Monday, June 29, 2009

Christian Fundamentalist Terrorists

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/shannyn-moore/christian-fundamentalist_b_209521.html

Shannyn Moore Shannyn Moore: Christian Fundamentalist Terrorism


Christian Fundamentalist Terrorism.

It's shocking to write. But it's time to start calling it what it is.

When Jim D. Adkisson walked into the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church with 76 rounds and a shot-gun, he killed 2 people and was charged with murder. His motive was "he hated the liberal movement" and was upset with "liberals in general as well as gays." He should have been charged with terrorism.

George Tiller, a Wichita doctor, was killed INSIDE the lobby of his Wichita church. Reformation Lutheran Church became a crime scene; fundamentalist terrorism.

The right wing media hacks make targets of the left. The fundamentalist reverends blather their intolerance of other Americans. Their marriages are in jeopardy if the GLBT community can walk down an aisle. Their children are going to be molested if you have to rent to a same sex couple. Fear...fear...fear the queer.

Bill O'Reilly's hit piece on Dr. Tiller is a training tape for Christian Fundamentalist Terrorists. Never did he ask the woman interviewed how she, as a 13 year old, got pregnant, who was the father, or where her parents were when she underwent an abortion at Dr. Tiller's clinic. I'm sure O'Reilly's drivel will insist on personal accountability for the murderer. I'm sure he won't be in line for any "accountability" for calling the doctor "Tiller the baby-killer" or his clinic a "death mill."

Are anti-choice groups celebrating today? An abortion doctor is dead so women won't have unwanted pregnancies!

The "war on terror" needs to include domestic religious, fundamentalist terrorists.
Who is next?

....................................................

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mary-mapes/no-mercy_b_209529.html

article below:


Posted: May 31, 2009 05:41 PM

No Mercy


Buzz u

I felt just sick today when I saw the bulletin about the murder of Dr. George Tiller.

Sicker still when I saw the "sympathy" letter issued by officials at Operation Rescue, the virulent anti-abortion organization that dogged this poor man for the past two decades. The statement said, "We pray for Mr. Tiller's family."

They had better say a few prayers for their own souls. They had better pray for forgiveness for relentlessly working to make this man a target.

Operation Rescue's Web site said the organization was "shocked" by the murder.

Well, I'm not.

This has been a long time coming, and no one has played a greater part in the run-up to the doctor's death than Operation Rescue. Their leaders -- and all of the group's enablers -- should be cowering in shame today.

I was in Wichita, Kansas in 1991 covering Operation Rescue's cruelly misnamed "Summer of Mercy," a six-week ordeal when thousands of anti-abortion protesters descended on Dr. George Tiller.

These "rescuers" -- sweaty mobs of zombie-like true believers -- swarmed across the street in front of the clinic like angry ants. They crawled over the hot asphalt toward his office on their hands and knees. They collapsed onto the stairs, chained themselves to the fence, shrieked prayers and threats and bellowed the Biblical equivalent of evil spells at anyone who approached the place. They fell lifelessly to the ground, some of them swooning and crashing spectacularly to earth.

When I went to Wichita to cover this, I thought I would be assigned there for a day or two. But this became more than a single protest. It turned out to be the birthplace of heartland civil disobedience against abortion and it went on and on and on.

Like the protesters, news people at the siege had a regular daily schedule.

Every day we rose early and raced to the clinic, set up our cameras in the hot Midwestern sun and waited for the anti-abortion performance art to begin.

Like clockwork, Operation Rescue's fleet of air-conditioned buses would pull up an hour before the office opened. Out would pour hundreds and hundreds of protesters eager to lay their lives and their bodies on the line for the "babies."

Wichita police were overpowered and overworked. The protesters were over-excited and overweight.

Day after day, weary local cops had to pick up and drag away protesters by the ton, literally. By the end, all the officers were wearing wide leather lifting belts in an attempt to protect their backs as they struggled to hoist and carry off so much dead weight. Police complained to us bitterly about colleagues who had seriously damaged their backs.

I remember one cop telling me he was praying the protests would stop before he ruined his back and his career.

Every night in the hotel that Operation Rescue designated as its home base, the organization sponsored a "worship service" that featured singing, prayer, sermonizing and a whole lotta snake oil.

Operation Rescue leader Randall Terry, an egotistical, self-aggrandizing super-nerd, commanded the room like a rock star. Women fainted and lay trembling on the ground when he entered to thundering applause and the screams of people who love Jesus so much they act like they're crazy.

