Tuesday, June 10, 2003

This may be one of those trial balloons the Bush and Rumsfeld team send up now and then, just to scare liberals and see if the rest of the country reacts. But it sounds like the plans are fairly fleshed-out, so maybe this is for real. On one hand, it is high time to do something with the prisoners at Guantanamo, beyond just fattening them up.

But conducting military tribunals in secret, followed by executions -- there is something innately un-American about that. And it brings with it potential dangers that go well beyond the additional hatred it will inspire in the Islamic world. Special Operations forces have been playing an increasingly important role in places like Afghanistan and Iraq. I wouldn't be surprised to learn they are in Iran and North Korea. From what little I know of them, they are often used to blend in to the countryside in order to hit targets or get information in a way impossible for regular Army. By ignoring or manipulating the Geneva Convention, the Bush administration increases the chances that a non-uniformed American will be summarily executed by some in-country warlord who can then argue that the Special Ops forces are acting as "unlawful combatants" and therefore not protected by the Geneva Convention or even International Law. I am surprised Phil Carter hasn't commented on this yet on his excellent and informative blog, but I'm sure he will.

Of course, it is difficult to say the extent to which the Bush administration puts our military's interest, as The Onion brilliantly shows (thanks to TAPPED for the link). [ed., Looks like his father in the photo. No way Karl is going to let him morph into Bush I].

TAPPED also draws attention to the brilliant Republican strategy behind the annual tax cut orgy they have planned for us. In particular, it illustrates the difference between "phase ins" and "sunset provisions." Let's just hope the hubris of Grover Norquist will be amply rewarded in the just fashion he deserves.


Salon weighs in on the willful failure of Tom Ridge and the Bush administrations to take seriously the threat of shoulder fire missiles to commercial aircraft. Whether the threat is imminent or overblown, it is a real possibility. It's been tried, and Al Qaeda has a tendency to keep trying until they get it right. But Ridge has plans only to study the problem and decide what to do in 2005. And in typical Bush fashion, they are relying on U.S. military/industrial complex to develop something, when a working, tested alternative already exists:

"Other signals reinforce the sense that the White House does not view the situation with urgency.

"After reviewing the technology available for protecting passenger jets from missile attack, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the Homeland Security Council concluded that only two companies are involved in developing directional infrared countermeasures systems: Northrop Grumman, an American company that builds the Air Force's new large aircraft laser system, and BAE, a U.K. firm working on a laser system for the Navy's tactical aircraft. But the review failed to identify a third alternative: Israeli defense contractor Rafael also builds a laser anti-missile system, and unlike the Northrop Grumman and BAE systems, Rafael's system has actually been tested on a commercial jet against live missiles -- something the Bush administration's plan does not envision doing until around 2005.

"Rafael's test occurred from March 9 to 13 at Israel's southern Uvda Air Force Base and involved the very Boeing 757 that was attacked in Kenya. Using a variety of missiles, fired from several angles and distances, Rafael's system successfully jammed every missile fired at the jet. Despite these impressive results, and the lower cost of Rafael's system [emphasis mine], it does not appear that this system is in the running to protect U.S. passengers."

The unelected administration is also the unaccountable one.


Go on, Tom. Don't give in to Karl, his poll numbers, or that compassionate conservative #%&@!

"'Pass it,' said Ari Fleischer, the White House spokesman, when asked what President Bush would say to Republican lawmakers who disagree with the bill. 'His advice to the House Republicans is to pass it, to send it to him, so he can sign it.'

"The remarks were the strongest sign yet the administration wants to douse a political brushfire that could damage a domestic policy achievement cherished by Mr. Bush — the tax bill that he signed last month.

"Even so, Mr. Fleischer's remarks did not immediately persuade House leaders to take up the Senate bill. A spokesman for Tom DeLay of Texas, the House Republican leader, said the House would approve the increased credit for low-income families this week, but only as part of a larger tax cut that would cost about $100 billion more than the Senate bill."


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