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Saturday, September 18, 2004

Report a Complaint About Police Misconduct at an RNC-related Event 

The NYCLU (New York Civil Liberties Union) has received numerous
complaints about police practices and misconduct during the Republican
National Convention. The complaints cover a wide array of issues: the
arrest or detainment of law-abiding protestors and bystanders, the
targeting of street medics, journalists, and legal observers,
conditions at Pier 57, and delays in processing arrests.

The NYCLU is now gathering complaints of police actions during the RNC.
In addition, we are collecting accounts from people held at Pier 57
during the week of the convention.

To file your account, go to www.nyclu.org and click on "Report a Complaint About Police Misconduct at an RNC-related event." Reports should include as much relevant detail as possible, including time, location, any witnesses, and a description of what happened.

Please email the completed report to rncnyclu@aol.com
or send it to:
NYCLU Attn: RNC Intake
17th Floor
125 Broad St
NY, NY 10004

The form can also be faxed to: RNC Intake at 212-344-3318

Please indicate whether you wish your report to be kept confidential.

Be Very Concerned after November 

Thanks to Jim for sending this article. Very chilling...

Sidney Blumenthal in Thursday’s Guardian quotes General Hoare, former marine commandant and head of US Central Command, as seeing an attack on Fallujah planned for after the November election.

Read the article in full, but here is the key and most germane portion regarding a cynical decision to let the blood flow after Nov. 2:

“General Hoare believes from the information he has received that "a decision has been made" to attack Fallujah "after the first Tuesday in November. That's the cynical part of it - after the election. The signs are all there."

He compares any such planned attack to the late Syrian dictator Hafez al-Asad's razing of the rebel city of Hama. "You could flatten it," said Hoare. "US military forces would prevail, casualties would be high, there would be inconclusive results with respect to the bad guys, their leadership would escape, and civilians would be caught in the middle. I hate that phrase collateral damage. And they talked about dancing in the street, a beacon for democracy."

General Odom remarked that the tension between the Bush administration and the senior military officers over Iraqi was worse than any he has ever seen with any previous government, including Vietnam. "I've never seen it so bad between the office of the secretary of defence and the military. There's a significant majority believing this is a disaster. The two parties whose interests have been advanced have been the Iranians and al-Qaida. Bin Laden could argue with some cogency that our going into Iraq was the equivalent of the Germans in Stalingrad. They defeated themselves by pouring more in there. Tragic."”

"Free Speech Zone" excludes Manhattan 

In following up on the police lockdown of New York City during the Republican National Convention last month, Jim Dwyer of the New York Times has written an extensive article in yesterday’s paper about the legal aftermath of the tactics used.

It’s clear now that the accusations lodged against the NYPD ‘s tactics and the city’s slow motion warehousing of demonstrators and bystanders alike after demonstration roundups were accurate. In what can only be described as a preplanned preventive detention scheme, the hundreds warehoused on one of Manhattan’s piers were kept for the duration of the convention without lawyers or arraignment.

The charges filed against most, like disorderly conduct, would not ordinarily have resulted in sentences as long as the detentions themselves. Explanations for the delay, such the lack of fingerprint check responses from the state of New York, have been proved to be fallacious. Most fingerprint checks were returned by state officials in Albany to NYC within an hour, it turns out.

In an earlier story, reporters and New York State ACLU lawyers also found the Manhattan District Attorneys’ offices strangely empty during one of the largest mass detentions in city history. The simple explanation would seem to be that there was a plan to freeze the wheels of justice long enough to let the RNC do it’s business and leave before any political dissent could take serious hold.

A court hearing on the City’s contempt of court orders during the convention coming up on September 26 will hopefully shed more light on the subject.

Former Democrat and current Republican Mayor Bloomberg earned his stripes with his new party at the RNC. The only casualty was freedom of speech, it seems.

Imagining the Unimaginable 

When you’re ready to take a break from the Presidential campaign and actually think about national security issues, check out Rory Kennedy’s chilling documentary, “Indian Point: Imagining the Unimaginable.”

On September 11, 2001, I was stuck in New Jersey, unable to return to my home in New York City over bridges and tunnels that had been shut down to protect the metropolis from further attacks. I called my partner Linda’s cousin up in Westchester County and he told me I could get to their house by coming over the Bear Mountain Bridge across the Hudson River. What I saw coming across that bridge on the worst Tuesday in memory terrified me.

You may remember, as all New Yorkers do, what a crystal-clear, crisply beautiful day 9-11-2001 was. Coming across the bridge, you could see all the way down the Hudson. It’s only thirty-five miles to Manhattan from there. As I came around the bend after crossing the river, I looked down to see the Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant, humming away under three nuclear containments, designed to come between us and the catastrophe that would ensue for at least fifty miles in any direction should the radiation inside escape. I gasped to myself in the car, knowing what could have happened.

The plant had been along the river flight path the terrorists took to fly to the World Trade Center. Rory Kennedy’s documentary explores what exactly could have occurred if Al Qaeda had decided not to symbolically destroy a center of finance in New York City, but instead had gone for the whole enchilada. It’s not a pretty story.

Someday, Indian Point will be shut down. The 2,000 megawatts of power it generates can be replaced without much stress on the power grid. I wonder whether it’ll happen while there’s still time to protect New York City? The Indian Point story brings up myriad questions about the security of nuclear plants across the country and about real national security from terror.

But, I suppose when we keep talking about protecting the US by attacking Iraq for it’s nonexistent nuclear threat, we’re too busy to even put a no-fly zone around the biggest stick of dynamite imaginable inside the nation.