The chemistry in the room was unlike anything I've been around, before or since.

In just a few weeks in Wichita, Operation Rescue forged an unholy alliance of sexually repressed super Christians, men who hate women and women who hate themselves and turned them into a supercharged army of bullies for Jesus.

And they were bullies.

In 1991 and until his murder, Dr. Tiller was one of the few doctors in this country who performed late-term abortions. Despite what Operation Rescue claimed, none of his clients were ending pregnancies on a whim. None of them wanted to be there.

Each case was a tragedy -- a much anticipated child discovered to have only a partially formed head, a baby that was dying in the womb and had to be delivered, a child with medical problems so profound as to be unimaginable, a diagnosis that meant a child's life outside its mother's body would be both brief and brutal.

Tiller's clients often included couples who had been hoping to become parents but had their hearts broken late in pregnancy when they received horrifying medical news about their much-wanted babies.

These people got no mercy from Operation Rescue.

They were hounded and harassed, shoved and shouted at on the most heart-breaking day of their lives. In order for patients to make it to their appointments, clinic supporters had to coordinate each woman's arrival with walkie-talkies. They shielded the patient by forming a flying wedge of bodies that rushed through the crowd to escort her into the building.

I watched one woman sobbing as she and her husband were helped into the clinic. Her tears went unnoticed by the hundreds of protestors surrounding her who shrieked and wailed and tried to trip the people escorting her to the door.

It was horrible.

And now, finally, after all the heavy breathing about heaven and God, evil and innocence, Operation Rescue by all appearances has goaded someone into killing George Tiller.

He was shot to death as he worked as an usher at his longtime church. His wife was close by in her regular place in the choir. The circumstances of his murder highlight precisely how hypocritical and grotesque this brand of "morality" is.

The zealots are already feigning shock that something like this could happen. Their partners in crime will soon be doing the same.

I can already envision the backpedaling and rationalizing that we'll hear from longtime Tiller critic Bill O'Reilly. Dr. James Dobson, who hosted the triumphant closing "Summer of Mercy" event that summer in Wichita, will undoubtedly declare himself deeply saddened.

I keep going back to Operation Rescue's catchy slogan for the "Summer of Mercy." They yelled it at everyone within earshot.

"If you believe abortion is murder, act like it's murder."

Maybe they have a point.

After this country's seemingly endless assaults and murders of clinic doctors and staff, the explosions and fire bombings, the vandalism and harassment, it's clear that this violent behavior is not a natural outgrowth of religious belief or moral concerns.

This is not part of a disagreement over when life begins.

This is terrorism.

And if we believe this is terrorism, we need to act like it's terrorism.

No mercy.



Read more at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mary-mapes/no-mercy_b_209529.html
Christian Fundamentalist Terrorism. It's shocking to write. But it's time to start calling it what it is. When Jim D. Adkisson walked into the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church with 76 ...
Christian Fundamentalist Terrorism. It's shocking to write. But it's time to start calling it what it is. When Jim D. Adkisson walked into the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church with 76 ...

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Bill O'Reilly Crusaded Against George Tiller For Years (VIDEOS)

Re: next two posts below: "The Hate Spewers and Spreaders", and "Bill O'Reilly; Fire of Hate and Murder".

Videos

Bill O'Reilly Crusaded Against George Tiller For Years (VIDEOS)

First Posted: 06- 1-09 08:59 AM | Updated: 06- 1-09 05:33 PM


usaded Against George Tiller For Years (VIDEO) Update: Media Matters has uncovered a 2006 clip from Bill O'Reilly's radio show in which O'Reilly said, "if I could get my hands on Tiller."

His full comments:

OK. So, I'm the fascist, I'm the bad guy, I'm the problem. Not Tiller. No, he -- no, no, no. He's a good guy. Now, Tiller's pumping all kinds of money into obviously the attorney general race. He wants the guy that's gonna let him off the hook to win. Those of you listening in Kansas, you ought to know that. You know, I don't -- I'm not gonna tell you who to vote for. You guys know these guys better than I do, but I tell you what, anything Tiller wants, I'm voting the other way. And if I could get my hands on Tiller -- well, you know. Can't be vigilantes. Can't do that. It's just a figure of speech.


But despicable? Oh, my God. Oh, it doesn't get worse. Does it get worse? No.

