April 29, 2004

Anti-war Is Not Anti-American

Ronald Reagan's former adviser Doug Bandow:

"One of Washington's few friends not looking for the exit is Australia. That's good for the US - anyone would prefer to have companionship as their car hurtles off a cliff - but not necessarily good for Canberra.

Prime Minister John Howard mirrors the rhetoric of President George W. Bush with his Government's promise that 'our troops will stay in Iraq until the job is done'. But that might not be within either leader's lifetime. Such a commitment seems imprudent at best. To question it, as Opposition Leader Mark Latham does, certainly is not anti-American.

... there's no need for the US to hand out security guarantees to Australia. Nor is there reason for Australia to follow the US lead in distant parts of the globe. There certainly is no cause for Canberra to commit itself, even in a small way, to Washington's misbegotten occupation of Iraq. Even many Americans now realise the Iraq war was "based on a hunch", as Latham has observed. The Bush administration shamelessly manipulated the intelligence process and the information that resulted. Perhaps Howard can't be blamed for relying on Bush's word, but he deserves to be questioned for continuing to back Bush's policy."
Are We Allowed To Ask "Why Not?"

Reuters reports that "White House aides coached President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney on Tuesday for their appearance before a panel investigating the Sept. 11 attacks that they agreed to under pressure and only if they could appear together and behind closed doors. "

At the administration's request, Thursday's unprecedented questioning of a president and vice president at the White House will not be recorded and a transcript will not be made. Their testimony will not be under oath, either. Why not?
Olympic Embarrasment For Bush

Former Olympic Champion swimmer Mark Spitz has raised the possibility that the USA may withdraw from the Athens Olympics. Spitz asks, "Would it be political suicide to send a team there if you were the Bush administration? "

Imagine... Athletes wearing black arm-bands in protest at the War in Iraq, crowds at every event holding anti-US banners, booing the US flag and anthem, even US athletes making personal protests... The US public will finally realize what a pariah state they have become under Bush, and how massively anti-US feeling has grown under his incompetent, oil-grabbing administration.

On the other hand, if the USA does not withdraw and there is a terrorist attack which kills US athletes, will the US public blame Bush or the Greek organizers? With the Games scheduled just a month before the US elections, and Greece geographically on the doorstep of the Muslicm world, it looks like a gamble for Bush either way. My tip is he will pull the athletes out.

As Spitz says, ""If that does happen it will happen in the 11th hour and 59th minute."

No wonder the IOC has just taken out its first-ever cancellation insurance policy.
Top Italian TV news reader quits:

"A leading television journalist in Italy has resigned from her job, after criticising Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi over his media influence. Lilli Gruber quit state broadcaster Rai, saying the corporation mainly reflected the government's views and Mr Berlusconi's 'unresolved conflict of interest' hurt Italian democracy. "
Stunted development:

"The president of the World Bank, James Wolfensohn, chided the world's rich countries this week for not providing enough aid for the world's poorest states. Mr Wolfensohn argued that low levels of aid from rich countries contributed to international instability and was unacceptable at a time of unprecedented military spending.

He pointed out that while global defence spending - including military budgets in the developing world - stood at $900bn, money for development amounted to between $50bn and $60bn.

'If we spent $900bn on development, we probably wouldn't need to spend more than $50bn on defence,' said Mr Wolfensohn.

April 28, 2004

Was the North Korean Blast an Assasination Attempt?

ABC News said "the cargo trains collided at a station just hours after North Korea's reclusive leader Kim Jong-il passed through on his way to Pyongyang from China...

South Korean officials suggest it was much more likely to have been an accident than an assasination attempt. "
What Would Maggie Say?

Margaret "the lady's not for turning" Thatcher pioneered the never-apologise, never-back-down school of ruthless politics. Blair, Bush and Howard are all disciples of the genre, obviously, but where has it got them?

The Financial Times reports on scathing criticism of Toony Blair from a swathe of well-connected diplomats, politicians and army members:

"In possibly the most stinging rebuke ever to a British government by its foreign policy establishment, 52 former ambassadors and international officials have written to Tony Blair telling him he is damaging UK (and western) interests by backing George W. Bush's misguided policies in the Middle East. It would be comforting to imagine that their comments will be heeded.

The signatories to the letter include many distinguished and experienced public servants. They extend beyond the 'usual suspects' of well-known Arabists, and there is every indication that many more serving and retired diplomats, as well as army officers, harbour the same misgivings.

In any case, the notion that so-called Arabists - expert in the language, culture and politics of Arab countries - should be excluded from policy because of their alleged predilection to 'go native' should be discredited by the way the Pentagon, which shut out anyone with actual knowledge of Iraq, has serially bungled the occupation."

In Australia, John Howard is facing a similar dilemma, with calls for a Royal Enquiry into the government's mis-use of intelligence data.

And in the USA... Well, US citizens seem to think that any criticism of Bush is just party politics, so they refuse to take it seriously. Maybe a scathing report from the 9/11 commision will make them think differently? Or maybe the growing lack of international support for their cowboy policies will be enough to stop the rot.
People of the USA, Your Society Is Sick

Secret Service questions 15-year-old about drawings:

"US authorities have been accused of 'living in '1984' after a high school student who drew the head of President George W Bush impaled on a stick was interviewed by the Secret Service.

Another pencil-and-ink drawing portrayed Bush as a devil launching a missile, with a caption reading 'End the war - on terrorism'.

The 15-year-old's art teacher at Prosser High School in Washington State on the US West coast turned the drawings over to school administrators, who notified police, who called the Secret Service.

"From what I saw, (school officials) were right to be concerned," Prosser Police Chief Win Taylor said."


April 27, 2004

True Colours Come Shining Through...

Iraqis Say Council-Approved National Flag Won't Fly. These guys are idiots.

The Iraqi Flag Design Under Saddam Hussein:

New Iraqi Flag Proposed by U.S.-Appointed Governing Council :

The Flag of the State of Israel:

April 26, 2004

Howard's Gamble

For several months, Australian polls have shown PM John Howard lagging well behind the new opposition leader, Mark Latham. The War in Iraq is a central divisive issue and Howard, the master of wedge politics, thinks it could be a winner. His Anzac Day trip to visit troops in Iraq is a sign that Howard, like Blair and Bush, is a true believer in the mad logic of this illegal escapade. It is also a sign of desperation.

Consider this: in Iraq on the same day as Howard, the Bulgarian President's motorcade came under fire. And "a planned visit by the Prime Minister to the Australian Frigate, HMAS Stuart was cancelled after the ship became involved in a rescue operation after a suicide attack."

Maybe it's lucky Howard wasn't killed. Can you imagine? The media would have treated him as a hero, withdrawal from Iraq would have become unthinkable, and Howard's anachronistic politics would be cemented in place for another decade. Such is the power of our media-driven politics...
Religious Nut-cases Rule The World OK?

Once again, George Monbiot gets right to the heart of the problem:

"To understand what is happening in the Middle East, you must first understand what is happening in Texas...

In the United States, several million people have succumbed to an extraordinary delusion. In the 19th century, two immigrant preachers cobbled together a series of unrelated passages from the Bible to create what appears to be a consistent narrative: Jesus will return to Earth when certain preconditions have been met. The first of these was the establishment of a state of Israel. The next involves Israel's occupation of the rest of its 'biblical lands' (most of the Middle East), and the rebuilding of the Third Temple on the site now occupied by the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa mosques. The legions of the antichrist will then be deployed against Israel, and their war will lead to a final showdown in the valley of Armageddon. The Jews will either burn or convert to Christianity, and the Messiah will return to Earth.

What makes the story so appealing to Christian fundamentalists is that before the big battle begins, all 'true believers' (ie those who believe what they believe) will be lifted out of their clothes and wafted up to heaven during an event called the Rapture. Not only do the worthy get to sit at the right hand of God, but they will be able to watch, from the best seats, their political and religious opponents being devoured by boils, sores, locusts and frogs, during the seven years of Tribulation which follow.

The true believers are now seeking to bring all this about. This means staging confrontations at the old temple site (in 2000, three US Christians were deported for trying to blow up the mosques there), sponsoring Jewish settlements in the occupied territories, demanding ever more US support for Israel, and seeking to provoke a final battle with the Muslim world/Axis of Evil/United Nations..."

(more from George Monbiot here)

For a taste of the madness, visit http://www.raptureready.com/ and read up on important issues like "Do Our Pets Go To Heaven?" and "Information for Those Left Behind" (I think I'll need that!).
The High Price Of Pacifism

The Guardian reports on two American soldiers who have deserted, claiming asylum in Canada rather than serve in Iraq. The soldiers are arguing that the war is illegal under international law, which will present the Canadian courts (and government) with an interesting dilemma. What's more, if the USA introduces a draft, as many expect likely if Bush wins another term, there could be a flood of deserters across the Canadian border.
Is Rice Bush's "Second Wife"?:

"There is a buzz over a comment the US National Security Adviser, Condoleezza Rice, made at an apparently off-the-record Washington power dinner with the publisher of the The New York Times, Arthur Ochs Sulzberger jnr, and other Times people at the home of the newspaper's Washington bureau chief, Philip Taubman.

