March 31, 2004

Where Do Bush Lies Go To Die?

What happens to all the unexplained Bush lies? They just seem to disappear from the media... Whatever happened to Bush's attempts to defend his National Guard record? And what about this:

"Last week, the White House said it had no record that Mr. Bush had even been in the Situation Room that day and said the president had no recollection of such a conversation."

Now they admit the conversation did take place. So are their records faulty? Is Bush's memory faulty? OR was it just a knee-jerk reaction lie as usual?
Drivers License: A Matter of Religious Freedom:

"A number of states around the country have already passed laws stating that a young man between the age of eighteen and twenty-six cannot obtain a driver's license without having registered for the draft... "
Rice to testify in public, under oath:

"In a reversal, the White House said Tuesday it has agreed to allow national security adviser Condoleezza Rice to testify in public and under oath before the Sept. 11, 2001 commission. In addition, President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney have agreed to testify in private before the entire commission, not just the two co-chairmen as earlier proposed, the White House said in a letter to the panel."

March 30, 2004

Is Condi Scared Of God?

Why else is she refusing to testify under oath?

`The whole idea of executive privilege is that the president's advisers should be able to give advice in confidence,'' said Herman Schwartz, a constitutional law professor at American University. 'That means the advice should be kept confidential. But she's talked to everybody under the sun.'

'What is the difference between appearing before the commission privately, telling them her story, and saying it publicly under oath? She can't have it both ways.'

And Sandy Berger, national security adviser to then-President Clinton, testified in 1997 before a Senate committee reviewing the Clinton campaign's fund-raising practices. Another example of GOP hypocrisy.

The White House has wheeled out another staffer to try and discredit Richard Clarke's version of 9/11 events.

The Clarke book says Mr. Miller, who worked closely with Clarke, came into the Situation Room on 9/11, squeezed Clarke's bicep, and said, 'Guess I'm working for you today. What can I do?'

'I wouldn't say that,' Mr. Miller said Monday. 'I might say, `How can I help.'

Well, that is obviously TOTALLY different, isn't it? And therefore Bush is not a lying son of a #$%&*. Thanks for clearing that up for us, Mr Miller.
While Bush insists that Global Warming is still just a theory:

"Last summer every sea creature across an area twice the size of Wales was asphyxiated by severely depleted oxygen levels in the Gulf of Mexico. The same phenomenon, the marine equivalent of the ozone hole, happened off South America, China, Japan, south-east Australia, New Zealand, and up to 150 other places. "
That's Another Fine Mess...

The recently completed US-Pakistani assault on tribal areas where Osama Bin Laden was believed to have been hiding is being hailed as another success by the White House and Pakistan's military dictator.

But the truth is, the assault incurred considerable casualties without achieving its main goals. Bin Laden was not captured, or even identified, the insurgents remain embedded in the mountainous terrain, anti-US and anti-Mussharaf feeling in the local area is higher than ever, and - perhaps most significantly - there is a growing split within the Pakistan military.

As the Asia Times Online reports, "there is a perception that, given the failings of the South Waziristan operation, there is an 'an intelligence within an intelligence' and 'an army within an army' in Pakistan and that factions in these organizations backed the tribals 'in the name of Islam'. According to sources, more than 150 soldiers of the army and para-military forces refused to take part in the action, including at least one colonel and a major. "
AlterNet: The Christian Taliban:

"Even as President George W. Bush denounced the brutal Islamic fundamentalist regime in Kabul, he was quietly laying the foundations for his own fundamentalist regime at home. For the first time far right Christian fundamentalists had one of their own in the White House and the opportunity to begin rolling back decades of health and family planning programs they saw as un-Christian, if not downright sinful.

Since 2001 dozens of far-right Christian fundamentalists have been quietly installed in key positions within the Department of Health and Human Services, the Federal Drug Administration and on commissions and advisory committees where they have made serious progress..."
It's Midnight in America:

"We have moved from Reagan's 'Morning in America' to Bush's 'Midnight in America' in less than 20 years.

This is the darkest hour for our nation, when lies, deception and political vengeance -- at the expense of our national security -- are the primary skill set of the executive branch and its subsidiaries: a Republican controlled Congress and an increasingly Republican controlled judiciary, with five Supreme Court votes lined up to side with the GOP on important partisan issues, like the theft of a presidency.

What happens during this midnight hour will determine if democracy continues to exist in our country... "

A BuzzFlash Editorial

March 29, 2004

If This Is Freedom, What Exactly Is Dictatorship?:

Two suggested amendments to the U.S. Constitution:

"The Congress shall have the power to declare war, and this time we really do mean it."

"No person shall be denied life, liberty, or property without due process of law, and this time we really do mean it."
The perfect storm that's about to hit?:

"Get ready for what might become the economy's version of the perfect storm later this summer. The devastation could quickly spread to the UK and the rest of the world, with dire consequences for the global economy...

... we have all the conditions coming together to create the perfect economic storm: record oil prices triggering a restriction in US economic growth and an increase in the federal budget deficit, accompanied by further erosion in the value of the dollar - with increased budget deficits and the diminished value of the dollar leading in turn to higher interest rates to convince foreign investors to lend the US additional money, followed by a further retraction of the US economy as rising interest rates lead to a drop in domestic investment and consumption. The cascade of events touches off a tsunami that engulfs the rest of the global economy, submerging the world in deep recession. "
Quiz Time

Do the following statements reflect Dubya's Foreign Policy?

*I find my mind wandering from tasks that are uninteresting or difficult
*I say things without thinking and later regret having said them.'
*I make quick decisions without thinking enough about their possible bad results
*I have a quick temper, a short fuse
*I have trouble planning in what order to do a series of tasks or activities
*'In group activities it is hard for me to wait my turn.'
*I usually work on more than one project at a time, and fail to finish many of them.'

Answers here...
Italian Left Would End Iraq Mission:

European Commission President Romano Prodi, likely to be the Italian leftists' major candidate for the next elections, says he had "no doubt that the Italian left, if elected, would end the nation's military involvement in the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq. "
Oil, Currency and the War on Iraq:

"It will not come as news to anyone that the US dominates the world economically and militarily. But the exact mechanisms by which American hegemony has been established and maintained are perhaps less well understood than they might be... "

A look at how the US dollar is being challenged by the euro as the #1 currency for oil transactions, and the implications for the US economy.
The sordid truth behind Gaddafi's Miraculous "Conversion":

"For both the UK and US, an energy crisis is looming. The latest BP statistical review of world energy predicted that UK proven oil and gas reserves will last, respectively, only 5.4 and 6.8 years at present rates of use. It has been estimated that by 2020 the UK could be dependent on imported energy for 80% of its needs. The US energy department has calculated that net imports of oil, already at 54%, will rise to 70% by 2025 because of growing demand and declining domestic supply.

Libya produces high-quality, low-sulphur crude oil at very low cost (as low as $1 per barrel in some fields), and holds 3% of world oil reserves. It also has vast proven natural gas reserves of 46 trillion cubic feet, but actual gas reserves are largely unexplored and estimated to total up to 70 trillion cubic feet.

The problem of access to Libyan hydrocarbons was Gadafy's record of running a state terrorist machine - responsible for arming the IRA, the shooting of PC Yvonne Fletcher and the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie in 1988. Britain had even, according to the former MI5 agent David Shayler, paid £100,000 to an al-Qaida cell in Libya to assassinate Gadafy in 1996, and then granted asylum to a member of the cell named Anas al-Liby, who lived in Manchester until 2000."
Condoleezza Rice's Credibility Gap: A dozen Condi lies, a dozen good reasons for Bush to fire Condoleeza Rice... If he dares.
Karl Rove's Modus Operandi

Senate Majority leader Bill Frist grabbed the headlines today by demanding declassification of Richard Clarke's former testimony about Bush and 9/11. On the Senate floor, Frist angrily claimed that Clarke 'has told two entirely different stories.'

But in later interviews, Frist did the old GOP back-track: 'Frist later retreated from directly accusing Clarke of perjury, telling reporters that he personally had no knowledge that there were any discrepancies between Clarke's two appearances.'

Anyone who has been watching the Bush administration for long enough will see the invisible hand of Karl Rove at work here: lie, lie, lie... deny, deny, deny... and then, if you get caught out, go on the offensive, let a junior official admit there may have been some misinterpretation/mis-speak/"out-of-context" reporting, remain incommunicado for a few days, and then deny that you ever lied in the first place. When pressed, move on to the next story... For example: "Who cares about that old 9/11 committee stuff? We just invaded Syria!"

Interestingly, Clarke himself has asked Bush to release any former testimony he may have given, and Colin Powell refuses to join in the character assasination.
Congressman admits: 'My Vote Was Wrong':

"'We had this feeling we could be welcomed as liberators. Americans don't know history, geography, ethnicity. The administration had no idea of what they were getting into in Iraq. We are not internationalists. We border on being isolationists. We don't know anything about the Middle East.' "
White House retreat on 9/11 claims:

"A member of the 9/11 commission said yesterday that national security adviser Condoleezza Rice indicated in a private session she was wrong to have once stated no one expected terrorists to use planes as missiles.