  • Listen:

  • Original Post: While many Americans may never have heard of Kansas abortion doctor George Tiller, who was killed Sunday, his name -- and nickname, "Tiller the Baby-Killer" -- should be familiar to viewers of Fox News' "O'Reilly Factor." Salon's Gabriel Winant reports that Bill O'Reilly has mentioned Tiller on 29 episodes since 2005, most recently in April of this year.

    "There's no other person who bears as much responsibility for the characterization of Tiller as a savage on the loose, killing babies willy-nilly thanks to the collusion of would-be sophisticated cultural elites, a bought-and-paid-for governor and scofflaw secular journalists" than O'Reilly, Winant writes.

    Some of the things O'Reilly has said of Tiller, according to Salon:


    • He "destroys fetuses for just about any reason right up until the birth date for $5,000."
    • He's guilty of "Nazi stuff,"
    • a moral equivalent to NAMBLA and al-Qaida
    • "This is the kind of stuff that happened in Mao's China, Hitler's Germany, Stalin's Soviet Union"
    • "operating a death mill"
    • "has blood on his hands"
    • "executing babies about to be born"
    .......................
    Huffpost - Bill O'Reilly Crusaded Against George Tiller For Year

  • Read Winant's full article here.

  • Watch Salon's collection of clips
  • :



    .................................

  • Watch Daily Kos' collection of clips
  • :

    http://www.dailykostv.com/w/001803

    O'Reilly Jihad Against Tiller. (I had difficulty downloading this video. If video doesn't come up after a few moments, please access link to watch brief clip of his hate rhetoric against Dr. Tiller.)



    ...........................................

  • Watch a 2006 segment:

  • Note O'Reilly's rude, unprofessional behavior, constantly over riding the statements attempted by his "guest", acting like a prosecuting attorney by demanding "yes or no" replies instead of allowing the guest to explain her position and why , even though he hammers on with his views. He allows no productive dialogue





  • Watch an ambush segment from earlier this year:




  • ............................

  • TVNewser reports that O'Reilly will address Tiller's murder on the Factor Monday night.
  • ..................

    Brad Friedman

  • Brad Friedman: O'Reilly Back-Peddles, Tones Back 'Tiller the Killer' Rhetoric on First Show Since Murder
  • His reportage is still as misleading and inaccurate as ever but we're happy to see O'Reilly toning back his own rhetoric.
    ....................................
    From You Tube :

  • O'Reilly Rationalizes His Stance



  • O'Reilly continues to twist the facts. Claims Dr. Tiller performed 60,000 abortions over 35 years BUT leaves the impression it was late term abortions.

  • Related Blogs On Huffington Post:
  • Shannyn Moore Shannyn Moore: Christian Fundamentalist Terrorism
    Christian Fundamentalist Terrorism. It's shocking to write, but it's time to start calling it what it is. The "war on terror" needs to include domestic terrorists.



    Update: Media Matters has uncovered a 2006 clip from Bill O'Reilly's radio show in which O'Reilly said, "if I could get my hands on Tiller." His full comments: OK. So, I'm the fascist, I'm the bad g...
    Update: Media Matters has uncovered a 2006 clip from Bill O'Reilly's radio show in which O'Reilly said, "if I could get my hands on Tiller." His full comments: OK. So, I'm the fascist, I'm the bad g...
    Read more from Huffington Post bloggers:
    More Blog Posts: « First Prev 1 2 Next Last »

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    Bill O'Reilly - Fire of Hate and Murder

    Re: Post below: "The Hate Spewers and Spreaders"

    Bill O'Reilly Ignites the Fire of Hate and Kindles the Flames of Murder. He is the BuzzFlash Media Putz of the Weak.

    BUZZFLASH MEDIA PUTZ OF THE WEEK

    r

    Bill O'Reilly

    For reporting that is an embarrassment to the profession of journalism, and for being beholden to corporate paymasters rather than the citizens of America.

    This was a special week for the lowest of the low in the media. We had a lot of great nominees for Media Putz. This was a week where these people did NOT win: Glenn Beck for his "Hispanic chick lady" rant; Rush Limbaugh for comparing Sonia Sotomayor to David Duke; and G. Gordon Liddy on the issue of racism, bizarre translations of Spanish, and of course, his fear of menstruating.

    No, this week was special because one media figure stood above all the others, even above the previously stated mess. That person is Bill O'Reilly.

