Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Kerry Knees Rove's Strategy in the Balls

Senator John Kerry:

"If anyone thinks a veteran would criticize the more than 140,000 heroes serving in Iraq and not the president who got us stuck there, they're crazy. This is the classic G.O.P. playbook. I'm sick and tired of these despicable Republican attacks that always seem to come from those who never can be found to serve in war, but love to attack those who did.

"I'm not going to be lectured by a stuffed suit White House mouthpiece standing behind a podium, or doughy Rush Limbaugh, who no doubt today will take a break from belittling Michael J. Fox's Parkinson's disease to start lying about me just as they have lied about Iraq . It disgusts me that these Republican hacks, who have never worn the uniform of our country lie and distort so blatantly and carelessly about those who have.

"The people who owe our troops an apology are George W. Bush and Dick Cheney who misled America into war and have given us a Katrina foreign policy that has betrayed our ideals, killed and maimed our soldiers, and widened the terrorist threat instead of defeating it. These Republicans are afraid to debate veterans who live and breathe the concerns of our troops, not the empty slogans of an Administration that sent our brave troops to war without body armor.

"Bottom line, these Republicans want to debate straw men because they're afraid to debate real men. And this time it won't work because we're going to stay in their face with the truth and deny them even a sliver of light for their distortions. No Democrat will be bullied by an administration that has a cut and run policy in Afghanistan and a stand still and lose strategy in Iraq ."

Thursday, October 26, 2006


Washington Post headline (Oct 26) read "Bush Is Reassuring." Sorry, no: not factual. "Bush offers reassurances," yes. "Bush wants to reassure," yes. "Bush hopes again," yes. All of these are proveable statements. But the only people to whom a presidential utterance could remotely be reassuring are those who have already drunk the Republican Kool-Aid, as apparently the WaPo headline writer has. The rest of us remain, not skeptical, but outright disbelieving.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Republican Systemic Corruption

This is the kind of issue that the Oversight Congress will be investigating starting next January rather than concentrating on impeachment. The cronyism in contracting that has been the Republican hallmark in defense spending in general, in Iraq in particular, in education, in faith-based initatives, in post-Katrina reconstruction (such as it is) and in energy research will come back to haunt the Lying, Spying, Corruption, Incompetence and Indolence Administration and its supine non-overseers in the formerly Republican Congress.

Speaker Pelosi and the Democrats will do well always and everywhere to leave the manifold, manifest and miserable impeachable offenses of Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld alone, and concentrate on the criminal violations of the Republican funding machine instead. That will leave the Bushies twisting slowly, slowly in the wind, a posture for which their intellectual laziness well suits them.

Administrative Costs High in Iraq
Oct 25, 2006 - 1:16am
Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) - Overhead costs ate up about a third of five major reconstruction projects in Iraq, according to a government audit.

The audit by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction found the administrative costs _ including transportation, mobilization, administration, personnel support and security _ ranged from 11 percent to 55 percent at the projects, consuming $460 million of the $1.3 billion spent.

The report suggested that some of the costs may be underestimated because the government did not consistently track the administrative amounts or require companies to report them in the same way.

Congress has approved $18.4 billion in reconstruction money for Iraq.

The administrative costs largely occurred between the date the contractors arrived in Iraq to begin the project and the time when substantial work began. Often, the companies were in Iraq for months before they were actually able to begin work on their reconstruction project, said Jim Mitchell, a spokesman for the reconstruction oversight agency.

Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg, Brown & Root accrued the highest percentage of overhead costs _ billing the government for $163 million, or 55 percent of its total contract cost, the audit found. Parsons Iraq Joint Venture, a second company, had overhead costs equaling nearly $134 million, or 43 percent of its total project cost.

Parsons Delaware, in two different projects, received 35 percent and 17 percent in administrative costs, or $108 million and $41.6 million respectively. The fifth project detailed in the audit was with Lucent, which received nearly $15 million in overhead costs, or 11 percent of the total project amount.

Poor planning by the government contributed to the KBR costs, the audit said. And it also noted that the 11 percent figure for Lucent was probably underestimated.

The Iraq reconstruction audits have routinely found significant problems with contracting and building in the country, ranging from alleged fraud to lack of oversight. They have also noted that contractors often face significant obstacles and other business problems, particularly with security, in Iraq.

The audit recommended that more specific reporting requirements be adopted for the reconstruction project that would detail the administrative costs and that contractors are monitored better. It also recommended that the government plan better to reduce the amount of time contractors spend mobilized for the work before they are actually able to begin the project.


