Donald Rumsfeld and Appeasement

From AP, August 29, 2006: Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Tuesday the world faces “a new type of fascism” and warned against repeating the pre-World War II mistake of appeasement.

Is this an example of appeasement?

Shaking Hands with Saddam Hussein,” Iraqi President Saddam Hussein greets Donald Rumsfeld, then special envoy of President Ronald Reagan, in Baghdad on December 20, 1983. Video here.

Sci Fi Friday: Restoring Star Trek and a Sneak Peak at Battlestar Gallactica

With the recent anniversary of Katrina, and the five year anniversary of Bush’s biggest failure coming up, it is easy to forget that this month marks another event–the 40th anniversary of Star Trek. While the stories and values hold up well, the card board special effects do not translate as well in the digital age. It had previously been announced that CBS was remastering scenes from the original Star Trek series in high definition, but new details were published this week. TrekWeb reports that “the focus is primarily on exterior and viewscreen shots, as well as the occasional matte painting that can be enhanced without entirely changing it. In total, each episode may only log about a minute and a half on average of enhanced footage.” Plans are to remaster 35-40 episodes this year and they will be available in both 4:3 and 16:9 versions.

The episodes will be released in the full 50+ minute versions but local stations may continue to show the edited 43-minute versions in order to sell more commercial time. Sci-Fi Wire also reports that the opening sequence will also be improved.

As I noted earlier this week, the second of ten web casts which bridge the gap between the second and third seasons of Battlestar Gallactica is now on line. A few spoilers are also included in the earlier post. Sci-Fi Storm reports that the season three trailer is now available for download. One additional SF related story this week told of yet another mystery involving Lost.

“The Path to 9/11” Criticized by Film Critics, Historians, and Others

“The Path to 9/11” is under attack from many sources beyond members of the Clinton Administration and liberal bloggers. Personally I protested to investor relations at Disney as both a long time stock holder and Annual Pass holder at Walt Disney World. I previously noted the comments of the Families of September 11. At The Moderate Voice Joe Gandelman protests on journalistic grounds:

If you were on a newspaper (I was) and someone mentioned in a story called up and said: “Hey, I heard you’re doing this series on me. What I heard you have is wrong and I want you to hear my side of it and include it in whatever you run” it WOULD be included (even if it was just a short paragraph).

But in this case, ABC and the filmmakers are saying its ENTERTAINMENT — yet, this film is was originally (before the outcry) going to be presented to viewers, and to young people, as FACT. A quickie disclaimer isn’t going to offset glaring sections that are inaccurate or dramatic embellishments.

How many liberal or centrist bloggers were invited to see an advance DVD? If the number is small, then it’s clear the intent was to market the movie from the right as a dramatization that would tell the “real” story of 911 from ONE point of view without all those bothersome loose ends (you know, those pesky nuances from the 911 Commission report that didn’t paint only the Clinton administration as the ONLY screw up administration…since administrations of both parties actually fit in that category — including the present one).

Doug Elfman, film critic at The Chicago Sun-Times, writes that, Accuracy aside, ABC’s ‘9/11’ deserves to bomb. Elfman gives it zero stars and says, “This is the most anticlimaticic, tension-free movie in the history of terrorist TV.” Variety predicts the film might be pulled in light of the controversy. Disney is far more accustomed to attacks from the right for the liberal values it promotes than from the left. Even the star of the film has criticized it for inaccuracies according to Editor and Publisher:

Harvey Keitel, the lead actor in the film, said in a TV interview that changes must be made in the film. He said when he was hired for the role he was told the movie was a “history” but then found that certain facts were “wrong.” This led to “arguments,” he recalled. “You can compile certain things as long as the truth remains the truth,” he told Showbiz Tonight. “You can’t put these things together, compress them and then distort the reality….

“You cannot cross the line from a conflation of events to a distortion of the event. Where we have distorted something, we made a mistake and it should be corrected.”


Michael Hirsh Questions Clarity of Bush’s Words and Policies on Terrorism

Michael Hirsh has an excellent column at Newsweek on the “war on terror,” which he notes has become murky. “The truth is that, year by year, the so-called GWOT (global war on terrorism) has become less and less clear in its direction and goals—and less and less like any previous war. What began as a crystal-clear fight against a small, self-contained group of murderers has become a kind of murky, open-ended World War III in which the identity of the enemy is less certain and our allies seem to grow less reliable.”

