Friday, November 30, 2007

Hostage Situation at Clinton NH Campaign Office

Brrreaking - WaPo reports:

A man claiming to have a bomb strapped to his body burst into Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's presidential campaign office in Rochester, N.H., today and took at least two volunteers hostage, New Hampshire television stations reported.

"There is an ongoing situation in our Rochester, NH office. We are in close contact with state and local authorities and are acting at their direction," the Clinton campaign said in a statement.

The campaign confirmed to Manchester's WMUR that two workers were taken hostage. The report quotes a witness who said a woman and her baby were released by the hostage-taker.


An armed man took hostages at the office on 28 North Main St. Friday afternoon, and officials with the campaign said that there were two workers taken hostage in the office, but police have not confirmed that those were the only two hostages in the building.

The two hostages were released at about 3 p.m.

Clinton, who is not in New Hampshire, canceled a National Democratic Committee meeting in Virginia.

Definitely a very tense situation.

More as updates come in...


MSNBC reports:

- the suspect is a white male in his 40s. (No doubt, the radical right is wishing he's Muslim because, according to them, only Muslims are terrorists.)
- the suspect wants to talk to Hillary.
- local law enforcement is familiar with the suspect who reportedly has a history of "erratic behaviour".
- negotiations continue.

4:08 ET: A police press conference is scheduled to occur within the next half hour.


The officer in charged said that they're still dealing with a "hostage situation" but wouldn't say how many hostages are still being held. Beyond that, he wouldn't release more information since the situation is ongoing.

MSNBC's coverage has been horrible. They've reported that a relative of the hostage taker who had said that the man was armed with road flares was his son, son-in-law and stepson without confirming his actual relationship. They also showed an interview with a local guy who claimed he knew the identity of the person, only to report at the top of this hour that his name is Leeland Eisenberg (sp?) (unconfirmed by authorities) - not the same name that was earlier broadcast as being Troy (?). They also said, after the police press conference in which it was announced that secret service members were on the scene, that the secret service wasn't involved. They really need to get their stories straight.

What seems to be the consensus between CNN and MSNBC is that this man has mental health issues and wanted to bring attention to the lack of services available but that's still a point of speculation as is what he's actually armed with.

For more local coverage, visit WDHD TV.


5:34 pm ET - Another female hostage has been released.

Update: 6:15 pm ET - The hostage situation is over. The last hostage, a male, was released and the suspect has been arrested

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Video: Romney Refuses to Call Waterboarding Torture

From Wednesday nite's Republican debate. Watch as John McCain's head almost explodes:

Now, as much as people would like to believe that McCain is the moral authority on all things torture-related since he was a torture victim during the Vietnam war, they should also remember that McCain favoured immunity for CIA agents do the torturing

September, 2006:

BLITZER: What about on the issue of torture, as it's called? Right now the U.S. military has specific guidelines, it's been made public. There seems to be a separate standard for civilians like those in the CIA. You're not happy about that.

MCCAIN: Well, the Geneva Conventions have a -- are generally for those in uniform and the treatment of "POWs." There is one provision that applies to people that are prisoners which is much lower than that of POW status, but still some rights are preserved. And what we are seeking is to make sure that the Geneva Conventions covering these circumstances are not changed, because if we amend the Geneva Conventions, then other nations will to their liking. And several letters, including that of General Colin Powell, could put American lives at risk.

Common Article 3, by the way, is what it's called. We will and want to give immunity, both criminal and civil immunity, to those in the CIA who are involved in this. And we would want to protect them in every way. The difference is, is whether you amend the Geneva Conventions or you do as we want to do, and that's to amend or change the War Crimes Act so that these situations are covered under the War Crimes Act, telling them what they can't do and also then giving them the immunity that they need.

McCain - just another Republican hypocrite.

Romney - just another Republican who wants to hide behind secrecy and American exceptionalism to justify torture.

Schreiber Testifies Today

Karlheinz Schreiber is on the hill and you can bet that more than a few Conservatives are very, very nervous but Schreiber's lawyer, Eddie Greenspan, has said his client won't have anything to say:

He's been promised access to his documents to prepare his testimony. But no papers were seen to be sent from his home in Ottawa Wednesday night to the detention centre.

