February 28, 2008

Turkey Is In Iraq to Stay

It's becoming increasingly clear that Turkey has no plan to pull out of Iraq any time soon:
As fighter jets continued to pound rebel positions on the sixth full day of the incursion, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates made it clear that US support for its NATO ally was not open-ended.

The offensive must end quickly, he said.

"I measure quick in terms of days, or a week or two, something like that. Not months," he said in New Delhi before flying to Ankara for talks.
Yeah, the USA and its allies were only going to be in Iraq for "months, not years" too! Just until we "Get the job done".

Turkey estimates there are 4,000 PKK rebels holed up in the area it is assaulting. So far they think they have killed 230 of them.
[A] senior Turkish official said the operation would continue until the PKK, listed as a terrorist group by much of the international community, is uprooted from the region, which it uses a springboard for attacks in Turkey.

"There will be no timetable to withdraw Turkish troops... until the presence of the terrorist organisation is eliminated," said Ahmet Davutoglu, chief foreign policy advisor to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
So the US will pull out when Al Quaeda is eliminated, and Turkey will pull out when Kurdish rebels are eliminated. Brilliant trick by Turkey. They have basically annexed Northern Iraq, stifling all hope of an independent Kurdistan, and the USA cannot say or do a thing about it:
A senior US official travelling with [Robert] Gates to Ankara said they had debated whether to drop Ankara from the secretary's schedule as a message to the Turks.

"After a short discussion, everybody decided it was best to go and engage the Turks personally," the official said on the condition of anonymity.
Gates is urging turkey to "deal with some of the issues and complaints that some of the Kurds have and move this in a non-military direction in order to get a long-term solution". That's once again pretty funny, coming from the USA!

When is the media going to start canvassing the possibility that Turkey is in Iraq to stay? It's what I first thought when I read about the latest incursion, and every day only confirms my suspicions.

UPDATE: 24 hours later, and Turkey is talking about a "withdrawal". But the troops being withdrawn are actually being replaced by new ones. And now top Turkish officials are talking about staying in Iraq for a year - which means beyond the bush presidency, which could mean anything at all.

Patrick Cockburn says this could be the final end of the vision for a unified Iraq.

February 26, 2008

Should The USA Bail Out Bush's Bankers?

Mike Whitney doesn't think so:
The same banking giants who cooked up the subprime scam have just presented the Bush administration with a $739 billion bailout package they plan to unload on the American taxpayer..

The Bush administration is not just philosophically opposed to oversight; they've handed over the entire financial system to a cabal of banking scalawags who've turned it into their personal fiefdom. This same cast of fraudsters engineered the subprime swindle and ripped off trillions of dollars from investors around the world. And, don't kid yourself; Bush is proud of the damage he's done...

The cult of free market orthodoxy and Reagan-era flim-flam has put us on track for another stock market crash ala 1929. That's why Bank of America and their buddies in the industry have turned to the administration for a way out. Their flagging balance sheets can't take another year of rising foreclosures and dwindling assets. They need Big Brother to cover their debts and rebuild their capital-base. Otherwise its curtains...

Let the banks go under. They created this mess. Besides, all we're doing is rewarding the people who deliberately destroyed the system. They can fend for themselves. The first order of business should be to restore public confidence; not bail out crooks. “Credibility” matters in a market-based system; especially one that relies so heavily on the hocus-pocus of fractional banking. When trust is lost; the system crashes. End of story...

Second, people in positions of authority have to be held accountable for their crimes. Millions of investors have lost their life savings or retirement in the subprime/securitzation debacle. Someone's got to go to jail. Apologies just don't cut it. So far, not one CEO has been led off to the Paddy-wagon in handcuffs. It has all been swept under the rug by an administration that has filled every regulatory position in Washington with industry lobbyists, business-friendly tycoons and corporate “yes-men”. The results are just what any sane person would expect; disaster.
But if you are serious about not bailing out the banks, then you have to look at what would happen next. It seems to me that Joe Public will get royally screwed either way.

Imagine major banks across the USA closing their doors. You would have ordinary folks banging at the gate to get their cash savings out. It would be chaos. I've seen it happen in Argentina.

Then what? If the big banks fold and walk away - even if the CEO's go to jail - you still need some kind of system in place.

So who's got the cash to set up a bank? The same rich bastards who set up this whole sorry debacle - the Cheneys and Rockefellers and Bushes and all their friends in the Carlyle Group and beyond!

What's the alternative? You let the Chinese government move in and set up banks across the USA, given that they are the only ones with assets and proven financial management skills! Like that's gonna happen, right? And lest we forget, the Chinese bankers are just another brand of corrupt autocrats who will happily screw everyone in sight if and when they get the chance.

So what to do? Hide your cash under the bed and hope it doesn't devalue due to hyperinflation before you can spend it? Put your savings into tangible assets like gold nuggets? Or just take a deep breath, look out the window, and notice that the sun is still shining, the moon is still glowing, the rain is still falling, the grass is still growing, children are still playing...

The best things in life are free. In all the excitement, it's important to remember that. In fact, it's more important than ever to remember that.

THEN go hold these bastards accountable!

Stewart Makes Fun of McCain at Oscars

February 22, 2008

Blogging For Fun, Fame And Fortune (Or Not)

Thanks to Kim at LP for linking to this Sarah Boxer article (yeah, that Sarah Boxer):
Bloggers are golden when they're at the bottom of the heap, kicking up. Give them a salary, a book contract, or a press credential, though, and it just isn't the same. (And this includes, for the most part, the blogs set up by magazines, companies, and newspapers.) Why? When you write for pay, you worry about lawsuits, sentence structure, and word choice. You worry about your boss, your publisher, your mother, and your superego looking over your shoulder. And that's no way to blog.

Blogging at its freest is like going to a masked ball. You can say all the spiteful, infantile things you wouldn't dream of saying if you were in print or face to face with another human being. You can flirt with anyone, or try to. You can tell the President exactly what you think of him. You can have political opinions your friends would despise you for. You can even libel people you don't like and hide behind an alias.
Well, it's not libel if it's true, is it? LOL!

I get sickened by these "safe" bloggers who worry so much about libel and being labelled a Conspiracy Theorist that they cannot even say what they really think. My philosophy is that lies and innuendo don't have legs, whereas the truth will out.

OTOH I realise that this blog is always going to remain "at the bottom of the heap, kicking up" as long as I persist in loudly articulating all my crazy ideas. It would be nice to get wads of money as a professional blogger, or even just ONE SINGLE FRICKIN' DONATION (ahem..), but it's not gonna happen. Blogs like this feed the frenzy, while the top dogs lick the froth off the top of the cream as it rises from the murky depths.

If you don't believe me, just look how much of this blogs traffic comes from Google searches. Who are these people and what do they do with the information they get from my blog? God knows none of them ever link to me with a hat-tip of thanks, but I'm pretty sure a few of them are making more money than me just by trawling through blogs and writing up more respectable versions of events.

Like Sarah Boxer, herself, even.

February 21, 2008

Is John McCain Really "The One"?

Josh Marshall recently suggested that top-flight Dems should be putting together a team to attack John McCain while Hillary and Obama battle it out. He was worried that McCain is getting an easy ride now that he has the GOP nomination sewn up. But is he really home and hosed?

Today Juan Cole launches a blistering (and entertaining) attack on McCain's record. And now the NYT reveals that McCain has had an overly close, possibly romantic, involvement with a young female lobbyist.

NYT kindly suggests that "his confidence in his own integrity has sometimes seemed to blind him to potentially embarrassing conflicts of interest". Now that's priceless comedy gold.

I'll go back to "not blogging" now, just as soon as I post these photos of Vicki Iseman naked in a hot tub... with Britney Spears AND Paris Hilton!

(That should guarantee me a few hits).

Worst. President. Ever.

Bush scores lowest presidential approval rating EVER!
How does it compare to other presidents? There's no comparison.

Nixon, as he was hounded out of office in August 1974, never dipped below the mid-20s.

Here's a pretty good compilation of poll numbers from Roper. To summarize the highlights:

Clinton low: 36 percent, May 1993 (early missteps like Zoe Baird)

George H.W. Bush low: 29 percent, August 1992 (recession)

Reagan low: 35 percent, January 1983 (recession)

Carter low: 28 percent, July 1979 (high gas prices)

Ford low: 37 percent, January 1975 (economy, Nixon pardon)

Nixon low: 23 percent, January 1974 (Watergate)

Johnson low: 35 percent, August 1968 (Vietnam)

Lowest ever? That would be Harry Truman during the Korean War, in February 1952, at 22 percent.

