Wednesday, December 31, 2003


A flash movie.

If you can't watch it all the way through, I will understand.

Condi's testimony tribulations

Top 11 reasons Dr. Condoleezza Rice is trying to negotiate her way out of testifying under oath before the 9-11 Commission. Courtesy Too Stupid to Be President:

11. Threatening the commissioners failed.

10. Afraid the Bible will burn her hand when she's sworn in.

9. Might need to lie about sex with the President.

8. Stalling until the commission's term expires in May.

7. Invoking the 5th always awkward in an election year.

6. Afraid someone will ask what a woman has to do to get Chevron to name a supertanker after her.

5. No one wants to be the John Dean of this administration.

4. Just because President Bill Clinton was compelled to testify under oath in a far less important matter doesn't mean she's not above the law.

3. "Cooperating fully," means five minutes of pleasantries exchanged with a sympathetic, Republican member of the commission in private and off the record.

2. Remembers what happened to all those Warren Commission witnesses.

1. After specific warnings from the intelligence services of at least 11 countries, various Tom Clancy novels, and even an episode of the 'X-Files" spin-off "The Lone Gunmen," saying that no one "could have predicted that they would try to use a hijacked airplane as a missile," was just a wee bit misleading.

Did he really say that?

How do such obviously irresponsible people get into high office?

No, I'm not talking about Head Churl - this time.

"This country has become a battlefield, and (terrorists) will kill us anywhere they can." -- Justice Department spokesman Mark Corallo commenting on the latest Appeals Courts' rulings that held Double-face and the DoJ accountable to the Constitution.



You're just going to have to check this out for yourself. And then go buy an almanac and carry it around with you everywhere you go - or at least a map.

Good God, come on everybody! Pinch yourselves before I have to slap you.

I swear there really was something in those chemtrails.

At least send dollar donations to send me to another country. One where I can carry a map without worrying about being detained and questioned.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

More on Plame

Ray McGovern (the retired CIA analyst who doesn't mind taking BushCo to task) has an article at CounterPunch that warns us not to get excited over the fact that Ashcroft recused himself from the Plame affair - that is if the excitement comes from thinking that this might be good news.

This Isn't an Independent Investigation

Let not yesterday's maneuver obscure the fact that in naming Fitzgerald, who remains under the authority of Ashcroft's deputy, the Bush administration has rejected the only appropriate course--naming a complete outsider to be special counsel.

Why has that path been rejected? One need not be paranoid to see this latest move as evidence the White House has something very sensitive to hide.

...But a fellow named Patrick Fitzgerald, like you from Irish immigrant stock in New York City? And out of Harvard Law School? Surely, you should be encouraged, I caught myself thinking. I truly wish I could be. But I have seen far too many FBI lawyers of New York Irish stock with misplaced loyalty to the organization over the law; over the truth; over personal conscience. Respect for and fealty to hierarchy was drummed into us; individual conscience generally played second fiddle.

Past experience strongly suggests that if Fitzgerald is told to string the investigation out until after the November election, he may well oblige. If he is told to pin the blame on White House small fry willing to take the fall, he may do it.

Well, at least we do know that he was instructed to "do the right thing".

Recall that when it was announced that the Justice department would investigate it was made clear that the formal order requiring administration officials to save all relevant documents would come a day or two later. Imagine the heat rising from the shredder machines that weekend. And recall how the White House counsel then insisted on reviewing all documents before they could be given to the Justice department.

...[P]olitics has become more and more important, even in the decision making of so-called career prosecutors. Besides that, the "us vs. them" mentality has gotten still stronger, and many of the Bureau's "good soldiers" remain blissfully unaware of how much they are affected by it.

So, even if Fitzgerald himself is determined to launch an "unfettered" investigation, he has this company ethic to contend with. Whether or not he keeps on John Dion, the career lawyer who has been leading the investigation, will be an indication of Fitzgerald's seriousness of purpose. It is no secret in law enforcement circles that Dion has a poor record with leaks, and is reluctant even to go to the men's room without asking permission from his superiors.

...As Shakespeare put it, the truth will out--eventually. But probably not via a Fitzgerald from within the system. And the outcome of this investigation (like that of the search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq) may not see light until after the November election.

From an article at Fox News, where you could expect the headlines to be entertainment: Prosecutor described as "Elliott Ness"...

In a statement Tuesday, Fitzgerald said he would begin his work immediately but declined to comment further.

"He has been given a very difficult assignment," said U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill. "Very few of these investigations lead to anything, but I have no doubt that he will handle it professionally."

Thomas J. Kneir, special agent in charge of the Chicago office of the FBI, who has worked beside Fitzgerald on politically explosive investigations for the last two years, praised Fitzgerald's ability.

"If given free rein to do what needs to be done, I'll put my money on Pat to accomplish the mission he's been tasked with," Kneir said.

Senator Durbin seems to already be excusing a report that turns up nothing.

And Fox News certainly sets Fitzgerald up as Elliott Ness - so you can bet that if he finds nothing, it was because there was nothing to find.

Kneir has hit on a key turning point - "if given free rein". Of course, as Mr. McGovern says, even then it will turn on what Mr. Fitzgerald understands to be "the right thing".

Stay tuned. But maybe not till after the '04 (s)election.

Just what is it you don't like about the head churl?

There's a discussion going on at Pendagon about Bush-hating.

It's really quite mild (unlike the stuff you find spewing forth from some right-wing sites - and that's simply the truth), and an interesting read. I think this one says pretty much what I might have offered:

'Hate' is a strong word. I hate what Bush & Co. policy and politics have done to our country, our standing in the world, the economy, the environment, our men and women in uniform, our children, our seniors, our unemployed. I don't know Bush, but whenever I hear or see him speak, I feel a strong, visceral dislike verging on disgust. Oh what the hell, I hate him, too! Count me in the 3%. Whoopee!

Posted by: Tinfoil Hatboy at December 31, 2003 11:34 AM

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Whoa. Lynch video-tape

Iraqi doctors took good care of captured Army Pfc. Jessica Lynch and labored hard but unsuccessfully to save her best friend, according to Iraqi television videotape shot during the soldiers’ captivity in Iraq last spring.

...The tape, which was never aired in Iraq but has been obtained by NBC News, provides a new look at the treatment the Iraqis gave Lynch and other members of the Army's 507th Maintenance Co. after they were ambushed March 23.

...Officials said Iraqi television videotaped the U.S. POWs for propaganda purposes, but because the tape of the wounded prisoners did not make the Iraqis look good, the network never aired it. NBC News informed the Army that it had obtained the tape before airing it so the families of the soldiers could be told first.

Little surprises around every corner.

Powell clarifies America's position on preemption.

Powell argues that "our strategy is not defined by pre-emption".

"Above all, the President's strategy is one of partnerships that strongly affirms the vital role of NATO and other US alliances - including the UN," he writes.

At the same time, the secretary of state admits unspecified mistakes committed during Bush's first three years in office.

"It would be churlish to claim that the Bush administration's foreign policy has been error-free from the start," he points out.

"But we have always pursued the enlightened self-interest of the American people, and in our purposes and our principles there are no mistakes."

Whew. They finally quit lying.

But was he supposed to admit that there had been policy errors? I mean especially since the head churl seems to keep saying that there weren't?

....hey, do what you will anyway.

Syrian arms to Iraq

The latest development in setting Syria up for a take-down, I suppose is the report that they sold arms to Iraq just prior to the U.S. invasion.

The investigation is likely to embarrass two American allies, Poland and South Korea.

Before the war a Polish company, Evax, signed four contracts with Iraq and delivered up to 380 engines for surface-to-air missiles to Baghdad through Syria, the paper said.

A South Korean company, Armitel, sent telecommunications equipment worth $8m (£4.5m) for what the documents said was air defence, the paper reported.

I don't know why that should embarrass these countries. Heck, we sold weapons to Iraq before we invaded them. And we're not embarrassed.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Election 2004

All right, let's pretend that a new administration takes over the White House in 2004. Let's even go way out and pretend it's a progressive, pro-environment, pro-democracy (and I'm talking the real thing) administration intent on representing and protecting the true interests of the American people and restructuring our position amongst world governments to one of a respected member.

What is going to happen to the neo-cons, the warhawks, the war profiteers, the corporate multinationals, the military-industrial powers, and the rabid radical rightwing-fundamentalist coalition?

Just gonna go away? Maybe even have a change of heart?

No, children. The America you thought you had is dead in the water.

Liberals want their country back! Ha.

Hate to be a realist, but Camelot wasn't even real, and that was your last best hope.

Eat, drink and be merry. Find some sand deep enough to bury your head.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Banana Republic USA

The gem of democracy no more. Wayne Madsen describes D.C.


