November 30, 2005

Fox News for the Middle East

Get out your barf-bags, he-e-e-ere's George:
These are serious times in which we live, and it requires serious, experienced people to deal with the problems that we're confronted with. And the biggest problem we got is we're still at war. I wish I could report to you we weren't at war, but there's an enemy that still lurks that wants to do harm to the United States of America. And they want to do us harm because we stand squarely for freedom and democracy and we're not going to change. You see, they can't stand the fact -- (applause) -- they can't stand the fact that we allow people to worship freely, or to speak their mind in the public square, or to print articles the way they want to print them in America. They have a different view of the world. They've got this vision of darkness that stifles dissent and stifles the freedoms that many of us take for granted...
Talking about printing "articles the way they want to print them":
As part of an information offensive in Iraq, the U.S. military is secretly paying Iraqi newspapers to publish stories written by American troops in an effort to burnish the image of the U.S. mission in Iraq.

The articles, written by U.S. military "information operations" troops, are translated into Arabic and placed in Baghdad newspapers with the help of a defense contractor, according to U.S. military officials and documents obtained by the Los Angeles Times.

Many of the articles are presented in the Iraqi press as unbiased news accounts written and reported by independent journalists. . The stories trumpet the work of U.S. and Iraqi troops, denounce insurgents, and tout U.S.-led efforts to rebuild the country.

While the articles are basically truthful, they present only one side of events and omit information that might reflect poorly on the U.S. or Iraqi governments, officials said. Records and interviews indicate that the U.S. has paid Iraqi newspapers to run dozens of such articles -- with headlines such as "Iraqis Insist on Living Despite Terrorism" -- since the effort began this year.
Links via Atrios. Which brings us to my old friends...

Thanks to Elendil for tracking down the website of Jim Hake's new enterprise, SignalOneTV. Based on their video spiel, it seems the management team includes:

  • Mark Palmer - Founder and Chairman

  • Jim Hake - Founder and CEO

  • Ahmad al Rikaby - VP

  • Houda Koussa - Managing Director, Business Compass

  • Barry Hirsh - VP Advertising sales

  • Noor Al Kinani - producer, writer, sexy hostess

The company claims it has no political or religious ties, which is a pretty bizarre claim if you have any idea who Mark Palmer is (Wikpedia entry here). SignalOne is broadcasting (or planning to?) from Dubai into Saudi Arabia and Iran, and from Amman, Jordan into Iraq. They are targetting young adults using a "market entry strategy" based on the successes of MTV, CNN and FOX. Just think of it as the Fox News for the Middle East... Yee ha.

And here's their "experience" credibility:
At Central European Media Enterprises (CME, Ticker: CETV) SignalOne executives created the first commercial television stations in the former Soviet Bloc, including the Czech Republic. Today, CME is a television enterprise valued at $2 billion.
Yeah, all those carefully orchestrated coloured revolutions that look so good on TV - whatever happened to them?

And just in case you wondered what else Bush had to say in his speech (seems he might have sacked his speech-writer) here's a selection:
The enemy has made Iraq a central front in this war on terror, so we must take it seriously...

Jon Kyl understands that in this war on terror it's important to have members of the United States Senate who understand mixed messages...

You know, I just recently came off a trip to the Far East...And it struck me that I was in a region of the world where there -- where wars had started.
For fuck's sake! How can anybody really take this guy seriously anymore?

UPDATE: Ok that's it, I am finally losing it...

How on earth can I compete with these guys? I was trying to update Mark Palmer's Wikpedia entry to make it look like something akin to reality - to explain how this guy is actually just a dressed-up old-fashioned neocon, how he consorts with all sorts of neocon fellow travellers, how the vast network of them is all so bloody obviously strung together (for anyone who cares to look)...

And then I realised: I have a job and a family, how the f*ck can I compete with these people? I mean, seriously - these guys pay others to spin their lies for them!

So how can a lone individual like me possibly compete with what, after all, is basically orchestrated, multinational, globalized, government-funded, media-friendly Big Business? How can I?

I cannot.

The problem is, these people are getting their money from ME! People like you and me, who pay our taxes and work hard! Even as I write, they are creating new media organisations and new channels of information like Pyjamas Open Source Whateverthef*ck to propagandize even more lost souls, and how on earth can I ever even dream of competing with that?

We, the people, are being screwed relentlessly by all these taxpayer-funded government initiatives like the so-called "war on terror" and the War In Iraq and all sorts of other increased domestic security programs, championed by Big Media, while Big Business lines up with corrupt politicians to build new PR fronts and exploit new "growth opportunities". We are grist for their mills.

This is madness...
There's a Hole in the Bucket, Dear Tony...

There were two memos leaked in the UK recently. One was the Mirror one alleging that Bush wanted to bomb al-Jazeera, the other was leaked to the Time (click here to see it). The Times memo is the one that is landing the leakers in court, not the other...

It's very hard to see how Tony Blair can continue as PM with only 30% support and an endless stream of embarrassing leaks like this.

I suspect the Brits may end up saving US Democracy by bringing to light facts that would otherwise remain hidden. Indeed, Bush may not be at his current lows were it not for the Downing Street Memos.
Smell The Money, George

When all else fails, such as when confidence in the stockmarket hits all time lows and the resultant housing bubble reaches a point of sheer ridiculousness, the rich put their money into GOLD:
The gold price has reached a critical stage and could run on to highs not seen for 25 years if it maintains its strength in the next quarter, a gold industry conference has heard.

The gold price broke the barrier of $US500 an ounce on Tuesday, reaching its highest level since 1987.
Skip Bush, Impeach Cheney?

Michael Winship argues the case.
Bush GOP Corruption Is Not A Bipartisan Issue

Talking Points Memo puts the boot into GOP claims that the latest corruption scandal is a BIPARTISAN thing:
The Abramoff story is overwhelmingly a Republican scandal. Abramoff's whole racket was as a paymaster and slush-funder for the DC GOP machine.

Then there are the half-a-dozen Republican members of Congress being investigated for criminal infractions arising out of the Abramoff investigation. Then there are all their staffers.

Then there is Abramoff-Norquist associate David Safavian, chief of procurement at OMB who was arrested and indicted for deceiving investigators in the Abramoff case.

Then there are the GOP capos who skimmed money off the Abramoff geyser or laundered money for him, folks like Grover Norquist and Ralph Reed.

The Duke Cunningham scandal is a Republican scandal, which we'll soon see spreads into the Rumsfeld Defense Department.

The Abramoff scandal tracks into the Interior Department and the GSA.

Then there's Tom DeLay, remember him, former House Majority Leader, now under indictment in Texas. Set aside that he's also implicated in the Abramoff scandal and quite probably the Duke Cunningham scandal as well.

And then in the other body you've got Sen. Bill Frist who is at the center of a criminal investigation into his stock sales. Frist is actually sort of unique in that it's possible he may not be guilty.

Two Republican members of Congress are under indictment.

Prosecutors have already accused two of taking bribes.

These few examples only scratch the surface. And I've left aside the Fitzgerald investigation because it doesn't turn on money but pure old-fashioned abuse of power.
Marshall wants readers to send him examples of any MSM reports following this new GOP talking point.

November 29, 2005

A Little Late...

The WaPo finally jumps on the Duke Cunningham story - after he has already resigned. Seriously, Josh Marshall has been screaming about this for months. Where were the WaPo editorials then???

Better late than never. But seriously...! Marshall is now linking the scandal to Katherine Harris. And others. Go for it WaPo editors, you know what to do...!
Where's Jim Hake?

More info from reader G...

It seems Jim Hake invited neo-con Michael Totten to Iraq at the time of the Iraqi elections. I wonder who paid for that? Is that part of the charity thing?

Jim Hake is now supposedly the Chief Executive Officer of SignalOne Media in Dubai. But I can't find any trace of such an organisation on the Web. But there is an advisor to Sheffield Advisors in Afghanistan called Sean G. Caskie, who was vice president for business development for Signal One LLC, a Tennessee firm specializing in wireless network site acquisition throughout the southern United States. He fits the SoA model, in fact he sounds like CIA or something close to it... Here's more:
Mr. Caskie served in the U.S. Army during operations "Just Cause" and "Desert Storm/Shield" in combat arms and military intelligence. In addition, he has served as a civilian military liaison the UN, NATO and ISAF. He has participated in operations with Dutch Special Forces, the European Union Embassy and the Joint Services Mission to the Afghan National Army.
And finally, would you believe that Hake and Caskie are both surnames belonging to The Family Forest Descendants of Louis IX The Saint, King of France. Not quite Skull and Bones, but gotta be worth something to someone - anyone ever heard of this crapola?