According to an account in New York magazine, Dr Rice said at one point: 'As I was telling my husb . . .'. then stopped and said: 'As I was telling President Bush . . .' Eyebrows jumped; jaws dropped. There was a slight pause in the chatter. While the first phrase was correctly reported, there is a possibility the second one did not immediately follow. In which case, it is not at all clear whom or what Dr Rice, who is single, may have been talking about. Meanwhile, Mr Taubman is said to be put out by the publicity and told everyone to clam up."
Washington's chosen ones face the axe:

"The UN envoy, Lakhdar Brahimi, who is in charge of picking the new government in consultation with the coalition, made it clear that the council should disband.

Under a new UN proposal, Mr Brahimi is expected to return to Baghdad on Saturday to finish discussions and then select Iraqis for 29 positions - a prime minister, who will head the government, a ceremonial president and two vice-presidents, plus 25 cabinet positions, US officials said. "

April 25, 2004

Does God Vote Republican?

"The administration is acutely aware of the power of the Christian voting block in the US. Gallup surveys consistently count 46% of the population as being self-described born again Christians, the bulk of whom live in middle America.

It is a stunning statistic, and one that escapes the attention of the chattering classes who populate the much less devout coastal strips.

Many of these churchgoers voted for Bush in 2000, and Carl Rove is determined that all of them should do the same this year. The latest data should put a spring in his step - Bush's job approval among grassroots Christian social conservatives hovers between 92% and 96%."

(more here)

Our Hidden WMD Program:

The budget is busted; American soldiers need more armor; they're running out of supplies. Yet the Department of Energy is spending an astonishing $6.5 billion on nuclear weapons this year, and President Bush is requesting $6.8 billion more for next year and a total of $30 billion over the following four years. This does not include his much-cherished missile-defense program, by the way. This is simply for the maintenance, modernization, development, and production of nuclear bombs and warheads...

There is no nuclear arms race going on now. The world no longer offers many suitable nuclear targets. President Bush is trying to persuade other nations—especially "rogue regimes"—to forgo their nuclear ambitions. Yet he is shoveling money to U.S. nuclear weapons laboratories as if the Soviet Union still existed and the Cold War still raged...

What the hell is going on here? Specifically: Do we really need to be spending this kind of money on nuclear weapons? What role do nuclear weapons play in 21st-century military policy? How many weapons do we need, to deter what sort of attack or to hit what sorts of targets, with what level of confidence, for what strategic and tactical purposes?

These are questions that haven't been seriously addressed in this country for 30 years. "

(more here)

Castrated BBC Pulls Out Of Iraq

The BBC has dramatically scaled back its staff in Iraq and banned programme-makers from organising any new trips there amid the deteriorating security situation... The cutbacks have sparked criticism of the BBC's [increasingly dismal, since they caved in to government critics] coverage in Iraq.

David Miller, the editor of Tell Me Lies: Propaganda and Media Distortion in the Attack on Iraq, accused the corporation of being over-reliant on the accounts given by US forces.

"This explains some of the poor coverage coming out of Iraq. Neither the BBC nor ITV has anyone in Falluja, but ITV has at least broadcast an interview with [aid worker] Jo Wilding from the city. The BBC should be giving the other side of the story," he said.

(more here)

April 24, 2004


"Israeli authorities are investigating allegations that a paramilitary border officer tied a 12-year-old Palestinian boy to the bonnet of his four-wheel drive to protect it against stone-throwing protesters...
Picking New Puppet Masters

So what do you do when your hand-picked puppets prove incompetent, corrupt and so unpopular that they will never be able to maintain widespread support? You pick some new puppets, right? Bremer is about to bring Ba'athists back into the US plans for (ahem!) "Iraqi sovereignty". Governing Council member Ahmad Chalabi is understandably upset.
Why Idealists Support the UN

The UN was originally created in response to the post-war disillusionment of returning WWII soldiers, who realized that governments make wars, not people.

The UN should be a voice for the peace-loving people of the world, but it has been ham-strung by lack of government goodwill and is more often than not used as a propaganda tool (and not just by the USA, OK?). It badly needs reform, particularly with regards to Security Council members and their right of veto.

I certainly do deplore the stolen oil-for-food funds and I also deplore the UN's many other failures, yes I do! BUT...

Let's imagine Bush had spent as much time and money supporting the UN as he has on his keep-it-in-the-family war machine. Let's imagine the USA had spent as much time coercing other nations to help improve the UN as it has spent coercing them into supporting the (ahem!) "war on terror" (I hate that stupid term - how can you have a war on an idea? and how do you defeat it with guns? it's just a recipe for never-ending war, great if your family owns the war machine... but I'm rambling).

Let's imagine Bush had supported the International Criminal Court (which Clinton signed up to but Bush immediately pulled out of, just like he pulled out of Kyoto, the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty and the Geneva Convention) and let's imagine Bush had urged the ICC to try Saddam in absentia, then the UN had authorized a forcible arrest of Saddam, supported by a Stabilization Force that included Arab-speaking soldiers with an understanding of Iraqi language and culture. This would have been a legitimate, legal and internationally supported path to peace for Iraqis, which could have served as a warning to despots across the world.

But then the USA wouldn't have got its hands on Iraqi oil, and US troops would not have bases in Iraq for the next 50 years.

Call me idealistic, but we can and should imagine a better world, and we should work towards it every day as responsible, peace-loving individuals. Call me old-fashioned, but I think government should be "of the people, by the people and for the people..." And that should mean all the people of the world, not just US citizens.
New assault on porn could prove embarrassing for some:

"The Comcast cable network, a suitor of the Walt Disney company and its parent, the ABC network, offers hard-core porn from the Hot Network channel as part of its premium package. Comcast's CEO, Brian Roberts, helped organise the 2000 Republican national convention in Philadelphia.

Direct TV, the largest satellite television network in the US, also offers the Hot Network. Direct TV is owned by Rupert Murdoch.

The hotel rooms across America that offer adult films include those of the Marriott chain, owned and run by prominent members of the Mormon Church."

April 23, 2004

Pakistan 'ends al-Qaeda search':

"The Pakistani army says it has agreed to stop operations against tribesmen accused of sheltering al-Qaeda suspects near the Afghan border.

At the beginning of the operation there were reports that Osama Bin Laden's deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, was about to be captured. But no senior al-Qaeda figures have been held.

American forces have been conducting their own operations on the Afghan side of the border in what they have described as a coordinated "hammer and anvil" operation."

The BBC reports says the Pakistan government will compensate tribesmen who suffered losses in the military operation, and most of the 163 Pakistani tribesmen and Afghan refugees who were arrested will be released.
UN is ready to go... As soon as the USA agrees to leave

The BBC reports that Muslim nations are ready to contribute to a UN Iraq force "if the UN takes charge of the operation."

The offer was made by officials from about 20 of the Muslim countries, including Pakistan and Indonesia at an emergency summit in Malaysia.
It's now obvious to most rational people that the Iraq War is a complete side-track from the (ahem!) "War on Terror" and is in fact only serving to motivate further Islamic extremism. But many, many US citizens still think Saddam was linked to terrorists, as the neo-cons have continually implied.

MSNBC reports that Wolfowitze even wanted to blame the 1993 World Trade Centre attack on Saddam. The report adds that Wolfowitz was fascinated with the theories of Laurie Mylroie, who claims that Saddam Hussein was "responsible for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, along with virtually every other terrorist strike in the years since that have been commonly attributed to Al Qaeda."

I got a taste of the Saddam-terrrorist madness today when I posted some opinions at an Iraqi blog site, "Iraq The Model." An anonymous poster ridiculed me for saying there is no evidence linking Saddam with terrorism. He/she supplied three URL links to prove a connection. My investigations of these links are as follows:

1. http://www.janes.com/security/international_security/news/jwit/jwit020823_1_n.shtml

This Abu Nidal story reports that he was killed in a Baghdad appartment in 2002, probably by Saddam, who was trying to eliminate any terrorist activity in his country. Saddam was particularly hard on Islamic fundamentalist (a la bin Laden) who he saw as a serious threat.

2. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/gunning/interviews/khodada.html

In this story, Sabah Khodada says "I assure you [9/11] was conducted by people who were trained by Saddam." This is typical of the misleading propaganda put out by anti-Saddam "experts" who now have control of the CPA but remain despised by ordinary Iraqis. Khodada claimed he worked at an Iraqi terrorist training camp, but the CIA itself says it was actually an ANIT-terrorist training camp! Khodada's lies are exposed here.

3. http://www.cnn.com/2003/WORLD/meast/04/15/sprj.irq.abbas.arrested/

This third story, is, in fact, the ONLY link connecting Saddam with terrorists. Yet Abu Abbas was a pathetic, aging thug who had renounced terrorism after hijacking the Achille Lauro a full 18 years previously. "In a 1996 interview, he told CNN the time for an armed struggle for a Palestinian state was over." Furthermore, the United States violated the Oslo peace accords when it seized him. An Israeli-Palestinian interim agreement was signed by the United States, Israel, Palestinian Authority, European Union, Russia, Jordan, Egypt and Norway on September 13, 1993. It specified that no member of the Palestine Liberation Organization will be arrested or brought to court for any action that happened prior to that day.