Friday, September 17, 2004

Mary Mapes 

The Wall Street Journal reported today on Mary Mapes, the producer of the 60 Minutes II story about President Bush’s youthful service in the Texas Air National Guard. The WSJ article, by Brookes Barnes and Joe Flint, cites Ms. Mapes work on the Abu Gharib prison abuse story, the Strom Thurmond biracial fatherhood story, on the aftermath of Desert Storm, and other important work on controversial issues. On the Bush National Guard issue, Mapes spent time over five years researching the history of the now-President’s service problems. Mapes has been a tiger about journalistic ethics, facing the threat of jail over one story without flinching.

Reading between the lines, it’s hard to imagine this story being anything but on the money, whether one can or can’t prove the pedigree of the one disputed document involved, written by a man now deceased. The question may be more one of whether the Bush campaign has picked a fight that could backfire on them by not ignoring the flap altogether.

It'll be interesting to see if CBS backs off or digs in now.

BBC Election Weblog 

Check out Kevin Anderson's BBC US Election weblog.

It's fun to read about the US election as occuring in a foreign country. Kinda gets around the jaded insider entertainment-oriented coverage one reads in US sources like mine.

And Where? 

In case no one picked up the beauty of the location connection... in front of the National Guard. Yeah, the group that might still be trying to figure out whether the President served with them.

Somebody in the Kerry campaign is earning their pay at long last.

Flash- Off Floor, Kerry Punches Back 

Finally, some clear, harsh rhetoric from the Democratic nominee about Bush’s campaign to spin the war in Iraq. Kerry spoke to the National Guard two days after Bush did the same and lambasted the President for telling the Guard that all was going well in occupation-land, just as news of the secret National Intelligence Estimate predicting exactly the opposite was about to leak out. Not that reading any newspaper wouldn’t lead one to the same conclusion, but hey, these guys get paid to tell the President what he won’t read in the paper.

It’s amazing that this Administration has been able to control access to information as effectively as it has throughout the last four years. It makes you stop and think about how bad things could get for the Bushies if we started to hear more unvarnished truth from inside the government.

BTW- The NY Times website runs a wonderfully descriptive Richard Perry photo alongside today’s Elizabeth Bumiller article about the campaign and Iraq.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Hey, Look Over There! 

Maureen Dowd pulls together nicely the insanity of the current snapshot moment in our political life. While the government quietly tells the President that things have gone so badly wrong in his personal war on Iraq that the best the intelligence people can offer is a continued fragile balance in the killing, the nation is focused on whether Dan Rather was duped by a factually correct, but possibly forged memo about the President’s dereliction of duty in 1972.

As I’ve said here several times before, Karl Rove, we are not worthy. Imagine pulling this off… it’s truly stunning to behold. If the American people fall for this, we truly deserve what we get. But you have to give Rove his due. He knows what will fill the news cycle in an era of entertainment. He figures that all he has to do is provide continual distraction and offense, offense, offense against political enemies who figure the Queensbury Rules will kick in, sooner or later.

The question is, will his opponents decide to hit the other guy back before it's too late?

It's gonna be a helluva debate.

"With Respect, Answer the Questions" 

One can only wonder if some circular Bush family karma isn't at work when Dan Rather does another tete a tete with a President Bush. Last time that happened, Bush the Father was finally able to shake the "wimp" label in testy response to Rather's hard questioning about the Iran-Contra Affair.

Now again, we have a Bush Presidency challenged by Rather's reportage, this time regarding young George's apparent immunity to military service regulations and his walking away from National Guard duty in Alabama in the early 1970's. In response, the President's stand-ins have challenged the legitimacy of only one document cited in the report. This attempt to distract attention from the general thrust and unchallenged premise of the 60 Minutes II broadcast about young George's hypocritical willingness to both wholeheartedly support the Vietnam incursion and simultaneously shirk military service to his country during the period has had some success so far.

Now comes the interesting part. This will now play out to a climax on a national stage, as CBS stakes it's journalistic reputation on it's reporting while Bush stakes only his supporter's credibility to refute the charges. Will it work out for the President? Time will tell. Meanwhile, the always over-formal Rather has this legitimate request of the President,

"With respect: answer the questions," asks Rather, adding, "We've heard what you have to say about the documents and what you've said and what your surrogates have said, but for the moment, answer the questions."

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Lynne Gobbell 

Lynne Gobbell appears to be a woman with the courage of her convictions.

Down in Alabama, she was fired from her factory job after refusing to pick the "right choice" when her boss required her to choose between her job and the Kerry for President sticker adorning her car.

Fortunately for her, the Kerry campaign and americablog.org both came to her aid and she's got a job and $1,800 raised by the readers of americablog in support of her.

Courageous gal in the Deep South... people with the strength of character to back up their ideals deserve a little support. You go Lynne!

Monday, September 13, 2004

North Korea Blows Something Up 

I guess the mystery explosion on the Chinese border should be making us all think...

At the risk of restating the obvious, we really have to marvel about this Administration’s total lack of responsibility in dealing with the biggest threat to world security, the nuclear weapons being developed in North Korea .

In political terms, the North Korea issue, should we pay attention to it, is also a microcosm of what’s wrong with George W. Bush’s foreign policy. Here we have a nation ruled by paranoid psychotics who are armed to the teeth, while the entire focus of American might is focused on occupying a country run by poor toothless tigers armed with, at best, RPG’s.

This is a debate topic one can only hope gets asked about early on…

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Aggressive 

Is it just me, or do you wonder how a campaign can be run so well that when your candidate is accused of having his military record doctored and of powerful interests covering his tracks, the issue becomes whether one of the documents referred to is a forgery, not whether the sum total of the charges are true?

My hat's off to Karl Rove. Amazing.




Starman 

I still love the simple pleasures of John Carpenter’s Starman (1984). Today the government would surely have successfully murdered Jeff Bridge’s gentle alien before he got home.

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