August 31, 2004

Just The Facts

Now that both the USA and Australia are into full-on election mode, things are getting a little bit strange...

Everything is becoming increasingly distorted by the prism of electioneering. The bare facts are spinned to the max and swing voters - who haven't payed much attention for a few years - end up with no clear visibility of what is truth and what is not. What to do?

For the past month, I've been tempted to put together a summary of the known facts, based on the evidence that I have been documenting in this blog over the past 18 months or more.

Fortunately, Bernard Weiner at The Smirking Chimp has saved me the trouble, with 25 clearly explained, critically important points based on genuine, unbiased facts. It's not a complete dossier, but it's more than enough to help people decide how to vote (and maybe even send these warmongering liars to jail when the election is done).

As Donald Rumsfeld once said, there are things we know we know and things we know we don't know and things we don't know we don't know. To clear it all up, here are the things we DO know:


1. Immediately after the destruction of the Twin Towers, Bush's Environmental Protection Agency tested the air in and around Ground Zero. Anxious Lower Manhattan residents, worried about possible airborne toxic particles affecting them and especially their children, were assured by the EPA on September 18 that the tests indicated it was safe for them to return to and live normal lives in their homes and apartments and businesses. It wasn't until two years later that the EPA admitted that they had lied to New Yorkers: The Bush Administration knew from their own test results that the toxicity revealed was WAY over the safe levels. Typical Bush&Co. pattern: secrecy, lies, denial, coverup.

2. There is no evidence that Bush&Co. ordered Osama bin Laden -- who had been on the CIA payroll in Afghanistan when he and his forces were battling the Soviet occupiers -- to launch terrorist attacks on the U.S. Resurgent radical Islam is a genuine phenomenon, with its own religious and political roots. There definitely are Bad Guys out there.

What is well-documented is that the highest circles around Bush were quite aware in the Summer of 2001 -- as a result of fairly detailed intelligence frantically being passed on to them by other governments in the months and weeks before 9/11-- that a massive terrorist attack was in the works, which likely would involve hijacked airplanes aimed at icon American economic and political targets. (The August 6, 2001 Presidential Daily Briefing, entitled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.," talked about al-Qaida wanting to strike the nation's capital, preparations for airline hijackings, casing of buildings in New York, terrorists in the U.S. with explosives, etc.) Bush went to ground in Texas, the FBI told Ashcroft to stop flying commercial jets, etc. The attacks finally came on 9/11.

Bush could have assumed command immediately; instead, 27 minutes went by while he sat in a schoolroom and then posed for photos. Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, somewhere on the Pentagon premises, was strangely missing from action, uninvolved in defending the country until after the horrific events had unfolded. Even though the protocols were clear, NORAD could not reach Rumsfeld and did not scramble jets until long after the horrific mass-murder attacks were over. When Bush did emerge from the school, he claims he could not reach Cheney or the White House by phone. (Passengers using cell phones on the final doomed jet had no problems reaching their loved ones and emergency centers all around the country.)

In short, the key Administration officials responsible for protecting Americam, and coordinating its responses to attacks, were not available, either out of incompetence and confusion or out of more nefarious motives. As Nina Moliver, a 9/11 sleuth puts it, "On 9/11, there was a grand stall. A stall for time. I learned this from a glance at the findings of the 9/11 commission. How could ANYBODY miss it? Bush and Rumsfeld didn't 'fail' on Sept 11. They succeeded masterfully." A bit far out, to be sure, but if the Bush circle knew something was coming that morning -- and numerous others did, including the mayor of San Francisco -- it's certainly a theory that can't be ruled out.

3. We know that the future neo-conservative architects of Bush foreign/military policy, members of The Project for The New American Century (PNAC), knew that their ideas were too extreme for most Americans to swallow. They noted that "the process of transformation, even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event -- like a new Pearl Harbor."

Again, there is no proof of coordination by the Bush Administration with the al-Qaida terrorists who carried out the terrorist attacks, but BushCheney and their closest aides were aware on 9/11 that they now had the "Pearl Harbor" that would clear the way for their agenda to be realized.

4. We know that Bush and Cheney, early on, approached the leaders of the House and Senate and urged them not to investigate the pre-9/11 activities of the Administration, because of "national security." The coverup was beginning.

5. The 9/11 Commission examined how the intelligence community screwed up the pre-9/11 intelligence -- thus effectively laying the blame on lower-level agents and officials -- but says it won't issue its report on how the Bush Administration used or misused that information until AFTER the election. The coverup continues. Many victims' families are furious.

6. We know that the Bush Administration has been able to obtain whatever legislation it needs in its self-proclaimed "war on terror" by utilizing, and hyping, the understandable fright of the American people. The USA PATRIOT Act -- composed of many honorable initiatives, and many clearly unconstitutional provisions, cobbled together from those submitted over the years by GOP hardliners and rejected as too extreme by Congress -- was presented almost immediately to a House and Senate frightened by the 9/11 attacks and by the anthrax introduced into their chambers by someone still not discovered. Ridge and Ashcroft emerge periodically to manipulate the public's fright by announcing another "terror" threat, based on "credible" but unverified evidence; these announcements can be correlated almost exactly to when Bush seems to need a headline to distract the public from yet another scandal or significant drop in the polls.


7. We know that a cabal of ideologically-motivated Bush officials, on the rightwing fringe of the Republican Party, were calling for a military takeover of Iraq as early as 1991. This elite group included Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Perle, Woolsey, Bolton, Khalizad and others, all of whom are now located in positions of power in the Pentagon and White House, and, to a lesser extent, State Department.

They were among the key founders of the Project for The New American Century (PNAC) in 1997; among their recommendations: "pre-emptively" attacking other countries devoid of imminent danger to the U.S., abrogating agreed-upon treaties when they conflict with U.S. goals, making sure no other country (or organization, such as the United Nations) can ever achieve parity with the U.S., installing U.S.-friendly governments to do America's will, using tactical nuclear weapons, and so on. In short, as they put it, the goal is "benevolent global hegemony" -- or, in layman's English, a kind of neo-imperalism.

All of these extreme suggestions, once regarded as lunatic, are now enshrined as official U.S. policy in the National Security Strategy of the United States of America, published by the Bush Administration in late-2002.

8. We know that the Bush Administration was planning to attack Iraq long before 9/11, and that, even though Rumsfeld was told by his intelligence analysts that 9/11 was an al-Qaida operation, he began dragging an attack on Iraq -- which had no significant contacts with bin Laden's network -- into the war planning. When the traditional intelligence agencies couldn't, or wouldn't, furnish the White House with made-up "facts" to back up an attack on Iraq, Rumsfeld set up his own "intelligence" unit inside his office, the Office of Special Plans, staffed it with political PNAC appointees, and, lo and behold, got the justifications he wanted -- which cooked-"intelligence" turned out to be the lies and deceptions that took the U.S. into Iraq.

Note: Rumsfeld's secretive Office of Special Plans, with direct access to the Secretary of Defense and thus to shaping policy toward Iraq and Iran, is implicated in the current, serious scandal involving possible treason (passing classified material to foreign countries, in this case maybe Israel and Iran), with potential links to the slimy double-agent Ahmad Chalabi and others.

9. We know that the Bush Administration felt that it could not get Congressional and public support for its plan to attack Iraq if the true reasons were revealed -- to control the massive Iraqi oil reserves, to obtain a military staging base in the region, and to use a U.S.-friendly "democratic" government as a lever to alter the geopolitical situation in the Middle East and beyond. So, according to Wolfowitz, it settled on the one justification they thought would work: accusing Saddam Hussein of preparing to attack its neighbors and the United States with supposed massive stockpiles of "weapons of mass destruction." Senators were lied to by Administration briefers, who told them Iraqi drone planes could drop biochemical agents over American cities; Condoleezza Rice warned about "mushroom clouds" over New York and Washington.

Millions of citizens across the globe, and world leaders among our own allies, warned the Bush Administration that an attack on Iraq -- a weak country, with no military power to speak of -- was wrong, would backfire on the U.S. and world peace, would enrage the Islamic world and produce more terrorist recruits, and would lose America its reputation and its post-9/11 sympathy across the globe. But the Bush Administration had made the essential decision to go to war a year before the invasion ("Fuck Saddam," Bush told three U.S. Senators in March of 2002. "We're taking him out.") And, even though Saddam authorized the United Nations inspectors to return to Iraq to complete their weapons survey, Bush was determined to go to car. Secretary of State Powell was dispatched to the United Nations to outline the U.S. case and obtain authorization; his case was filled with laughably thin and phony intelligence, and the U.N. demurred. Bush launched his attack.

