March 31, 2006

Bush's USA: We Still Don't Know The Worst Of It

The United Nations' special investigator on torture says he has evidence of the existence of secret prisons in Europe:
"I am 100 per cent sure. I have evidence," Nowak said...

"It is totally unacceptable, even in the fight against terrorism, that a highly democratic country such as the United States of America is keeping secret places of detention," said Nowak, an Austrian law professor who reports on torture allegations to UN rights bodies and the General Assembly.

"Secret means that nobody knows who is there, where the people are, families have no access, and not even the (international Red Cross) has access," he said. "This is not only unacceptable in Europe. It is unacceptable anywhere in the world."
Bush's Iraq

Is this a new low?
A letter from President Bush to Iraq's supreme Shiite spiritual leader, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, was hand-delivered earlier this week but sits unread and untranslated in the top religious figure's office, a key al-Sistani aide told The Associated Press on Thursday.

The aide - who has never allowed use of his name in news reports, citing al-Sistani's refusal to make any public statements himself - said the ayatollah had laid the letter aside and did not ask for a translation because of increasing ``unhappiness'' over what senior Shiite leaders see as American meddling in Iraqi attempts to form their first, permanent post-invasion government.
Couple that story with the latest news from Riverbend, who said Iraqi TV news tickers are carrying the following message:
The Ministry of Defense requests that civilians do not comply with the orders of the army or police on nightly patrols unless they are accompanied by coalition forces working in that area.”

That’s how messed up the country is at this point... It confirmed what has been obvious to Iraqis since the beginning- the Iraqi security forces are actually militias allied to religious and political parties.

But it also brings to light other worrisome issues. The situation is so bad on the security front that the top two ministries in charge of protecting Iraqi civilians cannot trust each other. The Ministry of Defense can’t even trust its own personnel, unless they are “accompanied by American coalition forces”.
What REALLY Went Wrong In Iraq?

It's the Fascism, stupid. Michael Schwartz challenges a few media stereotypes:
We do not remember much of this now, but just after Saddam was toppled the American victors announced that a sweeping reform of Iraqi society would take place. The only part of this still much mentioned today -- the now widely regretted dismantling of the Iraqi military -- was but one aspect of a far larger effort to dismantle the entire Baathist state apparatus, most notably the government-owned factories and other enterprises that constituted just about 40% of the Iraqi economy. This process of dismantling included attempts, still ongoing, to remove various food, product, and fuel subsidies that guaranteed low-income Iraqis basic staples, even when they had no gainful employment.

Without going into the tortured details (forcefully described at the time by Naomi Klein in an indispensable Harpers article), this neo-liberal "shock treatment" was adapted from programs undertaken by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank all around the globe in the 1990s, including those that immiserated Russia after the USSR collapsed and that helped to bankrupt Argentina. Because the privatizers of the Bush administration were, however, in control of a largely prostrate and conquered country, the Iraqi reforms were enacted more swiftly and in a far more draconian manner than anywhere else on the planet. Within six months, for example, the American occupation government, the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), had promulgated all manner of laws designed to privatize everything in Iraq except established oil reserves. (New oil discoveries, however, were to be privatized.) All restrictions were also taken off foreign corporations intent on buying full control of Iraqi enterprises; nor were demands to be made of those companies to reinvest any of their profits in Iraq.

At the same time, state-owned enterprises were to be demobilized and sidelined. They were to be prevented from participating either in repairing facilities damaged during the invasion (or degraded by the decade of sanctions that preceded it) or in any of the initially ambitious reconstruction projects the U.S. commissioned. This policy was so strict that even state-owned enterprises with specific expertise in Iraqi electrical, sanitation, and water purification systems -- not to speak of Iraq's massive cement industry -- were forbidden from obtaining subcontracts from the multinational corporations placed in charge of rejuvenating the country's infrastructure...
Schwarz says the flood of cheap goods from multinational companies (which was touted by many as a symbol of progress) led to the collapse of local businesses and an immediate unemployment crisis. This economic hardship, coupled with a lack of functional government, created depressed neighborhoods which became "incubators for ferocious criminal gangs". The first wave of protests were peaceful...
It is now lost to history, but the run-up to the ferocious first battle of Falluja in April, 2004 -- triggered by the mutilation of four private security contractors -- actually began a full year earlier when American troops fired on a peaceful protest organized around a host of local issues, killing 13 Iraqi civilians...

In fact, in 2003, the occupation response to protests was forceful, almost gleeful, repression... Protests were met with arrests, beatings, and -- in any circumstances deemed dangerous to U.S. troops -- overwhelming, often lethal military force...

In such circumstances, each act of repression added the provocation of brutality, false arrest, torture, and murder to the economic crimes that triggered the protests to begin with. And each act of repression convinced more Iraqis that peaceful protest would not work; that, if they were going to save their lives and those of their families, a more aggressive, belligerent approach would be necessary.
Schwarz concludes that the US media have failed to appreciate the corrosive effect of "an American administration wedded at home and abroad to a fierce, unbending, and alien set of economic ideas".
They ignore -- and cause the American public to ignore -- the fact that there was little resistance just after the fall of Baghdad and that it expanded as the economy declined and repression set in. They ignore the eternal verity that the willingness to fight and die is regularly animated by the conviction that otherwise things will only get worse.
And that last important point is exactly what I was trying to address yesterday.
Oh, what a lovely war!

The UK Independent has details of the US "psy-ops" stories planted in Iraqi papers by the Lincoln Group, including samples.

To quote Juan Cole again:
This operation is the ultimate in warfare. Instead of actually winning the war, the Pentagon substitutes itself for the journalists and paints the new Iraqi army as the eighth wonder of the world and declares we are winning.

The illusions are so circular and self-referential that when corporate media went looking for someone to comment on the Lincoln psy-ops operation, they quoted Michael Rubin of the American Enterprise Institute as saying it was all just fine. Turns out that Rubin is a paid consultant of . . . The Lincoln Group (and quite dishonestly didn't let the NYT know it.) So the American Enterprise Institute, which helped manufacture the fantasy of a victorious Iraq War in the first place, now has its staff help manufacture the illusion of success on the ground and then lie about it to the MSM.

Another big, big story. Murray Waas at the NATIONAL JOURNAL has new details on the Iraq War cover-up within the White House:
Karl Rove, President Bush's chief political adviser, cautioned other White House aides in the summer of 2003 that Bush's 2004 re-election prospects would be severely damaged if it was publicly disclosed that he had been personally warned that a key rationale for going to war had been challenged within the administration. Rove expressed his concerns shortly after an informal review of classified government records by then-Deputy National Security Adviser Stephen J. Hadley determined that Bush had been specifically advised that claims he later made in his 2003 State of the Union address -- that Iraq was procuring high-strength aluminum tubes to build a nuclear weapon -- might not be true, according to government records and interviews.

Hadley was particularly concerned that the public might learn of a classified one-page summary of a National Intelligence Estimate, specifically written for Bush in October 2002. The summary said that although "most agencies judge" that the aluminum tubes were "related to a uranium enrichment effort," the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research and the Energy Department's intelligence branch "believe that the tubes more likely are intended for conventional weapons."

Three months after receiving that assessment, the president stated without qualification in his January 28, 2003, State of the Union address: "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa. Our intelligence sources tell us that he has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear weapons production."

The previously undisclosed review by Hadley was part of a damage-control effort launched after former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV alleged that Bush's claims regarding the uranium were not true...

"Presidential knowledge was the ball game," says a former senior government official outside the White House who was personally familiar with the damage-control effort. "The mission was to insulate the president. It was about making it appear that he wasn't in the know. You could do that on Niger. You couldn't do that with the tubes." A Republican political appointee involved in the process, who thought the Bush administration had a constitutional obligation to be more open with Congress, said: "This was about getting past the election."
There is still a lot of uninformed debate about whether Bush is a corrupt, pathological liar or just some sort of hapless, incompetent stooge. This new information should help clarify that debate.

We already know that Bush had made up his mind to go to war and was repeatedly lying to the press prior to the invasion. So it's not like he was caught out after the fact and just lied to cover up the mistakes. This was premeditated, deliberate lying in support of pre-ordained goals.

The same thing goes for the NSA surveillance scandal. Bush lied to the press even when he didn't need to, assuring them that court orders were being sought before anybody even asked the question. A more experienced, capable and intelligent politician would have found a way to say the same thing without lying. Not Bush.

So is Bush a liar, or just a stooge? Unfortunately, folks, he is both.

The word most US citizens associate with Bush today is "incompetent". How long before that becomes "criminal"?

