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Cheney criticizes the Geneva Conventions in Military Academy commencement address
Published: Saturday May 26, 2007
Vice President **** Cheney criticized the notion of applying the Geneva Conventions to individuals captured in the course of the war on terrorism in a Saturday commencement address at the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York.
"Capture one of these killers, and he'll be quick to demand the protections of the Geneva Convention and the Constitution of the United States," the Vice President said in the Saturday morning speech. "Yet when they wage attacks or take captives, their delicate sensibilities seem to fall away."
Cheney delivered the remarks in the context of moral and ethical lessons that the graduating cadets at West Point had learned in the course of their study.
"You have lived by a code of honor, and internalized that code as West Point men and women always do," he said. "As Army officers on duty in the war on terror, you will now face enemies who oppose and despise everything you know to be right, every notion of upright conduct and character, and every belief you consider worth fighting for and living for."
Recently, West Point instructors have complained of the difficulty of persuading Army cadets to adhere to the principles of the Geneva Conventions in the war on terrorism. A February article in the New Yorker highlighted a dialog on the problem between West Point's dean and Joel Surnow, producer of the hit Fox television program '24.'
"This past November, U.S. Army Brigadier General Patrick Finnegan, the dean of the United States Military Academy at West Point, flew to Southern California to meet with the creative team behind '24,'" wrote Jane Mayer in the magazine. "Finnegan, who is a lawyer, has for a number of years taught a course on the laws of war to West Point seniors - cadets who would soon be commanders in the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan. He always tries, he said, to get his students to sort out not just what is legal but what is right. However, it had become increasingly hard to convince some cadets that America had to respect the rule of law and human rights, even when terrorists did not. One reason for the growing resistance, he suggested, was misperceptions spread by '24,' which was exceptionally popular with his students. As he told me, 'The kids see it, and say, ''If torture is wrong, what about '24?'"....
I remember how that insane neocon nazi SWAT guy was represented as a real person.
Man, I've got to find the DVD's for that show. I've told my wife about it for years, but she's got no idea what I'm talking about.
Guess I'm tipsy here. Ignore me.
Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) revealed on Friday afternoon that the White House and Pentagon were holding up a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee investigation into the friendly fire death of former professional football player and Army Corporal Patrick Tillman.
"[T]he Committee wrote to White House Counsel Fred Fielding seeking 'all documents received or generated by any official in the Executive Office of the President' relating to Corporal Tillman's death," noted a press release from the Committee.
But the White House has apparently again invoked its executive privilege to hold up the documents sought by Waxman and Ranking Minority member Tom Davis (R-VA).
"The White House Counsel's office responded that it would not provide the Committee with documents that 'implicate Executive Branch confidentiality interests' and produced only two communications with the officials in the Defense Department, one of which was a package of news clippings," the Committe noted. "The response of the Defense Department to the Committee's inquiry was also deficient."
In their letter to Fielding, Waxman and Davis doubted that the two documents were the limits of White House-Pentagon communication over Tillman's death.
"It is difficult to believe that these are the only communications that White House officials had with the Department of Defense between April 22,2004, the day Corporal Tillman died, and May 29, 2004, the day the Bush Administration publicly announced that Corporal Tillman's death was a result of fratricide," they wrote.
They also explained what they believed was at stake in this probe.
"These questions have implications for the credibility of the information coming from the battlefields in Iraq and Afghanistan and raise significant policy issues about how to prevent the future dissemination of untrue information," Waxman and Davis wrote to Fielding. "They also have a profound personal impact on the Tillman family. It is for these reasons that the Committee requested documents from the White House."
The Committee said that it expected a response to the Friday letter by July 25. Waxman also scheduled an additional hearing on the announcement of Tillman's death for Aug. 1.
Full information can be found at the Committee's website.
Who Killed Pat Tillman?
by Michael I. Niman
Published in the Humanist, January/February 2006
The American mass media are like tired old dogs, dutifully fetching official lies on command and dropping them like bones at the feet of an unsuspecting public. We in turn reward them by buying both the products and the myths they sell us. Eventually, however, the products fail and the myths unravel. When the government's popularity wanes sufficiently, despite the support of a compliant press, even old dogs can come up with new tricks, reviving the lost art of investigative reporting.
