December 31, 2004

Falluja Massacre Eyewitness

A cameraman with the Lebanese Broadcasting Corp. gives an eyewitness account of the Massacre Of Falluja:
"Americans did not have interpreters with them, so they entered houses and killed people because they didn't speak English! They entered the house where I was with 26 people and shot people because they didn't obey their orders, even just because the people couldn't understand a word of English. Ninety-five percent of the people killed in the houses that I saw were killed because they couldn't speak English... "
Ohio Vote Fraud: Has Kerry Got The Right Stuff?

Democrats plead with Kerry to lead the challenge to Ohio's Electors on January 6.
"Stingy" Is Just The Start Of It

While nobody doubts that many, many US citizens are warm-hearted and generous, their incumbent leader's response to the Asian Tsunami of Dec 26, 2004 has been totally - and typically - inadequate.

It took Bush - yet again vactioning on his ranch - three full days to respond. During that time, as the death toll climbed to over 100,000, the US government pledged a paltry $35 million in aid (compare that with the $40 million being spent on Bush's January inauguration). U.N. Emergency Relief Coordinator Jan Egeland rightly called that response (and similar reactions from EU governments) "stingy".

That's what it took to finally get Bush out in front of the cameras (though it wasn't enough for him to quit his vacation, as Kofi Annan and others did). Bush announced a US-led "Coalition" including Australia, Japan and India, which would co-ordinate aid. The news came as a total suprise, particularly in Australia (my home), Japan and India, where officials had previously made no mention whatsover of any such coalition.

Bush made the announcement of this coalition on Wednesday, December 29th. As the Houston Chronicle notes:
A State Department official had a teleconference Wednesday night with counterparts in those nations to lay out an initial plan.

In other words, Bush has hijacked this tragedy to once again play politics with the United Nations. What's more, his officials even took a swipe at Bill Clinton for appearing on camera before Bush did:
Many Bush aides believe Clinton was too quick to head for the cameras to hold forth on tragedies with his trademark empathy. "Actions speak louder than words," a top Bush aide said, describing the president's view of his appropriate role.
As Josh Marshall says: "Actions?"

The only action happening in Crawford, Texas seems to have been bike-riding (can't the man ride a horse?) and bush-clearing (doesn't he have gardeners?). I guess there were also whoops of joy and maybe even backflips from Karl Rove when they realised the tsunami would take the media spotlight off the plight of refugees trying to return to Falluja, or growing demands for Rumsfeld's resignation (again), or the Social Security debate, or new allegations of prisoner abuse, or continuing violence in Iraq.

The truth is that, just as the UN was better suited to removing Saddam and co-ordinating new elections for Iraqis, the UN is better suited to co-ordinating disaster relief on a scale like this. That is - and should remain - one of its primary reasons for existence.

Bush's initial response has been not only stingy, but also typically self-interested, divisive and against the best interests of the tsunami's millions of victims.

P.S. Click here for information on where to donate.

Update: From the Washington Post:
Some foreign policy specialists said Bush's actions and words both communicated a lack of urgency about an event that will loom as large in the collective memories of several countries as the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks do in the United States. "When that many human beings die -- at the hands of terrorists or nature -- you've got to show that this matters to you, that you care," said Leslie H. Gelb, president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations.

There was an international outpouring of support after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and even some administration officials familiar with relief efforts said they were surprised that Bush had not appeared personally to comment on the tsunami tragedy. "It's kind of freaky," a senior career official said.

... each of the richest nations gives less than 1 percent of its gross national product for foreign assistance, and many give 0.1 percent. "It is beyond me why we are so stingy, really," he told reporters.

Among the world's two dozen wealthiest countries, the United States often is among the lowest in donors per capita for official development assistance worldwide, even though the totals are larger. According to the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development of 30 wealthy nations, the United States gives the least -- at 0.14 percent of its gross national product, compared with Norway, which gives the most at 0.92 percent.

December 30, 2004

None So Blind As Those That Will Not See

In response to my allegations that his blog Iraq The Model is being used for covert US propaganda, finally a reply (of sorts) from co-author Omar Fadhil:
Ghandi, everything you mentioned is true.

now, could you please leave us alone.
we're the bad guys and you're an angel from heaven, does this satisfy your
beautiful sick mind?
get the fuck out of this CIA blog or I will have your brain taken out and
tested in our secret laboratories.

Omar. | Email | Homepage | 12.28.04 - 4:00 pm | #
And to think that I was the one who was banned for using bad language...

UPDATE: I have been banned (again) from posting comments at Iraq The Model. Once again, so much for free speech and democratic principles. What a farce.

December 28, 2004

Bushonomics: Facts and Figures

December 27, 2004

Falluja: Residents Return To Rubble

Report from Reuters:
"Would Allah want us to return to a city that animals can't live in?" said Yasser Satar as he saw his destroyed home.

"Even animals who have no human sense and feelings can not live here," he said, crying.

"What do they want from Falluja? This is the crime of the century. They want to destroy Islam and Muslims. But our anger and resistance will increase."
US Fascism: The Red Pill

This article is a great introduction to anyone sceptical about claims that Bush's regime marks the high-water mark (so far) of a US Fascist movment that precedes WWII. I strongly urge you to read the whole article, with an open mind.
Too many people believe fascism is only about goose-stepping, jack-booted Nazis. Too many people believe that American democracy is so strong that fascists could never take control of America. If you are sympathetic to those views, I invite you to consider the possibility that you are mistaken - invite you to sample a small dose of ‘red pill’.

My first dose of ‘red pill’ came in the early 1970s when I returned from voluntary service in Central Africa. I had worked alongside American Peace Corps volunteers and would sit with them under the beautiful African night sky, discussing that devastated continent and the reasons for the starvation and death that surrounded us there. On my returned from Malawi, I discovered that a number of those supposedly dedicated Peace Corp volunteers were US intelligence agency personnel. What they were doing in Africa was not, in actual reality, delivering American aid or goodwill, but fermenting huge trouble with their clandestine activities..."

December 26, 2004

A Christmas Prayer

George Bush, who art insane,
Hollowed be thy victory.
Thy vacations come,
Thy subterfuge be done
In Iraq as it is in Washington.
Give us each day
Our daily propaganda
And forgive us our scepticism
As we forgive those who run smear campaigns against us.
And deport us not unto Guantanamo Bay
But deliver us from the vast left-wing media conspiracy.

For thine is the White House, the legislative and the judiciary
For four more years.

God help us.

December 25, 2004

Justice: the Rumsfeld Version

"No crime scene exam was conducted, no autopsy conducted, no copy of medical file obtained for investigation because copy machine broken in medical office."
The Post today calls it what it is: war crimes.

Rumsfeld's trip to Iraq is a blatant effort to dispel public criticism. Meanwhile, there is a frenzy of blame-throwing going on (even Colin Powell is getting in on the act). This piece by Robert Novak highlights the blame-game between Rumsfeld and the neo-cons:
Getting rid of Rumsfeld does not answer agonizing questions. Was the change of regime in Baghdad worth going to war? Could Saddam have been removed from power by other means? Is the use of U.S. military power to topple undemocratic regimes good policy?

There are no clear answers.
Oh yes there are, and there always have been:
Was the change of regime in Baghdad worth going to war? NO.

Could Saddam have been removed from power by other means? YES.

Is the use of U.S. military power to topple undemocratic regimes good policy? NO.
The hard truth is that Rumsfeld, the neo-cons, Colin Powell, Robert Novak, George Bush and all his salivating, war-mad supporters are ALL to blame.

December 24, 2004

You Want Conspiracy Theories?

How about this? Reports are claiming that the wireless transmitter Bush used in the Presidential TV debates was actually "a medical device for 'persons at risk of cardiac arrest.' It is a LifeVest wearable defibrillator. " Click the link for a pic of the device.
Israel Spy Probe Set To Explode

At least 200 Israelis have been detained or arrested during 2004 in a secretive and sprawling investigation into suspected espionage by Israelis in the United States. The majority of those questioned have "stated they served in military intelligence, electronic surveillance intercept and or explosive ordinance units."