The White House Ellipse is now a security bivouac. The grassy area that once played host to Frisbee games between dogs and their owners, touch football scrimmages, and throngs of tourists marveling at the south facade of the White House are largely gone. They have been replaced by chain link fences, concrete Jersey barriers, menacing black Secret Service SUVs, squad cars, and security "men in black" armed to the teeth. Sitting in the midst of this security encampment is the National Christmas Tree. Once surrounded by rosy-cheeked youngsters who marveled at its thousands of ornaments and lights up close, the tree is now viewed after dark from afar-its future as endangered as its rooted relatives in the Rocky Mountain and Alaska National Forest and Wilderness areas.

Vice President Dick Cheney sent out thousands of Christmas cards this year that extolled the Bush administration's international imperial agenda by suggesting God approves it. Taking a quote by founder Benjamin Franklin out of context, Cheney's card read, "And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid?" Fascists, imperialists, and colonialists throughout history have tried to invoke God's name in justifying their global ambitions. The Bush-Cheney regime is no different and hopefully it will meet the same fate as its fascist and imperial antecedents.

Across Constitution Avenue, the Washington Monument is surrounded by an 8-foot wall, reminiscent of the one that used to divide Berlin and the one now being built to bifurcate the West Bank. A similar wall surrounds the U.S. Capitol-the so-called "peoples' house," and one has been erected on one side of the Supreme Court. The steps of the Supreme Court are now largely restricted to access by "we the people." The Capitol Building is constructing an underground security control center that will soon screen Girl Scouts and 4-H Club members as suspected terrorists.

If you are doing a news report or a documentary and set down a camera tripod on the National Mall or at any of the monuments, you will be confronted by nasty Park Police, who order you not to film without permission from the Park Police.

The famed Washington Metro system now bans the sale of newspapers in its stations. Newspaper vending machines have been boarded up. Trash piles up on subway platforms and trains because waste containers on the concourses are also banned. Recorded announcements appeal to passengers to report anyone who looks "suspicious."

No sooner had the Texans taken over the White House, Washington area caterers felt the pinch. Gone are the diplomatic receptions and elaborate state dinners for visiting dignitaries. Washington's caterers, florists, limousine drivers, hotels, upscale bars, and trendy restaurants immediately felt this trickle down effect of Bush's low class approach to diplomacy. Around my place of employment, a number of restaurants have shut their doors. They include a trendy martini bar and restaurant, an upscale Spanish tapas restaurant, an Italian deli, a health food eatery, and, unbelievably, a Chinese restaurant. How many more Code Oranges and phony terrorist alerts can this city take? Not many, I would suggest. The glamorous days of Kennedy's Camelot and Reagan's "Morning in America" at the White House are now in the distant past for America's capital.

Drivers and passengers who drive past the Pentagon on Virginia state highways are confronted by menacing Humvees with their high caliber machine guns pointed at the traffic....One security expert has reported that Washington, DC, Metro Police have sometimes been instructed to turn on their sirens for no reason because police in Israel discovered that sirens are a psychological deterrent to would-be terrorists. Add the sirens to the almost constant noise from patrol helicopters, fighter aircraft, and the extremely high-pitched whine from unmanned aerial vehicles and you realize you no longer live in the capital of the Free World, but some bizarre Twilight Zone version of the capital city of an America...


And one more little tell-tale quip:

Just as Hitler constantly berated neighboring Poland and France for Germany's ills, the Bush fascists have accused Canada of being responsible for last August's major power failure and now charge Canada with being responsible for the first mad cow outbreak in the United States. Both charges are patently inane.

You need a little more information on Mad Cow

I just know it.

And, just in case you haven't read Rampton and Stauber's Mad Cow USA (neither have I), here's a little info from Geov Parrish at Working for Change.

1 - Regulators are having a hard time figuring out where, exactly, the Mabton cow came from in its life's journey. It had apparently been born in Canada, sold several times, and lived in multiple states. In all likelihood it contracted BSE as a calf -- perhaps through the use of artificial milk, given to factory calves because it's cheaper (and because mom is long gone). The fake milk is protein-enriched through being sprayed with freeze-dried cow blood. Beyond the cow-cannibalism, that's also a great disease vector. The prions that spread BSE are impervious to freezing or high heat.

2 - ["Downer cow"] meat does not go into the human food supply - but the diseases that felled them can. The cows' meat is instead mixed in with grain (for extra protein) and fed to chickens, on the reasoning that viruses, bacteria, and the prions that carry BSE don't affect chickens' digestive systems. Assuming that's true, it goes straight through the birds instead - into their manure, which is then used by many organic farming operations as a fertilizer. Remember that, vegetarians, and vegans the next time you eat carrots or potatoes without peeling them.

3 - The initial symptoms of BSE only emerge, and are testable, four or five years after contamination. Many of the cows that wind up in our nation's food supply are slaughtered before any symptoms of BSE could appear.

4 - For the worst corporate violators, the ones actually inspected and found to be egregiously violating food safety laws, the penalties are slaps on the wrist. Many large operations consider such fines a cost of doing business, a pittance compared to the money they save through mistreatment of the animals, fouling of the environment, and careless handling of the meat.

5 - Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease is well-established in the U.S.; some 300 new cases are diagnosed each year. News reports that no cases of CJD have ever been confirmed in the U.S. are only technically true; CJD can only be confirmed by autopsy, and beyond the expense, handling the brain tissue of someone infected with CJD, even in a highly controlled laboratory setting, is simply too dangerous. This disease is with us, and contaminated meat is almost certainly one of the ways it has spread.

6 - For meat, such problems are usually avoidable by buying organic meat free of antibiotics and the ravages of factory farming. In fact, for nutrients and taste as well as food safety, organics in general are well worth the higher price. Just peel your carrots before you eat them.

Do not call my plant physiology professors, but would the prions that carry BSE which make their way into fertilizer collect only in cells on vegetable peels? I'm gonna need a little more information here.

In the meantime, here's what you have to look forward to if you contract a prion-caused disease:

The diseases are characterised by loss of motor control, dementia, paralysis wasting and eventually death, typically following pneumonia.  article

You could always just stop eating.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

The latest Hawk manifesto

President George W Bush was sent a public manifesto yesterday by Washington's hawks, demanding regime change in Syria and Iran and a Cuba-style military blockade of North Korea backed by planning for a pre-emptive strike on its nuclear sites.

The manifesto, presented as a "manual for victory" in the war on terror, also calls for Saudi Arabia and France to be treated not as allies but as rivals and possibly enemies.

What is this shit with France? Better bone up on my high school French. Maybe I can get a job with the State Department. No, I suppose you're right. More likely I will be hauled before the House on Un-American activities and fried.

Didn't that clue anybody? Un-American activities. Could I please get an official list of American activities?

They give warning of a faltering of the "will to win" in Washington.

In the battle for the president's ear, the manifesto represents an attempt by hawks to break out of the post-Iraq doldrums and strike back at what they see as a campaign of hostile leaking by their foes in such centres of caution as the State Department or in the military top brass.

Their publication, An End to Evil: How to Win the War on Terror, coincided with the latest broadside from the hawks' enemy number one, Colin Powell, the secretary of state.

An end to evil. Does that clue anybody in? Never mind giving me an official definition of evil.

The book calls for tough action against France and its dreams of offsetting US power. "We should force European governments to choose between Paris and Washington," it states. Britain's independence from Europe should be preserved, perhaps with open access for British arms to American defence markets.

I guess I didn't realize we didn't have open access.

Force governments to choose between Paris and Washington. When do we graduate from elementary school?

Read some more of the "manifesto" here.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Corporate crime

How come in other countries such as Russia and Italy corporate criminals get arrested as they should, and here that only applies to Martha Stewart (allegedly) doing some insider trading?

Go figger.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Whoa - Halliburton denied!

A U.S. military energy unit announced on Tuesday that it was taking over the task of providing fuel for Iraq, ending a Pentagon deal with Vice President Dick Cheney's former company Halliburton amid allegations of price gouging by the Texas-based energy services giant.

The Pentagon's Defense Energy Support Center said it had been directed to assume control of rebuilding Iraq's oil industry and that it would award new contracts through a competitive bidding process.

Meanwhile in Northern Iraq

Gunfire erupted Wednesday as hundreds of Arab and Turkmens marched in protest over fears of Kurdish domination in the oil-rich northern city of Kirkuk, and police said two people were killed.  article

Well, there you go. Things are truly improving. Now that the Kurds are in negotiating position, I guess the rest of the people are ruffled. You know, this brings to mind what Rumsfiend said about what we were facing: "A long, hard slog."

