Bush admits CIA prisons around the world

George Bush has admitted that the CIA has detained terrorist suspects in prisons around the world, although he didn’t go so far as to admit that many were in Eastern Europe.  Bush explained:

“Were it not for this program, our intelligence community believes that al Qaeda and its allies would have succeeded in launching another attack against the American homeland. By giving us information about terrorist plans we could not get anywhere else, this program has saved innocent lives.”

That’s good.  Hard to argue with a positive outcome, so I wont. 

Instead, I’ll ask – what is it about global CIA prisons that makes them a better choice than US prisons?

I can only surmise that CIA prisons in Europe are a better choice because they are further away from the arms of the US justice system.  Prisoners in these shadowy jails can be interrogated in a somewhat more liberal manner than they could be back in the States.

Out of sight, out of mind, as it were.

Stupid people don’t understand that drama is not real

British tv channel More 4’s new drama “Death of a President” has stirred up a controversy among the stupid peoplein our society.

The programme uses computer effects to portray an assassination of current US President, George W Bush during an anti-war rally in Chicago (althought what he’s doing at an anti-war rally is anyone’s guess).

And the reactions from the stupid? Well, try this for starters:

John Beyer, of TV watchdog MediaWatch, said it was irresponsible.

He said it could even trigger a real assassination attempt and told the Daily Mirror: “There’s a lot of feeling against President Bush and this may well put ideas into people’s heads.”

Yes, apparently there are people out there who are so suggestible that a tv drama will induce them to assassinate the President. 

(Update: Mediawatchwatch (!) spots Beyer’s even better follow up, which the BBC didn’t think to include in its report: “If something happens as a consequence of this film, then blood is on their hands.”  Priceless).

The Republican Party’s response wasn’t all that much more rational:

Spokesman Gretchen Essell said: “I cannot support a video that would dramatise the assassination of our president, real or imagined.”

“The greater reality is that terrorism still exists in our world. It is obvious that the war on terror is not over.

She added: “I find this shocking, I find it disturbing. I don’t know if there are many people in America who would want to watch something like that.”

And we all remember how badly Harrison Ford’s President in peril flick Air Force One flopped, don’t we?

Frankly, the only sensible response I heard came from the White House itsef = they refused to comment on the film.

I wonder how long before Michelle Malkin picks up on this story?

Japan in Central Asia

Registan.net is doing a great job of covering Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s visit to Central Asia.  Particularly interesting is this post about how Japan is trying to set itself up as an intermediary between Uzbekistan and the United States.

Koizumi’s taking on a tough job – it’ll be interesting to see how he gets on, although I certainly think it’s useful for the US and Uzbekistan to have some back channel communications.  And Japan gets a boost out of it too, raising its international profile that little bit more in its quest for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.

Mount Weather – US government bunker

The Guardian publishes an ‘expose’ of the secret military facility under Mount Weather, where the US government will hunker down in the event of an attack on the US. Interesting stuff, but this is the image I can’t get out of my mind:

Then came September 11. News reports noted that “top leaders of Congress were taken to the safety of a secure government facility 75 miles west of Washington”; another reported “a traffic jam of limos carrying Washington and government license plates.”

No need for any kind of discretion, then. Something tells me that politicians aren’t going to be all that well equipped mentally to survive the end of the world.

The gambler versus the wise man

Fascinating use of language in this comment about the struggle between the US and Iran for influence in the Middle East, which seems to be casting America as the foolish gambler, and Iran as the wise, measured grandmaster:

“While the US has been playing poker in the region, Iran has been playing chess,” said Nadim Shehadi, a report contributor. “Iran is playing a longer, more clever game and has been far more successful at winning hearts and minds.”

As someone who plays both chess and poker, I see many similarities between the two games. And, to be honest, at the highest level, both are games that, at their heart, are based on strategy first, tactics second. 

A post in which I write about who I am not

For the sake of clarity, I should like to point out that I am not this man.

I have never been mayor of Atlanta, the United States Ambassador to the United Nations or a close friend of Martin Luther King.  And I have most certainly not been hired by Wal-Mart to improve it’s public image:

The civil rights leader Andrew Young, who was hired by Wal-Mart to improve its public image, resigned from that post last night after telling an African-American newspaper that Jewish, Arab and Korean shop owners had “ripped off” urban communities for years, “selling us stale bread, and bad meat and wilted vegetables.”

