May 31, 2004

Abu Ghraib Shame Prompts 20 Death Certificates in 10 Days

It looks like The New York Times is working hard to redeem itself for mis-reporting the flimsy excuses for war. This is a killer scoop:

"Twenty death certificates for Afghan and Iraqi prisoners who died in American custody were completed in a 10-day rush only after the investigation into the notorious abuses at Abu Ghraib became public last month, even though some of the deaths occurred months - in some cases many months - before.
Officers from Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, the headquarters of the Armed Forces Medical Examiner, signed the certificates between May 12 and 21, including one certificate for an Afghan prisoner killed at the American military base at Bagram on Dec. 10, 2002, in what an autopsy found was a homicide. "

TIME magazine "has obtained an internal Pentagon e-mail sent by an Army Corps of Engineers official - whose name was blacked out by the Pentagon - that raises questions about Cheney's arm's-length policy toward his old employer. Dated March 5, 2003, the e-mail says 'action' on a multibillion-dollar Halliburton contract was 'coordinated' with Cheney's office. The e-mail says Douglas Feith, a high-ranking Pentagon hawk, got the 'authority to execute RIO,' or Restore Iraqi Oil, from his boss, who is Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz. RIO is one of several large contracts the U.S. awarded to Halliburton last year. "

Cheney has invoked the usual Bush White House 12-step program, step one of which is DENY. (NB, Steps 2 to 11 are also DENY).

Tensions between Donald Rumsfeld's Pentagon neo-cons and the U.S. military's top brass are already very, very, um,... tense. This new Cheney scandal will do nothing to improve things. But what will it take to break this damn camel's back?

"The war itself has led to, rightly or wrongly, the feeling among many in the military that they're not receiving competent direction, that it is too ideological, and that a lot of their military efforts have been wasted by what they regard as poor, inept planning for the stability phase," says Anthony Cordesman, a former Pentagon official now with the Centre for Strategic and International Studies.

University of North Carolina military historian Richard Kohn says Rumsfeld's relationship with the military brass has been as tense as any defense secretary except Robert McNamara, the Vietnam War era Pentagon chief.

"The Constitution calls for civilian control of this department," Rumsfeld once told reporters. "And I'm a civilian."

The US Constitution also calls for civil liberties, doesn't it? It says only Congress can declare war, doesn't it? It says Presidents can be impeached for lying, doesn't it? And it says something about sacking and imprisoning all the lying neo-conservative Nazi swine who have usurped the corridors of power... doesn't it?
ABC News Poll:

"Come on folks. 50 percent of Bush-brand, pro-war Americans think not just some abuse - such as hooding, kicking, punching, sleep-depriving - but flat out torture is just fine with them? And not much less than half of Independents and Republicans are fine with it as well?

Hey Kids!

Time to play a new reality simulation game: U.N. ENVOY!!

You are Lakhdar Brahimi, the United Nations envoy.

Your task is to navigate your way across Iraq in the midst of a violent upheaval and find a select group of individuals to take control of the country.

Before you start your trip, your boss, Kofi Annan, ensures that you are fully briefed on all the convoluted political issues that surround your appointment. The future of the UN is on the line!

On arrival in Iraq, you are wined and dined by the lofty US proconsul, Paul Bremer, and all the scheming members of the Iraqi Governing Council. Each one tries to subtly influence you - can you resist the pressure? Each one has a different story to tell - can you determine the truth?

You've got to get out of this craziness and meet some REAL Iraqis! You head out across the desert... That woman selling goat's milk - could she be the next Iraqi President??? That mullah with the facial tick - PM material???

Throughout the game, you must wire reports back to Geneva and anxiously await the results. Can we put real pressure on Bush? .... No, it's too un-diplomatic! But he created this mess, didn't he? ... Doesn't matter! Can't we get a real UN peacekeeping force to take over? ... Just stick to your mission, envoy!

Pressure is building! You have only days to complete your assignment and keep Iraq on track for the Bush-imposed June 30 deadline!

You announce your selection! But he turns the job down! The IGC make their own selection! They hold a press conference! The USA gives their man the nod! The world's press turn to you for a response! What do you do?! What do you do?!
Puppets Grab Their Strings

Well, another big surprise for the self-deluded neo-cons whose ideological fantasies just refuse to appear on cue. The USA gave the puppets on the IGC power (of sorts) and now they want to keep it. Worse yet, they want more and more power, and they are manouvering very cleverly to get it:

"Last night senior Iraqi politicians admitted that despite [UN envoy] Mr Brahimi's promise to bring in 'non-political' faces and technocrats, the new Iraqi government looked suspiciously like the old one."
10 U-turns

"The appointment of Mr Allawi is the culmination of a series of spectacular U-turns that has given President George Bush and his administration the appearance of lurching in a panic from one flawed policy on Iraq to the next. Since last November every decision seems to have been taken with an eye to one political event alone: Mr Bush's bid for re-election this November."

The Independent looks at 10 major policy U-turns.
Hill stops officer from appearing at Iraqi abuse hearing.

"The Federal Government has stopped an Army legal officer who served at a Baghdad headquarters of the US-led coalition from appearing before a Senate committee. The Government says Major George O'Kane should not have to answer committee questions but Labor claims it is a cover up. Maj O'Kane saw an Red Cross report into the treatment of Iraqi prisoners in October last year and Labor wanted him to appear before a Senate estimates hearing. That request was blocked by Defence Minister Robert Hill."
Another bullseye from Ted Rall:

May 30, 2004

Scant Evidence Cited in Long Detention of Iraqis:

"Hundreds of Iraqi prisoners were held in Abu Ghraib prison for prolonged periods despite a lack of evidence that they posed a security threat to American forces, according to an Army report completed last fall.

The unpublished report, by Maj. Gen. Donald J. Ryder, reflects what other senior Army officers have described as a deep concern among some American officers and officials in Iraq over the refusal of top American commanders in Baghdad to authorize the release of so-called security prisoners. Some of those prisoners were held for interrogation at Abu Ghraib in the cellblock that became the site of the worst abuses at the prison."

May 29, 2004

The Independent says that Allawi "is the person through whom the controversial claim was channelled that Iraqi weapons of mass destruction could be operational in 45 minutes."

I give him some dues for trying to take on Saddam, though, and who cares really if he managed to dupe the idiots in the CIA into helping him. What really matters is that Rumsfeld & Co tried to dupe the world into believing it was a serious claim.

Also, he is related to Chalabi, although apparently not close.

The BBC says he has the advantage of being equally mistrusted by everyone.

"Religious leaders think he is too secular, the US-led coalition now sees him as a critic, for the anti-Saddam opposition he is an ex-Baathist, while ordinary Iraqis say he is a CIA man. "

Poor Iraqis. He sounds like just what they don't need right now.
"Practically ignored in the Abu Ghraib torture scandal are the Iraqi female prisoners who have told their attorneys they were raped by U.S. soldiers. The Taguba report confirms that some women were indeed raped by American G.I.'s. There is one photo of an American soldier having sex with an Iraqi woman. And there is the by now infamous story of how American soldiers harnessed a 70-year-old woman and rode her around, calling her a donkey. "
How To Become The Leader Of Iraq

DJ Iraq Council Member Spends To Win Influence In Washington:

"Allawi has paid prominent Washington lobbyists and New York publicists more than $300,000 in recent months to help him contact policy-makers and journalists.

According to papers filed with the Justice Department, all the money comes from a U.K. citizen, Mashal Nawab, described as Allawi's close friend and admirer...

Late in October, when Allawi held the council's rotating presidency, three U.S. firms that had done work for him submitted their reports to the Justice Department's Foreign Agent Registration. They were:

-Brown Lloyd James Ltd, a New York-based public relations firm, $12,000 a month.

-The Washington law office of Preston Gates Ellis & Rouvelas Meeds LLP, lobbying at $100,000 a month. Theros said that after two months that was changed to an hourly rate that should result in $50,000 monthly payments.

-Theros & Theros LLP, the consulting business of Theros and his father, Patrick, a former ambassador, $10,000 a month.

No other governing council member has reported spending nearly as much over the last year, according to filings with the Foreign Agent Registration Unit. "
USA Gets Their Man?

Iraq's new prime minister-to-be, Iyad Allawi, is a former member of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party, who has worked with the CIA for many years.

After all the talk of a UN-appointed leader, Mr Allawi's was ultimately chosen by the 25 US appointees on Iraq's Governing Council.

According to ABC News, "the United Nations was caught off guard when the Governing Council announced Mr Allawi had been chosen, but says it respects the decision.

'It's not how we expected it to happen,' chief UN spokesman Fred Eckhard said."

So what's the story? What deal did UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi make with the IGC? There is a lot of horse-trading going on at the UN at the moment and - as usual in politics - the outcome will probably be a less-than-ideal compromise.
Miramax founders to distribute 'Fahrenheit 9/11'.:

"Miramax film studio founders Harvey and Bob Weinstein have personally acquired rights to Michael Moore's documentary Fahrenheit 9/11 from Walt Disney Co, after the company declined to distribute it.

Disney, which owns Miramax, says the film is too politically charged for the family-friendly company."

