FUBAR

The politics of torture

President Obama says the government will not prosecute CIA interrogators who used harsh interrogation techniques amounting to torture but left the door open to prosecuting the top Bush administration legal officials who authorized them.

Obama should drop the talk of prosecutions. If bad legal advice were a crime, the prisons would be packed. And the hubris and disdain for the American tradition and international law of those officials is disheartening, but nothing has shown any other motive than a desire to protect their country and incarcerate those who attacked it.

Playing to win in the influence game

Not many financial companies saw an opportunity in the economic meltdown. But large insurers did, and now they’re using it to lobby for a lucrative change they’ve sought unsuccessfully for years.

Industry estimates suggest a rather obscure change in federal law could be worth billions of dollars annually to insurers. Key lawmakers and Obama administration officials say they’re open to it, and industry lobbyists see the drive to overhaul financial rules in the wake of the meltdown as their best chance in a long time to achieve it.

The ignorance of liberals

Liberal commentators were recently having a great, big if indignant chuckle at the expense of all those tea party yo-yos who didn’t get it that President Obama had a tax cut in mind for them, and that, hey, it was conservatism that brewed the current mess.

There was a lesson in this, namely that at least some if not all pundits of leftist stripe are not infrequently outthought by people of far less pretentiousness, by men and women who understand, for starters, what’s headed our way under Obama’s agenda.

When racists control a racism conference

President Obama has been accused of being too accommodating and too willing to please in foreign affairs. But he was quite direct in announcing over the weekend that the United States, "with regret," would boycott the U.N. conference on racism in Geneva this week.

". . . our participation would have involved putting our imprimatur on something we just don’t believe," the president said.

Like the U.N. commission on human rights, the most active players in the conference on racism seem to be the nations whose records least bear scrutiny.

Hackers break into fighter jet program

Computer spies have repeatedly breached the Pentagon’s costliest weapons program, the $300 billion Joint Strike Fighter project, The Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday.

The newspaper quoted current and former government officials familiar with the matter as saying the intruders were able to copy and siphon data related to design and electronics systems, making it potentially easier to defend against the plane.

The spies could not access the most sensitive material, which is kept on computers that are not connected to the Internet, the paper added.

TARP offers minefield of fraud, abuse

The U.S. Treasury’s plan to purge toxic assets from banks’ balance sheets is vulnerable to fraud and abuse and needs tough rules against conflict of interest, the government’s bailout watchdog said on Tuesday.

Neil Barofsky, the special inspector general for the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), said in a report that subsidies for public-private investment partnerships (PPIP) to buy assets could expose taxpayers to higher losses without corresponding increases in the potential for profit.

Most-wanted terrorist is American

For the first time, an accused domestic terrorist is being added to the FBI’s list of "Most Wanted" terror suspects.

Daniel Andreas San Diego, a 31-year-old computer specialist from Berkeley, Calif., is wanted for the 2003 bombings of two corporate offices in California.

Authorities describe San Diego as an animal rights activist who turned to bomb attacks and say he has tattoo that proclaims, "It only takes a spark."

More hard questions for Tim Geithner

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner faces a slew of questions about his plans to shore up banks while a watchdog agency warns that Obama administration initiatives could increasingly expose taxpayers to losses.

Geithner is scheduled to testify Tuesday before the Congressional Oversight Panel for the government’s $700 billion financial rescue program.

9/11 planner tortured 183 times

CIA interrogators used the waterboarding technique on Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the admitted planner of the September 11 attacks, 183 times and 83 times on another al Qaeda suspect, The New York Times said on Sunday.

The Times said a 2005 Justice Department memorandum showed that Abu Zubaydah, the first prisoner questioned in the CIA’s overseas detention program in August 2002, was waterboarded 83 times, although a former CIA officer had told news media he had been subjected to only 35 seconds underwater before talking.

America refuses to join anti-racism effort

The United States "will not join" the UN conference on racism starting Monday in Geneva because its final declaration still includes language the US "is unable to support," the State Department said.

"Unfortunately, it now seems certain these remaining concerns will not be addressed in the document to be adopted by the conference next week. Therefore, with regret, the United States will not join the review conference," State Department spokesman Robert Wood said in a statement.