Take the Pat Tillman story. Remember him? He was the star National Football League defensive back who, after the 9/11 attacks, walked away from his $3.6 million contract with the Arizona Cardinals to enlist as an elite U.S. Army Ranger and go off to Afghanistan to whip some terrorist ***. No matter what your opinion on the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, or your theory on who was ultimately responsible for the 9/11 attacks, Tillman was clearly acting as a selfless hero in the traditional sense of the word. The media sang only one song at the time-dirtbags in Afghanistan did this to us-and "deterrence" through violent retribution was the only discussable response. Both Tillman and his brother Kevin, like most every American, bought into the program-but they actually volunteered to fight.
After joining up, however, they weren't shipped off to Afghanistan, where they believed terrorists were holed up, but to Iraq to fight in a newly minted war that didn't exist when they signed away control of their lives. Here's where the recruiting poster image deviated from the script. There was a lot more depth to Tillman, who was pursuing a master's degree in history, than one would normally expect of an NFL gladiator. Afghanistan had been an easier sell, but Tillman would never buy the official line on Iraq. At one point, according to a San Francisco Chronicle article published nearly a year and half after his death, he told fellow Rangers fighting in Iraq that the war was, "so fucking illegal." A close friend told the paper, "That's who he was-he totally was against Bush." Tillman's mother clarified, explaining that her son believed the Afghanistan war was justified by the September 11th attacks but "Pat was very critical of the whole Iraq War." Another friend, who served with him, recalled how Tillman admonished fellow Rangers to vote Bush out of office in the forthcoming presidential election.
The Chomsky Factor
Tillman, we now know, was also in contact with one of his favorite authors, America's leading intellectual dissident, Noam Chomsky. According the Chronicle, Tillman had set up a meeting with Chomsky to take place when he returned from Afghanistan, where he eventually wound up after serving his tour in Iraq.
This image of a Chomsky-loving, anti-Bush, anti-Iraq-war hero (at a time when most of the U.S. population supported the administration's foreign policy), flew in the face of the official Bush administration portrait of Tillman, painted by dutiful media whores like Ann Coulter, who once described him in near-racialist terms as "An American original-virtuous, pure and masculine, like only an American can be." (Max Blumenthal, blogging for the online Huffington Post, asked if we could have Coulter's line in the original German).
As both wars droned on, Tillman, the picture perfect poster boy, evolved into something of a wild card. With a Chomsky meeting on the horizon there existed a very real possibility that Tillman, in the weeks leading up to the 2004 presidential election, might go public with his anti-war, anti-Bush views, dealing a critical blow to the very foundation of the Bush administration's propaganda pyramid. That day never came, however. On April 22, 2004, Tillman was killed while on patrol in Afghanistan by three American bullets to the head.
Jessica Lynch Redux
Immediately, evidence surrounding the killing began to disappear. One day after his death someone burned his body armor. Two days later someone burned his uniform. At some point his journal, which he religiously wrote in, went missing. With that journal disappeared Tillman's voice.
Meanwhile the Bush administration's professional liars began spinning one of their tallest tales, with their cohorts in the Pentagon explaining how the hero Tillman was killed by enemy fire. Bush himself chimed in to announce that Tillman was "an inspiration on and off the football field, as with all who made the ultimate sacrifice in the war on terror." The Pentagon, as it did with the Jessica Lynch story, spewed forth so many lies as to bury itself under an obvious pile of ********. The Army issued Tillman a postmortem Silver Star for bravery, explaining in the process how, "through the firing Tillman's voice was heard issuing fire commands to take the fight to the enemy on the dominating hill ground." And this is the story the media reported to the world.
Reports of Fratricide
But files obtained by Tillman's mother, from three Army investigations into the killing, document a different set of last words. According to testimony issued by a fellow Ranger, who was at Tillman's side when he was killed, the last words Tillman shouted before being shot were, "Cease fire, friendlies, I am Pat Fucking Tillman, dammit!"