I wouldn’t mind being Ambassador to the UN someday though…

Keeping in the vote

Slate has an article about how the steps Republicans are taking to ensure that Democratic supporters can’t get out to vote:

In a series of laws passed since the 2004 elections, Republican legislators and officials have come up with measures to suppress the turnout of traditional Democratic voting blocs. This fall the favored GOP techniques are new photo I.D. laws, the criminalizing of voter registration drives, and database purges that have disqualified up to 40 percent of newly registered voters from voting in such jurisdictions as Los Angeles County.

According to the article, there are many, many ways that Republicans can disenfranchise Democrats.  But, I wonder, how could one go about stopping a Republican supporter from voting?

Arguing something you don’t believe in is a skill

Brain dead US conservatives getting their reactionary knickers in a knot, yet again:

A conservative military watchdog says she intends to question West Point Military Academy officials about why a former cadet was given an award for a thesis objecting to the U.S. military’s ban on homosexuals serving in the armed forces.

“I do intend to bring this to the attention of some of the people in the leadership roles at West Point,” she says. “I think it ought to be questioned.”

Surely one of the key characteristics of working in the military is the ability to obey an order that one doesn’t necessarily agree with?

So – and work with me on this – what if, this essay doesn’t actually reflect Raggio’s personal beliefs, but was an exercise in convincingly arguing a point that he doesn’t personally believe in?

Wouldn’t that actually make him a better soldier?

(Hat tip: Andrew Sullivan, again, for the link).

The mind boggles

Sometimes, the levels of pure unadulterated stupidity that some commentators show boggles my mind.

Take, for example, this piece of drivel from James Lewis in the American Thinker. He’s decided to regale us today with a tale of how the BBC – well, actually, everyone on the political left – is to blame for any and all Islamic terror plots eminating from the United Kingdom.

No one should have been surprised when the suicide-murder squad in the Underground bombing of 7/7 turned out to be local lads. Britain has been preparing for its own demise ever since the rise of Fabian socialism around 1900. The Fabians founded the Labour Party, which has been in power now for a dozen years solid. In a parliamentary system, such power is nearly total.

12 years, you say? It sometimes seems like Tony Blair’s been around forever, but I’m pretty sure he and the Labour party were elected in 1997 which, according to my back of an envelope calculations, was a mere 9 years ago.

Still, maybe just a typo. We’ll give the author the benefit of the doubt. Moving along:

The “internationalist dream”— which is a nightmare— still pervades the hopes of all good people in Britain; nation states are constantly denigrated. That is why the Brits are such easy suckers for the elitist “coup from above” of the European Union.

I couldn’t agree more that the people of Britain are “good people” although… do I detect the merest hint of a patronising tone here?

But, “easy suckers”??? Has the author of this piece ever spoken to a real British person about the EU? You won’t find too much Euro-love from the man on the street.

He goes on:

There is a silently appalled majority in Britain watching it all happen. But they are passive. There is no Rush Limbaugh. There are some excellent blogs, but not enough.

Clearly, he’s talking about Taking Aim.

The United States can no longer be sure that Britain will stand for civilized values in the world; we have to find new allies in India, Japan, Eastern Europe, and Middle Eastern countries that are in the path of jihadi imperialism.

Yeees. Want a reliable ally in fighting British based Islamic terrorists, head right on over to the Middle East. Or Poland. That’ll work

Update: I dropped the American Thinker’s editor a line to ask him to amend the ‘Labour were in power for 12 years’ mistake. I’m happy to see it’s been changed. While looking through the article again, I also noticed the following howler:

Just recently the BBC produced a “comedy” show with airplanes flying into Westminster, in imitation of 9/11. Is 9/11 the stuff of comedy? It is for the Bolshie Beeb. The show features guest appearances by the two main “news” anchors of the BBC.

Those two main “news” anchors are Peter Snow and Philippa Forrester.

  • Peter Snow used to be the presenter of Newsnight, but retired in 1998. He now presents Tomorrow’s World, and is related to Jon Snow, Channel 4’s “main” (and left-leaning) news anchor.
  • As far as I know, Philippa Forrester has never presented the news, on the BBC or elsewhere. She started in kids tv (where she was incredibly cute) and now co-presents Tomorrow’s World (where she still looks pretty damn cute) with Peter Snow.

Oh dear. Some people really should be introduced to the concept of research, rather than just lifting incorrect facts from some US blogs that prefer rhetoric to truth.