Category Archives: Politics

Lucid Lang: Al Qaeda

English is often hi-jacked. The language is manipulated, overlooked — and frankly — ignored. That’s why there’s a need for Lucid Lang, a skeptical look at how propaganda, politicians and profiteers exploit the language to fit meet their needs. This is the start of the Tank’s periodic attempts to keep lang somewhat lucid.

In a Sesame Street-like tone: Today’s words are “Al Qaeda” or “Al Qaida”

The words means “training base” in Arabic. The words are used to describe the U.S. enemy in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and now Yemen. The words are used loosely as an umbrella for these different organizations that are not centrally directed.

If these organizations are all called “Al Qaeda” they could be construed into a guilt-by-association conclusion. The enemy in Yemen is different than the enemy in Afghanistan. And their actions should be dealt with individually because, if all are pooled together, the perceived threat could be exacerbated.

Sure, there are genuine ties to be made, but they must be addressed judiciously.

Take Yemen for example. The attempted Christmas Day airline bomber originated in Yemen, the same site of the U.S. Cole bombing in 2000. The Cole bombing killed 17 sailors and wounded 39 others, and the 9/11 Commission Report said the bombing was “supervised directly by Bin Laden.”

But Ali H. Soufan, a former special FBI agent who oversaw the attempt to prosecute those responsible for the Cole bombing, doesn’t believe the threat of an estimated 200 outlaws is worth the time of U.S. soldiers. The issue should be addressed by Yemen, Soufan wrote in Sunday’s New York Times.

The larger issue isn’t the network of “Al Qaeda,” but the proper prosecution of individual suspects once they are arrested in varying countries. Some of the leadership of the outlaw cell in Yemen was released from Guantanamo Bay after detention, while others weren’t properly prosecuted in Yemen for the Cole bombing.

Before associating all the “terrorist” cells into one, consider that they are more individual factions, not a global network. They should be watched closely and assessed on their independent tenets. 

The Tank is far from an intelligence expert, but we believe it’s a delicate balance between two things: 1. Al Qaeda using a centralized goal of global jihad and a decentralized attack and 2. simply using jihad under the label of “al Qaeda.”

Please read “Al Qaeda” closely.

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Coveted Cove

Dear President Obama,

The revealing documentary “The Cove” exposed the Taiji, Japan dolphin massacres and should receive the ultimate prize for such great investigative journalism — meaningful social change.

The documentations revealed the animal rights violations in the secretive and bloody slaughter that is clandestinely approved by the Japanese government.

These vicious harvests are part of an estimated 23,000 dolphins killed in Japan each year without acknowledgement of the U.S., U.N., or its sanctioned committee on the subject, the International Whaling Commission.

Ric O’Barry, the former trainer of Flipper, saw how organizations such as Sea World were paying fishermen in Taiji, Japan up to $150,000 for one show dolphin that is plucked from the pack prior to slaughter.

O’Barry became an activist and recruited a team to expose the slaughter from different angles and senses. As Louie Psihoyosa of the Oceanic Preservation Society said “we wanted to catch something that would make people change.”

With suffocatingly brutal imagery, the documentary showed how hundreds of dolphins are corralled in nets, speared and left to bleed to death. Then, their mercury-laced meat is fed to ignorant school children in Japan.

This must change.

The documentary quotes Margaret Mead as saying, “Never ever depend on any governments or institutions to solve any problems. All social change comes from the passion of individuals.”

Mr. President, show that institutions that you lead can provoke social change. This is necessary for our ecosystem and as reward for stunning investigative journalism.

Sincerely,

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[Send a letter to President Obama like I did. Be the change. Text “dolphin” to 44144.]

‘Law’ isn’t justice

Yesterday’s “unlawful enemy combatant” is today’s “law of war” detainee.

Yesterday was Bush; today is Obama.

President Obama has addressed many crucial  and negative aspects of the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba prison camp — such as beginning to bring some prisoners to trial and deporting others — but “several dozen” prisoners will still not have charges filed against them when the prison soon relocates to Illinois.

Like Bush’s “unlawful enemy combatant”  name for prisoners, Obama’s “law of war” detainee is simply repackaging. In both cases, the powers that be believe the detainees are ineligible for prosecution and too dangerous for release.