And so now George W. Bush has shattered a record that has stood for 55 long years...
Just wanted to note that one. Of course, we still cannot talk about impeachment.

February 19, 2008

Blogging Sucks

I'm going to take a break.

I'll leave this post up as a chat thread if anyone is interested.

Everywhere Is War

Der Spiegel interviews Henry Kissinger. I find myself constantly needing to step back and think about what he is saying, and the biases upon which his ideas are constructed. For example:
There was never a question in the mind of European populations that the state was authorized to ask for sacrifices and that the citizens had a duty to carry it out. Now the structure of the nation-state has been given up to some considerable extent in Europe. And the capacity of governments to ask for sacrifices has diminished correspondingly.
He says that like it's a bad thing! And of course, in his mind it is:
I think it is obvious that the United States cannot permanently do all the fighting for Western interests by itself. So, two conclusions are possible: Either there are no Western interests in the region and we don't fight. Or there are vital Western interests in the region and we have to fight.
Hey! How about this conclusion: yes, there are vital Western interests in the region, and that means you should NOT fight!

No, Kissinger is not even capable of thinking like that. When his sad, bloodshot eyes gaze at the far horizons, all they see is war. And not just one war, but many wars being fought simultaneously:
You cannot simultaneously attempt to overthrow the government of Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan in the name of democracy and fight radical Islam. The democratization processes and the war against radical Islam have a different time frame.
So much for the old argument about invading Iraq to spread Freem 'n Moxy (TM). Kissinger doesn't even bother pretending that eliminating Islamic radicals will help spread Moxy across the Middle East.

But "radical Islam" sprang up as a protest against the despotic pro-Western governments in the Middle East. So if you really want to "defeat" it, shouldn't you be addressing that root cause?

Not in Kissinger's Israel-centric world:
If Iran wants to be a respected nation-state in the region without claiming religious or imperial domination, then we should be able to come to some form of understanding. But we will not reach that goal unless Iran realizes that this is not a historical opportunity to resurrect Persian dreams of glory.
For "Persian dreams of glory" read "equality with Israel". And that really is the crux of this whole bullshit "war" on "radical Islam" - keeping Israel's enemies in check. Not by talking and negotiating, but by killing and destroying.

As one commenter at ICH said:
Henry Kissinger was a failure in Asia, failure in Latin America, and a failure in the Middle East. His conclusion is always the same, "Stay the course".
Kissinger is 84 years old now. His course will not be stayed much longer. This interview was done in New York, as Kissinger's ability to travel is nowadays restricted by his potential arrest for War Crimes.

Political Blogs and Opinions

After reading Glenn Greenwald today I am just going to re-post my latest comment from this TPM thread:
I couldn't agree less, JTHB. You are totally on the back foot.

I mean, listen to yourself:

The biggest fight we have to keep fighting is against the conspiracy theorists who make unfounded claims of criminal activity.

So you think people like me are your biggest problem? Really?

Haven't you noticed how many of these "Conspiracy Theories" have come true over the past eight years? WMDs? Pat Tillman? Torture? Gulags? Wiretapping? ETC!

No wonder the Democrats haven't stopped the war! No wonder the US voting system remains a farce!

My claims are not at all unfounded. I can easily produce dozens of URLs to back up claims of widespread electoral malfeasance over many years.

Now, given this long and sad history of vote-rigging, it is people like you, well-meaning people who nevertheless yearn to imagine that nothing can or will or does go wrong, that are really creating an impediment to progress.

You wanna wait till AFTER the vote has been stolen before you start pointing fingers? That didn't work too well in 2000 or 2004, did it?

What are you afraid of? Let's see...

Those claims become the easily dismissed target of the thuggery and their collaborators.
Yes, it is ridiculous that so important an issue can be so easily sidetracked but there it is.

So basically you are worried that Karl Rove will laugh at you? Or you will lose all your hard-won Credibility in the eyes of the People Who Matter?

Karl Rove doesn't need to bother attacking you, mate: you are already scared of your own shadow!

Get over it. This is a comments thread! I am sharing ideas and information. You don't like it? Bully for you, sport.

Of course I know that Josh Marshall and Obama are not going to repeat these sorts of claims until and unless people like you and me can put some meat on the bone. But I really, really wish they would, you know? I wish they would come right out and call Dubya a Fascist War Criminal. I wish they would SHAKE THE FRICKIN' TREE and see what happens...

Sure, the wingnuts will laugh their stupid asses off. But hardly anybody even cares what they think any more, and nobody ever got killed by Snark.

The Emperor has no clothes. Let's stop pretending that he does.

February 18, 2008

Is It Time To Bomb Iran, Dick?

Wow!? Iran has just opened it's new (non-US-dollar) oil bourse! Well,... um... not quite:
Iran established its first oil products bourse Sunday in a free trade zone on the Persian Gulf Island of Kish, the country's oil ministry said.

A statement posted on the ministry's Web site said 100 tons of polyethylene consignment was traded at the market's opening on the island, which houses the offices of about 100 Iranian and foreign oil companies.

Oil and petrochemical products will be traded in Iranian Rials, as well as all other hard currencies, the statement quoted Iranian Oil Minister Gholam Hossein Nozari as saying. About 20 brokers are already active in the market, it said.
Seems this "Iran Mercantile Exchange" is only a halfway step towards trading oil in Euros, which is the real goal:
Iran has already registered for another oil bourse, in which it has said it hopes to trade oil in Euros instead of dollars, to reduce any American influence over the Islamic Republic's economy.

A bourse official, Mahdi Karbasian, told the IRNA official news agency that such an oil market would begin operating within the next year.
How will the USA react to this news? AP and Bloomberg are running stories, but I can't see any US media picking it up yet...

The new bourse uses spot contracts (immediate payments) and there is a lot of political pressure against getting involved, so analysts (some, at least) are not expecting this bourse to have much impact.

February 17, 2008

LA Voting Irregularities

As reported at TPM. Strange that this again seems to have (at least mostly) gone Hillary's way. Very strange.

Remember when Hillary came from behind in New Hampshire? A UK enquiry heard that Rupert Murdoch phoned his London papers that night telling them to "hold the front page" because the results were going to be surprising.

Nothing criminal about that, of course... Even if Murdoch (who owns FOX) has long been a rabid neocon supporter and pre-emptive Iraq War champion. And of course he has said a lot of nice things about Hillary... (more here).

Even in NH, purely on the voting machine side of things, quite a few people were suspicious back then.

And then Hillary's Super Tuesday better market odds took a very sharp last-minute turn when lots of "inside" money came in.

I'm not saying the system is rigged: I'm saying the system is a JOKE!

February 15, 2008

Saudi Witchery? Or Just Pure Evil?

The reason why stories like this persist - which feed the rightwing, anti-Muslim hype - is that Western governments are propping up corrupt Middle East regimes who routinely siphon off all their nation's oil wealth for personal profit.

I mean, how is it possible, after all these years, that a rich nation with extraordinary oil resources like Saudi Arabia's still has citizens with medieval standards of education?

Lest we forget, this is EXACTLY the reason why Osama Bin Laden went to war with the USA. Not because he had a grudge with the USA itself, but because the USA was militarily and economically propping up the corrupt Saudi regime which he detested as an affront to Islam.

It seems to me that there is potential for common ground here between leftwing and rightwing critics of the Saudi regime. Free and fair elections in countries like Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Iran should be demanded by one and all in the Western world.

Who Did Ted Rall Vote For?

Ted Rall picks his Democrat candidate:
I want revenge. Obama preaches reconciliation. "I will create a working majority because I won't demonize my opponents," says Obama. The Illinois senator is an interesting politician and might make a good leader. But not yet. Give me eight years of Democratic rule as ruthless and extreme and uncompromising as the last eight years of Bush. Then we can have some bipartisanship...

Hillary, no. Obama? Nobama. What to do?

"Hundreds of thousands of Democrats and independents who were motivated enough to go and vote on February 5 did so for Edwards, knowing full well that he was out of the running," reports The Nation. I was one of them.

Turn, turn, turn...

The Wheels Of Justice move slowly - far too slowly for my liking - and a corrupt but powerful politician can be assured of getting through at least one term in office before they catch up with him or her.

Today something finally happened in the US House" a resolution of contempt against two of Bush's cronies who are refusing to give evidence into the unfair dismissals of US attorneys.