Schreiber's lawyer Edward Greenspan told the Toronto Star this week that his client "will not speak" at the committee Thursday because he's not going to get a chance to properly prepare.

"Now, if they [MPs] think by some grandstanding political play they can make political hay out of that, fine," Greenspan was quoted in Wednesday's Star. "But they must understand he will not speak."

"What are they going to do if he refuses? Put him in jail?"

But Szabo said unlike in a court of law, the committee hearing rules don't allow Schreiber to refuse to answer questions.

"I believe he will. I believe he'll be there and everything's going to go as you would expect. But should that happen, hypothetically, that would be a matter that the House may cite him for contempt of Parliament."

According to some pundits however, the CW seems to be that Schreiber will testify at least partially about what he and Mulroney were up to while saving the big story for the upcoming public inquiry - if he's allowed to stay in Canada until it's in progress.

Earlier this week, on CBC's Politics with Don Newman, one Conservative MP said that the inquiry could go ahead without Schreiber - as if his testimony was inconsequential and unnecessary. I'm sure the Cons would like nothing better than to see things happen that way, giving Mulroney the spotlight to obfuscate whatever the truth might be. What's obvious though is that this scandal will definitely come back to haunt the Cons if they're seen as protecting the former PM, as they've already tried to do - and so it should. The party that bills itself as tough on crime with the ultimate moral authority as far as taking responsibility goes has already shown once again that it has double standards when one of its own has allegedly been involved in corruption and illegal activities.

You can watch the ethics committee hearing live on CPAC beginning at 11 am ET. CBC and CTV will also be airing the proceedings. Whatever happens, it's sure to be interesting. Grab your popcorn.


The Globe & Mail has more, including video of Schreiber's arrival on the hill today along with some background information.

CBC's The Fifth Estate aired the original story that brought these allegations to light through its recent interview with Schreiber and provides a detailed history of the events.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

I'm Ba-ack


Had to get a wireless router and adapter and then pretend I knew what I was doing to set them up but I'm finally back online.

So much to catch up on. I discovered how much I rely on the internets to get the back story behind the news. Teevee soundbites just don't cut it and, since I don't subscribe to any newspapers or magazines, I really missed all of the information available online. No wonder a majority of the public is ignorant about what's really going on. There's nothing like access to in depth coverage. All hail the intertubes!

Of course, now that I am back online, it'll take me that much longer to unpack things here (gee - bummer). Have I mentioned that moving sucks? The cats and I are fed and watered and we occasionally have treats (like food) so it's all good.

Don't forget: Friday is Buy Nothing Day. Do your part and send a message.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Moving Again & Assorted Drivel

Moving Day: Thursday.

Not sure when I'll be back on the internets since we have to straighten out the router situation at the new place.

Oh, and it's not that I'm ignoring the Mulroney/Schreiber scandal. I've just been too busy to follow all of the details. Plus, washed-up assholish politicians like Mulroney should be put out to pasture somewhere never to be seen or heard from again. He makes my skin crawl - always has. So, it's just annoying having to deal with him being front and centre in the news again. But, of course, I hope he gets his ass handed to him on a plate and that Steve goes down with him. That would be sweet. A gal can dream...

I can't believe we have to live with this US election crap for another year. No wonder Americans are sick and tired of their politicians. Their electoral system sucks. Yes you're right: I don't have to pay attention to it. Just call me a rubber-necker at a messy car accident. It's repulsive and fascinating at the same time. Well, maybe "fascinating" is the wrong word. "Entertaining" might be more appropriate. Entertaining - like a really bad sitcom. Hmmm...well it gives me something more to write about. Ya. That's the ticket.

penlan sent me a link to this Global Incident Map site. It's got little flashing icons for suspicious events happening around the world. I suspect most of those are real events - not the faux crap that Bushco likes to trot out, especially before xmas. After 9/11 he told everybody to "go shopping" and ever since then he's been trying to scare the pants off everybody by publicizing you're all going to be killed in a shopping mall by al Qaeda stories. Which reminds me: Buy Nothing Day is on Nov 23rd this year. Take a day off from shopping. That way you get to outwit al Qaeda (ha!), Bush and WalMart. Sounds like a plan to me.