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Ranger commanders received a report the day after his death stating that Tillman died in a suspected act of fratricide, the crime of killing members of your own group. But the more they were confronted with the truth of what happened, the harder Army officials stuck to the official lies. One week after his death they pulled the Silver Star move, successfully milking the hero dying in action myth in a compliant media environment. Two weeks after his death the Army's official casualty report stated that he was killed by enemy forces. Six weeks later, however, with the mythic version of Tillman's killing firmly embedded in the American conscious, and with the Tillman story safely buried in the ashbin of "old news," the Army finally told Tillman's family that the official cause of death was "fratricide."
By all accounts, Tillman was popular and loved by the troops with whom he served-supporting the theory that his death was in fact a tragic accident. One of the Army investigations, however, suggested leveling charges of criminal intent against the killer or killers, prompting Tillman's mother to ask, "I want to know what kind of criminal intent there was." But all she has been able to glean from over 2,000 pages of official reports are contradictions, continuously changing stories, and countless blacked out lines.
Putting It All Together
What we have with the Tillman case is a cover-up and a fabrication. What was covered up was the embarrassing reality surrounding the futility of his death-the wasting of an iconic American hero. What was fabricated was a fairy tale story of a heroic battle, one that would support the Bush administration's global war effort while not undermining its military recruiting. What was deliberately ignored was an incident at his funeral-reported in the May 4, 2004, San Francisco Chronicle and New York Daily News-when Tillman's youngest brother, Rich, took offense at words that Tillman was now "with God"; he stated to the gathering, "Pat isn't with God. He's fucking dead. He wasn't religious." More importantly, what was buried was the complex story of Pat Tillman's opposition to the Iraq war and the Bush agenda. Murdered in this fabrication and cover-up, therefore, was the real Pat Tillman. According to his father, "The administration clearly was using this case for its own political reasons. This cover-up started within minutes of Pat's death, and it started at high levels."
Only now, as a flood of public opinion is forcing the media to report critically about the Bush administration, will we possibly see a real investigation into how Pat Tillman died. And if we are persistent enough we might even see a proper investigation into why Tillman, and thousands of other Americans, and tens of thousands of Iraqis and Afghanis, had to give up their lives.
Michael I. Niman is a professor of journalism at Buffalo State College in New York. This article is adapted from the version appearing in the November 10, 2005, issue of ArtVoice. Dr. Niman's previous articles are archived at mediastudy.com.
Copyright © 2002, the American Humanist Association
Published on Wednesday, April 28, 2004 by the Los Angeles Times
Peril in the Air for Bush: Howard Stern
by Jody Rosen
A strange new sound has been crackling over the nation's radio airwaves, the same airwaves that have been dominated by Rush Limbaugh and other specialists in right-wing Sturm und Drang. Suddenly, in the thick of an election year, a left-leaning equivalent has emerged, riling a mass audience with scathing, eloquent attacks on the Bush administration.
The biggest surprise of all? The long-sought liberal talk radio hero isn't Air America's Al Franken, but that walking, talking wedge issue, Howard Stern.
Fittingly, the politicization of Stern began with a woman's bared breast. The Federal Communications Commission crackdown on broadcast indecency that followed Janet Jackson's Super Bowl "wardrobe malfunction" hit Stern hard. The FCC proposed fining broadcast giant Clear Channel Communications $495,000 for several of Stern's raunchy utterances; Clear Channel promptly dropped Stern from its six stations that had carried him.
Stern has been at odds with the FCC for years, but these latest proposed fines, and the looming threat of more, have driven Stern to a new level of apoplexy — and to broadcasting the most pugnacious anti-Bush vitriol anywhere in the mainstream media. In Stern's view, he is the victim of a witch hunt, singled out by an administration in the grip of fundamentalist Christian ideologues bent on morality regulation.