UPDATE: From Raw Story:
Congressman John Conyers today called on president Bush to make publicly available a memo submitted to him by Stephen Hadley in October 2002.
Also, some interesting words from Phillipe Sands, QC, whose book Lawless World broke the news of that other Bush-Blair meeting memo recently:
I've spoken personally to ambassadors of Security Council members and I'm aware of the inducements that were given to countries in the Security Council to vote in favour of a resolution. And I think the most striking aspect of that period is that not one country could be persuaded. And if you talk to these people, ambassadors privately, the reason that they'll tell you is very clear, they simply didn't believe the argument. They didn't believe that the evidence of this - at this time Hans Blix was reporting back Iraqi cooperation was accelerating. Mr ElBaradei said there weren't any nuclear materials and Mr Blix was saying he probably didn't think there were going to be any weapons of mass destruction - there may be some incipient programs to try to build it up in the future but there would be no hard evidence. It really all in the end turns on the evidence - the inducements, the pressure, the arm-twisting had no effect.

TONY JONES: Here's one of the critical bits of the memo from our point of view. President Bush had to say that if we ultimately failed military action, to get the resolution that is, military action would follow anyway?

PHILIPPE SANDS: Those words are totally unambiguous. That document confirms irrevocably that the decision had been taken by President Bush and it goes onto confirm that the British PM was with him.
UPDATE 2: Robert Schlesinger at The Huffington Post picks up on another lie exposed by the Waas article. This one from Condi Rice:
"Now, if there were any doubts about the underlying intelligence to that NIE, those doubts were not communicated to the president, to the vice president, or me."
Washington Politicians Are Obviously Not Overly Afraid

Washington is still not prepared for a terrorist attack:
Nearly five years after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the Washington region still lacks a strategic plan to guide preparations for any future attacks or to effectively spend hundreds of millions of homeland security dollars, federal and local officials told a U.S. Senate panel yesterday.

The lack of a comprehensive regionwide communication system was repeatedly cited by senators as a case of poor planning and coordination...

Thomas Lockwood, the DHS director for the capital region, said leaders are working hard to come up with a consensus plan. But he said the effort is hampered by fragmented authority among the region's 12 jurisdictions, two states and the District of Columbia, all three branches of the federal government, more than 2,000 nonprofit organizations and numerous regional business and civic groups. Nearly three dozen police departments operate in the District alone.

March 30, 2006

Four And A Half Years Later...

So why exactly DID those guys fly planes into the World Trade Center on 9/11/01? Was it because:

(a) They hate our freedom.

(b) They are crazy: you cannot reason with terrorists.

(c) Muslims and Christians are at war. Muslims and Christians have always been at war.

If you answered (d) - none of the above - congratulations! You obviously didn't get your answer from the Karl Rove playbook.

In today's world, even those of us in the anti-war crowd acknowledge that the prospect of terrorism with sophisticated modern weapons is a genuine problem (whether it is actually a "war" or not). The question of terrorists' motivation is obviously fundamental to finding any solution to that problem.

And yet, quite astonishingly, there has been very little real debate of this important question. In fact, the Bush administration has done everything possible to stifle the debate, presenting misleading, over-simplified clichés in place of serious public discussion.

So perhaps we should be grateful that - albeit four and a half years too late, and in his own very "special" fashion - Rumsfeld has finally addressed this critical issue:
From time to time, one hears the claim that terrorist acts are reactions to particular American policies. That's not so. Their violence preceded by many years' operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, and their violence will not stop until their ideology is confronted.
How Orwellian, eh? OF COURSE their violence "preceded operations in Afghanistan and Iraq" - those operations were (allegedly, anyway) a REACTION to their violence! And aren't those wars in Afghanistan and Iraq supposed to "confront" their ideology?

Does this guy even listen to what he says, or is he all mouth and no ears?
Take My President. Puh-lease!

The new standup routine from Bush:
Final question. Then I'm going down to be with the President of Mexico and the Prime Minister of Canada -- Cancun. (Laughter.) No Speedo suit here. (Laughter.) Thankfully. (Laughter.)

Q Ready?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes. Sorry to interrupt you. Just testing your concentration. (Laughter.)

Q Mr. President, I am on the board of trustees of Freedom House.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you for having me.

Q My -- you mentioned about Iraq.

And did you know that the on-going violence in Iraq is all Saddam's fault? No seriously...

And what about the one about Iraqis choosing their own leaders, eh? Hilarious...
Not That There's Anything Wrong With That...

But Josh Bolten, Bush's new Chief of Staff, just happens to be Jewish.
"Since the beginning of this administration, he has been a senior-level force for making sure the Jewish community had a voice at the very highest levels of the administration," said William Daroff, vice president for public policy at United Jewish Communities, the umbrella organization of the North American federation system.

"Josh Bolten as chief of staff to the president will open up great opportunities for the Jewish community to make sure we are heard," Daroff added.
Yeah, that's just what the Bush administration needs, isn't it? A more pro-Israeli stance...

Or to put it another way:
Al-Qaida never posed a threat to the US except in terms of the odd terrorist outrage. Making it the central thrust of US foreign policy, in other words, had nothing to do with the al-Qaida threat and everything to do with the Bush administration seeking to mobilise US public opinion behind a neoconservative foreign policy...
Hey, dude! Isn't that your country going to hell in a handbasket?
The overwhelming preoccupation of the Bush administration (and Blair for that matter) with Iraq, the Middle East and Islam, speaks of a failure to understand the deeper forces that are reshaping the world and an overriding obsession with realising and exploiting the US's temporary status as the sole global superpower. Such a myopic view can only hasten the decline of the US as a global power, a process that has already started.

The Bush administration stands guilty of an extraordinary act of imperial overreach which has left the US more internationally isolated than ever before, seriously stretched financially, and guilty of neglect in east Asia and elsewhere. Iraq was supposed to signal the US's new global might: in fact, it may well prove to be a harbinger of its decline. And that decline could be far more precipitous than anyone has previously reckoned.
The First Rule Of Lying Is...?

Jack Abramoff gets five years and ten months in jail, plus a $20 million fine for fraud.

Sources at the State Department, the CIA and the National Security Council say Fitzgerald is set to indict Karl Rove or Stephen Hadley (or both) on charges of perjury, obstruction of justice, and conspiracy.

The US Army finally admits they targetted a mosque but says they didn't know it at the time. So what's worse, incompetence or indifference?

GOP Candidate Howard Kaloogian admits a "good news" photograph of Baghdad is actually a photo of a suburb of Istanbul.

March 29, 2006

Take A Good Look At The "Democracy" We Are Exporting By Force

What a bloody disgrace:
It would not be appropriate for a commissioner to seek amendment of the terms of reference to address a matter significantly different to that in the existing terms of reference.

It is of course open to the executive government to change the terms of reference. That is a different matter to whether it is appropriate for a commissioner to seek such a change.
Politics 101: How To Apologise

Ted Turner on losing control of CNN:
"I had a sacred trust there and I let it go," Turner said. "I thought there was no way they could phase me out, and I was wrong."
Anthony Arnove cites eight reasons why leaving Iraq now is the only sensible option.
Meanwhile back at the US Supreme Court...
We Could Be Heroes

Eric Haney, a retired U.S. Army command sergeant major, was a founding member of Delta Force, the military's elite covert counter-terrorist unit. He almost lost his life in the 1980 failed rescue of the hostages in Iran. Here's what he thinks of the Bush administration and the Iraq War:
Q: What's your assessment of the war in Iraq?

A: Utter debacle. But it had to be from the very first. The reasons were wrong. The reasons of this administration for taking this nation to war were not what they stated. (Army Gen.) Tommy Franks was brow-beaten and ... pursued warfare that he knew strategically was wrong in the long term. That's why he retired immediately afterward. His own staff could tell him what was going to happen afterward.

We have fomented civil war in Iraq. We have probably fomented internecine war in the Muslim world between the Shias and the Sunnis, and I think Bush may well have started the third world war, all for their own personal policies.

Q: What is the cost to our country?

A: For the first thing, our credibility is utterly zero. So we destroyed whatever credibility we had. ... And I say "we," because the American public went along with this. They voted for a second Bush administration out of fear, so fear is what they're going to have from now on.

Our military is completely consumed, so were there a real threat - thankfully, there is no real threat to the U.S. in the world, but were there one, we couldn't confront it. Right now, that may not be a bad thing, because that keeps Bush from trying something with Iran or with Venezuela.