On the Net:

Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction report: http://www.sigir.mil/reports/pdf/audits/06-028.pdf

Slaughter Isn't Free

Soon, very soon, we may be able to receive reports from the United States Congress that are properly focused on real issues, depending on who gets out to vote in two weeks. Meantime here is a perfectly serviceable British example of the kind of comparison that needs to be done.

Wars cancel out aid spending
Tania Branigan, political correspondent
Wednesday October 25, 2006
Guardian Unlimited

The cost of a single war in the developing world is equal to two-thirds of the total global aid budget, according to a report by MPs published today.

It warns that any increase in hostilities could wipe out the impact of the aid commitments pledged at Gleneagles in 2005 and that violent conflict in Africa "severely challenges" the achievement of the United Nations' millennium development goals.

"Preventing and ending conflicts will do more to create a climate for poverty reduction than any amount of costly aid programmes," the Commons international development committee said.

It praised the Department for International Development's pledge to develop a conflict policy, but warned that the government had not taken sufficient action to deter British companies from participation in trading resources such as diamonds or oil from war zones.

It argued that hostilities are intensified and prolonged because combatants see war as an opportunity to make money and urged ministers to work with the United Nations to develop an international agreement on the definition of "conflict resources".

The MPs, who visited Sierra Leone, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo during their inquiry, added: "One of the lessons common to all three is that conflicts are not always contained within state boundaries. If this fact is ignored, aid given to one country may end up fuelling conflict in a neighbouring country.

"How a country deals with its neighbours and its role in regional tensions must form part of DfID's consideration about how much and what type of aid is suitable."

The report cites an estimate putting the average cost of a civil war for a low-income country at around £29bn, against the total global aid budget in 2004 of £42bn.

Malcolm Bruce, the committee chairman, said: "Poor states tend to be weak states and so they need economic aid to reduce the risk of descending into conflict.

"However, some conflict-prone states are rich in resources which can sustain warlords, encourage foreign adventurism and lead to the failure of the state and increased poverty for the many as the few get rich.

"If the government prioritised the link between conflict and development it would do more to create a climate for poverty reduction in these countries than any amount of costly aid programmes."

Mr Bruce added: "We believe that the Department of Trade and Industry should work harder to ensure that UK companies working in Africa follow the OECD guidelines for multinational enterprises.

"We intend to take evidence from DTI on its role in monitoring the actions of such companies working in conflict-prone and conflict-affected states."

Claire Hickson, head of advocacy at Saferworld - which works to prevent armed violence, said: "Next year marks the halfway point for the millennium development goals. They will not be reached unless more effort is made to prevent and resolve violent conflict.

"If the UK government is to play its part in ensuring they are achieved, it needs to act fast on these recommendations and concentrate more effort on conflict-afflicted countries."

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Why Li’l Kim Deserves Da Bomb

Long time ago, right as the slaughter, maiming and starvation of nearly a hundred million humans drew to a close in the Last Just War, half a million were sacrificed to the White People’s Bomb. With the counsel of fear perhaps the claim can be made for Hiroshima being strategically necessary; but no argument other than a toxic amalgam of haste, hatred and hubris defends Nagasaki days later.

After the White People’s Bomb came the Commie Bomb. Many destroyed careers, a few executions, and vast amounts of public hysteria were expended on proving the Commie Bomb could only have been derived from the White People’s Bomb by treason and espionage. However, once the political service of such mania had been accomplished -- namely the tarnishing of the names of political liberalism, the labor movement and the Democratic party, together with the exaltation of the names of political conservatism, capitalism and the Republican party -- history revealed that not only did the Commies arrive at nuclear fission independently, the Nazis almost did too.

The Brits and the Frogs were allowed to have subfranchises of the White People’s Bomb, the former because they had helped invent it, the latter because they could not be prevented. Those hideous twins, the White People’s Bomb and the Commie Bomb, brooded over Eastern Europe as the Wall went up. Meanwhile the Brit and Frog Empires, though not the American, dissolved into independent nations still tethered to colonial economies. The American genius for having an economic and cultural empire composed of allegedly independent nations began to be manifest.

Then came the Americans’ wholesale abandonment of moral leadership in the mud of Vietnam. In the guise of showing resolve, unindicted war criminal Henry Kissinger suggested dropping the White People’s Bomb on the dikes protecting Hanoi from inundation, which would at least have kept America’s record consistent in only killing slopes with it.