Of course, that's just the tip of a very big iceberg. Josh Marshall reminds us what the story is really all about:
So why was David Iglesias fired? What about Carol Lam? Was her probe brushing up too close against powerful figures at the Pentagon, CIA and on Capitol Hill? What about the White House's effort to goad US Attorneys around the country to push bogus vote fraud cases to game help more Republicans get elected? We still don't know the answers to those key questions.
How long will it take to get to the bottom of all these scandals (not to mention all the others which have not even reached the DoJ)? Five years? Twenty?

Look at what's happening in at the Diana inquest in London. And just imagine where all that would have got if Mohammed Al Fayed had not been prepared (and able) to spend so much time and money on it.

UPDATE: Here's how Reuters reported this:
"It is unclear how far Democrats would get in any court case. In fact, they may likely fail to get a ruling before Bush's term ends in January 2009."
The GOP is saying this is just a pre-election stunt. Sadly, I fear there may be some truth in that.

Impeachment should have been on the table a long time ago, and Bush and Cheney should no longer be in office.

February 14, 2008

Gandhi's Blogs: A Visual Journey

This is something I should have done a while ago: I just turned all my Picasa Web Albums from private to public, so now you can click on that link and see all the photos I've uploaded to google for my various blogs.

It makes for quite a strange journey, just scrolling through the images, each one connected to a story...

"Die, You Bastards"

Like his friends in the White House, Rupert Murdoch is eager to kill off the tortured 9/11 prisoners upon whose testimony the official narrative rests:
News of the charges brought a predictably impassioned response. The New York Daily News ran an editorial headlined Death Is Too Good. It said: "Justice is limited to only one punishment for the barbaric murderers who deserve far worse: death. Die, you bastards."
How terribly uncivilised!

Eight Years Of Bush: A Crisis Of Intelligence

The term "Intelligence Crisis" says it all really, doesn't it? Not just the "mistakes" about WMDs, or the failure to stop 9/11, or the failure to catch Bin Laden, or to understand the resistance in Iraq and Afghanistan, but the whole sorry show for the past eight years. And not just from our leaders, either... Know what I'm talking about?

This individual's conflict of belief versus reality seems typical of the US public as a whole:
"When we invaded... I thought the U.S. presence was preventing a full-scale meltdown," Rossmiller writes. "I knew our presence had created many of the problems that existed, but I thought coalition troops were the dam preventing a flood of sectarian violence and terrorist encampment. [My experiences] furthered my realization that the U.S. occupation was, long-term, actually making the country less stable. We were arming multiple sides of an incipient civil war, playing whack-a-mole with insurgents, and destroying our moral standing and strategic interests in a vital region. The idea that the most politically and militarily powerful nation in the world could be doing more harm than good was difficult to swallow, but it was something I had to consider."
Of course, it all started with the "faith-based Presidency" of George W. Bush:
''I don't know why you're talking about Sweden,'' Bush said. ''They're the neutral one. They don't have an army.''

Lantos paused, a little shocked, and offered a gentlemanly reply: ''Mr. President, you may have thought that I said Switzerland. They're the ones that are historically neutral, without an army.'' Then Lantos mentioned, in a gracious aside, that the Swiss do have a tough national guard to protect the country in the event of invasion.

Bush held to his view. ''No, no, it's Sweden that has no army.''

The room went silent, until someone changed the subject
That's from the 2004 NYT article by Ron Suskind which included this now-infamous neocon quote:
The aide said that guys like me were ''in what we call the reality-based community,'' which he defined as people who ''believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.'' I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ''That's not the way the world really works anymore,'' he continued. ''We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.''
There's an important part of that quote which is always overlooked. Consider this bit in isolation:
"And while you're studying that reality... we'll act again..."
To my mind, this has been the secret of Bush's success. And I think it was a deliberate part of the plan all along.

The pace of action has been relentless, as five long years of anti-Bush blogging right here will attest. Every time the public becomes outraged by one example of corruption, authoritarianism, cronyism, or whatever, it is quickly eclipsed by another example, and then another, and another... So we never get any resolution or accountability on any of them.

Has anyone else noticed this?

Karl Rove and Dick Cheney are very aggressive bastards, and they firmly believe that the best form of defence is attack. You have to say, it has worked well for them (especially with a compliant Congress to cover their backs). A less aggressive administration would have had to deal with a smaller number of longer-running scandals, with potentially more serious consequences (e.g. Watergate or Monica Lewinsky).

Back to that Suskind article:
Bush, clearly, is one of history's great confidence men. That is not meant in the huckster's sense, though many critics claim that on the war in Iraq, the economy and a few other matters he has engaged in some manner of bait-and-switch. No, I mean it in the sense that he's a believer in the power of confidence. At a time when constituents are uneasy and enemies are probing for weaknesses, he clearly feels that unflinching confidence has an almost mystical power. It can all but create reality.
Or, if you are really stupid, or overly proud, it can just blind you to reality, until reality comes crashing down on your head.

For a man like Bush, born into wealth and privilege, such overweening confidence comes naturally. As many observers have noted, Dubya has never been held accountable for any of his many mistakes in life. Bush now seems determined to go to his grave without ever admitting his failures: "History will be my judge," he says.

But it's not just Bush who is guilty of such willful, over-confident ignorance. The citizens of the USA, arguably the wealthiest and most privileged people on the planet, have likewise preferred to trust emotion over logic, and faith over intelligence.

And that, it seems to me, has been Bush's journey - and the USA's journey - over these past eight years. The slow and painful dawning of the realisation that reality actually does matter. Because in the long run, that's why we are here.

Yes we have no permanent bases

Welcome to Dana Perino's fantasyland:
Amid a bitter dispute over US bases in Iraq, the White House signaled Wednesday it does not view any US military installations overseas -- except perhaps Guantanamo Bay, Cuba -- as permanent.

"The United States, where we are, where we have bases, we are there at the invitation of those countries. I'm not aware of any place in the world -- where we have a base -- that they are asking us to leave. And if they did, we would probably leave," said spokeswoman Dana Perino.

Anyone in Germany or Japan want to test this one out? How about the dispossessed former residents of Diego Garcia?

February 13, 2008

Yet Another Bush "Conspiracy Theory" Revealed

This photo shows Prescott Bush (center) with his friends Roland Harriman (left), Knight Woolley and R. Lovett.

It's eight years too late, but The Guardian has finally confirmed the "Conspiracy Theories" about Bush's grandfather and the Nazis (as heroically detailed long ago by Webster G. Tarpley).

The most tantalising part of the story remains shrouded in mystery: the connection, if any, between Prescott Bush, Thyssen, Consolidated Silesian Steel Company (CSSC) and Auschwitz.

Thyssen's partner in United Steel Works, which had coal mines and steel plants across the region, was Friedrich Flick, another steel magnate who also owned part of IG Farben, the powerful German chemical company.

Flick's plants in Poland made heavy use of slave labour from the concentration camps in Poland. According to a New York Times article published in March 18 1934 Flick owned two-thirds of CSSC while "American interests" held the rest.

The US National Archive documents show that BBH's involvement with CSSC was more than simply holding the shares in the mid-1930s. Bush's friend and fellow "bonesman" Knight Woolley, another partner at BBH, wrote to Averill Harriman in January 1933 warning of problems with CSSC after the Poles started their drive to nationalise the plant. "The Consolidated Silesian Steel Company situation has become increasingly complicated, and I have accordingly brought in Sullivan and Cromwell, in order to be sure that our interests are protected," wrote Knight. "After studying the situation Foster Dulles is insisting that their man in Berlin get into the picture and obtain the information which the directors here should have. You will recall that Foster is a director and he is particularly anxious to be certain that there is no liability attaching to the American directors."

But the ownership of the CSSC between 1939 when the Germans invaded Poland and 1942 when the US government vested UBC and SAC is not clear.
The Harrimans are closely related to the Brown family, whose name now adorns Halliburton's top subsidiary, KBR (Kellogg, Brown and Root). Foster Dulles and his brother set up the CIA, and George H.W. Bush became an agent, then a director, then a Veep and then a President. And then his idiot son became a President too...

And nobody really gives a shit about all this crap, do they. We move on, we move on...

February 12, 2008

Who's Gonna Be Left Holding The Bag? Who's Gonna Be Silenced Forevermore?


This is pretty amazing stuff: the Bush Cabal is suddenly trying to execute the prisoners whose information (extracted under torture, as is now readily admitted) has provided the cornerstone of "facts" for the 9/11 Commission's findings.

At the same time - quite extraordinarily - Former 9/11 Commission Chief Philip Zelikow has gone on the Democracy Now! radio show to answer allegations of misconduct. To my mind, Zelikow is the weak point in the whole 9/11 coer-up, so this is BIG!