Anyone got more?
Late Night Bits

Blame George! Blair at 30%


A chunk of marble falls from the US Supreme Court, damaging a statue of Authority. What does it mean? Bush's authority eroding, or Bush & Co eroding the fundamentals of the US Constitution? Hindsight will tell!


Ironic. Big Business turns on Bush Co. over freedom of information issues. From WSJ:
Joining the American Civil Liberties Union, organizations such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, the National Association of Realtors and the Financial Services Roundtable are demanding changes in the antiterror law's rules on government access to confidential business records.

Corporate objections played a major role in blocking final legislative action on a new Patriot Act before the Thanksgiving break. Now, with pressure mounting to get the law passed by year end, business lobbyists say they see signs that key lawmakers are open to altering some provisions, offering companies clearer legal protections and avenues for appeal.

In particular, business groups want to inject new checks on law-enforcement requests for records on customers, suppliers and employees. Companies want government officials to shoulder a greater burden of proof in showing a connection between the documents demanded and a specific terror investigation, and they want greater power to challenge the record orders. Corporate lobbyists also want to prevent the renewed Patriot Act from toughening the law in ways they dislike.
This is a power play: business wants to be sure that its dirty secrets stay secret. Bush & Co have done nothing to improve public confidence in the wake of Enron's collapse and other major scandals, which helps explain why all that money got poured into real estate over the past five years.


More from Seymour Hersh in the New Yorker:
Bush’s closest advisers have long been aware of the religious nature of his policy commitments. In recent interviews, one former senior official, who served in Bush’s first term, spoke extensively about the connection between the President’s religious faith and his view of the war in Iraq. After the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the former official said, he was told that Bush felt that “God put me here” to deal with the war on terror. The President’s belief was fortified by the Republican sweep in the 2002 congressional elections; Bush saw the victory as a purposeful message from God that “he’s the man,” the former official said. Publicly, Bush depicted his reëlection as a referendum on the war; privately, he spoke of it as another manifestation of divine purpose.

The former senior official said that after the election he made a lengthy inspection visit to Iraq and reported his findings to Bush in the White House: “I said to the President, ‘We’re not winning the war.’ And he asked, ‘Are we losing?’ I said, ‘Not yet.’ ” The President, he said, “appeared displeased” with that answer.

“I tried to tell him,” the former senior official said. “And he couldn’t hear it.”


“The President is more determined than ever to stay the course,” the former defense official said. “He doesn’t feel any pain. Bush is a believer in the adage ‘People may suffer and die, but the Church advances.’ ” He said that the President had become more detached, leaving more issues to Karl Rove and Vice-President Cheney. “They keep him in the gray world of religious idealism, where he wants to be anyway,” the former defense official said. Bush’s public appearances, for example, are generally scheduled in front of friendly audiences, most often at military bases. Four decades ago, President Lyndon Johnson, who was also confronted with an increasingly unpopular war, was limited to similar public forums. “Johnson knew he was a prisoner in the White House,” the former official said, “but Bush has no idea.”
Here Comes The Crunch

The US Supreme Court has rejected FBI linguist Siebel Edmond's appeal:
U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton dismissed the case after then-Attorney General John Ashcroft invoked the rarely used "state secrets privilege."

He warned that further disclosure of the duties of Edmonds and other translators could cause "serious damage to the national security interests of the United States."
The judge on the case, Reggie Walton, is a Bush appointee who is also handling the Libby case.

This comes just a week after the Jose Padilla case was side-tracked to avoid a legal showdown:
"We take each individual, each case, case by case," Gonzales said.

The upshot of that approach, underscored by the decision in Padilla's case, is that no one outside the administration knows just how the determination is made: whether to handle a terror suspect as an enemy combatant or as a common criminal, to hold him indefinitely without charges in a military facility or to charge him in court.

Indeed, citing the need to combat terrorism, the administration has argued, with varying degrees of success, that judges should have essentially no role in reviewing its decisions.

The change in Padilla's status, just days before the government's legal papers were due in his appeal to the Supreme Court, suggested to many legal observers that the administration wanted to keep the court out of the case.

"The position of the executive branch," said Eric Freedman, a law professor at Hofstra University who has consulted with lawyers for several detainees, "is that it can be judge, jury and executioner."
Be afraid. The crunch is coming. It could be nasty...
Violence On The Horizon?

Things are moving fast, folks. Believe it!

Get ready for the final, desperate fling of the dice from the corrupt Bush administration. Just check out this shit:
Miami police announced Monday they will stage random shows of force at hotels, banks and other public places to keep terrorists guessing and remind people to be vigilant.

Deputy Police Chief Frank Fernandez said officers might, for example, surround a bank building, check the IDs of everyone going in and out and hand out leaflets about terror threats.

'This is an in-your-face type of strategy. It's letting the terrorists know we are out there,' Fernandez said...

"People are definitely going to notice it," Fernandez said. "We want that shock. We want that awe. But at the same time, we don't want people to feel their rights are being threatened. We need them to be our eyes and ears."
Shock and awe. Ordinay people acting as covert agents for the government. Random assaults on civil liberties.

All designed to terrify... the terrorists? Really?

Just remember that Miami is in Florida, home of Katherine Harris, and the current governor of Florida is Bush's brother Jeb (a presidential hopeful in 2008).
The Tide Is Turning: Another Great OpEd

From Bill Gallagher at the Niagara Falls Reporter Opinion:
The regime has already produced so many ignominious legacies that historians in the near future will be able to feast on the task of measuring the damage from the wretched deeds the Busheviks have wrought.

Certainly, the unnecessary pre-emptive war in Iraq, sold with lies, will echo for generations as a symbol of America's failed experiment in empire cloaked as proselytizing democracy. Our actions in Iraq have created a terrorist breeding-ground that makes George W. Bush the greatest friend al-Qaeda leaders will ever have.

Unsustainable budget deficits used to fund tax cuts for the rich and create fiscal havoc will be a legacy that will leave our children with an unconscionable burden. Slashing programs for the poor will do the obvious: create more poverty and more misery for people living on the margins, especially children.

Bush, a child of the opportunities flowing from family privilege, has presided over an era of declining economic opportunities for working-class Americans. Real wages have declined, manufacturing jobs have vanished, and the trade deficit isn't sustainable. Forty-five million Americans are without health insurance, and each day more working people are losing their health benefits, or being forced to pay significantly more for them.

The administration is systematically defiling the environment and refuses to recognize the threat of global warming. Real science is ignored and pseudo-science is nurtured.

Rivaling all of those horrors, though, is the assault on human rights and constitutional protections the Busheviks are waging, selling it as a way to keep us safe from lurking terrorists. Whether with "enemy combatants" or with our own citizens, the effort to deprive people of fundamental rights has been relentless, dangerous and an affront to our national tradition that bows to no king and resists tyranny...
We, The People, Want Peace

Now thisis the kind of OpEdNews we all enjoy reading:
The United States is ripe for a major change. The Bush regime is collapsing from its own arrogance, greed and stupidity. What will replace it? And will we the people have any say in the matter? How can we prepare ourselves?

Many of us want to see much more than a change of political party. The Democrats' ratings are nearly as low as those of the Republicans. The moderate wing of the GOP is probably considering whether to start impeachment proceedings now, while the House is still in their hands, so that the Speaker, who replaces Bush and Cheney, will be one of theirs. Of course, Dennis Hastert, the current Speaker, is also tainted with scandal.

The Democrats are not talking impeachment even now, when it is pretty clear that they will win back the Congress in 2006. Many people are wondering why. I believe that the Bush machine is so entrenched, by the typical mafioso means of combined bribery and blackmail, that when Bush goes down, half of Washington will go with him.

Bush and Cheney are so stubborn and arrogant that they will not bow out gracefully, as Nixon did. Many suspect that they will try to impose martial law. Congressman Ron Paul is warning that foreign troops are poised to control American cities. There are always the Halliburton/Blackwater goons that clamped down on the poor people of New Orleans. However, the American military, at this point, is unlikely to cooperate in a military coup.

In fact, the professional soldiers hate the chickenhawks, and the spook community has united behind Wilson and Plame. So the Bush/Cheney power base is shaky at best. The angels in the Attorney General's office- Fitzpatrick and the Abramoff team- are proceeding slowly and deliberately to swing their scythes at the arrogant heads in the White House.