But soon came the end of the quarter-century monopoly of Commie and White People’s Bombs. No longer did they have joint power to destroy humanity on purpose because the Chink bomb, the Jew Bomb and the Boer Bomb had followed. Then came the Raghead Bombs -- the Hindu Bomb and the Islam Bomb.

After the Wall came down and the Commie empire temporarily fragmented, the world was confronted with the dangers of Ukes with Nukes, than whom there is hardly a more emotionally unstable people on earth. But by a judicious application of American bribery and Russian threats, most of the ex-Commie nukes and even some of the White ones were decomissioned; while the South Africans, no longer desirous of using it against their own population, voluntarily gave up theirs.

Nowadays the threat of a Second Slant Bomb is exercising the tiny minds of an impotent and crazed American administration. American financial muscle exerted on the UN has resulted in the kind of resolution it likes to enforce, unlike all the ones requiring Israeli compliance. This one calls for trying to starve some of the poorest people in the world, already little in contact with the international economy. They are to suffer for the sin of their leaders’ insistence on having the same nuclear guarantee of freedom of action that many another minor power has.

Though some want to argue that the North Koreans are too irresponsible to have the bomb, it would be difficult not to conclude that so is everybody else. The list of the reckless starts with the White People who invented it and remain the only people to have used it.

So when Li’l Kim comes along and says he deserves to have the Second Slant Bomb on the simple grounds that he can make one if he wants and that no one has the right to stop him, he is, unfortunately, correct on both counts. Any control the US or UN might have pretended to exert was long ago eroded on this and so many other issues.

And lest it be forgot, there are more slants, dinks, slopes and other Yellow Perils than there are people of any other kind of race. If you count the Commies as White People, the Whites already have two bombs, unless you count the Jews too, in which case it’s three. So the slants are really proportionally entitled to at least four bombs, and you can make a case for five.

But if the slants act like the Whites, the Chinks and Li’l Kim will prevent any third slope power from developing its own bomb for quite some time. Just like we did, while we could. Judging by history, nothing engenders a desire for nuclear nonproliferation like prior possession of the bomb.

Being entitled to the bomb on the grounds of representative population, the alleged insanity of Li’l Kim is no disqualification of his regime whatsoever. Slaughterer Joe Stalin was crazier than a bedbug in a gulag, Tricky Dick wasn’t much better, and now the untreated alcoholic, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, dyslexic, unmanaged anger president may clinically be the worst of the lot. At least his father, though uninterested, was not wholly incompetent.

Ultimately, of course, it is as Mike Nichols remarked about smuggling his film of Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 through Hollywood: “You can do anything they’re not strong enough to stop you from doing.” The recent pissing-away of US military might (by staking its Army out in the desert where its enemies can get to it on motorbikes with homemade bombs) has consequences that the Whitewash House may consider dire, but for which the rest of us may give thanks.

Pyongyang is safe. Oh, and that goes double for Tehran too. All the other possessors of bombs will not allow the US to drop the White People’s Bomb. How? Same way we stopped them from using theirs when they were tempted -- sullenness and intimidation. We'd better get used to being on the receiving end of it for a change.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Bottom Line on Bottom Line Joe

e have seen the likes of the desperately floundering Joe Lieberman before. When former Arizona Senator Dennis DeConcini was caught up in the Keating Five S&L scandal, he went mad for the last two years of his term and became unpredictably emotional, personalizing everything.

Lieberman isn't emotional, he's calculating. After repeatedly stabbing the Democratic party in the back, whether voting for tax cuts for the rich or giving Republicans cover to impeach Bill Clinton, Lieberman is just a wolf in wolf's clothing: out for himself, nary a principle to abandon.

The stench of Lieberman's putrefaction is amply captured by the muscular plain style of Keith Burris at the Manchester (CT) Journal Inquirer (so different from the Slangwhanger-in-Chief's ornate 19th century prose.)

Journal Inquirer


On Monday of this week Sen. Joe Lieberman appeared at a well-attended luncheon at La Renaissance restaurant in East Windsor, hosted by the radio host Brad Davis.

It was a remarkable performance for two reasons. First, it showed, again, that Lieberman is possessed of great political skills. During the primary campaign, the senator seemed to have lost those skills. But now he has been freed to be who he really is. He's comfortable and effective again. Second, the person Lieberman really is, is a Bush Republican.