What he meant to say, of course....

But actually, I think that was a serious understatement.

On New Year's Eve, U.S. soldiers and Iraqi police stepped up security in Baghdad, erecting more razor wire and checkpoints in key areas.

American version of liberation.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Mad Cow

Mad Cow USA: The Nightmare Begins

The United States has spent millions of dollars on PR convincing Americans that mad cow could never happen here, and now the US Department of Agriculture is engaged in a crisis management plan that has federal and state officials, livestock industry flacks, scientists and other trusted experts assuring the public that this is no big deal. Their litany of falsehoods include statements that a "firewall" feed ban has been in place in the United States since 1997, that muscle meat is not infective, that no slaughterhouse waste is fed to cows, that the United States tests adequate numbers of cattle for mad cow disease, that quarantines and meat recalls are just an added measure of safety, that the risks of this mysterious killer are miniscule, that no one in the United States has ever died of any such disease, and on and on. The latest spin is to blame the United States mad cow crisis on Canada.

We must continue to advocate for the United States to do the right thing: Follow the lead of the European Union nations, ban all "animal cannibalism," and test more or all animals. In the meantime, if you want safe American beef, search out products that are certified organic and guaranteed not to be fed slaughterhouse waste such as calf formula made from cattle blood. An excellent source of information on the web is the site of the Organic Consumers Association.

Our book, "Mad Cow USA," [1997] is temporarily unavailable until a paperback copy is released later in 2004. However, you can get the book in its entirety for free through the website of our Center for Media & Democracy. Simply go to and click on the cover of "Mad Cow USA." You'll be taken to where you can download for free the entire book – and read the warnings that went unheeded then, and are still being ignored by government regulators and industry.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Beef rules get tighter

WASHINGTON: Sick and injured cattle, which are at the highest risk of having mad cow disease, have been banned from the US food supply chain.

In a move to bolster confidence in US beef after last week's first confirmed case of mad cow, Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman announced a range of measures yesterday.

The biggest change is the ban on "downer animals" which cannot walk because of illness or injury. They number about 195,000 of the 35.7 million US cattle slaughtered each year.

And human consumption of certain high-risk parts from older cattle, including the brain, eyes, spinal cord and small intestines, will be prohibited.

In other moves, inspectors will keep potentially ill animals out of the food supply until tests confirm they are safe, while plans for a comprehensive national system to track cattle will be rushed through.

More than 30 countries have banned the import of US beef after the mad cow case in a Holstein cow from Washington state.

Didn't think you were eating cow eyes and spinal cord?

What you don't know can't hurt you, right?

What's a "potentially ill" animal? That'd be all of them, wouldn't it?

There's more. You'll feel better.

"Inspectors will no longer mark cattle tested for BSE as 'inspected and passed' until ... the animals have, in fact, tested negative for BSE," the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) said.   article

Well, damn! That's reassuring. Holy cow! That stamp has in the past really meant, oh, squat, then, hasn't it?

The Washington dairy cow infected with the brain-wasting disease was unable to walk when she arrived for slaughter on Dec. 9, and deemed a "downer" animal by USDA.

Brain tissue was sent that day for mad cow testing, but the carcass was processed into raw beef before the initial test result was completed on Dec. 22. The delay in the test results was due in part to a backlog at the USDA's animal disease laboratory in Ames, Iowa, according to the government.

A faster test to detect mad cow disease in all injured or sick cattle that arrive at slaughter plants, delivering test results within 48 hours, is to be adopted by the government, the USDA said on Tuesday.

Anticipating an increase in mad cow testing, the agency said it will begin using more rapid diagnostic tests. It currently uses what it calls the "gold standard" of mad cow tests, which can take up to five days to complete.

I'm sorry. That sounds to me like there are faster tests available, but they have not been chosen because they weren't "gold standard". Does that mean that we will now get the results quicker (so we can pull that tainted beef off the market sooner? Or will it be held off the shelf for 48 hours?) - but the results may not be as realiable? None of this is sounding really great, is it?

I suppose we'll get a "your food supply is perfectly safe - eat beef in confidence" official statement soon. We had one before this, too, didn't we?

As recently as Monday, USDA officials said testing all estimated 150,000 downer cattle each year would do little to strengthen food safety. However, restaurant industry groups, food retailers and consumer advocates have demanded extra safeguards.

Now it's gonna be hard to come back later and say, we're testing all the animals, so you can be sure that your food is safe. Oh, what am I saying? It'll just be the old "what I meant to say" story again.

Veneman also said beef from advanced meat recovery equipment can no longer contain skulls from older cattle, the dorsal root ganglia and nerve cells connected to the spinal cord. The USDA already bans spinal cord in advanced meat recovery products.

The machines strip and scrape tiny bits of beef from cattle bones. Companies use the technology to reduce hand trimming by employees and to maximize production of meat for hamburger.

Okay, that's better. Now, besides not eating cow eyes and spinal cords, you won't be eating cow skulls either. No, no, no. Wait a minute. The first report said we won't be eating spinal cords. This one says dorsal root ganglia and nerve cells connected to the spinal cord. So I take it we'll still be eating spinal cord.

And for your final kicker...

In Seattle, the governor of Washington, Gary Locke, told reporters, "The USDA must purchase any cattle that they decide must be depopulated," adding that the compensation should cover the "full value" of any lost animals and should be paid before they are killed.

You will be buying those sick cattle whether you eat them or not.

Wouldn't want a cattleman to lose any money, would you?

I didn't think so.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Ah-ha! The Plame affair inches forward (or backward)

The Plame affair.

Attorney General John Ashcroft on Tuesday recused himself from the politically sensitive investigation of who leaked the name of a CIA operative. The Justice Department quickly named a special prosecutor to take over the investigation.

The announcement was made by James Comey, the department's new No. 2 official, at the Justice Department. The U.S. attorney in Chicago, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, will take over the investigation and report to Comey.

...Comey said he had a simple mandate for Fitzgerald: "Follow the facts wherever they lead and do the right thing all of the time."

Do the right thing. There's a simple rule to follow. Case closed.

How about do the legal thing? Nope. Do the right thing.

...[Plame's husband Joseph] Wilson said he had no idea why Ashcroft chose to recuse himself now. He speculated that Ashcroft, who has long ties to members of the president's staff, simply wanted to make sure that any findings at the end of the investigation are not tainted by even the suspicion of conflict of interest.

Here's some background on possible reasons for recusal. Not to mention, the timing factor and Ashcroft's ties to Karl Rove.


John Ashcroft came under increasing pressure Thursday to recuse himself from the CIA leak investigation, with one senior Republican senator saying the attorney general should consider doing so.

Asked whether White House political aide Karl Rove's history as a political advisor to Ashcroft during his gubernatorial and Senate campaigns were grounds for the attorney general to step away from the case, Sen. Arlen Specter said, "Recusal is something Ashcroft ought to consider."

...Sen. Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat who has led his party's charge on the leaks, said Ashcroft should recuse himself immediately.

...Schumer's press secretary said Justice Department rules hold that a federal prosecutor cannot issue subpoenas of news media phone records without the express written consent of the attorney general. Since media phone records may end up being subpoenaed, Schumer believes Ashcroft should step aside.

Hmmm...why would Ashcroft be reluctant to subpoena media phone records?

Now, here's a little something to add to that Specter information...

"So much is riding on Republican unity that CNN caused a brief flurry ... by reporting that Senator Arlen Specter, Republican of Pennsylvania, had called on Mr. Ashcroft to recuse himself." ("DEBATING A LEAK: THE INVESTIGATION; Democrats Want Ashcroft Out of Inquiry," The New York Times, October 3, 2003)

Specter told CNN on October 2, 2003: "Recusal is something Ashcroft ought to consider. ... I don't know what he knows. But I think it is something he should consider." ("GOP senator: Ashcroft should consider recusal on leak probe,", October 2, 2003 Thursday)

Specter also told CNN: "Whoever did it ought to go to jail. I think a law was broken and I think there has to be a tough penalty when we apprehend the perpetrator." ("Lawmakers say White House leak 'perpetrator' should be jailed," Agence France Presse, October 5, 2003)

"After a call from the White House, Specter issues a disclaimer, saying he had been misquoted. What he meant to say was that Ashcroft should refuse to let himself be intimidated." ("COMMENTARY - White House gears up for a great show," Press & Sun-Bulletin (Binghamton, NY), October 8, 2003, Pg. 8A)

The old "what I meant to say" business.