These days, Stern's broadcasts are divided between his usual schtick — interviews with strippers, off-color song parodies, jokes about celebrities — and rants against the president. Stern will never be mistaken for a policy wonk, but tune in to his show and you'll hear him cogently attacking administration positions on an impressive range of issues: stem-cell research, abortion rights, gay marriage, media consolidation, the handling of Iraq.
Meanwhile, Stern's revamped website looks more like Mother Jones magazine than Maxim: It features articles about the administration's trade violations in Myanmar and includes a link to the contributions page of the John Kerry for President site. Indeed, Stern has become an ardent Kerry advocate. "I call on all fans of the show to vote against Bush," he said on a recent broadcast. "We're going to deliver the White House to John Kerry."
Some might dismiss this as bluster, but Stern's words should send a shiver up Karl Rove's spine. Stern has a record of successful election-year activism; political observers in New York and New Jersey remember how his on-air endorsements delivered key votes to George Pataki and Christine Todd Whitman in past gubernatorial races.
What's more, although Stern's approximately 8.5 million listeners are often dismissed as overgrown frat boys, they might more accurately be called swing voters. They are overwhelmingly white and male, many are well educated and well off, and they vote. And millions of them listen to Stern's show in battleground states — Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio, Missouri, Tennessee, Florida — where the election will be decided.
Like his audience, Stern has always been broadly misunderstood. Calling Stern a "shock jock" does him an injustice, lumping him in with his lesser imitators and with the gross-out inanities of reality TV. In fact, Stern is a provocateur and comic talent in the tradition of Lenny Bruce. Whether his subject is ***, scatology, show business or his own failures and insecurities, he has brought unprecedented frankness to the airwaves. The real "shock" — and appeal — of Stern's show is how, with wit and brutal honesty, it punctures the phoniness of so much media chatter.
That means he tackles subjects that no one else would touch. Where else but on Stern's show would you hear an avowed atheist mocking the Taliban-like religiosity of the president, whom Stern has nicknamed "Mr. Jesus"? (Welcome to the true "No Spin Zone.")
By all indications, Stern's message is getting through. Since the FCC crackdown, his ratings have been going up. For example, Arbitron says he's now No. 1 in Los Angeles in the 25-to-54 age group, a spot he last occupied in 1995. And among entertainer websites, his was rated second (behind Oprah's) in mid-April.
If Kerry wins a close election in November, he may well owe a debt to the man who calls himself King of All Media. And political analysts may find themselves enshrining another crucial voting bloc, alongside soccer moms and NASCAR dads: Howard Stern fans.
Jody Rosen is at work on a book about Benjamin Franklin's glass harmonica.
Copyright 2004 Los Angeles Times
By MARTHA MENDOZA
The Associated Press
Friday, July 27, 2007; 1:48 AM
SAN FRANCISCO -- Army medical examiners were suspicious about the close proximity of the three bullet holes in Pat Tillman's forehead and tried without success to get authorities to investigate whether the former NFL player's death amounted to a crime, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.
"The medical evidence did not match up with the, with the scenario as described," a doctor who examined Tillman's body after he was killed on the battlefield in Afghanistan in 2004 told investigators.
The doctors _ whose names were blacked out _ said that the bullet holes were so close together that it appeared the Army Ranger was cut down by an M-16 fired from a mere 10 yards or so away.
Ultimately, the Pentagon did conduct a criminal investigation, and asked Tillman's comrades whether he was disliked by his men and whether they had any reason to believe he was deliberately killed. The Pentagon eventually ruled that Tillman's death at the hands of his comrades was a friendly-fire accident.
The medical examiners' suspicions were outlined in 2,300 pages of testimony released to the AP this week by the Defense Department in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.
Among other information contained in the documents:
_ In his last words moments before he was killed, Tillman snapped at a panicky comrade under fire to shut up and stop "sniveling."
_ Army attorneys sent each other congratulatory e-mails for keeping criminal investigators at bay as the Army conducted an internal friendly-fire investigation that resulted in administrative, or non-criminal, punishments.