So that's it - one old man whose crime was 18 years old. That's Saddam's "deadly" and "imminent" link with terrorism.
Australia started the war before it started

Bob Woodward's new book fills in the final pieces of the puzzle for Australian anti-war protestors. As this article in the Sydney Morning Herald proves, Australia started the war before it started, Howard sent in the troops without cabinet approval, then lied repeatedly to hide these uncomfortable facts.

Yesterday, on Radio 3AW, Howard was floundering helplessly when confronted with the bald facts:

MATT BROWN: On Melbourne radio 3AW the Prime Minister has confirmed this morning that Australian troops entered Iraq before the deadline George W. Bush set for Saddam Hussein to surrender expired.

JOHN HOWARD: I think Senator Hill has indicated that that did happen.

INTERVIEWER: But it was denied at the time.

JOHN HOWARD: Well, I think what we said at the time was that we did the right...that we went in, in...

INTERVIEWER: I remember asking you whether troops went in, after we'd been told they were, and you said no.

JOHN HOWARD: Did I say that?

INTERVIEWER: Not to your knowledge, yeah.

JOHN HOWARD: Not to my knowledge. Well, that could well have been the case at the time.

INTERVIEWER: How early did they go in?

JOHN HOWARD: Well, certainly after the ultimatum was rejected.

INTERVIEWER: No, but did they not go in before the deadline expired?

JOHN HOWARD: Yes, but once an ultimatum is rejected the deadline is irrelevant.

MATT BROWN: Mr Howard says the invasion was legal, and the decision to invade was not taken before the proper processes had been followed in Australia.

JOHN HOWARD: I certainly made it very plain to Bush that we needed to have a Cabinet meeting for a final authorisation, that I could not commit my forces, the Australian military forces to action in Iraq until such time as that Cabinet meeting had taken place.

And it did take place. He did ring me two or three times that week to inform me what had happened, and that's what transpired. But I was certainly diplomatically very supportive, we did pre-deploy. And we made it very clear that we were putting ourselves in a position to be involved, but the final decision to be involved was not taken until after those conversations.

All I can say is: "Liar, liar, pants on fire!"
US Needs To Go Back To The UN... And Apologise

Every time I get into an online chat with Republicans, they always mock my suggestion that the USA should hand over Iraq to the UN.

"Yeah, right! We might as well give Iraq to France, or Russia!" is a standard response.

The UN has taken a battering in US media because, with the Cold War over and European countries split by core US supporters like Italy and Britain, the UN is the only group that can seriously challenge US emperialism. The Bush team has worked to disparage pubic opinion of the UN, blaming it for failed Iraq weapons inspections (which turned out to be spot on) and for refusing to authorize and invasion of Iraq (which turned out to be a fair stance, given the misleading evidence of WMDs that was being used as justification).

Meanwhile the US vetoes every resolution condemning Israel and uses bully tactics to make other countries - particularly the economically-dependent nations of Latin America - vote their way.

Consider the latest debacle. When the USA criticized Cuba's human rights record, Fidel responded with angry denunciations of the USA's treatment of Guantanamo Bay detainees. Well, how can you criticize ANYBODY when you have locked people up in wire boxes for two years without charge or access to lawyers? Cuba tabled a motion criticizing the USA. But now, after what the Cubans call US "threats and blackmail", (and no doubt realizing they will never get enough other nations to support it), Cuba has reluctantly withdrawn their motion.

"Tangible is the fear of Western countries and some in Latin America to stand up with dignity to the fascist practices of the US administration lest they receive reprimands and retaliations," said the Cuban Ambassador to the UN.

I don't like dictatorial regimes or fundamentalist terrorists but dammit, when they are right, they're right. So how did we get into a position where people like Fidel and Osama are legitmately criticizing the USA???

If the UN is not all it could be today, sadly, it is largely the fault of successive US governments. Instead of using the UN as a propaganda tool, the US should abandon global emperialism, withdraw from the world stage and fiercely promote the UN and the International Criminal Court as the best possible paths to lasting world peace.
California votes against Diebold:

"California election officials on Thursday recommended banning some Diebold Election Systems voting machines and referred an investigation into the company to the attorney general for possible civil and criminal sanctions.

California's Voting Systems and Procedures Panel unanimously voted to send its recommendations to the secretary of state in a second morning of contentious hearings, during which Diebold's president apologized to the panel and admitted that the company's errors had prevented some Californians from voting.

But panel members said Thursday morning that the company's apologies were insufficient, and they expressed frustration with and distrust of the electronic voting vendor."
USA's Disappearing Freedoms

A 50-year-old civilian contractor in Kuwait, Tami Silicio, was sacked from her job for taking this photograph and sharing it with news organisations. Her husband was also sacked. Isn't it unconstitutional to restrict freedom of the press?

April 22, 2004

Slate explains that Bush never decided to go to war against Saddam. The reason? Because "Vice President Dick Cheney did. "
A recently established, right-wing Christian college has alarmingly close ties with the Bush administration and the Republican establishment. Janet Ashcroft, the wife of Bush's Bible-thumping Attorney General, is one of the college's trustees.
With God on His Side...:

"As a self-described 'messenger' of God who was 'praying for strength to do the Lord's will,' Bush was not troubled about shredding a little secular document called the U.S. Constitution. The Constitution reserves to Congress the authority to allocate funds and to declare war. Thus, it would seem to be an impeachable offense to misappropriate $700 million that had been earmarked to restore order to Afghanistan and put it toward planning an invasion of Iraq - in a secret scheme hatched, according to Woodward, only 72 days after 9/11...

Bush vocally disdains world opinion and international bodies like the United Nations, seeming instead to relish his role as an avenging Christian crusader who seeks – under the guiding hand of the Almighty – to cleanse the Arab world of "evildoers."

Asked by Woodward, an assistant managing editor at the Washington Post, if he had ever consulted the former president before ordering the invasion of Iraq, Bush replied that "he is the wrong father to appeal to in terms of strength; there is a higher father that I appeal to."

The president conceded to Woodward that he had the good sense not to "justify war based upon God" but would ask for forgiveness if he took the wrong path. It is time he found God's grace in the exercise of humility rather than plunging deeper into this madness. "
General: Much of Iraq's Forces Have Quit:

"About one in every 10 members of Iraq's security forces 'actually worked against' U.S. troops during the recent militia violence in Iraq, and an additional 40 percent walked off the job because of intimidation, the commander of the 1st Armored Division said Wednesday.

During the recent militia attacks, "about 50 percent of the security forces that we've built over the past year stood tall and stood firm," he said.

"About 40 percent walked off the job because they were intimidated. And about 10 percent actually worked against us," said Dempsey, describing that group as infiltrators. "
How To "Find" WMDs In Iraq

Islam Online reports that material and equipment from Iraq's Osirak nuclear reactor facility, some 40 kilometers from Baghdad, have disappeared and been looted under the watchful eye of the U.S.-led occupation troops. Backed by U.S. warplanes, gunmen disembarked frequently from unidentified jets in the location of the Osirak reactor, looting some of its material, sources at the Iraqi Atomic Agency (IAA) said.

They noted that some IAA scientists reported the incident to the U.S.-led occupation authorities, asking for a protection to the facility and its depots. The request fell on deaf ears as a U.S. Let. Gen. told the scientists "it is none of your business."

"They [the gunmen] were instructed by someone from his KIA and tampering with the reactor under U.S. protection," another Iraqi scientist, who requested anonymity, told IOL.

"I myself happened on some non-registered materials in the reactor," he added. "We complained umpteen times to the U.S. occupation troops, who eventually denied us access to the facility."

An Iraqi translator working for the occupation troops confirmed the incident, claiming that the gunmen were Israelis. "
Rumsfeld's Smoking Gun?

Another bombshell from Bob Woodward: Donald Rumsfeld told Saudi Prince Bandar that the war against Iraq was already guaranteed on January 11, 2003, months before the US declared war. The pledge was made while the Saudi Prince was being briefed on war plans and while negotiations in the UN were supposedly still continuing. In fact, even Colin Powell may not have been briefed at this stage!

In Rumsfeld's own words: 'I remember meeting with the Vice-President and I think Dick Myers and I met with a foreign dignitary at one point and looked him in the eye and said you can count on this. In other words, at some point we had had enough of a signal from the President that we were able to look a foreign dignitary in the eye and say you can take that to the bank this is going to happen.'

The Pentagontran published script of the conversation, but deleted this section and seven other passages. But Woodward had his own transcript, in which it is clear that the foreign dignitary Woodward was discussing was Prince Bandar, although Mr Rumsfeld would not say that. In fact, Rummy started back-peddaling immediately:

'We're going to have to clean some of this up in the transcript,' Mr Rumsfeld told Woodward. 'We'll give you a - I mean you just said Bandar and I didn't agree with that so we're going to have to - I don't want to say who it is but you are going to have to go through that and find a way to clean up my language too.'