Give Zelikow credit for coming on the show, but it's all very evasive. He refuses to flatly deny his former secretary's claims that he called her into his office and told her not to keep logs of his phone calls, instead insisting that nobody on the Commission kept phone logs. He says Max Cleland resigned for "very personal reasons" and deflects further enquiries to "either Max or Tom Daschle or the commissioners involved". And he more or less denies everything else in Sheldon's book with a standard line: "Go ask the people who were on the commission."

It doesn't seem to bother Zelikow too much that the information which formed the cornerstone of his Commission's findings was based on information extracted by torture. What bothers him is whether or not he is the one who is going to be blamed for this huge mess.

Consider this:
NBC analysis shows that more than a quarter of all footnotes in the 9/11 Commission Report refer to controversial interrogation techniques.
As Michael Ratner (president of the Center for Constitutional Rights) says:
Think about it. If the Bhutto assassination -- if the government of Pakistan issued a report, and we knew it came out of torture, would any of us be sitting at this table believing it? Would we believe that about the assassination of Kennedy, if it came out of tortured people? No, we wouldn't. Why are we accepting this?
Zelikow says that "Gonzales, George Tenet and Don Rumsfeld" are the ones who flatly refused to let the Commission talk with prisoners, but promised to get specific answers to specific questions if needed. He says he has always advocated bringing the prisoners involved to trail:
"I've been an advocate both inside and outside of the government of bringing these people to trial in every possible way. And perhaps a little bit due to my efforts, a couple of years ago the President decided that those people would be brought out of the black sites and brought to trial. And my hope is that when they are eventually brought to trial, we'll have a chance to gather more information, perhaps through a more adversarial process, and check on some of the assertions."
Well, we won't get much information from them if they are dead, will we? Yeah, that's right - the Pentagon is now calling for these prisoners to be executed!

It is critically important that they not be executed, and that they have their day in a free and fair court, to give their own version of events. Make your voices heard NOW, people!

(NB: It occurs to me that this could be the most important post I have ever blogged. This is like the killing of Lee Harvey Oswald. We gotta stop this, folks.)

UPDATE: US "military lawyers and analysts" say there is not much chance the men will be executed before Bush leaves office:
President Bush has made the war on terrorism the cornerstone of his administration. But trial rules, a shortage of military defense lawyers and pending legal challenges almost guarantee the next U.S. president will inherit the Guantanamo trials when he or she takes office in January.
Anyone who followed the case of Gitmo detainee David Hicks knows that's a joke. Dick Cheney runs the military commissions and he will step in and do whatever he likes whenever it pleases him. These US military tribunals are a kangaroo court which does not stand up to any sort of reputable scrutiny.

To quote Anthony Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union:
"Those accused of planning the Sept. 11 attacks should be brought to justice, but a credible trial is impossible under a flawed military commissions system lacking in basic due process protections and allowing for the admission of coerced testimony, possibly obtained through practices condemned throughout the world as torture."
UPDATE: This bit of damage control does not synch up very well with what Zelikow told the Annual Lecture, Houston Journal of International Law, on April 26, 2007. On that occasion, he insisted that "good intelligence can be gained by physically tormenting captives". (See my previous post here)

He said improved interrogation methods have been developed through "a process of painful trial and error"! He said it was " tempting for some local governments to let the Americans do the distasteful things that protect their people too." He called for such governments to abandon the rule of "traditional" law. And he argued in favour of "the quite defensible policy of renditions".

I have now posted this story at TPM Muckraker.

UPDATE: Shenon has now set up a blog for his book, The Commission, and has even posted his email exchanges with Zelikow during writing. Zelikow has released virtually identical exchanges here. Secrecy News says there is not much difference between the two.

Where Do You Go To, My Lovelies?

So I've been wondering where the infamous "Bush Cabal" will go after Dubya quits the scene. And it looks like they are all just morphing seamlessly into John McCain supporters... for now at least.

MoJo Blog has details of Dubya, Jeb and Karl Rove all saying sweet things about the old "Maverick" McCain. And the GOP hardliners are already busy trying to destroy all opposition to their new star candidate.

Is this the hawks' last hurrah, as Laura Rozen suggests?
While their numbers were strong, the hawks this year appeared less confident about their influence on Washington's foreign policy, and resentful of an American bureaucracy perceived by many attendees as having hijacked Iran policy from the weakening grasp of the White House.
I like this quote from Jon Alterman:
"There's frustration with the realism of the last months of the Bush administration."
A McCain presidency would, of course, give these hawks a whole new lease on life. Can they pull it off? And would McCain really be stupid enough to bomb Iran?

I have welcomed McCain as the GOP candidate, largely because I think he is their worst possible choice and, as such, totally, emphatically unelectable. At least with Dubya back in 2000, US voters could defend themselves by arguing that they didn't really know what he stood for. But if the USA elects McCain to the White House, the whole country has really gone officially bananas, and it will be time for the international community to gently put Uncle Sam into a strait jacket, and a padded cell.

February 11, 2008

Why The Dems Haven't Stopped The War(s)

Sometimes I get annoyed at Rolling Stone because it's supposed to be a hard-hitting rocker's mag, but they nearly always play softball. But there's nothing wrong with this piece by Matt Taibbi:
Before the 2006 elections, Democrats told us we could expect more specifics on their war plans after Election Day. Nearly two years have passed since then, and now they are once again telling us to wait until after an election to see real action to stop the war. In the meantime, of course, we're to remember that they're the good guys, the Republicans are the real enemy, and, well, go Hillary! Semper fi! Yay, team!

How much of this bullshit are we going to take? How long are we supposed to give the Reids and Pelosis and Hillarys of the world credit for wanting, deep down in their moldy hearts, to do the right thing?

Look, fuck your hearts, OK? Just get it done. Because if you don't, sooner or later this con is going to run dry. It may not be in '08, but it'll be soon. Even Americans can't be fooled forever.
If you wanna blame someone for not ending the war, you might wanna start with these dudes:
[M]uch of the anti-war group's leadership hails from a consulting firm called Hildebrand Tewes — whose partners, Steve Hildebrand and Paul Tewes, served as staffers for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC). In addition, these anti-war leaders continue to consult for many of the same U.S. senators whom they need to pressure in order to end the war. This is the kind of conflict of interest that would normally be an embarrassment in the activist community.

Worst of all is the case of Woodhouse, who came to Hildebrand Tewes after years of working as the chief mouthpiece for the DSCC, where he campaigned actively to re-elect Democratic senators who supported the Iraq War in the first place. Anyone bothering to look — and clearly the Post and the Times did not before penning their ardent bios of Woodhouse — would have found the youthful idealist bragging to newspapers before the Iraq invasion about the pro-war credentials of North Carolina candidate Erskine Bowles. "No one has been stronger in this race in supporting President Bush in the War on Terror and his efforts to effect a regime change in Iraq," boasted the future "anti-war" activist Woodhouse.

With guys like this in charge of the anti-war movement, much of what has passed for peace activism in the past year was little more than a thinly veiled scheme to use popular discontent over the war to unseat vulnerable Republicans up for re-election in 2008.
It all reminds me of Daily Kos, where hundreds, if not thousands of eager young anti-war activists labour away every day... on behalf of the Democrats.

If I were a US voter, I'd still be planning to vote Obama. But whether he can or will end the war remains an unknown. Even assuming he wants to take them on, he has a lot of big obstacles within his own party.

Try To See It My Way

Pol Pot's top henchman was called Duch:
"There was a widespread and tacit understanding.

"I and everyone else who worked in that place knew that anyone who entered had to be psychologically demolished, eliminated by steady work, given no way out. No answer could avoid death. Nobody who came to us had any chance of saving himself."

The command had come from above, he said. "All the prisoners had to be eliminated. We saw enemies, enemies, enemies everywhere."
Sounds familiar? Duch is now standing trial for his crimes. How long till Bush and his henchmen are in the dock?

Where Now For the Bush Coalition?

It looks like the Bush GOP is degenerating into farce as they approach the November election. I mean, GOP candidates complaining about vote-rigging? C'mon! We've also seen big-note wingnut windbags like Rush Limbaugh and Anne Coulter slamming the party's nominal candidate, John "Bomb Bomb" McCain. So my question is this: where is the Bush Coalition going?

For some time, I have been concerned about what we anti-Bush activist might call the next incarnation of the cabal which brought Dubya to power. All this "anti-Bush" talk about "Bush Co" and the "Bushites" and so forth will be out-of-date once Bush is gone, and since he is clearly just a puppet leader, pushed forward as a cheerleading front-man for his backers, I have long thought that we progressive activists need a more all-encompassing term for our very powerful enemies.

