Sunday, November 30, 2003

Meanwhile in Iraq

US troops in the Iraqi town of Samarra have admitted to perpetrating a bloodbath, with one occupation spokesman confirming nearly four dozen people were killed.

Lieutenant Colonel Bill MacDonald told journalists on Sunday that all the 46 were killed when troops fought off multiple attacks on military convoys.

But local residents said US troops killed innocent bystanders when they opened fire on anything that moved around midday.

....The top coalition commander in Iraq, Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez, had boasted Saturday of a "significant" fall-off in attacks in the region around Tikrit and Samarra following the launching of Operation Ivy Cyclone II.

But the end of the Eid al-Fitr holiday, which closed last week, has seen an explosion of violence against the US military and its allies.

Don't you just wish they'd keep their fat mouths closed?

Do I really need to keep reporting this stuff? How about if I just tell you that it's going very, very badly, and it's not getting any better - if anything, it just keeps getting worse. And then one day if that changes, I'll let you know.

NORAD records subpoenaed in 9/11 probe

A U.S. congressional commission has subpoenaed key records from the North American Aerospace Defence Command because the joint Canada-U.S. agency has not adequately responded to requests for information about the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks.

The commission is trying to determine whether there could have been a swifter response by Norad and other organizations the day of the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Norad scrambled several jets to respond to the terrorist strike by al-Qaeda, but they arrived too late to do anything.

John Judge, co-founder of 9/11 Citizen's Watch...said he believes there was enough warning to have fighter aircraft over Washington in time to prevent the attack. Flight 77 hit the Pentagon at 9:38 a.m. The World Trade Tower had been rammed at 8:46 a.m.

"We knew here for 40 minutes that this plane was coming, it was announced locally on the news that it was coming," said Mr. Judge. "And absolutely nothing was alerted. It's a complete breakdown in standard procedures."

He noted that U.S. Navy fighter jets were stationed just across the river from the Pentagon and at another nearby U.S. Air Force Base. Those planes were not launched.

According to various reports, Norad was informed that Flight 77 was hijacked around 8:31 a.m. Other reports state the time was 8:40 a.m.

You can find a full 9/11 timeline here. Also, here, including lead-up to 9/11.

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

Is the honeymoon over?

UNITED NATIONS - Britain and France want to turn the U.N. inspection force that worked in Iraq before the war into a permanent agency authorized to investigate biological weapons and missile programs worldwide, The Associated Press has learned.

The United States opposes the idea, diplomats and U.N. officials said, putting Washington at odds with its wartime ally Britain and in the same camp as Pakistan and Syria - Security Council members whose suspect weapons programs have caused international concern.

That's the third bit of info I've seen since Double-face's visit to London that has Britain on the opposite side of an issue as the U.S.

Hmmm...who would be against a permanent WMD investigative authority aside from countries with WMD? I could parrot to the administration the same cliché Asskkkroft and his ilk always prattle to "liberals" who are against further restrictions on civil liberties: you have nothing to fear if you have nothing to hide.

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

Group to visit Baghdad

I don't know how this is going to play out, but...

Sunday, Anabelle Valencia expects to arrive in Baghdad.

Valencia will join others around the country who will leave their hometowns today, forming a small delegation with other relatives of servicemen to bring a message of friendship for the people of Baghdad. They also will bring doubts about the United States' involvement in Iraq and the Bush administration's handling of the war.

...Valencia, a bilingual teaching assistant at Sunnyside High School, says while the trip has her too worried to sleep at night, she is excited for the chance to spread a message of peace from the United States to the Iraqi people.

"I want to talk with them and tell them that we here in the U.S. are their brothers," she said. "We do not want any more blood to be spilled."

Her journey begins at 1 p.m. today when she departs for Amsterdam to met with the rest of the delegation. They will board another plane to Jordan, before setting out on a dangerous, 12-hour drive to Baghdad, hoping to avoid detection by opposition forces by traveling in the dark.

...From Iraq, Valencia will head to Washington, D.C. where she hopes to be part of a news conference recounting what she will have learned during her trip to Iraq before meeting with members of Congress opposed to the war.

...While Valencia says she is scared to make the trip, she is confident that it will help her to see for herself what is happening in Iraq and share it with people when she gets back.

"Many people will listen to us, primarily in Washington," she said.

Pipe that lady up another dream.

And wish her luck.