At any rate, Ashcroft has recused himself. Perhaps we will eventually know why. But I would advise against holding your breath.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Dick Cheney's Xmas cards

Vice President Cheney's Christmas card this year not only offers best wishes in this holiday season but also bears the following quotation from Benjamin Franklin at the Constitutional Convention: "And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid?" Food for thought there: a heavy meal, in fact.  article

Operation Rockingham

Nope. Not in Iraq. But related.

Juan Cole posts on claims by former National Security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski that British intelligence agents intentionally provided misleading information to the U.S. in an effort to spur the invasion. Brzezinski also claims other sources of faulty intelligence came from Iraqi political exiles like Ahmad Chalabi and Iyad Alawi and Likud in Israel.

I don't think it was all that hard a sale job. And if they did provide faulty information, who knows who was behind it. After all, we have PNAC and P2OG and scoundrels from Poppy's term who have been designing the Middle East agenda for quite some time.

But it will help His Slowliness the Dope pass off the blame.

Juan Cole discusses Saddam's trial (not likely to be public afer all - surprise!) and the Kurds' demands

Juan Cole discusses Saddam's trial (not likely to be public afer all - surprise!) and the Kurds' demands

Saddam's trial is unlikely to be public, according to Iyad Alawi, member of the Interim Governing Council and head of the Iraqi National Accord (mainly ex-Baathist officers who cooperated in 1990s CIA plots against Saddam). Alawi made the remarks in an interview with the London-based al-Hayat newspaper. He said there would probably be no public trial because "it is possible that he will mention names of states or persons to whom he gave money . . ." Asked if Saddam had admitted to smuggling money abroad, Alawi replied, "He has begun to admit it. He has confessed to important things." [Saddam is thought to have squirreled $30 bn. or more away in secret accounts overseas.]

Now, I know that you are probably having a difficult time believing the trial wouldn't be public. And of course, these IGC people all seem to have an opinion that they don't hesitate to voice.

Like we ever figured that Saddam would get to a public trial. Some don't even think he'll get as far as any trial - public or not. He may be getting the assurance that, in return for certain information, he will get a public trial, but would he know his captors better than to believe that? I think so.

I think we're being fed whatever information they think sounds good. I'm sure I don't know the angles. But that report that Saddam threatened to reveal embarrassing information if his captors continued to pressure him...I have to ask myself: why would he be "threatening" to reveal embarrassing information? Who's he going to reveal it to? I mean, if the CIA is holding and interrogating him in secret. Wouldn't a threat under those circumstances be like assuring yourself that you'd never get a public trial? What kind of threat could that be? He must surely know that the CIA doesn't play by any particular rules. And, hey, anything could happen, right Lee*?

I think the most likely thing going on, if Mr. Hussein is still with us in the land of the living, is that he is trying to negotiate himself to some position somewhere, and the CIA is trying to play him along on that in order to get as much information out of him as they can, and weighing whether he can be of any further use to them alive. (They might both be figuring a way to repay Georgie Double-face for their respective insults. That would be an interesting twist.)

Now where are all those Saddam body doubles? They ought to be good for some future plot.

Cole concludes:

I found Alawi's remarks chilling. The case against Saddam appears likely to proceed as a closed Star Chamber. Alawi, among those in charge of crafting the case, is a plaintiff himself and seemed to imply that he might be involved in a personal injury suit against the former regime! And, Alawi seems to be trying to hold the information that might come out in the trial over the heads of the Jordanian and other regional governments, as a kind of blackmail. Well, at least Rummy won't have to worry about Saddam going on and on about their close friendship back in the day, on Arab satellite television. Ooops. That's probably one reason the Bush administration announced with such alacrity that Saddam would be tried in Iraq.

As regards the Kurds' demands:

The two most prominent Kurdish leaders are making a full court press for an Iraqi Kurdistan to be enshrined in law before the American civil administration decamps on July 1.

Massoud Barzani, head of the Kurdistan Democratic Party, has called for a revision of the November 15, 2003, accord between the Interim Governing Council and the United States, saying, "The November 15 accord must be revised and 'Kurdish rights' within an Iraqi federation must be mentioned."

...Laith Kubba, head of the Iraqi National Grouping in Washington DC [says Washington] will tell the Kurds "no."

The question is whether the Kurds will take "no" for an answer. Barzani's reference to the role of the Peshmerga or Kurdish militias in liberating northern Iraq can also be read as a veiled threat to the IGC. The Kurdish areas have been relatively quiet militarily. If Washington quashes the hopes for a new sort of Iraqi Kurdistan, they may get more dangerous quickly.

Not to mention that, if they really were instrumental in Saddam's "capture", they will have been led to believe they have some payback coming. I wonder if the fact that these demands are being made now, after a November 15 accord was already established gives weight to the claim that they did in fact have Saddam and arranged to hand him over to the Americans. Now they have "requests".

Of course, if so, they forgot who they were negotiating with.

In a follow-up post (the one I lifted), Cole notes that this development, along with the Pentagon's halting of the awarding of contracts, spells problems for having an Iraqi government in place by summer. I would think that may ultimately be the biggest bargaining chip the Kurds have.

But who knows what surprises are around the corner? We seem to get plenty of them these days.

Stay tuned.

*Courtesy Rev. Day-Bu at Re:Zine

Corruption Concerns Delay Pentagon Reconstruction Projects in Iraq

The Boston Globe reports that the Pentagon has canceled the process of giving out bids to reconstruct Iraq until February 1, out of concern for pervasive corruption. It is being alleged that a small group of mercantile clans is manipulating the bidding process through dummy companies, hiding their continued domination of the economy. The Coalition Provisional Authory of Paul Bremer had been counting on the influx of reconstruction monies to win hearts and minds and begin establishing better security in Iraq. This postponement is another obstacle to the smooth transfer of power on June 30 (see the Laith Kubba interview below).

I just lifted that directly off Juan Cole.

....but you do what you will anyway.

Not that corruption concerns delay anything here. I guess it all depends on which corrupt entity is getting the benefit.

What about al-Douri?

I knew you'd ask. According to all current reports, he's still at large. The reason I keep a watch out is that shortly after "the capture" of Saddam Hussein, it was reported in all of Rupert Murdoch's Australian papers that al-Douri had surrendered. But nothing was said in news sources here (or elsewhere that I could find online).

Today, I found a little tidbit that's stuffed down near the end of a 12/29 article which makes the idea of a recent surrender more interesting:

The organizing spirit of the insurgency, Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, Saddam's number two, actually attempted to negotiate his surrender through Arab tribes in Mosul in April. The talks failed, because, according to sources in Mosul, he demanded immunity from prosecution.  article

I do think that if he has recently surrrendered, we will be given a periodic tease about him still being at large, and even this kind of tease that he's been seen. To keep the show going. And then, when Double-face needs another boost, Voila! We "capture" al-Douri - the last of the bad guys. I might have thought that his surrender would have been great PR after "the capture" - you know, it was such a coup that the rest of the bad guys just folded in fear and/or defeat. But, thinking about it a bit more, it may actually work best to leave Americans with the idea that he's still out there, as the demand to pull our troops out might get stronger if people think all the bad guys have been killed or captured. Isn't that why we're over there? And if we pull out before we get al-Douri, we leave an enemy with a leader.

Or something like that. It must be hell trying to figure all the angles and weight them.

Americans are fickle, though, and always in search of new entertainment. I know I am. So I think we will need something bigger and closer to home to take our minds off the steady loss of jobs and other dollar woes by the time another election comes round. (Which is really just more infuriating - they already know how to steal elections, so why terrorize us, too? Perhaps so that eventually they don't have to bother with the cost and trouble of even having elections?)

I guess turning all the news sources into Fox news will help greatly, though. We shall see.

DoJ and FCC have approved the contentious merger of DiretTV and News Corp (Fox News parent).

The Justice Department requires that News Corp. appoint only US citizens to the Hughes Electronics Corp./DirecTV audit committee.   article

How interesting is that?

FCC Chairman Michael Powell described the merger as offering "a particularly compelling public interest benefit in light of continued cable rate hikes."

By God, yes. Lower rates is more important than independence or diversity in broadcasting.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

So we don't have to fight them here

That is a much more telling line than you might imagine. Any time someone says that, rest assured that this is not a peace-loving person. Americans are not peace-loving people. We just don't want the fighting going on here where it would interrupt our ability to consume and watch cable TV.

We are a blood-thirsty people with an insatiable appetite for more and newer amusements. A favorite "sport" among our men is hunting. (How many pheasants and mallards did Cheney kill? He's going to eat them all, I suppose. It wasn't just for the sport.) Our favorite entertainment, for both men and women, is violent sport and TV shows like Jerry Springer and Cops. We are eager to send soldiers to any country that gets in the way of our commercial pursuits or dares to challenge our might and "superiority".