    O'Reilly skewered Dr. George Tiller 29 times on the air since 2005, often in unbelievable reprehensible style. On Sunday, Dr. George Tiller was assassinated in cold blood inside a church where he worked as an usher.

    Often in his rhetoric, O'Reilly would launch into "Tiller, the baby killer, as some call him." Perhaps O'Reilly was correct, some may have called him that. But that speech pattern is prevalent in O'Reilly's work, expressing his own feelings about someone but hiding behind the "some people said" phrasing. After all, some people said O'Reilly wore a toupee during his "Inside Edition" days, but saying so doesn't mean it's true. In his traditional brand of cowardice, O'Reilly backtracked this week without admitting that he did. Though saying that you aren't backtracking means you probably are.

    "No backpedaling here, madam [Mary Mapes]. Unlike you, I report honestly. Every single thing we said about Tiller was true, and my analysis was based on those facts."

    But it's not true.

    "Dr. George Tiller destroys fetuses for just about any reason, right up until the birth date."

    Nope, Kansas law requires that two independent doctors agree that the mother would not be at risk of irreparable harm by giving birth.

    "If you want to kill a baby, you hire Tiller. You've got to pay him $5,000 up front, and he'll kill the baby."

    Tiller performed the procedure on girls as young as 10 who were victims of incest. It's doubtful that Tiller charged a 10-year-old girl $5,000 or demanded that up front before performing the procedure.

    "This is the kind of stuff happened in Mao's China, Hitler's Germany, Stalin's Soviet Union."

    No, this isn't. Again, Kansas law -- a rather conservative state -- has careful procedures to make sure there are legitimate reasons for doing so. And the women who have these procedures aren't being forced into procedures by any government official. But again, when you compare something to Mao or Hitler or Stalin, you are often, often wrong.

    But O'Reilly isn't interested in these women's stories. He was dismissive of their reasoning, even as O'Reilly wasn't even referring to specific instances. Disagreeing with a person's reasons for doing something is one thing, but when you don't even have the energy or concern to address them correctly, you undermine your own legitimacy.

    When you listen to the stories of these women who wanted to be anywhere but where they were, of brains growing outside of skulls, of fetuses that were going to be born dead, you may not agree with them, but without that perspective, and the facts O'Reilly conveniently ignores, you can't make a true judgment on this story.

    (Article text continues below after Obermann's anti-O'Reilly video. If video is duplicated, I couldn't successfully delete the duplication )




    In watching the tapes about O'Reilly, you can see that the truth of what Dr. George Tiller did never entered his brain, that O'Reilly never considered the stories of these women. Instead, it's this false anger, this television emotion not geared at true anger over someone, but in a way to propel others to express his anger outside the television box.

    This isn't to say that Bill O'Reilly killed Dr. George Tiller with his rhetoric, but O'Reilly did foster an unhealthy climate and obsession against the doctor with his reckless, inaccurate diatribes.

    When you deliberately lie about what Dr. Tiller was doing in Kansas, when you distort the reasoning behind tough, crucial decisions, when you rise up countless times in fake TV anger, when you send your producers to stalk this non-public figure because you are too damn afraid to do it yourself, then you have crossed the line of decency and gone way past any sense of responsibility. We are sorry that we can only offer Bill O'Reilly one week's worth of being the Media Putz of the Week.

    Bill O'Reilly previously won the Media PUTZ of the week on March 26, 2009, February 12, 2009, September 4, 2008, and July 5, 2007. You can see a list of all previous nominees here.

    BUZZFLASH MEDIA PUTZ OF THE WEEK

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    Friday, June 12, 2009

    The Hate Spewers and Spreaders

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-rowe/the-holocaust-museum-shoo_b_214133.html

    Michael Rowe

    Death at the Holocaust Museum and the Degradation of the American Dialogue



    Ann Coulter, the self-described "conservative Christian" right-wing talking head, is much on my mind as I contemplate the horrifying images that came out of Washington from the Holocaust Museum, where white supremacist James von Brunn opened fire in an attempted mass-murder of Jews. His killing spree was cut short by security guard Stephen Tyrone Jones who put himself in the line of fire and died so others might live.

    I am remembering an October 2007 segment of the Donny Deutsch Show where Coulter asserted that America would be better off if everyone was Christian and that "the Jews" merely needed to be "perfected" through conversion.