[even though Disney support a lot of other questionable films and their movies routinely use violence to traumatize kids: gandhi]
Conspiracy theorists are asking "Who killed Nick Berg, and why?"

I expected this to happen when I saw the story of his beheading making headlines, indeed I wondered myself if the CIA were behind it (convenient ammunition to use against the Abu Ghraib pictures) but I didn't expect the evidence to be so strongly supportive of the conspiracy theories.

This SMH article, Who killed Nick Berg?, raises the following interesting questions:

- CNN and FOX were the agencies informed (suspiscious right there).

- al-Zarqawi's face is widely known and he credits himself with the deed, so why a mask?

- al-Zarqawi has an amputated leg, but there is no evidence of this.

- US and Iraqi forces still haven't clarified details of Berg's detention. Berg is wearing an orange jumpsuit similar to those worn in Abu Ghraib and sitting on the same type of white plastic chair as seen in Abu Ghraib.

Thee are lot of other strange questions surrounding Berg's death, including questions about the fanatical five "killers":

 They are well-fed, fidgety, and reveal glimpses of white skin.

 Their Arabic is heavily accented (Russian, Jordanian, Egyptian).

 An aside in Russian had been translated as "do it quickly".

 One character wears wears bulky white tennis shoes.

 The man on the far left stands in the familiar "at ease" military posture.

 The men's scarves are worn and tied by people who "haven't a clue", says conspiracy theorist Hector Carreon, like actors in Hollywood movies.

 There is even a voice at the end that seems to ask in English, "How will it be done?"

As the article says, "While this video shows a human body having its head chopped off, it does not necessarily portray an act of murder. Berg's headless body was found dumped on a Baghdad roadside on Saturday, May 8."

Is it possible the CIA found Berg's body and made this fake video to counter the Abu Ghraib photos? A surgeon quoted in the article says that if a person was really executed in this way, there would have been a LOT more blood... Too wierd.

May 28, 2004

Hypocrite Of The Week

Perle Criticizes the U.S. war he promoted:

"One of the ideological architects of the Iraq war has criticized the U.S.-led occupation of the country as 'a grave error.'
Richard Perle, until recently a powerful adviser to U.S. Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, described U.S. policy in post-war Iraq as a failure.

'I would be the first to acknowledge we allowed the liberation (of Iraq) to subside into an occupation. And I think that was a grave error, and in some ways a continuing error,' said Perle, former chair of the influential Defence Policy Board, which advises the Pentagon."

Obviously they just didn't do it all exactly the way Perle wanted, or it would have all worked out...
Globalization per se is not enough to help the poor:

"The world's least developed nations are not benefiting as they should from globalisation, a UN report says.

Although poorer nations were showing encouraging signs of growth, their populations were not seeing the advantages of it, the report says.

It says poverty remains a mass phenomenon, and international trade - which should contribute to poverty reduction - has not really done so. "

This follows a World Bank/IMF report last week that warned that "most developing countries will struggle to meet agreed United Nations targets for tackling problems of poverty." It called on richer nations to take the lead in addressing the root causes of poverty.

James Wolfensohn, president of the World Bank, called on governments to change their priorities and spend more on aid.

"The numbers are roughly these: $900bn on defence; $300bn to $350bn on agriculture and $50bn to $60bn on aid, of which about half gets there in cash. That is the fundamental imbalance," he said.

"So we can make all the noise we want, but unless we deal with the fundamentals we'll be playing at the fringes."

Addressing the root causes of poverty will also help address one of the root causes of terrorism.
CIA Was Using Torture Long Before Abu Ghraib:

"No one paid any attention when, in early 2002, the British Helsinki Human Rights Group was the only NGO to report on the use of torture and detention without trial in US military bases in the Balkans...In Bosnia in early 2002, six Algerian men who had been detained by the Bosnian authorities were released without charge. The Americans kidnapped them on the spot, and transported them to Guantanamo Bay, where they presumably still remain.

"Nor was the abuse confined to the Balkans. Remember Mike Span? He was the CIA operative who was torn to pieces in a prison riot at Qala-i-Janghi in Afghanistan in November 2001. He was given a hero's funeral in the National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, attended by President Bush, because he was the first American to die in Afghanistan. But the riot had been started by Span, who was caught on camera threatening to kill a prisoner if he did not answer his questions. Span did eventually shoot dead two or three prisoners, according to witnesses, but it is not clear whether they had started to riot by then. When they did, American warplanes were called in and they bombed some 400 prisoners to death.

"Bush has said that America incarnates liberty, that “liberty is Heaven’s plan for humanity” and that America’s enemies are the enemies of liberty. The logical corollary of this is that they are the enemies of humanity and, as such, not human themselves. With the President of the United States de-humanizing his country’s enemies in this overt way, is it any wonder that Lyndie England treated her captives like dogs?"
Warlike US Battles Utopian Urges:

"The United States is a martial nation. It accounts for 5 per cent of the world's population, 20 per cent of the world economy, and fully 50 per cent of global defence spending. It is structured for war.

In the 228 years since it declared independence, the US has made 200 military interventions abroad, says the Congressional Research Service, an average of one every 14 months.

It has much less experience in introducing democracy than it does in waging war, incidentally. It has made 16 attempts, of which four have succeeded, says the Washington-based journal Foreign Policy.

The journal defines success as the survival of a functioning democratic system 10 years after the first US intervention. The success stories? Japan, Germany, Panama and Grenada.

Of the 43 presidents in the history of the US, about a quarter, 11 of them, have been former generals or military leaders. This is not a judgement but an observation: with this structure, this history, and this tradition of leadership, the US is a martial nation. And whoever is elected president on November 2, this is not going to change."
We Demand Accountability

The Australian government was alerted to the mistreatment of prisoners in Iraq last October and made a conscious decision to ignore it. An army officer, Major George O'Kane, who served at a military headquarters in Baghdad, drafted a response to the Red Cross concerns in which he said "some prisoners would not get full Geneva conventions protections" and "unannounced Red Cross visits to jails would no longer be allowed".

The opposition is now calling Major O'Kane to appear before a Senate committee next week. Labor says Major George O'Kane could clarify exactly when Australian authorities knew about prisoner abuse in Iraq.

The Sydney Morning Herald says that "the Defence Minister, Robert Hill, appears to have misled Parliament over the Iraqi prisoner abuse scandal after the Prime Minister contradicted his account of when Australians first knew of the mistreatment."

PM Johnny "Rotten" Howard appears to be in a bit of a panic. After screaming in parliament that no Australian soldiers "have been involved in any way in the abuse of Iraqi prisoners" (but that's not the question, is it?), Howard told press conference about how important it was for the government to outlaw gay marriages.

As the Herald says, "To leave questions hanging over what the military knew is damaging. In the national interest, the Prime Minister has an obligation to get to the bottom of who knew what, and when."

May 27, 2004

What do you do when you've released a new, honey-pot budget and your poll ratings are still down? After announcing a $500 million package to bribe disillusioned green voters, Australian PM John Howard is now going to ban gay marriages. Howard is hoping to turn the next election from a referendum on the Iraq War to a referendum on homosexuality. Wedge politics as usual.
Rafah zoo levelled in Israel raid:

"Among the casualties of the Israeli raid into the Rafah refugee camp has been the local zoo - the only one in the Gaza Strip.

The Israeli army probably took about 10 minutes to turn it into a wasteland, with tanks churning the whole area into an expanse of mud and twisted metal.

There were ostriches, kangaroos and crocodiles, but the zoo's pride was its jaguar - he is missing now.

An ostrich is rotting in the rubble and its stench hangs over the ruins. "
Australian knew of prison abuse :

"An Australian military officer stationed in Baghdad was aware of allegations of prisoner abuse as early as last October and passed details to his Australian superiors in regular reports, it was reported.

The Sydney Morning Herald said Major George O'Kane, a legal officer, liaised directed with the Red Cross from the time it first complained of abuses.

The revelation undercut repeated assurances from the government and Defence Department assurances that they knew nothing of the abuses, the paper said, citing only 'defence sources'."
Step One: Admit You Have A Problem...

Bravo to The New York Times for at least admitting they were misled by Ahmed Chalabi and falsely reported his inflated anti-Saddam claims as facts:

"It looks as if we, along with the administration, were taken in... And until now we have not reported that to our readers."

The apology itself provides a great example for other media outlets who got it all wrong, but now it's time for some acceptance of responsibility. Who is going to be sacked? Judith Miller was responsible for 4 of the 6 articles mentioned in the Mea Culp. She and the editors of these pieces should resign or be sacked.