Meanwhile, we the people are clamoring for big changes. Get out of Iraq. Get off the oil titty, and start taking care of global warming. Confiscate the spoils of the billionaire robber barons, and put them back in the US treasury, to provide for the people, whose taxes have been stolen. We want free, good universal health care, like most civilized countries have. Also a decent educational system, based on current realities, not on corporate American propaganda. We want some sanity. We want peace.
MUST READ: Bush As A Symptom

Over at Buzzflash, Maureen Dowd has today posted Part II of her exceptionally good investigation into how Bush rose to power.
Cole To Bush: You Are Already Toast, George

Juan Cole takes another look at Sy Hersh's allegations and calls on Congress to block further funding for this madness:
Let me finish with a word to W. As for your legacy two decades from now, George, let me clue you in on something--as a historian. In 20 years no Iraqis will have you on their minds one way or another. Do you think anyone in Egypt or Israel is still grateful to Jimmy Carter for helping bring to an end the cycle of Egyptian-Israeli wars? Jimmy Carter powerfully affected the destinies of all Egyptians and Israelis in that key way. Most people in both countries have probably never heard of him, and certainly no one talks about the first Camp David Accords anymore except as a dry historical subject. The US pro-Israel lobby is so ungrateful that they curse Carter roundly for all the help he gave Israel. Human beings don't have good memories for these things, which is why we have to have professional historians, a handful of people who are obsessed with the subject. And I guarantee you, George, that historians are going to be unkind to you. You went into a major war over a non-existent nuclear weapons program. Presidents' reputations don't survive things like that. Historians are creatures of documents and precision. A wild exaggeration with serious consequences is against everything they stand for as a profession. So forget about history and destiny and the divine will. You are at the helm of the Exxon Valdez and it is headed for the shoals. You can't afford to daydream about future decades.

November 28, 2005


My favourite blogger at Kos is Hunter, who seems to be feeling the same sense of exasperation as I have been lately:
We are a divided country, and we are divided for very good reasons, and we will, apparently, remain divided, and there is no website, or newspaper, or leader, or partisan hack, or luminous expert, or sodden git, or secret plan, or political operation, or Truth of God that will mend the breach.

We simply do not believe the same truths anymore. And I, for one, have no patience left. With every injury, passing or substantial, deserved or unexpected, on the Bush administration -- which is, to hear tell of it, our everlasting bane, and their savior -- the Algernons revert more and more into descending, primal states. And I, in truth, among them.

I have no patience for this nonsense. I do not wish to know any person not exasperated by these times, or any man that will defend them. I do not wish to discuss morality with fans of addicts, or legality with clans led by criminals, or intellectual conundrums with wandering herds of thundering morons.

I will say it with pride, in case I were to die in the night and leave it unsaid, and if necessary I will make it my epitaph:

George W. Bush is simply an idiot, an incompetent, and a hollow fart of a man.
If the USA were full of people like Hunter, there would be no need for people like Hunter. As it is, his eloquence, intelligence and sheer frothing rage are a constant inspiration, and a comfort.
Is Bush Nuts?

Sy Hersh suggests Bush is - or at least, may be - a religious whacko who is only reluctantly dragged into week-to-week affairs:
I don't want to sound like I'm off the wall here. But the issue is, is this president going to be capable of responding to reality? Is he going to be able -- is he going to be capable if he going to get a bad assessment, is he going to accept it as a bad assessment or is he simply going to see it as something else that is just a little bit in the way as he marches on in his crusade that may not be judged for 10 or 20 years.

He talks about being judged in 20 years to his friends. And so it's a little alarming because that means that my and my colleagues in the press corps, we can't get to him maybe with our views. You and you can't get to him maybe with your interviews.

How do you get to a guy to convince him that perhaps he's not going the right way?

Jack Murtha certainly didn't do it. As I wrote, they were enraged at Murtha in the White House.

And so we have an election coming up -- Yes. I've had people talk to me about maybe Congress is going to have to cut off the budget for this war if it gets to that point. I don't think they're ready to do it now.

But I'm talking about sort of a crisis of management. That you have a management that's seen by some of the people closely involved as not being able to function in terms of getting information it doesn't want to receive.
I think Bush is not so much nutso as just detached from things which bore him. And he is a very un-curious person. So he picks his pet issues and lets people like Cheney and Rumsfeld handle the rest. Whichever way you look at it, it is hardly an ideal form of government.
Ashes to Ashes

The last member of the plot to assassinate Mahatma Gandhi died today, still unrepentant about his involvement in the murder (he froze with his finger on the trigger: his brother, who killed Gandhi, was hanged).

I am hoping to post some more links to Gandhi when I redesign this site. To me it is a great tragedy that Gandhi's non-violent political method has only ever been ridiculed in the decades since his death.

Can you imagine if some influential figure in Iraq today - al Sistani, for example - urged all Iraqis to stop co-operating with the US occupation? I know, we have been through this discussion before...

UPDATE: A few changes made to format and links. More to come...
Out Of Control

With Big Business running amock in Bush's USA, it's hardly surprising that their employees are running amock in Iraq.
Kos links two big new stories about US contractors in Iraq.

First is this one from the Sunday Times:
A "trophy" video appearing to show security guards in Baghdad randomly shooting Iraqi civilians has sparked two investigations after it was posted on the internet, the Sunday Telegraph can reveal.

The video has sparked concern that private security companies, which are not subject to any form of regulation either in Britain or in Iraq, could be responsible for the deaths of hundreds of innocent Iraqis.
Then there's this story from the Los Angeles Times about a US Army Colonel whose suicide is starting to look more than a little suspicious:
So it was only natural that Westhusing acted when he learned of possible corruption by U.S. contractors in Iraq. A few weeks before he died, Westhusing received an anonymous complaint that a private security company he oversaw had cheated the U.S. government and committed human rights violations. Westhusing confronted the contractor and reported the concerns to superiors, who launched an investigation.

In e-mails to his family, Westhusing seemed especially upset by one conclusion he had reached: that traditional military values such as duty, honor and country had been replaced by profit motives in Iraq, where the U.S. had come to rely heavily on contractors for jobs once done by the military.
Bush, Hitler and Mussolini: Parallels In Fascism

Writing in the Toronto Start, Paul Bigioni says many people today do not even understand what Fascism is:
Indeed, Huey Long, one of America's most brilliant and most corrupt politicians, was once asked if America would ever see fascism. "Yes," he replied, "but we will call it anti-fascism."
Bigioni says North America is now "on a fascist trajectory". We must recognize this threat for what it is, he argues, and we must change course:
The North American economy has become more monopolistic than at any time in the post-WWII period.

U.S. census data from 1997 shows that the largest four companies in the food, motor vehicle and aerospace industries control 53.4, 87.3 and 55.6 per cent of their respective markets. Over 20 per cent of commercial banking in the U.S. is controlled by the four largest financial institutions, with the largest 50 controlling over 60 per cent. Even these numbers underestimate the scope of concentration, since they do not account for the myriad interconnections between firms by means of debt instruments and multiple directorships, which further reduce the extent of competition.

Actual levels of U.S. commercial concentration have been difficult to measure since the 1970s, when strong corporate opposition put an end to the Federal Trade Commission's efforts to collect the necessary information.

Fewer, larger competitors dominate all economic activity, and their political will is expressed with the millions of dollars they spend lobbying politicians and funding policy formulation in the many right-wing institutes that now limit public discourse to the question of how best to serve the interests of business.
Read the full article here: Fascism then. Fascism now?
Who Is Gary Qualls?

As if two Novaks wasn't confusing enough to confuse you, does anyone know if Gary Qualls, the anti-Sheehan in Crawford, is also Gary Qualls, a VP of business operations at Rupert Murdoch's DirecTV? Or are these two different people? Just wondering...

In Crawford, the pro-Bush Garys Qualls has set up Camp Qualls, named after his son Louis Qualls who was killed in action in Fallujah. Here's a pic of his brief rapprochement with Sheehan last week, before he did a big turnaround. Qualls is described as "an Army veteran from Penwell, Texas". I can't find much info on the other (VP) Qualls.

I can't imagine a Murdoc exec having time for such protest work, unless he was sent there with a nod and a wink. Of course, nothing would surprise me these days.
RoveGate Redux

From E&P: Another Novak: Second 'Time' Reporter to Testify in Plamegate.

To me, this story suggests that Fitzgerald is still hot on the heels of Rove, presumably pursuing a bigger charge than the mere obstruction one he threw at Libby. Rove's lawyer is an habitual liar (and a big-mouth incompetent) who has been working with Rove to spread false stories. He could also find himself in jail soon.

Last week, Bush-loving war-monger Max Boot claimed all the bad Iraq War polls in the US were just the result of misconceptions. He cited the road to Baghdad airport as a prime example of the great work being done by US troops:
Their increasing success is evident on "Route Irish," from Baghdad International Airport. Once the most dangerous road in Iraq, it is now one of the safest.
A few days later:
The congressional delegation was riding in a box-like vehicle that troops call the 'ice cream truck' -- it streaks through the middle of the road to deter oncoming motorists, Marshall told the paper. But shortly after dark, an oncoming truck refused to yield.

'Then, all of a sudden, brakes get slammed on. Then we hit something and go off the side of the road and tip over,' Marshall said."
Thanks, Max. If US personnel have to race head-on into oncoming traffic at full speed at night on the safest roads in Iraq, that tells us all we need to know.

