3 comments
Saturday, November 18, 2006

(Cross-posted at Daily Kos and ePluribus Media)

I find it inherently interesting and often invaluable to hear other people's points of view as well as provide my own.  I can't tell you how many times I have had my opinion expanded by simply turning an issue on its side and considering it from another's viewpoing, whether they are a person with whom I agree or not.

I was an early supporter of impeachment.  In principle, it's the right thing to do.  But politically, particularly after the November 7 election, I had gone somewhat softer.  Right or wrong, I'm thinking politically and realizing that 2008 is right around the corner and a 1994-esque move (ala the Republicans targeting Clinton) to constantly subpoena, investigate, and potentially impeach didn't seem to serve political ends.

Richard Dreyfus changed my mind last night in his appearance on Real Time with Bill Maher.  Make the jump.

I'm going to literally transcribe from my DVR Dreyfus' statement with respect to impeachment.  It's powerful and everyone should read and at least consider it.

The general subject was whether or not ethics will be a central concern addressed by the new Democrat-controlled Congress.  From there, though, it took a very interesting turn.  All emphasis in the transcripts is mine.

MAHER: And you think he [the President] should be impeached?  I mean, what would that get you?  Cheney as President?

DREYFUS: The two reasons that one would argue against impeachment are the Vice President and the Democratic Congress.  But I'm not in favor of impeachment.  I am in favor of the process.  And I believe that unless the society stands against certain things, they will have endorsed certain things.  Like torture, leaving the Geneva Convention...

MAHER: Right.  That is well said.

DREYFUS: ...and lying to the Congress about the reasons for war.  And once the Republicans are placed in the position of having to endorse torture, you've got a bad problem on your hands.  And we do not realize that this is not about impeachment - it's about the other branches of the government doing their duty so that you don't hand off to a liberal or a conservative - the President - swollen powers when no one ever turns power away.  No one ever says "oh no thank you - we're not going to use that".  

And so whoever gets to be President will use the power handed to this President.  And we will rue that day unless we stand in some way against that, even in a minority report.  Even if we... if you lose an impeachment hearing - whoever "we" are - then at least you have a body that says we stand against these things.  And unless you do that, then you're for them.

One word: powerful.  There was further discussion of a more general nature later in the show where Dreyfus also weighed in, and I really felt that his following commentary, coupled with his thoughts on impeachment, struck a perfect chord.

The lead-in was the discussion of the guy being beaten by the LAPD.  One of the other guests, Tom Morello, was lamenting our numbness and wondering why we weren't in the streets with pitchforks and torches over such a thing.  Dreyfus weighed in.  This is a long transcription but it's worth reading every word.

DREYFUS: That's the constancy that you can learn.  You can actually learn the constancy of curiosity, and the constancy of outreach.  You can learn that it is ok to keep asking the questions, and to be dissenters.  And if you don't - if you're not taught it - then you don't know it.  But we owe ourselves and the United States that we will pass off to our children to re-learn the tools of reason, logic, clarity, dissent, civility, and debate.  And those things are the non-partisan basis of Democracy and without them, you can kiss this thing goodbye.

It is up to us - it wasn't because of a conspiracy that that this left - it was thoughtlessness - and what you have to do is get it back.  And what happens now in this partisan-addicted country of ours is that Democrats are afraid that if they send their kids to Civics classes they might not come back Democrats.  And Republicans are afraid their kids won't come back Republicans.  But Civics - the expertise needed to understand western enlightenment and civil liberties is not something you're born with.  You have to learn it.

And we teach our kids what we want them to know and we don't teach them what we don't want them to know.  And that's not a conspiracy - that's human nature.  And you have to - WE have to remember - that unless we teach the ideas that make America a miracle in government - a miracle - that everyone knows is a miracle - unless we teach what that means, then it will go away in your kids' lifetime.  And we will be a fable.  We will be a tale told about this place that used to stand up for blah blah blah.  

You have to teach it.  You have to find the time and creativity to teach it in school.  And if you don't, then you will lose it to fundamentalists of any stripe, you will lose it to stupidity, you will lose it to the darkness.  And what this country represents is a tiny twinkle of light in a history of opression and darkness and cruelty and if it lasts for more than our lifetime or our kids' lifetime it is only due to the fact that we put some effort into teaching what it is.

The ideas of America - the idea of opportunity, mobility, freedom of thought, freedom of assembly - and if you don't teach it, it will go away and in the middle of the night when the towers fall, we will not say "what am I responsible for" - we will say "tell us what to do".