Rumsfeld is (again) in damage control, as this interview on DefenceLink shows (warning: you may need a barf-bag). Interestingly, the ever-abrasive Rummy reveals some latent aggresion towards El Busho, who twice asked him to do interviews with Woodward: "I declined and the president asked me to please do it, so I work for the president, so I did it. And this time I declined again and the president asked me to do it, so I did it."

It's looking a lot like Bush is just a blind, arrogant, religious fool who is willfully ignorant of the dirty work being carried out by Rummy, Cheney, Ashcroft and other insiders. Why would he insist his staffers do interviews with Woodward, unless he really believes they have nothing to hide?

The Post also reports some interesting banter between Woodward and Rummy:

"You lie. You told people I stuck a finger in your chest," Rumsfeld said. "I never stuck a finger your chest."

"Yes sir, yes, yes," Woodward insisted.

"I never touched your chest."

"I swear you did."

"Did I?"

"Yeah, you did."


"You did, physically. It wasn't hostile, you were illustrating a point. I explained that [in the first book]. I thought you scored a very good point, which was about surprise and off-balance."

"Oh yes," Rumsfeld said. "I did. I remember that, you're right."


"Exactly. . . . He's right. I'm wrong," Rumsfeld said.

"Okay. Good," Woodward said.

"I told you my memory is not that good."

"That's on the record I hope."

"Go to hell it is, that doesn't go on." [Laughter]

"We'll clean that up," said Rumsfeld spokesman Lawrence T. DiRita.

"And then we'll print it," Woodward said.

April 21, 2004

Negroponte is Bush Neo-con Cabal Insider Fascist Terrorist Scum

Is it a joke? What worse person could the US imagine for Paul Bremer's replacement as Top Dog in Baghdad? A man who, as US Ambassador to the UN, protected Israel from countless UN vetoes, a man who was up to his eyeballs in the Iran-Contra affair, who oversaw death squads and "disappearances", a man who is himself nothing less than a corporate-sponsored terrorist.

As the New Republic reported in March, 2001: "It was the early '80s, and the Honduran government was killing and 'disappearing' political opponents by the dozens. Most close observers, including some who served within the U.S. embassy, insist America knew about the abuses. And they accuse Negroponte of turning a blind eye. Says one human rights lawyer, 'A guy like that is not going to be a very credible spokesperson for American principles on human rights...' "
Bush gets the Monty Python treatment from former Python Terry Jones:

"Everyone agrees that President George Bush's lobotomy has been a tremendous success... "
The Delusional Messiah's Bicycle

"Bicycling to War" by Richard Cohen (washingtonpost.com):

"Old joke: A man repeatedly rides a bike across the Mexican-U.S. border. Each time, he's stopped by Customs and the bike is taken apart. Nothing is found. Finally, one day a Customs official offers the man immunity from prosecution if only he will tell what he's smuggling. The man pauses for a second, shrugs and says, "Bicycles."

I offer you this because I have just finished Bob Woodward's compelling new book, "Plan of Attack," and while it contains several gasps per chapter -- more reasons why George Tenet should be fired, more proof that Condi Rice is in over her head and more reasons that Dick Cheney should be medicated -- the stunning disclosure that I expected is simply not there. I thought Woodward would reveal the real reason George Bush went to war in Iraq. It turns out we already knew.

The "bicycle" in this case has been in plain sight: Bush's conviction that he is a servant of God and history, chosen to liberate Iraq, bring democracy to the Middle East and make sure the United States is safe from terrorism. In the two lengthy on-the-record interviews the president granted Woodward, he makes it abundantly clear that, somehow, this is all one package in his mind -- even though to others, Saddam Hussein posed no danger to America at all. Among other things, he had no links to al Qaeda and apparently had no weapons of mass destruction.

For a while, though, Bush was entitled to think otherwise about the weapons, because, among other reasons, the CIA director had assured him of their existence. "It's a slam dunk case!" Tenet told the president -- and then, for emphasis, repeated his assurance: "Don't worry, it's a slam dunk!" For Bush, who surprisingly had some doubts about Iraq's WMD capabilities, Tenet's firmness was impressive. "That was very important," Woodward quotes him as saying.

But as Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz told Vanity Fair in an amazingly candid interview, Hussein's purported arsenal was almost beside the point -- not the prime reason for going to war. The real reason, as Woodward's book makes clear, was the president's conviction that he was in an epochal fight against evil and had the historic opportunity to reorder the Middle East.

I confess that I have both known this and not known this. It has been apparent for some time but a little hard to comprehend. Possibly, I and others thought, there was another reason -- like evening the score for Saddam Hussein's attempt to kill Bush's father or to finish the Persian Gulf War, which had ended unsatisfactorily. After all, the intent to go to war had seemed to arise out of nowhere -- a mere 72 days after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Where had it come from?

My guess is Cheney. The Bush-Cheney relationship remains as sealed as the one between Bush and his wife. Woodward seems to have been a fly on the White House wall, but we learn little about what Bush and Cheney discussed when they were not in formal meetings. We do know, though, that Colin Powell considered Cheney obsessed with Iraq and so determined to make the case for war that the vice president exaggerated the threat and in some cases -- this is me talking now -- just plain lied.

Whatever the case, the real news in this engrossing book is not exactly what Bush says but that he says it at all -- and sometimes, surprisingly, both articulately and with some erudition. Here is a man convinced that he did the right thing, convinced -- despite contrary evidence -- that there was some sort of link between Saddam Hussein and terrorism and that, as he told Mexican President Vicente Fox, "The security of the United States is on the line."

This is what Bush said on the eve of the war and what, presumably, he still believes. When Woodward asked him last December what his reaction had been to Powell's private warning that things could go bad in postwar Iraq, Bush said, "And my reaction to that is, is that my job is to secure America. And that I also believe that freedom is something people long for. And that if given the chance, the Iraqis over time would seize the moment. My frame of mind is focused on what I told you -- the solemn duty to protect America."

Those, though, were not the aims Powell had questioned. Rather, he had talked about the difficulties of implementing them in an ethnically fractured land where democracy was historically unknown. Bush simply ignored all of that, because essentially he believed what he believed. "I sat there somewhat nonplussed," Woodward wrote.

He had uncovered the bicycle."

(apologies to Richard Cohen and the Post for re-publishing this verbatim, but it just says EXACTLY what is wrong with Bush).
A leaked memo from a member of Iraq's Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) says the CPA "'handle(s) an issue like six-year-olds play soccer: Someone kicks the ball and one hundred people chase after it hoping to be noticed, without a care as to what happens on the field."

The memo has a lot more pessimism and criticism for the CPA, yet it praises Iraqi National Congress leader Ahmed Chalabi, so it is presumably from one of his cabal members. Chalabi's sordid past and much-raking opportunism were blindly overlooked by the Australian media two days ago when he was presented as a spokesperson for the Iraqi people, urging us to keep our troops in their country.

As Robert Dreyfuss wrote in November 2002, "Chalabi is scorned by most of America's national security establishment, including much of the State Department, the CIA and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He is shunned by all Western powers save the UK, ostracised in the Arab world and disdained even by many of his erstwhile comrades in the Iraqi opposition.

"Among his few friends, however, are the men running the Bush Administration's willy-nilly war on Iraq. And with their backing, it's not inconceivable this hapless, exiled Iraqi aristocrat and London playboy might end up atop the smoking heap of what's left of Iraq ..."
Why Has It Taken The US Media ONE YEAR to Publish This Picture?

'The administration cannot tell us what we can and cannot publish,' said David Boardman, managing editor at The Seattle Times, who ran it on their front cover this weekend. About time, I dare say.
So much for the "partnership of equals"...

Bob Woodward's new book reveals Howard's early commitment to overthrow of Saddam:

Australian PM John Howard "was more worried about public opinion before the war than he let on. He told Bush he needed a final phone call before the launch order so it did not look as if Australia was being taken for granted.

Just days before the war, 'Howard was worried about Australian public opinion', writes Woodward. On March 16 Bush phoned Howard from Air Force One as he flew from the Azores summit with Blair and Aznar.

Bush explained that he would deliver a speech the next day in which he would issue a 48-hour ultimatum to Saddam.

Apparently concerned, Howard asked Bush whether this was going to be the declaration of war speech. 'No,' Bush assured him. 'It's an ultimatum speech'.

Howard then told Bush he needed 'one last official word' before the war started. 'Otherwise, it would look to the Australian people like Bush just started the war without even telling his biggest allies.'

'No, no,' Bush assured him. 'This isn't the last call you're going to get from me.'"

April 20, 2004

Thanks For The Memories, Saddam

If you have some bandwidth and a few minutes to spare, clicke here to view a great music video highlighting Saddam's long association with the USA, to the sounds of Bing Crosby!
These Thieving Fools Are Supposed to Take Control of Iraq?

Christian Aid reports that a "staggering US$4 billion in oil revenues and other Iraqi funds earmarked for the reconstruction of the country has disappeared into opaque bank accounts administered by the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), the US-controlled body that rules Iraq. By the end of the year, if nothing changes in the way this cash is accounted for, that figure will double. "

And the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies (AAN) will tomorrow release what it promises will be a bombshell article related to the Iraq conflict. The article is titled, "Fables of Reconstruction: A Coalition memo reveals that even true believers see the seeds of civil war in the occupation of Iraq." It is based on a "closely held" memo purportedly written by a U.S. government official detailed to the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA). The memo offers a candid assessment of Iraq's bleak future -- as a country trapped in corruption and dysfunction -- and portrays a CPA cut off from the Iraqi people after a "year's worth of serious errors."
Connect the Dots...