The harm that has been done is irreparable. There are more than 2,000 American kids that have been killed. Tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis have been killed, which no one in the U.S. really cares about those people, do they? I never hear anybody lament that fact. It has been a horror, and this administration has worked overtime to divert the American public's attention from it. Their lies are coming home to roost now, and it's gonna fall apart. But somebody's gonna have to clear up the aftermath and the harm that it's done just to what America stands for. It may be two or three generations in repairing.

Q: What do you make of the torture debate? Cheney ...

A: (Interrupting) That's Cheney's pursuit. The only reason anyone tortures is because they like to do it. It's about vengeance, it's about revenge, or it's about cover-up. You don't gain intelligence that way. Everyone in the world knows that. It's worse than small-minded, and look what it does.

I've argued this on Bill O'Reilly and other Fox News shows. I ask, who would you want to pay to be a torturer? Do you want someone that the American public pays to torture? He's an employee of yours. It's worse than ridiculous. It's criminal; it's utterly criminal. This administration has been masters of diverting attention away from real issues and debating the silly. Debating what constitutes torture: Mistreatment of helpless people in your power is torture, period. And (I'm saying this as) a man who has been involved in the most pointed of our activities. I know it, and all of my mates know it. You don't do it. It's an act of cowardice. I hear apologists for torture say, "Well, they do it to us." Which is a ludicrous argument. ... The Saddam Husseins of the world are not our teachers. Christ almighty, we wrote a Constitution saying what's legal and what we believed in. Now we're going to throw it away.

Q: As someone who repeatedly put your life on the line, did some of the most hair-raising things to protect your country, and to see your country behave this way, that must be ...

A: It's pretty galling. But ultimately I believe in the good and the decency of the American people, and they're starting to see what's happening and the lies that have been told. We're seeing this current house of cards start to flutter away. The American people come around. They always do.
Link courtesy Antony Loewenstein.
All They Got Is Spin

It's the only thing they can do well, but it's just not enough to keep spinning forever. Like Molly Ivins says:
Quite some time after we had invaded Iraq, our government informed us we had done so in order to bring democracy to their nation. Originally, we were told we had to invade their country because there were tons of weapons of mass destruction therein, but they turned out not to be there. So, through a process of masterly media manipulation, we went from Saddam's nuclear program to democracy. It seems to me this is how George W. Bush and Co. govern, period. It's a Karl Rove thing. When reality is unsatisfactory, just manipulate the media.

You can't deny that the process has excellent results. It wins elections, for one thing. It confuses our critics and turns debate away from what we might loosely call "the truth" and into pointless fistfights about whether Iraq has descended, is descending or might descend into civil war.





This is not helpful dialogue -- remember the fight over whether there was an "insurgency" in Iraq or the Mission was still Accomplished, it was just "remnant Baathists and foreign terrorists"? That was a mirror of the arguments we had at home over whether President Bush could be described as a "friend" of Ken Lay's or whether he is "close" to Tom DeLay or "knows" Jack Abramoff. Likewise, entire policy discussions would get subsumed by furious debate over whether Bush's proposals meant "privatization" of Social Security or were merely "personal accounts."

Grabbing reality by the throat and forcing it into a form you find more pleasing than reality itself is not only a great election strategy, it works for a lot of people on a lot of levels in life -- denial is a good game while it lasts.

But as we can all attest, if you ignore reality, sooner or later it will bite you in the ass. I suspect the "tough- minded" (they pride themselves on being tough-minded) members of the Bush administration think they are not ignoring reality, but just persuading other people to ignore it long enough to allow them to change it. This is not an original thought. Many of the great thumb-suckers of D.C. have come to the same conclusion and pondered deeply on the "fatal hubris" of this administration. Fatal jackasses are what we have.

Faced with the unappetizing reality of Iraq, Bush and Rove are relying on that grand old reliable strategy -- attack the media. It doesn't play as well as it used to. Everyone who wants an alternative reality is already watching Fox News. The rest of the country is worried.
Actually, Molly, the rest of the world is worried.

March 28, 2006

Sheer Bloody Desperation

Juicy stuff from Daily Kos - Rove is dumping on Cheney while Bush sucks up to the press.
All Hell Breaks Loose In Iraq

I am sure that even in his most pessimistic moments of despair, Juan Cole never thought he would be blogging posts like this:
All hell broke loose in Iraq on Sunday, but I'm darned if I can figure out most of what happened or why...

So they found 30 decapitated bodies near Buhriz ... Then a mortar shell landed near the house in Najaf of Muqtada al-Sadr ... Everyone just dodged a bullet along with Muqtada, since if the mortar had killed him, Iraq would have been thrown into even greater chaos... Muqtada implied that the US was responsible...

Then the US and Iraqi forces say they raided a terror cell in Adhamiyah. Adhamiyah is a Sunni district of Baghdad and is still Baath territory. But somehow the joint US-Iraqi force ended up north, at the Shiite Shaab district. They say that they took fire from Mahdi Army militiamen. But there aren't any such Mahdi Army men in Adhamiyah. I have a sinking feeling that instead of raiding a Sunni Arab building in Adhamiyah, they got disoriented and attacked a Shiite religious center in nearby Shaab instead...

Then US forces raided a secret prison of the Ministry of the Interior. They captured 17 Sudanese inmates. After an investigation, the US finally acknowledged that the assault had made a mistake.
Now the Iraqi leadership (such as it is) is calling for the USA to hand over control of security operations.
"The Alliance calls for a rapid restoration of (control of) security matters to the Iraqi government," Jawad al-Maliki, a senior spokesman of the Shiite Islamist Alliance and ally of Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, told a news conference...

Baghdad provincial governor Hussein al-Tahan said he would halt all cooperation with US forces...

Iraq's security minister accused US and Iraqi forces of killing 37 unarmed civilians in the mosque after tying them up... US officials, finally confirming they were describing the same incident, stuck by a statement saying Iraqi special forces, advised by US troops, killed 16 "insurgents" who fired on them first.
Hasn't Bush repeatedly said that "as the Iraqis step up, US troops will step down"? So now the Iraqis are standing up and saying, "Let us run our own security." So let's all hold our breath and wait for the US forces to step down, shall we?

UPDATE: The Fadhil brothers say "this incident has received more attention and was met by more objections that it deserves" but then set about distributing the US talking points on the same incident. Your paid propaganda at work right there, folks.

And guess what? I have been banned again from ITM for saying "This is paid US propaganda". Over to my army of loyal readers to post messages of protest on my behalf....

UPDATE 2: The USA claims it is the victim of a disinformation campaign (well, how ironic):
US commanders in Iraq have accused powerful Shiite groups of moving the corpses of gunmen killed in battle to encourage accusations that US-led troops massacred unarmed worshippers in a mosque.

"After the fact, someone went in and made the scene look different from what it was. There's been huge misinformation," Lieutenant General Peter Chiarelli, the second-ranking US commander in Iraq, said.
Quote Of The Year

"No one should play on people's fears or try to pit neighbors against each other," Bush said.

Bite yer bum, hypocrite.
War Was Inevitable

Bush and Blair had a private two-hour meeting in the Oval Office on Jan. 31, 2003. The New York Times has seen the full memo of the meeting, written by David Manning, Blair's chief foreign policy adviser at the time.
Our diplomatic strategy had to be arranged around the military planning...

The start date for the military campaign was now penciled in for 10 March. This was when the bombing would begin...

... unlikely there would be internecine warfare between the different religious and ethnic groups.
Like Georgia10 says, this new memo is not so new. It's been around a few months and only corroborates what previous memos have said. So why are we still waiting for accountability?
Bush and Blair were hellbent on launching a war which they knew was in violation of international law... They conspired to manipulate evidence, to lie in their public statements to their people, to commit a war of aggression in violation of the public trust and the laws of the war.

This document confirms what a hundreds of previous pieces of evidence confirm: the President is a liar. When he told us on March 6, 2003 that "I've not made up our mind about military action," he lied. When he told us two days before Shock & Awe "no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised," he lied. When he told us that Saddam "abosolutely" had a banned weapons program, he lied. Whenever George W. Bush opened his mouth to talk about Iraq from Sept. 11, 2001 on, he lied. He lied and he lies to this very day.
G10 calls on Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid to shut down the Senate in protest. Sounds good to me.

UPDATE: E&P reminds us of the bald-faced lies that Bush and Blair told the press after their meeting. For example:
THE PRESIDENT: Saddam Hussein is not disarming. He is a danger to the world. He must disarm. And that's why I have constantly said and the Prime Minister has constantly said this issue will come to a head in a matter of weeks, not months….