10. We know that no WMDs were discovered. No nuclear program. No missiles aimed at U.S. or British interests. No drone planes. No biochemical weaponry. Bush and his spokesmen then attempted to change the rationale for the war away from those scary WMDs to an implication that Saddam was part of the terrorist network that carried out the 9/11 attacks. There was no convincing proof offerred, merely the constant repetition of the non-existent al-Qaida tie -- so much so that the Big Lie technique worked early on as 70% of Americans thought there must have been some tie-in to 9/11. The 9/11 Commission verified that there was no such operative connection to al-Qaida. Bush publicly agreed, but Cheney and others even today continue to suggest otherwise. When the American public stopped believing in the al-Qaida/Iraq lie, the rationale for the war was switched again. Now the reason for the war was that Saddam Hussein was a terrible tyrant -- an assertion everybody could agree on -- though why we toppled this guy and not a half dozen other equally as bad dictators (some of them our close allies) was left unanswered.

10. We know that the predictions of our key allies, and those millions in the streets who protested, have come true. The U.S., having had no "post-war" plan, is bogged down in Iraq, facing a nationalist insurgency, and a rebellious religious faction of fighters, with no end in sight; it has lost the countryside and is losing the cities as well. The U.S. has engineered an American-friendly interim government that is locked into the reconstruction contracts that permit huge American corporations such as Bechtel and Halliburton -- who, quite by coincidence, of course, are huge financial backers of the Bush Administration -- to make out like bandits in that country, often with no-bid contracts. The U.S. has at least 14 military bases in Iraq, which it intends to continue using as a military/political lever in reshaping the geopolitics of the Middle East -- regardless of the costs in lives and treasure, and not caring that its policies with regard to the Palestinian/Israeli problem fan the flames of terrorism in that area of the world, and beyond.


11. We know that CIA Director George Tenet fell on his sword, taking the thrust of the bad-intel blame away from Bush. Other elements inside the agency, outraged by Bush&Co. using them as whipping-boys, then began leaking all sorts of damaging information about White House skulduggery. Elements in the State Department, appalled at the neo-cons in control of U.S. military policy at the Pentagon, likewise leaked information damaging to the extremists.

12. We know that once Bush assumed power, he moved to obtain immunity for U.S. officials and troops from international war-crimes prosecutions, pulling America out of the relevant treaties. We didn't know why at the time, but later, after our covert and overt behavior in Afghanistan and Iraq and the tortures scandal erupted, we figured it out.

13. We know that Bush lawyers in the White House and Pentagon (State Department attorneys did not agree) issued memorada that outlined how Bush and other key officials could avoid criminal prospecution for their wartime policies and for advocating use of "harsh interrogation methods" (read: torture) of suspected terrorists at Guantanamo, and in Afghanistan, Iraq and other U.S. facilities around the world. Ignoring the Founders' wise "separation of powers" -- designed to keep any leader or branch of government from assuming total control of the levers of powers -- the lawyers claimed that whenever Bush acts as "commander in chief" during "wartime," he is above the law. In common parlance, these are rationalizations for authoritarian rule, by dictatorial decrees.

14. We know that the Pentagon was well aware of the tortures at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere -- key military reports had been submitted -- but the issue was ignored until grisly photographs and videotapes surfaced in public media documenting the "harsh interrogation methods"; some of those methods resulted in a goodly number of deaths to prisoners under U.S. control. Several commissions reported that the rot came from the top at the Pentagon, including Rumsfeld, but, by and large, only lower-level troops and officers have been disciplined or charged. In the meantime, the humiliating and brutal treatment of Muslim men, women and children in U.S. custody has reverberated throughout the Islamic world, helping create more and more converts to terrorist organizations.


15. In two instances, the Bush Administration, for its own political reasons, compromised American national security by naming key intelligence operatives -- one a CIA agent, Valerie Plame, with important contacts in the shadowy world of weapons of mass destruction (outed by two "senior Administration officials," apparently in retaliation for her husband's political comments); revealing the name of a CIA agent is a felony. The other, more recently (apparently to show off how successful they were in their anti-terrorism hunt), was a high-ranking mole close to bin Laden's inner circle, who could have kept the U.S. informed as ongoing and future plans of al-Qaida. That's our anti-terrorism government at work.

16. We know that Karl Rove -- Bush's senior political advisor, who along with Dick Cheney, manipulates Bush's strings -- has been instrumental in helping get the so-called "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth" off the ground. Longtime GOP operatives and major Bush donors supplied the money and organizing skill, and then let them loose with their lies -- with precious little skepticism displayed by the corporate-owned mass-media. Apparently, at least initially, the Big Lie technique worked once again -- though now polls show the smears being doubted -- forcing Kerry to stop his attacks on Bush domestic policies and concentrate on damage control. The Kerry campaign took a while to rev up its counter-campaign, bringing in all sorts of eyewitnesses that documented the truth of his heroism in winning his Vietnam medals. Even slimier charges are expected at any moment about Kerry's post-discharge opposition to that war.


17. We know that even though several large states -- among them, California and Ohio -- have prohibited computer-voting machines from beng used in the November election, unless there is a voter-verified paper trail, most of the toss-up states will be using the touch-screen, unverified system. This would be suspicious if Democrats or Republicans were in charge of those machines, but in this election it's virtually all Republicans. The three largest makers of the machines are owned by far-right Republicans; those same companies tabulate the results. Republican-leaning companies also control the testing of those machines. In short, it smells rank -- especially inasmuch as it's been demonstrated how easily the software can be manipulated, without anybody knowing -- and definitely looks as if the fix is in. The CEO of one of the companies, a major "Pioneer" donor to the Bush campaign, promised Bush he would "deliver" his state to the GOP candidate, and Gov. Jeb Bush in Florida has quashed all attempts to stop or alter computer-voting in his state. (Note: The GOP has urged all its members in Florida to vote by absentee ballot, because the machines are "unreliable." Get the picture?)

18. We know that the GOP is trying, by hook or by crook, to lower the number of potential Democrat voters. Attempts have been made to remove thousands of African-American citizens from the rolls (reminiscent of Florida in 2000, where anywhere from 47,000 to 90,000 black voters where disenfranchised), police agents have visited numerous elderly black voters in their rural homes and warned them about possible violence at the polls, a GOP official in Michigan talked about the need to "discourage" the vote in largely-black Detroit, GOP "observers" will stand outside voting places in rural areas as possible intimidators of older black voters, GOP operatives registering new American citizens filled out the paperwork for them and signed them up as Republicans, and so on.

19. We know that Administration lawyers have issued memoranda making it possible for Bush to "postpone" the November election for "anti-terrorist" reasons -- say, a major attack or "credible" threat of a major attack. Note: There has never been a national election postponed, not even during the Civil War.

20. We know that Administration attorneys have issued memoranda that would make it possible for Bush to be elected by partial voting. That is, he could be elected by voters supporting him, even if citizens in pro-Kerry states were prohibited from voting or having their votes counted. Again, the fig-leaf is "terrorism." If a "red alert" were to be issued for certain areas on November 2 -- say, the West Coast and New England states -- Bush could, under state-of-emergency declarations, "limit the movement" of citizens in those areas, while the election proceeded as normal elsewhere. A truncated election would be permitted, and, under this scheme, whoever had the most ballots would win.


21. We know that the Bush Administration paid off its backers (and itself) by giving humongous tax breaks, for 10 years out, to the already wealthy and to large corporations. This was done at a time when the U.S. economy was in recessionary doldrums and when the treasury deficit from those tax-breaks was growing even larger from Iraq war costs. So far as we know, the Bush Administration has no plans for how to retire that debt and no real plan (other than the discredited "trickle-down" theory) for restarting the economy and creating jobs. In 2004, it's clear that whatever positive "trickle-down" effect the tax refunds may have provided, that impact is no more, and the (jobless) "recovery" is slowing and starting to look recessional again. People need good-paying employment.

22. We know that the HardRight conservatives who control Bush policy don't really care what kind of debt and deficits his policies cause; in some ways, the more the better. They want to decimate and eviscerate popular social programs from the New Deal/Great Society eras, including, most visibly, Head Start, Social Security, Medicare (and real drug coverage for seniors), aspects of public education. Since these programs are so well-approved by the public, the destruction will be carried out stealthily with the magic words of "privatization," "deregulation," "choice" and so on, and by going to the public and saying that they'd love to keep the programs intact but they have no alternative but to cut them, given the deficit, weak economy and "anti-terrorist" wars abroad.

23. We know that Bush environmental policy -- dealing with air and water pollution, national park systems, and so on -- is an unmitigated disaster, more or less giving free rein to corporations whose bottom line does better when they don't have to pay attention to the public interest.