Now it is starting to look like the opportunistic coalition which brought Bush to power - including Christian fundamentalists, the military-industrial complex, and Big Oil - might be breaking apart.

I suspect that is largely due to genuine Christian concerns about the continuing chaos and death in Iraq: the Christian evangelist leaders need to take their base's concerns on board. To this extent, the battle between McCain and Huckabee can perhaps be seen as a stark example of the battle for the GOP's dead, grey soul.

So what happens next? Does Bush's GOP degenerate into a farcical parody of itself, as has happened with Blair's New Labor and Howard's Liberals? Where do the power-brokers and Big Money men who brought us Bush go then?

US Voters Are Wierd

Atrios links to these Gallup results. It's pretty sad that 11% of US voters would not even consider voting for a woman. But the really scary stat is that a majority of US voters would never vote for an atheist.

Also interesting that 92% would vote for a Jew, but the question of voting for a Muslim was not even asked!

Where's That Iranian Oil Bourse?

Today was supposed to be the day it opened. I think a comment from Tom3 at this post might be right:
The cables were cut to stop Iran from opening their "bourse" which would trade their oil in PetroEUROs.

The US cannot afford to have any of the big oil producers stop using PetroDollars. It would crash the dollar.
Tom3 is not the only one thinking this way. Get this from MarketWatch:
In most instances Internet connectivity can be rerouted, and much of the Middle East has already done this. But what makes this situation unique is that the bourse was being established on Kish Island, a free-trade zone set up by the Iranians in hopes of creating a cool tourist destination.

For an example of what they are up to check out the Web site for one of the new hotels here. See link to Dariush Grand Hotel.

There doesn't seem to be an alternate Internet connection to the island other than the cut cables. I attempted to email the three top hotels on the island and all the email bounced. I was also unable to make a telephone call there indicating a large telecommunications failure.

The Web sites for the hotels are likely to be hosted off the island and are still working.

This sort of telecom and Internet failure/collapse, no matter what the cause, is unlikely to give anyone confidence in an international oil trading system on Kish Island. Too much money is at risk. The island obviously needs satellite access or some form of connectivity back up that is foolproof.

There has always been talk about disrupting commerce by screwing up the Internet. We've just seen a proof of concept, whether done on purpose or by accident.

It doesn't make a lot of difference how it happened if we want to learn a lesson as to how delicate the Internet mechanism can be.

If the cut cable was done on purpose you can expect the U.S. to get blamed although it could have just as easily benefited Britain, China or even Saudi Arabia for that matter. I'm guessing we will never know how it happened or who suffered the most. All I can say for sure is that it does look fishy.

February 08, 2008

Bush's USA Crosses A Dangerous Line

Another bad day for US Democracy. I'll just repeat what David Kurtz at TPM said:
Attorney General Michael Mukasey is back on the Hill today, testifying to the House Judiciary Committee. Paul Kiel is covering it at TPMmuckraker.

So far, he's dropped two big bombshells. DOJ will not be investigating:

(1) whether the waterboarding, now admitted to by the White House, was a crime; or

(2) whether the Administration's warrantless wiretapping was illegal.

His rationale? Both programs had been signed off on in advance as legal by the Justice Department.

Cynics may argue that those aren't bombshells at all, that the Bush Administration would never investigate itself in these matters. Perhaps so. But this is a case where cynicism is itself dangerous.

We have now the Attorney General of the United States telling Congress that it's not against the law for the President to violate the law if his own Department of Justice says it's not.

It is as brazen a defense of the unitary executive as anything put forward by the Administration in the last seven years, and it comes from an attorney general who was supposed to be not just a more professional, but a more moderate, version of Alberto Gonzales (Thanks to Democrats like Dianne Feinstein and Chuck Schumer for caving on the Mukasey nomination.).

President Bush has now laid down his most aggressive challenge to the very constitutional authority of Congress. It is a naked assertion of executive power. The founders would have called it tyrannical. His cards are now all on the table. This is no bluff.
I sense a pattern here. We just had the CIA admitting that yes, they do waterboarding, and yes, they will do it again. And we now learn that Bush himself wanted them to come out and say that:
"The president authorized Gen. Hayden to say what he said in the testimony yesterday," White House spokesman Tony Fratto told reporters.
We've also had an admission about the existence of a secret Camp 7 at Gitmo. We've got continued maneuvering for an attack on Iran...

And then there's the US media. Karl Rove's move to FOX says it all, doesn't it? Nobody is touching Sibel Edmonds allegations, even though the UK Sunday Times has run a whole series of explosive articles. The US media remains almost fully complicit, and so of course is Congress (who voted for Mukasey even though he refused to condemn waterboarding).

So... I am beginning to think that Bush and Cheney have decided to just lay it all on the line and roll the dice. And if that's what's happening, then I don't think the Bush cabal is going to go quietly in November. There's too much to lose, and they are sitting on too much power.

John McCain is not one of their inner circle (and I don't think he can win anyway). And these psychos in the Oval Office today are not going to just hand the keys to a President Obama, or Hillary, and walk away.

This could get ugly (uglier)...

Meanwhile, the case of Khalid El-Masri just got a lot more interesting. A DOJ official is due to testify in the Senate next week. The Bush administration has already admitted they grabbed the wrong guy, and then used state secrets privilege to bury the story. Will the DOJ invoke these newly-claimed levels of executive privilege to bury the story forever? If so, it means the USA believes it can pick up any citizen of any country, anywhere in the world, do anything they like to him or her, and never be held accountable.

Somehow I don't think the rest of the world is going to be very comfortable with that.

And just a little reminder that this blog was about the only place in the world, at one stage, where you could even read anything about El-Masri's case. He had to work his way through German and Spanish courts even to be acknowledged by the US DOJ, and the media did their damndest to ignore this incredible story every step of the way.

February 07, 2008

More On Those Cable Cuts

More on those cable cuts. Wikipedia has a dedicated page going. A more general Wiki pages suggests there is about one cut a week somewhere in the world, but there does seem to be a bit of a pattern here. For example, a looped cable off Iran was cut in two places last weekend. What are the chances?

It's possible this is just business. The cables carry a lot of sensitive business and financial data these days, and a cut cable would be a good opportunity to plant a listening/tapping device of some kind. Of course, you would have to cut the cable in two places almost simultaneously, wouldn't you? Otherwise (a) your device is discovered when they go to fix the cable, or (b) the cable miraculously "fixes itself" when you reattach it.

The issue of redundancy is also important. Most cables are part of a network with failover backup routes available, so if you wanted to e.g. isolate a particular country, you might need to make several cuts.

This ZDnet geek says the idea that the USA might be behind the cuts is a ridiculous Conspiracy Theory. But then he speculates seriously on the idea that terrorists might have done it! No wonder they can't find Bin Laden - he's been riding around the globe in a frikkin' submarine!

UPDATE: India's Flag telecom says they found an abandoned five tonne anchor, which they say caused the cut on the Falcon cable off UAE and Oman. The AFP reporter has some fun:
Bloggers have speculated that the cutting of so many cables in a matter of days is too much of a coincidence and must be sabotage. Theories include a US-backed bid to cut off arch-foe Iran's Internet access, terrorists piloting midget submarines or "vengeful militant dolphins."
And they wonder why people don't read newspapers any more...

What Makes A Conservative Tick?

I haven't visited Daily Kos for a while. It was worth the effort just for these quotes:
A conservative is a man with two perfectly good legs who, however, has never learned how to walk forward.
- Franklin D. Roosevelt

The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.
- John Kenneth Galbraith

Our 'neoconservatives' are neither new nor conservative, but old as Bablyon and evil as Hell.
- Edward Abbey

Come, come, my conservative friend, wipe the dew off your spectacles, and see that the world is moving.
- Elizabeth Cady Stanton
I like the Galbraith one best myself. It seems to explain a lot. How long before we all realise that all our lives, and all our fortunes, and all our destinies, are inevitably tied together?

Viva Ihara!

Iwakuni is a city of some 150,000 people near Hiroshima in Japan. It's just 800 km from Pyongyang, the capitol of North Korea. It's also the home of a 300-hectare US military base, which is due to be expanded to nearly double its present size, despite a referendum showing opposition from 87 percent of locals.

Now the local mayor, Katsusuke Ihara, has quit his job and cut his hair in protest at the expansion. And if the central government still refuses to heed his concerns, he says he will emulate Gandhi by walking nearly 1,000 km to make his voice heard in Tokyo.