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

The turkey's visit worked

Bad Cliches

The Weekly Standard's Matt Labash has an article with an important anti-propaganda message:

The War on Terror's Newest Bad Cliche
" . . . or the terrorists will have won" is replaced by a new, equally-annoying trope.
by Matt Labash
11/26/2003 12:00:00 AM

SOME DAYS, when the after party in Iraq isn't going so well--which is to say, most days--I'm put in mind of the Bush administration's admonition to be sunny-side-up journalists, to eliminate the negative, to accentuate the positive. God knows I try.

...Now, the most fashionable pre-fab rationalization to use when the news isn't going as swimmingly as we want it to, is to select a place in Iraq, then a corresponding place in America. If the two places start with the same letter, all the better. Next, state baldly that no matter how lousy things are going, you'd rather fight the terrorists / Baathists / whoever-it-is-we're-fighting in the first location, rather than the second. Lastly, sit back with a self-satisfied smile, as if that settles the matter.

...MORE CLOYING, however, is the tendency of Those Who Would Rather Fight to want to fight the terrorists in places that begin with the same letter as the places they don't want to fight, thus making their formulations annoyingly alliterative, like a bad Maureen Dowd column. The Boston Herald, for instance, wants to fight in Baghdad, "rather than mopping up after mayhem in Boston." A Fox commentator prefers "the Middle East so you won't have to fight them in the Midwest." New York governor George Pataki wants our troops fighting the terrorists "on the streets of Baghdad," rather than our firefighters fighting them "on the streets of Brooklyn." Representative J.D. Hayworth would rather "see the fight in Tikrit than in Tucson or Tacoma." And Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld scores a fighting hat trick, since he'd prefer the fight to go down in Baghdad rather than "in Boston or in Baltimore or Boise." Senator Kit Bond does Rumsfeld one better, wishing the fight to commence in Baghdad, "rather than Boston or Boise or Baldwin, Missouri, or Belton, Missouri."

Once you get the hang of the Where You'd Like to Fight The Terrorists game, it's easy to play, and lots of fun. Let's try it. Match the Iraqi cities where you'd rather fight the terrorists on the left to the U.S. cities where you don't want to fight the terrorists on the right. Then, check out the answer key below and see how good a terrorist-fighter you are.
(A) Umm Qasr
(B) Nasiriyah
(C) Karbala
(D) Basra
(E) Tikrit
(1) Kansas City, MO
(2) Tifton, GA
(3) Umnak, AL
(4) Nacogdoches, TX
(5) Beaver Falls, PA
A little practice, and you'll know exactly what to do if you find yourself down-wind on some Sunday morning gasbag show. Whenever the Iraq catastrophe of the day is brought up, just look the moderator in the eye, and tell him that you'd rather fight the terrorists in Salman Pak than in the Salmon River of Idaho. That you'd rather fight the terrorists in Safwan than San Antonio. (I've lived in San Antonio--great place to get Mexican, no place to fight terrorists.) Better Berkeley than Baghdad. Or vice versa. That one's a toss-up.

IT'S SIMPLE REALLY, to know where you'd rather fight the terrorists. It's considerably harder to fight them. Which is why this hoary cliché needs to be retired once and for all. For there's two things to keep in mind when declaring where in Iraq you'd rather fight the terrorists.

The first, is that we're not altogether sure we are fighting terrorists, in the al-Qaeda sense of the word.

...The second thing to remember, for most of the people declaring where they'd rather fight the terrorists, is that they are not personally doing much of the fighting. Who's to say if you were coming up on the 11th month of your deployment in a hostile country where the natives, instead of showing gratitude, showed you the business-end of an RPG-launcher, that you might not enjoy fighting the terrorists in a place where you could claim home-field advantage, have a warm bed, a cold beer, and the occasional conjugal visit from a woman whose name you could pronounce.

That's all fun and good. But, the real problem with the cliché is that it's a logical fallacy. Fighting terrorists "there" is simply no preventive for fighting them "here" - it all depends on where they strike. That's the thing about terrorism. You may preempt an invasion, but to preempt a terrorist strike is an entirely different matter. We've done neither in the case of invading Iraq. The Iraqis are not the terrorists. We are not fighting terrorists in Iraq.