_ The three-star general who kept the truth about Tillman's death from his family and the public told investigators some 70 times that he had a bad memory and couldn't recall details of his actions.
_ No evidence at all of enemy fire was found at the scene _ no one was hit by enemy fire, nor was any government equipment struck.
The Pentagon and the Bush administration have been criticized in recent months for lying about the circumstances of Tillman's death. The military initially told the public and the Tillman family that he had been killed by enemy fire. Only weeks later did the Pentagon acknowledge he was gunned down by fellow Rangers.
With questions lingering about how high in the Bush administration the deception reached, Congress is preparing for yet another hearing next week.
The Pentagon is separately preparing a new round of punishments, including a stinging demotion of retired Lt. Gen. Philip R. Kensinger Jr., 60, according to military officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because the punishments under consideration have not been made public.
In more than four hours of questioning by the Pentagon inspector general's office in December 2006, Kensinger repeatedly contradicted other officers' testimony, and sometimes his own. He said on some 70 occasions that he did not recall something.
At one point, he said: "You've got me really scared about my brain right now. I'm really having a problem."
Tillman's mother, Mary Tillman, who has long suggested that her son was deliberately killed by his comrades, said she is still looking for answers and looks forward to the congressional hearings next week.
"Nothing is going to bring Pat back. It's about justice for Pat and justice for other soldiers. The nation has been deceived," she said.
The documents show that a doctor who autopsied Tillman's body was suspicious of the three gunshot wounds to the forehead. The doctor said he took the unusual step of calling the Army's Human Resources Command and was rebuffed. He then asked an official at the Army's Criminal Investigation Division if the CID would consider opening a criminal case.
"He said he talked to his higher headquarters and they had said no," the doctor testified.
Also according to the documents, investigators pressed officers and soldiers on a question Mrs. Tillman has been asking all along.
"Have you, at any time since this incident occurred back on April 22, 2004, have you ever received any information even rumor that Cpl. Tillman was killed by anybody within his own unit intentionally?" an investigator asked then-Capt. Richard Scott.
Scott, and others who were asked, said they were certain the shooting was accidental.
Investigators also asked soldiers and commanders whether Tillman was disliked, whether anyone was jealous of his celebrity, or if he was considered arrogant. They said Tillman was respected, admired and well-liked.
The documents also shed new light on Tillman's last moments.
It has been widely reported by the AP and others that Spc. Bryan O'Neal, who was at Tillman's side as he was killed, told investigators that Tillman was waving his arms shouting "Cease fire, friendlies, I am Pat (expletive) Tillman, damn it!" again and again.
But the latest documents give a different account from a chaplain who debriefed the entire unit days after Tillman was killed.
The chaplain said that O'Neal told him he was hugging the ground at Tillman's side, "crying out to God, help us. And Tillman says to him, `Would you shut your (expletive) mouth? God's not going to help you; you need to do something for yourself, you sniveling ..."
Associated Press reporters Scott Lindlaw in Las Vegas and Lolita C. Baldor in Washington contributed to this story.
Published: Thursday July 26, 2007
"A retired three-star general criticized for misleading investigators probing the controversial death of Cpl. Pat Tillman could be stripped of a star and face a decrease in retirement pension," Pentagon officials tell CNN.
"Retired Lt. Gen. Phillip Kensinger's three-star rank could be cut to two stars, according to Army officials," CNN reported Thursday morning.
Kensinger purportedly misled military investigators when saying he didn't know until after Tillman's memorial service that his killing in Afghanistan was the result of friendly fire.
"We didn't find that credible. We found evidence that he knew in the April time frame," acting Defense Department Inspector General Thomas Gimble told the network.
The following video is from CNN's American Morning, broadcast on July 26...
Murtha says Rumsfeld appointees frustrate oversight, cuts Pentagon agency budget
Published: Friday July 27, 2007
Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) halved the budget of a Pentagon liaison office to the Congress in retaliation for what he sees as Defense Department foot-dragging on Congressional oversight. The Congressman's staff suggested leftovers from the tenure of former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld were at fault for the lapses in cooperation with Congress.