Following 9/11, there were stories of Israeli spies dancing on New York rooftops as they watched the WTC burn, allegations that Israel knew of Al Quaeda's plans but said nothing to the US government, and other such "Conspiracy Theories". Now it seems likely that many of these theories are likely to prove true. The fallout from this investigation is likely to impact the very highest echelons of US government, and it seems the FBI cannot keep the lid on it much longer. It will certainly damage the neo-conservative movement and could even bring down the Bush regime.

That's assuming it is not covered up, of course. Fox News (of all people!) recently ran a four-part video news story on these allegations, only to pull them from their website. But Information Clearing House has the videos and transcipts available here.

Here's the main gist of it all:
American terrorist investigators fear certain suspects in the Sept. 11 attacks may have managed to stay ahead of them, by knowing who and when investigators are calling on the telephone. How? By obtaining and analyzing data that's generated every time someone in the U.S. makes a call...

Most directory assistance calls, and virtually all call records and billing in the U.S. are done for the phone companies by Amdocs Ltd., an Israeli-based private telecommunications company. Amdocs has contracts with the 25 biggest phone companies in America, and more worldwide. The White House and other secure government phone lines are protected, but it is virtually impossible to make a call on normal phones without generating an Amdocs record of it...

Comverse Infosys [is] a subsidiary of an Israeli-run private telecommunications firm, with offices throughout the U.S. It provides wiretapping equipment for law enforcement. Here's how wiretapping works in the U.S.

Every time you make a call, it passes through the nation's elaborate network of switchers and routers run by the phone companies. Custom computers and software, made by companies like Comverse, are tied into that network to intercept, record and store the wiretapped calls, and at the same time transmit them to investigators.

The manufacturers have continuing access to the computers so they can service them and keep them free of glitches. This process was authorized by the 1994 Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act, or CALEA...

in Israel, Comverse works closely with the Israeli government, and under special programs, gets reimbursed for up to 50 percent of its research and development costs by the Israeli Ministry of Industry and Trade. But investigators within the DEA, INS and FBI have all told Fox News that to pursue or even suggest Israeli spying through Comverse is considered career suicide.

And sources say that while various F.B.I. inquiries into Comverse have been conducted over the years, they've been halted before the actual equipment has ever been thoroughly tested for leaks. A 1999 F.C.C. document indicates several government agencies expressed deep concerns that too many unauthorized non-law enforcement personnel can access the wiretap system. And the FBI's own nondescript office in Chantilly, Virginia that actually oversees the CALEA wiretapping program, is among the most agitated about the threat.

But there is a bitter turf war internally at F.B.I. It is the FBI's office in Quantico, Virginia, that has jurisdiction over awarding contracts and buying intercept equipment. And for years, they've thrown much of the business to Comverse. A handful of former U.S. law enforcement officials involved in awarding Comverse government contracts over the years now work for the company.

... And what troubles investigators most, particularly in New York, in the counter terrorism investigation of the World Trade Center attack, is that on a number of cases, suspects that they had sought to wiretap and survey immediately changed their telecommunications processes. They started acting much differently as soon as those supposedly secret wiretaps went into place.
See Information Clearing House for more.

Hungary pulls troops out of Iraq.

December 23, 2004

Iraq The Neo-Con Model

The New York Sun has a story on the ITM affair that includes these quotes from Spirit of America head Jim Hake:
"Mr. Hake said yesterday that he thought there was a mutual agreement that it was best for Ali not to come because he is running for election to the Iraqi National Assembly.

'All of us thought because he's doing that, there could be a perceived conflict and it would be better to not make the trip,' Mr. Hake said. 'He may well see that as a disinvitation.... It certainly wasn't intended as a slap in the face.'

Mr. Hake described as 'absurd' the suggestion that the Iraqis are fronts for the CIA. 'The CIA stuff would be really funny if it doesn't actually put them at risk in their country,' he said."
Yeah, meeting Bush and Wolfowitz in the White House is perfectly safe, spouting pro-US propaganda for years is safe, but being accused of working with the CIA on a blog is deadly, hunh? That is the sort of stupid remark that just makes one even more suspiscious of people like Jim Hake and the Fadhil brothers.

Worse yet is this sort of manufactured crap:
A screenwriter and blogger who had a dinner party for the visiting brothers in Los Angeles last week, Roger L. Simon, said he was "shocked" by Ali's parting message and the flurry of allegations directed at the brothers.

Mr. Simon accused the Fadhils' critics of assuming that any Iraqi who supports American forces is a CIA stooge. "There's one word for that kind of view: racist. That's saying an Arab can't think a certain way," Mr. Simon said.
One wonders what has got the right-wingers so heated up about all this, if there is really nothing to it?

See below for more on this, including background.
Bush Still Lies, They Still Die

Anti-war bores like me are always saying that the best way to fight terrorism is to tackle the problems - including poverty, ignorance and corruption - which breed terrorists. Instead, Bush has been wilfully exacerbating the problem by attacking the symptoms rather than the causes of terrorism. This is not surprising, given that his power base is the US military-industrial complex and it is in their interest to maintain a state of war and widespread fear as long as possible.

Now the war-inflated US deficit is hitting funds already pledged to charity budgets, and Bush is breaking campaign promises:
With the budget deficit growing and President George Bush promising to reduce spending, the Administration has told representatives of several charities that it was unable to honour some promises.

The cutbacks, estimated by some charities at up to $US100million ($131million), come at a time when the number of hungry in the world is rising for the first time in years.

As a result, Save The Children, Catholic Relief Services and other charities have suspended or eliminated programs intended to help the poor feed themselves through improvements in farming, education and health.

Lisa Kuennen, a food aid expert at Catholic Relief Services, said up to 7million people would be affected.
OF course, the military is off limits to such budget cuts. One program that is certainly not going to be cut back is the semi-fictional $US11-billion-a-year "Star Wars" missile defense system, which last week failed its first test in two years. Rumsfeld dismissed the failure by assuring reporters that "at some point soon, it will have a modest capability."
President George W. Bush had promised during his re-election campaign that the system would be declared operational by the end of the month.
And here's a little note of interest. A new report called "Denial as a method of counter-insurgency warfare", prepared by Anthony Cordesman, senior fellow of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, says Bush administration spokesmen had appeared to live "in a fantasyland" when giving accounts of events in Iraq. That's the same CSIS as members of the CCF (below). There's a lot of finger-pointing going on these days among the pro-war crowd.
Ignorance Is Bliss - For Some

Omar at Iraq The Model has today decided to respond to all the controversy about his site by ignoring it. Instead he posts a typical piece of feel-good propaganda.

I have replied by posting the following questions:

1. Were the Fahdil brothers aware that Spirit of America was set up and supported by Cyber Century Forum, a group dedicated to spreading US influence worldwide, particularly covert cyber-intelligence measures?

2. Were you aware that Cyber Century Forum holds 100K stocks in US oil? As Iraqis, (supposedly) - do you have a problem with that?

3. Did you know that 2 of the 3 members of Cyber Century Forum are also members of a top-level think-tank, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, which is also dedidicated to spreading US influence? Do you have a problem with that?

4. Who are the Americans trying to use ITM for partisan political or other purposes, whom Ali said "made me feel I'm on the wrong side here"? Why did Ali not go to the USA? What happened over there?

5. How do you expect to garner support from ordinary Iraqis during the election process if you do not even try to refute these very serious allegations? Why don't you just come right out and admit that you are working hand-in-glove with the CIA?

6. Are you aware that Spirit of America is a client of Direct Impact, a "grassroots marketing" organisation, whose marketing involves creating a "Buzz" by getting seemingly ordinary people (or better yet, influential people) to promote a product by word-of-mouth. Do you receive any money from Direct Marketing?

For anyone not aware of the history of these allegations, here are some links to my posts below:

Original post claiming Iraq The Model is a fraud

Proof linking Iraq The Model to Spirit of America, a fake charity set up by Cyber Century Forum for US PR purposes

Spirit of America responds, but questions remain unaswered, including:

Why is Spirit of America a client of grassroots marketing company Direct Impact?

Who are Cyber Century Forum?