There's a lot to think about in that statement.  First, I was struck by the obvious idea that we teach our children what we want them to know and NOT what we don't want them to know.  It's self-apparent - but the cost is not something I had considered.  I immediately thought of your typical pro-life person not teaching their children about sex and birth control, rather teaching abstinence and decrying abortion.  But that shoe can be placed on either foot and we have to not fear people learning the other sides of the arguments we hold dear.  It is, in fact, ESSENTIAL to the idea that we have a generation forming behind us that has the ability to cherish - to understand America and American values, and to stubbornly defend ALL points of view while nudging forward that which makes us so unique as a pure form of government.  That is why the impeachment process is necessary.  Not to punish - but to reinforce.  To stand at last and go on record as to what's acceptable and unacceptable.  To save our very Democracy.

And I was also very struck by the truth of his last statement: if we don't teach it - ALL of it - then we will morph to a populace that needs to be told rather than one that inherently knows what it stands for and what that means, in terms of responsibility, to each individual in the populace.

Incidentally, Dreyfus has been, for the last two years, a Senior Associate Member of St. Anthony's College, University of Oxford, learning (as he put it) how to teach civics.

There's a lot here to think about.  And I, for one, am grateful that I heard it and am able to share it here.


One little extra unrelated tidbit I'll give you - Maher, of course, does his little schtick late in the show after his second one-on-one interview.  This week, it was "celebrity fragrances", wherein he had men's cologne suited to politicians and celebrities, poking fun at their missteps.  This one's just a bonus:

MAHER: [getting bottle of cologne] It speaks without thinking.  Splash it on your red necks - George Allen's Macaca for Men.


You've Come This Far - So Read more & Comment!

posted by RenaRF at 1:45 PM 2 comments
Friday, November 17, 2006

(Cross-posted at Daily Kos and ePluribus Media)

I did a diary search for the last month to see if anyone had written about what happened to Cyrus Kar, an Iranian American who went to Iraq to film an historical documentary.  I didn't find a specific reference, but apologies in advance if this has already been diaried.

If you don't know Kar's story, it's both shocking and chilling and exactly the reason our new Congress has to conduct oversight activities on the conduct of the administration in the prosecution of the so-called "War on Terror".

No boogeying this time - step somberly over the bump.

I heard the story first this morning while I was heading to a meeting and was listening to CNN on my Sirius radio.  It was covered on Anderson Cooper 360 last night as well, and that's where I found the transcript below.  All emphasis is entirely mine.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Cyrus Kar is an Iranian American who went to Iraq last year to film a historical documentary. It had nothing to do with the war. But just days after arriving, his trip took a stunning turn. Karr landed at the notorious Abu Ghraib prison where he says U.S. troops called him the American terrorist.

CYRUS KAR, FILMMAKER: I could hear them in what must have been their standard mantra, which was, you F-ing terrorist, you're here to kill Americans. You f-ing terrorist.

KAYE: So how did this Los Angeles filmmaker, who's lived in the U.S. since kindergarten, this Navy veteran, end up a suspected terrorist?

Kar says his taxi, driven by an Iraqi, was stopped at a checkpoint. The car's trunk was searched, and Kar, his cameraman and the driver were arrested for plotting to build roadside bombs.

KAR: They found three dozen washing machine timers.

KAYE (on camera): Did you know those were in there?

KAR: No.

KAYE: Did you know what they were being used for?

KAR: No.

Ok - So Kar, an American of Iranian descent, is traveling in an Iraqi taxi with his cameraman.  When stopped, US officials discover items in the trunk widely used by terrorists to construct and detonate IEDs.

KAYE (voice-over): Washing machine timers are widely used by insurgents to trigger IEDs on roadsides. In time, Kar says his taxi driver would admit the timers were his.

But when Kar was handed over to U.S. forces, he says his hands and feet were bound and he was left to bake for hours in a cage in 120-degree heat. He remembers a hood over his head nearly suffocated him.

(On camera): Did you think you were going to die there at that point?

KAR: I remember I kept telling myself, stay awake, you won't die today. Stay awake.

KAYE (voice-over): Kar says he showed U.S. troops his passport and his veterans card, but they still took him to Abu Ghraib.

After Abu Ghraib, Kar says he was thrown into solitary confinement for two months at the same prison as Saddam Hussein. If Kar's story is true, why would the U.S. treat one of its own citizens this way?

Erm... could it be because the administration basically instituted any anything-goes policy towards suspected "terrorists", one that promoted "hold them, abuse them, torture them, and find the facts later" (if at all)?

MARK ROSENBAUM, CYRUS KAR'S ATTORNEY: Saddam Hussein received more due process than Cyrus Kar did.