The White House reportedly also backpedaled yesterday on whether President Bush pressed counterterror czar Richard Clarke the day after the attacks to find evidence that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was involved.

Clarke said the meeting occurred in the White House Situation Room and presidential aides said earlier this week the meeting never happened. But CBS News reported last night that White House aides now concede the meeting 'probably' occurred."
US now looking to install a PM in Iraq:

"The United States wants to transfer power in Iraq to a hand-picked prime minister, abandoning plans for an expansion of the current 25-member governing council, coalition officials in Baghdad say.

With less than 100 days before the US occupation authorities are to transfer sovereignty on June 30, fears of wrangling among Iraqi politicians has forced Washington to make its third switch of strategy in six months.

The search is now on for an Iraqi to serve as chief executive."

March 28, 2004


Not Funny:

"US President George W Bush has sparked a political row by making a joke about the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq."
Behind the Invasion:

"Pentagon whistleblower and former USAF lieutenant colonel Karen Kwiatkowski said the US invaded for three reasons of pure self-interest. Unless America took Iraq by force, sanctions would soon be lifted against Saddam Hussein and European companies, not US firms, would get lucrative contracts. The US wanted to reverse Saddam's decision to trade his oil in euros not the $US (one of Bush's first decisions after Saddam's statue fell). And Bush wanted to move US Middle East military bases from Saudi Arabia to Iraq."

March 27, 2004

Excerpts from Clarke's book: "Against All Enemies: Inside America's War on Terror"

No More Lies

As every child learns, there are a few inescapable problems with lying. The first is that you tend to get into trouble, because lies inevitably seem to hurt someone, somewhere. Then, if you keep lying, your lies tend to compound each other, becoming more and more complex and interwoven, to the point where they become utterly contradictory. And if you still keep on lying, you lose your credibility and nobody believes you any more, even when you ARE telling the truth.

The Bush administration is experiencing just such a crisis, brought on by repeated and seemingly compulsive lying across a whole range of issues. Sure, politics almost by definition requires an artful capacity to manipulate facts, but the Bush team have elevated this diplomatic art beyond the realms of the absurd and into the territory of bare-faced and repeated lying. (I am not going to attempt to list all the lies here: just visit a few Web sites like

These are not just distortions of figures or simple "mis-speaking" lies, either. The Bush administration has regularly turned truth completely on its head, to the point where this seems to be a concerted effort to confuse or distort public perceptions. For example, when anti-war protestors accused Bush of rewriting facts and denying his own quoted words, he labelled them "revisionist historians". The invasion of Iraq did more to promote the spread of terrorism than any other act in decades, yet it is promoted as "anti-terrorism" and anyone who criticizes it is labelled a "terrorist sympathizer". One GOP congressman even compared John Kerry to Hitler, after repeated comparisons between Bush and Hitler refused to die down.

How does one respond to such outright distortion? Logic flies out the window and genuine rhetoric is replaced by bite-sized verbal impressionism. Just look at some of the Bush team's Orwellian policy names: the "Clear Skies" initiative, which pollutes the skies, or the "No Child Left Behind" policy, which leaves not just children but also their families on the breadline. Even the term "war on terror" is a ridiculous distortion of words: terrorism is an idea that can only be discredited, not militarily defeated. Language, as well as truth, lies bleeding.

Although Bush has been caught out lying many times, the US public has tended to gloss over it. Interestingly, many people simply do not care. If these people did not vote, their indifference might be understandable - most people nowadays are sick to the back teeth with politicians, and perhaps rightly so. But many of these people DO vote, and even take an active interest in politics. It's just that they don't mind their President lying, as long as they believe that he might be doing it for a good reason. And a "good reason" might not even be a morally defensible position - for example, many voters would probably support Bush's invasion of Iraq just for the sake of getting cheaper petrol in their SUVs.

Is this lack of concern with Truth a sign of Western society's degeneration? Virtues like Truth, Honesty and Humility sound increasingly old-fashioned in today's greed-is-good world of individuality and materialism. But Truth certainly does matter. As history shows, the consequences of lying will inevitably become apparent.

So what are the consequences of Bush's lies? Firstly, the USA has lost credibility internationally. Not only have old allies been alienated, but the oppressed people of foriegn regimes, who once looked to the USA as a beacon of hope, now look on them as dark accomplices in their oppression. These people then become ready fodder for the inflammatory propaganda of anti-US groups like Al Quaeda.

Furthermore, Bush's lies have damaged or destroyed important treaties and institutions that have safeguarded the world for the past 50 years. How long will it take to repair the damage Bush & Co have caused to international treaties like the Geneva Convention, the Nuclear Non-proliferation treaty, or even Kyoto? And how will the US be able to pressure other nations to conform to such agreed norms, when they themselves have flaunted them? Most importantly, how will the US dare to criticize a country that invades another country with a pre-emptive strike? If the USA could claim removing Saddam was an act of urgent national security - even though he had no WMDs, or links to terrorists - what is to stop another rogue state from making similarly ridiculous claims?

Domestically, the full impact of Bush's lies may not be evident until and unless the Democrats win a landslide in November. On the other hand, the thousands who are already joining, or stuck on, the unemployment queues will remember the lies about how Bush's tax cuts for the rich were supposed to benefit them. Families who have lost loved ones in Iraq will remember the lies about WMDs and "imminent threats". And generations ahead will remember Cheney's comment that "deficits don't matter".

The question arises, then: do Bush and his colleagues actually believe their lies? Are they stupid, deluded, mislead or blindly fanatical? Or are they just playing hard-ball politics?

I would imagine that some officials, particularly the outspoken evangelical crusaders, are true believers with an unshake-able faith in their right-wing ideology, which they consider America's God-given destiny. These people would do well to remember Jesus' admonition, "Judge not, lest ye be judged," or Albert Einstein's warning: "Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods."

Other administration members, however, must surely have more specific and personal agendas. These people cloak their lies in patriotism and religious fervour, but their real goals appear to be corporate profiteering and the building of dynastical power-bases that will survive this administration and allow them to influence US government policy for many years.

Both groups represent serious and growing dangers to genuine liberal democracy, especially at a time of rapid globalisation. On the one hand, religious supremacy fans intolerance and alienates foreigners, particularly Muslims. On the other hand, the increasingly blurred line between government and big business drags us back towards Nazi-style Fascism and threatens to create an unchallenge-able political and financial elite, backed by a powerful military-industrial complex, protected by a corrupt judiciary, and served by a majority of working class "slaves".

This is the nightmare future that keeps anti-globalisation protestors awake at nights. It doesn't have to be that way, but it is up to us to stop it. Let's start by demanding the Truth.
U.S. Wants to use old UN Resolution as Legal Basis to Keep Force in Iraq:

Now WHO is abusing the UN and undermining it?

"American officials say they believe Security Council Resolution 1511, which conferred the mandate for the American-led alliance, can be used to provide legal justification for the American military command to operate until Dec. 31, 2005."
Another Crack In The Wall Of Lies

Bush says Clarke is lying about a conversation where he told Clarke to find a link between 9/11 and Saddam. But there were witnesses, and one is speaking to the UK Guardian:

'The conversation absolutely took place. I was there, but you can't name me,' the witness said. 'I was one of several people present. There was no doubt in anyone's mind that the president had Iraq on his mind, first and foremost.'

Sadly, this former national security council official was too terrified to go on the record - he knows how vengeful this administration can be.

Rice will go before the 9/11 panel again, but only in private and not under oath.

March 26, 2004

Bush went for a 10-strike and missed 9/11:

"Life is complex and surprising. You can't anticipate everything in a big plan. You have to accept that, and you have to organize yourself to catch the things your plans will miss. For failing to understand this lesson before 9/11, perhaps Bush and his national security team can be forgiven. For refusing to accept the same lesson now, after all the deaths and all the hearings, they cannot. "
Bush laughs over elusive WMDs:

"United States President George W Bush made a joke about weapons of mass destruction not being found in Iraq at a late-night dinner for US television journalists.

The president remarked about a picture showing him down on all fours in his office saying 'Those weapons of mass destruction have got to be somewhere!'

Asked at a news conference if the issue was an appropriate matter for jokes, Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld contained himself, declining to comment and adding that he had not been at the dinner."
US vetoes Israel murder resolution:

"A United Nations Security Council resolution condemning Israel's assassination of the founder of the militant Palestinian group Hamas, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, was vetoed by the United States. The vote on the 15 nation council was 11 in favour and the United States against, with three abstentions. "
Clarke On Bush:

'The president dragged me into a room with a couple of other people, shut the door, and said, 'I want you to find whether Iraq did this.' Now he never said, 'Make it up.' But the entire conversation left me in absolutely no doubt that George Bush wanted me to come back with a report that said Iraq did this.