    Coulter has made her fortune by generating, fanning, and nurturing hatred and contempt for a variety of people, including liberals, Democrats, gays, foreign nationals, 9/11 widows, feminists, single mothers, Muslims, and any other group she could throw to her disenfranchised readership as shark bait.

    To Coulter, referring to Jews as "imperfect" on a talk show hosted by an observant Jewish host must have seemed like just another day at the office. Coulter shook her blond hair and tittered, as though waiting to be found witty, charming, and adorably irascible. Oh Ann, you minx! You're just pushing everyone's buttons, aren't you? Shame on you, you dead-sexy fascist pin-up. Stop teasing. You don't really mean that. I mean, not really, right? Right?

    Deutsch, clearly appalled, pointed out that the comment was not only patently absurd, but also hateful. Coulter giggled. A gold crucifix gleamed against her bony clavicle. "No," she said, "it's not hateful at all."

    This week, nearly two years later, James von Brunn, driven by his own twisted version of Coulter's publicly-proclaimed perspectives regarding the "imperfection" of Jews, entered the Holocaust Museum in Washington and put them into action, with tragic and deadly consequences.

    Much the same thing happened on May 31st when Scott Roeder entered the Reformation Lutheran Church during Sunday services and slaughtered abortion provider provider Dr. George Tiller. Media analysts continue to explore a possible continuum between Tiller's murder and FOX host Bill O'Reilly's well-documented on-air tirades against the doctor, whom he repeatedly called "Tiller the Baby Killer." O'Reilly broadcast his vendetta to millions and millions of FOX viewers already infected with evangelical superstitions and a horror of science, especially science as it applies to a woman's right to choose.

    If O'Reilly had been a serious journalist or broadcaster instead of a sclerotic, chronically-aggravated right-wing rage pimp, he might have had the professional self-awareness or ethical sense to realize that he was putting George Tiller's life in danger over the more than 28 broadcasts in which he used Tiller's name. But O'Reilly, like, for Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Michael Savage, and indeed Coulter herself (to name only the gratin of that particular food chain) is neither of those things.

    As a group, they are the pop culture equivalent of necrotic carrion beetles, crawling with insectile determination from one infected open wound in the American psyche to another. The wounds include fear of race, fear of foreigners, fear of sexuality, fear of difference, hysterical religious fundamentalism, violent nationalism, and paranoia. They lay their eggs in the infected abrasion, then scuttle away. When the eggs hatch, disgorging rage and discontent, they start counting money.

    When challenged on the inherently destructive nature of their enterprise, they invariably claim that their First Amendment right to free speech is being abrogated. Or, like Ann Coulter defensively does in those instances, they cite their place on the New York Times bestseller list. Or the ratings. In other words, since people buy it, watch it, or listen to it in huge numbers, it must have merit, and it must be right.

    The difference between John McCain and Sarah Palin became clearest to me in the middle of the campaign last summer.

    At a town hall meeting, McCain was confronted by an elderly woman who told McCain that she was a supporter of his because Obama was "an Arab." McCain was clearly uncomfortable, and it was patently obvious why. It had nothing to do with McCain's feelings about Arabs. It had to do with an old-school Republican accidentally moving the rock, and coming face to face with what actually lived beneath it. He recognized that the woman was making an unambiguously racist statement about his opponent, and he was mortified to be asked to answer it. Even though McCain famously and horribly bungled his answer ("No ma'am, he isn't. He's a decent family man.") I knew when he meant. He was addressing the intended racial slur and disavowing it, however badly.

    In that moment, I felt deeply for my Republican friends who, on some level, must also be experiencing the embarrassment and discontent of recognizing that their party had been hijacked by racists and religious fanatics who derided education and achievement as "elitist."

    Sarah "Screw the Political Correctness" Palin, on the other hand, seemed right at home. She marched into those same crowds grinning and winking, and "Yoo betcha-ing" like she was onstage at the Miss Alaska pageant. While her supporters waved watermelon slices and stuffed monkeys, Palin talked about who the "real Americans" were, and who was "palling around with terrorists." She refused to address the blatant racism of her fans, or address the obvious exploitation of Obama's middle name, Hussein, and the implication she herself was making with her "terrorist" comments.

    She was, after all, playing to the accurately-named Republican "base," the same crowd to whom George Bush had sold his second presidential term by pandering to their darkest and most cowardly aspect. This time out it was fear of gay marriage and adoption, carefully tended fear of another 9/11, fear of more fallout from a war they still didn't believe he'd lied about.