24. We know from "insider" memoirs and reports by former Bush Administration officials -- Joseph DeIulio, Paul O'Neill, Richard Clarke, et al. -- that the public interest plays little role in the formulation of policy inside the Bush Administration. The motivating factors are greed and control and remaining in political power. Further, they say, there is little or no curiosity to think outside the political box, or even to hear other opinions -- in other words, don't bother me with facts, my mind's made up. Some of this non-curiosity may be based in fundamentalist religious, even Apocalyptic, beliefs.

25. Finally (although we could continue forever detailing the crimes and misdemeanors of this corrupt, incompetent Administration), we know that more and more, the permanent-war policy abroad and police-state tactics at home -- with the shredding of Constitutional rights designed to protect citizens from a potential repressive government -- are taking us into a kind of American fascism at home and an imperial foreign policy overseas.

As a result, we are beginning to see more alliances between liberal/left forces and libertarians/traditional conservatives horrified that their party has been hijacked by extreme ideologues. If Bush loses his bid for a second term, it will come less from what we progressives do and more from those moderate-to-conservative Republicans and Libertarians, who cannot abide what Bush&Co. have done to their party, their movement, and to this country."
Franklin Was Flipped, then Fingered

Juan Cole stays on the case:
"It appears to be the case that someone in the Pentagon got wind that Larry Franklin had been flipped, and was terrified that the investigation might go on up the ladder at the Pentagon, in AIPAC, and with the Israelis. So they leaked news of the investigation to make sure that everybody clammed up and shredded everything.

The NYT piece today reflects continued efforts at the Pentagon to paint Franklin as a low-level desk grunt with little access to Paul Wolfowitz. This last is just a lie. In a conversation with me, Franklin indicated that he was in very close contact with Wolfowitz, and he offered to get me an audience. I said, 'You don't read my web log, do you?'"
More Wolves Behaving Like Sheep...

Isn't it amazing what the prospect of elections (and the lure of real power) can do to people who have long been advocating, using and encouraging violence?

Just as former terrorist and CIA frontman Iyad Allawi has announced an "amnesty" for insurgents in Iraq, the Fadhil brothers at Iraq The Model have announced an "amnesty" and are allowing all banned bloggers to return to their site, which has now received a million hits as much-publicized example of "proof" that ordinary Iraqis support Bush's crusade.

What's more, in an effort to cash in on their fame, two of the Fadhil boys have set up their own political party, the Iraqi Pro-Democracy Party (it even has its own Arab-English website).

So now it's time to distance themselves from their CIA handlers, not to mention the Iraqi Governing Council they once so strongly supported, and try to win some votes from ordinary Iraqis who predominantly dislike the USA.

Here's Ali's best effort at distancing himself from everything he and his brothers ever said:
...we should be more objective, but the problem is that we found ourselves in the middle of fierce anti-war propaganda that wants Iraq desperately to fail just to prove that America was wrong. Thus we seem to have gone rather far in our support for America's policy as well as the interim Iraqi government and I'd like to say that this was not our intention when we started this blog.

It's very hard to remain objective when you are in the middle of a war and when all your dreams and hopes are being seriously threatened everyday. However, I realize that we must have gone far in our unquestioned support for the American administration and I'll try my best to put this in mind in the future and be as objective as I can.

To continue the animal analogies, can the leopard change his spots?

The level of debate in the ITM blog comments certainly shows no sign of improvement, and I seriously doubt that ordinary Iraqis will knowingly support people who so thoughtlessly embraced every aspect of the US invaders' agenda.
The Truth Will Out... Later

As I suspected, Australia's newly re-opened "children overboard" inquiry will not report till after the October 9th election.

It will, however, meet and hear evidence during the election campaign, opening the door to Liberal complaints that it will "operate as a campaign tool of the Labour Party."

Labor Senator John Faulkner's response is inspired:
"If you and the Government had not gagged Mr Scrafton from giving evidence to the Senate committee, these corroborated facts would have been available to the Australian people two years ago."

August 30, 2004

Bush Admits It: "War On [ahem!] Terror" Can Never Be Won

It's just a post-Cold War excuse for eternal conflict that keeps the taxpayer-funded US military-industrial complex churning out money for Bush's mates.

"In a US TV interview, Bush, who has said he expects the war on terror to be a long, drawn-out battle, was asked: 'Can we win it?'

The president replied: 'I don't think you can win it. But I think you can create conditions so that the - those who use terror as a tool are - less acceptable in parts of the world.'"

(Note how he avoided using the word "Terrorist"?)

Democrats should learn something here: Bush is walking away from his gung-ho commitment to eternal war and pretending to give a $&*# about the "hearts and minds" element of anti-terrorism (in which his administration has failed dismally). As far as I'm concerned, this hypocritical flip-flopping is tantamount to an admission of error.

Will the US public really allow Bush to go back to his middle-ground "I'm a uniter, not a divider" lies? Can the wolf who threw off his sheep's clothes once again pull the wool over voters' eyes?

In the same interview, Bush called last year's invasion of Iraq a "catastrophic success"... Does he actually know what "catastrophic" means? It's an awfully long word for young George, and it's obviously got the better of him in this case.

John Edwards says Bush got it "half right":
"It was catastrophic to rush to war without a plan to win the peace," Edwards said in a press release. "It was catastrophic to ignore the warnings of the military leadership about the risks of an unstable post-war Iraq. It was catastrophic to dismiss warnings of creating chaotic terrorists havens as today's New York Times accurately describes. And it was catastrophic to tell the American public that rebuilding Iraq would not burden the American taxpayers with a bill of $200 billion and rising."

Bush also said the invasion was "so successful, so fast, that an enemy that should have surrendered, or been done in, escaped and lived to fight another day." Right...err... It was so successful that the enemy escaped... Well, I guess if your real aim is endless conflict and an excuse to occupy Iraq until the oil dries up, that's about spot on.
Why The USA Didn't Want al-Zarqawi

First we heard that the US turned down a Taleban deal to hand over bin Laden, now we hear they turned down an Iranian offer of al-Zarqawi. Why?

Juan Cole has an educated guess:

"Iran is reported to have Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in custody in summer of 2003, and to be entirely willing to hand him over to the US in return for some high-ranking MEK terrorists. But first the neocon network... intervenes to stop the trade... Then, mysteriously, everything that goes wrong in Iraq from about January of 2004 begins being blamed on Zarqawi (is it alleged that Iran let him go, to deliberately disrupt Iraq by blowing up Shiites? More likely, when Iran won't accommodate the Neocons because of the latters' ties to MEK, the neocons decide to smear Iran as 'harboring' terrorists and 'sending' them to Iraq. They know this path might even lead to a US war on Iran, which is what they want. That is one reason they did not want the prisoner exchange to succeed). "
Huge NYC Protest Against Bush

The New York Times seems to have understood why up to five hundred thousand people were marching in the hot sun yesterday:

"On a sweltering August Sunday, the huge throng of protesters marched past Madison Square Garden, the site of the Republican National Convention opening today, and denounced President Bush as a misfit who had plunged America into war and runaway debt, undermined civil and constitutional rights, lied to the people, despoiled the environment and used the presidency to benefit corporations and millionaires."
Bush's Burning Bridges

Australians aren't the only ones whose Opposition Leader is persona non grata in Washington. The UK's Michael Howard was told by Karl Rove not to bother coming to the White House:
"In a furious phone call earlier this year, Karl Rove, Mr Bush's closest adviser, told Mr Howard's aides: "You can forget about meeting the President. Don't bother coming. You are not meeting him."

More here: Howard tells Bush: I don't care if you won't see me:
Israel Pushed USA for Wars In Iraq, Iran

Juan Cole's Informed Comment blog has a lengthy and (not surprisingly) well-informed analysis of the Franklin-Israel spy saga. He says Franklin was part of a "cell" that planned invasions of both Iraq and Iran.
"These pro-Likud intellectuals concluded that 9/11 would give them carte blanche to use the Pentagon as Israel's Gurkha regiment, fighting elective wars on behalf of Tel Aviv"
Cole's comments link various threads of the Franklin case, showing links with Silvio Berlusconi's government and the Niger nukes fiasco:
"The Niger forgeries also try to implicate Iran. Indeed, the idea of a joint Iraq/Iran nuclear plot was so far-fetched that it is what initially made the Intelligence and Research division of the US State Department suspicious of the forgeries, even before the discrepancies of dates and officials in Niger were noticed."
He also explores the neo-cons link with the Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization or MEK, one of those dirty, secretive relationships which lets so many terrorists operate around the world with US taxpayers funds (including, once, Osama Bin Laden):
"When the US recently categorized the MEK as a terrorist organization, there were howls of outrage from "scholars" associated with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (a wing of AIPAC)... MEK is a terrorist organization by any definition of the term, having blown up innocent people in the course of its struggle against the Khomeini government."
He says the Iranians were" willing to give up 5 key al-Qaeda operatives, whom they had captured, in return for MEK members." Franklin's cell stopped that trade.