December 22, 2004

Real Iraqi Voices

Looking for an authentic, intelligent and articulate Arab voice? Try this:
When I asked my family what they thought was the only way to peace in Iraq, they answered, "The only way for peace in Iraq, or on earth now, is through a total revolution in society. One no short of the dream that Christ, Mohammed, and all the prophets spoke of, in which real equality brings an end to this entire unjust way in which we all live together."
Story here: Iraq's Silenced Majority.
President Authorized Abu Ghraib Torture, FBI Email Says

December 21, 2004

Cyber Century Forum: Expanding US Influence

So who are the Cyber Century Forum (CCF) people behind the Iraq The Model blog's patrons, "Spirit of America"? These are old guard warhorses from the Cold War, people who were probably hiding under the desk with Cheney and Rumsfeld when the post-Nixon Church Commision started exposing the dark side of US foreign policy.

Diana Lady Dougan, who rose to Assistant Secretrary of State from 1982 to 1988 in the Reagan administration, is the public face of CCF, flittering from one top-level international chat-fest to another. She is currently a Senior Advisor at the infamous Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). According to Disinfopedia, CSIS is "one of those ephemeral constellations into which the luminaries of the American political establishment frequently arrange themselves in order to encourage policy to navigate by their lights". For example, a May 2003 Declaration proposes that
"the states of the European Union, which are among the richest and most powerful states in the world, should invite US government officials to attend their highest-level legislative and policy-making meetings, in order that these officials can ensure that the Europeans do not pursue policies which are independent of, or disapproved by, the American government."
I would assume there is some connection between the CSIS and the more recent neo-conservative think-tank "The Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies".

The CCF heavily promotes a self-published book, Arab & Muslim Countries: Profiles in Contrast, which is a pastiche of information from "20 major data banks including those of the UN, World Bank, and CIA". It is strongly endorsed by both Henry Kissenger and William H. Webster, former head of both the CIA and the FBI.

Cyber Century Forum VP and General Counsel, Tedson J. Meyers was a neo-conservative before they even invented the term (click here if that doesn't make sense to you). Meyers was Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in the days when the FCC had a lot of power and influence. He was appointed to the non-elected Washington D.C. City Council by President Richard M. Nixon in 1972.

Hello! Nixon, Kissenger, Reagan.... is there a pattern here or what?

Snippets from ancient press clippings on Meyer's website include a report of a "controversial memo" to JFK while Meyers was in the FCC.
...overseas telecasts should be guided along "lines most beneficial to the foreign policy of the US"
Here's another snippet revealing Meyers' capacity for subterfuge and his early inclinations towards US Empire:
"Working unofficially, Meyers prepared a plan for a Government Office of International Broadcasting to exploit the potential power of international TV and radio broadcasting in our national interest. Among his suggestions: American assistance in developing foreign broadcasting systems and introduction of US programming therein, development of low-cost transmitters and receivers for use overseas, encouragement of private American investment in overseas TV, stimulating programs which could serve our foreign policy objectives and "resolving whether it is desireable to establish criteria for the content of American programming displayed overseas - and if so, how such criteria should be determined and applied."
And here's a 4-page article called "The Unknown Influentials":
"these men not only implement policy, but frequently shape it..."
There is only one other member of the Cyber Century Forum (according to their website) and that is G. Russell Pipe. Like Dougan, he is a member of the CSIS. He is also is deputy director of the Global Information Infrastructure Commission (GIIC), "a nongovernmental initiative to provide a framework to bridge gaps between the private and public sector for the development of information infrastructure". He is author or co-author of at least four books, including "Assessing Data Privacy in the 1990's and Beyond."

So now ask yourself: why are people like these providing financial support for a supposedly 100% humanitarian charity like Spirit of America? And why does their Forum have $100K investments in the US oil industry? What's in it for them?

Then ask yourself: why would a team of Iraqi bloggers want to help these people peddle increased US influence and power across not just the Middle East, but ultimately the world? Coz that's their goal, folks...
Bush '05: "Flexible Leader"?

Looks like ITM and SoA are a vision of the future for US PsyOps. The US military is planning to launch pre-emptive propaganda strikes as a means of averting military fighting while still protecting the country's number one asset: no, not the people, the economy.
Spirit of America: Manufacturing The Message

Spirit of America is a client of Direct Impact, a "grassroots marketing" organisation (their website here).

Grassroots marketing involves creating a "Buzz" by getting seemingly ordinary people (or better yet, influential people) to promote your product by word-of-mouth. A feature of "grassroots marketing" is that those being targetted are not aware that the seemingly sincere opinions being expressed are actually disingenuous marketing.

How many of the posters at Iraq the Model are working for Direct Marketing, I wonder?

BTW, Martini Republic have picked up this ITM story again here, while there is a long and rambling (and mostly uninformed) discussion at The Washington Monthly here.

Many right-wingers are up in arms about this and blaming Juan Cole for their psychological trauma. But as Cole points out, a new CNN poll shows these dolts who support the war are now a minority in the USA. The poll also shows that a majority of Americans think Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld should resign, something Cole has demanded since the Abu Ghraib scandal:
Rumsfeld appointed Douglas Feith his undersecretary for policy, and allowed Feith to set up the Office of Special Plans, which cherry-picked intelligence and forged a false case for war in Iraq. Rumsfeld over-ruled his officer corps by sending a tiny force of only 100,000 troops to Iraq, ensuring that they could not keep order in the aftermath. Rumsfeld was the one who tried to hand Iraq over to corrupt financier Ahmad Chalabi. Rumsfeld allowed the looting that began the deterioration of security after the war. Rumsfeld dissolved the Iraqi army, putting US troops on the front lines of the guerrilla war. Rumsfeld didn't order as much armor for US troop vehicles as he could have, exposing thousands to serious injury from roadside bombs. Rumsfeld didn't even bother to personally sign the letters of condolence to the families of deceased troops killed in Iraq, in some large part as a result of his own flawed policies. The majority of the American people is right that Rumsfeld must go (and his deputies with him).
Meanwhile, Omar and Mohammed Fadhil get coverage from the Washington Post. I loved this quote:
"People outside Iraq are more worried than the Iraqis themselves," says Mohammed.
TIME Man of the Year: 1938

December 20, 2004

The Tangled Web at "Spirit of America"

Founder/CEO Jim Hake has updated the FINANCIALS page at SoA with this news:
Spirit of America was granted non-profit 501(c)(3) status by the IRS on November 22, 2004. Our Federal Tax ID is 20-1687786. Before receiving our own 501c3 status we operated under the auspices of Cyber Century Forum, a non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation.
Hake provides this letter from the IRS as proof of his independent status. In fact, Hake has totally revamped the FINANCIALS section, including tax returns for CCF going back to 1998 - talk about getting a response!
NOTE: Hake says the Schlumberger and Transocean stocks were an investment by Cyber Century Forum, rather than financial backing as I called it previously (I'm an Australian and I don't know how to read a US tax return - so sue me!). But with regards to operations in Iraq today, investment in the US oil industry by a supposed charity is just as questionable as financial backing by them.
At first sight, this seems to prove Hake's claim that his SoA group has no links with the US oil industry. But if that's the case, then, like the Fadhil brothers, Hake appears to have been used by people with a hidden agenda. Unlike Ali at ITM, however, he doesn't seem to have a problem with this.

The CCF tax returns show the investment in Schlumberger going back to at least 1998. Did Hake know about this investment when SoA was set up? If not, why not? When I started checking over SoA and CCF the other day, it took me only an hour to find it. Has SoA received oil money or not (Hake remains ambiguous on that)? Has Hake met with oil execs? What does he know about CCF's relationship to the oil industry?

Why is CCF investing money in US oil anyway? Just a bloody coincidence? Who ARE these people? Their website indicates they are just well-connected talking heads, flitting from one executive dinner to another. Their principal PRODUCT seems to be a book on Middle Eastern countries which - if I remember correctly - was widely lambasted as "US revisionist history for the ME" when it first came out. And if I remember correctly, this book was also strongly promoted - like Iraq The Model - by none other than arch neo-conservative Paul Wolfowitz.

Looks like I have some more googling to do...

