Archive for April 18th, 2007

Shorter Bush Administration

“You fucked up – you trusted us!”

We debate how the surge looks today or how oil will be distributed tomorrow on the banks of a swelling river of human misery: two million Iraqis who couldn’t bear to live in Iraq anymore, and another two million displaced internally but too poor to flee.

…The world is asking what George W. Bush, who started the war in Iraq and presides over the country that historically accepts more refugees than any other, will do for these desperate people.

Many of them will most likely be denied refuge in the United States because, under the Patriot and Real ID Acts, they are tarred with having provided material support to terrorists — in the form of ransoms paid to kidnappers to secure a family member’s release. Last month, Congress tried to create a waiver for those who provided material support “under duress.” Lamentably, it was killed by Senator Jon Kyl, who said he’d respond with legislation to “provide relief from terrorism-related immigration bars to … groups that do not pose a threat to the United States.”

Are we so imprecise in our fifth year of this war that our government cannot distinguish between those who worked and ate alongside us and a member of Al Qaeda?

Consider Rita, an Iraqi Christian woman who worked for the Coalition Provisional Authority and helped manage the TIPS Hotline, which Iraqis can call to share critical information about wanted terrorists or pending attacks on the United States military. Her supervisor, Bernard Kerik, wrote in a recommendation letter that her “courage to support the coalition forces has sent an irrefutable message: that terror will not rule, that liberty will triumph, and that the seeds of freedom will be planted into the great citizens of Iraq.”

But Rita’s courage was repaid by insurgents who abducted her 16-year-old son at gunpoint on his way to school one August morning. Terrorists demanded $600,000 for his release. She doesn’t know how much her husband ultimately paid the kidnappers because he divorced her, blaming her work for the American government for the calamity that had befallen the family. He took her traumatized son and daughter to Syria, and she hasn’t seen or heard from them since. When the death threats became unbearable, she fled to Jordan.

Appallingly, Rita’s family cannot be resettled in the United States because of the material support bar. Unless the secretary of homeland security himself applies a waiver for her, she’ll never reach American soil. Does this woman, who lost everything because she worked for the Americans, who had a security clearance from our government to work in its embassy, pose a threat to the United States? If she does, then who doesn’t?

(…)

Five years before we invaded Iraq, one senator had the remarkable foresight to speak about our responsibility to any Iraqis who might help the United States: “If we would have people in Iraq, or elsewhere in the world, trust us and work with us, then we need to take care that the United States maintains a reputation for trustworthiness and for taking care of its friends.” He was even more direct about what was at stake: “The world will be watching and judging how America treats people who are seen to be on our side. We cannot afford to foster a perception of unfairness that will make it more difficult for the United States to recruit supporters in the future.” So spoke Senator Kyl in 1998.

(…)

In her Jan. 16 testimony to the Senate, the assistant secretary of state for population, refugees and migration, Ellen Sauerbrey, said that the plight of Iraq’s refugees was the bureau’s “very top priority.” More than two months later, she reported to the House that it could take six months (and likely longer) before our Iraqi friends might find refuge here.What kind of superpower can’t convert its “very top priority” into a program that starts saving its allies’ lives before their visas expire and they are forced to return to Iraq? …. Those who paid ransoms for their lives or those of their loved ones are scared to explain in their asylum applications the chief reason they fled their country, because they worry it will disqualify them — a perverse indication of the extent to which our government has lost its way since we invaded.

This is not an issue President Bush can delegate anymore. His bureaucracies are moving perilously slowly. They need the leadership of an American president. How will the United States help those whose belief in us cost them their country? We need to honor the sacrifice of these Iraqis — and start recovering the moral credibility our country forfeits each day they go without our help.

This is actually not the first time this has come up. Just another sad example of how basic human decency is now subordinate to the War Against Terror At All Costs OMG! Or rather, subordinate to the need to the Administration’s need to appear tough on terror.

Also, Special Bonus Shorter Bush Administration: All our e-mails are belong to us.

4 comments April 18th, 2007 at 11:40pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Iraq,Republicans

Eli’s Obsession With The Google

On the first page of search results for stinky monkey flower.

This is the kind of thing you want on your tombstone.

1 comment April 18th, 2007 at 03:22pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Eli's Obsession With The Google

I Must Be Hallucinating.

I could have sworn I just read a MoDo column with some actual substance:

In addition to the story about Paul Wolfowitz’s giving his girlfriend, Shaha Ali Riza, a promotion and a $60,000 raise because he felt guilty that she had to be transferred from the World Bank to the State Department when he took over, The Times reported yesterday on more imperialist hanky-panky.