Boot also cited a survey last month showing improving public sentiment from Iraqis:
47% of Iraqis polled said their country was headed in the right direction, as opposed to 37% who said they thought that it was going in the wrong direction. And 56% thought things would be better in six months. Only 16% thought they would be worse.
Problem is, the poll comes from the U.S.-based International Republican Institute! Amazing, a US GOP poll finding exactly what the GOP wants to hear! Like I said earlier, this is more a Spin War than a War of Propaganda. And the wingnuts only want to hear the polls that suit them, not things like 70% of Iraqis want the US out.

November 27, 2005

Troubled Times

I will try to sort all this out in the morning (Aussie time). In the meantime...

Lemme tell y'all somthing, Thanksgiving sure means a lot to people in Bush's USA.

The story that Bush planned to bomb al-Jazeera surfaced towards the end of last week and already a lot of people were into the vacation mindset. Over the weekend it has just about died in the US media. Fortunatly, the rest of the world is still awake (HEY AMERICA! THERE ARE A LOT OF US OUT HERE!)

And how big is Thanksgiving? Only 200 people turned out to support Cindy Cheehan's protest in Crawford. Hey, it was raining - bwah hah! LISTEN: This is why Bush is winning.

By the way, do you know what Bush's designer ranch is called? "Prairie Chapel" - now how sick is that for a political prop?

OK first up is Bush's Coalition Of The Token Effort:
About 177,000 foreign troops are in Iraq, the Coalition Press Information Center in Baghdad said yesterday. The vast majority, more than 155,000, are US forces. Britain contributes the next largest contingent, with 10,000 soldiers responsible for security in southern Iraq.

South Korea has 3,200 troops providing logistics in southern Iraq; Italy has 3,000 troops in the southern city of Nasiriyah training Iraqi police and building infrastructure; and 450 Australian soldiers provide security for the Japanese and help to train Iraq security forces.

The rest of the 27 nations that are part of the Multinational Forces are mostly made up of smaller contingents, some as small as a few dozen soldiers. They are either training Iraqis, working on specific rebuilding projects, or acting as liaisons.
So take out the USA and the UK and you have some 12,000 troops. Take away the Koreans and Italians and you have only 5,800.

Silvio Berlusconi is up to his ears in the Nigergate forgeries, while Korea has a self-interest in maintaijning support from the USA in case Kim Jong-il finally loses it completely. What's left? Just about nada. A handful of scared politicians hedging their bets. Remember, the coalition had 37 countries at its peak.

* * *

From the right-wing UK Telegraph:
Tony Blair yesterday branded as a "conspiracy theory" claims that a leaked memo has revealed plans by President George W Bush last year to bomb the Arabic television station al-Jazeera.

People who have seen the document say the real reason that it is being suppressed by the Government is because it contains a potentially damaging private discussion between the two leaders about the controversial United States attack on the Iraqi city of Fallujah last year.

Mr Blair sought to play down the memo yesterday, despite the fact that two men, accused over its leaking, are to appear in court this week facing charges under the Official Secrets Act. He also shrugged off a request from the managing director of al-Jazeera, Wadah Khanfar, for a meeting. Mr Blair was speaking at the Commonwealth summit in Malta, where he has been locked in trade talks with African leaders.

Looking tired, he appeared to lose his cool when asked about reports claiming that the memo showed him talking Mr Bush out of mounting an air raid on al-Jazeera. "Look, there's a limit to what I can say - it's all sub judice," he said. "But honestly, I mean, conspiracy theories…"

* * *

Some close detail from the Guardian:
The status of the now infamous five-page document concerning the meeting between Bush and Blair, on 16 April last year, has already reached mythic proportions among bloggers on the internet. It is the smoking gun to end all smoking guns, claim conspiracy theorists, who believe it details everything from an agreed date to pull the troops out, to plans to take the one-time rebel stronghold of Fallujah.

The one indisputable fact, though, is that part of the memo - 10 lines to be precise - concerns a conversation between Bush and Blair regarding Al Jazeera, the Arabic satellite television station that the US accuses of being a mouthpiece for al-Qaeda.
The author wonders:
Why is the most powerful man in the world worried about a 24-hour news organisation?

Salah Hassan, an Al Jazeera camerman, was arrested by US forces in November 2003, while filming the aftermath of an attack on a US convoy near the city of Baquba. Following his arrest he was surprised to discover he had been trailed by US troops for weeks and had been secretly photographed at the scene of other attacks. When he was interrogated, he was accused of having prior knowledge of attacks on coalition forces.

At the heart of the accusation is the fundamental tension between journalists - largely Arab reporters catering for an Arab audience - who say they are anxious to cover the story from both sides, and a United States that regards reporting on some aspects of the insurgency as tantamount to collaboration with terrorism.
And there you have it. Questioning the Bush administrations use of intelligence leadin up to the war is tnatamount to terrorosim. Reporting on the "other side" of the war is tantamount to terrorism. You are either with us or against us - which part don't you unnerstand?

There is only one thing that the Rove-Cheney-Bush administration has ever been able to do well, and that is SPIN. The War in Iraq is not merely another propaganda war like Vietnam, it is a Spin War. Mere news is not enough, facts are not enough, even massive public support (at the onset) is not enough. The real trick is to spin the story from one point to another and then another, so that you can actually chart a course and follow it by deliberate spinning.

Problem is, the rest of the world doesn't believe a word of it.

* * *

The Sunday Times calls it death by a thousand leaks:
Retired generals, SAS soldiers, Downing Street aides, diplomats and spies are queueing up, eager for profit or revenge. Blair will pay dearly for his lavish entourage of cronies and his contempt for discreet civil servants.
I think the fact that the UK newspapers have taken the lead in revealing the dirty secrets of the Bush-Blair conspiracies is no coincidence. Murdoch controls the right-wing papers in the UK, which are foaming at the mouth in an attempt to get at Tony Blair. Finally they have some red meat in sight and Murdoch can't hold them back.

But it's still passing strange that Blair's Labour government is even involved in such an adventure. I mean, compare left-wing Blair to all the other right-wing nut-case administrations in Iraq: Howard, Berlusconi or the former Spanish right-wingers...

And it is not just the press, of course. Right-wing politicians see the Iraq War debacel as a great chance to score personal points. Good news is that Blair is now facing a full-scale parliamentary inquiry into the Iraq war - including its justification, conduct and aftermath. That's exactly what Bush has been struggling to avoid.
Leading opposition figures from the Conservative, Liberal-Democratic, Scottish National and Plaid Cymru (Welsh) parties have banded together to back the cross-party motion titled "Conduct of Government policy in relation to the war against Iraq" to demand that the case for an inquiry be debated in the House of Commons. They seem assured of the 200 signatures required to get such a debate -- and then the loyalty of Blair's dismayed and disillusioned Labor members of Parliament will be sorely tested.

"This apparently modest motion may be the iceberg toward which Blair's Titanic is sailing," said Scottish National Party leader Alex Salmond.

Labor Party rebels have already inflicted one unprecedented defeat on Blair in this parliamentary session, and on the issue of Iraq, he commands little confidence. One leading Labor rebel, Alan Simpson, MP for Nottingham, has already signed on to the motion.

It reads: "This House believes there should be a select committee of seven Members, being Members of Her Majesty's Privy Council, to review the way in which the responsibilities of government were discharged in relation to Iraq and all matters relevant thereto in the period leading up to military action in that country in March, 2003 and in its aftermath."
And from the same article, here is a little gem of reporting that should be included in all US journalism courses:
Confidences well kept are a sign of sound leadership. When discipline crumbles it is a sign of decay...

The job of the press is to test this discipline, not respect it. Disclosure of the processes of government is its “public interest”. As secrecy aids the blood flow of those in power, so combating it aids those seeking to improve the flow of public debate. Presented with a scoop, the reporter does not stop and ask whether it might embarrass a prime minister. Embarrassment starts from the moment the reporter knows it, for his task is to pass what he knows into the public domain...

Secrets that government cannot keep, it cannot expect others to keep for it.
(I'm sure Murdoch's Times reporters will remember that if another Conservative government ever rises to power).

* * *

The funny thing is that events on the UK side of the Atlantic seem to filter through to the US via a very xenophobic filter. By the time it breaks in US media (it takes a few days, at least), a scandal like this is already old news to those who care. And already dismissed by those who don't care.

November 25, 2005

Must... read... Sidney... Blumenthal

A teaser:
The hallmark of the Dick Cheney administration is its illegitimacy. Its essential method is bypassing established lines of authority; its goal is the concentration of unaccountable presidential power. When it matters, the regular operations of the CIA, Defense Department and State Department have been sidelined.