His speech to an enthusiastic crowd of more than 600 left no doubt on either point.

Lieberman will fight hard to keep his seat and he knows how to fight hard.

Second, he will do so as the de-facto Republican candidate in this election - with the support of Republican voters, and, it's a good guess, financial help from GOP donors and organizational help from GOP strategists, from Karl Rove on down.

Lieberman has the right to do all of this, as an independent, petitioning candidate. After all, the Democrats rejected him. But it is important for Democratic voters to know where Good Old Joe really stands this year and who his friends are. And it is important to recall that Lieberman still says he is a Democrat, and that he sought the Democratic nomination.

Usually, when a member of the Democratic Party seeks its nomination and does not get it, he supports the person who did get it.

Usually, when a person says he is a Democrat, he supports Democratic issues and candidates.

So is Joe Lieberman really a Democrat anymore?

Will he really vote with the Democrats in Washington?

Consider his speech Monday.

He talked about patriotism and doing what's best for America and facing the fact that radical Islamic and aligned terrorists represent a real threat to America.

Well, radical Islam is a threat. And madmen are always to be taken seriously.

But only the Republicans say that they alone perceive the threat and they alone love the nation and will protect it. Only they contend the other party lacks the will to fight for America. It's an unfair and untrue contention. But this has been going on since Nixon and Agnew. And on Monday, Lieberman and Davis sounded like Nixon and Agnew.

Do only they want to "do what is right" and "stand up for America"? No. And Joe knows this if Davis does not. But that is the Republican stance.

Second, Lieberman equated fighting terror and radical Islam with fighting the war in Iraq. It is not clear how the quagmire in Iraq helps to do that. It is not clear how it helps to combat the enemies Lieberman says want to kill us all. It is not clear to the federal government's intelligence agencies, which have found that the war in Iraq has slowed our efforts on terror and made us more enemies. But that is the Republican stance.

Joe went on to talk about the dangers of the Internet and how all of our children - indeed the family itself - are at risk from electronic bilge.

Saying there is a lot of dehumanizing sewage on the Internet is a truism, as true as saying the United States has enemies and we need to face that fact. But only a Bush Republican thinks that the way to solve the problem of an increasingly decadent and cheap popular culture is more federal police power. Joe wants more regulation of the Internet by the feds and a tax, for example, on pornography. That's a Republican stance.

The Republicans are running on fear and taxes this year. That's all they have.

Lieberman is running on fear and more fear: The terrorists are coming and so are electronic predators.

Lieberman hasn't got much faith that the United States can defend itself against all enemies foreign and domestic, at least with a policy debate going on. And he hasn't got much faith that free speech can regulate itself, or that decency, humanism, religion, and good parenting can combat violent video games, bad music, and Internet crud.

Lieberman is entitled to his pessimism.

And maybe we do need more legal tools to catch and prosecute Internet predators.

But trying to shut down the debate about how to deal with terror has not made us more effective in fighting terror. And none of Lieberman's past campaigns to "clean up" TV or popular music have gotten anywhere.

Maybe the answer is not a police state, but education and ethics.

The point is, if you oppose a police state, if you want to hang on to the Constitution and free speech - even in time of war and even when you want to protect your child's innocence - you have to, today, be a Democrat.

And if you want to stay in Iraq and are willing to abridge the Constitution to "defend" our country and its "values," you have to join the Grand Old Party, in one guise or another.

This is what Joe Lieberman has done. And he is not being as subtle as you might expect.

At the Monday luncheon he:

- Said House Speaker Dennis Hastert should not resign.

- Introduced two Republican candidates for state office - for comptroller and state treasurer. He didn't introduce any Democrats, who have previously been told not to campaign at these luncheons.

- Thanked his Republican "friends" for their support, and he said he would never forget them.

Last week Lieberman told a Washington, D.C., newspaper that:

- He would also never forget the Democrats, like Chris Dodd, who moved to support Ned Lamont after he won the Democratic Senate nomination.

- If re-elected, Lieberman expects to retain his seniority. Otherwise, he said, he would have to consider not caucusing with the Democrats.

Well, there is only one other group to caucus with - the Senate Republicans.

Connecticut Republicans know what's going on in this election. Their nominal candidate, Alan Schlesinger, has between 3 and 5 percent in the polls. The Republican national chairman has declined to endorse him and Gov. Jodi Rell said he should withdraw from the contest. Republicans know that Joe is their horse in this race.

