Bin Laden and His Family

 Politics, War  Comments Off on Bin Laden and His Family
May 112011

I’ve been torn about the action against Bin Laden and how the situation has been handled. My attitude is that every reasonable effort should have been taken to capture him alive and try him in a U.S. Court. Of course, I realize a lot of people don’t think we should give fair trials anymore, and I understand there would be risks. Also, I wasn’t on the ground at the compound.

Once he was killed, however, I think there was an issue with what to do with the body. I hope he did receive some religious rites. Everyone is entitled to that, and I think a burial at sea was most likely the best solution. There’s no real need to release the photos. There are people who will make all sorts of claims regardless of whether or not the photos are released.

I think I understand some of the spontaneous celebrations that broke out, but, maybe because of my background, I don’t think it’s right to celebrate a death. It’s just not my thing, so it’s not something in which I would have participated, but as I say, I understand it.

Now let’s look at the already rising tide of conspiracy theories:

  • The first one seemed to be that Bin Laden was killed 10 years ago and kept on ice. I’m surely not buying that. George Bush and Darth Cheney would have been pounding their chests. How silly to think otherwise.
  • Now Iran claims he died a natural death a couple of years ago. His family is giving every impression he was still alive on the day of the attack, and there seems no question that one of his son’s and a wife were killed.
  • He’s still alive and being questioned. This could be within the realm of possibilities, but there would have to be a lot of people in on that, making it pretty hard to maintain the secret.
  • It wasn’t him, and he’s still alive and well and living in Miami. Again, not completely out of the realm of possibilities, but as noted above, a lot of people would have to be in on the hoax, and that makes it a difficult secret to keep.

But now we have his family complaining that internal laws might have been violated. Could be, but despite being a stickler for that sort of thing, they’re not going to get a lot of sympathy from me. The guy sent out tapes and statements claiming responsibility for the 9/11 attacks, so I’m confident of his guilt.

And they have the nerve to release the following statement, “”We maintain that arbitrary killing is not a solution to political problems and crime’s adjudication as justice must be seen to be done.” Seriously? A son of Bin Laden has the nerve to condemn “arbitrary killing.” Some people don’t have the moral authority to say some things, even if what they are saying might be correct. This is one of those cases.

I think it’s just to close this chapter, and move on to whatever is next.

Nov 122009
Joshua Basso

Joshua Basso

Just when you thought it was safe to go back outside, the craziness has returned with a vengeance. It’s hard to top Washington for lunacy, but we’re trying hard here in Tampa. Hopefully there’s stimulus money for cultivating crazy. We seem to be going for a grant.

We start out this morning with 20 year old Joshua Basso. Now we all know it’s hard times for everyone, and Josh is apparently getting hit by the  economic downturn. He was out of minutes on his cell phone. But Josh was horny and creative (a dangerous combination), so he called the only number that would work from his phone, 9-1-1, asked some very personal questions about the dispatchers body, then asked if he could come to her house for sex (allegedly). When the police arrived at his boarding house Josh was, not surprisingly found locked in the bathroom. They called his cell number to confirm it was him, and he immediately turned it off. Unfortunately, the officer knew how to turn it back on…darn it. As bad as this is, we can only award Josh our runner-up award as creep of the day.

Jasen Bruce

Jasen Bruce

The First prize goes to a Marine Reservist, Jasen D. Bruce. It seems that Jasen was hanging out in the Channelside district here in Tampa when a man with a beard, robe and sandals (and speaking broken english) got out of his car and asked Jasen for directions. Jasen, being a good Marine and immediately recognizing a terrorist threat when he saw one, jumped to action, hit the guy with a tire iron, then chased him down the street and tackled to beat a little more of the fear of god into him (allegedly). Greek Orthodox Priest, Alexios Marakis, is expected to recover, and we’re all safer in Tampa now thanks to the vigilance of Mr. Bruce, and the Judge who let him out on bond.

At various times during his interview by police, Bruce gave the following stories:

  • The man tried to rob him.
  • The man grabbed Bruce’s crotch and made an overt sexual advance in perfect English.
  • The man yelled “Allahu Akbar,” Arabic for “God is great,” the same words some witnesses said the Fort Hood shooting suspect uttered last week.
  • “That’s what they tell you right before they blow you up,” police say Bruce told them.