Richard Nixon is the model, but with modifications. In the Nixon administration, the president was the prime mover, present at the creation of his own options, attentive to detail, and conscious of their consequences. In the Cheney administration, the president is volatile but passive, firm but malleable, presiding but absent. Once his complicity has been arranged, a closely held "cabal" -- as Lawrence Wilkerson, once chief of staff to former Secretary of State Colin Powell, calls it -- wields control.

Within the White House, the office of the vice president is the strategic center. The National Security Council has been demoted to enabler and implementer. Systems of off-line operations have been laid to evade professional analysis and a responsible chain of command. Those who attempt to fulfill their duties in the old ways have been humiliated when necessary, fired, retired early or shunted aside. In their place, acolytes and careerists indistinguishable from true believers in their eagerness have been elevated.
Go read the rest of the article at It charts the rise of Cheney and Rumsfeld though the Nixon, Ford, Reagan and Bush 41 and 43 presidencies, revealing them as slobbering war-mad fanatics willing to bend or break the law at any time. A great Thanksgiving read - give thanks for Mr Blumenthal!
We CAN Handle The Truth

The circumstantial evidence that Bush wanted to bomb al-Jazeera is overwhelming.

Boris Johnson, MP for Henley and editor of 'The Spectator' magazine, says he will go to jail to print the truth about Bush and al-Jazeera:
If someone passes me the document within the next few days I will be very happy to publish it in The Spectator, and risk a jail sentence. The public need to judge for themselves. Sunlight is the best disinfectant. If we suppress the truth, we forget what we are fighting for, and in an important respect we become as sick and as bad as our enemies.
Johnson, previously a strong advocate for the war, says he would like to believe that Bush was just joking:
Maybe Bush thought he was Kenny Everett. Perhaps he was playing Basil Brush. Boom boom

Who knows? But if his remarks were just an innocent piece of cretinism, then why in the name of holy thunder has the British state decreed that anyone printing those remarks will be sent to prison?
Meanwhile at the HuffPost, RJ Eskrow points out that the White House dismissal of the latest memo is not actually a denial, is it?
Step right up, folks, and count the war crimes that you're paying for with every deduction. Torture? Check. Murder of civilians with incendiary devices? Check. Illegal detentions of non-combatants? Check. Deliberate targeting of journalists? Check.
And Jeremy Scahill at the Nation digs up the following quotes from Rumsfeld just the day before the memo was written:
REPORTER: Can you definitively say that hundreds of women and children and innocent civilians have not been killed?
RUMSFELD: I can definitively say that what Al Jazeera is doing is vicious, inaccurate and inexcusable.
REPORTER: Do you have a civilian casualty count?
RUMSFELD: Of course not, we're not in the city. But you know what our forces do; they don't go around killing hundreds of civilians. That's just outrageous nonsense. It's disgraceful what that station is doing.
And here's another quote:
On April 11, with the unembedded reporters exposing the reality of the siege of Falluja, senior military spokesperson Mark Kimmitt declared, "The stations that are showing Americans intentionally killing women and children are not legitimate news sources. That is propaganda, and that is lies."
In other words, don't believe your own lying eyes, folks.

And then there is this from Stephen Soldz:
As the US launched its “shock and awe” Iraq invasion, it also launched a propaganda attack on Al-Jazeera. In July 2003, US Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz accused Al-Jazeera of “endangering the lives of American troops" in Iraq, while in November 2003, US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld accused Al-Jazeera of cooperating with Iraqi insurgents. [When the American press do this, it’s called “embedding.”] In September 2003, the US-appointed Iraqi Governing Council banned Al-Jazeera [and the Al-Arabiyah station] for two weeks, and in February 2004 they were banned for a month. Later in 2004, the US/UN appointed Iyad Allawi banned Al-Jazeera from working in Iraq.
Gulf Daily News reports that Arab journalists are staging protests, demand inquiries into the new leaked memo as well as the previous attacks on al-Jazeera offices in Kabul and Baghdad.

Click here for some videos from Falluja, if you can stomach it and feel a need to see for yourself. A few samples:

Toshikuni Doi, a Japanese independent journalist, created a DVD a few days after the assault:

Where's Jim?

Every now and then I remember my old friends from back in the days. You know, back when the Bush bandwagon still had wheels on it and everyone was jumping on board. Every now and then I do a Google search for my old friend "Jim Hake" - I mean, you never know what you'll find!

Seems Jim and his friends have been busy Faking the Case Against Syria:
On the streets of Beirut, one 'grassroots' project, "Pulse of Freedom," inadvertently exposed its U.S. origins by utilizing uniquely American street theater tactics. Then in a slip, reminiscent of Baghdad's Firdos Square when US troops covered Saddam's statue with the Stars and Stripes, or when the Republic of Georgia's military band played the US national anthem instead of its own during the Rose Revolution, "Pulse of Freedom" portrayed Lebanon's national Monument of Sovereignty as the Statue of Liberty.

Spirit of America, the NGO that created "Pulse of Freedom" provided protesters with a billboard-sized electronic 'Freedom Clock' for 'Freedom Square' to "countdown to freedom." Spirit of America's tax deductible donations helped maintain the tent city's food, shelter and other basic necessities "so that the demonstrators can keep pressure on for political change and world attention on the struggle for Lebanese independence". Spirit of America also spawned a plethora of revolution bloggers, foremost among them Tech Central Station columnist Michael Totten whose boss was Spirit of America's founder Jim Hake.

A registered charity, Spirit of America exemplifies the regime change industry. Advised by US Ambassador Mark Palmer, Vice Chairman of the Board of Freedom House, and co-founder of the National Endowment for Democracy, Palmer served as speech-writer to three US Presidents and six Secretaries of State. He also helped the US government destabilize Slobodan Milosevic and Muammar Qaddafi. Capitalizing on his color revolution skills, Palmer wrote "Breaking the Real Axis of Evil: How to Oust the World's Last Dictators Without Firing a Shot."

Another Spirit of America governor is Lt General Mike DeLong, Deputy Commander, US Central Command, MacDill Air Force Base, Florida. DeLong manages a budget of $8.2 billion and "conceived and implemented the Global War on Terrorism, Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom." As top Deputy to former General Tommy Franks, DeLong's listed expertise at places such as the Army War College, the Department of Defense and the Amphibious Warfare School included Artillery, military intelligence, coup détats, supporting democracy. DeLong in his autobiography Inside Centcom alleged "Syria had been shipping military supplies, including night vision goggles to Iraq." The New York Times and Washington Post later revealed that these data had been fabricated "smoking gun" evidence. Charles Duelfer of the UN Iraq Survey Group also confirmed that WMD charges had been "exaggerated" by now-US Ambassador to the UN, John Bolton, when he was Under-Secretary for Arms Control in 2002.
The full article by Trish Schuh is well worth a read, examining the neo-cons' hoax efforts to engineer an "Arab Spring", with specific focus on Syria and people like Jack Abramoff.
From Terrrorists To Insurgents To "Rejectionists"

Faced with a humiliating defeat, the US military in Iraq reaches out to negotiate with the enemy. From Middle East Online:
"We understand the capabilities, the vulnerabilities and the intentions of each group of the insurgency -- the foreign fighters, the Iraqi rejectionists and the Saddamists," Major General Rick Lynch told reporters.

"The group in the middle, the Iraqi rejectionists -- (which) includes the Shia rejectionists and the Sunni rejectionists -- we believe that deliberate outreach will allow them to participate in the political process and allow them to become part of the solution and not part of the problem," he said.
Y'all gotta unnerstand - we just wanna be loved!
My Name Ish Jorsh Bushhhh...

Is Bush drinking or taking drugs? Or is this a case of month-long jet lag? Something sure seems to be going on with him, causing increasingly slurred speech. See this .wmv video.

November 24, 2005

Behind The Al Jazeera Bombing Claim

Tim Dunlop suggests the claims against Bush coming via Blair's government could be a case of the poodle snapping back.

He cites this useful background on the story.

But here is a must-read from AlterNet, in case you missed it. A sample:
Right around the time that America's television media agreed to censor Al Qaeda's statements, Al Jazeera's Kabul bureau managed to get the scoop of the decade: an interview with Osama himself, with the indirect participation of CNN. It was the first and only post-9/11 interview with Enemy Number One. And the U.S. didn't want it shown. Vice President Cheney flew to Qatar that same month -- and whattaya know, Al Jazeera quashed the bin Laden interview because, it later claimed, the interview was "not newsworthy." It also agreed to withhold portions of Al Qaeda's video statements that month.