KAYE: The ACLU's Mark Rosenbaum represents Kar in a lawsuit against Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and other high-ranking military officials. They say Rumsfeld's replacement will also be added to the suit.

The lawsuit claims the U.S. government deprived Cyrus Kar of his constitutional rights and violated the Geneva Convention.

ROSENBAUM: But holding people incommunicado, in the hell hole places like Abu Ghraib, that's not acceptable. And that's Constitution 101.

KAYE: A spokesman for coalition forces says, "Kar was treated fairly and humanely, consistent with the standards set by the Geneva Conventions." But Rosenbaum says Kar passed a lie detector test. And after all, the taxi driver did admit the washing machine timers were his. Still, he says, Kar was refused a lawyer.

(On camera): While Cyrus Kar was being interrogated in Iraq, he had no idea he was also being investigated back here at home.

In a midnight raid, FBI agents turned his Los Angeles apartment upside down. They confiscated two computers, credit card statement, phone records and airline tickets. None of it provided any evidence to warrant keeping him in Iraq.

Also, Kar says he was held for 55 days, 53 in solitary confinement. In fact, 49 days passed before he even had a hearing. Why did it take so long to free an innocent American?

See my comments above.  Cyrus Kar is emblematic of a flawed policy that trashes the Constitution and Geneva Conventions and assumes guilt without any particular zeal to determine the truth.  It's deplorable and unforgivable.

Does a lawsuit like this, though, really have any legs? I mean, you think about suing Don Rumsfeld, General Casey, do you really think you're going to get somewhere?

ROSENBAUM: The government is saying that what they did was perfectly lawful. And so I think this lawsuit is the only chance the citizens like Cyrus have in restoring what the basic principles are.

KAYE (voice-over): Secretary Rumsfeld and the other defendants have filed motions to dismiss the case. The Department of Justice argues, "the length of the plaintiff's detention was well in keeping with the exigencies of ongoing hostilities in Iraq and the need to ascertain fully and accurately his true status." It adds, "once the tribunal had assessed the plaintiff's case, military personnel took only six days to review the decision and make arrangements to release the plaintiff."

A hearing to determine if Kar's lawsuit will go forward is set for January.

(On camera): At some point while you were there, did you say to yourself, maybe I shouldn't have come to Iraq in the height of war to shoot this documentary about some Persian leader that's been gone 2,500 years?

KAR: You know, I think a lot of people might find me crazy for this, but no, I never regretted my decision.

KAYE (voice-over): Cyrus Kar's documentary would have been about a great Persian conqueror, a ruler considered by many to be the father of human rights. The irony was not lost on Cyrus Kar.

Randi Kaye, CNN, Los Angeles.

The US is, of course, seeking to dismiss Kar's suit.  

In its response, filed Friday, U.S. attorneys cautioned the court to carefully consider getting entangled in military operations overseas. They said Kar cannot challenge the government's policies without "a realistic threat that he will again be subject to detention in Iraq by the United States military officers."

WTF?  Are they saying that it should be dismissed because if he proceeds, he will again be "detained"?  I don't know if I'm reading that part correctly, but how else could that be interepreted?  

The Washington Post article concludes:

While imprisoned, Kar said he was at times hooded, threatened and taunted by U.S. soldiers. One soldier slammed Kar's head into a concrete wall, the lawsuit said.

Military officials have said Kar was properly detained as "an imperative security threat" and that the matter had been handled and resolved appropriately.

Now listen.  Although it's known today that Kar did not, in fact, constitute a threat, I do not necessarily believe that it wasn't appropriate to detain him in the first place.  But the administration's slip is dangingling below the hemline, here.  They could have simply taken this man into custody and do what should have been done: assume him innocent until proven guilty.  They could have held him humanely, allowed him to contact a lawyer and his family, and investigated.  I'm also open to the idea that it takes some measure of time to determine innocence in a climate such as Iraq with issues of possible terrorism - I don't know if 55 days meets that criteria (seems long to me).  But had they only held this man appropriately with some measure of due process and respect for his rights as a human being, this lawsuit wouldn't be necessary.

This lawsuit is entirely appropriate.  They held this man, an American citizen (and veteran to boot!), without due process or access to counsel, his family or a hearing.  They used strong-armed tactics against him, assuming immediately that he was "guilty" and a "terrorist" because of (presumably) his ethnicity and location.

I hope this, along with a suit filed against Rumsfeld and others finally and at last gets that slip back under the skirt.  We can't begin to rebuild our world stature without showing that we are also willing to admit to wrongdoing and make appropriate reparations.

You've Come This Far - So Read more & Comment!

posted by RenaRF at 12:22 PM 1 comments