Speaking of so-called terror, terror, here's a story you might want to check out: Sensitive Guantánamo Bay Manual Leaked Through Wiki Site.

Here's another one: America and the world's executioners join efforts to block UN moves to end death penalty. (You just know that that one makes Steve drool. If only he wasn't Canadian. Sucks to be him.)

And, whoops.

Okay, that's it for now. Play nice, stay warm and wear a hat. See you soon.


I missed this bit of good news about Lt Ehren Watada last week. More about Watada here if you're not familiar with his story of refusing to serve in Iraq and subsequently being prosecuted for it. Score one for conscientious objectors.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

FBI: Blackwater Killed 14 Iraqis 'Without Cause'

Via The NYT:

WASHINGTON, Nov. 13 — Federal agents investigating the Sept. 16 episode in which Blackwater security personnel shot and killed 17 Iraqi civilians have found that at least 14 of the shootings were unjustified and violated deadly-force rules in effect for security contractors in Iraq, according to civilian and military officials briefed on the case.

The F.B.I. investigation into the shootings in Baghdad is still under way, but the findings, which indicate that the company’s employees recklessly used lethal force, are already under review by the Justice Department.

Huge news, right? Blackwater's going to get what's coming to it, you say?

Read the fine print:

Prosecutors have yet to decide whether to seek indictments, and some officials have expressed pessimism that adequate criminal laws exist to enable them to charge any Blackwater employee with criminal wrongdoing. Spokesmen for the Justice Department and the F.B.I. declined to discuss the matter.

And what kind of bullshit is this? The State Department covering up the crimes of Blackwater?

In addition, investigators did not have access to statements taken from Blackwater employees, who had given statements to State Department investigators on the condition that their statements would not be used in any criminal investigation like the one being conducted by the F.B.I.

As the article states, this will be the first big case that newly confirmed Michael (who wouldn't say that waterboarding is torture) Mukasey will have to deal with. I guess Blackwater's Eric Prince should be sending a gold-plated thank you card to J Paul Bremer for ensuring that US contractors can't be prosecuted under Iraqi law. And, considering how this misadministration operates, he'll have another one to send out once Mukasey comes up with some obscure Bushco-style reasoning that will let these murderers get away with their crimes in the US too.

Like Smedley Butler said: "War is a racket". And with the Bush administration, that racket resembles organized crime to an amazing degree. It's all about who you know - not what you do.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Quote du Jour: 'Why don't you shut up?'

I just couldn't pass this one up:

Shut up, Spain's king tells Chavez

Spain's King Juan Carlos told Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez to "shut up" as the Ibero-American summit drew to a close in Santiago, Chile.

The outburst came after Mr Chavez called former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar a "fascist".

Mr Chavez then interrupted Spanish PM Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero's calls for him to be more diplomatic, prompting the king's outburst.

Latin American, Portuguese, Spanish and Andorran leaders were meeting in Chile.

'Democratically elected'

Mr Chavez called Mr Aznar, a close ally of US President George W Bush, a fascist, adding "fascists are not human. A snake is more human."

Mr Zapatero said: "[Former Prime Minister] Aznar was democratically elected by the Spanish people and was a legitimate representative of the Spanish people."

Mr Chavez repeatedly tried to interrupt, despite his microphone being turned off. The king leaned forward and said: "Why don't you shut up?"

According to reports, the king used a familiar term normally used only for close acquaintances - or children.

Later, Mr Chavez responded to the king's rebuke.

According to the Associated Press news agency, he said: "I do not offend by telling the truth. The Venezuelan government reserves the right to respond to any aggression, anywhere, in any space and in any manner."

The theme of this year's 22-nation summit was "social cohesion".

Sunday Food for Thought: Remembrance Day

On this day of remembrance, the fact that the simple poppy is symbolic of those who have fought and died in wars on behalf of our country brings my mind to the absolute failure of US and NATO forces to control the poppy crop in Afghanistan, resulting in an economy totally fueled by war lords, drug money, corruption, terrorism, and fear that continues to put our soldiers there at risk - not to mention the Afghan people, of course.

And the question, as always, is: for what? To create an Afghanistan in the image of the United States - a sort of quasi-reenactment of the Genesis in the bible? The idea that the so-called godly figure in the world (or so many of its citizens perceive it to be) can replicate itself around the world without consequence is absurd. Even the God of the bible knew that the free will inherent in his/her creations would doom them to lives of turmoil. Thus, The Crusader (Bush) is reaping what he has sown.