We are incredible hypocrites in denial when we say we want peace on earth.

What got me started on this post is an article about soldiers who are recounting the atrocities they committed in Viet Nam, and then I went off on a tangent, my trademark.

It's interesting to me that these articles are coming out now. It's almost as though for thirty years these guys kept quiet - or maybe they just didn't have a ready outlet because no news source was interested in publishing this kind of information. And now, with the very similar approach to warring in Iraq, these men are being given the opportunity to tell their stories. What is interesting about that is those who seem to feel that what they did was justifiable as it was done in the setting of war and under great duress.

"Can you imagine Dodge City without a sheriff?" Mr. Kerney asked. "It's just nuts. You never had a safe zone. It's shoot too quick or get shot. You're scared all the time, you're humping all the time. You're scared. These things happen."

Mr. Doyle said he lost count of the people he killed: "You had to have a strong will to survive. I wanted to live at all costs. That was my primary thing, and I developed it to an instinct."

I will grant that being in war creates situations that make people behave in extreme ways, which is another argument against war. It doesn't justify anything.

Another thing these men who are being interviewed want you to know is that they were under orders to do what they did. I have heard from a special forces friend that this is true. That friend cannot find enough ways to absolve himself of the guilt. But "just following orders" works for some, I guess.

"For seven months, Tiger Force soldiers moved across the Central Highlands, killing scores of unarmed civilians - in some cases torturing and mutilating them - in a spate of violence never revealed to the American public," the newspaper said, at other points describing the killing of hundreds of unarmed civilians.

"Women and children were intentionally blown up in underground bunkers," The [Toledo] Blade said. "Elderly farmers were shot as they toiled in the fields. Prisoners were tortured and executed - their ears and scalps severed for souvenirs. One soldier kicked out the teeth of executed civilians for their gold fillings."

That, I think was not done in the heat of the moment, frightened for your life. And I will also grant that it is quite likely a person would be so mentally changed from their fighting experiences that they simply became something less than human. Another argument against war.

However, what's disturbing about the war in Iraq is that news reports of similar atrocities do get into the press, but not widely circulated. And I have the terrible sinking feeling that Americans would not react all that negatively. We would find the actions justifiable. We even came up with a nice name for it: collateral damage.

American troops in Vietnam, he said, had "raped, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks and generally ravaged the countryside of SouthVietnam in addition to the normal ravage of war, and the normal and very particular ravaging which is done by the applied bombing power of this country."

What American Viet Nam soldier testified thusly to a Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1971?

Senator John Kerry.

No, it's not terrorists that scare me. It's my fellow Americans. There are so many more of them. And they are the ones who kill for the thrill.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Mad cow tidbits

I didn't realize that there was a clause in a bill in the Senate last month to prohibit the use of "downer" cattle (those too sick to stand or walk) meat for human consumption, but that it was dropped from the bill in the House.

How very interesting.


In Washington state Monday, a state dairy group said the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) could order the slaughter of the cattle herd that included the cow with the disease if officials found that other cows were infected.

"It may not be a situation where the entire herd is taken, but it is a possibility," said Steve Matzen, general manager of the Washington State Dairy Council. "But we'll probably rely on the USDA as they make those calls based on science."

What? Not faith-based?

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Sunday, December 28, 2003

Boy in federal pen for destroying a boathouse - one small detail...

Patrick, whose last name is being withheld, was 14 when he and an older friend broke into a boathouse in Arundel, Maine, on July 7, 2002, to steal a marine radio.

When the two saw security cameras inside, they burned down the boathouse to destroy evidence that might link themselves to the crime. The fire burned down the building and several boats and engines stored there, including a boat engine owned by the elder Bush, who had a summer home in Kennebunkport, just seven miles from the boatyard.

Okay, okay, okay. Stop. That was reeeeeeeeeeeally stupid. Maybe the security camera was linked to a live feed, which would have made it too late to do anything about, but burn down the boathouse? How about destroy the camera, kids?

Okay, so the kids aren't bright. Let's shake our heads and go on....

The boy's parents, who live in Kennebunkport, first learned about the crime when U.S. Secret Service officers showed up at their home.

"There were Secret Service, ATF agents, fire marshals and local police," the boy's mother, Denise Collier said in an exclusive interview on Good Morning America. "They said that they had concerns that this could be a terrorist attack. They cited national security concerns."

Well, of course. Terrorists target singular boathouses, don't they?

The boy's parents are appealing what they say is a harsh and unfair sentence of 30 months in federal prison. They believe their son is being singled out because of misplaced security concerns, politics and the desire by federal agents to send a message.

Patrick was prepared to plead guilty to local prosecutors, but the case was then turned over to federal prosecutors.

"There seems to be no rational explanation for why Patrick was turned over to the federal justice system," the boy's stepfather and appeals attorney Robert Mongue said. "Every time we asked, we got a different answer, and none of the answers made sense.

Join a large and growing club, folks.

Paula Silsby, the chief federal prosecutor for the U.S. Attorney's office in Maine, declined to appear on Good Morning America, but did issue a statement. When asked whether the prosecution of the case was influenced by the former president's role, she said "absolutely not."

"Arson is a crime of violence," Silsby said.

I'm not sure just how that makes it a federal offense. You?

The other young man involved, Christopher Conley, 19, of Kennebunkport, pleaded guilty last January to arson of a building used in interstate and foreign commerce and aiding and abetting such conduct.

Okay, now we're getting somewhere. This particular boathouse was used in interstate and foreign commerce. This boathouse in Kennebunkport that housed one of Poppy's boat engines. I think there's just a wee little bit more to this story that needs to be looked at.

No, I'm not going to investigate. Just wonder.

Patrick's case goes to court January 8. Maybe we'll get some more information then.

Since Patrick was committed to a maximum security facility this past August, his parents are only able to speak with him for five minutes once a week.

"He is scared. He's sad," Collier said. "He's not happy being where he is. It's a very tough situation."

Yeah, well Patrick was a stupid kid. Patrick commited a crime. But, Jeez, maximum security? And his parents can't speak to him for more than five minutes a week? Good lord.

Do people who mete out this kind of "justice" believe in what they do? Or are they just mean SOBs?

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

The backlash - continued

Not all posts on this subject will truly fit the descriptor "backlash", but I'm going to be using that in the title of each one so that I can easily trace my way back through them to the beginning.

Here's the second reply Nell (sidebar) received to the "Since combat operations ended" post (linked below).

To Bob and Nell - Bravo Zulu (That's Navy-talk for "Well done" to the both of you for having the courage and investing the time to air your views.

To Bob and Nell and everyone else - It is exactly this type of aggressive dialogue that enables our country to excel in the world. The freedom to express our views, disparate as they may be, over our own names, is what gives our nation its great strength and moral fiber.

We all have to do our best to gather credible information from all sources in order to formulate and support our opinions on any issue of importance to ourselves, be it the type of school we choose for our children, investments to make with our money, candidates for office to support, and issues of global impact such as the situation in Iraq.

I don't believe everything I hear on Al Jezeera any more than I believe everything I hear on FOX News. I know the e-mail I received came from a friend of mine who spent time in Iraq, so I automatically add credibility to most parts of the message since he elected to forward it to all of us.

Although I don't believe everything, but I do believe some things:

I believe that oppressors must be confronted earlier, rather than later (Think of Neville Chamberlain and Hitler after the plebiscite in the Sudetenland)

I believe that the economic impact of the world's oil supply greatly influenced the decision to act in Iraq (There was no congressional mandate to intervene in Rwanda during the ethnic slaughter of Hutus and Tutsis)

I believe that Saddam Hussein's own action invading Iran and Kuwait greatly influenced the decision to act in Iraq

I believe that religious terrorists slaughtered 3000 souls (of many religions) on 11 September 2001, and that this greatly influenced the decision to act in Iraq

I believe that no nation can claim the moral high-ground (refer to the use of US Forces against Native Americans (yes - Americans) in the Dakotas in the 1870's in violation of existing treaties after gold was discovered

I believe that military options should be exercised as a last resort, and then decisively

I believe that the next 10 years in Iraq will define the success or failure of the actions of this last year

Again, many thanks to both Bob and Nell for sparking this great dialogue.


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Great Bush-in-30-seconds ad

Check this one out...too bad it won't actually appear on any TV.

Local notice only for the returning wounded

In a town of around 1,500 nestled in the rural midwest, an area of big skies and small creeks, his injury and homecoming have been a big event. Local people raised thousands of dollars to help his family travel to see him at the Walter Reed military hospital in Virginia. Cameras from the local networks met him when he arrived at the airport in Springfield. When he got to Greenfield, the town was waiting in the square.