May 26, 2004

The Covert Kingdom::

"Forget about changing their minds. These Christians do not read the same books we do, they do not get their information from anything remotely resembling reasonably balanced sources, and in fact, consider even CBS and NBC super-liberal networks of porn and the Devil's lies. Given how fundamentalists see the modern world, they may as well be living in Iraq or Syria, with whom they share approximately the same Bronze Age religious tenets. They believe in God, Rumsfeld's Holy War and their absolute duty as God's chosen nation to kick Muslim ass up one side and down the other."
Michael Berg Demands Justice For Beheaded Son

Let Those Who Love Nick Berg Demand an End to War, Violence:

"George Bush never looked into my son's eyes. George Bush doesn't know my son, and he is the worse for it. George Bush, though a father himself, cannot feel my pain, or that of my family, or of the world that grieves for Nick, because he is a policymaker, and he doesn't have to bear the consequences of his acts. George Bush can see neither the heart of Nick nor that of the American people, let alone that of the Iraqi people his policies are killing daily. Donald Rumsfeld said that he took responsibility for the sexual abuse of Iraqi prisoners. How could he take that responsibility when there was no consequence? Nick took the consequences. Even more than those murderers who took my son's life, I can't stand those who sit and make policies to end lives and break the lives of the still living."
Food For Thought

"Over sixty years ago the leaders of France and England confronted another madman in Munich. Instead of standing firm they agreed to sell out Czechoslovakia after Hitler assured them that he had no aims for further expansion. However, before the war was over Hitler had conquered all of Europe. Tyrants are never satisfied. Let's hope the mistake of Munich is not repeated today.

Bush is as insane as Hitler was... Bush sees himself as a great Christian warrior in Armageddon. It is evident every time he speaks about the axis of evil. Further confirmation of Bush's deluded self-importance comes from his call for a crusade against terror shortly after 9/11. Because of world outrage he quickly dropped the term crusade in favor of war. Yes, this cowardly chickenhawk who failed to complete his cushy National Guard position during the Vietnam War, now has the temerity to call himself a war president.

Such delusions of grandeur by Bush should be enough for the leaders of the world to turn down the request for UN support. However, jut as Hitler followed the road map he laid down in Mein Kampf, Bush is following the road plan laid out in the Project for the New American Century (PNAC). Written by fascist ideologues at the American Enterprise Institute, the plans call for the invasion and regime change in several countries, militarizing space and the complete dominance of space including communications and weather satellites. The document also refers to genome specific bioweapons as politically useful, a euphemism for justifying genocide."

[NB: this article is a bit extreme for me, but it certainly triggers some interesting thoughts and shows the depth of anger that Bush inspires. And at least it proves I'm not the most radical Bush Basher on the planet!... Gandhi]
Bush, Blair and Howard: The honeymoon is over... now for the painful divorce

ABC News says the Iraqi sovereignty issue is splitting the coalition:

"The US, Britain and Australia have offered conflicting interpretations of how much control the 'sovereign' Iraqi interim government will have over foreign troops after the June 30 handover.

Britain says the interim government will have final control, Washington says its forces will be under US command and do whatever is necessary to protect themselves and Australia says it doubts the new government could command the foreign troops.

The apparent difference between the allies could complicate their efforts to secure UN Security Council endorsement for a June 30 handover in Iraq, particularly after France, Russia and China signalled they wanted changes to a draft resolution.
'The final political control [over foreign troops] remains with the Iraqi government. That's what the transfer of sovereignty means,' British Prime Minister Tony Blair said.

US Secretary of State Colin Powell said: 'Ultimately...US forces remain under US command and will do what is necessary to protect themselves.'"
An Ex-Marine Speaks Out On The Horror of Iraq


"... as we progressed on towards Baghdad, our fears and anxieties were heightened, and also due to the lack of sleep, some of us had less than 48 hours of sleep getting into Baghdad. So, whenever we were placed into these situations where civilian vehicles were coming up to our checkpoints, and not heeding our warning shot, we were lighting them up. What I mean by lighting them up, we were discharging our weapons, 50 cals and M-16's into the civilian vehicles. When we would do this, we were expecting secondary explosions, ammunition to be cooking off or actually have the occupants in the vehicle fire back at us. However, none of this ever happened. When we would go to search the vehicles, we would find no weapons, and nothing to link these individuals with -- these individuals with terrorists acts. And this happened continuously through the fall of Baghdad. I would say my platoon alone killed 30-plus innocent civilians....

"They were scared. But with the intelligence reports that we were given, it was very hard for us to distinguish the good guys from the bad guys. We ultimately started looking at everybody in Iraq as a potential suicide bomber or terrorist from women to children to old men. We didn't know who the enemy was...

We would take the bodies and search them to try to find any type of identification or anything like that. Generally, we found large quantities of cash, and that's what led us to believe that the people were just fleeing out of Baghdad. They were trying to secure what valuables that they had. Some of them had their valuables in the car, but you know, there was basically nothing that we could do with the bodies other than toss them in the ditch and off the road. So, that's what we would do, and then hopefully wait for the Iraqi medics, civilian medics to come in and take care of the bodies...

I had a young child die in my arms. The father came up to us at the checkpoint with a child, and began to say, the bombs -- the bombs killed his child. I called the corpsman. The corpsman came over to assist the child and said the child probably had internal damage from the concussion, from the bombs. So, as his child died in my arms you know, I began to think, you know, wow, here's an innocent child that was just sleeping or doing things that children do, and the -- the response that I got from my command was, well, better them than us, and, you know, it's -- he's just a casualty of war. Sorry. However, that father that was standing there as his child was dying in my arms, and, you know, the doc was resuscitating, doing CPR, this father was looking at me like, why did you do this? You know, and -- you know, why does my son have to die? Almost just like a hatred look towards me...

As we were pulling the bodies out of the vehicle, of course, we're searching and we find nothing, and these were young -- these were young men. They were in their mid 20's. The one that was unscathed, he looked up at me and he goes, you know, why did you kill my brother? We didn't do anything to you. We're not terrorists. So, I have three dying men with bullet holes from our weapons, and this gentleman asking me why I killed his brother. That's a tough pill to swallow, and that continuously happened the entire time that we were in Iraq. After we left the city of Anu Mannia, it just became utter chaos. It sickened me so that I had actually brought it up to my lieutenant, and I told him, I said, you know, sir, we're not going to have to worry about the Iraq -- you know, we're basically committing genocide over here, mass extermination of thousands of Iraqis, and with the depleted uranium that we're leaving around on the battlefield, we're setting up genocide for future generations within Iraq. He didn't like that. He immediately went to my commanding officer, Captain Schmitt and proceeded to tell him about how I felt about Iraq. Word spread pretty quickly and I knew that my Marine Corps career was over...

I was scurried out of Iraq quickly, and ordered to report back stateside to receive psychological therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder and major depression. When I got back stateside, that's when things really became ugly. I felt like the staff sergeant that just received the prison sentence for a year. I had to hire a lawyer because they were trying to pin me with conscientious objector, and basically, they were doing everything in their power to threaten me and to intimidate me so that I would go U.A. [Unauthorized absence]....

"Then they later on pinned on the conscientious objector... I told them that I believed in war and some wars in our history have been helpful for humanity and society as a whole, however, I do not believe in killing innocent civilians. So, I told them if they wanted to label me as a conscientious objector for disagreeing with, you know, killing innocent civilians, then I'll see them in court.

Iraq violated every rule of engagement that I have ever been taught - violated every rule of the Geneva Convention that I have been taught. If you have young marines coming up you to and asking you, staff sergeant, what's going on? You know, we have got a problem...

I feel it's my responsibility to let the civilian public know. You know, the boards that we put into those -- the bullets that we put into the civilians were paid for by the U.S. Tax dollar. I believe that the U.S. Taxpayers have a rate to know what's going on over there. When we pulled into that military compound, they had makeshift morgues. They had tractor-trailer beds full of bodies. It was so bad -- this is because of the bombing that we did -- some of them had Iraqi flags on them, representing that they were a soldier, but 80% of them didn't. We would find tractor-trailers literally full of stocked bodies. It was so bad that the plasma from the body and the skin was decomposing and literally oozing out of the crevices of the tractor-trailer bed...

I'd just like to say to the Marines, you did a great job. You did what your country asked you to do. Unfortunately, the rules of engagement and the Geneva Convention weren't used. But it's up to you to look within your heart and do the right thing. You know who you are. Don't be scared. Come out. The American public, they need to know...

AMY GOODMAN: Who do you hold most responsible for this?

STAFF SERGEANT JIMMY MASSEY: The president of the United States. He's the win that authorized it. He's the one that said there were weapons of mass destruction. He's the one that gave the case to us for going to war. "
President Nader?

Consider this scenario: a little door of evidence opens up the whole wide-ranging scandal of the Bush administration, going way back to ex-CIA President Bush Snr and the secretive fascist cadre that has taken control of the USA. But fellow Bonesman Kerry is caught up in the scandal, which breaks just a few weeks before the November elections. Who do you vote for?

Independent candidate Ralph Nader says Bush Should Be Impeached:

"Ralph Nader, the independent candidate for president, has condemned President George W. Bush as a 'messianic militarist' who should be impeached for having pushed the nation into a war in Iraq 'based on false pretenses.'

Bush's actions 'rise to the level of high crimes and misdemeanors,' Nader said in a speech Monday to the Council on Foreign Relations in Manhattan, employing the language in the U.S. Constitution that provides the grounds for removal of a president.

He said Bush had exceeded his authority in the face of widespread opposition at home and abroad. 'The founding fathers did not want the declaration of war put in the hands of one man,' he said, contending that U.S. foreign policy goals are being hindered because the president tends to 'talk like an out-of-control West Texas sheriff.'