But he's not the only person affected and that's where we, as citizens of a country involved in this reformation of Afghanistan need to take a long, hard look at what we are willing to sacrifice, how long we are willing to do so, how our actions affect the Afghans and ourselves and what we eventually expect as a result of our presence there to determine exactly how realistically our ideals meet the reality on the ground. And I think, as polls have shown, that the majority of Canadians have concluded that the idea that we are there in some sort of humanitarian role (which most would likely prefer) no longer rings true.

Along with reconstruction efforts marred by the continual instability, our forces have unfortunately been involved in killing innocent civilians, handing over POWs to US and Afghan authorities who have tortured or disappeared them, and our country has lost a portion of its 'good will' reputation as a result.

Again, for what?

And, as Pakistan becomes less stable with Musharraf now freeing Taliban militants who will no doubt go back and rejoin the fight in Afghanistan while Mush's military is busy rounding up non-threatening lawyers and civil rights advocates to replace the terrorists who had been jailed (not to mention the real possibility of Pakistan's nukes now falling into the wrong hands), what we should be seriously considering on this day of remembrance is just how many more of our soldiers we're willing to lose in an increasingly unwinnable war.

We always say that they're fighting for our freedom. That may have been true in past wars. In Afghanistan? I don't think so.

I am antiwar. That does not mean, however, that I have no regard for those who fight and die. In fact, because I prefer non-violent means to deal with conflicts, my concern for those on the battlefield is amplified. As with the illegal war in Iraq, the mantra about Afghanistan's fate has been that the only viable solution is political, not military.

Have we, as a nation, done everything we can to push for the political compromise to bring peace to Afghanistan or are we too busy practicing Bush's failed policy of 'clear and hold' ie. rooting out (killing) 'militants' and hoping they won't reemerge to grab power again?

Consider the poppies and you'll have your answer.

Bring our troops home. Just how many more do we have to mourn?


Via The Independent:

Staff at the British embassy in Kabul are wearing poppies in honour of the country's dead in Afghanistan, as well as the other conflicts in which British soldiers have fought over the past century. But Afghans do not understand the meaning of the symbol.

"Why do you have that paper flower pinned to your clothes?" the proprietor of a bookshop in Kabul asked a British customer yesterday. " I have seen the newscasters on BBC and Sky wearing them too. What is it for?" The explanation seemed to leave the bookseller even more confused – in Afghanistan, poppies have a very different significance...

Deaths Mark Grim Afghan, Iraq Milestones
Canada: Remembering the fallen
Bush says [he] will take Musharraf at his word

Friday, November 09, 2007

Canadian News Roundup

Busy getting ready to move next week but these stories caught my eye:

- Pigs do fly. Steve is going to investigate his bff Brian Mulroney. He didn't exactly have much of a choice though, did he? (h/t penlan)

- If elected, Dion vows to slash poverty rates. He'd better have a different plan than the last Liberal government or that's just another empty promise. (Have you seen those ridiculously immature ads being run to mock Dion? Did the election campaign start and I missed it or what? If the Conservatives think they have to run ads like that during the off-season, that shows they must be a tad scared of what might happen to them when the next election is really called. They're looking desperate, don't you think?)

- Speaking of ads, I don't know who produced this video clip in response to the immoral Conservatives refusing to seek clemency for Canadians on death row in countries that are democracies (and are they kidding thinking the US is anything resembling a democracy these days with its horrendous human and civil rights abuses and a boy king at the helm who relished his days executing people in Texas?), but kudos to whoever took the time to put the clip together. And speaking of the death penalty, if you missed Bill Moyers' Journal on Friday nite, watch the interview with Thomas Cahill online. It's definitely worth seeing.

- The Center for Constitutional Rights (please visit their site) has launched Maher Arar's appeal but they'll have to get past the "national security" hurdle that resulted in the case being dismissed in a lower court. On another front in this case:

NEW YORK - Gasps broke out in a U.S. federal appeals court Friday as a U.S. government lawyer spoke of Maher Arar's "unequivocal membership of al-Qaida."