The Office of Legislative Affairs, which serves as a go-between for Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Capitol Hill, is slated to lose $1.9 million.
"Mr. Murtha said that they have failed to answer Congressional questions in a timely matter," Matthew Mazonkey, spokesman for the Pennsylvania Democrat, said. The congressman chairs the powerful Defense Appropriations Subcommittee....
Michael Moore says he's been served with subpoena
Published: Friday July 27, 2007
Filmmaker Michael Moore revealed on Thursday's "The Tonight Show" with Jay Leno that the Bush Administration had served him with a subpoena regarding his recent trip to Cuba made as part of his new film, Sicko.
Moore told the audience that he was notified of the subpoena backstage.
"I haven't even told my own family yet," Moore remarked. "I was just informed when I was back there with Jay that the Bush administration has now issued a subpoena for me."
Moore declared that the subpoena was unwarranted, saying, "this was a work of journalism."
"I was there to help them and now I’m going to face this further harassment from the Bush people," Moore said, according to a transcript. “Aren’t they busy with something else?" ....
A former member of U.S. military intelligence has decided to reveal what she knows about warrantless spying on Americans and about the fixing of intelligence in the leadup to the invasion of Iraq.
Adrienne Kinne describes an incident just prior to the invasion of Iraq in which a fax came into her office at Fort Gordon in Georgia that purported to provide information on the location of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. The fax came from the Iraqi National Congress, a group opposed to Saddam Hussein and favoring an invasion. The fax contained types of information that required that it be translated and transmitted to President Bush within 15 minutes. But Kinne had been eavesdropping on two nongovernmental aid workers driving in Iraq who were panicked and trying to find safety before the bombs dropped. She focused on trying to protect them, and was reprimanded for the delay in translating the fax. She then challenged her officer in charge, Warrant Officer John Berry, on the credibility of the fax, and he told her that it was not her place or his to challenge such things. None of the other 20 or so people in the unit questioned anything, Kinne said....
Prior to September 11, 2001, Kinne says, it was unacceptable to listen in on or collect information on Americans. The practice was barred by United States Signals Intelligence Directive (USSID) 18. Kinne recalls an incident in 1997 in which an American's name was mentioned, and she and her colleagues deleted every related record because they took very seriously the ban on collecting information on Americans......
Kinne says that post-9-11 she and others routinely collected information on people even after identifying them as aid workers for non-governmental organizations. A common rationale was that the phones of such organizations could conceivably be seized by terrorists. She recalled one case in which she was listening to an American talk to his British colleague in an international aid organization. The Brit expressed concern about the American military eavesdropping, and the American replied that they couldn't possibly be doing that because of USSID 18. Kinne recalls that her colleagues got quite excited and behaved as if the American had divulged secrets by mentioning that directive. They continued eavesdropping on the man although they were unclear at that point whether they were permitted to spy on Americans.
Shortly after this incident, however, in mid-2002, they were given a waiver to spy on Americans. This waiver was communicated to Kinne and her colleagues orally, and she assumed that it had come from the President or someone very high up. The waiver, she says, also permitted spying on Canadian, French, German, Australian, and British citizens without probable cause.
Many of the people, including Americans, whom Kinne spied on were journalists. These included journalists staying at a hotel in Baghdad that later showed up on a list of targets. Again, Kinne says, she expressed concerns to her officer in charge, letting him know that the military should be informed or the journalists should be warned to move to another location. Kinne says Berry brushed her off. He was, she says, "completely behind the invasion of Iraq. He told us repeatedly that we needed to bomb those barbarians back to kingdom come." .....
Kinne, who now works for the VA at White River Junction, Vermont, said that she has written to Senator Patrick Leahy, who has not replied to her. Kinne has become active in Iraq Veterans Against the War. She said that the news of the current escalation of the war also helped move her to act. "That's the only reason why I am choosing to break whatever rules I may have just broken by telling you about it," Kinne said. "Because I think that this all needs to stop, and it needs to stop now. And the only way it's going to stop is if people start speaking out."
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