He criticized a resolution introduced by the United States and Britain in the United Nations on Monday that would support a sovereign interim Iraqi government to take office by June 30. The White House had little credibility in making the proposal, he said, because the Bush administration plans to build military bases in Iraq.

'We are the sovereigns,' he said.

Nader, who in recent days has made conciliatory gestures toward the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, Senator John Kerry, made no direct reference to Kerry's position on Iraq, but made clear that he held a different view. Kerry has criticized the Bush administration's handling of the war, but has said the United States must retain and even increase its forces in Iraq while seeking more help from allies.

Nader also accused Bush of having exaggerated the threat of terrorism after the Sept. 11 attacks."
Your bill for the war:

"Amount you owe for the war in Iraq: $4,000. Make check payable to Uncle Sam's Iraq Quagmire Fund. If you dispute any portion of this bill call 1-800-IMPEACH-THIS.

According to Doug Henwood, author of 'After the New Economy,' $4,000 is the amount that each household will have to fork over in taxes to foot the Iraq occupation bill."
Bush Boyz Plundering Iraqi Oil?

Muzhir al-Dulaymi, spokesman for the League for the Defence of Iraqi Peoples' Rights, told Aljazeera the US was systematically milking Iraq of its oil.

'A daylight robbery is going in Iraq. I have first hand information from sources in al-Bakr port in southern Iraq, and in the Turkish port of Jihan, confirming that three million oil barrels are being taken out of Iraq on a daily basis' al-Dulaymi said.

'Oil sale contracts only go to the Iraqi oil ministry for signing. They cannot say a word about them; not to mention the fact that there are many sealed contracts which the Iraqi ministry of oil is not notified of.'

The story also quotes Saudi Arabian ambassador to the UK and Ireland Prince Turki al-Faisal:

"What we read and hear from our commentators in America and sometimes congressional sources, if you remember going back a year ago, there was the issue of the oil reserves in Iraq and that in a year or two they would be producing so much oil in Iraq that, as it were, the war would pay for itself," the envoy told the Irish Independent on Monday.

"[This] indicated that there were those in America who were thinking in those terms of acquiring the natural resources of Iraq for America."

Bush is still in thrall to the neo-con "vision", as his failure to sack Rumsfeld and his speech yesterday made clear. He offered no new ideas, but instead said his administration was were "guided by a vision". That vision was that "freedom can advance and change lives in the greater Middle East".

Remember that when Bush Snr was voted out of office, people said he had lacked "the vision thing". Bush Jnr is clinging to his vision, but it is looking increasingly hallucinogenic.

May 25, 2004

Light Relief

Q: How many members of the Bush Administration does it take to replace a lightbulb?


1. one to deny that a lightbulb needs to be replaced
2. one to attack and question the patriotism of anyone who has questions about the lightbulb,
3. one to blame the previous administration for the need of a new lightbulb,
4. one to arrange the invasion of a country rumored to have a secret stockpile of lightbulbs,
5. one to get together with Vice President Cheney and figure out how to pay Halliburton Industries one million dollars for a lightbulb,
6. one to arrange a photo-op session showing Bush changing the lightbulb while dressed in a flight suit and wrapped in an American flag,
7. and finally one to explain to Bush the difference between screwing a lightbulb and screwing the country.
The World Versus Bush

Gotta love how crises of indignation bring out the latent prose in all of us. This article is a well-constructed, intelligent and beautifully written gem:

"The frightening shark swimming with toothy grin in a giant aquarium does not see the human faces looking in from the other side of the glass. The shark is in a world of its own, with its own reality. Like the shark, Americans don't see the people outside the glass. It is as though America is in a 3,000-mile-wide terrarium, an immense biosphere which has cut it off from the rest of the world and left it to pick its own way down the path of history. By the time the American army stepped into Iraq, the difference in world view between the United States and everybody else had grown to the size of the hole in the ozone layer over the South Pole.

A fanciful explanation for the two realities is that the United States is the continent-wide set for a large scale re-enactment of the movie The Truman Show... "

(More at AlterNet: The Big Lie)
Here's your war on terrorism, here's the progress we're making...

The "US fingerprint in Madrid bombing" story turns out to be just another innocent person siezed and mistreated by Bush's incompetent ideologue idiot henchmen:

"A Muslim attorney from Oregon, held for two weeks, often manacled and chained, as a material witness in the March 11 train bombing in Spain, was cleared on Monday with an apology from the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation. "

OK, so forget for now the conspiracy theories about CIA agents planting the Madrid bombs (not that this proves they WEREN'T involved...). If I tend to think in that direction it is only because of the Bush Boyz's total credibility gap/chasm. Plus this guy was ex Army intelligence. Maybe they were just pressuring him for something else we'll never know about? Who knows? The FBI said is was not investigating the man any further "at this point", wo what does that mean?

But this case reminds me of the Muslim chaplain at Gitmo who was charged and vilified before the case collapsed and charges were dropped. It reminds me of the WMDs that were "found" and then discovered not to be WMDs after all. It reminds me of the countless other cases of people who have been siezed and imprisoned, amid much media hype, only for the cases to quietly collapse...

How many people have actually been caught and charged and legally convicted for ANYTHING to do with terrorism? I'm not talking about captives held without charge in Gitmo - many of whom are also no doubt innocent - I am talking about people being legally charged, tried and convicted under DUE PROCESS.

In spite of the Patriot Act's draconian measures, in spite of all the media hype, in spite of the pre-emptive strikes and illegal invasions, the world is no safer - indeed, far less so - than it was on 10/11/01. Surely this is the benchmark against which Bush must be measured? His idiotic policies have done no good for anybody but his rich boardroom buddies.

Here's what Brandon Mayfield, the 37-year-old lawyer whose independent legal practice is now in ruins after the false Madrid fingerprint allegations, had to say:

"People should wake up. We need to start protecting our civil liberties... The material witness statute obviously gives the government too much power and must be amended, if not repealed... (This) shouldn't happen to anybody."
A Poisoned Chalice

The new US resolution before the UN Security Council is full of holes. It's been drawn up to throw the political ball back into the UN's side of the court, with illusory promises of "Iraqi sovereignty""

"Firstly, it creates an important role for the UN in Iraq, including overseeing elections."

But how will the UN be able to oversee elections without security on the ground, in a country where - after a decade of UN sanctions - many people detest the UN as much as the USA?

"Secondly, it states that Iraq's transitional government will assume sovereignty from June 30, with the approval of the UN Security Council."

But who are these people? 35 days from the "handover" and it's still totally unclear who the IGC puppets will be morphing into. Is it totally in the hands of the UN representatitive in Iraq? If he makes a bad choice, what happens?

"And thirdly, it gives a one-year mandate to the US-led military force... America's deputy UN ambassador James Cunningham says the American and other international soldiers will only stay in Iraq at the invitation of the nation's transitional authority."

So obviously the US have more idea than we do who will be in the new transitional government and know they have already done a deal. Either that or they are lying again. Or is Bush really prepared to pull out all the troops before the November elections, give up the oil and the military bases, and concede that it has all been a terrible, tragic failure? Would his GOP fanatic followers accept that it was all worth it, just to remove Saddam?

There is a bit of clever wordplay going on here. The new UN resolution does not actually give the new Iraqi leadership the power to force the US troops to leave: people like Powell and Cunningham are just promising that they would leave if asked (but Cheney and Rumsfeld might disagree). Sorry guys, but there's zero credibility left in that account. looks at some other problems with the UN resolution.
World Rejects Smirking Chimp Morality

In spite of all the bad policies, the lies and evasiveness, the corruption and willful negligence, it's that bloody smirk that really, really irritates you. As if to say, in the most childish way: "I know exactly what I am doing, fooling all these people, and you can't stop me, nyah nyah nyah!" It's very Dr Evil.

Following General Zinni's criticisms yesterday, the Whore House has issued a denial of his allegations of incompetence and corruption. The Whore House denial basically says, "He's entitled to an opinion, but he's wrong." As usual, they do not make any effort to actually address the substance of his ten point allegations. It's just, "We're right, you're wrong." We are the supreme arbiters of morality, do not questions us (we certainly do not ever question ourselves).

It's an attitude that might play well in the backwaters of the USA, but the world at large has rejected it conclusively. A new article today in the SMH looks at how the Iraq War may come to be seen as the high water mark of Western moral presumptiveness:

"After the collapse of communism, the victorious US increasingly came to see itself as the saviour of the world, and the arbiter of each and every nation's future. If this proposition was less explicit during the Clinton era, it became the organising principle of the Bush regime. Where nations were not prepared to bend to US will, they were classified as 'rogue states' and threatened with force. The world found itself returning to a century earlier and the exercise of naked imperialism - all in the name, as a century earlier, of Western moral virtue.

Such was the shift in the ideological climate that the new imperialism gained a band of adherents from the liberal wing of politics, as it had in the late 19th century. They not only regarded the US as the only game in town; more importantly, they saw it as the embodiment of virtue in a failed or failing world.

But Iraq has proved a rude awakening...