Q Thank you, sir. Mr. President, is Secretary Powell going to provide the undeniable proof of Iraq's guilt that so many critics are calling for?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, all due in modesty, I thought I did a pretty good job myself of making it clear that he's not disarming and why he should disarm. Secretary Powell will make a strong case about the danger of an armed Saddam Hussein. He will make it clear that Saddam Hussein is fooling the world, or trying to fool the world. He will make it clear that Saddam is a menace to peace in his own neighborhood. He will also talk about al Qaeda links, links that really do portend a danger for America and for Great Britain, anybody else who loves freedom...
Double Standards and Guilty Bystanders

It would be quite ironic if Zacarias Moussaoui is put to death because he had prior knowledge of the 9/11 attacks but failed to inform US authorities.

Isn't that exactly the same thing as Bush did?

And isn't most of the USA also guilty of standing idly by while Bush's massacres in Iraq have been committed? While prisoners have been raped and tortured in Gitmo and other US gulags?
We Are Grist For Their Mills

PM John Howard tells Australians: "The only way to make it to the top is to kiss ass like me":
The Federal Government has confirmed that an employer can sack a worker if there is a clash of personalities under the new industrial relations system that started yesterday.

Under the new laws, unfair dismissal provisions have been removed for companies with fewer than 100 employees.
I have some personal experience to relate here.

About 5 years ago I went for a 2 month contract in Brisbane. At the interview, I was offered a full-time job instead, which I accepted. I worked hard for over three months. Then one day, the boss suddenly announced that I would be going part-time and my salary would be halved.

I was outraged: I had made financial and personal commitments (even bought a new car for the long drive to and from work) on the basis of a reliable salary, which was suddenly cut from under me.

I went to court, personally confronted the lying bastard lawyers my ex-boss hired, and eventually won six weeks' back-pay. The judge expressed sympathy for my plight and asked me if I wanted the old job back (I said NO!).

In John Howard's brave new world, I would get nothing, least of all sympathy.

I know the plight of illegal immigrant workers in the USA is worse, but there is a common thread of exploitation.

When laws only favour the rich and powerful, widespread outrage is inevitable. Such outrage cannot spread forever without serious social and political repercussions.

Wise leaders seek harmony, not endless confrontation.
War: The Myth Of Winning

The USA needs to take another look at its dark history. From Robert Higgs:
Lost in the fog of war-related thought is the concrete, unique, individual person. Hardly anyone seems capable of talking about war except by linguistically marshalling such collectivistic globs as "we," "us," and "our," in opposition to "they," "them," and "their"...

A widespread inclination to think in terms of the group, rather than the distinct individuals who compose it, plays directly into the hands of violent, power-hungry leaders... Nothing promotes the sacrifice of the individual to the alleged "greater good of the whole" more than war does...

If Ambrose Bierce could observe a century ago that "war is God's way of teaching Americans geography," one shudders to imagine what he might say today...

A half century ago, looking back on 15 years of warfare and its aftermath, William Henry Chamberlin wrote, "It was absurd to believe that barbarous means would lead to civilized ends." It is no less absurd today...

As William Graham Sumner wisely wrote, "It is not possible to experiment with a society and just drop the experiment whenever we choose. The experiment enters into the life of the society and never can be got out again." Thus, although the wars eventually ended, society never reverted fully to the relatively freer status quo antebellum.

Every year, on Veterans Day, orators declare that our leaders have gone to war to preserve our freedoms and that they have done so with glorious success, but the truth is just the opposite. In ways big and small, crude and subtle, direct and indirect, war — the quintessential government activity — has been the mother's milk for the nourishment of a growing tyranny in this country. It remains so today.
Like so many others on this blog, the above link is courtesy of

March 27, 2006


Control Arms: Join The Million Faces Petition.
Something To Fear

The U.S.A. is home to less than 5% of Earth's population but produces 25% of CO2 emissions. The US media arguably bear much of the blame for global warming, consistently failing to alert their readerships to the growing seriousness of the problem (all the while "balancing" the so-called "doomsdayers" with hot air from paid energy corporation spokesmen). So it's good to see TIME magazine blow the trumpets of alarm as loudly as possible with their cover story this week, which sets out the complexities of the problem in pretty clear and simple terms.
Curbing global warming may be an order of magnitude harder than, say, eradicating smallpox or putting a man on the moon. But is it moral not to try? We did not so much march toward the environmental precipice as drunkenly reel there, snapping at the scientific scolds who told us we had a problem.

The scolds, however, knew what they were talking about. In a solar system crowded with sister worlds that either emerged stillborn like Mercury and Venus or died in infancy like Mars, we're finally coming to appreciate the knife-blade margins within which life can thrive. For more than a century we've been monkeying with those margins. It's long past time we set them right.
TIME also publishes some useful follow-up stories, including How to Seize the Initiative and The Impact of Asia's Giants.
How President Bush has unified Latin America
Scratching The Media Facade

So after all that (media supported) talk about "free and democratic governments" in Iraq and Afghanistan, you only have to scratch the surface to reveal these are US puppet governments.

Here's how TIME puts it today:
Karzai, whose government's security position remains as precarious as ever, was in no position to resist Washington's demands. As President Bush put it, "We have got influence in Afghanistan, and we are going to use it to remind them that there are universal values."

March 26, 2006

Selective Intelligence

The Senate hearing on the move to censure Bush will be heard next week. But at least one person has already decided it's a waste of time.

Here's what Cheney told a Republican crowd in Florida on Friday:
"Some Democrats in Congress have decided the president is the enemy and the terrorist surveillance program is grounds for censuring the president. The American people have already made their decision. They agree with the president."
Oh, really? How did the American people make their decision? I guess Dick is talking about polls a while back which showed just over half those asked supported the wire-tapping (without knowing the whole truth, obviously).

But wait a minute. I thought this administration didn't care about polls. Isn't that why bush refuses to discuss his abysmal poll numbers with the press?

So... um... what about the polls showing majority support for impeachment????

March 25, 2006

A Very Red State

Ben Domenech resigns from the Washington Post in disgrace but the real question is why he was ever hired in the first place. Lots of discussion at Kos and Atrios...

March 24, 2006

Apocalyptic Times: A Must Read

The other day I asked:
So is Bush a corporate billionaire crony pushing his own globalization agenda by manipulating gullible believers, or is he himself a gullible believer being cynically manipulated by corporate billionaire cronies like Rumsfeld and Cheney?
Today, Maureen Farrell helps provide some answers:
A few years ago, a Time/CNN poll found that that more than a third of Americans search the news for signs of the Apocalypse. Since Sept. 11, they've not had to look very hard...

While the link between the Bush White House and the Religious Right was clear from the start, the connection between those actually rooting for the End Times and Mr. Bush was not. Before the war in Iraq, President Jimmy Carter explained why the majority of Christian churches were against military intervention (except for those literally praying for Armageddon), but few knew why Mr. Bush was shunning mainstream churches in favor of the more rapture-minded.

"Some wonder if the president might be influenced by evangelical teachings that envision an end-of-the-world battle between Israel and its enemies. It would be dangerous for a president to take a particular theology like that and apply it to world events," former Nixon aide Charles Colson mused, a little more than a year before the Guardian reported that "US Christian fundamentalists are driving Bush's Middle East policy."

Ultimately, however, an e-mail unearthed by the Village Voice proved how entrenched fundamentalists actually are. "Most of all, apparently, we're not supposed to know the National Security Council's top Middle East aide consults with apocalyptic Christians eager to ensure American policy on Israel conforms with their sectarian doomsday scenarios," Rick Perlstein wrote, in an article that should scare the bejesus out of everyone.

... there is something unique about our post-9/11 world that not only lends itself to bizarre supernatural assumptions, but the idea that such superstitions, if acted upon, could lead to self-fulfilling prophecies.

"For the first time in our history, ideology and theology hold a monopoly of power in Washington," Bill Moyers wrote.

In other words, prepare for the news to get even weirder.
Matt Fried

John Pilger slams the warmongering media, specifically the BBC's resident US chickenhawk:
"There's no doubt," said Matt Frei, the BBC's man in America, "that the desire to bring good, to bring American values to the rest of the world, and especially now to the Middle East … is now increasingly tied up with military power."

Frei said that on April 13, 2003, after George W. Bush had launched "Shock and Awe" on a defenseless Iraq. Two years later, after a rampant, racist, woefully trained, and ill-disciplined army of occupation had brought "American values" of sectarianism, death squads, chemical attacks, attacks with uranium-tipped shells and cluster bombs, Frei described the notorious 82nd Airborne as "the heroes of Tikrit."