Cole's conclusion:
"Franklin's movements reveal the contours of a rightwing conspiracy of warmongering and aggression, an orgy of destruction, for the benefit of the Likud Party, of Silvio Berlusconi's business in the Middle East, and of the Neoconservative Right in the United States. It isn't about spying. It is about conspiring to conscript the US government on behalf of a foreign power or powers."

August 29, 2004

It's Larry Franklin

The Israeli Spy Scandal is slowly blossoming. The problem seems to be the neo-con's idea to go after Iran when they still have two unfinished messes to clean up.

Larry Franklin, who works for Douglas Feith's deputy, William Luti, and served as advisor on Iran issues to Feith and Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, has been identified as the Israeli Spy under FBI investigation.

Sources say the FBI espionage probe goes beyond Israeli allegations... Here's what seems to be the guts of it so far:
"Two sources disclosed Saturday that the information believed to have been passed to Israel was the draft of a top-secret presidential order on Iran policy, known as a National Security Presidential Directive. Because of disagreements over Iran policy among President Bush's advisors, the document is not believed to have ever been completed.

Having a draft of the document - which some Pentagon officials may have believed was insufficiently tough toward Iran - would have allowed Israel to influence U.S. policy while it was still being made. Iran is among Israel's main security concerns. "

I can't help wondering if this investigation will lead us back to the three Israeli agents who were dancing with glee on a NYC rooftop as two planes slammed into the World Trade Centre buidlings on 9/11?
Howard the Coward

Finally, Australians have a date. We will go to the polls to remove John Howard - the lying, conniving, warmongering, anachronistic scab on our souls - on October 9th.

Howard's decision to call an election now is notable for several factors:

1. Most significantly, Parliament was due to resume tomorrow, and the prime topic of debate was to be Howard's lies about the "Children Overboard" affair, which won him the last election. As the ABC reports:
Mr Howard says the Senate will still sit on Monday and Tuesday, allowing an inquiry into the children overboard affair to be established.

"I didn't want anybody to suggest that I was trying to prevent the Senate doing any pointless political business that it might want to do," Mr Howard said.

Two days of debate? What will they do, set up an enquiry along Howard-defined lines, to reach yet another totally predictable nobody-is-to-blame conclusion (after the election, no doubt)? Howard is hoping that the six week campaign will effectively stymie any chance of real debate on this issue. He hopes that voters will think the whole topic out-dated and just part of the pre-election slagging. Even if a meaningful enquiry could be set up, it would not be scheduled to conclude before the election date. Howard is trying desperately to kill this issue before it can arise from the dead on prime-time TV.

2. Leadership challenges from within the Liberal Party are now effectively frozen, just when Treasurer Peter Costello was thinking he might have until April to build a posse. But Howard is - yet again - refusing to commit himself to a full term in office.

3. It's a month before the US elections. I always thought Howard would wait till after November 2nd if he thought Bush had a good chance of winning the Us elections. After all, who do you want in the lodge if the most powerful man in the world remains El Busho Loco? Many Australians would look - as they usually do at poll time, unfortunately - at which side of the bread the butter is on. Latham and Bush would be a recipe for conflict, and Howard is sure to press this point in any case. But Howard realises Bush is looking worse week by week, and he's not willing to take the chance.

4. Finally, tomorrow is the last day of the Olympics and Australian athletes have been more successful than ever before. Howard is hoping to piggy-back to victory on the strength of the nationalistic fervour that is sure to reign over the next month, coupled with the consequent lack of attention to details of government policy. Let's hope the media focus on what is really important for a change.

My gut feeling - based especially on converstions with friends, workmates, family, people in the shops and whatever, over the past three years - is that Howard hasn't got a snowball's chance in Hell of surviving this election. I think it will be a landslide for Labour, particularly because most Australians realise that they were cheated last time round (even the racist fools who were swayed by the imaginary deluge of baby-tossing boat people).

But - like Bush - Howard will do anything to win...

This election is going to be all about FEAR. Are you afraid that the Labout Party will not be able to keep your mortgage rates down? Are you afraid that boatloads of refugees will be camping on your lawn next year? Or are you afraid that Islamic terrorists will blow up the Opera House?

But fear works both ways. John Howard is certainly afraid that people will uncover his lies about "children overboard" and Iraqi WMDs, not to mention his government's complicity in the Abu Ghraib scandal.

Be alert, but not alarmed.

Together, we can defeat this menace!
The News They Don't Want You to Know...

With all the attention on Najaf over the past three weeks, few people realise that British envoys have been under siege in Basra:
"The British diplomatic mission in Basra has been under siege for three weeks, suffering almost daily mortar attacks as security in the southern Iraq city has deteriorated dramatically."
More under-reported stories at Information Clearing House (Tom's now back in action after surgery).
"I Got Bush Into The National Guard"

Former speaker of Texas House says he's ashamed for getting Bush into Texas Guard:

"In a video posted on the Internet, Ben Barnes, a former Democratic speaker of the Texas House, said he is ashamed he helped President Bush and the sons of other wealthy families get into the Texas Air National Guard in 1968 so they could avoid serving in Vietnam.

'I got a young man named George W. Bush into the National Guard when I was lieutenant governor of Texas, and I'm not necessarily proud of that, but I did it,' Barnes said in the 45-second video, which was recorded May 27 before a group of John Kerry supporters in Austin. Barnes, who was House speaker when Bush entered the Guard, later became lieutenant governor.

He said he became ashamed after walking through the Vietnam Memorial and looking at the names of people who died. "
Lie, Correct, Repeat...

Rumsfeld Lies About Torture Interrogations:

'I have not seen anything thus far that says that the people abused were abused in the process of interrogating them or for interrogation purposes.'

A few hours later he added that "all of the press, all of the television thus far that tried to link the abuse that took place to interrogation techniques in Iraq has not yet been demonstrated."

In fact at least 13 of 44 instances of abuse involved interrogations or the interrogation process.

A Pentagon spokesman later explained Rumsfeld's bald-faced lies: "He misspoke, pure and simple. But he corrected himself."

Did the word "mis-spoke" even exist four years ago?
Blame Bush For Torture

Seems like we have had about a dozen official enquiries into the Abu Ghraib abuse and torture scandal. So who is really responsible?

Newsday nails it:
"Bush set the stage for abuse in February 2002 when he declared that the Geneva Conventions did not apply to al-Qaida prisoners and the Taliban were unlawful combatants unqualified for prisoner of war status. When the man at the top says the rules don't apply, abusive excesses are a predictable result.

Rumsfeld approved stronger interrogation techniques in December 2002 that migrated to Abu Ghraib, which was by then "seriously overcrowded and under-resourced."

With 50,000 prisoners in all and 300 allegations of abuse, it's clear that most were not mistreated. But Bush's insistence that his word is law in the war on terrorists has cost the nation a big chunk of the moral high ground."
A victory for the anti-war demonstrators!

Powell cancels Athens visit.

August 28, 2004

War Is Heck

Richard Holbrooke remembers the USA's Second Civil War:

"I remember visiting destroyed hamlets in the lower Mekong Delta in the mid-1960s, sometimes only hours after the fighting had stopped, and hearing different versions of what had just transpired from survivors who had been right next to each other during the attack...

Those of us who survived should show younger Americans that we learned something from the war; John Kerry clearly did, but the same cannot be said of his Swift boat critics."
Blair To Be Impeached

The Spectator (a very well written but rampantly pro-Conservative magazine) says a group of British MPs are planning to launch impeachment proceedings against Tony Blair next month.

"This is a very dramatic and powerful act, rooted deep in British history. Though once a commonplace sanction against abuse of power by the executive, the instrument of impeachment has not been used since 1848, "

Good luck to them. Blair should have resigned by now, or his Labour Party colleagues should have kicked him out. Since neither has happened, let the Conservatives put the boot in, if they can.
Oh My God!

The FBI says there is an Israeli spy working within the Pentagon!!!


I would have thought the real shock would be if there is anyone on the US government payroll who is not sub-contracted to Israel.
It claimed the suspected spy had ties with the two most senior Pentagon officials after Mr Rumsfeld - Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith.

Well now! Anyone familiar with the neo-conservative agenda would know that it is ruthlessly pro-Israel. Even the well-meaning congregations of Christian churches across the USA have somehow been convinced that protecting Israel is an important part of US foreign policy.

Why? God knows...

The truth is, the USA and Israel have virtually merged into a single state.

So what's really going on here?

Firstly, it's a slap on the wrist for Israel and the neo-cons, presumably instigated by Karl Rove - Bush's Brain - who realizes that winning the next election is more important, in the short term at least, than catering to these ideological fanatics.

Secondly, it's an interesting move by the FBI, an agency which has managed to maintain its veil of secrecy - particularly over the Sibel Edmonds affair - even while other US intelligence groups are being minutely examined.