Now normally I’m fine with bond, but it appears Bruce has a violent history. A couple of years ago he pled guilty to beating the crap out of a two truck driver. But the good Jasen went on the Bubba the Love Sponge radio show here in Tampa this morning, where all purveyor’s of violence apparently go for repentance. While admitting to the guilty plea, Jasen says he was just defending himself after the truck driver hit him with a chain. (Witnesses at the time didn’t exactly see the same set of events as our Mr. Bruce though.) Of course Bruce had to set the stage for his defense on this charge, and what better defense is there than the good old self-defense/ gay panic defense. The troubling part of that is, Bruce’s initial story was that he mistook the Priest for a middle eastern terrorist (because they’re all terrorists you know), but after two days and a little time to clear his head…he now realizes that Father Marakis propositioned him and felt him up. And why wouldn’t that be true, we all know about how all the Priests are gay molesters (Oh, yeah…I forgot, that’s the Catholics…oops.)

But as crazy as those two are, the Grand Prize for Pubah of Crazy goes, this week, to the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission. This is the group which oh so valiantly carries on the crusade for those oh so persecuted Christians (which have about an 80% majority in this country). They are compelled to challenge to the recently enacted “revisions” to the Hate Crimes Prevention law. Note I said, “revision.” That would be because there has been a hate crimes bill on the books for nearly 20 years…and who did it protect…let’s see, that would be Christians.

So what’s their oh so Christian plan? Well, they are going to get on the steps of U.S. Justice Department and try to incite people to beat the shit out of Gay people, so they’ll get arrested under the “thought crimes provision” of the act (never mind the little problem of there not being one of those in the law). Given that they never wanted to just revoke the whole law. They want the right to kick the shit out of gay people, but don’t want gay people to have the equal right to kick the shit out of them. WWJW (Who Would Jesus Whoop)

Weekly Weirdness for July 4th, 2008

 Congress, Crime, General, Places, Politics, Society, Tampa  Comments Off on Weekly Weirdness for July 4th, 2008
Jul 052008

Nelson MandelaNelson Mandela Can Now Travel to the U.S. (From the BBC)
I didn’t know this, but apparently our illustrious Department of Homeland Stupidity classes Nelson Mandela as a terrorist. It seems DHS classed everyone ever in the African National Congress (ANC) a terrorist. Fortunately, Congress and the President passed special legislation that will allow him to visit the U.N. Headquarters in New York without a special waiver from the Secretary of State. I’m sure glad we got around to clearing that up.

Pot Grower Puts House on Market is reporting that Evarista Ruiz-Ortiz, 36, of 1741 W. Powhatan had 39 pot plants growing in her house. The article doesn’t say how the police found out, but she’d tapped directly into the overhead line for power, and had the house listed for sale. Maybe not he brightest person on the planet. But then again, times are tough, you gotta get gas money somehow.

Naked Man in Downtown Palmetto
There’s a report from the Sarasota Herald Tribune of a nake man run amok in downtown Palmetto. It appears he disrobed in front of some woman in a store while she was in the restroom (I didn’t quite understand that). The lady ran out and the store manager confronted the guy. Apparently, he calmly walked out of the store to the street, where the spectacle promptly caused a couple of traffice accidents. The most interesting part of the story is that the police drugs and alcohol didn’t appear to be involved.

Apr 092007

The master list the federal government keeps of known and suspected terrorists, from which other government agencies derive their own watch lists, already hundreds of thousands of names large, is growing out of control, filling with “fragmentary,” “inconsistent” and “sometimes just flat-out wrong” information, a top counterterrorism official said.

The Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment, described as “one-stop shopping” for federal watchlisting, collects scraps of intelligence from all across the government, and disseminates it to other government agencies for them to build their own watch lists. TIDE is the database created after 9/11 to centralize information about known and suspected terrorists. It was based on its predecessor, known as TIPOFF, a State Department terrorism database, and is run out of the new National Counterterrorism Center.

after 9/11 to centralize information about known and suspected terrorists. It was based on its predecessor, known as TIPOFF, a State Department terrorism database, and is run out of the new National Counterterrorism Center.Unlike most other government databases, TIDE mixes records on U.S. citizens with records on aliens. And unlike its predecessor, TIDE can store biometric information such as fingerprints and DNA records.

Unclassified portions of the TIDE database are used by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Terrorist Screening Center as well as the Transportation Security Administration for its no-fly list and selectee list, as well as many other government agencies. Each agency decides what criteria to use to accept a name from TIDE, which sets a very low bar on what information it will accept.

And therein lies the problem. As anyone who is familiar with computers will tell you, “Garbage in, garbage out.” And so, you get delayed at the airport for hours while people around you think you’re some kind of terrorist, because somebody put bad information into a computer. I warned you.