The invasion of Iraq may well come to be seen as the apogee of the idea of the "moral virtue of the West". One year of occupation has profoundly eroded that claim. If September 11 and its aftermath suggest we have entered a simple world of US power and moral virtue, a more balanced view of global development suggests we stand on the eve of a very different world, in which Western values will be contested far more vigorously than at any time since the rise of Europe five centuries ago. It is true, of course, that communism, especially in its heyday, represented a profound challenge to Western values, but the nature of this threat was always political rather than cultural, and culture is far more powerful than politics."

Read more: West's monopoly on modernity challenged by Asia's waking giants.
CBS Poll: Bush Ratings Continue Slide

"Evaluations of the way Mr. Bush is handling the war in Iraq, how he is handling foreign policy, and how he is handling his job overall are now at their lowest levels ever in his presidency.

Mr. Bush's overall job approval rating has continued to decline. Forty-one percent approve of the job he is doing as president, while 52 percent disapprove - the lowest overall job rating of his presidency. Two weeks ago, 44 percent approved. A year ago, two-thirds did.

Sixty-one percent of Americans now disapprove of the way Mr. Bush is handling the situation in Iraq, while just 34 percent approve.

As concern about the situation in Iraq grows, 65 percent now say the country is on the wrong track - matching the highest number ever recorded in CBS News Polls, which began asking this question in the mid-1980's. Only 30 percent currently say things in this country are headed in the right direction. One year ago, in April 2003, 56 percent of Americans said the country was headed in the right direction. "

May 24, 2004

Susan Sontag on the Abu Ghraib images:

"For a long time - at least six decades - photographs have laid down the tracks of how important conflicts are judged and remembered. The memory museum is now mostly a visual one. Photographs have an insuperable power to determine what people recall of events, and it now seems likely that the defining association of people everywhere with the rotten war that the Americans launched preemptively in Iraq last year will be photographs of the torture of Iraqi prisoners in the most infamous of Saddam Hussein's prisons, Abu Ghraib.

The slogans and phrases fielded by the Bush administration and its defenders have been chiefly aimed at limiting a public relations disaster - the dissemination of the photographs - rather than dealing with the complex crimes of leadership, policies and authority revealed by the pictures. There was, first of all, the displacement of the reality on to the photographs themselves. The administration's initial response was to say that the president was shocked and disgusted by the photographs - as if the fault or horror lay in the images, not in what they depict. There was also the avoidance of the word torture. The prisoners had possibly been the objects of 'abuse', eventually of 'humiliation' - that was the most to be admitted. 'My impression is that what has been charged thus far is abuse, which I believe technically is different from torture,' secretary of defence Donald Rumsfeld said at a press conference. 'And therefore I'm not going to address the torture word.' Words alter, words add, words subtract. It was the strenuous avoidance of the word 'genocide' while the genocide of the Tutsis in Rwanda was being carried out 10 years ago that meant the American government had no intention of doing anything. To call what took place in Abu Ghraib - and, almost certainly, in other prisons in Iraq and in Afghanistan, and in Guantanamo - by its true name, torture, would likely entail a public investigation, trials, court martials, dishonourable discharges, resignation of senior military figures and responsible cabinet officials, and substantial reparations to the victims. Such a response to our misrule in Iraq would contradict everything this administration has invited the American public to believe about the virtue of American intentions and America's right to unilateral action on the world stage in defence of its interests and its security. .." is launching a campaign to pressure Rumsfeld into resigning:

"We now know Rumsfeld personally approved a policy that 'encouraged physical coercion and sexual humiliation of Iraqi prisoners,' violating their fundamental human rights under the Geneva convention. Our new ad will help make sure everyone in the country knows about Rumsfeld's direct responsibility for the prisoner debacle, but to air it we need your help. "
How Fascism Starts

Molly Ivins writes:

"Normally, something like Abu Ghraib can be blamed in part on the Downward Communication Exaggeration Spiral, which afflicts most organizations. Someone at the top makes a mild suggestion, and by the time it reaches the troops, it's iron-clad law. This appears to be a rare case of a reverse spiral, with the orders coming from the very top and questions being raised about them all the way down, until finally Army Spc. Joseph Darby spoke out and set off the Taguba investigation.

"In this case, there is more than sufficient evidence pointing to the culpability of those at the top. But at the same time, the Pentagon is putting out the word that it was "only a few bad apples," six low-level soldiers who have already been charged, with no one else involved. This just stinks of cover-up. Damned if I think these six low-level soldiers should be hung out there to take the blame for a set of explicitly written and signed policies made by people wearing expensive suits, getting paid big bucks and bearing some of the highest titles in the land.

"You can read all the memos and documents for yourself. It's important to know how fascism starts."
Another Bush-bashing book blockbuster, this one from Retired General Anthony Zinni.

“There has been poor strategic thinking in this,” says Zinni. “There has been poor operational planning and execution on the ground. And to think that we are going to ‘stay the course,’ the course is headed over Niagara Falls. I think it's time to change course a little bit, or at least hold somebody responsible for putting you on this course. Because it's been a failure.”

"In the lead up to the Iraq war and its later conduct, I saw at a minimum, true dereliction, negligence and irresponsibility, at worse, lying, incompetence and corruption."

"I blame the civilian leadership of the Pentagon directly. Because if they were given the responsibility, and if this was their war, and by everything that I understand, they promoted it and pushed it - certain elements in there certainly - even to the point of creating their own intelligence to match their needs, then they should bear the responsibility."

"But regardless of whose responsibility I think it is, somebody has screwed up. And at this level and at this stage, it should be evident to everybody that they've screwed up. And whose heads are rolling on this? That's what bothers me most."
Bush Blues

How much worse can it get? How long can it go on? Every day a new scandal, new horrors, yet no end in sight. How is it possible that people just do not care? Today even a senior Jewish politician said the behaviour of his government was akin to the Nazis:

"I saw on television an old woman picking through the rubble of her house in Rafah, looking for her medicine, and she reminded me of my grandmother who was expelled from her home during the Holocaust."

He was shouted down by the mob.

David Corn reviews all the horrible news from the past few weeks and concludes:

"The bad news about the bad news is that there is not much reason to expect a change in the trend. Forget the John Kerry plan--whatever it may be. If he is fortunate enough to win (and he ought to be careful what he wishes for), he won't assume office until January 20. By then the first round of elections are scheduled to take place. But, no doubt, the situation in Iraq will have changed so much that whatever Kerry has to offer today could well be irrelevant by then. For now, it is Bush the Infallible who is stuck with the mess in Iraq, and the nation [ and the world] is stuck with him. "
Video Shows Iraq Wedding Celebration:

"A videotape obtained Sunday by Associated Press Television News captures a wedding party that survivors say was later attacked by U.S. planes early Wednesday, killing up to 45 people. The dead included the cameraman, Yasser Shawkat Abdullah, hired to record the festivities, which ended Tuesday night before the planes struck. "
AlterNet: Top 10 Conspiracy Theories of 2003-2004:

"The only thing we know for sure is that the invasion isn't about oil. Tony Blair, among others, has been quite clear on this: any attempt to explain the war in Iraq as an oil war is a 'conspiracy theory.'

This makes one wonder whether other so-called conspiracy theories might be more worthy of consideration than we've been led to believe..."
AlterNet: Victims Turning Perpetrators:

"The war on terror polarizes the world between us and them. If it becomes a matter of survival, nobody has any choice but to stick with his own tribe or nation whether its policies are right or wrong. That is what happened to the Serbs and Croats and Bosnians in Yugoslavia, that is what happened to Israel, and that is the state of mind that President Bush sought to foster when he said that those who are not with us are with the terrorists.

That attitude cannot be reconciled with the basic principles of an open society. The concept of open society is based on the recognition that nobody is in possession of the ultimate truth. Might is not necessarily right. However powerful we are, we may be wrong. "

May 23, 2004

Time For A Veto, Methinks

The author G. K. Chesterton had a lot to say about the question of whether or not a bystander who witnesses a crime but does nothing should be considered guilty. As the world watches the rape of Iraq and the fascist takeover of the USA, some of the most vocal critics are now about to fall silent and do nothing, just when their actions, as well as their voices, are needed most. In UN-speak, it's called "abstaining".

As the BBC is reporting, the USA is now demanding war crimes immunity for all its soldiers in Iraq. "Aunty" (to use the old slang name for the BBC) is still recovering from institutionalized rape herself, which is perhaps why she writes so delicately:

"The US is seeking to renew the immunity from prosecution enjoyed by American peacekeepers, with a resolution before the UN Security Council."

Um... "Peacekeepers"???? I haven't heard them called anything like that in a long while.

Let us hope that China, Russia or - more likely? - France has the balls to VETO any such putrid UN resolution.

And let us pity the poor staff writers at the BBC who have to choose their words so carefully these days. There must be a heck of a lot of arguments on the news floor these days. At least the journalist was allowed to leave this little gem of a point in his or her story:

"Washington negotiated special dispensation when the International Criminal Court came into being two years ago, arguing that as the world's only superpower, it might be subject to spurious or malicious prosecutions. The US secured the UN's agreement by threatening to veto all its peacekeeping operations. "
Give the people the truth: Michael Moore Wins Cannes Top Prize

Truth wins at Cannes, says Moore:

'Many people want the truth put away, put in a closet,' he said, 'and you have taken it out of the closet.'