'I said, 'Mr. President. We've done this before. We have been looking at this. We looked at it with an open mind. There's no connection.'

'He came back at me and said, 'Iraq! Saddam! Find out if there's a connection.' And in a very intimidating way. I mean that we should come back with that answer. We wrote a report.'
Killer Testimony?:

"A former FBI translator said Wednesday that the bureau had 'real, specific' information relating to the Sept. 11 attacks before they happened. Sibel Edmonds worked for the agency working from Sept. 20, 2001 to March 2002.

Edmonds said she was hired to retranslate material that was collected prior to Sept. 11 to determine if anything was missed in the translations that related to the plot. In her review, Edmonds said the documents clearly showed that the Sept. 11 hijackers were in the country and plotting to use airplanes as missiles. The documents also included information relating to their financial activities. Edmonds said she could not comment in detail because she has been under a Justice Department gag order since October 2002."
DOJ Asked FBI Translator To Change Pre 9-11:

"FBI translator Sibel Edmonds was offered a substantial raise and a full time job to encourage her not to go public that she had been asked by the Department of Justice (DOJ) to retranslate and adjust the translations of [terrorist] subject intercepts that had been received before September 11, 2001 by the FBI and CIA."
Condoleezza Rice Threatens Jamaica Over Aristide:

"Condoleeza Rice is telling the Jamaican government if Aristide is not immediately expelled from the country and anything happens to American forces in Haiti, consequences would be exacted against Jamaica in full force by the U.S."

March 25, 2004

The Passion of the Handover:

"With the so-called handover of power to Iraq's Coalition Provisional Authority only a few months away, the CPA is going back to the PR well, awarding a $5.8 million contract to the British public relations firm Bell Pottinger Public Affairs 'to promote the establishment of democracy as the country recovers from war,' the Holmes Report recently announced.

Led by company founder Lord Tim Bell, who according to The Independent, 'masterminded Margaret Thatcher's rise to power in 1979,' Bell Pottinger -- one of the largest public relations companies in the United Kingdom, and one of 14 companies operating within the public relations division of Chime Communications PLC -- will lead a consortium that includes the Dubai-based advertising agency Bates PanGulf and the media services company Balloch & Roe, which already has offices in Baghdad. Corporate Watch reported in 1999 that Lord Bell 'can also boast on his CV the following illustrious clients: South Africa's National Party; the Coal Board during the 1984 miners' strike; post-Dayton, Milosevic-led Yugoslavia.'"
Kay fears US is losing credibility:

Former Iraq WMD inspector David Kay:

'The cost of our mistakes ... with regard to the explanation of why we went to war in Iraq are far greater than Iraq itself. We are in grave danger of having destroyed our credibility internationally and domestically with regard to warning about future events.

'The answer is to admit you were wrong and what I find most disturbing around Washington ... is the belief ... you can never admit you're wrong.'"
Carlyle Groups Profiteering from War:

"The Washington investment firm, run by a who's who of Republican heavyweights, including former Secretary of State James Baker and former Defense Secretary Frank Carlucci, has put money into about 300 different companies and properties.

Those investments include United Defense Industries, a maker of combat vehicles, naval guns and missile launchers; and Sippican, a maker of submarine systems and countermeasures to protect warships.

They also include a New Jersey pharmaceutical firm called MedPointe, which just so happens to be one of only three companies licensed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to manufacture over-the-counter potassium iodide pills.

That's significant because potassium iodide can help protect against thyroid cancer in the event of exposure to large amounts of radiation -- from a small, easily transported nuclear weapon, say, or a terrorist attack on a nuclear power plant.

And that's significant because, in June 2002, President Bush signed into law the Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act. It requires state and local officials to 'provide adequate protection' by distributing potassium iodide to all public facilities within a few miles of a nuclear power plant.

And that, in turn, is significant because if you're one of just a handful of authorized makers of potassium iodide, you're in a position to profit handsomely if the worst-case scenario should actually come to pass. "
Clarke's Testimony on 9/11:

"In a memo to National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, Clarke asked Rice and other policy makers 'to imagine a day after hundreds of Americans lay dead at home and abroad after a terrorist attack' and ask themselves what else they could have done to avert it.

The memo was dated Sept. 4, 2001...

Asked about the differences between his testimony to the staff and his book, Clarke said:

"There's a very good reason for that. In the 15 hours of testimony, no one asked me what I thought about the president's invasion of Iraq. And the reason I am strident in my criticism of the president of the United States is because by invading Iraq ... the president of the United States has greatly undermined the war on terrorism.""
Groups call for the resignation of Sept. 11 commission director:

"The 9-11 Family Steering Committee and 9-11 Citizens Watch, two separate groups, are demanding the resignation of Philip Zelikow, executive director of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States, after information surfaced over the weekend that he participated in Bush administration briefings prior to Sept. 11 on the threat al Qaeda posed to the country.

'We believe that the very integrity of the commission is at stake here, and that he should resign immediately,' Kyle Hence, co-founder of Citizens Watch, said Monday.

On Saturday, the Family Steering Committee wrote a letter to the commission arguing that Zelikow has a conflict of interest because he could potentially be held culpable for failing to heed warnings about al Qaeda prior to Sept. 11.

'It is clear that [Zelikow] should never have been permitted to be a member of the commission, since it is the mandate of the commission to identify the source of failures,' the committee wrote. 'It is now apparent why there has been so little effort to assign individual culpability. We now can see that trail would lead directly to the staff director himself.'

Zelikow is the only 9/11 committee member, aside from Jamie Gorelick (see below) to have read all the contents of Bush's Daily Briefings.
What Was In Bush's Daily Briefings???:

"Under an agreement with the White House last year, one member of the commission, Jamie Gorelick, former deputy attorney general in the Clinton administration, was allowed to read through a full library of the briefings, and two other commissioners were allowed a partial review.

Gorelick said at the hearing yesterday that information in the documents 'would set your hair on fire, and not just George Tenet's hair on fire,' referring to the CIA director.

Although barred under secrecy regulations from discussing much of what was in the reports, she said that there had been 'an extraordinary spike' of intelligence warning of an al-Qaida attack that was cited in the Daily Brief during 2001 and that 'it plateaued at a spike level for months.'"
USA isolated again at the UN, Australia still playing lap-dog role:

"The top UN human rights body voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to condemned Israel for its killing of Sheik Ahmed Yassin, the spiritual leader of the Palestinian militant group Hamas.

By a 31-2 vote, the UN Human Rights Commission backed a resolution put forward by the Organization of the Islamic Conference - which groups Muslim countries - and by Cuba and Zimbabwe. The United States and Australia were the two countries that voted against. "
Senator Tom Daschle: Bush & Co. Attacking Good People for Telling the Truth:

(Edited/shortened comments from the Democratic Minority Leader in the US Senate)

"When former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill stepped forward to criticize the Bush Administration’s Iraq policy, he was immediately ridiculed by the people around the President and his credibility was attacked...

Ambassador Joseph Wilson.. felt a responsibility to speak out on President Bush’s false State of the Union statement on Niger and uranium. When he did, the people around the President quickly retaliated...

In recent weeks Richard Foster, an actuary for the Department of Health and Human Services, has revealed that he was told he would be fired if he told Congress and the American people the real costs of last year’s Medicare bill..

And now, in today's newspapers... Richard Clarke, is under fierce attack for questioning the White House’s record on combating terrorism...

The people around the President aren’t answering his allegations; instead, they are trying to use the same tactics they used with Paul O’Neill. They are trying to ridicule Mr. Clarke and destroy his credibility, and create any diversion possible to focus attention away from his serious allegations.

The purpose of government isn’t to make the President look good. It isn’t to produce propaganda or misleading information. It is, instead, to do its best for the American people and to be accountable to the American people.

The people around the President don’t seem to believe that. They have crossed a line -- perhaps several lines -- that no government ought to cross.

We shouldn’t fire or demean people for telling the truth. "
AlterNet: The Burden of Conscience:

"There was this numbness..., this human aspect, you didn't think would be there. People all around me – us, the Iraqis – we were all losing friends and family. It was sickening...

"I saw destruction of people. Innocent lives taken that won't be coming back. I took lives... You were trained to think these people were lower than you. But you wondered if that person you'd just killed could have been your friend.... There was no honor in it, and I didn't want to be a part of it anymore.

"I was made aware of the conscientious objector option, and I submitted the paperwork, because I realized I want separation from the military... I was told I'd be fighting for freedom and honor and glory, but it's been about protecting political interests. It's been a lie."

In 2003, only 31 of a mere 60 applications for conscientious objector discharges were approved. Only two of five have been approved so far in 2004. The Army's numbers, however, are not only misleading; they're bound to change.