Thirdly, I have no idea.

Seriously, there is so much going on nowadays that we just don't know about and never will know about, however well informed we may be. While secrecy may sometimes be a necessary part of government, things these days are about as non-transparent as can be. More's the pity. And for the most part, our precious media are not exactly cracking through to the inner sanctum, are they?
This Doesn't Look Good...

Bush is giving the CIA head expanded powers.

The White House defended the plans as a means to "bolster U.S. intelligence capabilities until Congress could act on a new national intelligence director. "

Considering the CIA's deplorable record over the past four years, it hardly seems fitting that the CIA head be given such a boost. Particularly when Porter Goss is set to take the job.
Undesirables In Athens

On a day when the US Dream Team lost another match, protesters have marched through the streets of Athens protesting against Colin Powell's visit to the Closing Ceremonoy.
Further protests are planned. As one demonstrator was careful to explain, "We are not anti-American, we are anti-American imperialism."
Lessons From Najaf

There are a lot of media post-mortems about the Siege Of Najaf.

The BBC's Roger Hardy says Najaf shows the Allawi government's weakness. They talked tough - as did their US masters - but once again they failed to achieve their goals:
... once again, Moqtada Sadr's prestige has risen. Once again, he has walked free. Once again, he has refused to disband his militia.

al-Sistani's prestige has also risen considerably, or perhaps I should say that his influence has been dramatically demonstrated to any who doubted it.

Allawi's public support, however, has plummetted to new depths. To ordinary Iraqis, troubled by the sight of their countrymen fighting one another and appalled by the descration of sacred sites, he is looking more and more like Chalabi version 2.0.
The common feature of the anger driving different Iraqi groups, whether Sunni or Shia, is resentment at the US military presence in Iraq - and a feeling that the Allawi government is a puppet of America.

The battle of Najaf is over, but the propaganda war has just begun. Just look at the finger-pointing over who is responsible for the
piles of corpses.

August 27, 2004

Bush Cannot Hide From His Mistakes Any More

Remember how, a month or so ago, El Busho couldn't think of a single mistake he had ever made? Seems he's finally figured one out...

Bush told the New York Times he had made "a miscalculation of what the conditions would be" in post-war Iraq.

Bush also said "I don't think you give timelines to dictators."

So I guess that's another mistake?
"Ever Get the Feeling You've Been Cheated?"

These are apparently the last words that Johnny Rotten spat out on stage, at the Sex Pistols last gig in 1978. And they appear to be the last online words of the US soldier who has been blogging at "My War - Fear & Loathing In Iraq".

The soldier - who gained rapid online fame for his vivid descriptions of violent adventures in Iraq - has deleted all previous posts and changed the name of his blog to "Over And Out".

The blog came to his superior's attention a short while ago, at which time he posted the text of the First Amendment (re freedom of speech) under the title "Stay Tuned..."

Wonder if he will still be voting for Bush, as he previously indicated?

(Also, I can't help wondering if a small comment of mine helped sway his thinking? I posted a quote from George Orwell in his comments section: a few days later he said he was reading "Homage To Catalonia". Now this... The butterfly effect in action?)
Bush's USA: 35.9 million Living In Poverty

This figure alone should be enough to ensure that Bush loses the November election:

During 2003, the number of poor Americans grew by 1.3 million to 35.9 million, or 12.5 percent of the population.

As an Australian, I find that absolutely gob-smacking. The USA is a march harsher place to live than most Hollywood movies make it seem.

I remember travelling through California in my twenties and looking into the possibility of working for something like $3 an hour at a Burger King in LA. You gotta be kidding, I thought. But that's life for many in the "land of the free".

This is the model Bush & Co want to impose on the rest of the world, right?

Counting The Cost, Second By Second

A huge clock is now counting the cost of the Iraq war on a New York hotel facade, just a few blocks from where the GOP Convention will be held.

The "clock' was unveiled by the advocacy group Project Billboard and the Centre for American Progress, a liberal think tank headed by John Podesta, former President Bill Clinton's chief of staff.

Organisers calculated the war's cost currently at $US134.5 billion ($A191.3 billion) and are adding $US177 million ($A251.7 million) per day, which comes to $US7.4 million ($A10.5 million) per hour or $US122,820 ($A174,646) per minute.
A Father's Scream, Another Futile Death

When military officers informed him that his 20-year-old son had died while fighting in Najaf, Carlos Arredondo "walked into the garage, picking up a propane tank, a can of gasoline and a lighting device."

He then smashed the van's window, got inside and set it ablaze.

Arredondo's wife says, "This is his scream that his child is dead. The war needs to stop."

Bush Still Supports Smear Campaign

After smearing the reputations of three Vietnam Vets in four years, the Bush administration is distancing itself from the Swiftboat ad campaign... or are they?

According to Reuters:
"The Bush campaign said it, rather than the White House, would file a lawsuit in federal court to try to force the Federal Election Commission to crack down on the ads. But the case could bog down in the courts, and thus might have little impact before the Nov. 2 election. "

Bush & Co are only interested in killing these ads if they can also kill the anti-Bush ads by groups like
Gandhi's grandson talks non-violence with Arafat:

"The grandson of Mohandas Gandhi took the legendary Indian leader's doctrine of non-violent resistance to the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict yesterday, pitching the pacifist creed to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in his sandbagged, bullet-scarred West Bank headquarters.

"If the Palestinian people rise up and start a non-violent movement, it will boost world sympathy," he said. "The nations of the world will rise up and put more pressure on Israel."
PM John Howard pays his son to dish up Liberal Party spam.

August 26, 2004

Al-Sistani may have left his return to Najaf too late. The question is, did he do so on purpose?

The Guardian reports that al-Sadr's uprising seems to be near its end. Al-Sistani's marchers may arrive to find little more than a mopping up operation.

But al-Sadr remains at large, it seems. His Mehdi Army - who many Iraqis detest as a band of violent thugs, by the way - may have been decimated. But his wider support base may have grown considerably across Iraq, including in the Sadr City slum area of Baghdad.
Trampling on Protesters' Rights

The Republican Mayor of NYC has ensured that anti-Bush protestors will not be able to use Central Park as a protest venue. The excuse is that it will damage the frikkin' grass.

Worries about trampling on the city's grass are a weak excuse for treading upon Americans' First Amendment right to assemble to protest their government.

"The right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances," is part of the Bill of Rights, which the Founders drafted more than two centuries ago to persuade the states to ratify the Constitution.
The Gulf Daily News reports on another idiot son of an @#$hole leader, this time Maggie Thatcher's disappointing son Mark.
Citing Prison Abuse and Iraq 'Failures,' Kerry Demands That Rumsfeld Step Down
A rogue nation in the Asia-Pacific region has aquired new long-range missiles that bring neighbouring countries within striking distance. The new missiles will provide the rogue nation - which has already declared that it is prepared to pre-emptively invade sovereign nations - with "the greatest air combat capacity in the region."

The rogue nation's foreign minister today came under criticism from Taiwan for inflaming tension in the area. This follows recent criticism from Spain and the Phillipines, whom he called "marshmallows".

Tha nation is, of course, Australia.
Update on the Najaf story below:

Guardian reports US troops are within 20 metres of the Imam Ali shrine.
Follow the logic, if you can...

Donald Rumsfeld is being held to blame for sadistic abuse at Abu Ghraib, but we shouldn't call for his resignation because that would be "a boon to America's enemies".

Our leaders are liars, cowards and criminals, but we can't call for their resignations? That makes us ALL complicit!
A Time For Peace?

Finally, some peaceful, organized resistance to the madness in Iraq! Mahatma Gandhi would be proud:

Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq’s most powerful religious leader, made a surprise return to the country Wednesday, and immediately called on Shiites to march with him on Najaf in a bid to peacefully end the uprising there.

This is very big news. Al-Sistani's silence has been defeaning for the past year. As the supreme leader of Iraq's majority Shi'a religious group, he is the single most powerful figure in Iraq today.

MSNBC reports that hundreds of thousands of Shiites could now march on Najaf (the BBC reports one marcher already killed). This means that the siege is effectively over, it is just a matter of time till the fighting stops.

But US forces are currently within 200 metres of the Shrine of Imam Ali, and there is a chance they could finish off the remaining al-Sadr forces before al-Sistani and his followers arrive. Even so, what would victory gain them?

Al-Sadr's resistance, and al-Sistani's support, highlight the weakness of Allawi' s US puppet government. Allawi will probably claim that the siege was a success, but the truth is that this seige has forced the hand of al-Sistani. The next few days could be very interesting indeed.

I wonder if anyone will notice... Er, how many gold medals have we got now, folks?

Ironically, while thousands of Shi'ites head for Najaf, thousands of Bush supporters are marching towards New York City... for better or worse.
"I never, ever thought I'd be travelling this far from home."