These massive US bases tend to generate a mini-economy, on which the local community soon becomes reliant, and (like all good Japanese citizens) Ihara is very careful about expressing his opinions:
"I am not opposed to the US-Japan security treaty. I must cooperate with the national security policy,” he said. “But this time it is too much.”

Towards A Better World

The BBC today has an interesting series of articles looking at globalisation:
Half of all people polled across 34 countries say that the pace of globalisation is too fast, while 35% say globalisation is going too slowly.

But concern about globalisation is strongest among the world's richest countries, where it is closely correlated with a belief that the fruits of economic growth have been unfairly shared.

In many of the world's poorest countries, however, where large majorities say that the benefits and burdens of economic development have not been shared fairly, people are more likely to say that globalisation is proceeding too slowly.
I would assume this disparity is due to the fact that citizens of poorer countries expect globalisation to bring them new opportunities, where as citizens of richer countries (presumably with more free time and better access to information) can see that the current form of the process is not really benefiting anyone but the mega-rich.
The richest 10% of households in the world have as much yearly income as the bottom 90%. Wealth - total assets rather than yearly income – is even more unequal. The rich are concentrated in the US, Europe and Japan, with the richest 1% alone owning 40% of the world's wealth.
Until that last statistic is properly addressed, support for globalisation will remain volatile at best.

Here is something you probably don't know. Major multinational companies are now abandoning the old geographic divisions of the global market (typically: the Americas, Europe/ME/Africa, and AsiaPac) in favour of a new model which emphasises growth opportunities (eg: rapid growth, slow growth, no growth). In this new model, the USA, Europe and Japan are considered "slow growth" or "no growth" and therefore warrant minimal investment.

If you are a US reader, you had better have a good think about what that means for you and your family.

And now a few interesting graphs...

February 06, 2008

US Elections: Just A Scam?

Couldn't happen?

Exhibit A: Hillary's Super Tuesday better market odds took a sharp last-minute turn when lots of "inside" money came in.

Exhibit B: Former Dow Jones board member David Li will pay $8.1 million to settle civil charges of insider trading ahead of a buyout bid from Rupert Murdoch's News Corp last year that sent Dow Jones shares soaring.

It happens.

Who's Cutting The Cables?

Three undersea fiber-optic cables - maybe four! - have been cut in just one week. What's going on? Is this preparation for a US attack on Iran?

John Borland at CNET says the "breaks came at one of the world's bottlenecks, where Net traffic for whole regions is funneled along a single route."

But the US Department of Defense has previously identified the Internet as a potential enemy weapons system (PDF).

UPDATE: It gets worse. Richard Sauder connects the dots (because Bukko can't be bothered LOL). There have now been at least eight cables sabotaged, and it's looking co-ordinated:

1) one off of Marseille, France

2) two off of Alexandria, Egypt

3) one off of Dubai, in the Persian Gulf

4) one off of Bandar Abbas, Iran in the Persian Gulf

5) one between Qatar and the UAE, in the Persian Gulf

6) one in the Suez, Egypt

7) one near Penang, Malaysia

8) initially unreported cable cut on 23 January 2008 (Persian Gulf?)

Three things stand out about these incidents:

1) all of them, save one, have occurred in waters near predominantly Muslim nations, causing disruption in those countries;

2) all but two of the cut/damaged cables are in Middle Eastern waters;

3) so many like incidents in such a short period of time suggests that they are not accidents, but are in fact deliberate acts, i.e., sabotage.

The evidence therefore suggests that we are looking at a coordinated program of undersea cable sabotage by an actor, or actors, on the international stage with an anti-Muslim bias, as well as a proclivity for destructive violence in the Middle Eastern region.

The question then becomes: are there any actors on the international stage who exhibit a strong, anti-Muslim bias in their foreign relations, who have the technical capability to carry out clandestine sabotage operations on the sea floor, and who have exhibited a pattern of violently destructive policies towards Muslim peoples and nations, especially in the Middle East region?

The answer is yes, there are two: Israel and the United States of America.

Demand A New 9/11 Investigation

Following the latest revelations about Phillip Zelikow, the familes of 9/11 victims are demanding a whole new investigation. This explosive letter is just seething with anger and frustration:

Kyle F. Hence
Dear 9/11 Commissioners:

Tomorrow Philip Shenon's book, "The Commission" will be released. I forward the Comment just released by September 11th Advocates (the leading 9/11 family members behind the Commission) along with a comment of my own here:

Some of you have yourselves said the 9/11 Report is "not the last word" on what happened. This is no doubt true. Horribly and tragically true. The next question is of course: what are we (or you) going to do about that? Will you address where you fell short or seek to rectify the situation? For starters, the record now shows that a few of you (you know who you are) were responsible for leaving out details of the Tenet/Black meeting with Rice/Clark on July 10 '01 and another with Ashcroft on the 18th. And the Commission left out details of the Global Guardian 'air-war exercises (normally scheduled for October but moved to Sept), Able Danger ID of four of the future hijackers (per 5 credible witnesses), and the revelations of FBI translator Sibel Edmonds - www.justacitizen.com /, several of whose allegations had been confirmed by the likes of senior Senators (and others have confirmed more recent claims). And now, thanks to the CIA and FBI IG Reports we know a whole lot more about the extent, nature and timing of the CIA's withholding of key information about Hazmi and Mihdhar from FBI investigators on the trail of those tied to the Cole and Embassy bombings. (I could go on and on and not posit a single theory or speculate).

I am willing to concede you were dedicated and labored hard on a difficult task but I am certainly not willing to let you all off the hook for hiring or not firing Philip Zelikow, for avoiding the anthrax attack, for producing an obviously compromised and incomplete report, for not naming names, for not issuing needed subpoenas, for ignoring important witnesses, for giving too much credence to tortured co-conspirators, for concluding that the question of who funded the attacks is of 'little practical significance, "for softening the report to protect the Bush administration, for the embargo on Commissioner comment until after the election, for overlooking the missing trillions from the DoD."

In the long run history will no doubt be harsh on your record but less so, or quite the reverse, if you come forward with candid admission of where you fell down and if you stand up now, or when the time comes, to support a new investigation. For God's sake, admit that Philip Zelikow for all his seeming intelligence, dedication and hard work had no business running the Commission, if not for appearance's sake alone.

Many years after the Warren Commission issued its own final report, the Permanent Select Committee on Assassinations concluded there was a wider conspiracy behind the killing of JFK. Let's hope it we don't have to wait as long for a new investigation of 9/11 and let's hope we don't get yet another unsatisfactory and incomplete finding should one be convened. No doubt the families will not make the same mistake twice and this time insist on a formal role in an investigation. In case after case without the benefit of classified material or 'access', the 9/11 families put the government's own investigators to shame. With your honest help let's hope the future writes a different story; for the sake of all of us and our children.

Please join the now millions of people around the world who have honestly and thoroughly examined the findings of fact and circumstances laid out in your Report and found them deceptive, or incomplete, and call for a new investigation that reveals the truth, that follows all the evidence trails, wherever they might lead.

Kyle F. Hence
Executive Producer

Sibel Edmonds Must be Heard!

Philip Giraldi:
Article III of the Constitution of the United States defines treason as giving aid and comfort to the enemies of the United States. This has been interpreted by US courts to include the selling or betrayal of defense secrets to foreign powers. Sibel Edmonds is talking about treason at the highest levels of the United State government and it is clear that a cover up is going on orchestrated by the Bush Administration that is being aided and assisted by an acquiescent media. It is time that Sibel's voice be heard.
Giraldi shoots down reasons given by sceptics for ignoring Sibel. But if we accepting Sibel's info as legit, what does it all mean? One HuffPo commenter has a stab at a guess:
It seems highly implausible that Marc Grossman and other neocons were spreading nuclear secrets for money, as the small payoff does not square with the big penalty (hanging for treason) if they were not following very senior orders.

So, if they were following very senior orders to intentionally spread nuclear weapons technology, what does this mean?

In general terms we could only be sure that:

1. A 'faction', other than the supposed Constitutionally mandated federal government pledged to uphold American interests, is at play. Perhaps a global corporatist Empire behind this facade of 'Vichy America'.

2. That purposefully and overtly spreading nuclear weapons technology serves some interest not normally understood by most governments in a non-proliferation-centric "reality-based" world.
Well, I doubt Grossman and friends would get a "small payoff" for selling nuclear weapons to rogue states. But the real money would probably be made later, in selling competing technology to terrified neighboring states. So who gains here is the US military-industrial complex, who just happen to be running the government right now.