Meanwhile, this Press Release from iUpload has more details of the planned Arabic blogging tool to be released by Spirit of America. SoA will be hosting the service, so they will be able to minitor and censor all material posted on these blogs.
Spirit of America Launches Defence, Ali Quits ITM

Today, Jim Hake at Spirit of America launched a defence of SoA's finances, with this new page on their website. The text includes the following response to my criticisms (see below):
Our relationship with Cyber Century Forum
Cyber Century Forum, a nonprofit organization, provided the nonprofit, 501c3 status we needed to get Spirit of America off the ground. This allowed us to immediately begin operations without the expense and delay of forming a new, independent nonprofit. From August 2003 through November 2004 we operated as an independent project under the auspices of Cyber Century Forum. Spirit of America kept separate accounting and separate bank accounts. Our finances were never mingled except that for Federal tax reporting purposes in 2003, Cyber Century Forum reported our combined finances. Since Spirit of America was not, at the time, an independent entity, we did not file separate tax returns. We never received direct financial support (i.e., money) from CCF although CCF did provide some administrative services and did the accounting work in filing the combined 2003 tax return. You can find Cyber Century Forum’s tax returns from 1998 to 2003 at the bottom of this page.

"Oil Money"
Cyber Century Forum’s 2003 tax return notes a $109k investment in Schlumberger. CCF has held 2,000 shares of Schlumberger as an investment since 1998. Some have interpreted an investment made in 1998 by Cyber Century Forum as evidence that we are under the control of “Big Oil” in 2004. That is as silly as it sounds. Spirit of America was not involved with CCF in 1998, which pre-dates our existence by five years, and we don’t know why CCF invested in Schlumberger at that time. Nonetheless, Spirit of America would accept donations by oil and oil service companies, if they were offered. We would use such donations to fund Spirit of America projects.
We "would" accept? Does that mean donations have been received, or not? Hake goes on to say that he personally has received no government money, has no partisan political affiliations, etc.

So is Jim Hake just an innocent do-gooder whose operation JUST HAPPENS TO HAVE BEEN FINANCED BY THE US OIL INDUSTRY? Did he know about the Schlumberger and Transocean funding when his SoA project got started? Did start-up meetings include oil execs? These questions are just for starters...

It seems possible that Hake's SoA COULD have been set up by the far shadier folk at Cyber Century Forum. It was pretty naive to post that Tax Return PDF on the SofA website, for starters. There are a lot of questions that Hake, if he is sincere, should now be asking his financial backers at CCF.

Meanwhile, Ali at Iraq The Model has just quit the blog with no explanation except the following cryptic message:
This is the last time I write in this blog and I just want to say, goodbye. It's not an easy thing to do for me, but I know I should do it. I haven't told my brothers with my decision, as they are not here yet, but it won't change anything and I just can't keep doing this anymore.
My stand regarding America has never changed. I still love America and feel grateful to all those who helped us get our freedom and are still helping us establishing democracy in our country. But it's the act of some Americans that made me feel I'm on the wrong side here. I will expose these people in public very soon and I won't lack the mean to do this, but I won't do it here as this is not my blog.
At any rate, it's been a great experience and a pleasure to know all the regular readers of this blog, as I do feel I know you, and I owe you a lot.
Best wishes to all of you, those who supported us and those who criticized us as well.
My reading of the situation is that Ali - who has always been the most hot-headed (or should I say passionate?) of the three brothers - has probably rubbed up the wrong way against their US covert contacts. Hence he was not invited to visit the USA with the other brothers, and hence his decision to quit the blog. Let's see how his much-feted brothers respond.

Stay tuned.

December 17, 2004

Exposing "Iraq The Model"

The debate over whether the Fadhil brothers' Iraq the Model blog has covert US backing continues, with Ali Fadhil finally responding to questions posed four days earlier at the Martini Republic.
Are the brothers now or have they ever been in any kind of American pay (beyond the largesse of their rightwing PayPal contributors)?"

Yes and no. Yes we were promised by "Spirit of America" to pay for the costs of our NGO "Friends of Democracy" and its projects to help build democracy in Iraq, and they said they have sent some money but we haven't got it yet...
OK, let's have a look at the "Spirit Of America" group (SoA). Who are these people? Well, basically they are a fund-raising and PR arm of Paul Wolfowitz's neo-conservative coterie, in league with Bush's buddies in the US oil and gas industry, masquerading as peace-loving fans of US-style "democracy".

Here's a critical piece of information for you "freedom"-loving ITM and SoA folks:

Spirit of America operates under the auspices of Cyber Century Forum, a non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation. And Cyber Century Forum's tax return for 2003 shows that it is financially supported by $109,440 in corporate stocks from Schlumberger Ltd, "the leading oilfield services technology company supplying technology, project management and information solutions to the oil and gas industries."

Isn't that a big surprise? "Freedom and Democracy for Iraq", sponsored by the US oil and gas industry.

Now, when Omar and Mohammed from ITM were invited to a White House meeting with President Bush, they were accompanied by Jim Hake, chairman and founder of Spirit Of America, plus another SoA executive, Kerry Dupont. What's more, Paul Wolfowitz - who has previously championed the ITM blog, was also present (I assume that it was Wolfie who set up the meeting, for the benefit of both SoA and ITM).

Here's a first-hand account of that meeting from Spirit of America head Jim Hake himself (link courtesy of Shot In The Dark):
On Thursday, Omar and Mohammed from Iraq the Model and Friends of Democracy, Kerry Dupont from SoA and I met with President Bush in the Oval Office. It was a half-hour meeting with the President. Paul Wolfowitz was also there.

I'll be posting more information in the next two days but here are two items.

About half way into the meeting the President said to Omar and Mohammed, "I want you two to know that we are going to stay until the job is done. It doesn't matter what the rest of the world says. It doesn't matter what the UN says. We are going to stay until the job is done. It's important that your country knows that." It was a powerful and moving moment.

After talking about Spirit of America, Pres. Bush turned to Omar and Mohammed and said, " You see gentlemen, that is the beauty of America. I never met this man before but he's out there helping to win this war on terror just as much as Wolfie here. That's what I believe in." He went on to talk about the importance of private-sector, grass roots initiatives like SoA.
Yeah, you gotta love your private sector when it comes to making things happen for the GOP. Let's just take a look at how SoA and ITM operate, for instance...

SoA have just finished running a Friends of Iraq Blogger Challenge. To enter the challenge, "all you have to do is link to your fundraising page and encourage your visitors to donate." The ITM site won the Individual Blog category, raising over $17,000, well ahead of other right-wing blogs like Little Green Footballs and Roger L. Simpson. The Challenge raised a total of $90,177 for SoA.

In return for winning the challenge, the ITM brothers get a free SoA cap and T-shirt. No money. I'd love to know if Ali plans to wear the SoA cap and T-shirt around downtown Baghdad.

Iraq The Model were also recently the winners were for best non-American blog at Right Wing News' "Annual Warblogger Awards". That's right, Right... Wing... News.

And yet Ali Fadhil protests that he does not want to be associated with right-wing US politics!
I was never invited to meet Bush (neither my brothers knew until they were there) and we don't know why he wanted that, but this is where I agree with you that those who did set up this meeting had their own motives that we don't share with them...

The world is bigger than you and your partisan conflicts and frankly I'm getting sick of it. Take this crap somewhere else and leave us alone! We have enough problems to deal with and we are not interested in supporting any party anwhere, as simply we cannot afford the time or the effort.
Do you know what, Ali? This is something I can actually agree with you on, to some extent. I am always accused of being a pro-Kerry leftist (if not a Communist) because I oppose Bush and virtually all his policies. It's really frustrating.

But do you know what else, Ali? If you and your brothers are not working covertly with the CIA or other US agencies, then you must be the most gullible, foolish and pathetically manipulated stooges in Iraq, if not the world. I mean, you have just raised over $17,000 for people whose motives you do not share? Come off it.

Are you going to tell us you were duped by the people from Spirit of America? Or are you just trying to disassociate yourself from Bush's neoconservatives at this late stage because there are elections coming soon and that sort of thing just doesn't play too well with the average Iraqi (i.e. you are out of touch with mainstream Iraqi opinion, which was exactly what Juan Cole said in the first place).

(Follow the debate here or at Juan Cole or at Martini Republic).

UPDATE 1: Schlumberger provide over 90% of the financial support for Spirit of America's parent company, Cyber Century Forum. The rest is provided by Transocean Sedco Forex, the world's largest offshore drilling company.

UPDATE 2: When asked what three things Iraqis would most like from the US, ITM blogger Omar replied, "Support, love, and encouragement." Compare that with Riverbend's Christmas wish list, which includes gasoline, kerosine, landmine detectors and diesel generators. Who do YOU think is more in touch with real Iraqis?