One of the court's three sitting judges echoed the reaction of many in the public gallery, declaring the statement stunned him too.

Not only has a Canadian judicial inquiry cleared Arar of having any terrorism links, but U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has admitted the U.S. government did not properly handle his case.

"It was kind of a shocking statement with which to start," Judge Robert Sack told Dennis Barghaan, one of three government attorneys opposing Arar's bid to see his lawsuit against the U.S. government reinstated.

Arar lawyer Maria Lahood hinted outside the courtroom the judge's reaction bodes well for Arar's case.

"To me, it was a sign the judge knew this was an innocent man," she said.

One can only guess what kind of bullshit "evidence" has been manufactured to back up that supposed al Qaeda link.

- New Khadr witness discovered. That could be a major development. In the meantime, our useless federal government is still leaving Omar Khadr to rot in Gitmo. If it had any concern for "Canada's standing in the world" (which it claims to when it defends continuing our presence in Afghanistan), it would actually try to help Khadr get out of legal limbo. In this case though, pigs won't be flying anytime soon.

- Looking for an old movie to rent this weekend? If you haven't seen it (and I'm sure some of you young whippersnappers out there haven't), check out In the Name of the Father. Caution: It will remind you of the Bush regime. Prepare to be infuriated.

If you live in Calgary, I'm looking for 3 (free) things: a wireless router for the new place, a dvd player (I've never owned one besides the one I have in this used laptop I recently got - really) and a flat panel monitor (any size) to replace my gargantuan 21" monitor that's as heavy as a teevee and which I'll either trade or give away. Drop me a line. My e-mail's up there on the left and the bonus, of course, is that you'd get to meet anonymous me in real life (oh how exciting!!). No stalkers please. My life is already interesting enough, thanks. (And yes, I belong to Freecycle™ and have posted wanted ads there and elsewhere).

I also found a local guy who's into recycling/refurbishing computer stuff that he then gives away to those in need. Just gave away my old 486 that I was using as a footstool. Glad someone can use it for its real purpose. I used it for years. (Yes, I'm still stuck in the 90s). If you want his number, let me know.

One last thing, my movers collect and donate things for Afghan/Pakistani refugees settling in the Calgary area. If you have something to donate, e-mail me and I'll forward your e-mail to them. I know someone did e-mail me the last time I mentioned them but I lost the e-mail. Sorry.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Pygmies Have Morals Too

In an insult to pygmies everywhere, Tom Lantos (D-Doesn't Like Pygmies) called two Yahoo! representatives (im)moral pygmies on the hill today:

WASHINGTON -- Yahoo Inc.'s chief executive and top lawyer on Tuesday defended their company's involvement in the jailing of a Chinese journalist. Irate lawmakers accused them of collaborating with an oppressive communist regime.

"While technologically and financially you are giants, morally you are pygmies," House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Lantos, D-Calif., said angrily after hearing from the two men.

Pygmies seem to be a new target of politicians lately with Newt Gingrich recently calling the entire lot of Republican presidential candidates a "'pathetic' bunch of 'pygmies'."

These real pygmies could not be reached for comment:

Photo credit: Support the Pygmies

Monday, November 05, 2007

Video: Olbermann on Torture, Mukasey and Bush

From the transcript:

Water-boarding, he [Levin] said, is torture.

Legally, it is torture .

Practically, it is torture.

Ethically, it is torture .

And he wrote it down.

Wrote it down somewhere, where it could be contrasted with the words of this country's 43rd President: "The United States of America does not torture."

Made you into a liar, Mr. Bush.

Made you into, if anybody had the guts to pursue it, a criminal.

Does anyone have the guts to pursue it? That is the question.

You can read the ABC News article about Daniel Levin's experience here.


The Senate Judiciary Committee today narrowly voted to approve the nomination of Michael B. Mukasey as attorney general despite the opposition of most of the panel's Democrats over his refusal to say whether an aggressive interrogation tactic constitutes illegal torture.

The committee's 11-8 vote sends Mukasey nomination to the full Senate, which is expected to confirm him in a floor vote to be held by next week.