Leader of the GI Rights Hotline, a coalition of advocacy groups that offer confidential counseling and legal advice to American troops, says calls to their hotline service are now "virtually out of control. "
U.S. engineers have begun construction of fourteen 'enduring bases' in Iraq.

Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, deputy chief of operations for the coalition in Iraq, said:

"This is a blueprint for how we could operate in the Middle East... the engineering vision is well ahead of the policy vision. What the engineers are saying now is: Let's not be behind the policy decision. Let's make this place ready so we can address policy options."

So Army engineers are building these bases just in case Bush decides to hang around??? And they made that decision on their own???
Condi Has Already Said Enough

Remember how hard it was to get any White House folk to agree to show up for the 9/11 inquiries, which are currently underway? Bush will only give the inquiry ONE HOUR of his time, and Condoleeza Rice only agreed to appear in person after sustained pressure from committee members. But while she is offering only limited time to the inquiry, Condi Rice has already appeared on five talkshows since Dick Clarke released his new book damning the White House for ignoring Bin Laden.

In one interview, Ms Rice said: 'Dick Clarke was counter-terrorism tsar for a long time with a lot of attacks on the United States. What he was doing was - what they were doing apparently was not working. We wanted to do something different.'

IE, we wanted to invade Iraq. The bottom line is, 9/11 did not happen on Clinton's watch, or while Clarke was in control. So much for "something different".

BuzzFlash reminds us that Condi has already said enough about pre-9/11 warning of "hijackings" which were ignored by a Saddam-obsessed administration.

March 24, 2004

What Clarke Is Saying

9/11 hijackers could have been stopped:

"In December 99 we get similar kinds of evidence that al-Qaida was planning a similar kind of attack. President Clinton asks the national security adviser to hold daily meetings with the attorney-general, the CIA, FBI,' Mr Clarke said.

'They go back to their departments from the White House and shake the departments out to the field offices to find out everything they can find. It becomes the number one priority of those agencies. When the head of the FBI and CIA have to go to the White House every day, things happen and by the way, we prevented the attack [an al-Qaida millennium bomb plot aimed at Los Angeles airport].

'Contrast that with June, July, August 2001, when the president is being briefed virtually every day in his morning intelligence briefing that something is about to happen, and he never chairs a meeting and he never asks Condi Rice to chair a meeting about what we're doing about stopping the attacks. She didn't hold one meeting during all those three months.

'Now, it turns out that buried in the FBI and CIA there was information about two of these al-Qaida terrorists who turned out to be hijackers [Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi],' he said. 'The leadership of the FBI didn't know that, but if the leadership had to report on a daily basis ... to the White House, he would have shaken the trees and he would have found out those two guys were there. We would have put their pictures on the front page of every newspaper and we probably would have caught them.'

'Now would that have stopped 9/11? I don't know. It would have stopped those two guys, and knowing the FBI the way they can take a thread and pull on it, they would probably have found others.' "
New Australian government will bring troops home by Christmas

With elections due later this year and the Labor Opposition now well ahead in the polls, the man most likely to suceed as Australian Prime Minister says he will bring Australia's small force (about 800 troops) back from Iraq:

"'If a federal election is held this year, say the election was in September and there was a change of government, we would be hoping to have [the troops] back by Christmas, certainly,' Mr Latham said yesterday."

Sadly, the incumbent Howard Government, like the US, has not condemned Israel's killing of Sheik Yassin. It still insists that such a pro-US stance does not increase our chances of another terror strike.

March 23, 2004

1972-2002 Vetoes from the USA

The Bush administration - and those who mindlessly follow their propaganda - frequently cite the ineffectiveness of the UN as a major reason why the USA "had to" act pre-emptively against Saddam.

But the US itself has been a major impediment to the effective functioning of the UN, especially in relation to solving the problems of the Middle East. The list below shows how the USA has used its power of veto in the UN over the past 30 years.

30 Years Of U.S. UN Vetoes.:
Year -----Resolution Vetoed by the USA
1972 Condemns Israel for killing hundreds of people in Syria and Lebanon in air raids.
1973 Afirms the rights of the Palestinians and calls on Israel to withdraw from the occupied territories.
1976 Condemns Israel for attacking Lebanese civilians.
1976 Condemns Israel for building settlements in the occupied territories.
1976 Calls for self determination for the Palestinians.
1976 Afirms the rights of the Palestinians.
1978 Urges the permanent members (USA, USSR, UK, France, China) to insure United Nations decisions on the maintenance of international peace and security.
1978 Criticises the living conditions of the Palestinians.
1978 Condemns the Israeli human rights record in occupied territories.
1978 Calls for developed countries to increase the quantity and quality of development assistance to underdeveloped countries.
1979 Calls for an end to all military and nuclear collaboration with the apartheid South Africa.
1979 Strengthens the arms embargo against South Africa.
1979 Offers assistance to all the oppressed people of South Africa and their liberation movement.
1979 Concerns negotiations on disarmament and cessation of the nuclear arms race.
1979 Calls for the return of all inhabitants expelled by Israel.
1979 Demands that Israel desist from human rights violations.
1979 Requests a report on the living conditions of Palestinians in occupied Arab countries.
1979 Offers assistance to the Palestinian people.
1979 Discusses sovereignty over national resources in occupied Arab territories.
1979 Calls for protection of developing co"
Liberating America From Israel:

"Nine-eleven would not have occurred if the U.S. government had refused to help Israel humiliate and destroy Palestinian society. Few express this conclusion publicly, but many believe it is the truth. I believe the catastrophe could have been prevented if any U.S. president during the past 35 years had had the courage and wisdom to suspend all U.S. aid until Israel withdrew from the Arab land seized in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.

The U.S. lobby for Israel is powerful and intimidating, but any determined president-even President Bush this very day-could prevail and win overwhelming public support for the suspension of aid by laying [the] facts before the American people... "

(read more)
What Would Jesus Do?

According to the Gospels of the New Testament, Jesus said:

"You have heard it said before, 'An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth'. I tell you, it is not to be this way any longer. If a person should hit you on the left cheek, turn to him the other cheek also."

At a time when Mel Gibson's "Passion" is stirring so much controversy in the cinema, it is worth pondering these words.

The Middle East conflict has been characterized by an endless cycle of "retaliatory" attacks. Nobody will ever agree on who threw the first stone, but attempts at ceasefires have always collapsed under the weight of public and governmental demands for vengeance whenever a new attack occurs.

Jesus also said: "Vengeance is mine, says the Lord."

Right-wing Westerners who consider themselves devout Christians, particularly the current White House incumbents, should take note. Those who are not Christians would likewise do well to ponder the wisdom of these pacifist concepts. The war-mongers certainly do not have much to show for their efforts.

From United Press International: :

"Simply killing Yassin and bin Laden will not herald the end of attacks in Israel, the United States and other parts of the world. In fact, it could well have the opposite effect, as Abdel Aziz al-Rantisi, one of the Hamas leaders predicted following Yassin's death. 'Israel has opened the gates of hell,' warned Rantisi.

Hamas' reaction to the assassination of its leader will be, says Rantisi, 'as rough as a heavy earthquake.' And as numerous analysts now predict, we could well witness the start of a fresh wave of violence erupting in the Holy Land. Some Palestinians are already referring to the killing of Yassin as the beginning of the 'third intifada.'

For every Yassin or bin Laden killed, history has shown us that there are dozens of other potential leaders waiting in the sidelines, ready to assume their place. Just ask the French about their attempts at eliminating the revolutionary leadership of the Vietminh in Indo-China or the rebels of the National Liberation Front in Algeria -- or the American experience in Vietnam when it came to targeting North Vietnamese and communist military leaders.

'There will always be terrorists as long as there is a reason for them to commit acts of terrorism,' said Charles Henderson, a former Marine and author of four books on the Vietnam war. 'These are fundamental lessons that the Marine Corps teaches. You have to eliminate the motivation.'

Marine Corps Gen. Victor H. Krulak, says Henderson, recognized that in Vietnam you could not simply win the war militarily. 'You had to win their hearts and minds,' he says. That theory holds true with all groups that turn to violence. Eradicate the root reasons and you deny them popular support, without which a revolutionary cause cannot sustain itself.

While the war on terrorism must be pursued, it must also be accompanied at the same time by well-established strategies to help stamp out the causes that lead to such actions by Yassins, bin Ladens and others.

Since the horrific attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, in lower Manhattan and on the Pentagon, much emphasis has been placed finding bin Laden, as it should be. But what has been missing from the war on terrorism has been a comprehensive policy to study, identify and set out to eradicate the basic reasons for this worldwide contempt of American and Western norms."
Why Do They Hate U.S.???

