Art Pottery, Politics and Food
Friday, August 11, 2006

From Wednesday’s Washington Post:

The Bush administration has drafted amendments to a war crimes law that would eliminate the risk of prosecution for political appointees, CIA officers and former military personnel…

The Bush maladministration tellingly wants to eliminate provisions within the War Crimes Act of 1996 that domestically criminalized “outrages upon personal dignity” committed by civilians, including CIA officers and high government officials, and current and former U.S. military personnel.
Again, from the Washington Post:

"People have gotten worried, thinking that it's quite likely they might be under a microscope," said a U.S. official.

Bush representatives are most concerned with Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, commonly considered the minimum standard of treatment for “persons taking no active part in the hostilities”:

The following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever…
(a) mutilation, cruel treatment and torture;
(c) outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment;
(d) the passing of sentences…without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court, affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.

In a July 7th memo to Senator Susan Collins the Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England said that the terms “degrading” and “humiliating” are relative:

“What is degrading in one society may not be degrading in another…”

However, retired Army legal expert Lt. Col. Geoffrey S. Corn, former chief of the war law branch of the Army's Office of the Judge Advocate General, has an interesting take on the, some might say, broad prohibitions against mistreating human beings:

[Article 3 was] left deliberately vague because efforts to define it would invariably lead to wrongdoers identifying 'exceptions,' and because the meaning was plain -- treat people like humans and not animals or objects.”

“Wrongdoers” tend to nit pick exceptions to the rules.
No wonder history is verboten.

Image:, sean

It appears that mere terror plots and massive citizen inconvenience haven’t dissuaded the occasional occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to forego his umpteenth biking and brush clearing vacation nor to remove his laser-like focus from political fundraising.
The New York Times reports:

As Americans stood in long lines…Bush went ahead with his planned trip…to raise money for a Republican Congressional candidate and to speak about the economy during a stop at a metal factory.

While hardly a profile in courage, Mr. Bush raised the specter of annihilation (again), raised some cash and re-lowered his profile as the Times reported that, “aides said there were no plans for him to cut short his [vacation].”
Media reports didn’t say if the President had to forego any personal traveling liquids prior to boarding Air Force One.
It is also worth noting that the "metal factory" speech allowed the White House to have yesterday's jet travel costs paid by US citizens and their dwindling treasury rather than the Republican National Committee.

Photo: Reuters
Thursday, August 10, 2006
Thank You England!

According to London’s Guardian newspaper, “at 2am, [or 9PM Wednesday US Eastern time] the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre raised the UK terror alert from severe to critical - it’s highest level - for the first time”.
From around 10:30PM [or 5:30PM US Eastern] Thursday evening, according to the London Times, “police carried out a series of raids in London, Buckinghamshire and Birmingham, arresting 21 people”.
Various print and cable news media mentioned “a decision was made to move suddenly following months of surveillance.”
My personal memory of Mohammed Naeem Noor Khan and imprecise language regarding any type of US/UK investigative cooperation by the American cable media and the comedy team of Chertoff and Gonzales this morning forced an initial conclusion that the blabby and poll addicted US government was not fully informed of operational details until last evening or early this morning.
A dearth of official British quotes along with a multitude of quoted Bush officials in UK media, at first glance, seemed to counter my first impression of US official exclusion until I ran across this darkly amusing tidbit in the Guardian:

British officials were slightly more circumspect about the background to the plot than their US counterparts, stressing that they had to be careful about what they said.

Indeed, it seems a safe bet that future historians will never use the phrase "Bushian circumspection".
The big bloggers this morning, also rarely "careful" with public speech, suspect, as with Noor Khan’s arrest only days after the Democratic Convention, that the British terror raids were staged to support yesterday’s Lieberman/Rove characterization of liberal Democrats as terrorists or insurgents.
My read of the available information suggests that the terror plot was quite real and only hours from becoming operational and that the tactically unaware Bush government, isolated by previously burned British intelligence services, immediately, once informed, began spinning the news to enhance yesterday’s Lieberman/Rove political smear as they frivolously used Noor Khan to steal headlines from 2004’s Democratic National Convention.

Photo: AP
Wednesday, August 09, 2006
Chutzpah Meets Fascism?

I saw the Reuters photo of Rat the Last climbing steps and couldn't resist...

Modified Image:, Reuters
Monday, August 07, 2006
Photo Shop Memory Lane

Sunday, August 06, 2006
General Not So Electric

An interesting article in this morning’s Baltimore Sun illuminates the present power needs of the National Security Agency and the past leadership of General Hayden:

The NSA is Baltimore Gas & Electric's largest customer, using as much electricity as the city of Annapolis…NSA's problem was identified in the late 1990s and could have been fixed by now -- and for much less money…"It fits into a long, long pattern of crisis-of-the-day management as opposed to investing in the future," said one former government official familiar with the NSA's electricity shortfall.

Modified Image: Google

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