The Bush Administration was on a roll. Flush with the successful censorship of its own media and the media in other countries, it went a step further by accidentally bombing Al Jazeera's bureau in Kabul, and later, during the Iraq invasion, accidentally bombing their bureaus in Basra and Baghdad, accidentally killing one of their journalists, before eventually throwing the news organization out of the country. Several Al Jazeera journalists have been arrested, tortured, or killed by American forces.
Just In Case You Wanted To Know

Bush's Thanksgiving dinner on his designer ranch will include roasted free-range turkey with herbed stuffing, chipotle-maple whipped sweet potatoes and Texas pecan pie.

That's real reporting for you, right there.
Time To Evict USA, Israel From The UN

Once again Bush's USA is blackmailing the United Nations, threatening to block the UN's budget unless US-imposed reforms are approved by the end of the year.

Neo-con crazy John Bolton, Bush's illegitimate representative at the UN, says this "is a moment of crisis for the United Nations".

Sure, just like the US Social Security crisis. And the WMD crisis. And the bird flu crisis... Yes, it's a crisis, but once again it is a completely engineered one.
"Business as usual has gotten us to the state where we need a revolution in reform and business as usual isn't going to accomplish that revolution," Bolton said.

Bolton also questioned the usefulness of the United Nations to the American public as the main global problem solver.

"Americans are a very practical people and they don't view the UN through theological lenses," he said. "They look at it as a competitor in the marketplace for global problem-solving and if it's successful at solving problems they'll be inclined to use it."
Tell me, US readers, do you really think of the UN as a "competitor in the marketplace for global problem-solving"? If so, tell me who the other competitors are, please!

Now everybody knows the UN has organisational issues and budgetary concerns. But that is not the Bush neo-con's real concern here. They are trying to either seize control of the UN agenda or, if that is not possible, render the organisation impotent. Kofi Annan is trying to work with the US push to achive some genuinely needed reforms, but he is dancing with the devil.

The USA contributes around 20 percent of the UN budget, yet it habitually delays payment as a means of negotiating increased power in UN decision-making. UN moves to criticize Israel's atrocious apartheid policies towards Palestinians, the key obstacle to any kind of Middle East peace [and the #1 cause of terrorism in the world], are ALWAYS vetoed by the USA. Annan has already said the US invasion of Iraq was illegal under international law.

To me, the UN's next course of action is very clear: suspend both USA and Israel from the organisation until THEY institute some much-needed Democratic reforms [and agree to once again abide by international law]!

Without the USA's blocking game, it just might be possible for Annan to implement some real UN reforms, like expanding the Security Council or saving the lives of 6 million children who die of hunger around the world every year. He might find renewed interest from many nations as the UN becomes a real counterweight to the "world's only superpower", which is racing towards militant Fascism at an alarming rate. And he might find that such a move energizes public interest around the world (including within the US and Israel) in a very positive way.

Somebody has to stand up to these crazies.
BushWorld: Wrong Is Right

Via Josh: FEMA lists Katrina disaster response as one of its top three accomplishments of 2005.

To quote a New Orleans resident:
Sometime I get angry. Then I get frustrated, then I get sad.

BushWorld: Let's Focus On The Big Picture

Stephen Pizzo asks a very good question:
Instead of focusing on this administration's screw-up du jour, isn't it time for the mainstream media to start taking real account of the messes Bush has created already?
And if you think the media are guilty of sticking with the "screw-up du jour" story, most blogs are surely twice as bad!

This is why I have been getting increasingly frustrated lately. I have covered literally years of daily screw-ups (and worse, much worse) by the Bush cabal on this blog, yet still they come, day after day... What is actually being done about it?

Oh sure, the media are taking an increasingly critical line (but not too critical, of course). And sure, polls show Bush at historic lows. But polls change, poll-driven politicians follow suit, and the media swim along in the current, whichever way it flows.

Even the politicians currently embroiled in legal scandals, like Libby and Abramoff, stand a good chance of getting off if the political winds blow their way, particularly if their cases ever reach Bush's stacked Supreme Court.

They say you shouldn't kick a man when he is down, but this is exactly the right time to put the boot into George W. Bush and his corrupt colleagues. Because if Bush & Co can crawl out of this mess, we are all in for a whole lot worse!

Among other telling facts, Pizzo supplies a couple of diagrams to make his point that the past 5 years have been an abyssmal failure for Bush's USA:

And if you haven't seen it yet, this latest map of Blue versus Red states in the USA was published by Kos yesterday:

63 percent of people in the USA now want troops out by end of next year. A recent poll conducted in Iraq for the Ministry of Defense showed that over 70 percent of Iraqis want the Americans out too. Yet US newspaper editorials are still failing to call for a withdrawal. So what's going on?

Sure, the media's job is to report the news, not to make it. But the big picture of a totally failed presidency and a fallen USA is one story that most outlets are simply not reporting. It's not "irresponsible journalism" to tell it like it is, even when things are bad. Indeed, as we saw with the WMD lies, the really irresponsible journalist is the one who lets the bad news slide so as not to disturb the status quo.

Write to your local papers now, folks, and demand some real change.
The "Burden Of Proof" Is Now On Cheney

Good on the Times Of India for picking this one up.

Dick Cheney claimed this week that the USA "never had the burden of proof" with regard to Saddam's WMDs. Instead, he argued, it was up to Saddam to prove that he did not have WMDs. And of course, in Cheney's version of reality, Saddam failed to supply this proof, which is why a reluctant USA was eventually forced to attack him.

From what I have seen (and I read a LOT) this bizzarro logic has gone totally unchallenged by the US press. Why?

Let's start with the bloody obvious..

UN Weapons Inspectors had covered huge swathes of Iraq and come up with no evidence of WMDs. While Saddam was certainly playing games with them and only reluctantly complying with their demands, he was nevertheless complying. It was never up to Saddam to prove that he did not have WMDs - how can you prove you do not have something which you do not have? - it was up to the UN to prove that he had WMDs, and it was up to Saddam to comply with the UN.

The Bush administration was also "burdened" with a need to work with the UN and to comply to international laws. The burden proved to heavy for them. They said they could not wait for the UN to finish their work (they forced UN weapons inspectors to flee Iraq) because the threat from Saddam was so great, and so urgent, that they had to act immediately. In this case, there most certinaly was a burden of proof on the USA. That's why Colin Powell delivered that ludicrous speech on WMDs, to his eternal shame. Do you even remember that speech, Dick?

Who is the one "re-writing history" here? Why are the press letting him get away with it?

Given the number of totally whacko pronouncements Dick Cheney has made over the past few years, I would say there is now a burden of proof on him to show that he is not either (a) insane, or (b) an immoral, homicidal liar whose continued service as Vice President defiles not just that office but the once-proud reputation of the United States itself.
For Shame!

From The Guardian:
A dozen war protesters were arrested Wednesday for setting up camp near President Bush's ranch in defiance of new local bans on roadside camping and parking.
There were twice as many police as demonstrators.
But the demonstrators said their protest would continue, even if they were arrested. The peace activists have set up camp at a private 1-acre lot that a sympathetic landowner let them use the last several weeks of their summer protest. The land is about a mile from Bush's ranch.
Get down there and support them if you can, folks!

November 23, 2005

Those Other Satellite Images

While Europeans search for satellite images that can cast light on the movement of the USA's secret rendition flights to outsourced torture centres, Jacob Weisberg covers the Cheney lies and reminds us of another component of the WMD case that has gotten little attention, those old claims of "fresh activity" around Saddam's known nuclear sites:
A draft paper produced by Andrew Card's White House working group on Iraq, and cited in the 2003 Post article, was characteristically distorted. The document inaccurately attributed to U.N. arms inspectors the claim that satellite photographs showed signs of reconstruction and acceleration of Iraq's nuclear program. It went on to quote something chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix told Time: "You can see hundreds of new roofs in these photos." But the White House paper left out the second half of Blix's quote: "[B]ut you don't know what's under them." In February 2003, American inspectors visited those sites as part of U.N. teams and saw that nuclear bombs weren't being made at them. But Bush officials acted as if such counterevidence didn't exist.
The story includes a link to some good cartoons, for all you folks out there who need to lighten up a bit!


Murderous Bush Plotted To Bomb Al-Jazeera

... and was only talked out of it by a shocked Tony Blair.

Another leaked British government memo has been leaked, as reported by The Mirror:
Dozens of al-Jazeera staff at the HQ are not, as many believe, Islamic fanatics. Instead, most are respected and highly trained technicians and journalists.

To have wiped them out would have been equivalent to bombing the BBC in London and the most spectacular foreign policy disaster since the Iraq War itself.
The mad proposal came at the height of the US Massacre Of Falluja, when Al-Jazeera was about the only news service on earth providing eyewitness footage and other details.

Former Labour Defence Minister Peter Kilfoyle challenged Downing Street to publish the five-page transcript of the two leaders' conversation:
It's frightening to think that such a powerful man as Bush can propose such cavalier actions. I hope the Prime Minister insists this memo be published. It gives an insight into the mindset of those who were the architects of war.
OK, now I want everybody to take a deep breath. Now go and visit the Al Jazeera website. It's OK. In fact, it is important to confront your fears in order to render them obsolete - visiting a website does not make you a terrorist.