December 16, 2004

Fair And Balanced US Propaganda

From the Toronto Star:
The other night on ABC News Nightline, Ted Koppel asked National Public Radio war correspondent Anne Garrels, who has been in Iraq throughout the war, "When you hear people in this country, Anne, say, look, the media is only giving the negative side of what's going on there, why don't they ever show the good side, what do you tell 'em?"

"I tell them that there isn't much good to show," she replied, describing how even military commanders have only bad news to share.

Two weeks ago on CNN, Time's Michael Ware, who has been covering Iraq for two years, gave an alarming account of being trapped in his Baghdad compound, which is regularly bombed and encircled by "kidnap teams."

He reported that the U.S. military has "lost control" and that Americans are "the midwives of the next generation of jihad, of the next Al Qaeda."

At the end of the exchange, anchor Aaron Brown warned, "(O)ther people see the situation there differently than Michael. We talk to them as well."

The next day, when the interview was repeated, anchor Carol Lin closed with, "And of course there are others who disagree with that."
The article also notes that Farnaz Fassihi, the Wall Street Journal reporter whose harrowing private e-mail to friends describing the hazards of Baghdad made international news, is heading back to Baghdad after an apparent one-month suspension. I look forward to her next article.
Vote Fraud: Destroying the Evidence

Sherole Eaton, Hocking County deputy director of elections, has signed an affidavit describing her experience with a representative from Triad Systems, who manufacture punch-card voting systems and wrote the computer program that tallied the punch-card votes cast in 41 Ohio counties. The affidavit states that a Triad employee illegally replaced parts and manipulated data on a tabulator machine. David Cobb sums it up:
A representative from Triad Systems came into a county board of elections office un-announced. He said he was just stopping by to see if they had any questions about the up-coming recount. He then headed into the back room where the Triad supplied Tabulator (a card reader and older PC with custom software) is kept. He told them there was a problem and the system had a bad battery and had "lost all of its data". He then took the computer apart and started swapping parts in and out of it and another "spare" tower type PC also in the room. He may have had spare parts in his coat as one of the BOE people moved it and remarked as to how very heavy it was. He finally re-assembled everything and said it was working but to not turn it off.

He then asked which precinct would be counted for the 3% recount test, and the one which had been selected as it had the right number of votes, was relayed to him. He then went back and did something else to the tabulator computer.

The Triad Systems representative suggested that since the hand count had to match the machine count exactly, and since it would be hard to memorize the several numbers which would be needed to get the count to come out exactly right, that they should post this series of numbers on the wall where they would not be noticed by observers. He suggested making them look like employee information or something similar. The people doing the hand count could then just report these numbers no matter what the actual count of the ballots revealed. This would then "match" the tabulator report for this precinct exactly. The numbers were apparently the final certified counts for the selected precinct.

Triad is contracted to do much of the elections work in this county and elsewhere in Ohio. This included programming the candidates into the tabulator, and coming up with the rotation of candidates in the various precincts (that is, the order of which candidate is first changes between precincts). They also have a technician in the office on election night to actually run the tabulator itself.

Triad also supplies the network computers on which all of the voter registration information and processing is kept for the county.

December 14, 2004

Believe Nothing, Trust No One

We are now seeing the inevitable consequences of the public's failure to properly condemn George W. Bush and Australian PM John Howard at the ballot box. Having successfully escaped with brazen, bare-faced lying about Saddam's WMDs and other issues, there is no reason why they would not naturally continue with even greater lies now.

In fact, the Pentagon is seriously debating whether or not to introduce global State-sponsored lying as an openly recognised US tactic. The New York Times today has this must-read report:
The Pentagon is engaged in bitter, high-level debate over how far it can and should go in managing or manipulating information to influence opinion abroad, senior Defense Department civilians and military officers say.

Such missions, if approved, could take the deceptive techniques endorsed for use on the battlefield to confuse an adversary and adopt them for covert propaganda campaigns aimed at neutral and even allied nations.

... Nearly three years ago, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, under intense criticism, closed the Pentagon's Office of Strategic Influence, a short-lived operation to provide news items, possibly including false ones, to foreign journalists in an effort to influence overseas opinion.

Now, critics say, some of the proposals of that discredited office are quietly being resurrected elsewhere in the military and in the Pentagon.
Such an attitude helps cast light on the discussion of the Fadhil brothers' blog (see below) as well as many of the major stories under US-media-generated "debate" around the globe this week.

For example, former head of the Iraq WMD inspection team Scott Ritter says the US is promoting the "UN Oil-for-food Scandal" story purely as a means of undermining Kofi Annan:
The oil-for-food programme was never a sincere humanitarian relief effort, but rather a politically motivated device designed to implement the true policy of the United States - regime change.

Through various control mechanisms, the United States and Great Britain were able to turn on and off the flow of oil as they saw best. In this way, the Americans were able to authorise a $1bn exemption concerning the export of Iraqi oil for Jordan, as well as legitimise the billion-dollar illegal oil smuggling trade over the Turkish border, which benefited Nato ally Turkey as well as fellow regime-change plotters in Kurdistan...
Similarly, efforts to topple the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei, are pure US propaganda.
With The Washington Post's disclosure at the weekend that US officials have been bugging ElBaradei, looking for material to undermine him, both the US and Australian governments are in dangerous diplomatic waters.

It is widely understood that the bugging of ElBaradei's conversations could be carried out only by the National Security Agency. It is also widely known that the agency's partners in its global bugging operations are Australia's Defence Signals Directorate and Britain's Government Communications Headquarters. This was clear before the Iraq war when a GCHQ translator leaked details of another bugging operation against the UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, and members of the Security Council who were not supporting the US, Britain and Australia over the rush to war.

As the long-time National Security Agency expert James Bamford told the Herald, it is more than likely the Howard Government has been well aware of the spying operation against ElBaradei and receiving highly classified information about it. That, Bamford says, raises a critical question for Downer: Is he a participant in a conspiracy against ElBaradei, and potentially a beneficiary of the process?
ElBaradei has, in fact, been doing an excellent job reining in Iran's nuclear ambitions while simultaneously starving the USA of excuses for an invasion. Like Annan, he deserves credit and respect, not contemptuous lies.

It's time to break out of the Cold War mindset and start backing international institutions like the UN, the IAEA and the ICC, instead of working to pull them down.
"In the battle of perception management, where the enemy is clearly using the media to help manage perceptions of the general public, our job is not perception management but to counter the enemy's perception management," said the chief Pentagon spokesman, Lawrence Di Rita.
Hey, instead or managing perceptions, how about giving us a credible and honest version of the truth? Stop pretending the USA is the world's greatest democracy, when it cannot even run a fair and honest election in its own states. Stop pretending that the USA wants to spread democracy across the globe, when it just want to spread US power.

Like the salesmen say, a good product sells itself.

December 13, 2004

Is Iraq The Model a CIA Front?

Juan Cole at Informed Comment cast some much-needed light on the mysteriously high US media profile the Fadhil brothers at Iraq The Model - now visiting their US sponsors - have been able to achieve.

He contrasts this with the way other Iraqi bloggers like Riverbend are ignored, even though they are far more in tune with what average Iraqis are thinking.

Cole's post includes a link to a discussion at Martini Republic which includes the following questions for the Fadhil brothers' consideration:
Were these bloggers prompted by invasion forces to start their blog?

--Who was their contact for their unlikely Abiline, Texas domain host?

--Are the brothers now or have they ever been in any kind of American pay (beyond the largesse of their rightwing PayPal contributors)?

--And most importantly: why are We, the People of the United States, being invited (by our President, no less!) to care so much about what these particular brothers think, when polls out of Iraq indicate that their blog has historically run far, far outside of Iraqi mainstream thinking?
If you have any experience of the wierd right-wing world that is ITM, please join the discussion. I have some previous posts about ITM here and here.
Ohio Vote: What Are They Hiding?

Swamped with traffic since revealing details of the Clint Curtis affidavit on e-vote hacking, the Brad Blog has had to set up a new site, BRAD BLOG TOO, to continue reporting on this story.

Today's news cites a Press Release from Congressman John Conyers, the ranking Democratic on the U.S. House Judiciary Committee's office, who says:
"We have now repeatedly seen election officials obstruct and stonewall this search for the truth. I am beginning to wonder what it is they are trying to hide."
I recommend you visit BRAD BLOG TOO and bookmark it immediately!