Last year, he lauded Paul Wolfowitz, architect of the slaughter in Iraq, as "an intellectual" who "believes passionately in the power of democracy and grassroots development." As for Iran, Frei was well ahead of the story. In June 2003, he told BBC viewers: "There may be a case for regime change in Iran, too."
Over To You, Helen...

After asking a simple question that made headlines around the world, Helen Thomas goes back to the office and writes her column:
I hark back to the Vietnam War when President Lyndon B. Johnson called the war's detractors "nervous nellies" and, like Bush, denounced those who would "cut and run."

Johnson agonized over the war's casualties, a sadness that was aggravated by his realization that we were losing the war. I covered him when he waited on the tarmac for planes bringing home the wounded soldiers from Vietnam.

Johnson did not hesitate to let the reporters know that he was on an emotional roller coaster and undecided on what was best for the country. He had to face thousands of protesters -- not every few months, but every day as they marched in front of the White House.
Click here for the Helen Thomas archive at the Boston Channel.
Comments Are Back

Howdy, folks. How ya doing?
Bush Violates The Constitution

The Senate version of the bill said Medicare can pay to rent some types of medical equipment for 13 months, as intended by congressional negotiators. A clerk erroneously wrote down 36 months before the bill was sent back to the House for a final vote, and that's what the House approved Feb. 1.

By the time the bill was shipped to Bush, the number was back to 13 months as passed by the Senate.
Bush's USA Has Lost Its Moral Compass

Mary Robinson, a highly respected former President of Ireland and United Nations human rights commissioner, says the United States has lost its moral compass and fallen out of step with the rest of the world in the wake of September 11:
Today, the US no longer leads, but is too often seen merely to march out of step with the rest of the world...

Almost five years after 9/11, I think we must be honest in recognising how far international commitment to human rights standards has slipped in such a short time.

In the US in particular, the ambivalence about torture, the use of extraordinary rendition and the extension of presidential powers have all had a powerful ‘knock on’ effect around the world, often in countries that lack the checks and balances of independent courts, a free press and vigorous non-governmental organisation and academic communities.
Bush Lunatics Running The Asylum

A few important stories via Josh Marshall today.

The first concerns further US meddling in international elections, this time Italy:
A security alert for American citizens in Italy issued by the US State Department has angered Italian opposition leader Romano Prodi, who accused Washington of causing "unnecessary fear and anxiety" ahead of next month's bitterly-contested polls...

But his comments drew a sharp rebuke from Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who has previously accused Prodi's disparate centre-left -- which runs the full gamut of the political spectrum from Catholic to communist parties -- of harbouring "shock troops" bent on violently breaking up government election rallies.
Berlusconi is, of course, a long-time Bush ally who has spent considerable political (and real) capital maintaining an unpopular Italian military presence in Iraq. Polls show him trailing ahead of the April 9 elections. More here.

The second Marshall story concerns a donation from Barbara Bush to victims of Hurricane Katrina, which was actually "earmarked" for the purchase of eductional software (of dubious quality) manufactured by a company called Ignite!, which just happens to be owned by Mrs Bush's "n'er-do-well" son Neil.
Ignite!'s has a unique business model, which works like this. Neil goes around the world finding international statesmen, bigwigs and criminals who want to 'invest' in Ignite! as a way to curry favor with the brother in the White House.

A couple years ago when I was at Salon I wrote about the craze for investment in Ignite! then taking hold among Red Sea oil magnates and progeny of the rulers of the People's Republic of China (See this article as well about the craze for investing in Ignite! in the United Arab Emirates and specifically in Dubai). Now, Russian tycoon Boris Berezovsky has awakened to the wonders of investing in Ignite!

The third story of note concerns a Newsweek article about a former Bush loyalist turned critic, Andrew Natsios, who was head of USAID in the Bremer-CPA phase of Iraqi "reconstruction". Dan Senor (Bremer's former spokesman) ridiculed Natsios's claims that the people involved were incompetent ideologues and corrupt opportunists. But Marshall reminds us that Senor himself was a Bush ideologue with no real qualitfications for his position:
Before attending Harvard Business School from 1999 to 2001, Senor was a staffer for then-Sen. Spencer Abraham of Michigan. After receiving his MBA, he went to the Carlyle Group, where he was a venture capitalist from 2001 to 2003. Senor left Carlyle in 2003 for a brief stint as White House Press Secretary Scott McLellan's deputy before shipping off to Iraq.
Wikpedia reveals that Senor, still a regular commentator on Fox News, is also angaged to marry Campbell Brown, anchor of the weekend edition of the Today show on NBC. Small world, isn't it? Almost incestuous, really....

March 23, 2006

Well, Well, Waddaya Know?

Seems avian flu may not be all that dangerous after all:
H5N1 virus prefers to settle in cells deep within the lungs, rather than in the upper respiratory tract, as happens with human flu strains... All of this means that human-to-human transmission of H5N1 is highly unlikely, at least for now, experts say.
Message to Rumsfeld: Sell! Sell! Sell!
If The Doors Of Perception Were Opened

... there would be riots across the USA.

I have been saying since May 2003, that Bush & Co want to see civil unrest perpetuated in Iraq for as long as possible, as a justification for the continued US military presence (which Bush has now clearly stated will survive beyond his administration - no top Democrats are arguing against that, either).

From that perspective, the continuing civil unrest can be seen in a rather different light to the "ongoing sectarian tensions", a cliché which dictates the basic assumption of nearly all the Western media's narrative.

You can bang your head against a wall wondering why Bush hasn't fired Rumsfeld for his extraordinary incompetence (he just re-stated yesterday that Rumsfeld is "doing a fine job"), or you can realise that Rumsfeld's real "enemies" in Iraq are not the violent extremists who oppose democracy but the 87% or Iraqis who want to see US forces withdraw from their country.

You can bang your head against a wall trying to understand why Iraqis - Sunni or Shia - would seek to incite inter-tribal Civil War by bombing Samarra's Golden Dome, or you can realise that it is the Bush administration which ultimately profits from turning Iraqis against each other. Not only does this help reduce US fatalities, it also provides the perfect excuse for not withdrawing troops.

Mike Whitney says the US military is following a "divide and rule" strategy because (thanks to Uncle Donald) they do not have the resources for any other plan.
In a larger sense, the "alleged" sectarian violence is consistent with what we have seen in previous CIA-run operations in El Salvador and Nicaragua. Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Negroponte are alumna of those conflicts (which, according to Cheney, succeeded quite admirably) so it's probable that they would apply what they have learned about counterinsurgency to the ongoing war in Iraq. The El Salvador-experiment proved that the masses can eventually be terrorized into compliance.

Isn't that what is taking place in Iraq?

In Iraq, terror is being used as a substitute for security, because the United States has no intention of providing the manpower or funding needed to maintain order.
Whitney links to this Max Fuller article, which explores the history and methodology of the ‘Salvador Option’ in more detail:
In Iraq the war comes in two phases. The first phase is complete: the destruction of the existing state, which did not comply with the interests of British and American capital. The second phase consists of building a new state tied to those interests and smashing every dissenting sector of society.
WaPo Civil War Update

If you have been reading Atrios lately you already know all about the WaPo's new Bush-loving baby blogger, Ben “Red America” Domenech. It's all part of the WaPo's effort to be as "fair and balanced" as FOX News.

So now today the WaPo publishes details of how millions of dollars in government grants are flowing to "faith-based" Bush allies, which in reality amount to little more than slush funds. And how does the WaPo introduce this (potentially explosive) piece? Fair and balanced, that's how!
For years, conservatives have complained about what they saw as the liberal tilt of federal grant money. Taxpayer funds went to abortion rights groups such as Planned Parenthood to promote birth control, and groups closely aligned with the AFL-CIO got Labor Department grants to run worker-training programs.

In the Bush administration, conservatives are discovering that turnabout is fair play...
UPDATE: The reverse side of this, of course, is the huge cuts to valid welfare spending in Bush's budget. Alternet's main story this week - The Budget and the Damage Done - look at the impact on real lives.
Gore In '08?

Since he lost in 2000, Al Gore has re-invented himself by speaking truth to power. So he could well be a worthy candidate for the US Presidency in 2008. But will he run? And if so, would he run as a Democrat or an Independent? And would he be able to maintain his much-needed critical stance through the "chaos" of a Presidential campaign? American Prospect Online has a run-down:
To be clear, there is no sign that Gore is preparing for a campaign. His spokesperson, Josh Cherwin, assured me that “there is no ’08 story.” MoveOn’s Wes Boyd notes that Gore has not parlayed his association with MoveOn into a fund-raising list. He has built no personal Web site, and Markos Moulitsas Zunigas, founder of DailyKos, the largest progressive political blog, noted in an e-mail that Gore has made no effort to engage with the netroots save for his association with MoveOn. “I’m personally focused on elections,” he wrote, “and in that regard, he’s yesterday’s news and will remain so unless he decides to reenter electoral politics.”