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

AssKKKroft vs. Greepeace

In the case where two Greepeace activists boarded a ship heading for Miami carrying illegally harvested mahogany to post a sign which said: "President Bush, Stop Illegal Logging", the activists are being charged under an 1872 law that was enacted to prevent sailors being shanghai'd. The key to why Asskroft is pursuing such a ridiculous line is tagged in a UPI article:

If Ashcroft and company win, Greenpeace will lose its tax-exempt status and have to report activities to the Justice Department.

Watch Greenpeace's animated short: Administration's Most Wanted and take action to have the administration prosecute illegal logging and not Greenpeace.

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

Hillary almost upstaged Double-face

Well, we know that Hillary's visit to Afghanistan and Iraq over the Thanksgiving holiday was the likely motivator for His Slowliness the Dope's own visit...

She said the the current administration in Washington was "run by people who have been obsessed with Saddam Hussein for more than a decade".

She added: "And the fact that they could have been so poorly informed and prepared raises a lot of serious questions about the decisions they are making now."

But, did Mrs. Clinton vote against the invasion?


D.C. personalities:

All politics all the time.

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

Whistleblower charged

The woman who leaked the fact that the U.S. was tapping U.N. members' phones just prior to the vote on invading Iraq has been charged in Britain under the "Official Secrets Act".

I say there are precious few people left in this world with the conscience that she has.

Russian oil vs. OPEC

Russia and the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) are heading for a cold war, with Moscow now exporting more oil than Saudi Arabia, industry experts say.

The key issue is that Russians are refusing to go along with OPEC demands for a concerted drop in production, posing problems for the oil cartel.

OPEC oil ministers are scheduled to meet in Vienna on Thursday.

Russia does not belong to the organisation, but has become a prime mover on world petroleum markets, and there is not much OPEC can do about it, experts said.

Which makes the Sibneft-YUKOS-Exxon business all the more intriguing.

Trouble in the European Union

[France and Germany] stand accused of being the America of Europe—a two-headed superpower that has the rest of the European Union lunging at its throat. Their supposed crimes: flouting EU economic rules, scripting to their design a constitution that was meant to be a Magna Carta for all of Europe and generally hijacking the great European project.

The row burst into the open last week when France and Germany bullied their EU partners into accepting a temporary suspension of the EU’s stability-and-growth pact. Europe’s two largest economies have both violated its strictures, running too-high budget deficits.

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

Hmmm... what's this?

EU talking about establishing a "military planning arm that is independent of NATO". Guess which countries are talking? France and Germany. You guessed them. Did you also guess Britain?

Did you also guess that Rumsfiend is cautioning against it?

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

Anybody for more YUKOS news?

It appears now that there was a merger deal underway between Sibneft and Yukos which has been suspended. The news has caused YUKOS' shares to drop dramatically, and it's reported that there will be a global reaction in the energy market come Monday morning. (A little background is here in a previous post.)

I don't pretend to understand the current connection, but the Russian government at one time held shares in Sibneft. It is obvious from reading the Sibneft web information and from the meetings between Putin and a major shareholder in the oil company which precipitated the suspension of the merger that there is a close relationship between Sibneft and the Russian government, or merely Sibneft and Putin himself.

That "substantial" shareholder in Sibneft apprently met with Vladimir Putin a few days before vetoing the merger. Looks like Vlad may have had more in mind than just cracking down on business crime when he arrested YUKOS CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky. On the other hand, the handover of YUKOS to an Americanized Russian and his American assistants may have made it seem necessary to knock YUKOS back. There had been talk of a deal between YUKOS and Exxon Mobil before Khodorkovsky's arrest.

It's undoubtedly not that simple.

It seems that Sibneft wanted to name the merged company's CEO, an idea that was not approved of by YUKOS. Apparently there was a merger agreement in April that was assumed all but finalized, and now YUKOS is demanding a formalized written statement from Sibneft regarding the termination of the agreement. It's also interesting to note that there was another failed attempt at a merger in 1998 over "differences in strategy" (Sibneft website).

According to one article,

One individual close to Yukos indicated that if they failed to receive a letter from Sibneft formalising the end of merger talks, they were likely to seek independent arbitration which may end up in the London courts. It would not be a "quiet divorce", he said.

One individual with knowledge of both companies said on Sunday he believed the collapse of the merger - and the removal of Mr Abramovich as a powerful patron - could ultimately trigger the dismemberment of Yukos, through tax evasion charges of up to $10bn and the removal of its oil production licences.

And this is a Forbes lead:

MOSCOW, Nov 30 (Reuters) - Russian oil company Sibneft may have most to gain if it bails out of a sputtering $11 billion-merger, but its scorned partner YUKOS would be left in dire straits, analysts said on Sunday.