A good article on the stolen Ohio vote from the LA Times: For Some, the Race Remains Far From Over
To Invade Iran, First Replace El Baradei With A compliant Stooge...

Connect the dots:

1. Arch neo-con Douglas Feith says it is impossible to rule out an invasion of Iran, which has always been the next target on the neo-cons' list.

2. The US government has been tapping the phone of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Mohamed ElBaradei, although the phone taps revealed no evidence of wrong-doing.

3. The Bush Administration wants to replace ElBaradei with Australia's totally incompetent Foreign Affairs Minister, Alexander Downer, even though Downer is so far reluctant to challenge ElBaradei's position:
"Our original strategy was to get Alex Downer to throw his hat in the ring, but we couldn't," a US policy maker told the Post.

"Anyone in politics will tell you that you can't beat somebody with nobody, but we're going to try to disprove that."
Well, if you are looking for a big fat nobody, Alexander Downer is your man, boys. He's also a compliant stooge, a bumbling nincompoop and a walking disaster whose incompetence and general lack of savoir faire would fit in perfectly down on the ranch in Crawford.

This is the man who single-handedly provoked diplomatic uproars with the Philipine and Spanish governments, calling them "marshmallows" for withdrawing from Iraq, and who was still insisting on Feb 18th this year that "Far from unstuck, the WMD case is proven."

December 12, 2004

Murder an Iraqi, Get 3 Years

How many years would you spend in jail if you murdered a US President? A lot more than three years, I'll bet. As George Orwell wrote, "some are more equal than others."

The US media cannot even bring themselves to report this disgraceful story properly. Of course, it has to be "balanced" like this:
A U.S. soldier was sentenced to three years in prison for killing a severely wounded Iraqi teenager, the military said Saturday, while insurgents staged attacks in several cities, killing at least 10 Iraqis, including three police colonels, and wounding 14 U.S. soldiers.
Yeah, let's keep it all in perspective. You invade a country and your soldiers walk around murdering unarmed Iraqis, but THEY ARE THE BAD GUYS. They have to be the bad guys, because otherwise WE are the bad guys - and we don't dare look into that moral abyss, lest the abyss stare back at our empty souls.
Defeat In Iraq: Ending The Dream Of US Empire

This short article by Robert Jensen (a journalism professor at the University of Texas at Austin and the author of "Citizens of the Empire: The Struggle to Claim Our Humanity") is so exactly right and so concisely delivered that I am reprinting it in full:
The United States has lost the war in Iraq, and that's a good thing.

I don't mean that the loss of American and Iraqi lives is to be celebrated. The death and destruction are numbingly tragic, and the suffering in Iraq is hard for most of us in the United States to comprehend.

The tragedy is compounded because these deaths haven't protected Americans or brought freedom to Iraqis. They have come in the quest to extend the American empire in this "new American century."

So, as a U.S. citizen, I welcome the U.S. defeat for a simple reason: It isn't the defeat of the United States -- its people or their ideals -- but of that empire. And it's essential that the American empire be defeated and dismantled.

The fact that the Bush administration says we are fighting for freedom and democracy (having long ago abandoned fictions about weapons of mass destruction and terrorist ties) does not make it so.

We must look at the reality, no matter how painful. The people of Iraq are better off without Saddam Hussein's despised regime, but that does not prove our benevolent intentions or guarantee that the United States will work to bring meaningful democracy to Iraq.

In Iraq, the Bush administration invaded not to liberate but to extend and deepen U.S. domination. When Bush said, "We have no territorial ambitions; we don't seek an empire," on Nov. 11, 2002, he told a half-truth.

The United States doesn't want to absorb Iraq or take direct possession of its oil. That's not the way of empire today; it's about control over the flow of oil and oil profits, not ownership.

In a world that runs on oil, the nation that controls the flow of oil has great strategic power. U.S. policy-makers want leverage over the economies of competitors -- Western Europe, Japan and China -- that are more dependent on Middle Eastern oil.

The Bush administration has invested money and lives in making Iraq a platform from which the United States can project power.

That requires not the liberation of Iraq but its subordination. But most Iraqis don't want to be subordinated, which is why the United States in some sense lost the war on the day it invaded. One lesson of contemporary history is that occupying armies generate resistance that, inevitably, prevails over imperial power.

When we admit defeat and pull out -- not if, but when -- the fate of Iraqis will depend in part on whether the United States makes good on legal and moral obligations to pay reparations and allows international institutions to aid in creating a truly sovereign Iraq.

We shouldn't expect politicians to do either without pressure. An anti-empire movement -- the joining of anti-war forces with the movement to reject corporate globalization -- must create that pressure.

We should all carry a profound sense of sadness at where decisions made by U.S. policy-makers -- not just the gang in power today but a string of Republican and Democratic administrations -- have left us and the Iraqis. But that sadness should not keep us from pursuing the most courageous act of citizenship in the United States today: pledging to dismantle the American empire.

The planet's resources do not belong to the United States. The century is not America's. We own neither the world nor time. And if we don't give up the quest -- if we don't find our place in the world instead of on top of the world -- there is little hope for a safe, sane and sustainable future.
Amen to that.
Who Are These People?

"Political criticism is our enemies' best friend." - Bush's choice to become Secretary of Homeland Security, former New York police commissioner Bernard Kerik, who has just withdrawn his nomination for the job.

Kerik cites a an immigration issue with a former nanny as his reason for stepping down. But there are many, many more skeletons in Kerik's closet. The Herald article above includes his profitable membership on the board of Taser International, a stun-gun maker, and a New York Times story claiming that in 2002 he paid a fine for using a police sergeant and two detectives to research his autobiography.

More critical, perhaps, is this Newsweek article:
Kerik, who recently made millions in the private sector, once filed for personal bankruptcy as a New York cop. And just five years ago he was in financial trouble over a condominium he owned in New Jersey. More serious trouble than anyone realized: NEWSWEEK has discovered that a New Jersey judge in 1998 had issued an arrest warrant as part of a convoluted series of lawsuits relating to unpaid bills on his condo. The magazine faxed documents, including the arrest warrant, over to the White House around 6:00 p.m. Friday, asking for comment. Neither Kerik nor the White House had any immediate response. At 8:30 p.m., Kerik had submitted his letter to the president.
But there's more mystery to Kerik than just this, as Josh Marshall has previously pointed out. Aside from what Marshall calls "rainmaking" for Rudy Guliani, there's the fact that he left the Riker's Island prison as something very near to a latter-day version of Tammany Hall. Then there's his mysteriously short-lived posting to Iraq:
Kerik arrived in Iraq with a rather open-ended committment. By his own account, it should have carried him at least through the end of 2003. There was even some suggestion that it would keep him in the country through 2004. Yet just after the first two major terrorist attacks in Baghdad reports surfaced that he was about to leave. And only a week later, after major terrorist incidents numbers three and four, he was gone.
As Josh Marshall says, only a president with majorities as compliant as George W. Bush has right now would even consider nominating someone like Kerik for such a senior post. So what's the deal?

Kerik has obviously been a good team player, taking a few hits over the years to help push the big boys' agenda. Homeland Security would not only have been reward for his efforts, it would also have allowed him to continue pushing that agenda aggressively, undeterred by minor obstacles like genuine Law and Order. Unfortunately for him, a little thing called Public Accountability tripped him up along the way.

If only the same Public Accountability standards could be applied to scandal-ridden people like Rumsfeld, Negroponte, Cheney and even Bush himself.

December 11, 2004

Humvee Production Problems? Bush-sh*t!

Bush and Rumsfeld blamed production problems - among other things - when cornered by a US soldier in Kuwait about lack of armour for Humvees in Iraq. As the SMH reports, that's just not true at all:
However, the manufacturer of Humvees for the US military and the company that adds armour to the vehicles say they are not running near production capacities and are making all that the Pentagon has requested.

"If they call and say, 'You know, we really want more,' we'll get it done," said Lee Woodward, a spokesman for AM General, the Indiana company that makes Humvees and the civilian Hummer versions.

At O'Gara-Hess & Eisenhardt, the Ohio firm that turns specially designed Humvees into fully armoured vehicles at a cost of about $US70,000 ($93,000) each, a spokesman, Michael Fox, said it, too, can provide more if the Government wants them.

Senator Evan Bayh, a Democrat, said on Thursday that the companies could increase production of armoured Humvees from 450 per month to 550 per month by February.