In past years, the moment at which Gore had to make that decision would have been rapidly approaching. When Gore decided to sit out the 2004 election, The New Republic reported that many of his associates blamed the grueling, crushing fund raising the campaign would have demanded. Not so now. Planned or not, Gore’s alliance with MoveOn and Dean’s army of online volunteers has ensured him unique access and affection among one of the richest, most easily activated cash sources in the Democratic Party. Trippi estimates that a well-timed entrance, under certain conditions, could raise Gore $50 million almost instantly, and hundreds of millions more if he won the nomination. “Remember,” he told me, “McCain in 2000 has 40,000 people sign up on the web and raises a couple million bucks. A few years later Howard Dean raises $59 million. The next [netroot darling] is going to be as exponential as Dean was to McCain.”

And it could be Gore, if he wants it...
There is already a website called which campaigns for him to make a run.
Colin Powell Writes His Own Epitaph

"Leadership Is All About Followership".
Wishing Does Not Make It So

Keith Olbermann nails yet another Bush lie. Here's Bush in Cleveland this week:
First-just if I might correct a misperception, I don’t think we ever said, at least I know I didn’t say that there was a direct connection between September 11th and Saddam Hussein.
Here's Bush in his State Of The Union speech three years ago:
Saddam Hussein aids and protects terrorists, including members of al-Qaeda.

March 22, 2006

Bush's Iraq: Mission Accomplished For Big Business

Greg Palast explains exactly what I have been saying:
"It's about oil," Robert Ebel told me. Who is Ebel? Formerly the CIA's top oil analyst, he was sent by the Pentagon, about a month before the invasion, to a secret confab in London with Saddam's former oil minister to finalize the plans for "liberating" Iraq's oil industry. In London, Bush's emissary Ebel also instructed Ibrahim Bahr al-Ulum, the man the Pentagon would choose as post-OIF oil minister for Iraq, on the correct method of disposing Iraq's crude.

And what did the USA want Iraq to do with Iraq's oil? The answer will surprise many of you: and it is uglier, more twisted, devilish and devious than anything imagined by the most conspiracy-addicted blogger. The answer can be found in a 323-page plan for Iraq's oil secretly drafted by the State Department. Our team got a hold of a copy; how, doesn't matter. The key thing is what's inside this thick Bush diktat: a directive to Iraqis to maintain a state oil company that will "enhance its relationship with OPEC."

Enhance its relationship with OPEC??? How strange: the government of the United States ordering Iraq to support the very OPEC oil cartel which is strangling our nation with outrageously high prices for crude.

Specifically, the system ordered up by the Bush cabal would keep a lid on Iraq's oil production -- limiting Iraq's oil pumping to the tight quota set by Saudi Arabia and the OPEC cartel.

There you have it. Yes, Bush went in for the oil -- not to get more of Iraq's oil, but to prevent Iraq producing too much of it.

You must keep in mind who paid for George's ranch and Dick's bunker: Big Oil. And Big Oil -- and their buck-buddies, the Saudis -- don't make money from pumping more oil, but from pumping less of it. The lower the supply, the higher the price.

It's Economics 101...

The top oily-gopolists, the five largest oil companies, pulled in $113 billion in profit in 2005 -- compared to a piddly $34 billion in 2002 before Operation Iraqi Liberation. In other words, it's been a good war for Big Oil.

As per Plan Bush, Bahr Al-Ulum became Iraq's occupation oil minister; the conquered nation "enhanced its relationship with OPEC;" and the price of oil, from Clinton peace-time to Bush war-time, shot up 317%.

In other words, on the third anniversary of invasion, we can say the attack and occupation is, indeed, a Mission Accomplished. However, it wasn't America's mission, nor the Iraqis'. It was a Mission Accomplished for OPEC and Big Oil.
UPDATE: If you need convincing and the arguments above are not enough to convince you, I suggest you take a look at a new book called "American Theocracy" by Kevin Phillips, a former political strategist for the Republican Party. From the NYT review:
Terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, tyranny, democracy and other public rationales were, Phillips says, simply ruses to disguise the real motivation for the invasion...

The United States has embraced a kind of "petro-imperialism," Phillips writes, "the key aspect of which is the U.S. military's transformation into a global oil-protection force," and which "puts up a democratic facade, emphasizes freedom of the seas (or pipeline routes) and seeks to secure, protect, drill and ship oil, not administer everyday affairs."
Phillips identifies three major causes for concern in Bush's USA: oil, debt and the rise of Christian fundamentalism. Bush was actually confronted on the latter issue, with specific reference to Phillips' book, just the other day:
The first question came from a woman in the audience and her question was: "Thank you for coming to Cleveland, Mr. Prresident and the Cleveland Club. My question is that author and former Nixon administration official, Kevin (it sounded like 'Captain', thanks to reader Max for the correction) Phillips ,in his latest book, American Theocracy, discusses what has been called radical Chritianity and it's growing involvement into government and politics. He makes the point that members of your administration have reached out to prophetic Christians who see the war in Iraq and the rise in terrorism as signs of the apocalypse. Do you believe this? That the war in Iraq and the rise in terrosim are signs of the apocalypse. And, if not, why not?"

President Bush: from audience and Bush) I....the answer is...I haven't really thought of it that way (heh, heh) (crowd laughs). Here's how I think of it. Um...first, I've heard of that by the way. I..uh.. the...uh..I, I'm more of a practical fellow. I vowed after September 11th that I would do everything I could to protect the American people. attitude, of course, was affected by the attacks.
Arianna picks up on this evangelical-deer-caught-in-the-political-headlights moment:
I mean, come on. The man is a born again, evangelical Christian whose favorite political philosopher is Jesus, has let it be know that God speaks to -- and through -- him, believes "in a divine plan that supercedes all human plans"... and he wants us to buy that he's never even heard of, let alone thought about the biblical implications of terrorism in relation to the apocalypse?

Sorry if I find this Revelation just a little hard to swallow.
Back to that book review:
Prophetic Christians, Phillips writes, often shape their view of politics and the world around signs that charlatan biblical scholars have identified as predictors of the apocalypse — among them a war in Iraq, the Jewish settlement of the whole of biblical Israel, even the rise of terrorism. He convincingly demonstrates that the Bush administration has calculatedly reached out to such believers and encouraged them to see the president's policies as a response to premillennialist thought. He also suggests that the president and other members of his administration may actually believe these things themselves, that religious belief is the basis of policy, not just a tactic for selling it to the public. Phillips's evidence for this disturbing claim is significant, but not conclusive.
So is Bush a corporate billionaire crony pushing his own globalization agenda by manipulating gullible believers, or is he himself a gullible believer being cynically manipulated by corporate billionaire cronies like Rumsfeld and Cheney?

Does it matter? Either way, the man is dangerously imcompetent and totally undeserving of the office he holds.
What's On Arab TV Today?

A videotape taken by an Iraqi shows the aftermath of an alleged attack by U.S. troops on civilians in their homes in a western town last November: a blood-smeared bedroom floor and bits of what appear to be human flesh and bullet holes on the walls...

The video, obtained by Time magazine and repeatedly aired by Arab televisions throughout the day, also showed bodies of women and children in plastic bags on the floor of what appeared to be a morgue. Men were seen standing in the middle of bodies, some of which were covered with blankets before being placed in a pickup truck.
So Much For Containment

North Korea declares it has nukes and will use them in pre-emptive strikes if necessary. Hmmn. Sumthinnk must gone wrong with the strategery...

According to ABC News:
After two months of hearings the Cole inquiry has heard the strongest evidence yet indicating the Government was warned about AWB kickbacks prior to the UN Volker inquiry. A cable from Australian diplomats in Baghdad dated June 2003 said the CPA oil-for-food office believed that from late 2000 all oil-for-food contracts contained kickbacks to the Saddam Hussein regime.
Prime Minister John Howard says he has no recollection of ever seeing the cable.
"There seems to be an assumption that I spend all day, and Mr Downer spends all day, reading the hundreds of individual cables that come from all over the world," he said.