Here's a good article: It's time Cheney steps down.

Does that sound subversive? Well, it's only echoing a call from an editorial in The Daily Texan!
An editorial on The Daily Texan stated yesterday that Vice President Dick Cheney should resign and the sooner the better.

The American President George W. Bush’s recent visits to Asia is an attempt to escape the mounting criticism and public dissatisfaction that's haunting him at home.

And with the “saddle in the Oval Office empty for the time being”, according to the editorial, Cheney “a pandering liar and a corporate tool”, is now the most powerful official on U.S. soil.

A number of big oil firms recently lied to a congressional panel investigating whether or not record profits received by those companies were the result of price gouging, The Daily Texan stated.
Maybe Bush should bomb Texas?

Have a look at some of Al Jazeera's other articles and ask yourself if these people are really terrorists. Or do those working at Fox News and in the Oval Office sound more like real terrorists? Hmmn?

UPDATE: The whistle-blower who released the memo has already been arrested. Now the UK attorney general is threatening newspapers with the Official Secrets Act if they revealed the contents of the memo:
It is believed to be the first time the Blair government has threatened newspapers in this way.
The White House calls the story "outlandish" and refuses to "dignify it with a response". Sounds like they are playing for time again... The original report included a British official trying to play down Bush's comments as "humorous, not serious". If that's the case, why not release the memo to the public so we can all have a good laugh? Mind you, the warmongering US wingnuts still can't see anything wrong with bombing Al Jazeera.
Bush Knew, Bush Lied

Murray Waas has details of yet another secret government memo. This one was on George W. Bush's desk just 10 days after 9/11 (when Rumsfeld and Cheney were already urging an attack on Iraq) and it said, among other things, that there was no link between Saddam and 9/11, or between Saddam and Al Quaeda. So much for that bullshit about everyone having the same intelligence as the White House!
One of the more intriguing things that Bush was told during the briefing was that the few credible reports of contacts between Iraq and Al Qaeda involved attempts by Saddam Hussein to monitor the terrorist group. Saddam viewed Al Qaeda as well as other theocratic radical Islamist organizations as a potential threat to his secular regime. At one point, analysts believed, Saddam considered infiltrating the ranks of Al Qaeda with Iraqi nationals or even Iraqi intelligence operatives to learn more about its inner workings, according to records and sources.

The September 21, 2001, briefing was prepared at the request of the president, who was eager in the days following the terrorist attacks to learn all that he could about any possible connection between Iraq and Al Qaeda...

The Senate Intelligence Committee has asked the White House for the CIA assessment, the PDB of September 21, 2001, and dozens of other PDBs as part of the committee's ongoing investigation into whether the Bush administration misrepresented intelligence information in the run-up to war with Iraq. The Bush administration has refused to turn over these documents.

Indeed, the existence of the September 21 PDB was not disclosed to the Intelligence Committee until the summer of 2004, according to congressional sources. Both Republicans and Democrats requested then that it be turned over. The administration has refused to provide it, even on a classified basis, and won't say anything more about it other than to acknowledge that it exists.
After yesterday backing down from his cliam that debating the reasons for war was unpatriotic, Cheney today kept lashing out at the suggestion that "brave Americans were sent into battle for a deliberate falsehood," calling it "revisionism of the most corrupt and shameless variety" and saying that "it has no place anywhere in American politics." Of course, Cheney refused to take questions.

WaPo has some media response to that kind of stupidity, with all sorts of well-paid professional writers dancing around the fact that Cheney himself is not just a liar, but a homicidal maniac. Knight Ridder are the only ones making a serious attempt to hold the White House accountable for their daily lies.
How Ragtag Insurgents Beat the World's Sole Superpower

Trust Ted Rall to tell it like it is. WHAT LOST IRAQ is his latest article:
As inexperienced weekend warriors shot up carloads of civilians from rooftops above invisible checkpoints, it soon became apparent that our forces were undereducated, poorly trained and excessively preoccupied with their own safety. The Americans' cultural insensitivity, often beyond the point of brutality, transformed people grateful to be liberated into insurgents in a matter of months...

Winning a war requires a politically unified society, something the United States hasn't enjoyed since 1945. Since then our fractured nation has been unable to summon the unity to issue a formal declaration of war, much less win one. Bush-era America is highly fractured. Because the Administration can't count on most citizens to help, it has had to fight its wars in Afghanistan and Iraq on the cheap.

After 2000 most Americans told the CNN-USA Today-Gallup poll that Bush had not won "fair and square." After 2004, the pollsters found, "the nation seemed nearly as divided as it had been in Bush's first election." How can he convince the half of the country that considers him an illegitimate usurper to risk their lives, or those of their sons and daughters? ...

The Republicans' decision to forego consensus made it easy to start their war. It also made it impossible to win.
"Shock & Awe" Becomes "Fear & Loathing"

Jane Smiley agrees that the dream that was once called "America" is now dead:
We are a country that can no longer pay our bills, no longer wage an effective military action, and no longer protect our citizens from disaster. And it doesn't matter what fiscal responsibility individuals show, what bravery individual soldiers show, or what generosity individual Americans show. As a nation-as a geopolitical entity-we have been stripped of all of our superpowers and many of our powers, and it has been done quickly and efficiently, in the name of blind patriotism, by Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, and their neocon advisors...

There is nothing left in the US of real substance. The only thing that remains is ego, bullying, and public relations. The question thoughtful Americans are going to have to answer eventually is one they should be thinking about now - when our superpowers are gone, what are we and what do we want to be?
The Burden Of Proof

George Monbiot says Behind the phosphorus clouds are war crimes within war crimes:
An assault weapon the marines were using had been armed with warheads containing "about 35% thermobaric novel explosive (NE) and 65% standard high explosive". They deployed it "to cause the roof to collapse and crush the insurgents fortified inside interior rooms". It was used repeatedly: "The expenditure of explosives clearing houses was enormous."

The marines can scarcely deny that they know what these weapons do. An article published in the Gazette in 2000 details the effects of their use by the Russians in Grozny. Thermobaric, or "fuel-air" weapons, it says, form a cloud of volatile gases or finely powdered explosives. "This cloud is then ignited and the subsequent fireball sears the surrounding area while consuming the oxygen in this area. The lack of oxygen creates an enormous overpressure ... Personnel under the cloud are literally crushed to death. Outside the cloud area, the blast wave travels at some 3,000 metres per second ... As a result, a fuel-air explosive can have the effect of a tactical nuclear weapon without residual radiation ... Those personnel caught directly under the aerosol cloud will die from the flame or overpressure. For those on the periphery of the strike, the injuries can be severe. Burns, broken bones, contusions from flying debris and blindness may result. Further, the crushing injuries from the overpressure can create air embolism within blood vessels, concussions, multiple internal haemorrhages in the liver and spleen, collapsed lungs, rupture of the eardrums and displacement of the eyes from their sockets." It is hard to see how you could use these weapons in Falluja without killing civilians.

This looks to me like a convincing explanation of the damage done to Falluja, a city in which between 30,000 and 50,000 civilians might have been taking refuge. It could also explain the civilian casualties shown in the film. So the question has now widened: is there any crime the coalition forces have not committed in Iraq?
After more than three years imprisoned without charge by the Bush Junta, alleged "Dirty Bomber" Jose Padilla finally gets charged... with something else!
Stifling Dissent

Where's the US media?
Recent calls for a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq -- at a slow or speedy pace -- got a major boost today with news that all three of Iraq's leading political factions had collectively called for a timetable for withdrawal of all foreign forces. That comes on the heels of Rep. John Murtha's much-publicized call for a pullout, and new polls showing that six in 10 Americans -- and even eight in 10 Iraqis -- would like the U.S. to exit. Even Bill O'Reilly came out for it today, and many Republicans in Congress, with Election Day 2006 approaching, have expressed the hope that some pullouts will begin next year.

What's missing from this picture? An E&P survey of current editorials in major newspapers reveals that very few of them -- even after the new debate sparked by Murtha's plan -- favor a pullout or even setting a timetable for withdrawal.
USA's secret torture prison network gets investigated... by Europeans!

Tired of talk and talk that goes nowhere?

Michael Moore invites you to Come to Crawford for Thanksgiving!!!

November 22, 2005

Fuck The Fucking God-Damned USA

Think Progress reveals a "formerly classified" 1995 Pentagon document labelling White Phosphorous a "chemical weapon" - but ONLY WHEN IT WAS USED BY SADDAM!!!

Saddam tortured, we torture. Saddam used WP chemical weapons against insurgents and civilians, we use WP chemical weapons against insurgents and civilians.