I'd say that was not an idea that wasn't considered by Putin. More and more, it seems to me that there was a good threat of American control over Russia's oil, and Putin has thrown up a block. I could be way off base on that, because there are some analysts saying that Sibneft could sell out to Exxon Mobil. We'll just have to wait and see. If it does, then I'll have to change my views of what Putin's been up to all along. That eventuality would make it less likely that he's protecting the country and more likely that he's lining his own pockets.

And this little paragraph on the Sibneft website makes me wonder even more:

The element of competition that Sibneft introduced for its own oilfield service affiliates is similarly applied to its international contractors, even its strategic partner Schlumberger. In addition to Schlumberger, Sibneft also works with Halliburton, Baker Hughes, BJ Services and other international oilfield service companies.

I suppose "working with" Halliburton is not necessarily "partnering" with Halliburton, but you know that name sends up red flags. And, the very next statement is this:

An interesting example of how Russian and Western contractors competed on a level playing field, and the Russian company won, was in a tender for the pilot development of the Sugmut field.

This is why I'm not involved in high finance and political intrigue. I have no more grasp of the finer points of the game than Georgie Double-dumb Bush.

In the end, I suppose I wouldn't be surprised to find Putin in the same elitist den of thieves as the Bush gang - just disappointed.

Stay tuned.

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

Meanwhile in Iraq

From Baghdad Burning, a young Iraqi woman's blog....

One of our Eid visits was to a close friend of my mother who lives in Al-A'adhamiya. In April, she lost her husband, son and young daughter when a tank fired at their car as they were trying to evacuate their house.

...A part of me knew that being there, sharing Eid with her, was the right thing to do- the proper thing to do. Another part of me felt like we were committing some sort of terrible sin and that it was just unforgivable to be sitting there, talking about rain and explosions when this woman's life had fallen apart on a black day in April. I couldn't decide which was worse- to see the agonized look in her eyes during moments of remembrance, or to see the vague, void look of indifference she'd sometimes wear when she disappeared inside of herself.

As we were leaving, I leaned down and hugged her, whispering "Akhir il ahzan…" and as I pulled away, she simply looked at me, shook her head and said, "Of course it'll be the last of my sorrows- there's nothing else to mourn because nothing else matters…"

Bush was in Iraq on the 27th. He made a fleeting visit to Baghdad International Airport. Don't let the name fool you- Baghdad Airport is about 20 minutes outside of Baghdad. It's in this empty, desert-like area that no one is allowed to go near. No one knew about it until he was gone and then we were all saying, "Huh? What was that about?!"

Everyone here sees it for what it is- just a lame attempt to try to look good. We actually expected him in Iraq during his Asia tour- he was bound to stop by for a good gloat. I just think the whole thing could have been a little bit less transparent (and I expected it would occur closer to elections).

Seeing him on tv was amusing- so why did he have to sneak into and out of Iraq with such secrecy? Why didn't he walk the streets of the country he helped 'liberate'? Why didn't he at least *hover* above the country he 'liberated'? He constantly claims the situation is much better now than pre-war, so why isn't he taking advantage of our excellent security situation?! We all sat there, watching him garble out the usual stream of words and shook our heads… he's just as much of an ass in Baghdad as he is in Washington.

I am curious about how the troops felt about his presence though… I'm sure the hand-picked group in the airport were elated, but I can't help but wonder about the troops stuck in Tikrit, Najaf, Falloojeh or Mosul… I imagine they'd much rather be at home.

The most amusing thing about his visit was watching Chalabi and Talabani jumping up and down at the airport, cheering and clapping as Bush made the rounds. Muwafaq Al-Rubai'i, also a member of the Governing Council, was just embarrassing- he was standing on tiptoe and clapping like a 5-year-old watching a circus clown. Later, he gushed about how happy the Iraqis were and how delighted the whole country was going to be, like he would know, almost as inaccessible to Iraqis as Bush himself is.

Bush must be proud today- two more 'insurgents' were shot dead in Ba'aquba: two terrorist sisters, one 12 years old and the other 15. They were shot by troops while gathering wood from a field… but nobody bothers to cover that. They are only two Iraqi girls in their teens who were brutally killed by occupation troops- so what? Bush's covert two-hour visit to Baghdad International Airport is infinitely more important…

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

Fire escape

I've added a helpful icon for people who might be reading my blog at a humorless, controlling place of work. Or maybe for malfeasants within the controlling conservative party who have someone looking over their shoulders. Or whatever. It's a quick-change icon that allows you to instantly go to a "safe" page.