Around 2,657 soldiers have been injured in Iraq, according to the Pentagon. But while the death toll influences political debate and prompts public discomfort, the swelling legions of the wounded - around 10 a day - have failed to make any impact on a national level.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

An interesting claim

The daughter of one of Saddam's Iraqi opponents is making an interesting claim.

Nora al Tamimi, daughter of slain Iraqi opposition activist Taleb al Suhail al Tamimi, said from Beirut in a newspaper interview published Saturday that her father had planned a coup d'etat to overthrow Saddam in 1993, operating from Beirut and Amman.

"Zero hour was set for a certain June day in 1993 to stage the coup when Saddam would have been sponsoring an official event in Baghdad," Nora told the London-based Asharq Al Awsat newspaper in an interview conducted at the family house in Beirut.

"But the Americans, who did not want the coup to succeed possibly because they were certain my father would not go along with their polices, tipped off Saddam about the impending putsch by my father and gave the names of his top aides," Nora said. "All of them died in Saddam's torture chambers."

I have no other information to verify the claim. It may not be true. But it sure wouldn't be a surprise if it is.

Update January 3, 2004: I have come across a Noam Chomsky interview that talks about this uprising of generals against Saddam. Here's my post on it.

Eisenhower's nightmare is our reality

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. -- Dwight D. Eisenhower, upon leaving office (full text and video here)

How Weapons Makers Are Shaping U.S. Foreign And Military Policies: New Military Mega-Companies - Corporate Interests or National Interests

Onward Christian Soldiers

In a series of recent decisions, the National Park Service has approved the display of religious symbols and Bible verses, as well as the sale of creationist books giving a non-evolutionary explanation for the Grand Canyon and other natural wonders within national parks, according to documents released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). Also, under pressure from conservative groups, the Park Service has agreed to edit the videotape that has been shown at the Lincoln Memorial since 1995 to remove any image of gay and abortion rights demonstrations that occurred at the memorial.  article

I gotta get outta here.

I know there's a group who'd like to see me go. Please send dollars.

Towards despotism

Watch this ten-minute Encyclopedia Brittanica educational film from 1946, and rate your community/country.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

U.S. violated WHO guidelines for mad cow disease

Thanks to POAC for this link (and many others that I follow to bring you information.)

The National Cattlemen's Beef Association describes government and industry efforts to safeguard the American public from mad cow disease as "swift," "decisive" and "aggressive."[1] The US Secretary of Agriculture adds "diligent,"[2] "vigilant" and "strong."[3] The world's authority on these diseases disagrees.

Dr. Stanley Prusiner is the scientist who won the Nobel Prize in Medicine for his discovery of prions, the infectious agents thought to cause bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), or mad cow disease. The word Dr. Prusiner uses to describe the efforts of the U.S. government and the cattle industry is "terrible."[4] What are these "stringent protective measures"[5] that the Cattlemen's Association is talking about, and how do they compare to global standards and internationally recognized guidelines?

Come on fellas, let's get our stories straight

Paul Bremer and Tony Blair need a little more coordinating communication.

Or not.

Who cares? As we have seen plenty of evidence, Americans are not terribly concerned about the details. Just that we kick somebody's ass.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

More Bob Harris

Bob Harris has two more journal posts up since I told you about him last - from Bangkok and Bali. I particularly enjoyed the one from Bali - the "good" part is magical.

The Bad Guys We Once Thought Good

From The Age via Khilafah

The Bad Guys We Once Thought Good

Scott Burchill
December 27, 2003

A few pertinent remarks on our friends in low places who have their friends in high places.

Central Intelligence Agency, Langley Virginia
Office of Villains
Department of Wayward Clients and Unsavoury Friends
Status Report: December 2003
To: George J. Tenet, Director of Central Intelligence

Below is the updated report you asked us to prepare with comments, in light of Saddam's apprehension. With the exception of Warren Anderson, we have omitted US nationals (e.g. Kissinger) from the list.


Ferdinand Marcos (Philippines), Nicolae Ceausescu (Romania), Mobutu Sese Seko (Congo/Zaire), Pol Pot (Cambodia), Heydar Aliyev (Azerbaijan)

Comment: Good friends before most became liabilities. Marcos - greatly admired by Paul Wolfowitz - died soon after we got him to Hawaii, while Ceausescu passed on more suddenly than we expected after many years of loyal service. Pol Pot hung on far too long but had the decency to keep out of sight until the end. Aliyev was much appreciated for bringing dynastic succession and a pro-Western oil policy to Central Asia.

In custody on trial or awaiting trial

Manuel Noriega (Panama), Slobodan Milosevic (fmr Yugoslavia - The Hague), Saddam Hussein (Iraq)

Comment: We managed to gloss over the revelation that Noriega was on the CIA payroll under GWB's father before jailing him. Hopefully we can do the same to Saddam, though US and UK support for his WMD programs during the 1980s and 1990s could prove very embarrassing in court. Ditto for Chirac and the Russians. Big mistake taking him alive. Footage of Rumsfeld shaking hands with Saddam in 1983 and not mentioning WMD looks bad, though networks can be trusted to show restraint despite the approaching 20th anniversary (esp Fox).

Faking illness to avoid trial

Augusto Pinochet (Chile), Soeharto (Indonesia)

Comment: Pinochet is senile and, thanks to the Brits, at little further legal risk. Soeharto has the worst human rights record of all and would be easy to nab from Jakarta, though opposition from admirers like Wolfowitz and friends in Canberra should be expected. Too much detail about our support for his 1965 massacres has already leaked out. Has enough knowledge and residual military support to buy immunity and a quiet suburban death on his own terms.

On the run

Osama bin Laden (Saudi Arabia)

Comment: Still unclear how much money and arms we actually gave him to fight the Sovs in Afghanistan. Now protected by Islamists in the Pakistan military and assorted Taliban. Will be difficult to apprehend without losing Musharraf in the process. Priority here is control of the Islamic bomb.


Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvallier (Haiti - in France), Jean-Bedel Bokassa (Central African Republic), Hector Gramajo (fmr defence minister, Guatemala - in Guatemala)

Comment: Hopefully forgotten (we are trying).

New Friends (undemocratic)

Pervez Musharraf (Pakistan), Islam Karimov (Uzbekistan), Saparmurat Niyazov (Turkmenistan), Teodoro Obiang (Equatorial Guinea), Abdelaziz Bouteflika (Algeria)

Comment: A measure of our new commitment to spreading democratic politics. Some have oil, one is Stalinist, all have corruption. None have democracy. Like old friends in the Gulf, they have been advised not to take GWB's freedom and democracy speeches seriously.

Given sanctuary by US

Jose Guillermo Garcia (fmr head of El Salvador armed forces, 1980s - Florida), Cuban and Haitian exiles (Florida), South Vietnamese army officers (California)

Comment: We now believe there are more terrorists per square kilometre in Florida than any other place on earth - all with safe haven. Most are from the abattoir states of Central America under Reagan.

It's a battle to keep them away from snooping journalists when they slip their agency minders. Just as well GWB's dictum about countries that provide sanctuary to terrorists doesn't apply to Miami.

Refusing to extradite

Emmanuel Constant (leader of paramilitary group FRAPH in Haiti who murdered thousands in the 1990s - in NYC)

Comment: Avoid comparison with the Taliban's refusal to extradite Osama after 9/11. Haiti is unlikely to bomb the East Coast.

Warren Anderson (chairman of Union Carbide, now Dow Chemical), responsible for the 1984 Bhopal gas leak in India that killed 16,000 people - Long Island, New York)

Comment: They are only Indians, after all. Even Delhi is reluctant to compensate the victims and 120,000 survivors. Unlikely to ever face charges of culpable homicide.


Ariel Sharon (Israel)

Comment: Long record of brutality, most notably in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps. Rebadged "man of peace" by GWB in the Orwellian sense. European travel may become difficult.

Turkish leaders

Comment: No longer so well disposed after they failed to help us out in Iraq. Army even refused Wolfowitz's order to defy the government and back the invasion.

Remember not to call Turkey's attacks on its Kurdish population "terrorism" because we supplied them with the means to do it. As with Colombia, our money officially goes to the guys in the white hats - or in this case - the white fezzes.

Source: The Age (Melbourne)

Saturday, December 27, 2003

Support our troops with proper vehicles

Way early on I posted something about the lack of proper protective equipment, including vehicles, for the troops in Iraq. Here's a ongoing list of similar articles.

Now, a local Missouri unit is having some trouble even trying to provide their own.

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Fearing roadside bombs and sniper bullets, members of the U.S. Army Reserve's 428th Transportation Company turned to a local steel fabricator to fashion extra armor for their five-ton trucks and Humvees before beginning their journey to Iraq earlier this month.