Is Ariel Sharon the man at the head of the secretive Bush/neo-con cartel? It sure looks that way...

1. Isreal announces they are renewing their policy of assasinating people within other countries.

2. Following recent assasinations by Israel, the most senior Hamas leader is now living in exile in Syria.

3. US claims Syrians are increasingly involved in Iraq fighting, as skirmishes move closer to the Syrian border and US accuses Syria of failing to control it's border.

Juan Cole says: "If they think Iraqi instability is bad, wait until they see Syria without a proper government in Damascus. It won't be pretty; and remember, as Colin says, if you break it, you own it. Doesn't the US have enough responsibilities right now? Anyway, remember that the most powerful policy makers in Washington right now are warmongers. They don't think Iraq is a catastrophe, and they have several further wars they want to fight before they sleep. The rest of us should try to make sure they don't pull the country down into a further quagmire or two."
Bremer Has Had Enough

Bush has been insisting that "sovereignty" will be handed over to Iraqis on June 30th, but hasn't been able to say to whom exactly power would be handed. Now we know. The White House has revealed that John Negroponte, currently the most senior American diplomat at the United Nations, will replace Paul Bremer as the top US official in Iraq. Viva el Iraq Libre! Viva la Democracia! Viva El Busho Loco!
Who Would Do Such A Thing?

Special agent Francisco Javier Torronteras was killed when seven suspected terrorists blew themselves up in an apartment outside Madrid on April 3 as he and other police moved in to arrest them. Last night his grave was desecrated, his coffin dragged from the ground and set alight. Now who would do such a thing?

Well, George W. Bush's grandfather, for a start. Prescott Bush gained notoriety by desecrating the tomb of the Indian warrior chief, Geronimo, whose skull is still on display in Bush's secretive Yale club, Skull and Bones.
Another Cunning Bush Plan...

Facing a chronic shortage of troops, with US soldiers increasingly reluctant to reinlist for [ahem!] "peacekeeping" missions, US President George Bush has decided to recruit mercenary soldiers of fortune from impoverished African countries. These attack dogs, experienced in the brutality and lawlessness of strife-torn countries like Rwanda, Uganda, Somalia and Liberia, will be deployed around the globe at Karl Rove's whim.

United States taxpayers will be spending another $US660 million on the project over the next five years. Like most Bush White House initiatives, it even has a wonderfully Orwellian title: the [ahem!] Global Peace Operations Initiative.

Call me old-fashioned, but I always thought the UN was a global peace operations initiative...?

April 19, 2004

Even the The New York Times is getting serious in its criticism:

"With his misbegotten war in Iraq, his failure to throw everything we had at Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden, and his fantasy of using military might as a magic wand to "change the world," President Bush has ushered the American people into a bloody and mind-bending theater of the absurd.

American troops are enduring the deadliest period since the start of the war. And while they continue to fight courageously and sometimes die, they are fighting and dying in the wrong war.

This is the height of absurdity... The United States was attacked on Sept. 11, 2001, by Al Qaeda, not Iraq...

The administration and its apologists spread fantasies of a fresh dawn of freedom emerging in Iraq and spreading across the Arab world. Instead we are spilling the blood of innocents in a nightmare from which many thousands will never awaken. "
Truth Rings Out!

Robert Fisk angrily declares that by endorsing Ariel Sharon's plan, George W. Bush has legitimised terrorism:

"Why shouldn't the British re-take America and boot out those pesky 'terrorists' who oppose the rule of King George's democracy well over 200 years ago?

Every colonial power, including Israel can put forward these preposterous demands. What Bush has actually done is give way to the crazed world of Christian Zionism. The fundamentalist Christians who support Israel's theft of the West Bank on the grounds that the state of Israel must exist there according to God's law until the second coming, believe that Jesus will return to earth and the Israelis - for this is the Bush "Christian Sundie" belief - will then have to convert to Christianity or die in the battle of Amargeddon.

I kid thee not. This is the Christian fundamentalist belief, which even the Israeli embassy in Washington go along with - without comment, of course - in their weekly Christian Zionist prayer meetings. Every claim by Osama bin Laden, every statement that the United States represents Zionism and supports the theft of Arab lands will now have been proved true to millions of Arabs, even those who had no time for Bin Laden. What better recruiting sergeant could Bin Laden have than George Bush. Doesn't he realise what this means for young American soldiers in Iraq or are Israelis more important than American lives in Mesopotamia? Everything the US government has done to preserve its name as a "middle-man" in the Middle East has now been thrown away by this gutless, cowardly US President, George W Bush. That it will place his soldiers at greater risk doesn't worry him - anyway, he doesn't do funerals. That it goes against natural justice doesn't worry him. That his statements are against international law is of no consequence.

And still we have to cow-tow to this man..."
George W. Bush on the Middle East Road Map:

"I'm not reelly sure what it's all about but I think we want to build a highway to get oil and gas to America and we need a map to figger out the best way for it to go. "

More at DeadBrain.
Congratulations to Tom Tomorrow for highlighting the hypocrisy of these mutually destructive Bush quotes:

"But there was nobody in our government at least — and I don't think the prior government — could envision flying airplanes into buildings on such a massive scale."

And yet, mere seconds later:

"I asked for the briefing. And the reason I did is because there had been a lot of threat intelligence from overseas. And part of it had to do with the Genoa G8 conference that I was going to attend."

Alert readers will recall that one of the major security concerns at the Genoa conference was the possibility of aerial incursions.
Paul Bremer says US-trained Iraqi forces are not ready to take control on June 30.

"Events of the past two weeks show that Iraq still faces security threats and needs outside help to deal with them. Early this month, the foes of democracy overran Iraqi police stations and seized public buildings in several parts of the country... Iraqi forces were unable to stop them.''

Truth is, the USA is pissed at their expensively trained recruits for failing to fire on their Muslim brothers. A whole battalian refused to take part in recent onslaughts. Others turned against the US forces. The Iraqis are probably quite capable of taking control if the US forces leave, and may well be helping them on their way soon...
Lack of critical media gave Government free rein on Iraq invasion:

"Almost everything the Anglo-US leaders told us about the invasion has proven to be false. Iraq was invaded to rid Saddam of his weapons of mass destruction. Almost everyone now concedes such weapons did not exist. Such weapons were especially dangerous, we were told, because of Saddam's links with al-Qaeda. Almost everyone now knows that no such links existed.

We were told the invasion of Iraq would help solve the Arab-Israeli conflict. The prospects of Middle East peace have never been so remote. We were told the invasion would help solve the threat of Islamist terrorism. Nothing has given the ideology of Islamism a greater fillip than the Anglo-American occupation of Iraq. We were told Iraqis would welcome the invading forces as liberators. Iraq is now a tinderbox... "

Robert Manne, professor of politics at La Trobe University, reports on the misreporting of the Murdoch Press. He claims a general pro-war directive was issued throughout the Murdoch organisation a month before the war.
Guantanamo Cases FINALLY Reach Supreme Court

The Ocala Star Banner reports:

"Three Supreme Court cases generated by the Bush administration's detention of those it deems 'enemy combatants' will be argued over the next 10 days, framing a debate of historic dimension not only about the rights of citizens and noncitizens alike, but also or perhaps principally about the boundaries of presidential power... "
A new leaflet is being widely distributed in Baghdad. It says:

'Do not go out of your homes. Keep your families off the streets... Combined Mujahideen Brigades are coming to Baghdad.'

The major highways north, south and west of Baghdad have been blocked by US forces in response to "terrorist" threats. Najaf, where rebel cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's is still holed up under seige, is just two hours south of Baghdad.

Members of al-Sadr's "Army of the Mahdi" have pledged to launch a general war if the US invades Najaf, and the sentiment appears to be widespread across Iraq, with senior clerics using criticism of al-Sadr as a bargaining chip to stop a full-scale US attack. It's a similar story in Falluja.

If the US does launch an all-out attack (and wouldn't that be a surprise, with neo-cons directing operations from their Washington Video Conference lounge-chairs?), we can expect widespread uprisings across Iraq, with members of the new "Iraqi" police and army forces likely to stand aside or even turn against the US-led forces. That should provide some more great footage for war-crazed Western television viewers.

April 18, 2004

What's The Real Problem?

Another day, another painful trawl through page after page of gut-wrenchingly miserable news. Israeli troops have assasinated the new Hamas leader, US forces are ready to launch a full-scale massacre in Najaf (using Polish and Spanish forces as the front line - that'll teach 'em), the corporate-sponsored media throws up a few more Western warmongers' press releases and John Kerry still isn't saying anything worth hearing. How did we get into this mess and how do we get out of it? The situation is worse than it may seem on the surface...

George W. Bush should never have even been considered for election to the White House. He never had the skills, the experience or the brains to take on the position of World's Most Powerful Individual Ever. But Bush never really sought the Presidency - he was hand-picked for it. By whom? The same band of fools that helped his father become head of the CIA and then the country.