Just look at the list of stories on INFORMATION CLEARING HOUSE today:

- UK condemns 'unlawful' Yassin killing
- Annan condemns Yassin killing; U.N. Council consults
- EU condemns Hamas leader killing
- Turkey condemns killing of Sheik Yassin
- Mubarak condemns Israeli assassination of Yassin
- Chirac condemns Israel's killing of Hamas leader
- Bulgaria Condemns Killing of Hamas Leader Yassin
- Vatican condemns killing of Sheikh Yassin
- SA condemns assassination of Hamas founder
- Indonesia condemns Hamas killing
- European Jews for a Just Peace: express our feelings of outrage and horror at the targeted killing of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin
- Gush Shalom Condemns Assassination
- White House has not condemned the assassination of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin: Denies Involvement
U.S. will retain power in Iraq after transfer of sovereignty:

"The fledgling Iraqi government will be capable of tackling little more than drawing up a budget and preparing for elections, top U.S. and Iraqi officials say.

''We're still here. We'll be paying a lot of attention and we'll have a lot of influence,'' a top U.S. official said on condition of anonymity. ''We're going to have the world's largest diplomatic mission with a significant amount of political weight.''

... With Iraqi elections scheduled for December or January, the interim government will last a fleeting seven months at most: a butterfly's life, in legislative terms. "

No wonder Shi'ite cleric Al-Sistani is insisting that the UN does not recognize the legitimacy of this interim government, but awaits proper elections and a genuine handover of power to Iraqis.
John Pilger:

"So saturated are we in the West in the devilry of Third World tyrants (most of them the products of Western imperialism) that we have lost all sense of the enormous crime committed in our name.

This is not rhetoric. In 1946, the judges who tried the German leadership at Nuremberg called the unprovoked invasion of a sovereign country 'the supreme international war crime'. That principle guided more than half a century of international law, until Bush and Blair and Howard tore it up, covering their actions with lies. In Washington, one of the CIA's most senior analysts and a friend of George Bush snr, Ray McGovern, told me: 'It was 95 per cent charade. And they all knew it: Bush, Blair, Howard.'

... the dock awaits those Westerners who bring mass terrorism to faraway countries, then watch it blow back in our faces. Like al-Qaeda, they should not be allowed to get away with it."

March 22, 2004

9/11 panel will hear Clinton, Bush aides:

"Senior officials of the Bush and Clinton administrations will testify this week before the independent commission investigating the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, and they will be asked to explain their decisions on terrorist threats and 'how they handled the most pressing security threat to our country,' the panel said Tuesday.

The witness list for Tuesday and Wednesday includes George Tenet, director of central intelligence in both administrations; Secretary of State Colin Powell and his predecessor, Madeleine Albright; Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his predecessor, William Cohen; and President Bill Clinton's national security adviser, Sandy Berger.

The list is notable for the absence of Condoleezza Rice, President Bush's national security adviser, who has refused an invitation from the commission to testify in public."
Simple Truths

"You can't fight an idea by invading countries," says Raja Khouri, president of the Canadian Arab Federation. "To fight an idea, you have to discredit the idea. Instead of doing that, the United States is doing the exact opposite. Instead of proving the West is not out to get the Muslim world, it went out and invaded a Muslim country."

"The `war on terror' has failed miserably. This will do more to help the radicals of the world to substantiate their claims that the West is out to get Arabs and Muslims and to control them. We've had a number of terrorist attacks, and the invasion of Iraq has not done anything to diminish them."

"There was no terrorism in Iraq before the war. Now there is. You have to be blind not to see that the occupation of Iraq is turning into a fiasco."
Paul McGeough in Baghdad:

Bush "may well be judged by history to have been the ventriloquist's doll for the ideologues around him."

"The arch villain - Osama bin Laden - remains free and his terrorist organisation has morphed into something even more dangerous than what existed before the September 11 attacks in New York and Washington.

"The Bush Administration, with echoes from Tony Blair and John Howard, has enhanced the myth that it is all - and only - bin Laden's work. What seems to have happened is more insidious...

"Is terrorism winning over democracy? Superficially, maybe. But something more fundamental is happening, something very democratic: leaders are being held to account, because the Bush case for war in Iraq has been proved to be a lie that was supported by Blair and Howard.

"We were told the war was to get rid of Saddam's weapons of mass destruction - they did not exist. It was to save us from the link between Saddam and al-Qaeda - there was none. This was to be a quick war - the soldiers were to be welcomed with songs and flowers..."
Protests Worldwide Against War:

Protests have circled the globe o the anniversary of the Iraq invasion.

In an ominous sign for the "coalition of the wilting", the largest assembly was a demonstration in Rome, which drew about 1 million people. And thousands of Japanese flooded the streets of Tokyo to denounce their government's military presence in Iraq. Ironically, the Japanese troops are called a "self-defense" unit, just the kind of Orwellian word-twisting we have become used to in the last 4 years.

Protesters in downtown Manhattan filled 20 blocks. Presumably, these people will not be voting GOP in November.

Those who opposed the war now seem to be the only ones capable of enunciating the truth. Bush urges "old friends" to put "past differences behind them. Here's what those "old friends" have to say:

French Foreign Minister, Dominique de Villepin: "The war in Iraq was a mistake, I would even say, a blunder. We cannot fail to see that there are two centres that feed terrorism today: the first is the Middle East crisis, the second is Iraq."

European Commission President, Romano Prodi: "It happens in Iraq as elsewhere - Istanbul, Moscow, Madrid. The terrorism that the war in Iraq was supposed to stop is infinitely more powerful today than it was a year ago."

March 21, 2004

The First Recorded Bush Lie?

Reading through a very entertaining history of the Bush family fortunes, I came across this story about a wildly inaccurate newspaper report in Bush's home town newspaper, way back in 1918. It concerns the WWI activities of grandpa Prescott Bush:

"The incident occurred on the western front about the time the Germans were launching their great offensive of July 15.... The history of the remarkable victory scored later by the allies might have been written in another vein, but for the heroic and quick action of Captain Bush.

The ... three allied leaders, Gen. [Ferdinand] Foch, Sir Douglas Haig and Gen. [John J.] Pershing ... were making an inspection of American positions. Gen. Pershing had sent for Captain Bush to guide them about one sector.... Suddenly Captain Bush noticed a shell coming directly for them. He shouted a warning, suddenly drew his bolo knife, stuck it up as he would a ball bat, and parried the blow, causing the shell to glance off to the right.... "

Can you believe it? He batted away the incoming shell with his bolo knife!!!

Well, actually, no he didn't. Prescott Bush's unit had not even come under enemy fire, and would not even engage the enemy for another four months. Four weeks after the above story appeared, Bush's mother sent the paper a short letter saying that a letter "written in the spirit of fun" had been misinterpreted.

Years later, the media are still propogating Bush family fantasies...
So Many Lies, They Needed A Database

Check this out. Bush & Co have been lying consistently ever since they took office. When pinned down by facts, they will often say "Well I never said that!" But now you can check exactly what they said, because it is all available in a search-able online database!

Iraq on the Record provides a PDF report and a searchable online database of Bush & Co lies, specifically the "statements made by the five Administration officials most responsible for providing public information and shaping public opinion on Iraq: President George W. Bush, Vice President Richard Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Colin Powell, and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice."
Defeating Terrorism, Step One: Look in the Mirror:

"If Americans are ever going to understand what would motivate people to end their lives in the course of committing gruesomely destructive acts, we'll have to 'step back' from what the mainstream media dishes out to us, and strive for empathy, – try to understand why terrorists believe it's imperative to resist US domination...

We take over and dominate other people's societies. We set up client states in their regions and rely on these client states to house US bases and, as in the case with Israel, to punish neighboring states if they don't submit to US aims. We foster double standards, condemning invasion and occupation when it suits us, (e.g., the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait) and yet undertaking or supporting murderous sanctions, invasions and occupations, while claiming to support and enhance democratic states. The role of the US and its client state, Israel, as occupiers in Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine evokes rage and retaliation. Hideous and violent terrorist attacks will continue as long as we insist on taking other people's precious and irreplaceable resources for cut rate prices. We should either begin paying fair prices, or find new ways to live in which we're not so dependent on these resources."
9/12: Get Saddam

"The Bush administration considered bombing Iraq in retaliation almost immediately after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks against New York and Washington, according to a new first-person account by a former senior counterterrorism adviser inside the White House.

Richard Clarke, the president's counterterrorism coordinator at the time of the attacks, said Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld complained on Sept. 12 -- after the administration was convinced with certainty that Al Qaeda was to blame -- that 'there aren't any good targets in Afghanistan and there are lots of good targets in Iraq.'"

March 20, 2004

Vengeance Is Mine, Says Uncle Sam:

The US government is working on a post-nuclear holocaust solution that will provide "instant gratification through vengeance."

The idea is to analyze the fallout of a nuclear explosion to determine where it came from, so the US can nuke them in return as quickly as possible.