- Terry Hicks, at the Guantanamo Bay trial of his son David Hicks, before breaking down in tears.
A Soldier Speaks Out Against Bush

"On January 2 of this year, a team of soldiers in my brigade stopped a couple of Iraqis near the town of Samarra... Four soldiers stopped two Iraqis. In the passion of war, on a day marred by anger and tragedy, the two Iraqis ended up getting thrown off a bridge...

No matter what happened on that bridge, the soldiers were ordered to lie about it. And they were ordered to lie about it not just by their team leader, but by the entire leadership of their unit, from their company commander all the way up to their battalion commander.

... We never should have been sent to Iraq without any clue of how to win the peace, the hearts, and the minds of an Iraqi public who knew full well that we supported Saddam when it suited us, that we backed a rebellion against him when it was convenient, and that we left their brothers to twist slowly in the wind when it wasn't.

... There's only one man who's responsible for all of this, for the vast mess that is Iraq tonight, and his name is George W. Bush."

Read the full story: Over the Bridge.

August 25, 2004

When I Grow Up...

When I grow up, I want to be President Of The World.

I will send tanks and soldiers with guns to kill all the bad guys.

I will build spaceships with laser beams and send them to the moon to kill all the aliens.

I will be King Of The Universe!

My face will be on television.

I will have lots and lots of money.

Everybody will have to do what I say.
US Justice On Trial

A judge hearing an Abu Ghraib case against a US soldier says Donald Rumsfeld will not be called to testify over Iraq abuse:

"I fail to see a connection between this group and the authorities in Washington. I'm not saying there is no link, but you have not shown sufficient evidence," said Judge James Pohl.

Defending lawyers argue that their clients were following orders and referred to memos which showed Rumsfeld had approved hooding and stripping of prisoners, who could also be put in stress positions and subjected to "physical conduct".

"As insurgencies increased, the need for actionable intelligence increased. These techniques were approved by Donald Rumsfeld," one of the lawyers said.

Rumsfeld's memos have already been widely publicized (and criticized). The recent Abu Ghraib report has criticized commanders at the jail and indicated that Rumsfeld's policies "created some confusion at lower levels of the military" (to say the least!).

How much more evidence does the judge need?

Who and what is really on trial here? Not just the soldiers who served so cruelly in Abu Ghraib, not just the Gitmo detainees like Australia's David Hicks, but also the US justice system itself.

The USA led a pre-emptive invasion based on bogus intelligence. They now claim some inherent moral superiority as their justification for the invasion, even though the people of Iraq (and Afghanistan, for that matter) are no better off than before. What sort of morality is this, when there is no honesty, no accountability and no justice?

The world is watching.
CPA Official: We Blew It

A former CPA Advisor - Larry Diamond - looks back at the CPA's failures in Iraq:
"Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and his senior civilian deputies rejected every call for a much larger commitment and made it very clear, despite their disingenuous promises to give the military "everything" it asked for, that such requests would not be welcome...

... inside the thick walls of Saddam's old presidential palace where the CPA was headquartered, such suggestions fell on deaf ears. Public debate over the interim constitution was abruptly terminated..."

The article is full of the usual US Govt. lies like "now that Iraqis are in charge of their own future..." but makes interesting reading nonetheless.

August 24, 2004

"The things that will destroy us are: politics without principle; pleasure without conscience; wealth without work; knowledge without character; business without morality; science without humanity; and worship without sacrifice."

- Mahatma Gandhi
Musos Against Bush

Pearl Jam will be kicking off the anti-Bush music tour on October 1st. The tour will target swing states.
"Vote for Change is a loose coalition of musicians brought together by a single idea — the need to make a change in the direction of our country. We share a belief that this is the most important election of our lifetime. We are fighting for a government that is open, rational, just, and progressive. And we intend to be heard."

A somewhat more hard-core coalition of musicians in Australia named Rock Against Howard is releasing a double album on Monday (Aug 30th).

Tracks include John Howard is a Filthy Sl#t, John Howard’s Bitches and The Phillip Ruddock Blues. All proceeds will go to refugees and "anti-Howard charities" (whatever that means).

Featured artists for the US tour will include:

Pearl Jam
Bruce Springsteen
Dave Matthews Band
Jurassic 5
Dixie Chicks
Death Cab for Cutie
James Taylor
Ben Harper
My Morning Jacket
Jackson Browne
Bonnie Raitt
John Fogerty
Keb' Mo'
Bright Eyes
John Mellencamp
Kenny "Babyface" Edmonds
...and more

For more info, or to purchase tickets, see MoveOn PAC.
49 Attacks a Day in Iraq

database, which analyzed unclassified U.S. government security reports, shows attacks against U.S. and allied forces have averaged 49 a day since the hand-over of sovereignty June 28, compared with 52 a day in the four weeks leading up to the transfer.

The database also shows that attacks are wisespread across the country, although the Sunni Triangle remains the focal area.
Missing: 1/3 x Pentagon Iraq Equipment + $1.9 billion Iraqi Money

Guess who has it?

Bush Desperately Seeking Photo Ops

US President George W. Bush is putting "huge pressure" on Tony Blair to fly to Washington and pick up Congressional Medal that was bestowed on him over a year ago.

A senior British government source, quoted in the Sunday Mirror, says Blair "cannot possibly accept an award for the Iraq war when British and American troops continue to risk their lives there." He also says Democrats are pressuring Blair not to go State-side.

The White House is also "examining the logistical and security implications of Mr Bush travelling to Athens for Saturday's soccer finals, in which Iraq will be playing for a medal... Mr Bush, not hitherto known as a keen soccer fan, has made repeated references to the Iraqi performances in campaign speeches."

The Bush campaign is already in trouble for breaching copyright laws with election advertisements that feature the Iraqi soccer team.
"Under US copyright law only the US Olympic Committee has the right to use the Olympic insignia, images and trademarks for marketing. Initially the committee called for the advertisement to be withdrawn, but it has retreated from that."

August 23, 2004

Downer's Diplomacy Pays A Big Dividend

Last week Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer made a highly publicized visit to North Korea. The Liberals claimed it as proof that their "anti-terror" policies were paying dividends. Downer came home saying he had held "very productive talks in Pyongyang with senior officials."

Today, a North Korean spokesman said Bush is "a political imbecile bereft of even elementary morality as a human being and a bad guy, much less being a politician... Bush is a tyrant that puts Hitler into the shade."

Somebody should seize Downer's passport.
The Enemy Of Our President Is Our President's Enemy's Friend

The Guardian has a very good look at the Bush connections behind the Swift boat attack ads.

They say it's important to know your enemy and understand their way of thinking in order to defeat them. Republicans are defending these ads as a natural reaction to anti-Bush advertising by groups like Is that just a flimsy excuse for flinging dirt at Kerry? Or are they actually serious?

If so, I guess the next step is to say that even anti-Bush blogs like this must also be considered part of the election campaing finance cycle? If anyone wants to put me on their payroll, just let me know!!! :-)
Kerry Worse Than Bush?

Veteran trouble-maker John Pilger looks at the USA's 500-year history of conquest, de-bunking the idea that Democrats are not just as militant and empiricist as Republicans, and warns that - in the long run - the re-election of Bush may be the lesser of two evils.
"With Nato back in train under President Kerry, and the French and Germans compliant, American ambitions will proceed without the Napoleonic hindrances of the Bush gang."

This is exactly the kind of reporting that always lands Pilger in the mud with both sides of politics. He may be proven right in the long run, but do we want to hear this right now?

Personally, I have to say that I would be heavily inclined to vote Nader in the USA elections (if I were a US citizen, that is) but I would probably grit my teeth and vote Kerry, if only because the US public needs to send a strong message that what Bush has done will not be tolerated again.

Even if Kerry & Co do prove to be as militant as Bush, they will at least need to be more circumspect in their methods.

And I cling to the hope that Kerry at the moment might just playing clever politics by refusing to move to far to the left in the pre-election debate. I sincerely hope that, once in power, he will start talking about pulling US troops out of Iraq - something which would be political suicide right now.

Having said that, a year of blogging against Bush makes it very clear that the USA faces endemic social and political problems (problems which are being exported to other democracies like Britain and Australia) and that a Kerry victory is not the end of the road for those who seek peaceful, representative and trust-worthy government. As Pilger rightly states:
"The real debate is neither Bush nor Kerry, but the system they exemplify; it is the decline of true democracy and the rise of the American "national security state" in Britain and other countries claiming to be democracies, in which people are sent to prison and the key thrown away and whose leaders commit capital crimes in faraway places, unhindered, and then, like the ruthless Blair, invite the thug they install to address the Labour Party conference. The real debate is the subjugation of national economies to a system which divides humanity as never before and sustains the deaths, every day, of 24,000 hungry people. The real debate is the subversion of political language and of debate itself and perhaps, in the end, our self-respect."

