Saturday, April 4, 2009

Getting Out Of Control

Actions have consequences.
The latest gun massacre occurred this morning in Pittsburgh. This one had a more political bent than most.

A man opened fire on officers during a domestic disturbance call Saturday morning, killing three of them, a police official said. Friends said he recently had been upset about losing his job and that he feared the Obama administration was poised to ban guns. [...]

Friends identified the suspect as Richard Poplawski, 23, but police would not immediately confirm his name. The gunman was arrested after a four-hour standoff, police said. [...]

Edward Perkovic said Poplawski, his best friend, feared "the Obama gun ban that's on the way" and "didn't like our rights being infringed upon."

It wouldn't be fair to blame right-wing propaganda for Poplawski slaying these police officers. Plenty of people have heard the far-right talking points and only a small handful have been driven to violence. As John Cole noted this morning, "Sure, crazy people do crazy things. But that doesn't make it responsible to encourage them, which is what a lot of really foolish people are doing right now for purely political reasons."

Poplawski made his own choice in the end, just like the suspect in yesterday's killing. But if all people have on hand to make choices are ignorance and hatred, they will make bad choices if constantly fed lies and misinformation.

And sometimes those choices lead to tragedy. The Left blames the Right for hate radio and talk to revolution against the government. The Right blames the Left for the exact same thing. It's important to note that there's talk like that on both sides.

But the hate rhetoric serves no one in the end. People are dying because of it. This country was born out of violent revolution, and it has been used as an excuse ever since. I don't like guns. They are designed to kill things. You can own them in America. My friends argue "Look, if you outlaw guns, then people will still get them and take what they want. Millions of Americans own guns legally."

That's the problem. Millions of Americans own guns legally. And as the economy gets worse, these incidents will only rise. We're a country of people with itchy trigger fingers. If somebody wants to use a gun to kill a dozen people, then they can. You can kill them, but you know what? They have a gun too. They're just as likely to kill you as you are them.

We're a violent, angry people. Everything this country has ever really achieved has been through violence and killing, frankly.

But the time for the false moral equivalency arguments are over. Eight years of Bush and the Left talked about impeachment, winning electoral victories, and non-violent protests against the specific acts that Bush did while in office. Legal avenues of redressing grievances, even at the most heated.

But ten weeks of Obama and the Right is talking about a new world order, revolution, and the "illegitimate Muslim usurper." They are accusing him of fascism, of trying to destroy the country, of trying to take their guns away when he's just tried to clean up Bush's mess. They are advocating a very, very different path. And down that path are massacres like we had over the last two days.

When one points this out, one is accused of being paranoid, unhinged, and insane. Doesn't stop it from being the truth sometimes, but then again, the truth hurts.


I'm not sure what's more ludicrous, the claim that the Taliban was responsible for yesterday's massacre in Binghamton NY:
A Pakistani Taliban militant leader has claimed responsibility for the attack on a U.S. immigration center in New York state in which 13 people were killed, Reuters reported.

"I accept responsibility. They were my men. I gave them orders in reaction to U.S. drone attacks," Baituallah Mehsud told Reuters by telephone from an undisclosed location on Saturday.

U.S. officials were not immediately available for comment about Mehsud's claim, Reuters reported, and one Pakistani security analyst dismissed the claim as a publicity stunt.

...Or the claim that the Mehsud story is in fact a clever ruse in order to spread "anti-American propaganda"...
But we all know this “acceptance of responsibility” is an outright lie. We may not know why Jiverly Voong went off the deep end, but we know he had zilch to do with Pakistan. So, why did Reuters think it a story worthy of reporting? There can only be one reason.

You see by telling us the lie of Baitubooolah Meshaweazel Muhammad something-or-another who is claiming he was responsible for the rampage Reuters can also promulgate anger toward our Predator drone program that has been so successful in killing these Taliban and al Qaeda scum-bags.

Reuters knows full well the story is bunk. But if it helps turn more people against the U.S. efforts to stop Islamofascist terror, well, that is a tale worth telling.