Like torture, the apologists try to justify our use of such abhorrent techniques, oblivious to the fact that our moral standing is in tatters and our crediblity beyond repair. We aren't just losing the war in Iraq, we are losing our credibility in the world.
Now listen. Regular readers will know I am a patient, thoughtful and carefully spoken observer of these things. But there has to come a point where even the most patriotic US citizens rise up and shout "Enough! This is not the USA I used to believe in! What have we become?"

Why are there not millions of you out in the streets, calling for the resignation of this pathetic puppet President and his entire administration? Why are you not screaming out of your windows, banging pots and pans like the grandmothers in Argentina used to do? Why are you not marching on the White House, protesting outside the offices of your local officials, doing whatever you can to stop this madness? I don't understand...

Citizens of the USA, you are faced with an urgent choice between fundamental human values and shallow nationalistic fervour. You must be prepared to place your basic human beliefs, sentiments which unite us all, above your loyalty to your much-hyped country. If the title of this post offends you - GOOD! It's supposed to!

I speak for the rest of the world. Like millions of others, I grew up watching Superman talk about "Truth, Justice... and the American Way!" I am old enough and have seen enough bad in this world to appreciate the good that the USA once represented. Where is it now?

I hear all you self-congratulating anti-Bush Democrats talk and talk about "re-shaping the debate" and scoring political points to turn the tables on the GOP. For what? Another Skull And Bones President picked from the Senators and Congressmen who supported the war?

You are fucking up our environment, you are polluting our children's heads with your crap commercialism, low moral values, violence and propaganda. You are tearing long-standing international treaties to shreds. You are giving every tyrant on this planet an excuse to follow your lead, re-brand his torture as "Freedom On The Fucking March" and throw his political opponents in jail forever. You are destroying all the good that endless years off "civilisation" have struggled to define...

You think your stupid country is so important? Arrrggghhhh!!!!


Enough! It's time to re-imagine yourselves! Look at what you are, not what you once thought you were. Start from there.
Now It's Bush's Turn To Be Afraid

Tom Engelhardt calls it a "Wizard of Oz" moment:
You know -- that moment when the curtains are pulled back, the fearsome-looking wizard wreathed in all that billowing smoke turns out to be some pitiful little guy, and everybody looks around sheepishly, wondering why they acted as they did for so long...

How stunningly in recent weeks the landscape has altered -- almost like your basic hurricane sweeping through some unprotected and unprepared city. Now, to their amazement, Bush administration officials find themselves thrust through the equivalent of a Star-Trekkian wormhole into an anti-universe where everything that once worked for them seems to work against them.
He asks how did this happen and points to poll-driven politics for the answer.
Polls are, it might be said, what's left of American democracy. Privately run, often for profit or advantage, they nonetheless are as close as we come these days -- actual elections being what they are -- to the expression of democratic opinion, serially, week after week. Everyone who matters in and out of Washington and in the media reads them as if life itself were at stake. They drive behavior and politics. Fear, too, is a poll-driven phenomenon.
Tom suggest that the polls, in turn, have been driven down by the steady drip of US casualties. I am not so sure about that: US deaths have been well-concealed by the media. I think Bush's failing domestic agenda may have far more to do with it, particularly the "turning point" of Hurricane Katrina.
Maureen Farrell: A MUST READ!

Maureen Farrell has put together a fantastic article examining the rise of the Bush cabal:Tired of Being Lied to? Modern History You Can't Afford to Ignore.

I think the sections focussing on the secretive roles of Cheney and Rumsfeld since WWII are particularly interesting and relevant today. For example:
Between 1945 and 1955, more than 700 Nazi scientists are smuggled into the U.S. In addition to providing the government with valuable science, "Operation Paperclip" eventually spawns more notorious programs like Operation ARTICHOKE (extreme interrogation and torture) and MK-ULTRA (mind control).

Eight years later, Dr. Frank Olson, an Army biochemist expert who runs the Special Operations Division at Fort Detrick, (and has ties to Operation Paperclip) falls from a New York City hotel window. "The search for the circumstances surrounding the mysterious death of Dr. Frank Olson begins in 1945, with the liberation of the concentration camp at Dachau, Germany," a German documentary later reports. In 1975, after the Rockefeller Commission unearths revelations about the CIA's role in Dr. Olson's death, his family is paid $750,000 restitution, though the government continues to hide the true nature of his work. Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney are later implicated in the cover-up...

In the 1980s, Congressman Dick Cheney and former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld abscond annually to a remote location, partaking in "one of the most highly classified programs" of the era. At times the program disregards Constitutional protocol for presidential succession during a national crisis, instead using "a secret procedure for putting in place a new 'President' and his staff," while diminishing the role of the Speaker of the House and Congress. Following the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, Vice President Dick Cheney routinely disappears to an undisclosed location and President George W. Bush initiates a shadow government in underground bunkers without informing Congress.
And there's that old quote I have been looking for, from former CIA director William Colby:
The Central Intelligence Agency owns everyone of any major significance in the major media.
If I took four weeks off work to put together an article saying everything I wanted to say about Bush & Co, with lots of URL links to back up the facts, it might look something like this (I wish!).
An Ugly American

Hullabaloo has a good discussion on torture, it's effects on the torturers, and on society:
Now that we've let the torture genie out of the bottle, I wonder if we can put that beast back in. He looks and sounds an awful lot like an American.

November 21, 2005

Where's the Leadership?

I dont really understand all this. White House staff are playing it wasn't me, it wasn't you, it wasn't father Christmas... Why doesn't Bush just DEMAND that all his staff release Bob Woodward to reveal his source, or resign?
Abramoff Scandal Set To Explode

Methinks 'tis time the goodly townsfolk did venture unto yonder town square armed with pitchforks, torches and hoes(*):
"I think this has the potential to be the biggest scandal in Congress in over a century," said Thomas E. Mann, a Congressional specialist at the Brookings Institution. "I've been around Washington for 35 years, watching Congress, and I've never seen anything approaching Abramoff for cynicism and chutzpah in proposing quid pro quos to members of Congress."
* - the old-fashioned hoes of the gardening variety, of course. And just to wave in the air a bit, not to actually shred Cheney's skin to the marrow or anything...
Waste Of Time

From a waste of space President: Bush's Asia Trip Meets Low Expectations.
Humour Arr Arr

Well that's one way to get the attention of "dumb Americans"...
Cedric the Entertainer was the only performer actually to explain what global warming is: "It's like a big bag of microwaved popcorn. Eventually, we're all going to start popping."
Meanwhile, Back In New Orleans...

TIME magazine's cover story: New Orleans Today: It's Worse Than You Think
"Neighborhoods are still dark, garbage piles up on the street, and bodies are still being found. The city's pain is a nation's shame."
From the UK Independent
British-trained police operating in Basra have tortured at least two civilians to death with electric drills...
Shake And Bake

From The Dirty War
A year ago at Fallujah, the smokescreen laid down by US forces eventually cleared into thin air. In the same way the stink about WP will also die down and gradually be forgotten except, perhaps, by the victims who were left with burns so deep that even their bones were exposed. Surgery might help to make them whole again but no amount of politician's bluster will explain why the fire support element of the 2nd Battalion of the 2nd US Infantry locked and loaded WP in their artillery pieces and fired them into an Iraqi city to shake and bake its unwitting inhabitants.
Food For Thought

Always a good read, Frank Rich has a good wrap-up including the domestic US political developments of the past week. He argues that the date for US withdrawal from Iraq has already been set by the US public, and it is Election Day 2006.

The main gist of Rich's argument is this:
One hideous consequence of the White House's Big Lie - fusing the war of choice in Iraq with the war of necessity that began on 9/11 - is that the public, having rejected one, automatically rejects the other.
Hmmn. There is some truth in that, but it bears more thought.

For one thing, there is another forgotten war still underway - the war in Afghanistan which, unlike Iraq, was launched with international agreement for valid reasons and genuinely DID have the potential to transform the Middle East by setting up a shining example of Western benevolence. Of course, that short-lived benevolence has been shown up as a fraud - most Westerners simply DO NOT CARE about Third World suffering, so once the Taliban were removed we lost interest.

For another thing, there is an important parallel between the war in Iraq and the alleged war on "terror" which should not be overlooked - in both cases, the key to anything called "winning" will be Arab hearts and minds. But nobody in the USA seems to be even prepared to discuss that aspect of things at this stage, more's the pity.

Another item of note from Rich's column:
A USA Today/CNN/Gallup survey last week found that the percentage (52) of Americans who want to get out of Iraq fast, in 12 months or less, is even larger than the percentage (48) that favored a quick withdrawal from Vietnam when that war's casualty toll neared 54,000 in the apocalyptic year of 1970.


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