This is a debate that urgently needs to take place. But it won't take place till after November 2nd. And if Bush is still in power, it will not take place at all, except in the dark cellars where people like John Pilger will be forced to hide.
The Mark Of A Real Man

Molly Ivins looks back at the pre-war debate and digs up an interesting quote from Thucydides, the Father of History:
"To think of the future and wait was merely another way of saying one was a coward; any idea of moderation was just another attempt to disguise one's unmanly character; ability to understand the question from all sides meant that one was totally unfitted for action; fanatical enthusiasm was the mark of a real man... Anyone who held violent opinions could always be trusted, and anyone who objected to them became a suspect."

Thucydides was writing about the day in 415 B.C. when Athens sent its glorious fleet off to battle in Sicily. The fleet was decimated.
Reality Check

It's time to stop pretending that the insurgents in Najaf and elesewhere across Iraq are "terrorists" - or that the battle to suppress them has anything at all to do with the so-called "war on (ahem!)..."

93 prominent Muslim figures have called on Muslims around the world to support resistance to US forces and to the Iraqi government installed in June:
"The signatories included senior members of the Brotherhood, leading Qatari-based moderate Youssef al-Qaradawi, Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah of Lebanon, Khaled Mashal of the Palestinian group Hamas, two Egyptian opposition party leaders, Sheikh Abdeslam Yassine of Morocco's Justice and Charity Group and Yemeni Speaker of Parliament Sheikh Abdullah al-Ahmar.

Others came from Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Bosnia, the Comoros, Germany, India, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Libya, Malaysia, Mauritania, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan and Tunisia."

Are all these figure now "terrorists"?

It should be noted by the Bush neo-cons that many of these figures represent religious groups rather than political parties. Ignoring their calls is likely to lead to continued political instability across the Muslim world, and increased support for extremist groups.
Blind Freddy Knew That...

"The Federal Government was warned repeatedly by intelligence analysts before the Iraq war that the conflict would harm the war on terrorism by fanning Islamic extremism and spurring terrorist recruiting.

An investigation by the Herald, which has included interviews with several serving and retired intelligence figures, has uncovered that John Howard and his senior colleagues were briefed on the dangers, verbally and in written reports.

Yet the Prime Minister told Australians on the eve of the conflict that the war would lessen the terrorist threat, contradicting his intelligence advice."

SMH lead story today here: PM was told war would spur terrorism.

August 22, 2004

Swift Boat Attacks Collapse

Of course, that won't stop 50% of the US believing them, just like they believed in the WMDs and the Saddam-Al-Quaeda connection.

But just for the record, one of Kerry's old war comrades breaks his silence to quash the attacks:

"There were three swift boats on the river that day in Vietnam... three officers and 15 crew members," said Mr Rood.

"Only two of those officers remain to talk about what happened... One is John Kerry... who won a Silver Star for what happened... I am the other."

The Boston Globe asks readers to "imagine if supporters of Bill Clinton had tried in 1996 to besmirch the military record of his opponent, Bob Dole. After all, Dole was given a Purple Heart for a leg scratch probably caused, according to one biographer, when a hand grenade thrown by one of his own men bounced off a tree...

The truth, according to many accounts, is that Dole fought with exceptional bravery and deserves the nation's gratitude. No one in 1996 questioned that record. Any such attack on behalf of Clinton, an admitted Vietnam draft dodger, would have been preposterous.

Yet amazingly, something quite similar is happening today as supporters of President Bush attack the Vietnam record of Senator John Kerry."
The Hunger Site

In case you have not heard of it, this is one of the best sites on the Internet. Just click a button to Give Food for Free to Hungry People in the World.

I recommend every Internet User make it their home page (select Tools then Internet Options in IE6) and click every day.

August 21, 2004's quote of the day:

The government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.

George Washington
Another life ruined by Bush & Co.
Why is Edward Kennedy on the Homeland Security Department's Watch List???
Back To The Future With ... John Howard?

John Howard seems to have hit on a new election strategy: it's not about the past, but the future!

"This coming election is about the future, it is not about the past," he said.

"Let Labor fight the last war. By contrast, we will talk about the future of our country."

It's a very interesting ploy. Everybody is saying that Latham represents "generational change" and "change" ... Perhaps Howard is ready to fight on that platform - or at least test the waters?

It positions him so he can try to dismiss all this talk about Children Overboard and WMDs and whatnot as "in the past". If Labour stick with it, they look outdated by comparison... Could it work?

Seriously, it's quite a stretch isn't it? I mean, Howard would have to totally reinvent himself. I think it is more likely just a little tester for the Liberal Party pollsters.
Condi Rice Tries To Play The Race Card Again

(and fails miserably)

For sheer, unadulterated real-politik, Condi Rice takes the cake today. She says people should be more patient with the Bush regime's experiments in empire, dismissing the death, destruction and chaos in Iraq as just "ups and downs". Not to mention "twists and turns".

And she defends the new Iraqi leaders because at least they haven't legalized slavery!
And so far, said Rice, an African-American, Iraq's postwar leaders have not made a compromise comparable to the one by the framers of the U.S. Constitution, who "made my ancestors three-fifths of a man."

Can you believe that?

First of all, there are a lot of African-Americans who would like to completely disown both Condi Rice and Colin Powell.

Secondly, there are a lot of people who would argue that the corporate capitalist culture that Bush & Co have in mind for ordinary Iraqis amounts to little more than modern-day slavery, especially when it is propped up by an unrepresentative, unelected and unwanted US-puppet government.
"A Man Cannot Serve Two Masters"

So sayeth the Bible. Yae, verily.

So it's hard to understand how US Army doctors at Abu Ghraib, who are sworn to the Hypocratic Oath, could have stood by and allowed abuse and torture. Or even falsified death certificates. Or even "revived prisoners so that the abuse could continue"!

Similarly, former Presidential contender Gary Hart says the US cannot be both Empire and Republic.

Unfortunately, Hart's denunciation of the war is full of the usual Democrat political waffling:

"The war has substantially contributed to anti-American sentiments throughout the region and possibly throughout the Islamic world."

Actually, that should be: "definitely" throughout the "entire" world, Gary.

"The Iraqi people seem to be resisting."

No kidding??!
Money, Money, Money

Oil prices are now up over US$49 a barrel, sparked by fears that (a) the US puppet regime in Iraq cannot control the country, and/or (b) Iraqi insurgents are now increasingly likely to target oil exports.

The seige of Al-Sadr's forces around the Imam Ali mosque is seen as a major test of the new Allawi government. If Allawi cannot prove that his US-backed forces have control of Iraq, oil prices are not likely to come down anytime soon. Perhaps that's why there are some apparently premature rumours going around saying Iraqi Police have seized control of the mosque? (I sense the dark influence of John Negroponte here).

It's all about perception. If the media say all is well, investors do not panic and oil prices can cool down. So why not spread a few false rumours? By the time the public discovers the truth, things will have changed, right?

There are two problems here with this perception-based approach:

1. People - including investors - are losing faith in everything the media and Western governments tell them. When you lose your credibility, it's gone. If the markets cannot trust the data they receive, expect instability.

2. It's not just Al-Sadr, even though that is how the media portrays Iraq's problems at the moment. The insurgents have widespread support across Iraq and even internationally.

Adding to all this pressure on oil prices are the booming oil-reliant economies of China and India. Given that countries like the US and Australia have abandoned the Kyoto treaty on climate control, there appears to be little way for Bush, Howard and others to pressure these countries into seeking alternative fuel sources.

And speaking of money, three US senators are asking Donald Rumsfeld to explain what happened to US$8.8 BILLION in funds given to the Iraqi CPA, headed by Paul Bremer.

Christian Aid are still asking what happened to the $US 20 BILLION generated by Iraqi oil revenues under the CPA's stewardship.

Meanwhile, back on the election trail, a new poll says war has overtaken the economy as US voters' main concern. Given all the stories above, what's the difference?
Bush Appoints Unqualified Fund-raisers to US Diplomatic Posts

How would you like to be the US Ambassador to the Bahamas? Forget about university degrees, diplomatic careers or an intricate knowledge of the Carribbean - just raise $100,000 or more for El Busho!
"The President has managed to appoint two of his fund-raisers as ambassadors to the Bahamas and Estonia, and named two others for plum jobs overseeing development programs in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Normally these posts are reserved for career diplomats, but Mr Bush avoided official scrutiny by making the appointments when Congress was not in session."
Story here: Show Bush the money and see the world.

August 20, 2004

Fed To The Wolves

Beware of false prophets that come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
- Jesus of Nazareth (Matthew, 7:15)

"How have the Christians, "the religious right," been persuaded to cast their lot with the Republican party?