...or the belief that Mehsud is actually telling the truth and America's under siege.
Was there more than one gunman? I liveblogged the coverage and for a couple of hours during the day they thought there was. Who assisted the gunman? Whose car did he use to barricade the back door to stop people from escaping? How many were involved? What's on the murderer's hard drive? Will law enforcement give us the straight story?
The Occam's Razor assumption that Mehsud is just yanking our chain hasn't occured to the wingers yet, but then again this is the kind of thing they live for.

No doubt they're trying to figure out how this somehow proves Obama is a Muslim Manchurian Candidate.

No Longer Any Excuses

Last night, BooMan argued that releasing Bush era terror memos wasn't as simple as just having Eric Holder make them public.
You can think about it like this. When you try to recruit someone to spy for you against his own government your number one obstacle is not overcoming their innate patriotism. You've probably already identified some weakness on their part (substance addiction, homosexuality, a sick child, etc.) that you can exploit. Your number one obstacle is convincing them that you can keep the arrangement a secret and that you can take care of them if anything goes wrong. If your government cannot keep a secret, them you'll have a hell of a time convincing anyone to spy for you. Therefore, it's bad idea for the government to discuss clandestine operations in public.

What's true about recruiting agents is tenfold more true about foreign intelligence services. You cannot expose a foreign intelligence service as being complicit in torture, for example, and think that they will ever cooperate with you again on sensitive intelligence matters.

That's the legacy that the Bush administration left us. If we have a full airing of the black sites, the extraordinary renditions, and the 'enhanced interrogations', it will severely damage our vital relationships with several foreign intelligence services. And that can really and truly put our country at unnecessary risk.

This morning that argument became an utterly moot point. The Brits announced their own "truth and reconciliation" investigation into torture and human rights abuses.

MPs are to undertake the most far-reaching inquiry into Britain's role in human rights abuses in decades as allegations mount to suggest that officials repeatedly breached international law.

The Commons foreign affairs select committee will examine Britain's involvement in the detention, transfer and interrogation of prisoners held during the so-called war on terror. Among the matters to be examined later in the year are allegations, reported in the Guardian over the past two years, that British intelligence officers colluded in the torture of Britons held in Pakistan and Egypt.

David Miliband, the foreign secretary, will give evidence to the inquiry although he and Jacqui Smith, the home secretary, refused, earlier this year, to appear before parliament's joint committee on human rights, which is looking into reports that British officials were complicit in torture.

The foreign affairs committee will investigate:

  • The case of Binyam Mohamed.

  • Allegations of British complicity in torture.

  • The practice of extraordinary rendition, including the possible use of the British Indian Ocean territory of Diego Garcia.

  • The transfer of prisoners in Afghanistan and Iraq.

  • Allegations of sexual abuse at the British embassy in Baghdad.

  • The oversight of private security companies employed by the Foreign Office.

Mike Gapes, the committee's Labour chairman, said this would be the first time it would attempt to investigate the range of allegations about British conduct. "We are very concerned about these, and thought it was important to branch out," he said. The committee has yet to decide whether to ask the security or intelligence agencies to give evidence.

As you can see there by that last sentence, the Brits are struggling with the intelligence question as well, the argument is that revealing anything about our intel sources and methods will do far more damage to our country than the continuing mistrust that refusing to release the information is causing or will cause. However, that's no longer the point. The Brits have all but played our hand by deciding that the intelligence agency evidence question is not stopping them from launching a full inquiry.

At this point I don't see how Obama can now continue to refuse to hold similar hearings. It needs to be done. Period. Redact the methods and sources if you must, but after this, there's no longer any excuse. Particularly given the very, very real possibility of the British investigation implicating American officials in some way, we now have no choice. The British Parliament has made Obama's decision for him.

The UK and the US are so inextricably linked that US officials have to and will be implicated in the British inquiry. Sunlight is about to be shined on the whole black, rotten mess underneath the rock that it has been buried under. The risk of this happening means that the US should now conduct its own investigation before the British one embarrasses the US any further.

And regardless of the state of the intelligence question, the Brits are again proceeding with a full inquiry. We now look like fools because of our President's stubborn refusal to do the same. Nobody will trust us on anything anyway.

The Brits are doing the right thing and in doing so they have forced Obama's hand. We need to as well. We now have no choice in the matter.

StupidiNews, Weekend Edition

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