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The AP has a nice little story about the CIA’s kidnap and torture squad, re-posted here at Talking Points Memo:

Four of the nation’s most highly valued terrorist prisoners were secretly moved to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in 2003, years earlier than has been disclosed, then whisked back into overseas prisons before the Supreme Court could give them access to lawyers, The Associated Press has learned.

It amazes me that someone can write an entire article about an illegal secret government program that was designed to kidnap and torture people while hiding them from the courts and the public … without using the words “illegal,” “kidnap,” or “torture.”

But holy hell, what is this next bit about?

Worse for the CIA, if the Supreme Court granted detainees rights, the entire covert program was at risk. Zubaydah and al-Nashiri could tell their lawyers about being waterboarded in Thailand. Al-Nashiri might discuss having a drill and an unloaded gun put to his head at a CIA prison in Poland.

“Anything that could expose these detainees to individuals outside the government was a nonstarter,” one U.S. official familiar with the program said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the government’s legal analysis.

Let me unpack that logic a bit.  Individuals in the Bush CIA had to hide these imprisoned men from the courts and anyone else outside the government … because … if the prisoners were allowed to talk to anyone, they might complain about being tortured … by the CIA?  Which would, you know, look bad on their annual GS-14 performance reviews.  Or something.  It’s not like they could have been worried about being charged with crimes.  John Yoo and Jay Bybee told them it was all OK! (Guess which one of those two names is missing from the article.)

So instead, everyone in the Bush administration who learned about the illegal secret torture and kidnapping program just… went along with the conspiracy to cover it all up, because hey, why rock the boat?  And the AP is granting anonymity to a source who is “familiar” with “the program” because … if we knew the source’s name, presumably he could be charged with a crime, either in the US or somewhere else.

Glad we’ve cleared that up.

From kgw.com :

PORTLAND, Ore. — Immigration officials have revealed a plan to create holding cells in Portland’s slowly up-and-coming dying South Waterfront neighborhood.

fixed that for you.  A brand new ICE jail for transient prisoners is just what the John Ross condobacle needs to sell those last few units (at 60% below original list price).

So Boingboing, among several others, tells me that the Pentagon wants to take their ball back:

In a briefing at the Defense Department, Pentagon Spokesman Geoff Morrell ordered Wikileaks to remove classified documents and return them to the U.S. government.

For reals?  I might be wrong here*, but I’m pretty sure that’s not how the internet works.  See, e.g., the Tom Cruise scientology video saga for just one example of what happens when powerful people with expensive lawyers decide to attack random people on the internet.  And if you think the Department of Defense is more web-savvy than the Church of Scientology, I suppose you’re entitled to that opinion… but short of nuking Iceland, what are they going to do?

I pose that question in all seriousness.

This isn’t about being “nice” or some kind of contest between DoD and Wikileaks about the meaning of “the right thing” in this context.  It’s almost universally accepted that the U.S. government is spending a ton of money  to murder innocent people in Afghanistan for no reason that can be articulated.   Wikileaks, majorities of the American public, and most of the rest of the world clearly wants it to stop.  To the extent that words like “good” or “right” have meaning here, any action that moves U.S. policy towards an end of the occupation is unquestionably “the right thing,” and so far Wikileaks has done more towards that end in just a few short weeks than the US military apparatus has been able to accomplish in nearly ten years.  DoD has significantly less credibility than Wikileaks does at this point- agents of the US government are in no position to be making demands.

The ultimatum the DoD has issued here, “Do the right thing and return our files…[implied OR ELSE!]” is essentially nonsense.  Even if Wikileaks wanted to comply (they don’t) or were going to try to comply (they won’t), what does it even mean to “return” a digital file?  I’m put in mind of those people who send emails via Outlook and then try to “recall” them… by sending a second email.  Exchange server might work like that, but *email* doesn’t.  And pretending that it does just makes the pretender look silly.  Or stupid.  Once something is on the web, you can’t take it back.

Over the last five years or so, we’ve witnessed the birth of that awareness in the collective consciousness of our more intelligent political leaders.  As applied to politicians, the long memory of the net is a positive- any tools that help the electorate to screen out people who are crazy or habitual liars are a good thing.  I guess this sample of DoD’s ideas about their power over the net is an indicator that the bureaucracies haven’t quite figured it out yet.

* I’m not wrong.

Arizona turns off its photo ticket contract.