Quoting President Abraham Lincoln, whom he described as 'a different kind of Republican president,' Moore said, '`Give the people the truth and the republic will be saved.''

Alluding to the U.S. election in November, Moore concluded by saying he wanted to dedicate the next six months to 'making sure that those who have died in Iraq have not died in vain.'"
One Woman Against The Bush Machine

If you don't know who Sibel Edmonds is, do a Google search on her name and read up. In the following article, Gagging Congress - by Sibel Edmonds, she is effectively declaring war on George W. Bush and his cronies:

"Attorney General John Ashcroft, the Department of Justice, and the FBI have been engaged in covering up my reports and investigations into my allegations for over two years now: They have blocked the release of all documents related to my case that were requested under FOIA for over two years. They have asserted the rarely invoked State Secret Privilege in my court proceedings. They have blocked the release of the DOJ-IG report of its investigations into my reports and allegations. They have quashed a subpoena for my deposition on information regarding 911. And now they are gagging the United States Congress.

They are not protecting the 'national security' of the United States. On the contrary, they are endangering our national security by covering up facts and information related to criminal activities against this country and it's citizens. To this date the American people have not heard the real facts of these criminal activities, nor of the involved semi-legit organizations, nor of the connected officials. The Department of Justice and this administration are fully aware that making this information public will bring about the question of accountability. And they do not want to be held accountable. It is for these reasons that I have been striving to get the Congress to hold its own public hearings regarding these issues. I no longer intend to go behind their secured-closed doors to testify. I intend to testify openly, publicly, and under oath."

May 19, 2004

What Bush & Co. Really Want

The Bush administration is a sick amalgamation of extremist forces with disparate but mutually beneficial goals.

- Big business GOP donors want access to oil. Let them have it.

- Neo-conservatives want a US global empire. Let them have it.

- The Christian right-wing want... what? Do you know?

The truth is pretty wierd and more than a little bit scary. Here it is:

There a millions of "Christians" in the USA today who believe that Jesus will soon return (the Second Coming) and pass judgement on the earth. They, the "good" Christians, will watch as sinners, homosexuals and anti-Bush, anti-war people like me are tossed into the fires of Hell. But before Jesus can return, the state of Israel must be "restored" and a temple must be built on the tomb of David (where perhaps the holiest site in Islam now stands).

This is the real battle ground of the Middle East - in Middle America!

(If I've got any of that wrong, please let me know. I struggle to come to terms with it all...)

Rick Perlstein of the Village Voice has acquired a damning memo demonstrating the hold the looney Christian far Right has on Bush's Middle East policy.

In Juan Cole's column today, the penny drops:

"The gem in the article is the account of how Iran-Contra criminal mastermind and current National Security Adviser Elliot Abrams tried to reassure the Christian Zionists that an Israeli "withdrawal" from Gaza will not interfere with Jesus coming back because it wasn't part of ancient Israel. Actually, this is right. Gaza was in Philistia, not Judah, which was to its east. But for that matter, when the kindoms split, the West Bank wasn't in "Israel" either, it was in Judah. So the looney tunes Christians who are trying to kill and dispossess the poor Palestinians to drag Jesus back may as well just give it up. He wasn't treated well enough by humankind the first time to want to come back, so we're on our own, and we may as well stop being barbaric to one another in his name.

"It has for some time been obvious to me that the Bush foreign policy in the Middle East is driven by irrational and often puzzling considerations. But I hadn't stopped to consider, until Perlstein's excellent piece, that the White House is trying to bring about an apocalypse that would hasten Christ's return. And a damn fine job they're doing of it, if that's what they are up to. Why the place is more apocalyptic every day. The one downside for Bush is that he is beholden not just to the far right Christian looney fringe but also to Wall Street, and the latter can't actually be very happy with the roller coaster ride his policies are producing for their investments. Unlike poor people, moreover, the monied both vote and give to political campaigns. "

In today's USA, it seems that the lunatic fringes are struggling for power while the rest of the country watches baseball and MTV. On the one hand, the Christian right stuggles to create the conditions which will deliver these insane conditions for Christ's return, while on the other side leftists struggle to convince anyone who will listen that the White House has been taken over by a secretive cabal of fascist religious fanatics. To the MTV and baseball watchers, both sides sound equally ridiculous, and why should they care?

People of the USA, the world needs you. While Bush's mad policies affect us all, we don't have a vote against these lunatics. You do. Stop this now, before it kills us all.
AlterNet: Is Bush the Anti-Buddha?:

"When George W. Bush mouths the word 'compassion' chills dart up my spine. Anyone paying attention can easily see how the actions of the Bush regime reflect a distinct lack of empathy and understanding. This is an administration bent on blatant paybacks to friends and contributors at everyone else's expense. Its single truth: What is good for extractive profits is good for the country. Trees and caribou don't contribute cash so Bush's environmental policy opens majestic old growth forests for commercial logging and protected wilderness areas for domestic oil exploration. His foreign policy confuses justice with punishment, disagreement with treachery, and cultural differences with evil. He willingly risks escalating and perpetuating a continuous cycle of global violence.

Bush's regime is a disgraceful manifestation of the nefarious crony capitalism that the Presidents Roosevelt - Theodore and Franklin - used their administrations to combat...

Thai Buddhist professor Sulak Sivaraksa likens Bush to Hitler and Stalin, arguing that his declaration of an 'Axis of Evil,' Hitler's 'Final Solution,' and Stalin's pogrom of peasants were actually similar attempts "to perfect the world by destroying its [perceived] impurities... His is the zealotry and the extremism that Shakyamuni Buddha spent his life defining as the cause of suffering.

How does a student of the Dharma deal with the rising temptation to wish ill will on the perpetrators of such shocking and detestable undertakings? To the specter of four more years of Bush, what is an appropriate Buddhist response? "

Read more here.
AlterNet: When Bonesmen Fight:

"I hope some journalist has the guts to ask John Kerry (Skull and Bones, 1965) and George Bush (Skull and Bones, 1967) whether they have any qualms about belonging to a secret, oath-bound network since their college days... "
Associated Press says Fewer Iraqis Working on Reconstruction:

"Fewer than 25,000 Iraqis are working on projects in the U.S. reconstruction effort, tempering expectations that more than $18 billion in American spending would jump-start Iraq's economy and trigger a surge in goodwill toward the United States.

U.S. officials blame bureaucratic delays in contracting and the recent increase in violence for the low employment numbers, which represent less than 1 percent of Iraq's work force of more than 7 million. "
World Gone Mad

ABC News reports that "Israel's Army has killed at least 19 Palestinians in the heaviest raid in the Gaza Strip for years as tanks and infantry thrust into Rafah refugee camp... the 19 deaths overloaded Rafah Hospital's morgue and five bodies were shifted to vegetable freezers in a nearby market for preservation...

Before the ground assault, Israeli helicopter gunships killed seven Palestinians, at least three of them gunmen and another a civilian, outside a mosque, witnesses said. Other Palestinians, including at least one fighter, were shot dead during street battles. A teenage brother and sister were among the dead. Palestinian medics say soldiers held up ambulances that were trying to evacuate wounded...

Amnesty International, in a new report, said Israel had destroyed more than 3,000 Palestinian houses since 2000. It said demolitions were "punitive" and done without military necessity in most cases, constituting a war crime under international law."

Meanwhile, cheered with wild chants of "four more years," President Bush told a Jewish audience that Israel "has every right to defend itself from terror" and that Palestinians must renounce violence. The president got two dozen standing ovations in an address before the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, an influential pro-Israel lobbying group.
Sovereign necessity:

"The US is now claiming that the new administration will not be qualified to exercise full powers because it has not been elected and therefore has no legitimate right to amend or pass laws. There could hardly be a more disingenuous argument: the US-led coalition has changed its mind three times on how to restore the Iraqi government but in spite of popular demands has consistently opposed holding early elections. And the laws which are now in place have been decreed by the coalition authority and rubber-stamped by the governing council which it appointed without a wisp of public legitimisation.

There is only one ray of hope in all this mess. Since so little has yet been decided, it is still possible to insist on the maximum transfer of power, not only because the Iraqis are entitled to it, but also because anything less will only reinforce scepticism and mistrust in the Middle East."

May 18, 2004

Bush Faces Death Penalty Under US War Crimes Law

Newsweek reaveals: "The concern about possible future prosecution for war crimes - and that it might even apply to Bush adminstration officials themselves - is contained in a crucial portion of an internal January 25, 2002, memo by White House counsel Alberto Gonzales obtained by NEWSWEEK. It urges President George Bush declare the war in Afghanistan, including the detention of Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters, exempt from the provisions of the Geneva Convention.