Pakistan, the US, Afghanistan and Canada

The US/Pakistan relationship is truly fraught with irony as this statement by Bush Monday morning reveals:

WASHINGTON, Nov 5 (Reuters) - U.S. President George W. Bush is urging Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf to quickly return to civilian rule and release people detained under an emergency decree, the White House said on Monday.
"We cannot support emergency rule or the extreme measures taken during the emergency," Perino said. "Such actions are not in Pakistan's best interest and damage the progress Pakistan has made on its path to democracy."

"The president and his advisers ... right now are urging him to quickly return to civilian rule, to get back on the path of democracy, to restore the freedoms of the press as well as release detainees," she said. "The president continues to urge calm on all of the parties."

This, coming from an American administration that declared a "global war on terror" and was quick to grant itself extra-judicial powers to round up its own cadre of detainees following 9/11. Musharraf, after all, is just claiming the same situation in his country - that he imposed emergency rule to clamp down on militants - which is, of course, not the real reason. Realizing that his presidency was threatened by a supreme court that was due to rule that his win in the October election was moot, he did what he thought he could to hang onto his power just as Bush has used to GWOT excuse to shred the US constitution for years on end. There is no formal "emergency rule" in the US, but the power grab by Bush has virtually mirrored to a lesser extent what Musharraf has now put in place in Pakistan.

And what would happen if Bush actually did declare emergency rule in the United States? If an ongoing illegal war with thousands of US casualties and millions of dead and displaced Iraqis and the knowledge that his regime has been spying on Americans while condoning torture against suspected terrorists hasn't been enough to stop Bush in his tracks by the harshest legal measures possible; with an opposition party constantly whining about how they can't seize power back from the oval office and the Republicans while refusing to impeach their president; and with a population that's just on hold - waiting for Bush's term to simply end while hoping that will bring some relief or change - would anyone really rise up if Bush grabbed even more power? And really, just how much more can he grab since he gets away with virtually everything he wants to anyway?

But, back to Pakistan. This morning, Canada's defence minister Peter Mackay spoke about what seems to be his main concern for Canadian troops in Afghanistan - a possible flood of refugees from Pakistan who might then join the Taliban and al Qaeda. Tens of thousands of displaced Afghans have been returning for years. This is not a new development. What he failed to mention was the delicate military support relationship between the US/NATO and Pakistan ie. how the US has funneled billions of dollars to Pakistan's military in an attempt to keep militants at bay in the north while Pakistan has provided logistical help for US and NATO troops in Afghanistan (such as it is, since there is major support for the Taliban and al Qaeda in Pakistan). That's the real threat to NATO's Afghanistan mission.

Meanwhile, Washington has very little choice as far as supporting Musharraf goes and, although Bush will bluster on with words of disappointment the international community expects to hear, his precious grip on the GWOT is tenuous:

A senior security official speaking to Asia Times Online on condition of anonymity, said, "Major surgeries are essential in cases like Lal Masjid [a militant mosque in Islamabad], but such extraordinary events need extraordinary powers. If the courts intervene in such matters, the security forces will stop working and nobody will be able to stop the march of the Taliban into the bigger cities of Pakistan."

The official continued, "This is a major crossroads in the 'war on terror' at which Washington will have to approve an all-powerful government, even at the cost of democracy. Otherwise it can say goodbye to Pakistan as a 'war on terror' ally as it [Pakistan] would simply not be able to get results."

Once again, Canadian troops will have to deal with the consequences of the disastrous decision Bush made to pull US troops out of Afghanistan to start his illegal war in Iraq and our Canadian Conservative minority government has just been handed another reason to continue Canada's mission past its currently expected exit date in 2009 - a move it's been trying to justify by any means possible despite opposition by a growing majority of Canadians.

Musharraf's decision will ripple through our country. What are we going to do about it? How much more are we going to sacrifice for Bush's mistakes?


Pakistani Bloggers aggregator
Video: Pakistani police use batons and tear gas against stone-throwing lawyers protesting over Pervez Musharraf's imposition of emergency rule
U.S. Is Likely to Continue Aid to Pakistan
Pakistan shakes off US shackles
A look at rights suspended in Pakistan
Musharraf defends emergency rule

Update: Bush holds a press conference and doesn't commit to doing anything:

Bush would not discuss what action he might take — for example, how much U.S. aid to Pakistan would be cut — if Musharraf ignores his request.