Anyone who remembers the US public's (and/or the US media's) thirst for retribution after 9/11 will be concerned. Polls showed that many people were determined to go and bomb someone like Saddam Hussein, whether or not he was responsible.

Considering how unreliable the "solid proof" on WMDs in Iraq has been, imagine how embarrassing it would be if Washingto nuked Beijing only to realise later that they got it wrong.

Madness, total madness... (taxpayer funded, of course).
Bin Laden's right-hand man escapes:

"A BULLETPROOF LandCruiser at high speed bursting out of a tribal compound in Pakistan's South Waziristan region was just the latest infuriating setback in the US's quest to bring down the top of the al-Qa'ida tree.

The car, followed by two armoured vehicles and a phalanx of heavily armed militants able to wipe out dozens of crack troops sent to blast the terrorists from their nest, is believed to have contained Ayman al-Zawahiri, right-hand man to Osama bin Laden.

After mounting speculation that US and Pakistani forces ranged on either side of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border were about to pounce on al-Qa'ida's key planner, a senior Taliban spokesman yesterday made the claim Washington least wanted to hear - that both Zawahiri and bin Laden were safe in Afghanistan.

'He may have slipped the net,' the official said. "
Coalition of the Wilting:

"Polish President, Aleksander Kwasniewski, said on Thursday that he felt 'uncomfortable due to the fact that we were misled with the misinformation on weapons of mass destruction'. "

The Honduran government has also indicated that it's troops will depart at the end of their mandate in a few more months.

"Another US ally, South Korea, yesterday cancelled plans to send troops to the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk, citing US pressure to take part in "offensive operations" that are contrary to Seoul's mission of peaceful reconstruction."

As TomDispatch writes, the "coalition" in Iraq has been "nothing less than an international black joke, though no one in the mainstream American media seemed to think so. The Kazakhs (27), Estonians (46), Filipinos (96), Mongols (130), Azerbaijanis (150), Thais, (451), Spaniards (1,300), Poles (2,500), and Italians (2,950), among others, have added up to a strange imperial legion of occupation.

"Almost all of these forces, ranging from the symbolic to the microscopic, represented interests that had absolutely nothing to do with Iraq itself or even a commitment to any sort of new Middle East. "

Given the Spanish pullout, Tony Blair's shaky political ground and Australian PM John Howard's elections due later this year, the coalition of the "willing" could soon be even more of a farce.

Perhaps these governments are starting to realise that going against the wishes of 80% - 90% of your population is not a good idea after all.

March 19, 2004

Contempt for Congress:

"The Bush administration has tended to treat Congress with an arrogance bordering on contempt. The latest illustration involves the report that the Medicare chief actuary was threatened with firing if he gave lawmakers his analysis of the likely costs of the new prescription drug legislation... Rather than straightforwardly acknowledging the difference and having an honest discussion about which analysis was more accurate, the administration preferred to stifle dissent and muscle the measure through Congress.

"Indeed, had the administration been more forthcoming, the bill probably would have failed: The House managed to pass it only after leaders delayed gaveling the vote to a close in order to engage in last-minute arm-twisting.

"When the administration finally was forced to acknowledge its far-higher estimate in January, officials acted surprised at the new price tag. 'This is really the first time that we've come up with a full and precise cost estimate because we were going through our budget processes,' said White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan. Hogwash."
Stumbles at the top put the war on terror at risk - OpinionPeterHartcher -

"Tony Cordesman, of the non-partisan Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington DC, [says] that 'from al-Qaeda's perspective, they can make a claim that they are in fact winning, not losing the war on terrorism'. How so?

'The victory we have won in Afghanistan is tenuous at best - it is more Kabulstan than Afghanistan. The fighting goes on. The US is tied down there. The problems of Central Asia continue ... From al-Qaeda's viewpoint Iraq is, by any standard, not an American victory yet ...

'Al-Qaeda has so far done more to dominate the Arab media than the US. The US effort to win the information battle and hearts and minds has been sufficiently inept ... "

The enemy is no longer just al-Qaeda but a hydra-headed global movement...

Support for the US-led war on terrorism also has fallen in most Muslim publics. Equally significant, solid majorities in the Palestinian Authority, Indonesia and Jordan - and nearly half of those in Morocco and Pakistan - say they have at least some confidence in bin Laden to 'do the right thing'."
General sacked by Bush says he wanted early elections:

"Jay Garner, the US general abruptly dismissed as Iraq's first occupation administrator after a month in the job, says he fell out with the Bush circle because he wanted free elections and rejected an imposed programme of privatisation.

In an interview to be broadcast on BBC Newsnight tonight, he says: 'My preference was to put the Iraqis in charge as soon as we can, and do it with some form of elections ... I just thought it was necessary to rapidly get the Iraqis in charge of their destiny.' "
Gibson hits out at war in Iraq:

"Mel Gibson has become the latest in a line of celebrities to question the Iraq War.

The usually-conservative movie star-director said he had been having “doubts” about President George Bush.

“It’s all to do with these weapons (of mass destruction) that we can’t seem to find, and why did we go over there?” he asked."

Other celebrity quotes:

Dustin Hoffman: “This war is about what most wars are about: hegemony, money, power and oil.”

Fog of War director Errol Morris, in his Oscar acceptance speech: “Forty years ago this country went down a rabbit hole in Vietnam and millions died. I fear we are going down a rabbit hole once again.”
Rumsfeld Hedges on June 30 Iraqi Sovereignty Date:

"Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said on Tuesday he could not be sure that a June 30 date would be met for ending the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq and handing sovereignty over to Iraq.

'Everybody, including the Iraqi Governing Council, has set that date as a target,' he said in a radio interview with the British Broadcasting Corporation at the Pentagon.

'And do I think it will happen? It has a chance of happening, yes. Will it happen for sure? Who knows? I don't know what's going to happen tomorrow,' Rumsfeld added."

March 17, 2004

AlterNet: Free Market Debunked:

"The 'middle class' is not the natural result of freeing business to do whatever it wants, of 'free and open markets,' or of 'free trade.' The 'middle class' is not a normal result of 'free markets.' Those policies will produce a small but powerful wealthy class, a small 'middle' mercantilist class, and a huge and terrified worker class which have traditionally been called 'serfs.' "
Due process AWOL at Guantanamo Bay:

"It took one year for the military at Guantanamo to recently determine that three Afghan youths should be released and repatriated.

And, of course, to raise these issues is to be soft on terrorists.

No, this is about recognizing that we are letting fear rule our reason.

One of the Afghan youths, Mohammed Ismail Agha, 15, told the New York Times that he is not bitter. He was released two weeks ago with two other youths, 13 and 15.

The rest of us should be bitter on his behalf, and on our own, because his treatment demeans us all...

Though not bitter, Agha says the United States should compensate his father for the money he borrowed to try to find him.

We should pay more than that. The best payment would be a just Supreme Court ruling this year. It should make clear that we cannot hold anyone indefinitely - POWs, enemy combatants, immigrants or criminals - without due process that is both transparent and respects basic human rights."
Another released Guantanamo captive speaks out:

"Mr Khadr also described how it felt to be an inmate in Guantanamo.
'You know that you cannot go anywhere and you are totally under the control of the person that's interrogating you.

'Everything is in his hands. You can be the most co-operative person. But call him a 'stupid American,' or something that is personal, and he would write back to the Defense Ministry that this person isn't co-operating. They will keep you there for two or three years.'

Mr Khadr said the interrogators themselves had told him this."
Reuters | Latest Financial News / Full News Coverage:

"Twenty-three Afghans held at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay for up to two-and-a-half years have been released in Kabul and some have complained of being unfairly detained and treated worse than animals.

The men were among 26 prisoners flown back from Cuba at the weekend having been detained without charge or representation...

"We don't know what our crime was," said one of the former prisoners, Lall Gul, on Tuesday. "They just arrested us and took us to Guantanamo prison."

Some declined to speak to journalists, but others angrily protested their innocence.

A 27-year-old from the southern Helmand province... said prisoners were psychologically and physically tortured. "The treatment was so bad I can't find words to explain it. The psychological torture was worse than the physical."

"There was no respect for our culture and religion -- animals were treated better than us. If we did not follow their orders, they would beat us."
Howard Overboard

There is palpable anger in the Australian press at the Government's refusal to acknowledge any link between the Madrid bombings and the Spanish government's support for Bush. By refusing to accept a very obvious reality, the Howard government is painting itself into an increasingly absurd corner. They have even forced the Federal Police Commisioner to issue a statement "clarifying" remarks he made on the issue (see below). The truth goes overboard once again, but this time is surely once too often.

Margot Kingston writes a very angry denunciation in the Herald:

"When was the last time the government forced a very, very senior public official - one we trusted - to sign a false statement to protect the government's lies?

Why, it was in the last week of the 2001 federal election campaign, when this government without honour humiliated the then chief of the navy, Admiral David Shackleton.

How sickening is John Howard's government allowed to get before we sack it?"