In the memo, the White House lawyer focused on a little known 1996 law passed by Congress, known as the War Crimes Act, that banned any Americans from committing war crimes - defined in part as 'grave breaches' of the Geneva Conventions. Noting that the law applies to 'U.S. officials' and that punishments for violators 'include the death penalty,' Gonzales told Bush that 'it was difficult to predict with confidence' how Justice Department prosecutors might apply the law in the future. This was especially the case given that some of the language in the Geneva Conventions - such as that outlawing 'outrages upon personal dignity' and 'inhuman treatment' of prisoners - was 'undefined.' "
Phony Disengagement, Secret Escalation:

"While the Pentagon says it plans to scale back the U.S. occupation in Iraq, it's quietly doing just the opposite, high-level internal e-mails reveal.

It has launched a massive nationwide call-up of former service members across the country who have not fully completed their eight-year contractual obligation to the US Army. They are known collectively as the Individual Ready Reserves, or IRR, and they number more than 118,000.

It's one of the last options the military has before drafting civilians. And the move comes on top of rumors the Pentagon plans to redeploy to Iraq some 4,000 US troops stationed in South Korea."
Naomi Klein says the guards taking the rap for Abu Ghraib abuse are Children of Bush's America:

"With more than 2 million Americans behind bars, the number of prison guards has exploded - from 270,317 in 2000 to 476,000 in 2002...

Of course, the poverty of the soldiers involved in prison torture makes them neither more guilty, nor less. But the more we learn about them, the clearer it becomes that the lack of good jobs and social equality in the US is precisely what brought them to Iraq in the first place. Despite his attempts to use the economy to distract attention from Iraq, and his efforts to isolate the soldiers as un-American deviants, these are the children George Bush left behind, fleeing dead-end McJobs, abusive prisons, unaffordable education and closed factories.

And they are his children in another way too: it's in the ubiquitous thumbs-up sign that they flash, seemingly oblivious to the disaster at their feet."
The Kansas City Star says:

"The Bush administration helped rally public and congressional support for a preemptive invasion of Iraq by publicizing the claims of an Iraqi defector months after he showed deception in a lie detector test."
Powell Versus Rumsfeld?

CIA insiders are calling Seymour Hersh's explosive report 'journalist malpractice'. A more likely explanation is that there are many within the CIA who had absolutely no idea what was going on (just like the Iran-Contra scandal, etc).

Rumsfeld and his pack dogs are also doing their best to scare Hersh and other critics into silence. CNN says "Rumsfeld told the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank in Washington, that those watching the controversy overseas would learn 'that in our country, no one is above the law -- that we are a nation governed by laws.' ... He said the world has 'watched a free media publish stories of all types -- from the accurate to the grossly distorted.'"

Meanwhile, Powell is urging foreign observers to 'watch America -- watch how we deal with this.... Watch what a nation of values and character, a nation that believes in justice does to right this kind of wrong.'

MSNBC - The Roots of Torture: "Toward the end of 2002, orders came down the political chain at DOD that the Geneva Conventions were to be reinterpreted to allow tougher methods of interrogation.... In April 2003, new and tougher interrogation techniques were approved.

...The approach at Gitmo soon reflected these changes. Under the leadership of an aggressive, self-assured major general named Geoffrey Miller, a new set of interrogation rules became doctrine. "
MSNBC - The Roots of Torture: "By 2004, the United States was running a covert charter airline moving CIA prisoners from one secret facility to another, sources say. The reason? It was judged impolitic (and too traceable) to use the U.S. Air Force."
MSNBC - The Roots of Torture:

"With the legal groundwork laid, Bush began to act. First, he signed a secret order granting new powers to the CIA. According to knowledgeable sources, the president's directive authorized the CIA to set up a series of secret detention facilities outside the United States, and to question those held in them with unprecedented harshness. Washington then negotiated novel 'status of forces agreements' with foreign governments for the secret sites. These agreements gave immunity not merely to U.S. government personnel but also to private contractors."
Newsweek - The Roots of Torture:

"Gonzales concluded in stark terms: 'In my judgment, this new paradigm renders obsolete Geneva's strict limitations on questioning of enemy prisoners and renders quaint some of its provisions.'"
NEWSWEEK- The Roots of Torture:

"By Jan. 25, 2002, according to a memo obtained by NEWSWEEK, it was clear that Bush had already decided that the Geneva Conventions did not apply at all, either to the Taliban or Al Qaeda. In the memo, which was written to Bush by Gonzales, the White House legal counsel told the president that Powell had 'requested that you reconsider that decision.' "
Newsweek - The Roots of Torture:

"Originally, Geneva Conventions protections were stripped only from Qaeda and Taliban prisoners. But later Rumsfeld himself, impressed by the success of techniques used against Qaeda suspects at Guantanamo Bay, seemingly set in motion a process that led to their use in Iraq, even though that war was supposed to have been governed by the Geneva Conventions. "
"The Fish Rots From The Head Down"

Michael Moore's new movie, 'Fahrenheit 9/11', has premiered at the Cannes film festival "to audience cheers and applause."
You know there is something seriously wrong with your political system when it is up to journalists, like Bob Woodward and Seymour Hersh, to bring politicians to account for crimes and misdemeanors that should have their own party members (not to mention the opposition parties) clamouring for their resignations.

Jason Vest picks up the trail with some close scrutiny of Rumsfeld's Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, Stephen Cambone.
OK Let's Be Constructive For A Change

George Monbiot, author of the new book, "Manifesto for a New World Order" and winner of the 1995 United Nations Global 500 Award, has some good ideas for making a better world.

He told the Institute for Public Accuracy that "many of the most important issues facing us -- climate change, international debt, nuclear proliferation, war, the balance of trade between nations -- can be resolved only at the global or the international level."

"Our task is not to overthrow globalization, but to capture it, and to use it as a vehicle for humanity's first global democratic revolution."

"There is already a global governance system in place, dominated by the rich and the powerful. We need a new kind of global governance based on global democratic principles and moral authority. I propose establishing new institutions and making sweeping reforms in salvageable existing institutions.

"Simply scrapping existing institutions would not be enough. In principle, the United Nations is a good idea but in practice, it helps the strong to bully the weak, for three reasons: The permanent members of the Security Council have been granted absolute power; tiny nations have the same vote as the very large ones; dictatorships have the same voting rights as the democracies, and none of the attendant governments have any obligation to refer to their people before voting. The first steps in democratizing the UN could involve scrapping the Security Council and vesting its powers in the UN General Assembly, weighting the votes of the member states according to their country's size and their degree of democratization."

John Maynard Keynes had a much better idea than the IMF or World Bank, Monbiot said. "an International Clearing Union, a bank operating at the international level, in which nations held their trade accounts. They would be charged interest not only on their trade deficits, but also on their trade surpluses and therefore have a powerful incentive to 'clear' their accounts -- in other words, to end up with neither a deficit nor a surplus."

May 17, 2004

Long Live Gandhi!

When creating this blog, I chose the pseudonym Gandhi because it instantly represents peaceful protest, compassion and integrity. These values - so lacking in our leaders today - are the same values that have seen Sonia Gandhi elected as the new leader of India. You will read stories today screaming about the horror of the Indian stock market collapsing as investors (mostly foreign, by the way) pull their money out. You will not read many stories about the impoverished rural majority who voted another Gandhi into power.

While I, living in Australia, have focussed my outrage on Bush, Blair and Howard, many other governments around the world have been peddling the same tunes: "anti-terrorism" and "economic reform" are the new buzzwords and everything and anything can be justified in their name. While some wealthy, educated Indians have been living the dream, others have remained in a generations-old nightmare.

As author Arundhati Roy says "Let us hope the darkness has passed":

"In recent years, the number of people killed by the police and security forces runs into tens of thousands. Andhra Pradesh (neo-liberalism's poster state) chalks up an average of about 200 deaths of 'extremists' in 'encounters' every year. In Kashmir an estimated 80,000 people have been killed since 1989. Thousands have simply 'disappeared'.

The Indian state's proclivity to harass and terrorise has been institutionalised by the draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act (Pota)... Under the Pota regime, torture tends to replace investigation in our police stations: that's everything from people being forced to drink urine, to being stripped, humiliated, given electric shocks, burned with cigarette butts and having iron rods put up their anuses, to being beaten to death.

Under Pota you cannot get bail unless you can prove that you are innocent - of a crime that you have not been formally charged with. It would be naive to imagine that Pota is being "misused". It is being used for precisely the reasons it was enacted. This year in the UN, 181 countries voted for increased protection of human rights. Even the US voted in favour. India abstained.

Meanwhile, economists cheering from the pages of corporate newspapers inform us that the GDP growth rate is phenomenal, unprecedented. Shops are overflowing with consumer goods. Government storehouses are overflowing with grain. Outside this circle of light, the past five years have seen the most violent increase in rural-urban income inequalities since independence. Farmers steeped in debt are committing suicide in hundreds; 40% of the rural population in India has the same foodgrain absorption level as sub-Saharan Africa, and 47% of Indian children under three suffer from malnutrition. "

Like Roy, I sincerely hope Sonia Gandhi - who now places her own life on the line, having lost her husband Rajiv and mother Indira to assasins - will be able to somehow repay the trust and faith of India's poor and suffering majority.
Better to Be Children - by Charley Reese:

"We would do better if, instead of being sheep and complacently accepting the words of politicians as edicts from God, we were like children who always ask that innocent question, 'Why?'