"It's a hypothetical," he said. "I certainly hope he does take my advice."

But the president made a point of praising Pakistan's cooperation in the war on terror, and seemed resigned that, as a result, there is little concrete action he can take to influence Musharraf's behavior.

"All we can do is continue to work with the president ... to make abundantly clear the position of the United States," he said.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Quote du Jour: Condi on Pakistan

Pakistan police beat protesting lawyers

"The United States has never put all of its chips on Musharraf," Rice said, urging Pakistan to rejoin the road to democracy and warning that U.S. aid to its ally was under review.


Washington has given Islamabad around $10 billion over the last five years.

Flashback, 2002: Bush, Musharraf are Disturbingly Similar

Musharraf, 2006: "And I will never violate the constitution of Pakistan."

Sound familiar?

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Musharraf Declares Emergency Rule

In an effort to avoid giving up his military chief status, Pervez Musharraf has declared emergency rule. Bhutto, whom Britain and the US held up as the next great hope for Pakistan (despite the fact that she left the country embroiled in a corruption scandal a few years back and is waiting to see if those charges will be dropped) was out of the country visiting relatives in Dubai and has apparently flown back. ABC reports that she is "sitting in an airplane at Karachi's airport, waiting to see if she would be arrested or deported".

Musharraf has taken control of the media and phone lines have been cut in Islamabad.

As for the Supreme Court, which was to decide next week if Musharraf had actually been eligible to run in last month's elections while he remained chief of the army:

"Seven Supreme Court judges immediately came out against the emergency, which suspended the current constitution. Police blocked entry to the Supreme Court building and later took the chief justice and other judges away in a convoy, witnesses said.

And does this remind you of anyone?

A copy of the emergency order obtained by The Associated Press justified the declaration on the grounds that "some members of the judiciary are working at cross purposes with the executive" and "weakening the government's resolve" to fight terrorism.

Sounds like echoes of Bush and Cheney to me. Ironically though, their so-called ally with nukes is now a loose cannon. That's what happens when you take the "unitary executive" theory to its limits - it turns into dictatorship. Fine example they've set, n'est-ce pas? (Although a part of me thinks they're both sitting back drooling secretly over Musharraf grabbing so much power while they still have to put up with a pesky, "obstructionist" congress and Supreme court decisions that they don't like in the US.)

More as this develops...


Pakistan Tribune coverage.
PakTribune News Wire Service
Pakistan Times
Pakistan Daily Times
Pakistani bloggers

This Pakistani blogger is providing continual updates including news of rumours that Musharraf is under house arrest.

UNCONFIRMED RUMOR: Some sources are now reporting the that Pres. Musharraf is under house arrest and that Vice Chief of Army Staff (VCOAS) General Ashfaq Kayani has taken control of the Army and thereby the country. This would explain why all announcements re: the state of emergency have simply stated that they were by order of the “Chief of Army Staff,” with Pres. Musharraf’s name ommitted. I repeat, this just a rumor. I have other sources who claim to have just spoken with Musharraf refuting the rumor. (Updated 11:15am US EST/8:15pm PST)

The Times of India nails Washington's weak response.

WASHINGTON: Pakistani military ruler Pervez Musharraf's has defied the advice of his American benefactors in imposing martial law and Emergency, but Washington appears set to finesse the situation yet again because of what it sees as the overall US interest in the so-called war on terror.

The first sign that Washington is ready to wink at Musharraf's crackdown came when Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice stopped short of condemning the development and instead described it as "highly regrettable."

She told CNN that the United States does not support extra-constitutional measures [ha ha, ya right -catnip] and urged restraint on all sides and a "swift return to democracy."

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the Bush administration was "deeply disturbed" by the developments while offering words of support to the Pakistani people.

"The United States stands with the people of Pakistan in supporting a democratic process and in countering violent extremism," McCormack, who is accompanying Rice on her visit to Turkey, told AP . "We urge all parties to work together to complete the transition to democracy and civilian rule without violence or delay."

But the statements fell well short of the kind of condemnations Washington routinely issues against countries, excepting vassal states, that suppress democratic rights, indicating that the administration was already finessing Musharraf's crackdown.

There was no word from Rice or her underlings about the arrest of the chief justice and his associates or about the crackdown on the media.

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