You could probably trace the ideological, political and family connections of these people all the way back to the inner sanctums of Medieval castles, if you wanted to... but it's probably worth starting with the 1930s and the people who helped bring Hitler to power. Like Bush Junior, Hitler was originally just a front-man for powerful business interests. Like the current Bush admnistration, Hitler's machine used nationalistic, war-like rhetoric to stir up public passions and stifle criticism. Like the US forces in Iraq today, they treated foreigners as Unter-menshen, people whose lives do not have the same value as theirs.

It is worth mentioning here that Bush's grandfather, Prescott Bush, was one of the business people backing Hitler. His banking interested helped finance production of Nazi steel for the war industry. After WWII, Prescott Bush was found guilty of assisting the enemy, but the punishment was mitigated for diplomatic and business reasons, so his family retained its fortune.

The same thing happened in the wake of the Nixon scandal. Watergate was a painful, drawn-out saga which was painfully distressing to the average television-watching US citizen. When the blood-letting was declared over by mutual GOP-Democrat consent, people like Bush Senior, Cheney and Rumsfeld had kept under the radar and were able to continue pursuing their ideological, power-building paths within the CIA and the Republican Party.

These are the same people who hand-picked the idiot from Texas as a potential vote-winner to topple the staid and "boring" Al Gore. They are now experts in media spin and their tentacles reach deep within the GOP, the CIA, the religious right and the US military-industrial machine. These people want to ensure that globalisation leads us into a nightmare scenario of slave-factory workers and mega-rich elites who cannot be challenged militarily, politically or even judicially.

If you find the above hard to believe, look through my posts below for quotes from Teddy Roosevelt, who warned the US public of continuing attempts by corporate fascists, or even Ronald Reagan, who warned the GOP against Bush Snr and the powerful corporate interests that backed him (for those who remember, Bush Snr was originally considered more unelectable than Howard Dean).

So the big question today is not just how to get rid of George W. Bush and his band of neo-conservatives, but also how to ensure that they cannot steal another election by (a) massive corporate business donations to the GOP, (b) careful manipulation of public opinion, or even (c) manipulation of the judicial and voting processes (as witnessed in Florida and the US Supreme Court).

These problems will only be solved if Bush and his gang are thoroughly exposed and publicly held accountable for their misdemeanors, which now include international War Crimes and repeated defiance of the US Constitution.

The first step is to turn public opinion against Bush by censuring him. The next step will be to impeach him, launch a thorough investigation into his administration, then imprison the whole damned lot of them. But even that wont be enough: corporate media and other business interests also need to be held accountable for their part in this corruption. And international co-conspirators like the UK and Australia will obviously require their own blood-letting.

The alternative is a world which continues down the path of endless war, religious hatred, fear and terrorism, where the rich get richer and the middle class become chained forever by poverty and state-sponsored ignorance. Or are we already there?

April 17, 2004

Can US Voters Handle The Truth???

The White House has done it again, confirming revelations in an unflattering new book in order to take the sting out before they go to press. So instead of newspaper headlines saying "New Book: Bush Planned Iraq War in Nov 2001", there are headlines saying "White House Confirms Nov 2001 Plans For Iraq." Such is the surreal world of media spin in which we live.

The new book is by Bob Woodward, a Washington Post journalist who wrote an earlier book on Bush's anti-terrorism campaign and broke the Watergate scandal with Carl Bernstein. The book looks set to provide a lot more uncomfortable news for the embattled White House.

What about this for a bombshell:

"... The end of July 2002, they need $700 million, a large amount of money for all these tasks. And the president approves it. But Congress doesn't know and it is done. They get the money from a supplemental appropriation for the Afghan War, which Congress has approved. ... Some people are gonna look at a document called the Constitution which says that no money will be drawn from the treasury unless appropriated by Congress. Congress was totally in the dark on this."

There are also a lot of very interesting fly-on-the-wall insights. For example:

"When the CIA and its Iraqi sources reported that Saddam's sons and other family members were at a small palace, and Saddam was on his way to join them, Bush's top advisers debated whether to strike ahead of plan.

Franks was against it, saying it was unfair to move before a deadline announced to the other side, the book says. Rumsfeld and Rice favoured the early strike, and Secretary of State Colin Powell leaned that way.

But Bush did not make his decision until he had cleared everyone out of the Oval Office except the vice president.

"I think we ought to go for it," Cheney is quoted as saying. Bush did.

US forces unleashed bombs and cruise missiles, blanketing the compound but missing the palace.

Tenet called the White House before dawn to say the Iraqi leader had been killed. But his optimism was premature. Saddam was alive."

One senior Bush administrator who comes out looking not as bad as the rest of the garbage is Colin Powell, who has collaborated on other books by Woodward. Powell's spokesman would not comment on whether Powell had assisted with this one. When asked whether it was true that Powell and Dick Cheney are barely on speaking terms, the spokesman said "I don't think that's true" (diplomatic language for "it probably is true").

Is Powell ready to blow the whistle? It's widely rumoured he is not interested in another 4 years with Bush's White House. If he does get exposed as the source of many verbatim conversations in this new book, will the Karl Rove sleaze machine seek to destroy his reputation? If so, it could get very interesting indeed... I've always suspected Powell has a few big skeletons in his cupboard, otherwise he probably would have taken the opportunity to become the first black US President.
Get Out Now, Before We Are Thrown Out - by John Pilger:

"A few weeks ago, Rick Mercier, a young columnist for the Free-Lance Star, a small paper in Virginia, did what no other journalist has done this past year. He apologized to his readers for the travesty of the reporting of events leading to the attack on Iraq. 'Sorry we let unsubstantiated claims drive our coverage,' he wrote. 'Sorry we let a band of self-serving Iraqi defectors make fools of us. Sorry we fell for Colin Powell's performance at the United Nations... Maybe we'll do a better job next war.'

Well done, Rick Mercier. But listen to the silence of your colleagues on both sides of the Atlantic... "

April 16, 2004

Guardian: Dangerous liaisons

"Washington insiders are scratching their heads as to how Mr Sharon's proposal made it onto the table when the Israeli prime minister flew into Washington. One explanation is that Mr Bush's administration is so preoccupied with other matters, especially Iraq, that it failed to realise the implications of Mr Sharon's proposal. If so, that is no excuse...

The chances of the road map having a lasting role were already imperilled by on-going Palestinian violence and Israel's assassination of the Hamas leader Sheikh Yassin, but this latest announcement has finished it off...

If Britain has any significant influence in the White House as a result of its involvement in Iraq, then this was surely the time to use it. One obvious conclusion is that Britain has none."
Post-9/11 Responsibility and Accountability

As the 9/11 commission finishes calling witnesses, the frenzy of blame-tossing is being replaced by a growing debate about the need for reform of the CIA and the FBI. Despite revelations that a pile of hair-rasing intelligence material was systematically ignored by senior administration members, Bush, Rice, Ashcroft and others have sought to deflect personal blame with suggestions that the US intelligence agencies require major reforms. Such diversionary tactics pre-empt the findings of the commision in a very dangerous way. A political whitewash would be bad enough, but absolving the neo-cons of blame while giving them carte-blanche authority to overhaul the CIA and FBI would be an absolute disaster.

It's true that, even under an Al Gore presidency, 9/11 may not have been prevented. As a result, some degree of intelligence agencies reform may indeed be justified. But the truth is that the USA has already implemented massive changes - most notably the Department of Homeland Security and the dangerously intrusive Patriot Act - that ensure such an attack would be very, very hard to duplicate.

The commision's findings have revealed errors within the CIA, the FBI and other agencies. Far more importantly, however, they have highlighted the blinkered ideological attitude of a White House bent on distorting, suppressing, inventing and ignoring the truth. What use are thousands of intelligence-gathering spooks if the heads of state do not want to see, hear or read their findings, let alone act in response to them?

As former Clinton advisor Sidney Blumenthal notes, Bush did not even read the President's Daily Briefs that Clinton used to personally examine and edit. "It seems highly unlikely that he read the national intelligence estimate on WMD before the Iraq war that consigned contrary evidence and caveats that undermined the case to footnotes and fine print. Nor is there any evidence that he read the state department's 17-volume report, The Future of Iraq, warning of nearly all the postwar pitfalls, that was shelved by the neocons in the Pentagon and Vice-President Cheney's office."

In such an environment, it is impossible to consider the 9/11 failures without also examining the subsequent "intelligence failures" that led the USA into war with Iraq: the WMDs that did not exist, Saddam's illusionary ties with Al-Quaeda, Nigerian yellowcake, mobile biological weapons labs and other fantasies of neo-conservative conjuring. As one senior intelligence officer says, "The Pentagon began with fantasy assumptions on Iraq and worked back."

Paul Wolfowitz's Office of Special Plans, for example, was created by the neo-cons to subvert or by-pass the traditional intelligence networks, cherry-picking information to suit the ideological aims of the war-mongerers. This must not be allowed to happen again, and those responsible must take the blame for the subsequent "intelligence errors", not to mention the ordinary lives these so-called errors have cost.