Over and over we hear the statement 'The United States cannot afford to fail in Iraq.' Even John Kerry says that.

Well, why?

It's true that if we withdraw there might be a civil war. On the other hand, there might not be. suppose that the Iraqis cannot govern themselves unless we set up their government for them is, of course, racist and patronizing.

It's also claimed that if we leave prematurely, Iraq will become a haven for terrorists. That's not likely. The Sunnis and the Kurds have no great love for al-Qaida, and al-Qaida hates the Shiites. Once we exit, I predict that life spans will grow exceedingly short for any leftover terrorists.

But, the politicians say, we have to establish security. Well, my grandmother's doily – we've been there a year and have failed miserably to establish security. What makes the gods on the Potomac believe that we will suddenly be successful in the future? The fact is, the Iraqis, if left to themselves, can probably establish security much more quickly than we ever could. They have had zilch experience with democracy but lots and lots of experience with security.

The American people ought to wake up and realize that maintaining a world empire with the dopes and nerds we have elected is impossible and can lead only to national ruin. Running our own country is job enough."
The Ideal Solution

The Washington Post says Iraq elections, once considred "utopian" are now the best exit strategy for the USA:

"It is sensible for the United States to give the United Nations as large a role as it will accept in organizing and conducting those elections; it is foolish to cling to the idea that U.S. political favorites, such as some of the exiles on the appointed Governing Council, can survive a popular vote. It is unrealistic to believe that U.S. appointees and advisers can be positioned to control the future government or that unilateral U.S. control over security matters can be maintained past the first ballot; Iraqi forces must be prepared to control security. The Bush administration also must accept, sooner rather than later, that an elected Iraqi government is likely to embrace economic or social policies not favored by the United States and may not be particularly friendly to Washington or to Israel.

At best an elected Iraqi government will be a fragile and awkward entity that exercises only loose control over the country and requires long-term support by foreign troops and other outsiders. It will look more like Lebanon than Switzerland. Getting there will require an enormous second effort by the United States, which will have to sacrifice more while somehow recruiting more support from the rest of the world. Failure is a distinct possibility. "
Attention! Attention!

The Supreme Leader, in his great wisdom, has decided to redeploy 4,000 glorious troops from the border with North Korea to the new and growing battlefront in the war on terror: Iraq!

North Korea, once considered part of the "Axis Of Evil", has now been re-designated as "Rilly Danjeruss: Don't Mess With". South Korea, our former ally, says the Supreme Leader is "too gung-ho". Penatagon translators say "too gung-ho" is Korean for "wonderfully enlightened".

"'When the containers were finally opened, a mess of urine, blood, faeces, vomit and rotting flesh was all that remained ... As the containers were lined up outside the prison, a [U.S.] soldier accompanying the convoy was present when the prison commanders received orders to dispose of the evidence quickly. Newsweek's investigation into the Afghan atrocities ('The Death Convoy of Afghanistan,' 26 August 2002) stated that 'American forces were working intimately with 'allies' who committed what could well qualify as war crimes.'

Witnesses also stated '600 Taliban PoWs who survived the containers' shipment to the Shebarghan prison ... were taken to a spot in the desert and executed in the presence of about 30 to 40 U.S. special forces soldiers' (The Globe and Mail, 19 December 2002). Other U.S. soldiers are said to have involved themselves directly and enthusiastically in the 'dirty work' of prisoner torture and the disposal of corpses. 'The Americans did whatever they wanted,' stated one Afghan witness. 'We had no power to stop them. Everything was under the control of the American commander.'"
Where Was Press When First Iraq Prison Allegations Arose?:

"Is the press trying to make up for lost time once again? The media is now bursting with accounts of prison abuse at Abu Ghraib and other Iraqi prisons, but where were they last fall when evidence of wrongdoing started to emerge -- when a public accounting might have halted what turned out to be the worst of the incidents?

'It was not an officially sanctioned story that begins with a handout from an official source,' says Charles J. Hanley, Pulitzer Prize-winning correspondent for The Associated Press...

He is still amazed that apparently no one else was looking into the allegations, and no major newspaper picked up on his reporting after it appeared. Why? "That's something you'd have to ask editors at major newspapers," he said. "But there does seem to be a very strong prejudice toward investing U.S. official statements with credibility while disregarding statements from almost any other source -- and in this current situation, Iraqi sources."
Powell Muzzled By Press Aide

An aide to Sec. of State Colin Powell ordered a halt to a MEET THE PRESS interview and directed a camera to shoot a palm tree during provocative questioning by host Tim Russert!

Powell was being interview by satellite from Jordan.

State Department press aide Emily Miller fumed as Tim Russert went beyond the 10 minutes allotted for the NBC Sunday session.

13 minutes in to the interview, Miller attempted to pull the plug.

As Russert grilled Powell on his presentation at the UN of Iraq's alleged WMDs -- Miller moved the single remote camera off Powell.

'You're off,' Miller announced.

'I am not off,' Powell warned.

'No. They can't use it, they're editing it...' Miller said on an open microphone.

'Emily, get out of the way. Bring the camera back please,' the secretary snapped."

THE DRUDGE REPORTa> has more details.

May 16, 2004


As if to prove that the modern-day USA is the wierdest country in history, a Google search for Donald "Duck" Rumsfeld today reveals that some folks are sitting at home listening to his press conference remarks transposed to verse and music on CD, while others are outside his house calling for his resignation.

DC Indymedia has some more photos of the demonstrations. But what about this:

O, Say Can You See...?

So what has happened to the puppets' attempt to introduce a new Iraqi flag? Even the US propaganda machine doesn't seem to be bothering with it. I saw a couple of great new Iraqi flag suggestions on the Muslim WakeUp website:


"On almost every issue involving postwar Iraq - troop strength, international support, the credibility of exiles, de-Baathification, handling Ayatollah Ali Sistani - Washington's assumptions and policies have been wrong. By now most have been reversed, often too late to have much effect. This strange combination of arrogance and incompetence has not only destroyed the hopes for a new Iraq. It has had the much broader effect of turning the United States into an international outlaw in the eyes of much of the world."


Sadly, this one speaks for itself.
Danish medics saw Iraqis tortured to death :

"Danish army medics in Iraq saw two prisoners at a British field hospital who had been beaten, one of them to death, the Danish Defence Ministry said on Friday. The incident was reported to British officials in September.

Danish troops serve under British command in southern Iraq, where two unnamed medics said that last September in Basra two Iraqi prisoners were brought in with signs of having suffered 'rough treatment during an unauthorised interrogation in the field by a British unit', said a ministry statement... "
Sic Transit Gloria Rumsfeld

The New Yorker today releases a story which must surely spell the final days for Mr. D. Rumsfeld. The story reveals how a clandestine CIA operation, authorized by Rumsfeld and Myers, got wildly out of control.

"The roots of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal lie not in the criminal inclinations of a few Army reservists but in a decision, approved last year by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, to expand a highly secret operation, which had been focussed on the hunt for Al Qaeda, to the interrogation of prisoners in Iraq. Rumsfeld's decision embittered the American intelligence community, damaged the effectiveness of elite combat units, and hurt America's prospects in the war on terror.

"According to interviews with several past and present American intelligence officials, the Pentagon's operation, known inside the intelligence community by several code words, including Copper Green, encouraged physical coercion and sexual humiliation of Iraqi prisoners in an effort to generate more intelligence about the growing insurgency in Iraq. A senior C.I.A. official, in confirming the details of this account last week, said that the operation stemmed from Rumsfeld's long-standing desire to wrest control of America's clandestine and paramilitary operations from the C.I.A.

...Fewer than two hundred operatives and officials, including Rumsfeld and General Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, were “completely read into the program,” the former intelligence official said. The goal was to keep the operation protected. “We’re not going to read more people than necessary into our heart of darkness,” he said. “The rules are ‘Grab whom you must. Do what you want."

...Cambone says, I’ve got to crack this thing and I’m tired of working through the normal chain of command. I’ve got this apparatus set up—the black special-access program—and I’m going in hot.

... The military police assigned to guard the prisoners wore uniforms, but many others—military intelligence officers, contract interpreters, C.I.A. officers, and the men from the special-access program—wore civilian clothes. It was not clear who was who, even to Brigadier General Janis Karpinski, then the commander of the 800th Military Police Brigade, and the officer ostensibly in charge. “I thought most of the civilians there were interpreters, but there were some civilians that I didn’t know,” Karpinski told me. “I called them the disappearing ghosts..."

“The White House subcontracted this to the Pentagon, and the Pentagon subcontracted it to Cambone,” he said. “This is Cambone’s deal, but Rumsfeld and Myers approved the program.”

The Pentagon consultant made a similar point. Cambone and his superiors, the consultant said, “created the conditions that allowed transgressions to take place. And now we’re going to end up with another Church Commission...”—the 1975 Senate committee on intelligence, headed by Senator Frank Church, of Idaho, which investigated C.I.A. abuses during the previous two decades...

“We’re giving the world a ready-made excuse to ignore the Geneva Conventions. Rumsfeld has lowered the bar.”

Read the full story at The New Yorker.


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