Blaming the shortage on a lack of production capacity, as Mr Rumsfeld did on Wednesday, is "just not true", Senator Bayh said. He said he had told the Pentagon as early as April that more armoured Humvees could be built.
Conscientious Objectors: 5,500 Have Deserted

"I was told in basic training that, if I'm given an illegal or immoral order, it is my duty to disobey it, and I feel that invading and occupying Iraq is an illegal and immoral thing to do." - Spc. Jeremy Hinzman

"I have to say that my image of my country always being the good guy, and always fighting for just causes, has been shattered." - Brandon Hughey, applying for refugee status in Canada.

"The United States is supposed to comply with treaty obligations like the U.N. charter, but they don’t. When the president isn’t complying with the Geneva Accords or with the U.N. charter, are we saying, 'Only the soldier who signed up when he was 17 -- that guy has to strictly comply with contract? The president, he doesn’t have to?' I don’t think so. I don’t think that is fair." - Toronto Lawyer Jeffry House, representing deserting US soldiers.

CBS has a 60 Minutes investigation into the growing number of US desertions. This last one kind of got me chuckling:

"I was walking to chow hall with my unit, and we were yelling, 'Train to kill, kill we will,' over and over again," recalls Hinzman. "I kind of snuck a peek around me and saw all my colleagues getting red in the face and hoarse yelling -- and at that point a light went off in my head and I said, 'You know, I made the wrong career decision.'" - Spc. Jeremy Hinzman.

December 10, 2004

Deliberately Distorting Intelligence

On June 15, 2003, Sgt. Frank "Greg" Ford, a counterintelligence agent in the California National Guard's 223rd Military Intelligence (M.I.) Battalion stationed in Samarra, Iraq, told his commanding officer, Capt. Victor Artiga, that he had witnessed five incidents of torture and abuse of Iraqi detainees at his base, and requested a formal investigation. Thirty-six hours later, Ford, a 49-year-old with over 30 years of military service in the Coast Guard, Army and Navy, was ordered by U.S. Army medical personnel to lie down on a gurney, was then strapped down, loaded onto a military plane and medevac'd to a military medical center outside the country.

Although no "medevac" order appears to have been written, in violation of Army policy, Ford was clearly shipped out because of a diagnosis that he was suffering from combat stress. After Ford raised the torture allegations, Artiga immediately said Ford was "delusional" and ordered a psychiatric examination, according to Ford. But that examination, carried out by an Army psychiatrist, diagnosed him as "completely normal."

A witness, Sgt. 1st Class Michael Marciello, claims that Artiga became enraged when he read the initial medical report finding nothing wrong with Ford and intimidated the psychiatrist into changing it. According to Marciello, Artiga angrily told the psychiatrist that it was a "C.I. [counterintelligence] or M.I. matter" and insisted that she had to change her report and get Ford out of Iraq.

Documents show that all subsequent examinations of Ford by Army mental-health professionals, over many months, confirmed his initial diagnosis as normal.
Deliberately Distorting Intelligence

From The Seattle Times:
"A senior CIA operative who handled sensitive informants in Iraq asserts that CIA managers asked him to falsify his reporting on weapons of mass destruction and retaliated against him after he refused.

The operative, who remains under cover, claims in a lawsuit made public yesterday that a co-worker warned him in 2001 'that CIA management planned to 'get him' for his role in reporting intelligence contrary to official CIA dogma.'

The subject of that reporting has been blacked out by the CIA, and the word 'Iraq' does not appear in the heavily redacted version of the complaint, but other language and context make clear the officer's work related to prewar intelligence on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. "
Democrats Must Take Ohio Vote Fraud All The Way To Washington

Keith Olbermann translates the exchange between Jesse Jackson and Ohio vote fraud committee chairman John Conyers:
"Jackson (translated): The Constitution says the states have to tally the votes of their citizens before they can send their electors to the Electoral College. If Ohio doesn't finish its recount before the College votes, or before the vote is unsealed before Congress on January 6th, shouldn't one of us raise a formal objection to those Ohio electors' votes?

Conyers (translated): After what I heard today, we ought to talk about it.
As Olbermann explains it, members of Congress are able to legally challenge the vote result, provided there is a written objection from one House member and one senator.
Once that objection is raised, the joint meeting of the two houses, convened to formally count the Electoral College votes and certify the winner of the presidential election, would be immediately discontinued. Then both Houses separate again and they vote by majority vote as to whether to accept the slate of electoral votes from that state.

What Jackson was asking Conyers was whether or not the Congressmen who were at the voting forum should consider invoking that challenge. The threat was raised in 2000, but Al Gore insisted no Democratic representative or senator should wield the cudgel.
Democrats on the Judiciary Committee who convened the forum need to have the courage to back up their words with such a written objection, forcing the US Government to give this vote fraud issue the attention it so desperately deserves.
truthout: Conyers Hearings on Ohio Vote Fraud Coverage

December 09, 2004

Conyers Forum

NERO FIDDLED has highlights of the Conyers forum, which by all accounts was a great success. Speakers included Jesse Jackson, Cliff Arnebeck, Ralph Neas, Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones, Jeff Fisher and others.

You can watch the entire three-hour forum here, or a 35-minute highlights reel here.

Also from Nero today (sorry for "stealing" this stuff, but I am sick):

Brad Blog reported today that Clint Curtis "met this morning with a U.S. Senator's office to discuss what he claims to know about a certain aspect of his case." Brad explains, "We're being purposely vague on details here, as we've been asked..."

This morning, Air America Radio's Unfiltered aired eight minutes of its interview with Clint Curtis, the first one broadcast. You can listen to the whole interview here.

Go to the People's Choice website and vote for Fahrenheit 9/11.

Elsewhere, Steve Rosenfeld, Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman have another great article at the Free Press, examing the whole list of Ohio vote fraud issues.

And Greg Palast justifies his belief that that the uncounted ballots in Ohio -- more than a quarter million designated "spoiled" or "provisional" -- undoubtedly contain enough votes to overturn George Bush's "victory" margin of 136,000.
Heroes Of Democracy

Former US Congressman Dan Hamburg and his wife Carrie were jailed yesterday after trying to deliver a letter about voting irregularities to Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell.

December 08, 2004


The 136 US troops killed in Iraq in November was the highest monthly total of the war. Forty-two US troops died in June, when the United States transferred "sovereignty" to Allawi's puppet regime. There has been an increase in the US death toll in every month since then, with the exception of October.

After one year's duty, the Central Intelligence Agency's station chief in Baghdad says:
the situation in Iraq is deteriorating and may not rebound any time soon... the security situation (is) likely to get worse, including more violence and sectarian clashes, unless there (are) marked improvements soon on the part of the Iraqi government, in terms of its ability to assert authority and to build the economy.
Anthony Cordesman from the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington says:
The odds of lasting US success in Iraq are now at best even, and may well be worse.

US success is heavily dependent on two variables which the US can influence but not control. The first is the emergence of a government that Iraqis see as legitimate and which can effectively govern. The second is the ability to create Iraqi military and security forces that can largely replace US and other coalition forces no later than 2006'.
And this from Iraq watcher Toby Dodge of Queen Mary College at the University of London:
To stand up a police force in the middle of an insurgency and expect it to work was optimism to the point of recklessness.

With Iraqi forces too weak and US forces too resented there is a continuing security vacuum.

The policy has been naive and simplistic from the start and the elections will not solve it.

This is a decade long thing at least, if the Americans even stay the course.
Clint Curtis: Too Good To Be True?

The Clint (or is it Clinton?) Curtis story that broke on BradBlog yesterday is making ripples in the blogosphere pond today, with most educated bloggers taking a sceptical line. Curtis claims to have written a vote-rigging program for a Florida company called Wong Enterprises. He further alleges that a Florida GOP Congressman, Tom Feeney, frequently attended meetings to direct the development of the software. Here's a link to Curtis' flyonthewall website.

Bev Harris at Black Box Voting has a long, hard look at the story and comes up with a bunch of questions. The most compelling of these, it seems to me, is Custis' claim to have filed a "QUITAM" whistleblower suit, that is "pending."
First, he doesn't spell it correctly. The correct spelling is two words, "Qui Tam." Next, Qui Tam cases MUST be filed under seal. If a Qui Tam is filed in Florida, both the evidence and the existence of the case must be sealed, and only the Florida Attorney General can unseal it...