Fully reprinted from Gerald Posner at HuffPo:
On December 5, the CIA's director, General Michael V. Hayden, issued a statement disclosing that in 2005 at least two videotapes of interrogations with al Qaeda prisoners were destroyed. The tapes, which the CIA did not provide to either the 9/11 Commission, nor to a federal court in the case of Zacarias Moussaoui, were destroyed, claimed Hayden, to protect the safety of undercover operatives.

Hayden did not disclose one of the al Qaeda suspects whose tapes were destroyed. But he did identify the other. It was Abu Zubaydah, the top ranking terror suspect when he was tracked and captured in Pakistan in 2003. In September 2006, at a press conference in which he defended American interrogation techniques, President Bush also mentioned Abu Zubaydah by name. Bush acknowledged that Zubaydah, who was wounded when captured, did not initially cooperate with his interrogators, but that eventually when he did talk, his information was, according to Bush, "quite important."

In my 2003 New York Times bestseller, Why America Slept: The Failure to Prevent 9/11, I discussed Abu Zubaydah at length in Chapter 19, "The Interrogation." There I set forth how Zubaydah initially refused to help his American captors. Also, disclosed was how U.S. intelligence established a so-called "fake flag" operation, in which the wounded Zubaydah was transferred to Afghanistan under the ruse that he had actually been turned over to the Saudis. The Saudis had him on a wanted list, and the Americans believed that Zubaydah, fearful of torture and death at the hands of the Saudis, would start talking when confronted by U.S. agents playing the role of Saudi intelligence officers.

Instead, when confronted by his "Saudi" interrogators, Zubaydah showed no fear. Instead, according to the two U.S. intelligence sources that provided me the details, he seemed relieved. The man who had been reluctant to even confirm his identity to his U.S. captors, suddenly talked animatedly. He was happy to see them, he said, because he feared the Americans would kill him. He then asked his interrogators to call a senior member of the Saudi royal family. And Zubaydah provided a private home number and a cell phone number from memory. "He will tell you what to do," Zubaydah assured them

That man was Prince Ahmed bin Salman bin Abdul-Aziz, one of King Fahd's nephews, and the chairman of the largest Saudi publishing empire. Later, American investigators would determine that Prince Ahmed had been in the U.S. on 9/11.

American interrogators used painkillers to induce Zubaydah to talk -- they gave him the meds when he cooperated, and withdrew them when he was quiet. They also utilized a thiopental sodium drip (a so-called truth serum). Several hours after he first fingered Prince Ahmed, his captors challenged the information, and said that since he had disparaged the Saudi royal family, he would be executed. It was at that point that some of the secrets of 9/11 came pouring out. In a short monologue, that one investigator told me was the "Rosetta Stone" of 9/11, Zubaydah laid out details of how he and the al Qaeda hierarchy had been supported at high levels inside the Saudi and Pakistan governments.

He named two other Saudi princes, and also the chief of Pakistan's air force, as his major contacts. Moreover, he stunned his interrogators, by charging that two of the men, the King's nephew, and the Pakistani Air Force chief, knew a major terror operation was planned for America on 9/11.

It would be nice to further investigate the men named by Zubaydah, but that is not possible. All four identified by Zubaydah are now dead. As for the three Saudi princes, the King's 43-year-old nephew, Prince Ahmed, died of either a heart attack or blood clot, depending on which report you believe, after having liposuction in Riyadh's top hospital; the second, 41-year-old Prince Sultan bin Faisal bin Turki al-Saud, died the following day in a one car accident, on his way to the funeral of Prince Ahmed; and one week later, the third Saudi prince named by Zubaydah, 25-year-old Prince Fahd bin Turki bin Saud al-Kabir, died, according to the Saudi Royal Court, "of thirst." The head of Pakistan's Air Force, Mushaf Ali Mir, was the last to go. He died, together with his wife and fifteen of his top aides, when his plane blew up -- suspected as sabotage -- in February 2003. Pakistan's investigation of the explosion -- if one was even done -- has never been made public.

Zubaydah is the only top al Queda operative who has secretly linked two of America's closest allies in the war on terror -- Saudi Arabia and Pakistan -- to the 9/11 attacks. Why does Bush, and the CIA, continue to protect the Saudi Royal family and the Pakistani military, from the implications of Zubaydah's confessions? It is, or course, because the Bush administration desperately needs Pakistani and Saudi help, not only to keep Afghanistan from spinning completely out of control, but also as counterweights to the growing power of Iran. The Sunni governments in Riyadh and Islamabad have as much to fear from a resurgent Iran as does the Bush administration. But does this mean that leads about the origins of 9/11 should not be aggressively pursued? Of course not. But this is precisely what the Bush administration is doing. And now the cover-up is enhanced by the CIA's destruction of Zubaydah's interrogation tapes.

The American public deserves no less than the complete truth about 9/11. And those CIA officials now complicit in hiding the truth by destroying key evidence should be held responsible.
One assumes that this (if all true, and how do you prove that now except by getting the torturers themselves to confess to what they heard?) is the real reason why the CIA torture tapes were destroyed.

But what about the Israeli link? What about those Mossad agents dancing on the rooftops? Well, if a handful of Saudi princes and even the head of Pakistan's Air Force knew what was going down, we can assume that others, probably including Mossad, also had some idea. It sounds like a pretty "noisy" operation.

And given all this Saudi involvement, we must ask (again) why so many prominent Saudis were given free passage out of the USA after 9/11. And how did the USA end up in a bogus "war" with both Saudis and Pakistanis on their side?

February 05, 2008

Welcome To The Club

Chinese professor named World Bank chief economist:
The World Bank Monday named Justin Lin Yifu, who defected from Taiwan and rose to become a top economic strategist for communist China, as its chief economist -- the first time a Chinese has held the job.

World Bank President Robert Zoellick said Lin, the founding director of the China Center for Economic Research (CCER) at Peking University, would bring to the bank the perspective of a developing country on agriculture issues, as well as on economic challenges in Africa, where China has aggressively sought trade and investment opportunities.

Karl Rove Gets A Job

At Rupert Murdoch's FOX NEWS. I kid you not.


When Morality Demands Winter Soldiers:
It is the intent of this essay first to establish moral clarity regarding the war in Iraq and then to argue that morality and patriotism, correctly understood, require members of the military and their civilian counterparts to become Winter Soldiers and step up to end this immoral and tragic war.
Now that's gotta warm the heart of my old frozen friend, Winter Patriot! Hey, the cavalry is coming WP!

Why Were The Tapes Destroyed?

A good question:
Is the torture issue a red herring? The 9/11 Commission was not tasked with investigating interrogation methods or detainee treatment. The commission was tasked with investigating al Qaeda’s participation in the 9/11 attack and determining the perpetrators of the terrorist event. There was no reason to withhold from the commission video evidence of confessions implicating al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden.

Was the video evidence withheld from the 9/11 Commission because the alleged participants in the plot did not confess, did not implicate al Qaeda, and did not implicate bin Laden? Does anyone seriously believe that evidence of confession would not have been revealed--evidence that could have foreclosed what has become a massive industry of 9/11 truth seekers involving large numbers of highly credible persons?
Paul Craig Roberts (an Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration) says it is "likely that the tapes were destroyed because they reveal the absence of confession to the plot". But what if the tapes actually revealed some other truths, some things which Bush & Co did not want anyone to hear?
What about the bin Laden video tape in which he takes credit for the 9/11 attack? Every indication is that the tape is a fake. The bin Laden in the Nov. 9, 2001, “confession video” looks nothing like the bin Laden in the last confirmed video of December, 2001.

Recently,the Italian newspaper, Corriere Della Sera, reported that the former president of Italy, Francesco Cossiga, said that Italian intelligence had concluded that the bin Laden confession video was a fake.
What if, for example, the detainees screamed out loud that they had been set up by the Mossad agents who were seen dancing on the rooftops of New York City on 9/11?

What Are The Odds Of War With Iran This Week?

Mike Whitney speculates on Bush's recent Middle East trip:
Bush went to the trouble of traveling half-way around the world to tell the Saudis and their friends in the Gulf States that they were going to continue linking their oil to the dollar or they were going to “sleep with the fishes”. For the last two months, various sheiks and finance ministers have been groaning about the falling dollar---threatening to break from the so-called “dollar-peg” and covert to a basket of currencies. Bush's trip appears to have rekindled the spirit of brotherly cooperation. The grumbling has ceased and everyone is back "on board". The regional leaders now seem considerably less bothered by the fact that inflation is gobbling up their economies and driving labor, food, energy and housing through the roof. Reuters summed it up like this:
“After a flurry of public disagreements over currency reform last year, Gulf central bankers are trying to close ranks, talking up the pegs as a source of stability and playing down the dollar's weakness as a temporary phenomenon.”
Looks like Bush smoothed things over.
As Whitney notes, the long-awaited Iranian Oil Bourse is scheduled to open between February 1-11.
As to whether the Bush administration would start a war to defend dollar hegemony; that's a question that should be asked of Saddam Hussein. Iraq was invaded just six months after Saddam converted to the euro. The message is clear; the Empire will defend its currency.