But their armor might not make it into the war, because the soldiers did not obtain Pentagon approval for their homemade protection.

...The possibility that soldiers could be denied extra protection because of an Army policy has outraged some of the friends and neighbors who helped the Jefferson City-based unit.

They may not pay any attention as a general rule, but when they do get dragged into something, Missourians are pretty earthbound. They deal in tangibles.

The 72 vehicles operated by the 428th are not designed for battle. They have thin metal floorboards and, in some cases, a canvas covering for doors. Iraqi guerrilla groups have been targeting all types of military vehicles with homemade bombs and small-caliber weapons.

E-mails from soldiers already deployed in Iraq urged the Missouri reservists to get extra armor if possible, said 1st Sgt. Tim Beydler, a member of the 428th.

The soldiers persuaded a local funeral home director who is active in community affairs to pay the $4,000 tab for 13,000 pounds of quarter-inch steel. Industrial Enterprises Inc. donated the fabricating work, also valued at about $4,000, so the steel could be fitted under vehicle floorboards and on the inside of doors.

The soldiers drove off Dec. 12 for Fort Riley, Kan., planning to fasten the specially made steel to their vehicles when they arrived in Iraq.

"We're doing what we can to protect our soldiers. That's the bottom line," Beydler said last week as news of the donated steel was being praised locally as an example of grass-roots support for the troops. "It not only boosts morale of the soldiers, but also of the soldiers' family members, who know their soldiers will be afforded some extra protection."

Aw, come on, guys. We didn't really mean support our troops. Just our war.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Now it's a scandal

Timothy Noah (Chatterbox) comments on the Nick Smith Medicare bribe.

The only difficult part to this investigation will be getting Smith himself to back up his accusation that money was offered. After talking about it for a few days, Smith clammed up (he never returned Chatterbox's phone calls), and then issued a quite obviously untrue press release denying he'd been offered any money. (It's a back-handed compliment to Smith that his inept attempt to bury this story suggests he lacks much experience at this sort of thing.) But telling whoppers to the public is perfectly legal; Smith surely knows that telling one to a government official conducting a criminal investigation can land you in jail. So really, Mr. Attorney General, this should be much easier for you than it's been for the press. According to the Post, Smith's position now is that "he will cooperate with any official inquiry but does not want to point fingers publicly." Chatterbox takes that to mean that Smith will tell the truth if he absolutely has to.

The question, Mr. Attorney General, is whether you want to hear it. Given the now-likely involvement of somebody in the House Republican leadership, Chatterbox assumes the answer is no.

...Until now, the question of whether Smith had specifically fingered the House Republican leadership has been a little bit foggy. But the Post has produced two witnesses. Now your next question, Mr. Attorney General, is going to be, "How on Earth am I supposed to get a Washington Post reporter to reveal his sources?" Dude, you don't have to! One of them talked on the record! Read past the jump and you'll see, plain as day, the following:

Rep. Gil Gutknecht (R-Minn.), who was present at the dinner, recalled Smith saying it was "people from leadership" who had offered the money. He said Smith did not say who it was, but he assumed it was someone who controlled a "large leadership PAC, who can raise a hundred thousand dollars by hosting a few fundraisers."

"I think something happened," Gutknecht said. "If it happened, then somebody in the leadership is guilty of at least gross stupidity. ... Whoever made that comment should resign."
Rep. Gutknecht's phone number is (202) 225-2472. If he's not there, leave a message on his answering machine.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Here's a little something I didn't know about Guantanamo

Since Castro came to power in a 1959 revolution the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay has been a flash-point of hostilities between the two countries.

Castro insists the area is illegally occupied by the United States which leases it under a pre-revolution agreement.

Castro refuses to cash U.S. checks for use of the base, which he keeps in a desk drawer to show visitors and reporters.

The U.S. reports I've read never said anything about that. Just that we rent the place from Cuba.


Cuba has just released a statement that claims abuses there, and calls it a concentration camp.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Elaine Cassel explains why she doesn't feel good this Christmas

Never before have I felt that this day is so unlike Christmas.

...Better that we profess our evil, as do governments like those of Korea and China, and govern and rule honestly as despots, than that we hide under the guise of Christianity and democracy.

Elaine is a D.C. attorney and professor of law at Concord University School of Law. She also teaches graduate courses in law and psychology at Marymount University.

Read her entire post here.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Having a grand old time in Iraq

British soldiers are getting as big a kick over there as are some of the American troops I've reported about.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Why do they hate us?

Bush Still Eating Beef Despite Scare, Aide Says

Which may give some people hope.

That was mean, wasn't it?

What do you want to bet the source of his steaks is not the local grocery?

Maybe he has a food taster - perhaps the mice.


And a second herd is quarantined.

Hey, the price of beef should be coming down. I hope CC's prime filet dinners get below $25.

Surprise, surprise - records missing

That Tiger Force information coming out of Viet Nam, when you are supposed to be supporting your troops who are currently doing some pretty nasty stuff in Iraq, hit a little snag.

Hundreds of records of the group known as Tiger Force are missing from the National Archives in suburban Washington, and the Army crime records center at Fort Belvoir, Va.

Officials can't explain why the reports aren't available.

"At this time, we don't know what happened [to the records]," said Chris Grey, a spokesman for the Army's Criminal Investigation Command.

A Blade series in October, "Buried Secrets, Brutal Truths," which was also published in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, revealed the 45-man platoon killed and mutilated scores of unarmed villagers refusing to leave their homes.

Some were executed as they pleaded for their lives -- in some cases their ears and scalps severed for souvenirs -- and others were blown up in underground bunkers.

The missing records include the first formal complaint filed against the platoon in 1969 and sworn witness statements by more than 100 soldiers in 1970 and 1971, according to National Archives indexes.

The newspaper's findings showed the Army secretly investigated Tiger Force three decades ago, substantiating 20 atrocities involving 18 soldiers. But the case was quietly closed in 1975 without charges filed.

Maybe a good time to revisit that open letter to GIs from a former soldier who served in Viet Nam and has a son in service now, Stan Goff.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Screw Poland, we don't need "friends"

We own the world. Get used to it, suckers.

While the Polish government cited moral and political reasons for its support of the United States, economic motives were never far from the surface. Polish officials freely acknowledged that they hoped that backing a friend in a time of need would translate into more profitable economic ties.

To many here, winning contracts in Iraq is one way to judge whether that bet paid off. Some see it as an ominous sign that Poland has so far netted just one project, a $7 million telecommunications contract.

"We keep hearing this is such an important alliance, but we've seen little value from it," said Marek Ostrowski, a leading foreign affairs commentator. "We're starting to feel this is a one-way street

...The United States, once the biggest foreign investor in Poland, has fallen to third place, after France and Germany, as American firms build their auto assembly plants and semiconductor factories elsewhere.

Underscoring the one-way nature of its ties with the United States, the Polish government agreed late last year to buy 48 American F-16 fighter jets for about $3 billion. The contract, which Poland awarded to Lockheed Martin over two European manufacturers, is starting to stir frustration here because of the time it is taking Lockheed to fulfill its promise to steer American investments to Poland to offset the purchase.

Hey, serves you right, Poland. What were you thinking? France and Germany may not appreciate your giving the business to Lockheed either, which could translate into less investment from them.

Ooops. Oh well. what you will anyway.

(Poland may be rethinking its deployment of troops in Iraq if they don't get some payback, as Saturday one of their units was attacked; four soldiers were killed and 25 wounded.)

Hey, Australia's our b!tch, too.

Face it world, we own you.

AUSTRALIAN aircraft have reportedly followed US military orders to spy on Iran without first getting approval from Defence Minister Robert Hill.

...Senator Hill was angered by the RAAF's agreement to fly the mission against Iran without clearing it with him first, according to the newspaper's sources in Canberra.

....but hey, do what we will anyway.

Qadafi's warning

Asked if he had a message for other leaders, especially the heads of Syria, Iran and North Korea, [Qadafi] replied: "They should follow the steps of Libya, or take an example from Libya, so that they prevent any tragedy being inflicted upon their own peoples."  article

Was there a threat in that nine months of secret negotiations Bush and Blair were in with Muammar, now that he's been sanctioned into a weak spot, you think? A winning combination of tactics there - weaken to incapacitate through a decade or so of sanctions and then threaten to blast what remains of them. Hit 'em while they're down, I always say.

Go team!

US oil companies were leading players in the Libyan oil industry until 1986, when they were ordered out of the country by President Ronald Reagan. Marathon, Amerada Hess and ConocoPhillips jointly hold permits to develop the huge Waha field.