Democrats who think Lieberman is still one of them need to wake up and smell the coffee.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Bush, Despot
Mr. Terry Jones now becomes the first person to have his copyright interests twice violated by the Primal Screed. If he were not already prepared for such experiences by his Monty Python past, Mr. Jones would receive the Slangwhanger-in-Chief's sincerest condolences.
A splendid achievement

George Bush should be congratulated - he has surely earned the right to join the ranks of despots

Terry Jones
Tuesday October 10, 2006
The Guardian

Dear President Bush,

I write to you in my capacity as secretary of the World League of Despots.

It is with great pleasure that I am finally able to extend an official invitation to you to join our ranks. For many years, we have watched your efforts to fulfil the requirements necessary to join our number. From the start, we were greatly impressed by your disdain for democratic principles - the way you wrested power from the democratically elected candidate in the 2000 election, and again in 2005 when you managed to swing what was clearly going to be a victory for your opponent.

Contempt for human life has always been a priority requirement for membership of the league, and I and my fellow adjudicators were well aware of your record as governor of Texas when you quadrupled the number of state executions. But your record since seizing power has surpassed even our expectations. The thousands of innocent people in Iraq, who have died so that you could fulfil your declared political objective of establishing "an American force presence in the Middle East", attest to your eligibility to join our ranks.

I cannot, however, disguise the fact that we adjudicators were extremely anxious when you announced your intention to remove from office one of our most stalwart members, Mr Saddam Hussein. However, we need not have worried. According to a recent UN report, you have ensured that there are now even more human rights abuses in Iraq than there were under Saddam. No less than 10% of those in custody are being physically or psychologically abused. Well done!

Of course, your unstinting efforts to make torture an internationally accepted aspect of human life have surpassed everything we could have ever hoped for. I don't think there is a single member of the league who could have imagined, six short years ago, that our activities in tormenting our fellow creatures would once again be recognised as acceptable, civilised behaviour, as it once was in the middle ages.

Despite these achievements, we had, until now, felt unable to extend our invitation to you because you had been unable to fulfil one of our basic requirements: the ability to carry out arbitrary arrests, imprisonment without trial, secret torture and executions at will.

We approved of your attempts to establish the principles of arbitrary arrest under the Homeland Security Act of 2002, but unfortunately it was still restricted to terror suspects. We appreciate that you were hampered by the US constitution, but the restrictions this imposed on your arbitrary powers kept you below the threshold requirements for qualification as a despot.

Now, however, all that has changed. At the end of last month you persuaded the Senate to pass a bill regarding the treatment of detainees. Illegally obtained evidence can now be used against suspects, even if it has been gathered abroad under torture. Anyone you care to accuse can be thrown into prison without the right to a trial or the right to represent themselves.

Officially the legislation is restricted to "enemy combatants", but you have skilfully adapted this definition to include anyone who has "purposefully and materially supported hostilities against the US". This presumably means that anyone who publicly criticises your conduct can be defined as supporting hostilities to the US. You are now free to arrest and imprison anyone you don't like. You've got it in the bag!

It is with great pleasure that we in the World League of Despots note that you have now appropriated to yourself all the powers of arbitrary arrest and torture that Saddam once enjoyed. You are now one of us. Congratulations!

--Terry Jones is a film director, actor and Python www.terry-jones.net

Friday, October 06, 2006

Torture Breeds Terrorism: Breeding Grounds Protected

This is a fine review of the consequences, and antecedents, of the "Day the Constitution Died," murdered at the hands of the United States Senate. The Village Voice is the spiritual granddaddy of the internet blog , and Hentoff one of its few remaining bright lights.

A Question of “Compromise”

by Nat Hentoff, Village Voice
October 1st, 2006 9:18 PM

McCain's deal on prisoners means White House lawlessness rolls on

Our government is the potent, omnipresent teacher of the whole people by its example. . . . If the government becomes a lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for the law. -- Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, dissenting in the first wiretap case, Olmstead v. U.S., 1928

The civil war between three Republican senators and the president over his treatment of imprisoned suspected terrorists has resulted in a public break with George W. Bush's own former secretary of state, Colin Powell. But in all these stories about Powell's mutiny, I've seen no mention of an angry, prophetic memorandum he wrote on January 25, 2002, protesting the administration's pending decision to scrap the Geneva Conventions on the treatment of prisoners in Afghanistan.