The cameras, which included 76 units either mounted near the shoulder or operated from vans, were adept at snapping speeders as they whizzed past sensors, but getting offenders to pay after the tickets were mailed to them was another matter. Less than a third of the 1.2 million tickets issued were paid, and the state collected $78 million, far below the projected $120 million annual revenue. Some of those tickets, typically $181 apiece, no doubt were lost in the mail…

no doubt.

… others no doubt were not paid as violators tested a legal theory that they needed to be served in person.  Process servers who were supposed to follow up could hardly keep up with the load.

Oh.  That’s much more likely.  Wonder what it costs to hire a cut-rate process server in Arizona?  $80 per attempt?  $50?  What with the vendor’s rake-off for running the system, I bet nobody did the math to figure out whether they’d ever break even.
But WTF is this about?

Lawmakers at the hearing were concerned with more than just accident statistics. State Representative Andy Biggs (R-Gilbert) was also upset to learn that the Redflex freeway cameras have been recording video twenty-four hours a day to track the movements of drivers not accused of any crime. Last September, TheNewspaper first reported the plan to link all continuously recording photo enforcement cameras into a nationwide surveillance network.

Jesus on fishhooks.  Sometimes when I read stuff like this I wish I was actually MORE paranoid than I am.

The NRA has announced its opposition to the Elena Kagan nomination. By picking such a weak nominee, Obama was really  just asking for it:

We have carefully examined the career, written documents and public statements of nominee Elena Kagan and have found nothing to indicate any support for the Second Amendment. On the contrary, the facts reveal a nominee who opposes Second Amendment rights and is clearly out of step with mainstream Americans.

Therefore, the NRA is strongly opposed to Kagan’s confirmation to the Court.

See, here’s the thing.  She’s got no record to speak of.  No proven philosophy.  No demonstrated commitment to progressive causes, or women’s causes, or, hell, any causes at all for that matter.  The only thing that Democrats could use to justify supporting her nomination is that Barry Picked Her.

And that might have worked!  As long as nobody serious and organized bothered to point out any of the reasons to object to the nomination. Since the NRA is both serious and organized, they seized on the flaws in Kagan’s background and are using them to whip Republicans into opposition.

If Obama had picked someone that liberals could rally behind, there would be a groundswell of support for the nominee to stand against the NRA’s objections. As it is, the NRA is making essentially the same complaints that many on the left have been making ever since Kagan was named as the nominee: (a) we don’t know anything about her philosophy, (b) she has no relevant experience, and (c) there are reasons to suspect she might actually do more harm than good. See, for example, Glenn’s excellent coverage here.

If the Administration had listened to Greenwald’s substantive objections before the nomination, and picked someone that liberals could support without holding their noses, they could lean on that support now. Instead, liberals have no reason to rally behind this nominee, and so there are no voices to oppose the NRA. And if her nomination fails now because she is a blank slate, well, Obama only has himself to blame.

[this post was edited later that night for clarity]

Focus

Zero hedge points out the logical disconnect between GOP rhetoric and fiscal reality:

[W]hile the noise out of Washington is trying to convince us that these deficits are ruinous, the ten year Treasury bond yields we saw yesterday at a stunning 2.97% are telling us that, in fact, they are no problem at all, and that the government can now borrow nearly infinite amounts of money at the lowest interest rates in history.

And what does all that deficit spending get us?

Out of a current projected budget deficit of $1.3 trillion, $700 billion, or 54% comes from the Bush era tax cuts, $320 billion (25%) from a tax revenue fall off caused by the Great Recession, $200 billion from the wars in Iran and Iraq (15%), and $50 billion (4%) is generated by Obama’s recovery measures. The TARP and the bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are so small, they don’t even register on the chart. All of the angst, complaining, moaning, blustering, and carping is about the 4%.

So all the sound and fury about austerity and fiscal discipline is just so much bullshit, to distract the focus of public attention from where it would otherwise be directed.  If anyone was really serious about cutting federal deficits, there are three big fat juicy targets: repeal the Bush tax cuts, end the pointless occupations, and put Americans back to work by having the government hire them directly.

It’s not rocket science.

More than one in seven homeowners with loans in excess of a million dollars are seriously delinquent, according to data compiled for The New York Times by the real estate analytics firm CoreLogic.By contrast, homeowners with less lavish housing are much more likely to keep writing checks to their lender. About one in 12 mortgages below the million-dollar mark is delinquent. emphasis added

from The Big Picture.  I’m sure that somehow this can be blamed on lazy brown people.  I’m a bit less optimistic that we’ll see any retractions of all the “subprime” stories that started running in summer 2007.

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