"The reality is that those cables come in and those that have a particular urgency and should be brought to my attention are brought to my attention, but the great bulk of them aren't."
Well, Mr Howard, either you saw the cable or you didn't.

If you saw it, and did nothing, then you should step down.

If you didn't, then you must fire the staffer who failed to alert you to this very important issue.
More Bloggers Blues

From the always eloquent Georgia10:
I am ashamed of myself. For not having the courage or the strength to do anything else but sit here and blog. I write. I protest. I vote. And yet, I'm impotent. Stuck in a unrelenting cycle of hope and despair and hope and despair. What a curse it is to be 23 and want to change the world. What a curse to be so disillusioned so early in life.

Gotta luv yer Freeway Blogger!

John Q Goes To Brussels

When Denzil Washington does it, he is a hero. When ordinary people do it, they are terrorists.
The man had holed up on the 17th floor of the Tulip Inn hotel in Brussels for 20 hours, threatening to trigger an explosion if his two-year-old daughter did not receive medical attention for a heart condition.
Let's Explore This, Shall We?

Pro-Israel lobby in U.S. under attack:
They claim that the Israel lobby has distorted American policy and operates against American interests, that it has organized the funneling of more than $140 billion dollars to Israel and "has a stranglehold" on the U.S. Congress, and its ability to raise large campaign funds gives its vast influence over Republican and Democratic administrations, while its role in Washington think tanks on the Middle East dominates the policy debate.

And they say that the Lobby works ruthlessly to suppress questioning of its role, to blacken its critics and to crush serious debate about the wisdom of supporting Israel in U.S. public life.

"Silencing skeptics by organizing blacklists and boycotts -- or by suggesting that critics are anti-Semites -- violates the principle of open debate on which democracy depends," Walt and Mearsheimer write.

"The inability of Congress to conduct a genuine debate on these important issues paralyses the entire process of democratic deliberation. Israel's backers should be free to make their case and to challenge those who disagree with them, but efforts to stifle debate by intimidation must be roundly condemned," they add, in the 12,800-word article published in the latest issue of The London Review of Books.

The article focuses strongly on the role of the "neo-conservatives" within the Bush administration in driving the decision to launch the war on Iraq.
Yes, We Get Played

CBS News issues an Apologia per cosae mediae:
But you can’t blame them, it’s the way our process works. There is no Constitutional requirement for the president to ever speak to the media at all and you can bet none do unless it suits their purposes in one way or another. Skilled politicians can take any question and answer it in a way that seems to benefit themselves.
Well, you could report that Bush refused to answer this or that question directly, you could all walk out of the press conference, you could call him a bald-faced liar and a disgrace...

The CBS article cites this question from veteran White House reporter and harsh critic, Helen Thomas, as an example of how one-sided the "game" is. See if you can understand all the laughter:
Helen. After that brilliant performance at the Grid Iron, I am -- (laughter.)

Q You're going to be sorry. (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT: Well, then, let me take it back. (Laughter.)

Q I'd like to ask you, Mr. President, your decision to invade Iraq has caused the deaths of thousands of Americans and Iraqis, wounds of Americans and Iraqis for a lifetime. Every reason given, publicly at least, has turned out not to be true. My question is, why did you really want to go to war? From the moment you stepped into the White House, from your Cabinet -- your Cabinet officers, intelligence people, and so forth -- what was your real reason? You have said it wasn't oil -- quest for oil, it hasn't been Israel, or anything else. What was it?

THE PRESIDENT: I think your premise -- in all due respect to your question and to you as a lifelong journalist -- is that -- I didn't want war. To assume I wanted war is just flat wrong, Helen, in all due respect --

Q Everything --

THE PRESIDENT: Hold on for a second, please.

Q -- everything I've heard --

THE PRESIDENT: Excuse me, excuse me. No President wants war. Everything you may have heard is that, but it's just simply not true. My attitude about the defense of this country changed on September the 11th. We -- when we got attacked, I vowed then and there to use every asset at my disposal to protect the American people. Our foreign policy changed on that day, Helen. You know, we used to think we were secure because of oceans and previous diplomacy. But we realized on September the 11th, 2001, that killers could destroy innocent life. And I'm never going to forget it. And I'm never going to forget the vow I made to the American people that we will do everything in our power to protect our people.

Part of that meant to make sure that we didn't allow people to provide safe haven to an enemy. And that's why I went into Iraq -- hold on for a second --

Q They didn't do anything to you, or to our country.

THE PRESIDENT: Look -- excuse me for a second, please. Excuse me for a second. They did. The Taliban provided safe haven for al Qaeda. That's where al Qaeda trained --

Q I'm talking about Iraq --

THE PRESIDENT: Helen, excuse me. That's where -- Afghanistan provided safe haven for al Qaeda. That's where they trained. That's where they plotted. That's where they planned the attacks that killed thousands of innocent Americans.

I also saw a threat in Iraq. I was hoping to solve this problem diplomatically. That's why I went to the Security Council; that's why it was important to pass 1441, which was unanimously passed. And the world said, disarm, disclose, or face serious consequences --

Q -- go to war --

THE PRESIDENT: -- and therefore, we worked with the world, we worked to make sure that Saddam Hussein heard the message of the world. And when he chose to deny inspectors, when he chose not to disclose, then I had the difficult decision to make to remove him. And we did, and the world is safer for it.

Q Thank you, sir. Secretary Rumsfeld -- (laughter.)

Q Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT: You're welcome. (Laughter.) I didn't really regret it. I kind of semi-regretted it. (Laughter.)

Q -- have a debate.

THE PRESIDENT: That's right. Anyway, your performance at the Grid Iron was just brilliant -- unlike Holland's, was a little weak, but -- (laughter.)
Josh Marshall calls that response from Bush exactly what it is - a lie.
We were there. We remember. It wasn't a century ago. We got the resolution passed. Saddam called our bluff and allowed the inspectors in. President Bush pressed ahead with the invasion.

His lies are so blatant that I must constantly check myself so as not to assume that he is simply delusional or has blocked out whole chains of events from the past.
Let's see if CBS News (inter alia) is willing to make the same call. Don't hold your breath.

March 21, 2006


Will Durst at AlterNet lets rip:
I don't know about you guys, but I am so sick and tired of these lying, thieving, holier-than-thou, right-wing, cruel, crude, rude, gauche, coarse, crass, cocky, corrupt, dishonest, debauched, degenerate, dissolute, swaggering, lawyer shooting, bullhorn shouting, infrastructure destroying, hysterical, history defying, finger- pointing, puppy stomping, roommate appointing, pretzel choking, collateral damaging, aspersion casting, wedding party bombing, clear cutting, torturing, jobs outsourcing, torture outsourcing, "so-called" compassionate-conservative, women's rights eradicating, Medicare cutting, uncouth, spiteful, boorish, vengeful, noxious, homophobic, xenophobic, xylophonic, racist, sexist, ageist, fascist, cashist, audaciously stupid, brazenly selfish, lethally ignorant, journalist purchasing, genocide ignoring, corporation kissing, poverty inducing, crooked, coercive, autocratic, primitive, uppity, high-handed, domineering, arrogant, inhuman, inhumane, insolent, know-it-all, snotty, pompous, contemptuous, supercilious, gutless, spineless, shameless, avaricious, poisonous, imperious, merciless, graceless, tactless, brutish, brutal, Karl Roving, backward thinking, persistent vegetative state grandstanding, nuclear option threatening, evolution denying, irony deprived, depraved, insincere, conceited, perverted, pre-emptory invading of a country that had absolutely nothing to do with 9/11, 35-day-vacation taking, bribe soliciting, incapable, inbred, hellish, proud for no apparent reason, smarty pants, loudmouth, bullying, swell-headed, ethnic cleansing, ethics-eluding, domestic spying, medical marijuana-busting, kick-backing, Halliburtoning, New Deal disintegrating, narcissistic, undiplomatic, blustering, malevolent, demonizing, baby seal-clubbing, Duke Cunninghamming, hectoring, verbally flatulent, pro-bad- anti-good, Moslem-baiting, photo-op arranging, hurricane disregarding, oil company hugging, judge packing, science disputing, faith based mathematics advocating, armament selling, nonsense spewing, education ravaging, whiny, unscrupulous, greedy exponential factor fifteen, fraudulent, CIA outing, redistricting, anybody who disagrees with them slandering, fact twisting, ally alienating, betraying, god and flag waving, scare mongering, Cindy Sheehan libeling, phony question asking, just won't get off the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge drilling, two- faced, inept, callous, menacing, your hand under a rock- the maggoty remains of a marsupial, oppressive, vulgar, antagonistic, brush clearing suck- up, showboating, tyrannizing, peace hating, water and air and ground and media polluting which is pretty much all the polluting you can get, deadly, illegal, pernicious, lethal, haughty, venomous, virulent, ineffectual, mephitic, egotistic, bloodthirsty, incompetent, hypocritical, did I say evil, I'm not sure if I said evil, because I want to make sure I say evil…

EVIL, cretinous, fool, toad, buttwipe, lizardstick, cowardly, lackey imperialistic tool slime buckets in the Bush Administration that I could just spit.

