Just what Osama wanted

Fears, Again, of Oil Supplies at Risk – New York Times

”If bin Laden takes over and becomes king of Saudi Arabia, he’d turn off the tap,” said Roger Diwan, a managing director of the Petroleum Finance Company, a consulting firm in Washington. ”He said at one point that he wants oil to be $144 a barrel” — about six times what it sells for now.

That was written in 2001. Things are really going bin Laden’s way, it seems. I wonder how different things would be if we had taken a more measured, thoughtful approach in our response to the attacks of September 11; say, if Al Gore had been elected. When I imagine such a scenario, it makes me realize how every decision has consequences, that caring about politics isn’t a waste of time.

(Thanks to Austinist for the link.)

Bush’s War

feh_bor_rou_sha.jpgPBS FRONTLINE has their new special available for viewing online in its entirety:

Veteran FRONTLINE producer Michael Kirk draws on one of the richest archives in broadcast journalism — more than 40 FRONTLINE reports on Iraq and the war on terror. Combined with fresh reporting and new interviews, Bush’s War will be the definitive documentary analysis of one of the most challenging periods in the nation’s history.

“Parts of this history have been told before,” Kirk says. “But no one has laid out the entire narrative to reveal in one epic story the scope and detail of how this war began and how it has been fought, both on the ground and deep inside the government.”

Frontline is pretty much the last bastion of serious news documentaries in America, so it’s probably worth a look.

Another Bush veto

bush_via_the_daily_mirror.jpgI forgot to post this one the other day:

President Bush on Saturday further cemented his legacy of fighting for strong executive powers, using his veto to shut down a Congressional effort to limit the Central Intelligence Agency’s latitude to subject terrorism suspects to harsh interrogation techniques.

Mr. Bush vetoed a bill that would have explicitly prohibited the agency from using interrogation methods like waterboarding, a technique in which restrained prisoners are threatened with drowning and that has been the subject of intense criticism at home and abroad. Many such techniques are prohibited by the military and law enforcement agencies.

Mr. Bush announced the veto in the usual format of his weekly radio address, which is distributed to stations across the country each Saturday. He unflinchingly defended an interrogation program that has prompted critics to accuse him not only of authorizing torture previously but also of refusing to ban it in the future. “Because the danger remains, we need to ensure our intelligence officials have all the tools they need to stop the terrorists,” he said.

This is not surprising, really, but important to note (related).

FISA

Ugh.

House Democrats are expected to unveil and possibly vote on their FISA bill this week. While they may (or may not) end up securing some additional, mild safeguards against eavesdropping abuses as compared to the Rockefeller/Cheney Senate bill, it is almost certain that they will ultimately end up granting amnesty to lawbreaking telecoms and gutting most of the long-standing, core protections of FISA. The recent, extraordinary revelations of just how sweeping is the administration’s spying on domestic calls and emails of Americans seem to have had little effect thus far on what appears to be the inevitable course.

Overdose Rescue Kits Save Lives

NPR: Overdose Rescue Kits Save Lives

Every year, overdoses of heroin and opiates, such as Oxycontin, kill more drug users than AIDS, hepatitis or homicide.And the number of overdoses has gone up dramatically over the past decade.

But now, public health workers from New York to Los Angeles, North Carolina to New Mexico, are preventing thousands of deaths by giving $9.50 rescue kits to drug users. The kits turn drug users into first responders by giving them the tools to save a life.

[…]

The nasal spray is a drug called naloxone, or Narcan. It blocks the brain receptors that heroin activates, instantly reversing an overdose.

Pretty awesome, right?  The Bush administration doesn’t think so:

But Dr. Bertha Madras, deputy director of the White House Office on National Drug Control Policy, opposes the use of Narcan in overdose-rescue programs.

“First of all, I dont agree with giving an opioid antidote to non-medical professionals. Thats No. 1,” she says. “I just dont think thats good public health policy.”

Madras says drug users arent likely to be competent to deal with an overdose emergency. More importantly, she says, Narcan kits may actually encourage drug abusers to keep using heroin because they know overdosing isnt as likely.

Madras says the rescue programs might take away the drug users motivation to get into detoxification and drug treatment.

Now, this would be an ok position for an idiotic, hack pundit or talk show host to have, but this is the deputy director of the ONDCP. Let’s see what their mission is:

The goals of the program are to reduce illicit drug use, manufacturing, and trafficking, drug-related crime and violence, and drug-related health consequences.

I always hear President Bush saying history will be the judge of his administration. I’ve got a good guess what word history will file his presidency under: failure. It’s like he hires people based on their ability to be willfully and blissfully stupid. The rationale against Narcan reminds me a lot of the opposition to the HPV vaccine; a twisted moral argument at worst, a bureaucratic cop-out at best.

House tries to ban waterboarding

And of course, Bush promises to veto:

The US House of Representatives has approved a bill that would ban the CIA from using harsh interrogation techniques such as simulated drowning.

The measure would require intelligence agencies to follow the rules adopted by the US Army, which forbid such methods, and to abide by the Geneva Conventions.

President George Bush has threatened to veto the bill if the Senate passes it.

As presidents go, Bush has been one of the most sparing in his use of the veto. So he must only use it when it really matters, when it’s vital to our nation’s interests that Congress doesn’t mess something up really bad. Let’s take a look at the list so far: Continue reading