How does one convince millions of devout Christians to accept a secular political-economic philosophy developed and articulated, in large part, by atheists?

How does one, in addition, enable this same multitude of Christians to disregard how their political “allies” are taking cash out of their pockets and redistributing it “upward” from the middle class and the poor to the already wealthy, at the cost, in addition, of impoverishing essential social services, aid to the poor, and placing a crushing debt upon future generations?

And finally, how are these Christians persuaded that the moral teachings of Jesus of Nazareth are somehow consistent with aggressive foreign wars, the increased enrichment of the wealthy, the denial of relief to the poor, comfort to the afflicted, education for the young, and employment for the jobless.? ..."

Story here.
A Message To The Future

"Your history has probably recorded this time as a dark and chaotic age, characterized by brutal terrorism, wars, fear, starvation and exploitation. Money has become more important than human life, and we continue to systematically pollute and destroy the environment that sustains our life. We are confused after centuries of mistakes, wrong choices, and misplaced trust. We have only ourselves to blame for the leaders we allow to wage war, for the banks we allow to own us, for the corporations we allow to destroy our planet, and for the fundamental religions we allow to lead us away from God and from who we are.

I hope that in your future, the ordinary people will have reclaimed our world, our destiny and our humanity. This story is written to encourage the will of ordinary people to prevail over the greed of a few power-hungry politicians and bankers..."

An Ordinary View of Extra-Ordinary Times
Gandhi Embraces Evil Capitalism!

Just to prove that I am not a complete Commie Pinko All-property-is-theft Trotskyist Revolutionary Zealot, I have set up...

Gandhi's Wish List!!!

Well, I have been working on this blog for about a year and a half now. And it has been a real personal eye-opener, let me tell you! But my marketing skills are obviously very poor or I would have been able to build a bigger fan base. I mean, nobody even posts a comment in my Guest Book. How crappolo is that eh?

But I do put a fair bit of time into this blog, even - sometimes - at the expense of my family and work commitments (sorry to say). If there are any mysterious benefactors lurking out there who would like to see this effort rewarded - aside from getting Bush & Co out of office, of course - well... it would not be un-appreciated!
NYC GOP Convention's Low Expectations

The Economist says expectations for the GOP Convention in New York "are so low that they can only be exceeded. If the president finds one New Yorker who, unable to catch a ride out of town, discovers that Republicans are not only human, but likeable, it will be one more vote than history would suggest he could get."

Ted Rall warns that delegates to the Republican National Convention "shouldn't expect to be treated to our standard out-of-towner treatment. The Republican delegates here to coronate George W. Bush are unwelcome members of a hostile invading army... Republicans who venture outside the Garden deserve the abuse ordinary New Yorkers will likely inflict upon them...

Republicans are neofascists now, and that's why New Yorkers good and true will be yelling at them to go back home."
Australian Election Could Be Delayed Till April, 2005

Is this actually legal:

"Australian Prime Minister John Howard hinted he won't call a general election until at least November and said it could be held as late as April, 2005.

Howard, whose Liberal-National government first won office in 1996, had previously said an election will be held this year, although he hasn't set a date. Howard, 65, pointed out the third anniversary of the 2001 election was Nov. 10.

The election "could be as late as March or April of next year,'' Howard told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. in Sydney. "That would be very unusual, you should remember the third anniversary is the 10th of November. We are still three months short of our third anniversary,'' he said.

Story from Bloomberg.
Nix To The Nukes

Remember George Bush's "axis of evil"? North Korea and Iran were both in the media for all the wrong reasons yesterday.

"... the deterrent effect has not worked in the two outstanding axis of evil states, North Korea and Iran, whose nuclear ambitions remain undimmed and whose truculence has, if anything, intensified. Indeed, some, such as the Australian Strategic Policy Institute's military analyst, Aldo Borgu, believe the invasion of Iraq has made these two more desperate to cling to their nuclear programs: "The Iraq war sends the message that if you don't have nuclear weapons, this is what will happen to you."
Iraqi soccer team speaks truth to Bush

Australia's next soccer game at the Olympics is against Iraq, a team which George W. Bush has used in campaign commercials. Iraqi Olympic soccer players have been outraged by the advert. One player, Ahmed Manajid said:

"How will he meet his god having slaughtered so many men and women? He has committed so many crimes."

To a man, members of the Iraqi Olympic delegation say they are glad that former Olympic committee head Uday Hussein, who was responsible for the serial torture of Iraqi athletes and was killed four months after the U.S.-led coalition invaded Iraq in March 2003, is no longer in power.

But they also find it offensive that Bush is using their team for his own gain when they do not support his administration's actions in Iraq. "My problems are not with the American people," says Iraqi soccer coach Adnan Hamad. "They are with what America has done in Iraq: destroy everything. The American army has killed so many people in Iraq. What is freedom when I go to the [national] stadium and there are shootings on the road?"

At a speech in Beaverton, Ore., last Friday, Bush attached himself to the Iraqi soccer team after its opening-game upset of Portugal. "The image of the Iraqi soccer team playing in this Olympics, it's fantastic, isn't it?" Bush said. "It wouldn't have been free if the United States had not acted."

Sadir, Wednesday's goal-scorer, used to be the star player for the professional soccer team in Najaf. In the city in which 20,000 fans used to fill the stadium and chant Sadir's name, U.S. and Iraqi forces have battled loyalists to rebel cleric Moktada al-Sadr for the past two weeks. Najaf lies in ruins.

"I want the violence and the war to go away from the city," says Sadir, 21. "We don't wish for the presence of Americans in our country. We want them to go away."

Manajid, 22, who nearly scored his own goal with a driven header on Wednesday, hails from the city of Fallujah. He says coalition forces killed Manajid's cousin, Omar Jabbar al-Aziz, who was fighting as an insurgent, and several of his friends. In fact, Manajid says, if he were not playing soccer he would "for sure" be fighting as part of the resistance.

"I want to defend my home. If a stranger invades America and the people resist, does that mean they are terrorists?" Manajid says. "Everyone [in Fallujah] has been labeled a terrorist. These are all lies. Fallujah people are some of the best people in Iraq."

Story from the blog and Sports Illustrated.

August 19, 2004

Go, Molly, Go!

Molly Ivins shines the light on two scandals indicating that Florida is ready to be stolen again in 2004, plus a few more scndals to boot!

The first scandal:

"Florida, the Fun State, is off to a fast start on election shenanigans this year. Undeterred by the state's electoral disgrace in 2000, elections officials there have all but publicly announced, "We're going to cheat again this year." In July, voting rights groups asked for the audits of the 2002 gubernatorial election, supposedly collected by new electronic voting machines. Ooops. Records gone.

Two computer crashes last year, officials said, erased the records of both the primary and general elections. Here's my favorite part: A spokesman for the Miami elections office said the reason no announcement was made at the time was officials believed "it was merely a record-keeping issue."

The second scandal:

Governor Jeb Bush this year tried to repeat his 2000 scandal by trying to purge 47,000 supposed ex-felons from the state's electoral role list.

"A Miami Herald investigation of the new list found it named Democrats by a three-to-one margin and wrongly listed 2,100 people whose citizenship had already been restored through a clemency process.

The Tampa Tribune produced an even more startling discovery: While half of those on this year's list are black, the list contains the names of fewer than 100 Hispanics. Hispanics in Florida tend to be Republican-leaning Cuban-Americans. Gosh, Gov. Bush was just astonished about the no-Hispanics thing -- except the state had been repeatedly warned about it. He finally withdrew the list on July 11. Then, on July 14, the First District U.S. Court of Appeals in Tallahassee ruled the state must help felons fill out the form they need to win back the right to vote after serving their time. Instead, Gov. Bush eliminated the form."

Ivins points out that "The Republican Party in Florida is now urging its voters to use absentee ballots." I would strongly urge all US voters to do the same!

The third scandal:

"The Department of Defense is now outsourcing the job of preparing the national defense budget to... private defense contractors. Isn't that special? The Center for Public Integrity has found at least three private-sector contracting firms advertising jobs for analysts to work on the development of the president's defense budget. "

Why not just out-source the entire US Army to Bush & Co, who could then launch a military takeover of the USA? It would certainly simplify things.

The fourth scandal:

"Those vigilant folks at Homeland Security are allowing the nuclear industry's leading lobby to develop the teams of mock-terrorist attackers who will supposedly probe and evaluate security at nuclear power plants. According the Project on Government Oversight, "The lobby, called the Nuclear Energy Institute, in turn hired the company with the biggest financial stake in finding no problems at the plants -- Wackenhut Corp., the nation's largest security plan provider."

"This is more than a case of the proverbial fox guarding the henhouse," said the project's director. "It is not an apparent conflict of interest, but a blatant conflict of interest." "


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