Hirsh makes many excellent points and it is worth reading the full column. The most significant is in debunking Bush’s recent claims of success:

On Tuesday, speaking before the Military Officers Association of America, Bush exhorted his listeners to take bin Laden’s rants seriously, reminding them of what happened when the world powers of the day ignored “an exiled lawyer” (Vladimir Lenin) and a “failed painter” (Adolf Hitler) who laid out their bloody, revolutionary programs early on. “Bin Laden and his terrorist allies have made their intentions as clear as Lenin and Hitler before them,” Bush said. “The question is: Will we listen? Will we pay attention to what these evil men say?” Bush declared that “we will not rest … until this threat to civilization has been removed.”

In light of the facts that have since been confirmed, this description does not fully account for Bush’s own conduct over the past five years. Bin Laden, after all, didn’t just write a pamphlet on 9/11—he carried out his plans, directing his henchmen to kill thousands of Americans on their own soil. It was a moment of absolute, terrifying clarity: in retribution for 9/11, according to every Western code of justice and honor, bin Laden should have been relentlessly pursued until he was dead or captured. Yet we now know that the Bush administration allowed itself to be distracted from that task as the months passed after 9/11. Gary Berntsen, the CIA officer in charge of the operation, told me a year ago that he knows for certain that bin Laden was trapped in Al Qaeda’s Tora Bora hideaway after the fall of Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers in late 2001. As Berntsen records in his 2005 book “Jawbreaker,” bin Laden told his followers, “Forgive me,” and apologized for getting them pinned down by the Americans. But Bernsten says, the Pentagon refused to put in the necessary troops.

This account is corroborated by Bernsten’s then boss, CIA senior officer Henry Crumpton (now the State Department’s counterterrorism chief), who made clear to Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney that America’s Afghan and Pakistan allies couldn’t take out bin Laden. “We’re going to lose our prey if we’re not careful,” Crumpton told Bush and Cheney, according to Ron Suskind’s new book, “The One Percent Doctrine.” Numerous accounts have also established that, shortly after Tora Bora, the president began diverting Special Forces troops, Predator drones and other resources involved in the hunt for bin Laden to Iraq.

Yes, Bush sought this week to clarify his broader strategic goals in the war on terror. “The experience of September the 11th made clear, in the long run, the only way to secure our nation is to change the course of the Middle East,” he said. And that may well be true. But what about the short run and the medium run? The chief culprit of 9/11 and his top deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, are still free. And Bush administration officials concede, anonymously, that there is a good chance the two will never be caught, especially now that Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, with the administration’s blessing, has pledged not to continue troop incursions into the tribal areas where bin Laden and Zawahiri may be hiding. . .

Then there is overarching issue of whether Iraq ever should have been part of the war on terror at all—or, instead, whether it made the GWOT hopelessly murky. In his speech Tuesday, Bush called Iraq the “capital” of Al Qaeda’s would-be totalitarian caliphate and said it “is the central battlefield where the outcome of this struggle will be decided.” But military experts now say that the continuing violence since the killing of Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi, the top foreign terrorist in Iraq, last June is evidence that the insurgency there is mainly indigenous, largely unconnected to the larger war on terror. “This proves how small a part foreign fighters play in Iraq,” says John Arquilla, an intelligence expert at the Naval Postgraduate School. “There’s a real Lewis Carroll quality to all of this rhetoric, where what is up is down, and what is right is wrong. The president says that Iraq is the central front. But the president also says Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. A visitor from Mars just entering into this debate would surely be struck by the contradictions in these statements. And then to invoke bin Laden as a bête noire now while closing down Alec Station [the CIA’s bin Laden monitoring group, which was disbanded earlier this year] seems a contradiction as well.”

Top Ten Abuses of Power Since 9/11

David Letterman isn’t the only one who can come up with Top Ten lists, but this one is no laughing matter. The American Civil Liberties Union has compiled a list of the Top Ten Abuses of Power Since 9/11:

9/11 and Civil Liberties >>> The Challenge to Illegal Spying
> Torture: Seeking Truth and Accountability
> Secret CIA Kidnappings: El-Masri v. Tenet
> Reform the Patriot Act
> Video: Stop the Abuse of Power

Get Involved in Washington, D.C.: This October, join thousands of others and make your voice heard at the height of the election season. Learn more about the ACLU Membership Conference >>

1. Warrantless Wiretapping — In December 2005, the New York Times reported the National Security Agency was tapping into telephone calls of Americans without a warrant, in violation of federal statutes and the Constitution. Furthermore, the agency had also gained direct access to the telecommunications infrastructure through some of America’s largest companies. The program was confirmed by President Bush and other officials, who boldly insisted, in the face of all precedent and the common understanding of the law, that the program was legal. And, the agency appears to be not only eavesdropping on the conversations of Americans in this country without warrants, but also using broad “data mining” systems that allow it to analyze information about the communications of millions of innocent people within the United States. This program is one of many examples of the administration’s efforts to evade or to minimize judicial review of its surveillance and detention activities. In August 2006, in a lawsuit brought by the ACLU, a federal judge in Detroit found the program both unconstitutional and illegal.