Impeachment? Hell no. Impalement. Upon the sharp and righteous sword of the people's justice.
How Democracy Works

65% of Australians want troops out of Iraq by May at the latest. Our corrupt, lying, war ciminal Prime Minister says withdrawal is "too risky" and he will send in more troops if needed.
How To Read The News

Robert Fisk provides a free lesson.
Speak No Evil

Greg Mitchell slams the US press's failure to demand real change: Editorials Dither While Iraq Burns.
Too Horrible

As the proud parent of a beautiful, eleven month old baby girl, I must confess that I have been deliberately skimming past this horrific story without posting it.

Go find your own links, photos, whatever... It's not like we haven't seen it all before, unfortunately.

Guardian report here.
Larry, Mo and Curly Go To War

Polls show that the word most closely associated with George W. Bush these days is "incompetent". But it's not Bush alone who bears that burden - his whole Administration is tarred with the same brush. Of course, if Bush had ever held any of these people accountable, things might not have come to this. But it is now quite clear to everyone that the entire administration is completely out of touch.

Here's Bush today explaining his divine vision of a peaceful Iraq:
Others look at the violence they see each night on their television screens and they wonder how I can remain so optimistic about the prospects of success in Iraq. They wonder what I see that they don't.
Actually, George, they wonder why you don't see what they do see: mounting casualties, a divide nation on the verge of chaos, massive debts spiralling out of control... and that's just the USA!

Out of touch? Mentally unbalanced? Or just deliberately misleading?

Here's Cheney yesterday pretending he was dragged into the Vice Presidency against his will:
I made sure both in 2000 and 2004 that the president had other options. I mean, I didn't ask for this job. I didn't campaign for it. I got drafted. And delighted to serve.
Drafted my ass! Cheney hand-picked himself for the job after dissing any other candidates!

Here's Rumsfeld on Sunday comparing Iraq to Nazi Germany:
Turning our backs on postwar Iraq today would be the modern equivalent of handing postwar Germany back to the Nazis.
Even German-born Henry Kissinger says that's a ridiculous comparison.

It's a fantasyland administration, isn't it? Retired Army major general Paul D. Eaton, a highly respected military man, has authored a scathing New York Times editorial demanding Rumsfeld's resignation:
Rumsfeld is not competent to lead our armed forces. First, his failure to build coalitions with our allies from what he dismissively called "old Europe" has imposed far greater demands and risks on our soldiers in Iraq than necessary. Second, he alienated his allies in our own military, ignoring the advice of seasoned officers and denying subordinates any chance for input.

In sum, he has shown himself incompetent strategically, operationally and tactically, and is far more than anyone else responsible for what has happened to our important mission in Iraq. Mr. Rumsfeld must step down.
Meanwhile, Doonesbury has a new poll asking whether Bush should be censured, impeached or neither. The results are interesting. Go take a look.

Courtesy of Think Progress.

March 20, 2006

Blair's Parallel Government

Bush's poodle has been a very naughty boy.
Faced by accusations that he was running a parallel party within the party, Mr Blair yesterday rushed forward a raft of reforms...
Steve Bell suggests a suitable punishment.
Poof! Blow The Man Down!

Some say George W. Bush rapes dogs in a secret White House bunker...
When the president starts a sentence with "some say" or offers up what "some in Washington" believe, as he is doing more often these days, a rhetorical retort almost assuredly follows.

The device usually is code for Democrats or other White House opponents. In describing what they advocate, Bush often omits an important nuance or substitutes an extreme stance that bears little resemblance to their actual position.

He typically then says he "strongly disagrees" - conveniently knocking down a straw man of his own making.
... but I have only ever heard the bleating of scared sheep!

The issue of impeachment is one of the three main threads grabbing headlines with relation to the third anniversay of the illegal invasion of Iraq. The others main threads are the continuing (and tiresome) debates on whether the war is going well or not (it's not) and whether or not the media should be calling it a "Civil War" (who cares what you call it?).

Dick Cheney insists the insurgency is still in its "last throes" - ten months after he first made that ridiculous statement. Former Iraqi PM Allawi says:
If this is not civil war, then God knows what civil war is.
The Sunday Times covers impeachment. If you can sift through the dismissive attitude, you might even find some interesting facts in here.

In fact, while it's great to see impeachment and censure getting big-time media coverage (thanks largely to Russ Feingold's call for censure), the media is almost wholly dismissive.

Let's show them,eh?

By the way, I am told I sometimes come down a bit too hard on fellow anti-Bush types, particularly in the USA, so I am pleased to say a big THANK YOU AND BRAVO! to all the anti-war protestors who marked the third anniversay of the invasion with news-grabbing events around the globe. Pics here.

March 19, 2006

Three years.

Negroponte Calls On The Hired Help

This is more than just kinda wierd. It's pathetic...

The US government is releasing truckloads of old Iraqi documents on the Web:
Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte has begun to release millions of pages of captured files online in an unprecedented effort to harness the Internet to disseminate raw intelligence material. There, anybody with a knowledge of Arabic can download the files and translate them for the world.
Why are they releasing the Arabic versions, not the English translations?
US intelligence officials say nearly all the documents released have been given at least a cursory reading by Arabic experts.
In other words, they haven't all been translated. They say they won't release anything that could "violate the privacy or harm the reputations of innocent people" such as the names of rape victims or journalists. But if the documents have only had a "cursory reading" or less, how will they know till it's translated?

And now - take a deep breath... ready? - guess who is going to be doing the translating?
''We are currently trying to organize a network of bilingual Iraqi bloggers to translate as many of the documents as possible," said ''Omar," a Baghdad dentist who publishes IraqTheModel, which is widely read in the United States.

March 18, 2006

Even More On Frank Carlucci

Ten years ago, Frank Carlucci was not only pre-empting George W. Bush's "Axis of Evil" speech...
Countries like Iraq, Iran, North Korea have achieved enhanced importance from an intelligence point of view.
... but also taking aim at intelligence whistle-blowers...
I have been consistently troubled by the leaks that come out of our intelligence community. All you have to so is ask yourself, if you were a North Korean or Iraqi, knowing what you know about the leaks, would you sign up with our clandestine service?
...fore-shadowing 9/11 and the Iraq War...
How much better it is to know about a terrorist attack before it happens, and stop it, than it is to retaliate after the fact, or to deal with a proliferator before he has an active program, or to head off a regional dispute before it reaches the confrontation stage.
... and even planting the seeds of Donald Rumsfeld's "smaller but smarter" war strategy:
Today, intelligence is more than a force multiplier... information dominance is going to be the key to future warfare.
He even hinted at the WMD lies to come:
On the policy side, it's of course a truism to say that policy is only as good as the intelligence on which it's based. Policy can also be bad if it is based on bad intelligence.
Ah, hindsight is a wonderful thing!

Here's Frank on covert action:
Covert action is a subject that's been given attention disproportionate to its size. I have viewed it from many perspectives, from the perspective of a Foreign Service officer on the ground, from somebody in the agency, from the perspective of policymaker.

I've seen successes and I've seen failures. I think we need to preserve the capability. We obviously need to try and change the image. The image, I guess, is one of a standing force of people who are ready to pull off a coup any time they're called upon to do so, or conduct a paramilitary operation. We all know that's not the way that it works.
Sure we do, Frank. Whatever you say.

At one stage, Carlucci totally contradicts himself. First he says:
There can be no clear cut line of command in the intelligence world because there is shared responsibility between the DCI and the Secretary of Defense.

The Secretary of Defense cannot abdicate his responsibility. In effect, the intelligence community will always have to work for two bosses.
Then later he says:
There's one aspect of oversight that has troubled me for sometime, and that is the ambiguity about whom the intelligence community works for. Does it work for the executive branch, or does it work for the Congress? I don't think you can serve two masters.
It's interesting that Carlucci was also involved in Health (he was Deputy Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare) because that's an association I keep finding in the Bush neo-con community over and over again: backgrounds in state health or associations with private companies in the health field. Why is that? Nothing to do with Avian Flu, I'm sure...


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