Sunday, July 29, 2007

Waking Up the Frogs

Did you feel the water just got a little warmer again?

Blue Ibis

Baltimore Sun
Sat, 28 Jul 2007 06:40 EDT

The House overwhelmingly passed anti-terrorism legislation yesterday, sending to President Bush a measure intended to tighten security on air and sea cargo and allocate federal money where the threat of attack is deemed greatest.

The 371-40 vote in the House came a day after the Senate approved the legislation 85-8. Bush will sign the bill now that his reservations about it have been addressed, said a White House spokesman, Scott Stanzel.

The House approval enabled members of both parties to claim victory, in the name of national security and common sense.

Comment: Unfortunately, common sense wasn't present when an "overwhelming" number of cowards passed a dictatorship bill.

Democrats had been eager to gain approval before the August recess to avoid being tagged as a do-nothing Congress.

"The American people will be safer," Maryland's Rep. Steny H. Hoyer, the Democratic majority leader, said before the vote.

New distribution

A crucial provision in the bill will change the way anti-terrorism grants from the Department of Homeland Security are distributed to the states.

It will cut in half the guaranteed minimum grant to each state, which was $3.8 million this year, and allow department officials to distribute money in discretionary grants where the threat and consequences of a terrorist attack are judged to be highest.

In past years, officials from populous states considered likely to be terrorist targets, such as New York, complained that less populous states received grants that were too big.

Now, Hoyer said, the government will ask, "Where are we most vulnerable?"

Intended to meet the recommendations of the commission that investigated the Sept. 11 attacks, the bill also requires that within three years all cargo carried by passenger jets be screened.

(The word screened is used instead of inspected because shippers who are specially certified will be allowed do their own pre-airport inspecting and sealing.)

The bill also sets a five-year goal of screening all cargo ships leaving foreign ports for the United States, to safeguard against smuggled nuclear or radiological weapons.

But it allows the Department of Homeland Security to postpone the requirement in two-year increments for various reasons.

To gain Republican support, Democrats dropped some provisions that had drawn Bush's veto threat, including one that would have required that airport security scanners be given collective-bargaining rights like most other federal workers.

Rep. John A. Boehner of Ohio, the House Republican leader, said Republicans were especially pleased that they had won inclusion of language to protect Americans who report suspected terrorist activity from "frivolous lawsuits."

That section was inspired by an episode last year in Minneapolis, where six Muslim men were removed from a Phoenix-bound US Airways flight after their praying and chanting in Arabic alarmed passengers.

Comment: Don't say we didn't warn you that this day was coming.

From The Hope:

"Let's think about that in light of the recent Prosecutors Purge scandal where it is becoming more evident every day that Bush and the Ziocons made a decision to get rid of any attorney's that were not supportive of the Bush program. Back in Hitler's day it was called 'Working towards the Führer'. Different words, same meaning.

Firing a bunch of Prosecutors that do not "toe the party line" is a sure way to put a chilling effect on the whole system. And certainly, exhibits of torture photos are a sure way to make the public afraid and willing to be "see things the right way" and turn in people for no reason other than not being like them."

The Muslims, imams about to fly home after a conference of religious clerics in Minneapolis, later sued the airline and the passengers who complained.

Boehner said the bill would preclude similar lawsuits. "In this era of radical jihadist terror," he said, "the bravery and vigilance of individual Americans is critical to our security."

Comment: From The Hope:

"The idea that the Gestapo itself was constantly spying on the population is demonstrably a myth.

So how was it possible that so few people exercised such control?

The simple answer is because the Gestapo received enormous help from ordinary Germans. Like all modern policing systems, the Gestapo was only as good or bad as the cooperation it received - and the files reveal that it received a high level of cooperation, making it a very good secret police force indeed.

Only around 10 per cent of political crimes committed between 1933 and 1945 were actually discovered by the Gestapo; another 10 per cent of cases were passed on to the Gestapo by the regular police or the Nazi Party. This means that around 80 per cent of all political crime was discovered by ordinary citizens who turned the information over to the police or the Gestapo. The files also show that most of this unpaid cooperation came from people who were not members of the Nazi Party - they were 'ordinary' citizens."

'Stronger, safer'

Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joseph I. Lieberman, a Connecticut independent who steered the legislation through the Senate with Sen. Susan M. Collins, a Maine Republican, said it would "make our nation stronger, our cities and towns more secure and our families safer."

Republicans generally backed the bill while stressing their own administration's success in preventing another major terrorist attack.

The bill, said Rep. Peter T. King of New York, top Republican on the Homeland Security panel, "is another step in the right direction building on the steps of the previous 5 1/2 years."

"These efforts build upon the considerable progress we've made over the past six years," said White House spokesman Scott Stanzel.

Completion of the bill, six months after the House passed its original version on the first day of the current Congress, was a major victory for Democrats.

They have seen some of their other priorities - immigration and energy reform and stem cell research funding - thwarted by GOP and presidential resistance and House-Senate differences.

Comment: Niemöller's quote:

First they came for the Communists, but I was not a Communist, so I said nothing.

Then they came for the Social Democrats, but I was not a Social Democrat, so I did nothing.

Then came the trade unionists, but I was not a trade unionist.

And then they came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew, so I did little.

Then when they came for me, there was no one left to stand up for me.'

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