2. Torture, Kidnapping and Detention — In the years since 9/11, our government has illegally kidnapped, detained and tortured numerous prisoners. The government continues to claim that it has the power to designate anyone, including Americans as “enemy combatants” without charge. Since 2002, some “enemy combatants,” have been held at Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere, in some cases without access by the Red Cross. Investigations into other military detention centers have revealed severe human rights abuses and violations of international law, such as the Geneva Conventions. The government has also engaged in the practice of rendition: secretly kidnapping people and moving them to foreign countries where they are tortured and abused. It has been reported the CIA maintains secret prison camps in Eastern Europe to conduct operations that may also violate international standards.

3. The Growing Surveillance Society — In perhaps the greatest assault on the privacy of ordinary Americans, the country is undergoing a rapid expansion of data collection, storage, tracking, and mining. Over and above the invasion of privacy represented by any one specific program, a combination of new technologies, expanded government powers and expanded private-sector data collection efforts is creating a new “surveillance society” that is unlike anything Americans have seen before.


Congress Releases Further Information on Bush Deceit Leading to War

The Senate Intelligence Committee released a report today providing further evidence that George Bush lied to Congress and the American people to get us into a war. They found no evidence Saddam Hussein had a relationship with Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and his Al-Qaida associates. Bush’s main two arguments to justify the war was WMD, with Bush Administration reports found to be fabricated, and false claims tying Saddam to al Qaeda and the 9/11 attacks. Senator Carl Levin called the report ”a devastating indictment of the Bush-Cheney administration’s unrelenting, misleading and deceptive attempts” to link Saddam to al-Qaida.

The cover up of Bush’s full incompetence and dishonesty which prior to the war will continue.The Washington Post reports that, “a long-awaited Senate analysis comparing the Bush administration’s public statements about the threat posed by Saddam Hussein with the evidence senior officials reviewed in private remains mired in partisan recrimination and will not be released before the November elections.”

Animal Planet Plans Tributes to Steve Irwin; Marathon Sunday

Animal Planet will have an all day Steve Irwin marathon on Sunday,k in addition to their other coverage ths week:

Wednesday, Sept. 6 through Friday, Sept. 8
6-7 p.m. ET/PT — The Crocodile Hunter: Steve’s Story and The Crocodile Hunter: Confessions of the Crocodile Hunter

Saturday, Sept. 9
6-7 p.m. ET/PT — The Crocodile Hunter: Steve’s Story
7-8 p.m. ET/PT — The Crocodile Hunter: Confessions of the Crocodile Hunter

Sunday, Sept. 10
12-1 p.m. ET/PT — The Crocodile Hunter: Confessions of the Crocodile Hunter
1-2 p.m. ET/PT — The Crocodile Hunter: Steve’s Story
2-3 p.m. ET/PT — Steve’s Greatest Crocodile Captures
3-4 p.m. ET/PT — Big Croc Diaries: Special Edition
4-5 p.m. ET/PT — They Shoot Crocodiles, Don’t They?
5-6 p.m. ET/PT — The Crocodile Hunter: Confessions of the Crocodile Hunter

Monday, Sept. 11
8-9 p.m. ET/PT — The Crocodile Hunter: Confessions of the Crocodile Hunter

Wildlife Warriors is accepting contributions to continue Irwin’s conservation efforts. Discovery Communications, Inc., which owns Animal Planet, will be renaming the garden space in front of their Silver Spring, Maryland headquarters to The Steve Irwin Memorial Garden.DCI has also announced the creation of the Steve Irwin Crocodile Hunter Fund:

DCI is planning to create the Steve Irwin Crocodile Hunter Fund, which it expects to affectionately call “The Crikey Fund.” The Fund will be established to honor Steve’s passion and exuberance for conservation and the animal kingdom and is expected to provide a way for people from across the globe to make contributions in Steve’s honor to support wildlife protection, education and conservation. The Fund will provide support to Steve’s Australia Zoo in Beewah, Australia, as well as educational support for his children, Bindi and Bob Irwin.

Bolton Nomination Stalled

The Republican attempt to confirm John Bolton as amabassador to the United Nations has failed. Last year they gave up when Senator George Voinovich opposed the nomination due to concerns over Bolton’s temperment. Bush appointed Bolton as a recess appointee to circumvent the Senate confirmation process. When Voinovich announced he would now support Bolton, Republicans thought they could get him confirmed. Lincoln Chafee announced yesterday that he would not support Bolton due to questions over United States policy regarding Israel. This is raising speculation that Chafee felt the need to appear more independen of the White House in order to obtain enough support from independents to win the upcoming primary for his Senate seat.