March 16, 2004

Protestors Come Out On The Streets

About 80 protestors, including relatives of soldiers who dies in Iraq, staged a mock funeral procession through the streets of Washington.

"Jean Prewitt, came from Birmingham, Alabama. She says she has never before been an outspoken protester, but this time came to honor her son, Private Kelley Stephen Prewitt, who was killed outside of Baghdad last April.

Ms. Prewitt adds that she initially supported President Bush and the Iraq war. 'I did. Even when Kelley was killed, I did. I wasn't angry,' he said. 'I was just devastated and heartbroken, but I didn't blame anybody. I thought it was the right thing. I certainly don't now.'

She says her anger was recently sparked by the failure, in post-war Iraq, to find weapons of mass destruction. 'After we found out, after all these months, that Bush had lied. There were no weapons like he said..."
Reading Between the Lines

A White House official..., insisting on anonymity "to speak more bluntly than diplomacy might dictate", said Bush would work to be sure it is 'clear to all around the world that nations cannot make a separate peace with terrorists.'

[in other words, my enemies are your enemies, or you are my enemy]

'Unless we stand together in a resolved way to fight terrorists, [unless you stand behind the USA as we launch pre-emptive attacks] in all likelihood, a given nation [the USA] will be subject to an act of terror,' the official said. 'If terrorists are able to attack those who are fighting them the hardest and have an effect [if they can affect the polls], then that sends a terrible message [we could lose the next election].' "
Pentagon rejects Guantanamo claims - -

"The Pentagon dismissed as 'lies' charges levelled by recently released Britons that they were beaten and maltreated in US military custody, and it said the allegations would not be investigated because they lacked credibility.

'These allegations are fabrications. These are lies,' said Major Michael Shavers, a Pentagon spokesman.

'All the detainees were treated humanely and to the extent appropriate consistent with military necessity in accordance with the third Geneva Convention of 1949,' he said.

'Because these are lies and fabrications, they are not credible. If they were credible allegations of illegal conduct, then we would investigate,' he said.

Asked how the Pentagon could determine whether the allegations were lies without an investigation, the spokesman said; 'We do not do what they are alleging.' "
The Times of India today has an interesting article examining how much the CIA was involved in Pakistan's nuclear weapons program. It recalls that senator John Kerry was head of a US Senate Enquiry into the collapse of the BCCI bank.

"The enquiry report found that BCCI was involved in the sale of nuclear technologies and had indulged in various criminal activities - such as drugs trade, illegal arms deals, prostitution and money laundering.

"The report also said that BCCI had cultivated many prominent US personalities - among them, former defence secretary Clark Clifford, directors of CIA, Richard Helms and William Casey, former president Jimmy Carter.

"The report commented adversely on the inadequate cooperation of the CIA in the conduct of the enquiry. It recommended further action to make the CIA more accountable. The trial of Clark Clifford, who lent his prestige and name for the illegal activities of BCCI in the US, was dropped in view of his age and poor health.

"Later, the BCCI affair was given a quiet burial presumably because the CIA and many prominent personalities were involved. There were even allegations of connections between BCCI and the Bush family. "
Iraq woos Iran, Iran builds bomb, US threatens more "action":

The Shi'ite majority in Iraq is eager to build bridges with their Shi'ite neighbour, Iran, a sworn enemy of the United States.

As the SMH reports, "the Iraqis sent a delegation to Tehran, presenting it as a neighbourly visit. But the Americans would have been stunned by the inclusion in the team of their hand-picked candidate as the likely next leader of Iraq - the returned exile and former banker Ahmed Chalabi.

US retaliation was swift. It closed all but three of the crossing points on the Iraq-Iran border. This was presented by the chief of the US occupation, Paul Bremer, as just another security measure, but observers here saw the border tightening as a rebuke to the Iraqi Shiites.

The Shiites responded by making it known that they might oppose a role for the United Nations in brokering an agreement on the shape of Iraq's next interim government.

Indeed, the Iraq Governing Council is refusing to invite the UN into the country, a critical step if the US is to hand over power on June 30th as Bush has pledged.

The affair is further complicated by Iran's continuing charades with the International Atomic Energy Agency. It now seems likely that they are intent on building a nuclear bomb and well advanced on the path to joining Pakistan and North Korea in the nuclear "club". The US is threatening action, which could well mean UN Security Council approved bombing of Tehran.

"If they continue in this manner, to deny and to put out the kind of statements as they did, they'll find that the international community will be prepared to take action" Colin Powell says.

"I won't prejudge now what those actions might be, but the Iranians need to understand that the international community is not going to just sit by idly while they continue to move in the direction of a nuclear weapon."

Imagine how Iraqis will react to a US bombing campaign on their Muslim "brothers". And don't imagine that all Iraqis and Iranians are enemies just because they had a decade-long war. Remember, that was Saddam Hussein, a Sunni Muslim with an interest in stoking relgious hatred, who waged that war. And - as Homer Simpson reminds us - the USA was right behind him.

And just to make matters worse for the USA, "OPEC plans to cut official production by four percent from April 1 to 23.5 million barrels per day. " The move, sponsored by Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez, who says US forces are trying to stage another coup in his country, is now likely to go ahead. High prices at the gas station will do nothing for the re-election chances of Bush and Howard later this year.

This war sure isn't going the way you planned, is it George?

Indeed, as King Pyrrhus of Epirus said after the bloody battle of Heraclea in 280 BC: "One more such victory and we are ruined."
Rumsfeld Finally Cops Some Media Heat For Past Lies:

No wonder Karl Rove has told him and Powell to stay out of the election campaign. An Excerpt from 'Face the Nation':

SCHIEFFER: Well, let me just ask you this. If they did not have these weapons of mass destruction, though, granted all of that is true, why then did they pose an immediate threat to us, to this country?

RUMSFELD: Well, you're the--you and a few other critics are the only people I've heard use the phrase `immediate threat.' I didn't. The president didn't. And it's become kind of folklore that that's--that's what's happened. The president went...

SCHIEFFER: You're saying that nobody in the administration said that.

RUMSFELD: I--I can't speak for nobody--everybody in the administration and say nobody said that.

SCHIEFFER: Vice president didn't say that? The...

RUMSFELD: Not--if--if you have any citations, I'd like to see 'em.

Mr. FRIEDMAN: We have one here. It says `some have argued that the nu'--this is you speaking--`that the nuclear threat from Iraq is not imminent, that Saddam is at least five to seven years away from having nuclear weapons. I would not be so certain.'

RUMSFELD: And--and...

Mr. FRIEDMAN: It was close to imminent.

RUMSFELD: Well, I've--I've tried to be precise, and I've tried to be accurate. I'm s--suppose I've...

Mr. FRIEDMAN: `No terrorist state poses a greater or more immediate threat to the security of our people and the stability of the world and the regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq.'

RUMSFELD: Mm-hmm. It--my view of--of the situation was that he--he had--we--we believe, the best intelligence that we had and other countries had and that--that we believed and we still do not know--we will know"
Guardian report: Beware instant democracy:

The new US plan for the so-called "Greater Middle East" is adapted from the 1975 Helsinki pact that was used by the west to press for greater freedom and human rights in the Soviet Union and eastern Europe. As a new series of reports in the Guardian says, this plan fits the Bush administration's neo-conservative dogma, which mistakenly views the problems of the Middle East in Cold War terms.

"In any case, picturing the Middle East as some kind of geo-political entity is largely an illusion. The term "Middle East" was invented in the west, just over 200 years ago as a security concept (for the protection of British interests in India at the time) and has continued in that role ever since. As a region, it exists mostly in the minds of western strategic planners...

The motive for the plan "is not altruism but the self-interest of the G-8. While it is always possible that what is good for the G-8 can be good for the Middle East too, constructing a reform programme around the fears of outsiders rather than the needs of the people involved is a bad way to start...

"The question, "What are the obstacles to democracy in the Middle East?" tends not to be asked. It's too embarrassing - both for the western powers and for governments in the Middle East. Beyond the embarrassment of asking the question, there's the even greater embarrassment of looking for solutions. If there is ever to be real democracy in the Middle East, a lot of people will have to change their ways drastically - not just in the region but in Washington too."

This is the first part of a series in the Guardian newspaper.
Y Ahora.. Qué?

The BBC's Paul Reynolds offers a clear analysis of the Spanish election results, saying they "have shaken the coalition in the war on terror declared by President Bush.

"And they have done so because Spanish voters moved into line with the French and German view that the war on terror has nothing to do with the war in Iraq...

"Not that Spanish voters support al-Qaeda, but nor do they support the policy in Iraq.

"And, like the French and Germans, they want a rethink. In particular, they want a separation of the war on terror from the war in Iraq, which Mr Bush has said is the "front line" in the war on terror...