That warning becomes particularly timely now, because the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff anticipated the increasing disclosure ever since of Bush's systemic lawlessness, especially his unleashing of the CIA, in the "war on terrorism." Despite a widely hailed bill, the Military Commissions Act, that purports to curb the president's excesses, that lawlessness will continue, courtesy of a so-called compromise between the sponsoring senators John McCain, John Warner, and Lindsey Graham, and the White House. Citing the fallout over Abu Ghraib, the CIA's "renditions," and the conditions at Guantnamo -- for which Bush was rebuked by the Supreme Court in this year's Hamdan v. Rumsfeld decision -- Powell said on September 19 that our professed "high moral standards" are being questioned around the world.

But the former Bush cabinet member predicted the unraveling of American principles back in 2002, when he wrote to Alberto Gonzales, then serving as counsel to the president and orchestrating advice by the president's lawyers on how to torture prisoners without admitting it. Powell warned him that ignoring Geneva Conventions "will reverse a century of U.S. policy . . . and undermine the protections of the law of war for our troops [and] make them more vulnerable to protections [abroad] and domestic charges."

Ignoring his own top foreign policy adviser, Bush declared on February 7, 2002, "that none of the provisions of Geneva apply to our conflict with Al Qaeda in Afghanistan or 'elsewhere.' "

Already, on September 17, 2001, Bush had disregarded Powell and given the CIA, under Vice President Dick Cheney's tutelage, a special license to violate both international and American law. Bush had earlier made Cheney "vice president for torture," in the words of former CIA director Stanfield Turner.

Margaret Satterthwaite, of NYU Law School's Center for Human Rights and Global Justice, offers a history of Bush's malfeasance in the current Amnesty International Magazine. "President Bush signed a Presidential Finding that authorized the CIA to kill, capture or detain suspected al Qaeda members anywhere in the world," Satterthwaite writes, drawing on a report by Dana Priest in the Washington Post. "This classified document apparently became the basis for a new, integrated system on illegal tactics: 'U.S. authorities [can] render suspects to the custody of foreign governments known for torture, or they [can] secretly detain them in CIA-run "black sites." ' "

She continues: "In a leaked memo dated November 2002, an FBI supervisory special agent warned his superiors that extraordinary rendition [to be tortured] was illegal, and explained that the intent of rendition was to 'utilize, outside the United States, interrogation techniques that would violate' federal criminal law outlawing torture. Carrying out an extraordinary rendition, he concluded, would amount to a federal crime, and plans to carry out such a transaction would amount to conspiracy to commit torture."

For years now, CIA agents have known they were in danger of prosecution for renditions and for whatever was going on in those secret CIA prisons. And that's why, before "the compromise," the September 11 Washington Post reported: "CIA counterterrorism officers have signed up in growing numbers for a government-reimbursed, private insurance plan that would pay their civil judgments and legal expenses if they are sued or charged with criminal wrongdoing. . . . "

But as I will show next week in a roundup of what Bush won when the senators caved, CIA agents will not have to worry any longer, let alone buy insurance, because if "the compromise" becomes law, they will be protected from any past violations of "aggressive" techniques or criminal wrongdoing. (Chilling accounts of horrific CIA war crimes can be found in a number of extraordinary articles by Jane Mayer in The New Yorker, as well as in reports by the ACLU, Human Rights First, Amnesty International, and Human Rights Watch.)

Even before this three-card monte compromise was reached, the Senate Armed Services bill -- passed because of McCain, Warner, and Graham's efforts -- included an abolition of habeas corpus hearings for any alien detainees outside the United States.

A similar removal of habeas rights is in a companion House bill -- and is welcomed by the president. This means that lawyers will no longer be able to get court hearings, despite rulings to the contrary by the Supreme Court , on prisoners' conditions of confinement, including alleged torture. Such a radical removal of "the Great Writ," habeas corpus, will make it impossible for their lawyers to uncover these criminal violations of the Geneva Conventions.

Yet, on announcing the deal with the White House, presidential aspirant McCain declared: "The agreement we've entered into gives the president the tools he needs to fight the war on terror and bring these evil people to justice. There is no doubt that the integrity and spirit of the Geneva Conventions has been preserved." (Emphasis added.)

As he gracefully acknowledges applause around the country for his principled determination in forcing the president into a "compromise," McCain may be hearing, in his inner ear, a future military band playing "Hail to the Chief" -- only for him. The senator's patriotism gets to remain intact because Bush approvingly says the compromise preserves "the CIA program to question the world's most dangerous terrorists and to get their secrets." The "black sites" live on.