The commisioners on the 9/11 panel must not allow themselves to be restricted from extending their mandate to fully examine these larger problems of manipulated, distorted and ignored intellingce. A proper inquiry will lead us all the way back to the creation of the CIA and Roosevelt's warnings against fascist infiltrators, with a special focus on the Nixon administration and the shadowy roles played by people like Dick Cheney and George H. W. Bush (snr.). Rather than giving these people further control of the spy networks they have been working to subvert for over half a century, the 9/11 commision should force them to accept responsibility for their errors and ensure that the intelligence agencies are no longer encumbered by their neo-fascist, right-wing, pseudo-Christian ideological agendas.
The Arabs Were Right: It's A Crusade

A new book, "The Bushes", quotes an unnamed relative as saying that George W. Bush sees the war on terrorism ''as a religious war'':

''He doesn't have a p.c. view of this war. His view of this is that they are trying to kill the Christians. And we the Christians will strike back with more force and more ferocity than they will ever know.'' "
AlterNet takes a good look at Bush's attempts to use the UN to solve his problems in Iraq. After pointing out that "at least one half of the Bush administration – led by the Cheney-Rumsfeld gang – appears to be working to thwart any genuinely viable solution," the article examines the near-impossible challenge facing Kofi Annan's special representative, Lakhdar Brahimi.

"There is a genuine, but rapidly diminishing chance that the United States can clamber out of the hole that it has dug for itself. In order to make the most of its odds, the White House has to give up its neoconservative pipe dreams of an elected Iraqi government that will kiss and make up with Israel, leave OPEC, and offer the U.S. Middle East bases in perpetuity.

The idea of the Bush administration ceding so much ground may seem like a pipedream, but the alternative is a very real nightmare. "

April 15, 2004

President Bush Needs Your Help - Click here to vote for his biggest mistake!
Editor and Publisher has the complete text of Bush's response to a question asking if he had any regrets about mistakes in Iraq:

'I wish you'd given me this as a written question ahead of time so I could have planned for it. Uh ... [looks up, pauses, shakes head] ... John -- I'm sure historians will look back and say 'he could have done it better this way or that way' but ... [shakes head] ... I'm sure something will pop into my head here in the midst of this press conference and all the pressure to come up with an answer but it hasn't yet. ...'

After saying that if he had to do it all over again he would still attack Afghanistan and invade Iraq despite not finding any WMDS -- and reminding us they might 'still be there' -- he returned to the question at hand: 'I don't want to sound like I haven't made any mistakes, but you just put me on the spot here and maybe I'm just not as quick on my feet in coming up with one.'"
Baghdad Airport Is Now A US Dometic Flight

Michael Moore.com : Michael Moore says: "I currently have two cameramen/reporters doing work for me in Iraq for my movie (unbeknownst to the Army). They are talking to soldiers and gathering the true sentiment about what is really going on. They Fed Ex the footage back to me each week. That's right, Fed Ex. Who said we haven't brought freedom to Iraq! The funniest story my guys tell me is how when they fly into Baghdad, they don't have to show a passport or go through immigration. Why not? Because they have not traveled from a foreign country -- they're coming from America TO America, a place that is ours, a new American territory called Iraq. "
Going Round The Bend

Riverbend, a girl blogger from Baghdad, makes some important points on her Baghdad Burning blog today:

"I think western news networks are far too tame. They show the Hollywood version of war- strong troops in uniform, hostile Iraqis being captured and made to face 'justice' and the White House turkey posing with the Thanksgiving turkey... which is just fine. But what about the destruction that comes with war and occupation? What about the death? I don't mean just the images of dead Iraqis scattered all over, but dead Americans too. People should *have* to see those images. Why is it not ok to show dead Iraqis and American troops in Iraq, but it's fine to show the catastrophe of September 11 over and over again? I wish every person who emails me supporting the war, safe behind their computer, secure in their narrow mind and fixed views, could actually come and experience the war live. I wish they could spend just 24 hours in Baghdad today and hear Mark Kimmett talk about the death of 700 'insurgents' like it was a proud day for Americans everywhere...

Still, when I hear talk about 'anti-Americanism' it angers me. Why does American identify itself with its military and government? Why is does being anti-Bush and anti-occupation have to mean that a person is anti-American? We watch American movies, listen to everything from Britney Spears to Nirvana and refer to every single brown, fizzy drink as 'Pepsi'.

I hate American foreign policy and its constant meddling in the region... I hate American tanks in Baghdad and American soldiers on our streets and in our homes on occasion... why does that mean that I hate America and Americans? Are tanks, troops and violence the only face of America? If the Pentagon, Department of Defense and Condi are 'America', then yes- I hate America. "
The Australian reports that "an Iraqi has died of his wounds after US troops beat him with truncheons because he refused to remove a picture of wanted Shiite Muslim leader Moqtada Sadr from his car..."
Bush Holds Press Conference, Says Nothing

It was nothing but more of the same, yet it made headlines around the world anyway. Everybody knows the White House has made huge mistakes in their planning and execution of the War, not to mention 9/11, yet still Bush refuses to acknowledge them or apologize. I loved this quote, when asked what was his biggest mistake in Iraq:

"I'm sure something will pop into my head in a minute... I don't want to sound like I've made no mistakes; I'm confident I have. Maybe I'm not as quick... as quick on my feet as I should be, in coming up with one."

Maybe I'm just a spoiled, arrogant son of a #$%*& and I don't give a #$@&.

Bush used the tired old line about those who are against the War must wish Saddam was still in power. Interestingly, an increasing number of Iraqis seem to be saying just that. As the Washington Dispatch points out: "On average the Hussein regime resulted in 9,600 civilian deaths a year while Bush's occupation has led to 10,700 civilian deaths in its only year thus far. "

Bush said he will send as many troops as necessary to maintain US control of Iraq, a policy which contradicts Rumsfeld's long-term insistence that the army must be slimmed down. The neo-cons originally said 30,000 troops would be enough to secure the country. There are currently 130,000, with 10,000 more on order from God knows where. 20,000 more who were due to be rotated home will be staying on indefinitely. Again, there was no admission of error.

And Bush still could not say to whom "Iraqi soveriegnty" will be handed on June 30th.

Meanwhile, televised footage of the increasingly partisan and acrimonious 9/11 hearings is beginning to look a lot like the Nixonian Church Committee hearings...

April 14, 2004

WorkingForChange: Abu Musad al Zarqawi has two legs.

"This will not strike you as a stop-the-presses moment unless you remember that al Zarqawi was one of Osama bin Laden's Number Two men (we seem to have captured several 'Number Two' men already, with more still out there.) Pre-war, the administration claimed the reason it was so certain Saddam Hussein had ties to Al Qaeda was that Zarqawi had gone to Baghdad to get his leg amputated. But now, oops, he has two. "
An interesting article from the Toronto Sun :

"Australia is facing a tight electoral race between Conservative Prime Minister John Howard, who eagerly sent troops to Iraq, and Labour party challenger Mark Latham, who, like Spain's new PM, vows to bring his nation's troops home from Iraq. A majority of Australians opposes the Iraq war.

U.S. Ambassador Tom Schieffer, a Texas pal of Bush, warned Australians of 'serious consequences' if they elect Latham.

Australians love America, but any worldly person knows you do not threaten Aussies. They will come out swinging. Schieffer should be fired. "
Ashcroft's Turn To Feel The Heat

FBI Director Thomas Pickard has told the 9/11 Commision that he appealed to US Attorney General John Ashcroft for more money for counterterrorism. On Sept 10, 2001, one day before the attacks, Ashcroft rejected the appeal.

Ashcroft was briefed on terrorist threats by Pickard in late June and July 2001.

'After two such briefings, the attorney general told him he did not want to hear this information anymore,' the report quoted Pickard as saying. Ashcroft denies making any such statement to Pickard, so once again somebody must be lying...

And former FBI Director Louis Freeh testified that he sought permission to hire almost 1,900 counterterror linguists, analysts and agents in the previous three years but was allowed to add just 76.

April 13, 2004

Gareth Smith - Anti-War Hero!!!

Gareth Smith, a 61-year-old Australian, today attempted to make a citizens arrest of Prime Minister John Howard, citing his war crimes in Iraq. Bravo, Mr Smith, bravo!
Lessons Of History

A Report on Mesopotamia - by T.E. Lawrence (aka Lawrence of Arabia):

"The people of England have been led in Mesopotamia into a trap from which it will be hard to escape with dignity and honour. They have been tricked into it by a steady withholding of information. The Baghdad communiques are belated, insincere, incomplete. Things have been far worse than we have been told, our administration more bloody and inefficient than the public knows. It is a disgrace to our imperial record, and may soon be too inflamed for any ordinary cure. We are to-day not far from a disaster... "
One of Condoleeza Rice's former University professors wonders how she could have lost the plot so completely...

"Condi has always been a great performer... But tragically, she is also a person without a core, who loses herself in her performance. National security was her responsibility. She failed in that responsibility because she was too busy perfecting her performance as a Bush team player when the Bush team, obsessed with wild fantasies of global domination, had lost touch with reality.

In contrast, Richard Clarke was not concerned about applause. He saw the threat of al-Qaida. He fought in the Bush bureaucracy to get them to pay attention...