You cannot keep the unsealing of a Qui Tam case away from the press. The press has mentioned no such Qui Tam in Florida.

This leaves two possibilities: (1) He filed the Qui Tam and is violating the court order to keep the case under seal, or (2) There is no Qui Tam case on this.
One of the problems for Bev is that Curtis' story was picked up quickly by Wayne Madsen, whose journalistic integrity (or lack of it) was recently savaged by Keith Olbermann, who himself had a recent run-in with Bev Harris over her refusal to appear on his Countdown TV show (unfortunately, it's a very small and stressful world in the Vote Fraud Blogosphere right now, and tempers are fraying!).

Curtis has now distanced himself from Madsen's analysis and asks that his story be judged on its own merits. And mind you, nobody is actually calling the story a hoax just yet. It could well be true. But after watching Dan Rather's reputation go down in flames when he was fed false evidence of Bush's AWOL memos, nobody important is tying their flag to this story just yet.

Blogs like Nero Fiddled and Lefterer are keeping track of this. Nero says William Pitt of will be interviewing Clint Curtis in Washington on Wednesday. He also provides this photo of Feeney and Bush from Feeney's House of Reps web page.
Deliberately Smearing Annan and the UN

If you are pro-Bush, it's almost essential to be anti-UN. The United Nations is the only entity in the world with the moral authority to declare Bush's foreign policy illegal, and Kofi Annan has done so.

The neo-cons and other Bush backers have been blaming the UN for everything - including Saddam, Sudan and the Taleban - for years. So it was no surprise when a GOP senator called for Annan to resign this week. What was surprising was how the global media picked up the story - talk about the tail wagging the dog!

It reached the point where world leaders like Tony Blair felt compelled to stand up and defend Annan. Even Colin Powell leapt to his defence. Annan himself was forced to make a statement, as GOP senators increased the pressure by calling for his ARREST!

I sometimes prefer to ignore such obviously concocted publicity stunt stories (and remember, the audience is domestic US voters: Bush & Co dont give a damn what the rest of the world thinks). Fuelling these pseudo fires helps no one, and in fact you end up doing exactly what the Bushies want you to do - being forced to defend their target, allowing the Bushies to dictate the narrative.

But in this case, there is a history which bears examination. Criticism of Annan is based on Saddam's exploitation of the UN Oil-for-food program. But from all informed accounts, a genuine expose of this scandal could be as embarrassing for the USA as for anyone else.

Remember when US agents raided Ahmed Chalabi's offices and publicly declared that he was an Iranian spy? At the time, Chalabi was rumoured to be in possession of accounts from Claude Hankes Drielsma, a KPMG investigator who was eager to seize documentation regarding Saddam's oil-for-food subterfuge before it disappeared from Baghdad's freshly-invaded ministries. Paul Bremer had been running a similar search for evidence with accountants from Ernst and Young.

Following the raid, the KPMG papers disappeared and Drielsma's hard disc was mysteriously destroyed. At the time, Drielsma said the report "would have been even more damning than anticipated."

Shortly thereafter, Ihsan Karim, the head of Iraq's Board of Supreme Audit, who had been working with Bremer and the Ernst and Young team, was killed in a mysterious car-bomb after agreeing to turn over his board's findings to an independent investigative team led by former Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker.

The evidence, if it still exists, is presumably now in the hands of the CIA, who can selectively leak whatever facts they like while keeping others secret.

Mother Jones has full details of the scam right here.
God, Bush and Hitler

If you ever wanted evidence to prove the similarities between Bush and Hitler in term of religious zealotry, Maureen Farrell's latest article is another well-researched treasure trove of facts backed up by dozens of URLs.

As Bob Fitrakis wrote:
"When was the last time a Western nation had a leader so obsessed with God and claiming God was on our side? If you answered Adolph Hitler and Nazi Germany, you're correct."
There seems to be a collective shift in the Zeitgeist of the USA, which compares eerily with this description from a German watching society distort under the Nazis:
"The world you live in -- "your nation, your people" -- is not the world you were in at all. The forms are all there, all untouched, all reassuring, the houses, the shops, the jobs, the mealtimes, the visits, the concerts, the cinema, the holidays. But the spirit, which you never noticed because you made the lifelong mistake of identifying it with the forms, is changed. Now you live in a world of hate and fear, and the people who hate and fear do not even know it themselves; when everyone is transformed, no one is transformed. Now you live in a system which rules without responsibility even to God. The system itself could not have intended this in the beginning, but in order to sustain itself it was compelled to go all the way."

December 07, 2004

THE BRAD BLOG: "WHISTLEBLOWER AFFIDAVIT: Programmer Built Vote Rigging Prototype at Republican Congressman's Request!"
Ho Hum... Zzzzz

There were only "about 20 people" protesting outside the offices of Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell on the day he certified that state's bogus results for the 2004 election. As you would expect by now, Keith Olbermann at MSNBC has coverage of the issue, including more analysis of the "tantalizing language" being used by Kerry's team of Democrat lawyers, but other outlets are woefully inadequate.

Here's some evidence of just how sloppy the mainstrem reporting of this issue is. From a Reuters report quoting Democrat spokesman Cliff McAuliffe:
He said Kerry "feel very comfortable" about his decision not to challenge the outcome in Ohio.
And this from an ABC News (USA) report quoting Keith Cunningham, vice president of the Ohio state election boards association:
"I know election officials all over the state it's just fantasy run wild."
Reporters not only aren't interested in this story, they can't even be bothered getting their spelling and punctuation right. Considering such media outlets have teams of editors and sub-editors, that says a lot about how little attention the mainstream media agencies are giving to this vitally important issue.
Reuters Still Seeking Answers on Abuse of Three Staffers:
We all felt we were going to die,' Salem Ureibi, a longtime cameraman for Reuters, told Marshall and Khaled al-Ramahi, the news agency's Baghdad office manager. 'They treated us like criminals. They did not let us sleep. During [the first] night, two hooded people and a translator took me for questioning...

I cried. I never cried before. Even when my father died, when Saddam killed my brother, I never cried. In this situation, with the Americans, I cried."
On his fourth visit to Iraq, the Australian Defence Minister was not even able to travel from Baghdad airport into central Baghdad.
US finally admits gridiron hero Pat Tillman was killed by friendly fire.

December 06, 2004

More news on the stolen 2004 election

Today, Monday 6th December, is the big day for Ohio’s Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell, who is due to certify the results of the Ohio election. The results should look slightly better for Kerry than they did on November 3rd:
Data is still sketchy, but it turns out election officials accepted about 77% of the provisional ballots — about 121,000 of them. No statewide count of the provisionals yet, though results reported by one county — Franklin (that's Columbus), indicated that Senator Kerry had gotten nearly 7,700 of the more-than 12,000 provisional votes counted.
Also on Monday, Cliff Arnebeck's Alliance for Democracy group is expected to file its election challenge, asking a high court justice to set the election results aside pending a full investigation and hearing:
Arnebeck said today he believes that if all ballots were counted in what he calls a "traditional context,” the outcome would not just swing from President Bush’s 130,000 vote election night lead — it would swing all the way in the opposite direction, and give Kerry a 130,000 vote lead.

"Our presidential election affects not just this country but all the citizens of the world. And therefore it's absolutely essential that the person who assumes the mantle of that office has the full confidence of our public and the world community that it was an honest election.”
With all that going on today, Blackwell may decide to wait a while before he responds to all 34 questions contained in a letter sent Thursday from Democratic members of the House Judiciary Committee. Of the letters 34 questions, three - according to MSNBC's excellent Olbermann blog - transcend the importance of the election itself:
"They want to know if Blackwell has investigated the barring of reporters during the vote count, if Blackwell has identified the FBI agent who allegedly (and despite FBI denials) warned the county of a terrorist threat, and, most pointedly: "If County officials were not advised of terrorist activity by an FBI agent, have you inquired as to why they misrepresented this fact? If the lockdown was not as a response to a terrorist threat, why did it take place? Did any manipulation of vote tallies occur?"
As Olbermann says, these are questions that Blackwell HAS TO ANSWER, and history will judge any lies or prevarications harshly.

Download the PDF of the letter sent to Blackwell here.


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