    One can almost appreciate the horrible honesty of the racists among the McCain-Palin supporters who were able to admit what the others obfuscated: that they didn't want a black man in the White House. Certain videos from their rallies are deeply disturbing. They showcase the seething racism of her most ardent followers.

    History has already recorded their obsession with Obama's origins, his religious background, and his citizenship, which remains an obsession among them today.

    Obama's citizenship was reportedly also something of an obsession for von Brunn, and likely very much on his mind when he walked into the museum and opened fire to make a statement about what "his" America ought to look like. I have no trouble imagining which radio stations he listened to, or which pundits best represented his baseline political ideology. And why. Even FOX's Shep Smith has said he's disturbed by the escalating virulence and menace of the anti-Obama emails the station is receiving.

    There was a time when decency, even honor, was an essential part of the American dialogue in its most ideal form, and part of its very identity. There was a time when our culture would have recoiled in horror at the vituperation flowing unchecked from radios, televisions, and the Internet, instead of applauding it as "common sense," "free speech," or "mavericky," or "a spin-free zone."

    There was a time when intellectual honesty was not considered unpatriotic; when compassion for, and understanding of, your fellow man was a sign of strength, not weakness. There was a time when the phrase Have you no shame? meant something, and the First Amendment was not used as toilet paper to wipe up the excremental verbal degradation of vulnerable segments of the American population. A time when it was expected that citizens would understand the difference between free speech and irresponsible speech. Somewhere along the line, a cancerous segment of American popular culture and media cunningly exploited the long-standing, honorable American "cowboy" motif and mentality. They grafted cruelty, divisiveness, and ignorance to it, making the two appear indistinguishable, and natural allies. And they are neither, or at least ought not to be.

    There is no Environmental Protection Agency to measure hate pollution in national dialogue, and no mechanism in place to warn us when the poisonous rage spewed into the national consciousness by shock-jocks, poisonous television pundits, megachurch leaders, and oh-so-subtle politicians, has reached dangerously toxic levels.

    No, there is only the result: widows, orphans, collective grief, and an absolute refusal on the part of our loudest, coarsest voices to take any responsibility for their part in the carnage.

    Ann Coulter, the self-described "conservative Christian" right-wing talking head, is much on my mind as I contemplate the horrifying images that came out of Washington from the Holocaust Museum, wher...
    Ann Coulter, the self-described "conservative Christian" right-wing talking head, is much on my mind as I contemplate the horrifying images that came out of Washington from the Holocaust Museum, wher...
    Related News On Huffington Post:
    Holocaust Museum Shooting In Washington D.C.
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    Holocaust Museum Shooter Von Brunn Is Elderly White Supremacist
    WASHINGTON — A frustrated artist and an angry man, the suspect in the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum shooting once tried to kidnap members of the...
    Shepard Smith Says His Email Is Becoming "More And More Frightening" (VIDEO)
    Time will tell if Shep Smith's colleagues at Fox stop taking these sorts of emails casually. Smith clearly could do that no longer.
    James Von Brunn Was Living Hand-To-Mouth, Increasingly Violent
    A white separatist acquaintance of alleged Holocaust Museum shooter James von Brunn told the Washington Post that Von Brunn had lost his Social Security and...

    Labels:

    Cheney-Wes Craven Horror Monster

    John Feffer: Scream 4: Cheney Returns. If Wes Craven decided to make a horror movie out of the last year of U.S. politics, he would definitely cast Dick Cheney as the monster that can't be silenced.


    Scream 4: Cheney Returns

    John Feffer
    Posted: May 26, 2009 04:14 PM

    Horror movies usually follow the same script. The monster - whether genetically modified, abused as a child, or flown in from Alpha Centauri - picks off the frightened teenagers one by one. After many thrills and chills, the hero drives a stake through the heart of the beast. Finally, just as we're finishing off the last of our popcorn in relief, the not-quite-dead monster makes one last attempt to dispatch the hero. It fails, but not before we've dumped popcorn all over our laps.

    If Wes Craven decided to make a horror movie out of the last year of U.S. politics, he would definitely cast Dick Cheney as the monster that can't be silenced. The former vice president is Leatherface, Jason, and Freddie Krueger all rolled into one: lawless, methodical, and unpredictable with firearms. He's had more sequels than Chucky: White House chief of staff, House minority whip, secretary of defense, CEO of Halliburton, vice president, and now rogue pundit.