Similarly, Iran switched from the dollar in 2007 and has insisted that Japan pay its enormous energy bills in yen. The “conversion” has infuriated the Bush administration and made Iran the target of US belligerence ever since.
Whitney cites intriguing military maneuvers by Russia, France and Israel, plus Arab neighbours, and ties that to the recent massive Internet cable cut in the Persian Gulf (which I suspect could have been a submarine). Conclusion:
Bush is convinced that if he doesn't confront Iran, then no one will. He also believes that if he doesn't militarily defend the dollar, then America's days as “the world's only superpower” will soon be over. The question is whether Bush will realize that America is already bogged-down in two “unwinnable” conflicts or if he will “go with his gut” once again and lead us into a ruinous region-wide conflagration.

Who Are The Real Anti-Semites?

Tony Judt:
Today, when Israel is exposed to international criticism for its mistreatment of Palestinians and its occupation of territory conquered in 1967, its defenders prefer to emphasize the memory of the Holocaust. If you criticize Israel too forcefully, they warn, you will awaken the demons of anti-Semitism; indeed, they suggest, robust criticism of Israel doesn't just arouse anti-Semitism. It is anti-Semitism...

I understand the emotions behind such claims. But the claims themselves are extraordinarily dangerous. When people chide me and others for criticizing Israel too forcefully, lest we rouse the ghosts of prejudice, I tell them that they have the problem exactly the wrong way around. It is just such a taboo that may itself stimulate anti-Semitism...

We have attached the memory of the Holocaust so firmly to the defense of a single country—Israel—that we are in danger of provincializing its moral significance. Yes, the problem of evil in the last century, to invoke Arendt once again, took the form of a German attempt to exterminate Jews. But it is not just about Germans and it is not just about Jews. It is not even just about Europe, though it happened there. The problem of evil —of totalitarian evil, or genocidal evil —is a universal problem.

They Do Book Reviews

This New York Times review of Philip Shenon's new book 'The Commission: The Uncensored History of the 9/11 Investigation' does everything it can to stop you reading:
The inside story of a government commission doesn’t sound very promising; most commission reports wind up unread on dusty shelves... So why go over it all again?
It's worth pushing on, if only for this anecdote:
In a memorable scene Mr. Shenon depicts the widows of 9/11 victims, a group that called itself the Jersey Girls, meeting Henry A. Kissinger, President Bush’s choice to be chairman of the 9/11 Commission, in the posh offices of Mr. Kissinger’s international consulting firm in New York. When one of the Jersey Girls asks Mr. Kissinger if he has any clients named bin Laden, Mr. Kissinger spills his coffee and nearly falls off his sofa. “It’s my bad eye,” Mr. Kissinger explains, as the women rush to clean up the mess — “like good suburban moms,” Mr. Shenon says one widow recalls. The next morning Mr. Kissinger telephoned the White House to resign from the commission.
But there really isn't much else worth reading in this fluff piece. This is a hugely important story, and the NYT reviewer treats it like a work of popcorn fiction. Disgraceful.

WaPo's Dan Froomkin is, as ever, far more direct:
The last thing Bush needed during a hotly contested reelection campaign was a reminder of his inattention to the threat of terrorism before 9/11, or of his initial paralysis when he heard the news, or of his misbegotten attempts to pin the blame on Iraq.

Bush originally fought the establishment of such a commission. Even after he bowed to congressional pressure, he still only went along grudgingly...

Now, it seems the White House may not have needed to be too apprehensive about the commission's report. It had an inside man. And he was one of the guys in charge.
OK, that's better. So where's the meat on the sandwich? Well, AP's Hope Yen reveals that Zelikow was not only on the phone to Karl Rove throughout the commission, but also to his good old friend Condoleezza Rice. Zelikow admits making the calls but says he wasn't talking politics!
"Rove and I didn't really know each other," he said in the statement. "I don't recall ever having an extended conversation with him, and certainly not about politics or the commission."
Oh, really? Well, then, please explain this:
The book says that in early 2004, Zelikow allegedly sought to add to an initial staff report wording that linked al-Qaida to Iraq. The wording would have said the terrorist network repeatedly tried to communicate with the government of Saddam Hussein, a claim of cooperation the administration had cited to justify the war in Iraq. After a staff protest, Zelikow backed down; the final report said there was no "collaborative relationship" between Saddam and al-Qaida. Zelikow has said that he simply wanted the panel to keep an open mind on the issue.
Zelikow was sure channeling P.R. spin from SOMEONE from the Oval Office!

Froomkin recalls Woodward's account of the July 10 meeting between Tenet, Black and Rice, which commission members were never told about.
"And a month later, as Ron Suskind reported in his book, 'The One Percent Doctrine,' an unnamed CIA briefer flew to Bush's Texas ranch to call the president's attention personally to the now-famous Aug. 6, 2001, memo titled 'Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.' According to Suskind, Bush heard the briefer out and replied: 'All right. You've covered your ass, now.'"
Then there is the issue of CIA torture tapes being hidden from the commission... Yadda, yadda.

In short, what we have here is a long pattern of intentionally deceptive, misleading, uncooperative and evasive behavior from an incompetent White House charged with investigating its own incompetence and deception. Surprised? You shouldn't be.

February 04, 2008

Mental Retards

Greg Mitchell's Pressing Issues blog confirms what I first suspected when I saw the gruesome headlines about 'Mentally Disabled Women Bombers" in Iraq:
So, it turns out on the following day, that the evidence for the mentally disabled part was that one of the alleged bombers' head recovered after the blast was deformed, suggesting Down's syndrome. Now the AP admits that the severed head may have merely been deformed by the blast (duh). Also, McClatchy's crack Baghdad bureau now reports that Iraqi officials "have made similar claims in the past" about mentally crippled bombers and a police official told them "that authorities were still investigating whether the explosion at the second market might have come from a bomb hidden in a cage or a box of eggs."
Problem is, this PR damage control tactic nearly always works, at least in the short term. And as we all know, the follow up story is always buried (or never run).

The real damage is done in the longer term, to the media's credibility, and to the Iraqi "leaders" credibility. Think Jessica Lynch and Pat Tillman.

And yet the media complain that circulation numbers are falling??? Puh-lease! They barely even touch upon the REAL stories!

Personally, as soon as I saw this headline, I doubted it so strongly that I didn't even bother reading the full article. I no longer trust the media, or any supposed "authorities" in Iraq, or anyone in Washington either, for that matter.

To my mind, Iraq was always been a War of Spin, and the real "enemy" being targeted by the likes of Rumsfeld, Bush and Cheney has not been Al Quaeda, or the Sunnis, or the Shi'ites, but you and me. The goal has always been to take control of the country and plunder its oil. While Iraqi insurgents may be able to hinder progress towards that goal for some time, the people who really stand in the way of the long-term agenda are you and me, the Western voters.

This is the lesson that rightwing power crazies like Cheney took home from Vietnam. In their twisted little minds, the USA would surely have won in Vietnam (eventually) if only the US public had maintained their support (for as long as it took). I mean, how can a shitty little country like Vietnam or Iraq possibly stand up to the might and power of the greatest military machine the world has ever known, right?

So the war in Iraq has really been a war for control of our own minds. This is how far the art of political spin has developed. "We invent out own realities," as the neocons boasted.

Are we going to let them keep getting away with it?

It's time the Western media stopped lending credibility to Iraqi "leaders" who in reality are only self-serving power pimps. Otherwise we can only assume that both groups - Western media outlets and their Iraqi information sources - share a common agenda with their neoconservative friends in Washington.

NB: The image above shows the corpses of Saddam's sons, Uday and Qusay Hussein. Are we to assume that they too were suffering from Down's syndrome? If so, were they really such a threat as Tim Blair and his friends suggested?

UPDATE: The Murdoch media perpetuates the story:
If, as some observers believe, the women might not have been handicapped, then they were evil and insane, as opposed to intellectually disabled.
The Australian newspaper claims this "diabolical tactic" is a good excuse to increase body searches of Iraqi women. Yeah, so let's start doing body searches of every Iraqi woman who walks the street, shall we? Maybe we should target the mentally ill as well? That will win a lot more hearts and minds, won't it?

What a bloody stupid idea.


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