Sunday’s Washington Post has an excellent description of the TIDE database, how it works, and how it fails.

The single biggest worry that I have is long-term quality control,” said Russ Travers, in charge of TIDE at the National Counterterrorism Center in McLean. “Where am I going to be, where is my successor going to be, five years down the road?”

TIDE has also created concerns about secrecy, errors and privacy. The list marks the first time foreigners and U.S. citizens are combined in an intelligence database. The bar for inclusion is low, and once someone is on the list, it is virtually impossible to get off it. At any stage, the process can lead to “horror stories” of mixed-up names and unconfirmed information, Travers acknowledged.

TIDE is a vacuum cleaner for both proven and unproven information, and its managers disclaim responsibility for how other agencies use the data. “What’s the alternative?” Travers said. “I work under the assumption that we’re never going to have perfect information – fingerprints, DNA – on 6 billion people across the planet. . . . If someone actually has a better idea, I’m all ears.” – Washington Post

I have a better idea. Stop creating terrorists in the first place. Stop getting involved in other people’s business. Stop arming the terrorists. Stop funding them. Return America’s foreign policy to what it was supposed to be all along, in the words of Thomas Jefferson: “Peace, commerce and honest friendship with all nations; entangling alliances with none.”

You may call that unrealistic, but you do so without reason. It’s unrealistic to think the U.S. can win an ill-defined “war on terror” without turning into the sort of authoritarian state that we all used to point at and decry its horrors. Look around. It’s not just around the corner anymore; the U.S. has already become that police state. It’s unrealistic to think any foreign policy other than Jefferson’s will restore the United States to the grand old republic we all were told we lived in.

No Protection For The Innocent

 Congress, Constitution, Election, Politics, War  Comments Off on No Protection For The Innocent
Sep 282006

We’ve heard the rhetoric before. Republicans are repackaging their “tough on crime” speeches as “tough on terror” and complaining that anyone who stands in the way of increasing executive power at the expense of individual rights is “coddling” — criminals or terrorists, your pick.

And so we have Dennis Hastert saying:

“Democrat Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and 159 of her Democrat colleagues voted today in favor of more rights for terrorists,” Hastert said in a statement. “So the same terrorists who plan to harm innocent Americans and their freedom worldwide would be coddled, if we followed the Democrat plan.”

The “Democratic plan” is simply to expect the government to obey existing laws rather than brushing them aside with a quick legislative assist, but what is truly offensive and disingenuous about Hastert’s attack is the assumption that Democrats want to “coddle terrorists” rather than “protect the innocent.” It is astonishing that the GOP, so long distrustful of the ability of government to make decisions wisely, is now populated with members who are certain that the executive branch will never err in taking custody of a suspected terrorist. The rights that protect against a wrongful conviction — freedom from tortured confessions and a ban against the inherently unreliable evidence that coercion produces, confrontation of witnesses, discovery of evidence, judicial review and more — can be safely withheld because of … presidential infallibility?

There is no presumption of innocence in the Republican Bill of Rights. Those who oppose the president’s “terrorism” bills recognize that law enforcement agencies — from the smallest police department to Homeland Security and the CIA — don’t get it right every time. Click on TalkLeft’s innocence cases link to see how often the government gets it wrong. Or read about Maher Arar or Brandon Mayfield. Why are Hastert and his ilk so convinced that it is unnecessary to provide terrorism detainees with basic procedural protections that can save the falsely accused from a lifetime of indefinite detention?

It is monstrous that the GOP uses respect for our nation’s founding principles as an object of political ridicule and scorn. But it has been monstrous for Republicans to work tirelessly to imprison so many for so long while attacking Democrats for being “soft on crime.” And just as it has been frustrating to watch Democrats capitulate on crime (it was Bill Clinton, after all, who signed legislation that severely limited the scope of federal habeas corpus review), it is sad to see Democrats who are unwilling to protect our constitutional values today.

Harry Reid, on the Ed Schultz show today, said there just weren’t enough votes to sustain a filibuster. Why not? Why would anyone in the legislative branch tolerate an executive power grab of this dimension? Democrats had the power to stop this arrogant betrayal of the Constitution. Why didn’t they exercise that power? Because they didn’t want to seem soft on terrorism? What kind of politician are you if you can’t explain the difference between “coddling terrorists” and “protecting the innocent from an incompetent branch of government”?

At a time when progressive politics finally seemed to be overcoming a political structure perpetuated by hysteria and lies, the failure of Democrats to unite today in support of core American values is more than disappointing. Those who did not fight for democratic values will look back on today in shame.