    In the last presidential elections, the voters repudiated the Cheney legacy. But like Glenn Close in her final scene in Fatal Attraction, Cheney's not yet down for the ten-count. As the various TV appearances and his speech last week at the conservative thinktank American Enterprise Institute (AEI) suggest, he's still got some fight in him.

    Frankly, Barton Gellman's book Angler should have KO'd the man politically. Here's a guy who not only stage-managed the vice-presidential search for George W. Bush and then took the position himself but also extracted confidential information during the search process that he subsequently used against his potential adversaries. Here's a guy who assembled the crack legal team - or was it a legal team on crack? - that provided the constitutional argument for expanding executive power, upending domestic and international law, and justifying torture. Here's a guy who created a real Secret Team inside the Bush administration that bypassed the State Department, Congress, and all normal procedures.

    And yet, like Nixon emerging from the grave of Watergate, Cheney has sought to rebuild his reputation as the national security conscience of his party. "On the question of so-called torture, we don't do torture," he argued in a December interview on ABC. "We never have." He defended the intelligence data that the administration cooked in order to persuade the country to go to war against Iraq. He declared the "global war on terror" still on and Guantanamo still indispensable.

    But last week, he went further. At AEI, he attacked The New York Times for uncovering his secret surveillance program that collected untold amount of information about U.S. citizens and should have outraged every privacy-minded conservative in the country. He argued that "enhanced interrogation techniques" provided critical information that prevented the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people. He warned the Obama administration of closing Guantanamo and bringing terrorists "inside the United States" as though the president were about to release them on the streets of New York. It was a speech, to quote Cheney himself, that reeked of "recklessness cloaked in righteousness."

    The AEI speech, like Cheney's performance as vice president, was rife with misstatements and calculated distortions. As journalists Jonathan S. Landay and Warren P. Strobel point out, the CIA inspector general, FBI director, and director of national intelligence all concur that there is no proof that the information gained through torture thwarted any attacks. The Abu Ghraib abuses were not, as Cheney claimed, the result of a few sadistic guards but the result of orders from top administration officials. Most of those detained in Guantanamo have not been "ruthless enemies of this country" but innocent people or low-level combatants without any valuable intelligence.

    If you don't believe journalists - because, as Cheney implies, they don't have the best interests of the country at heart - consider the perspective of the chief U.S. interrogator in Iraq, Matthew Alexander. "Torture and abuse became Al Qaida's number one recruiting tool and cost us American lives," Alexander writes. "Our greatest success in this conflict was achieved without torture or abuse. My interrogation team found Abu Musab Al Zarqawi, the former leader of Al Qaida in Iraq and murderer of tens of thousands. We did this using relationship-building approaches and non-coercive law enforcement techniques."

    Of course, Dick Cheney has never been particularly interested in the truth. He wants to achieve his goals. And it appears that he is having some effect.

    By rallying the conservative forces and putting pressure on invertebrate Democrats, Cheney has influenced national policy. The Senate refused to appropriate money for the closure of Guantanamo and the transfer of the prisoners. The president has refused to support a truth commission. More ominously, the Obama administration is now working out its own policy of "preventive detention" - indefinitely holding people that can't be charged and tried in U.S. courts - that violates fundamental American legal principles. In his speech at the National Archives last week, Obama defended his important departures from Bush-era policy (end of torture, closure of Guantanamo) but also showed the influence of Cheney in his emphasis on war, "taking the fight to the extremists," and military commissions.

    Liberal commentators have generally been enthusiastic about Obama's caution. Just check out The Washington Post's liberal stable: David Broder praised Obama and Cheney for both opposing a truth commission; "Obama has mostly called it right," observes Ruth Marcus; and E.J. Dionne, Jr. is delighted at the resurrection of cold war liberalism. Cheney makes Obama look good. But he also pulls the president further to the right.

    Dick Cheney is not just fighting for his principles. He is fighting for his career and those of the team that bent the Constitution to their will. No one expects that the villains in horror movies will observe Marquess of Queensbury rules. The same applies to the former vice president. Expect more down-and-dirty fighting from Dick Cheney. This is one nightmare from which we haven't quite woken up.

    Crossposted from Foreign Policy In Focus where you can read the full post.


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