Perhaps Condi's performance, which ran on all the major channels, can take voters' eyes off the fact that due to the invasion of Iraq, al-Qaida has only grown stronger in the past three years. Perhaps Condi can turn our eyes from the fact that the president asked American soldiers to die for lies about weapons of mass destruction and Saddam's supposed links to bin Laden. Perhaps Condi can claim that all is well in Iraq while Shiites and Sunnis unite to fight the American occupation and kill American soldiers. The fairy tale continues. The performer skates on. "
Is Bush An Idiot?

How else do you describe his inability to come to terms with either the English language or basic, logical truths? A month before 9/11, he read a memo describing "patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks, including recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York." His response:

'There was nothing in there that said, you know, there's an imminent attack. There was nothing in this report to me that said, 'oh, by the way, we've got intelligence that says something is about to happen in America.'

Maybe the FBI should have included pictures in their presidential memos, or delivered them in cartoon format? Maybe they should have marked them up with fat red textas highlighting the words "hijacking" and "attacks" and adding notes saying "This Means Danger!!!"

The good news is that Bush is set to face again the Press tomorrow. It will be the first "real" press conference of 2004, if you call staged and vetted questioning from selected media outlets "real".

Gitmo Disgrace

"A human rights conference in Yemen on Guantanamo Bay detainees has ended with a plea to the US to either release inmates or put them on trial. A statement issued at the end of the two-day conference said the inmates' situation at the US base in Cuba was 'an unprecedented human rights scandal'. "
Future Wars

"The Rise of the Machines is at the heart of the Bush administration's recent military budget. Sandwiched into outlays for aircraft, artillery, and conventional weapons, are monies for unmanned combat aircraft, robot tanks, submarines, and a supersonic bomber capable of delivering six tons of bombs and missiles to anyplace on the globe in two hours. "
WorkingForChange Quote of the Day:

Senator Ted Kennedy said that Iraq was President Bush's 'Vietnam.' When he heard about it, Bush said, 'That's not true; I went to Iraq.'
Aunty, Come Back...

One of the great unsung tragedies of the Iraq War is the de-clawing of the BBC. When is the last time you read a good, critical account of the War on the BBC News website? In the wake of the Hutton inquiry, senior management have obviously told reporters to keep their "opinions" to themselves. As a result, the BBC has become just another mouthpiece for White House spokespersons and Downing Street press releases. There must be a lot of very qualified, experienced and knowledgeable reporters who are now considering leaving the BBC, which could irreparably harm this great and noble public institution... all because they dared to report that the Emperor had no clothes.

In a sense, the war in Iraq has also become an international media war, the outcome of which is likely to determine how we get our news for another generation or more. According to a new book by Paul Rutherford, Weapons of Mass Persuasion, there are now "20,000 more public relations experts in the United States doctoring the news than there are journalists trying to write it". Fortunately, the War has also increased the visibility of independent online news sites like Alternet, Buzzflash, AntiWar.com and others. Many of these sites are run by single individuals on very basic budgets, yet they could hold the key to the future of truly independent "free" journalism.
Phantom Flight From Florida: From The Tampa Tribune:

"The federal government says the flight never took place. But the two armed bodyguards hired to chaperon their clients out of the state recall the 100-minute trip Sept. 13 quite vividly. In the end, the son of a Saudi Arabian prince who is the nation's defense minister and the son of a Saudi army commander made it to Kentucky for a waiting 747 and a trip to their homeland. "

April 12, 2004

What the Hell are Untermenschen?

The Americans have already lost the battle for Iraqi hearts and minds.

A British Army oficer, speaking from his base in southern Iraq:

"My view and the view of the British chain of command is that the Americans' use of violence is not proportionate and is over-responsive to the threat they are facing. They don't see the Iraqi people the way we see them. They view them as untermenschen. They are not concerned about the Iraqi loss of life in the way the British are. Their attitude towards the Iraqis is tragic, it's awful.

"The US troops view things in very simplistic terms. It seems hard for them to reconcile subtleties between who supports what and who doesn't in Iraq. It's easier for their soldiers to group all Iraqis as the bad guys. As far as they are concerned Iraq is bandit country and everybody is out to kill them."

The phrase untermenschen - literally "under-people" - was brought to prominence by Adolf Hitler in his book Mein Kampf, published in 1925. He used the term to describe those he regarded as racially inferior: Jews, Slaves and gipsies.

"When US troops are attacked with mortars in Baghdad," says the officer, " they use mortar-locating radar to find the firing point and then attack the general area with artillery, even though the area they are attacking may be in the middle of a densely populated residential area.

"They may well kill the terrorists in the barrage but they will also kill and maim innocent civilians. That has been their response on a number of occasions. It is trite, but American troops do shoot first and ask questions later."

Obviously nobody told the British that the Yanks are on a Mission From God.
What The Hell Is A "Warning?"

The newly declassified Presidential memo of Aug 6, 2001, said the FBI had information that "indicates patterns of suspicious activity' inside the US, 'consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks, including recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York'.

The memo was titled "Bin Laden determined to strike in US", yet Bush and Rice claim it was not a warning. Well, what the hell was it then???

Again, the Bush White House has only volunteered information in response to extreme public pressure. Again, they have responded with carefully constructed sentences which, when you examine them closely, contradict their previous comments and are really nothing more than lies.

Bush says, "I never saw any intelligence that indicated there was going to be an attack on America." I guess bin Laden should have left a few more clues, like the bad guys always do in Hollywood.
What the Hell is "Sovereignty"?

"Contrary to US assurances, there may not be a basis in international law for American and coalition troops to remain after June 30 without a new mandate. That must come either from the UN or the new interim Iraqi government, or both, says a lawyer advising the Iraqi Governing Council (IGC), Noah Feldman.

The US has argued that the interim constitution signed by the council and the US Ambassador, Paul Bremer, allows the coalition forces to remain in charge of security after June 30.
But this is disputed in Baghdad and at the UN. The most important Shiite leader in Iraq, the Grand Ayotollah Ali al-Sistani, has rejected the claim.

Mr Feldman said if the US refused to acknowledge that it needed a fresh agreement with the interim government allowing the coalition to continue to exercise military control, 'it raises some serious questions about what the hell is sovereignty'."

April 11, 2004

Nobody Believes Condi Any More, Not Even the FBI:

"The FBI on Friday disputed National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice's testimony that it was conducting 70 separate investigations of al-Qaida cells in the United States before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks... FBI spokesman Ed Coggswell said the bureau was trying to determine how the number 70 got into the report."

April 10, 2004

Language Barriers

Condi Rice, asked about a memo titled "Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States": "This was not a warning. This was a historic memo."

Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi says: 'We can't cave in to terrorist threats.'

Muqtada al-Sadr, pledging a halt to violence and calling for the arrest of opportunist looters: "After the intervention of a number of learned clerics and Iraqi personalities and tribal notables, we have decided (we, the office of the martyered Sayyid al-Sadr), to halt the military operations and gatherings, and to stop the disturbance of secure citizens, to halt the attacks on their honor, and to apprehend these rebellious elements and to surrender them to the office of the speaking, fighting religious Center."

It appears this cease-fire, which was probably requested by Ayatollah al-Sistani (currently negotiating with Un reps), may have already collapsed.

Noah Feldman, a US constitutional lawyer involved in UN-Iraq negotiations: "Going after al-Sadr was the stupidest thing Bremer has done since the disbanding of the military."

One of the most pro-U.S. of the Iraqi Governing Council, Adnan Pachachi: “It was not right to punish all the people of Fallujah, and we consider these operations by the Americans unacceptable and illegal.”

Many Iraqis also consider the arrest warrant against al-Sadr illegal, as there is no recognized legal system to issue or enforce it.

General John Abizaid, America's top commander in Iraq, has warned Washington that he will not be "the fall guy" if violence in the country worsens.

Republican Senator Joe Biden: "Do you know what this reminds me of? Only one similarity to Vietnam - the Tet offensive." (the turning point in Vietnam's war)

Also comparing Iarq to Vietnam, Colin Powell says: 'This is quite different... We do not have huge, state sponsors outside of Iraq, flooding the place with weaponry and manpower. It is not a swamp that is going to devour us.'

So what is the US, if not a "huge state sponsor"? And where has all the weaponry come from? In fact, the US has pledged $1 billion to training and arming Iraq police forces, only to see these forces frequently standing aside or even siding with rebels.

And let's leave the last word to Bush, who (SMH reports) "unnerved many when he publicly stumbled over his explanation of who exactly will take over in Iraq on June 30. "The United Nations representative is there now to work on to whom we transfer sovereignty," Bush said haltingly. "It's one thing to say that it's a transfer; we got to ... we're now in the process of deciding what the entity will look like to whom we will transfer sovereignty."

Meanwhile, guess where Bush is spending Easter? That's right... "This is the 33rd visit by Mr Bush to his ranch as president. Adding his 78 visits to Camp David and his five visits to Kennebunkport, Maine, Mr Bush has spent all or part of 500 days in office, or more than 40 per cent of his presidency, at one of his three retreats."


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