"The arrival of the Spanish socialists back on the European scene will also shift the balance of opinion on Iraq within the European Union. Mr Blair has lost a close ally and may have to turn further east to the new members joining on 1 May to reinforce his position."
Stage Two: Anger:

From today's Spanish El Pais newspaper:

"The worst mistake which accompanies Aznar's farewell is his dogged insistence in converting his particular obsessions and questionable ideas about Spain, the Spanish, and the way in which they are governed into dogma,' the paper says, before concluding that it was 'the manipulation, the lies, the offensive use of the argument of the war against terror to justify just about any policy, the blatant opportunism and puerile arrogance that caused those in power to lose it yesterday."
Gandhi said "an eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind". That's intelligence.

March 15, 2004

Stage One: Denial

What does the Madrid bombing mean for other nations who have supported Bush's illegal invasion of Iraq?

According to Australian PM John Howard: "There is no direct link between what has occurred in Spain and Australia, no direct link at all. "

But, according to Australia's Federal Police Commissioner, Mick Keelty: "The reality is, if this turns out to be Islamic extremists responsible for this bombing in Spain, it's more likely to be linked to the position that Spain and other allies took on issues such as Iraq."

So the PM is contradicting the advice of his own Police Commissioner, even while Australian rail workers struggle to prepare themselves for a similar attack. And guess who else is on the PM's side? Australia's own version of the Simpson's Monty Burns, Attorney-General and former Child-Overboard election orchestrator Phillip Ruddock:

"Well that's not a conclusion I would agree with because the evidence doesn't suggest that that is likely."

These people are playing politics with OUR safety and gambling OUR lives for the sake of what?
US sends special forces into north Africa:

"Units of around 200 from the US army's 10th Special Forces Group are already installed, or are due to arrive, in Mauritania, Mali, Chad and Niger to train their armies in anti-terrorism tactics and to improve coordination with the US military.

Military cooperation with Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia - where many suspected violent Islamists detained in Europe over the past two years come from - is also being boosted.

Senior US generals, including the commander of the US European command, General James Jones, have been touring the region looking for temporary bases and airfields to use in possible future operations in Africa. "
Another US-Russian Confrontation Brewing?

carries a story of trouble brewing in the former Soviet republic of Georgia.

Mikhail Saakashvili, Georgia's newly elected (and US sponsored) leader, is preparing to forcibly enter the Black Sea region of Adzhara, which ships around 200,000 barrels of oil per day from Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan via Azerbaijan. After two failed attempts, Saakashvili has put the Georgian military on alert and threatened an economic blockade of the province. Russia, Georgia's giant northern neighbor and patron of Adzhara's leaders, has warned him not to use force.

"It's all about an attempt at armed mutiny against Georgia," ...Georgia is under real threat of disintegration and collapse," says Saakashvili.

Adzharan leader Aslan Abashidze urged Russia "to stop the invasion forces which will bring new bloodshed and refugees."

Many analysts believe the USA's real reasons for invading Afghanistan and Iraq were to secure an oil route to the sea. The Bush administration has strongly supported the new Georgian leader and a showdown with newly re-elected Russian leader Vladimir Putin is beginning to look unavoidable.
Finally Some GOOD News

The Spanish Socialist have won that country's general elections, following a sombre day of voting in the aftermath of recent bombings blamed on Al Quaeda. The Socialists opposed Spain's involvement in the Iraq invasion and have pledged to withdraw troops if the UN does not take control on Jun 30th this year.

Let's hope this is a sign of things to come for Bush, Blair and Howard.

According to the BBC:

"Outgoing Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar and his wife were booed and jostled as they arrived to cast their votes.

As he tried to address supporters, he was drowned out by cries of 'manipulators', 'liars' and 'peace'.

The Spanish government backed the US-led invasion of Iraq last year despite polls showing 90% opposition to it from the Spanish public. "
Trial By Media Continues

Why are the stories being told by released UK Guantanamo Bay inmates NOT making giant headlines around the world? Even the BBC seems reluctant to give any special attention to their claims of beatings, intimidation, inhumane treatment and government complicity.

The 650 Guantanamo detainees, held beyond the boundaries of US, UK and Australian law, are in effect being tried by the Western media. And by refusing to give their stories due seriousness, the media is effectively branding them guilty. Sadly, we, the people, seem happy enough with that.

The case of Australian Guantanamo Bay captive David Hicks is a good example. The 28-year-old Hick's greatest crime so far, it would seem, is to have posed with two friends for a picture with a bazooka on his shoulder. That, along with US military reports that he was aggressive and hard to handle, seems to be enough to satisfy most Australians of his guilt. His government is certainly doing nothing to help him. They wont even ask the US to send him home.

His fellow inmate Shafiq Rasul, who has been returned to England, told The Observer that the Adelaide-born Mr Hicks now occupies his mind all day by catching and killing mice, as a means of staying sane.

Based on media reports, most Australians now believe that Hicks is a psychopathic terrorist killer. Those who do not believe this would seem to believe he is just a psychopathic killer who deserves whatever he gets. But what crime has he actually committed? Even if he was acting as a mercenary gun-for-hire, there is (perhaps unfortunately) no law against that. Indeed, half the US contractor staff in Baghdad today are probably ex-military muscle.

Hicks' family have been trying desperately for over 2 years to raise the profile of his "story" in the Australian and international media. Now, joined by a suprisingly supportive US-appointed military lawyer, they are even releasing a documentary film: "The President Versus David Hicks".

Why on earth does this situation exist? Why should a family need to resort to such measures? Why did we, the people of Australia, the UK and the USA allow Bush and his cronies to throw people in Guantanamo Bay and leave them to rot? Why didn't we demand justice and trial by law? What sort of society do we want to live in?

Is this the ultimate triumph of fascism? Big business controls the media - even intimidating the BBC - and becomes effectively the judge, jury and executioner of every one of us.

Speak Arabic? PC Skills? Uncle Sam wants YOU!

"The government is taking the first steps toward a targeted military draft of Americans with special skills in computers and foreign languages.

The Selective Service System has begun the process of creating the procedures and policies to conduct such a targeted draft in case military officials ask Congress to authorize it and the lawmakers agree to such a request.

Richard Flahavan, a spokesman for the Selective Service System, said planning for a possible draft of linguists and computer experts had begun last fall after Pentagon personnel officials said the military needed more people with skills in those areas. "
So It Was Al Quaeda

A video-taped claim by "Al-Quaeda's representative in Europe" seems to have settled the question of who was really behind the Madrid bombings. It wasn't ETA, as the Spanish government hurriedly claimed, and it probably has nothing to do with another Muslim fanatic group (see below) who claimed responsibility.

Full text: 'Al-Qaeda' Madrid claim: "what you call terrorism. "

March 14, 2004

Guardian report: the full story of the Guantanamo Britons:

"Three British prisoners released last week from Guantanamo Bay have revealed the full extent of British government involvement in the American detention camp condemned by law lords and the Court of Appeal as a 'legal black hole'.

After more than 200 interrogation sessions each, with the CIA, FBI, Defence Intelligence Agency, MI5 and MI6, America has been forced to admit its claims that the three were terrorists who supported al-Qaeda had no foundation.

But fearful of reprisals - the extreme right wing BNP has a stronghold in their hometown of Tipton in the West Midlands, and their families have warned them they may not be safe back at home - they all declined to be photographed, and are choosing a new location in which to rebuild their lives...

Among other disclosures, the three men revealed:

· How early in their ordeal they survived a massacre perpetrated by Afghanistan's Northern Alliance troops who herded hundreds of prisoners into lorry containers and locked them in, so that people started to suffocate. Iqbal described how only 20 of 300 prisoners in each container lived, and then only because someone made holes in its side with a machine gun - an action which killed yet more prisoners;

· The existence of a secret super-maximum security facility outside the main part of Guantanamo's Camp Delta known as Camp Echo, where prisoners are held in tiny cells in solitary confinement 24-hours a day, with a military police officer permanently stationed outside each cell door. The handful of inmates of Camp Echo include two of the four remaining British detainees, Moazzem Begg and Feroz Abbasi, and the Australian, David Hicks;

· That they endured three months of solitary confinement in Camp Delta's isolation block last summer after they were wrongly identified by the Americans as having been pictured in a video tape of a meeting in Afghanistan between Osama bin Laden and the leader of the 11 September hijackers Mohamed Atta. Ignoring their protests that they were in Britain at the time, the Americans interrogated them so relentlessly that eventually all three falsely confessed. They were finally saved - at least on this occasion - by MI5, which came up with documentary evidence to show they had not left the UK;

· That their first interrogations by British investigators - from both MI5 and the SAS - took place in December 2001 and January 2002 when they were still being held at a detention camp in Afghanistan. Guns were held to their heads during their questioning in Afghanistan by American soldiers, and physical abuse and beatings were rife. At this point, after weeks of near starvation as prisoners of the Northern Alliance, all three men were close to death."


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