One question: If Khalid Sheikh Mohammed can be tried in a U.S. court, why can’t the guys that didn’t plan the 9/11 terrorist acts be tried in a court of law?

Apparently, just because it says “law” in the title, that doesn’t make it a justice.

“The only thing that President Obama is doing with this announcement [of Gitmo closing] is changing the ZIP code of Guantanamo,” Thom Parker, Amnesty International USA policy director, told the New York Times.

These Gitmo actions are another example of Obama being just a better — not great — president.

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Go up the food chain

The federal investigation into the CIA for its interrogation tactics doesn’t go far enough.

The alleged acts are horrendous and shameful, including choking prisoners, water dousing, mock executions and — worse of all — threatening the health of their wives and children.

Instead of current plan of seeking prosecution for the subordinates who acted at the direction of their superiors and under their sketchy legal jurisdiction, the inquiry should start with then-CIA Director George Tenet and go up the Bush Administration ladder.

The most egregious acts were conducted by the bosses and lawyers who authorized the interrogations, which have been reportedly ineffective and counterproductive anyway.

I agree with Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, who compared the current purview of the inquiry to Abu Ghraib, when “lower ranking troops who commited abuses were hung out to dry.”

A narrow scope on administration officials would debunk one of the main justifications for not conducting the inquiry in Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal editorial. The Journal goes to the knee-jerk conservative reaction of how it sends the wrong message to those who execute the war. If the inquiry goes after Veep Cheney and Justice lawyers who concocted the “enhanced interrogation tactics,” the CIA operatives are spared.

Regardless of finish, this inquiry is going to get ugly. It’s necessary to prosecute  those who’ve put in motion such travesties,  but it will also detract from larger, more important issues, such as health care reform.

The inquiry also doesn’t look good for the Obama administration, which previously sought to overlook the past and move on to “change.” But once the ACLU won a Freedom of Information Act request to get the 2004 internal CIA report, then Attorney General Eric Holder and other Obama called the inquiry.

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Becoming top-of-mind

Daily intelligence briefings presented to the president by military generals in uniforms adorned with stars and pins curry respect and attention because of its formal approach and routine.

Health and Human Services officials should mimic the military’s approach and get in front of the president on a daily basis.

Wearing their own starched and pressed uniforms with smiley-face pins signifying healthy children and broccoli-head lapels to represent soup-kitchen meals served, health officials would present the president with a daily status on America’s social well being.

Monday’s health briefing would include Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s veto to cut state-funded health care for up to 35,000 poor and childless Minnesotans.

Intelligence like that could really raise the priority of our social status.

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My shit is stuff!

The military industrial congressional complex showed its pull is location, location, location.

russ-feingold1U.S. Senator Russ Feingold, D-Wis., who voted against the 2003 Iraq war resolution, has succumbed to the complex. Once one of the staunchest critics of the war, Feingold trumpeted $37 million economic stimulus dollars Sunday for improvements to Army facilities in his home state.

 As George Carlin once said about earmarks, “Your stuff is shit. My shit is stuff!

When money is spent on military issues in your state and employs your constituents, it, duh, becomes harder to vote against expanding and growing militaristic endeavours. Granted, it’s difficult for politicians to disagree with job creation and retention, but overarching morality should trump the pervasive nature of “national defense.” 

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Secrecy might be secondary

The disclosure of documents on the lawless practices of the Bush administration era on Monday was a breath of fresh air in a suffocating stream of the Obama administration siding with its predecessor.

Attorney General Eric Holder disclosed 10 opinions, including rendition and suspensions of free speech and warrantless searches. The Obama administration, however, withheld the worst opinions and didn’t distance itself from the principles of the Bush crooks. [Last week, the Tank railed against Obama’s team here.]

From the Washington Post: “The new batch of opinions does not include any repudiated by the Obama administration or reflect a government shift on the underlying legal issues since Bush’s departure. They also do not include the most controversial memos that Democratic lawmakers and human rights experts have been asking to see for several years, including those justifying the CIA’s use of harsh interrogation techniques and the National Security Agency’s program to surveil certain Americans without warrants.”

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