Most of those permits expire in 2005, raising fears among US oil executives that their rights could be transferred to European firms.

Okay, well, there's that. I guess we couldn't afford to wait any longer to level the blasting to hell threat. Plus, it's a nice little package of timing with the "capture" of Saddam.

There's more to this Libyan thing, though. Don't know what it is. And there may not have been a blasting to hell threat, although that seems the most likely at this point with the evidence we can see. But there's something else - and it involves that "capture" - and arms that just recently ended up in Libya from Yemen.

Yeah, yeah, I know. Conspiracy nut. Like a stupid bulldog, huh?

Some day my suspicions shall be vindicated, but I'm not holding my breath.

....but hey, you do what you will anyway.

And the fact that the administration can always promise anything in terms of the big factor - mula - because they can always get Congress to approve spending by hook or by crook now with the terror hammer - has got to be a good bargaining chip with dealing with any country. Too bad it doesn't always follow through, huh Africans waiting for AIDS money? Huh, Poland?

Saddam threatens?

Former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, now being grilled by American investigators, has reportedly warned US authorities that he will expose Washington’s “political games” and its behind-the-scene role in the occupation of Kuwait.

“Saddam threatened that if they continue to pressure him he will reveal startling facts — about America’s political games with his country — that would shock the whole world,” Al-Watan Arabic daily quoted a high-level European source as saying.

I wish it weren't so that everything reported is suspect. But, c'est la vie.

The article says the "source" of this information also said that Saddam still insists any chemical or nuclear programs were for civilian purposes only, that he "would ask the International Court of Justice in The Hague to try the United States for its crimes against the Iraqi people for allegedly using internationally prohibited weapons against the Iraqis during the last two wars against his country", and that he isn't praying or reading the Koran.

Okay. Whatever.

It can't have been a surprise to anyone that he might have stories to tell. And how on earth can we have any credible information of what he's saying when he's hidden somewhere being interrogated by the CIA? Who is providing the European source here with information?

Anyway, if it's true that he would "reveal startling facts - about America's political games with his country", it won't shock the whole world.

Whatever. what you will anyway.


With the arrival of Europe's first interplanetary probe at Mars and two more U.S. spacecraft on the way, the red planet will be under intense scrutiny for months as scientists attempt to figure out why a world flecked with evidence of an Earth-like past appears dead and dry.  article

Maybe because we used to be there.


And so begins the backlash....

I'm eliminating the name of the responder, but as a follow up to my response to the "all the good that has happened since the end of major combat operations" email (see the original posting, which I sent out to all the recipients of the original email), I'll post whatever comes in.

Here's the first, precisely as received:

Who ever you are and what ever your thought processes are may be beyond the normal comprehension of logical thinking individuals who attempt to remain knowledgeable about politics, spin and agendas of news agencies and or governments. To think that we as thinking adults believe every stinking word that comes across cyber space or in news print is gospel truth is naieve at best and self righteous at second best. But your attempt at bringing light on a very complex situation is total demgogery and self defeating at its end. Ask yourself: What was the intent of the US Goverment in going into Iraq? Well I must say that even though it was not articulated well the intent was to remove a dictator from power, stabilize world oil reserves and interdict terrorism beyond the borders of the US. All the other benies are coming with it such as Lybia's recent desire to eliminate WMD. Syria and Iran's fear that they may be next! Saudi Arabia left without US support and dollars. Other Muslim/Islamic countries wanting to develop market economies (Qatar, UAE, Turkey, etc). Time will heal what problems we have in Iraq. Its only a matter of, Do we have the patience to endure.

This is not fucking rocket science folks. Bottom line is that Muslim nations do not have market driven economies. They are beg borrow and steal economies that have existed for centuries and it will take more time to achieve the successes needed to stabilize the region.

So do all the research you want! I didn't believe the whole email as is and I don't believe all of your responses either. Who is writing the history on this and what is the real truth? Fuck, who knows! Fuck, who cares! We as citizens of the US care because we a footing the bill for this endeavor and are still looked own on as an evil entity. But we must drive on and not stop until Iraq can survive without our troops in place. To that end I dedicate myself. Once our troops have left "God save the Queen" "God save Iraq" and God bless America (not necessarily in that order but blessings are important).

And another thing! We are not done in that region even after Iraq is stabilized. We have a long road ahead.............


Just another government worker voicing frustration over BS
I can't believe I even responded to this!!!!!!!

I can believe it. People get very angry when motives are questioned and deceits are exposed.

Just as stated, the intent in Iraq was "not articulated well". It's nice that this person has decided what it was anyway. I have a little different opinion.

The responder has a very good point that the information we get here is all slanted from the perspective of whoever is sending it. On the other hand, even if this person and I were both standing in Baghdad, I can virtually guarantee you we would see the situation differently.

Certainly I have the patience to endure. Certainly this "government worker" does as well. And of course, His Slowliness and his pack of Neo-convicts do. We're not there.

So, there you have it. I will continue to research. Whatever I turn up, it at least gives me another angle on the view, which is always more informative than just one view.

God and royalty. That's pretty much how we get where we go.

Thanks for writing, and...

Blessings, government worker.

Friday, December 26, 2003

Another honest admission - the Plame affair follow up

White House officials profess to be unconcerned about the outcome of the investigation. Some administration officials said they believe charges will eventually result, although it could be as long from now as 2005. A Republican legal source who has had detailed conversations about the matter with White House officials said he "doesn't get any sense at all that they're worried or concerned, or that they're covering up."

Still, the White House is eager for the findings to emerge soon, or wait until after the November election. "The only fear I've heard expressed is that the investigation will be too slow or too fast and will kick into a visible mode in a way that is poorly timed for the election," the Republican said. "If they prosecuted someone tomorrow, I don't think the White House would care. And they can do it in December 2004. They just don't want it to become an issue in the election."

And that, friends, is the Bush White House in a nutshell.

For background on the Plame affair, click here.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Just can't figure out why they hate us

"A lot of them just hate us because of collateral damage we cause while going after a legitimate target," said Captain Alex Williams, the brigade's S-2, or intelligence officer. "We try to limit follow-on attacks by giving on-the-spot `I'm sorry' payments."  article

Captain Williams, let me try to explain something to you.

1) These people are not likely to see themselves as "collateral damage". Get a freaking grip on human reality. Has the military jammed your head so far up your behind you can't figure that one out? Or was it already there?

2) Try to take this into the realm of humanity if you can. A "legitimate target" to you is a human being and family member to someone else.

3) "I'm sorry payments"? "I'm sorry payments"? Think about that just for one tiny fraction of a moment, Captain.

At this point, I think the phrase is, "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do." If I can get there. But right now, I'm still at, "You idiot son-of-a-bitch. Could you be any more disgusting if you tried? Perhaps some day your father or daughter or wife or brother will be either a legitimate target or simply collateral damage."

Abbas is one of dozens of men arrested by mistake during a series of nighttime raids in Samarra over the last week.

His detention and awkward repatriation illustrate the challenges faced by US soldiers trying to process dozens of informant tips, interrogate hundreds of detainees, and track several hundred more suspected guerrillas.

"Sometimes we get bad information," shrugged Captain Todd Brown.

...That was the purpose of the visit to the Abbas home on Monday. After questioning, Williams determined that Abbas was not, in fact, a fighter with the Fedayeen Saddam

But American officers believe that Abbas, like many well-connected Samarrans, knows who the insurgents are and could provide valuable information.

"We just want to turn him into a friend," Williams said. "If everyone in the town hates us, they'll continue to attack coalition forces, and they'll never help us."

So Brown's entire company of 120 soldiers pulled into a quiet Samarra neighborhood in their Bradley fighting vehicles and he duly sat down for tea in Abbas's living room.

..."It's the tea with terrorists program," Lieutenant Andy Sinden joked outside.

Real funny.

I don't know why they hate us.

Even Samarrans who are not actively involved in the resistance will not turn in known guerrilla fighters, [Sahib Noaman, chief of staff to Samarra's mayor] said. Each time American soldiers detain a local, he added, that man's family members join the resistance out of tribal loyalty.

And I just cannot imagine why.

At another house, Brown handed $300 to a man whose front door was blown up during a nighttime raid that netted no arrests.

Suspicion, however, still lingered on his mind. Just because military officials couldn't prove the man was a Fedayeen fighter, he said, circumstantial evidence suggested he was.

Looking at the released suspect, who was clutching a handful of $20 bills, Brown said: "He probably is the guy. He's going to take this money and buy 100 RPGs with it."

And now I am willing to say, that would serve as justice.

What has happened to America's humanity?

So proud to be an American. Support our troops.