Steven Weisman and David Sanger wrote that in 2003, when Wolfie was No. 2 at the Pentagon, the office of his consigliere, Douglas Feith, directed a private contractor to hire Ms. Riza, then at the World Bank, to spend a month traveling in Iraq to study ways to set up the new government.

(…)

Wolfie and Shaha did not let a little thing like World Bank rules — which barred the bank from providing economic assistance to an area under military occupation — keep them from pushing the neocon delusions.

When she returned, Ms. Riza briefed members of the executive board of the World Bank on her trip, giving them a sanguine account of Iraq’s future and the fate of women there.

“The bank was under a lot of pressure at the time to do something in Iraq very quickly,” Jean-Louis Sarbib, a former bank vice president for the Middle East and North Africa, told The Times. But some of the bank’s directors, he said, were “very concerned about why she was briefing the board, under which authority and with whom she had gone there. I did not know anything about this at the time, and I was the vice president, and she was reporting to me.”

As they rushed to war, the neocons delighted in blowing off international treaties, international institutions and diplomats, treating them as impediments and whiners. So it only made sense that Wolfie wouldn’t hesitate to blow off rules he didn’t like once he began running an international institution himself.

(…)

Despite fears among the bank’s member governments that Wolfie’s smug and stupid behavior is impairing the bank’s credibility, he has dug in his heels and said he will stay put. The president has backed him up. [Gee, there’s a surprise…]

Astonishingly, W., Wolfie, Dick Cheney and the Prince of Darkness himself, Richard Perle, have learned nothing from their mistakes of blindness and hubris, except to sweep them under the bed and indulge in more blindness and hubris.

[MoDo then makes reference to Richard Perle’s appearance on PBS, advocating “regime change” in Iraq]

In America last week to promote a book about the occupation of Iraq, Ali Allawi, Iraq?’s former finance minister, told a group at the Council on Foreign Relations that the Bush administration had invaded an “imagined” country.

The Financial Times reported Mr. Allawi as saying that “the Iraqi exiles who advised the U.S. war planners described the country of their memories. Sadly, the Iraq with a solid infrastructure, a solid middle class and a secular tradition had ended ‘decades ago.’ ”

I suppose it’s only fitting that the imaginary country’s WMDs would turn out to be imaginary as well.

From a broader perspective, the Bushies’ “rules for thee but not for me” mentality is one of the defining characteristics of an authoritarian dictatorship.

April 18th, 2007 at 11:49am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Corruption/Cronyism,Iraq,Media,Republicans

If You’re In New York…

And you dig bizarre movies, I urge you to check out Alejandro Jodorowsky’s Holy Mountain, playing at the IFC Theater.

If you’ve never seen a Jodorowsky movie, there’s nothing else like it – he makes David Lynch look tame (and coherent).

April 18th, 2007 at 11:23am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Coolness,Movies,Weirdness

Wednesday Why-I-Love-The-Weekly-World-News Blogging

New Frontiers In Computing:

PALO ALTO, Calif. — Computer engineers admit they won’t be producing a machine that thinks for itself anytime soon. But the experts promise that new ‘Artificial Intuition’ technology might be sitting on your desktop before the year is out. “Our first machine was a codebreaker for the CIA,” said programmer Brouwer Dummett, who pioneered hunch-based computing for the American military in the 1980s. “We began with weather forecasting equipment. If the machine felt a pain in its joints — or, more accurately, if it calculated poor loadbearing capacity in those joints and their associated trusses — it predicted a rainstorm.”

Dummett confessed that A.I. speech recognition also fell short of expectations.

“The machine can’t understand most of what we say, though it somehow always senses that we’re disappointed with it,” he said.

A.I. machines tend to fall short, Dummett said, because they can’t easily be tested. “We use chess to predict the cognitive performance of ordinary computers,” Dummett said, “but Artificially-Intuitive systems prefer less cerebral games like Rock, Paper, Scissors — or in this case, Mainframe, Print-out, Electromagnetic Pulse.”In fact, A.I.’s biggest accomplishment so far has been convincing its designers not to pull the plug. Dummett revealed the secret of the machine’s survival.

“The fact is, my colleagues and I all owe the thing a lot of poker money,” Dummett said. “A.I. systems can always tell when we’re bluffing.”

I can never remember the proper hand-signal for “Electromagnetic Pulse”…

April 18th, 2007 at 07:29am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Weekly World News


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