It's called a fire-escape, and the icon looks like this:

You'll find it at the top and near the end of the sidebar.

I know there's a way to make the heading and sidebar stay put while you scroll down the posted material with frames, but I'll have to find those instructions again. It might not work out the way I want, and I'm not sure I want frames anyway. I'll check it out - my intent is to have the fire escape icon showing on your screen no matter where you are in the blog.

In the meantime, here's the explanation page and instructions for setting the fire escape to take you to a page (or application) of your choice. Go there and set up your fire escape.

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

Meanwhile in Yemen

The Yemeni government has said the United States will not be allowed to interrogate al-Qaida's top-most leader in the country. article

Well, they're phukt, aren't they?

The Interior Ministry said it nabbed Saudi-born al-Ahdal in a sting operation in Sanaa, after one of his associates was arrested in early November.

Gee, Saudi again.

However, London-based Saudi newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat said on Thursday that some US officials "doubt the truth of announcements made by Sanaa regarding anti-terror operations".

Oh, well, there you go. Never mind. They don't really have the guy.

The paper addded that "some US weapons sold to the Yemeni government were smuggled to Saudi terrorists".

Hmmmm...there's a way to get weapons to Saudi terrorists without direct sale, isn't there? Oh, sorry. Of course it was a total surprise that they would sell them. After all, you can't control them once they're out of your own hands.

Yemeni authorities slammed the "false" newspaper report aimed at misleading "world opinion over Yemen's serious and decisive position in fighting terror and undermining the growing relations between Yemen, Saudi Arabia and the United States".

Does anybody know who's on first?

As proof of Yemen's commitment to the fight against terror, the official said al-Ahdal's arrest was announced "four hours" after it took place on Tuesday.

The fight against terror. Global now, isn't it? A global hoax.

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

Friday, November 28, 2003

Now we're making Ronald Reagan movies

When they arrived at an airport gate, he and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice -- both wearing baseball caps -- lowered their hats to be incognito.

"We looked like a normal couple," he said.

A normal couple? A middle aged white man and a middle aged black woman with baseball caps pulled low?

"It was an emotional moment to walk in that room," he said later. "The energy level was beyond belief. I mean, I've been in front of some excited crowds before, but this was - the place truly erupted. I could see the, first, the look of amazement, and then, the look of appreciation on the kids' faces."   article

Well, if no one else, he sure loves himself.

The shades in the press cabin on Air Force One had been pulled down and both doors were closed, and the reporters only knew Bush was aboard when they heard the engines rev. After leaving Texas, the plane streaked towards Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland to refuel and pick up Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr. As he switched planes at Andrews, Bush spotted the reporters. He held his thumb and pinkie apart, and raised them to his ear, in the symbol of someone using a phone, and mouthed, ‘‘No calls, got it?’’ He emphasised the point by crossing his arms back and forth in front of him. He made the ‘‘cut’’ sign to his throat and mouthed again, ‘‘No calls’’. Air Force One took off for Baghdad 10 minutes later and Bush was asleep within 20 minutes. A little later, the cabin lights were turned off. Twenty minutes later, we touched down in Baghdad.article

Oh, come on! I was just about to back off my hard-nosed stance on this visit and cut the bonehead some slack. If this is the ridiculous kind of claptrap they are going to put out, I'm going harder yet. B-freaking-S. The reporters were alerted. They were sent there. And he played this sillly pantomime because...why? Because they weren't already told they had to keep mum? Sure. Because they were there because all on their own they ferreted out the secret surprise? Sure. Because they found out, but gosh, oh golly, jeepers, Uncle Bob, lookit that! It's the President! But, look, guys, he's askin' us to keep this important secret - for the country and all. Come on, guys, we're all in this together! Yeah! Yeah! Right! Go tell our boys we're behind 'em, Mr. President! We'll keep your secret! Right guys? Right! Right! God bless America!

And God bless our brave president, too!

God bless us every one!

Give me a freakin' break. And get me a real person in the White House. And get me some real reporters.

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

P.S. If you're not going to get me those things, then get me a better script writer - would you recognize "no calls, got it" by reading lips?

He sure falls asleep easily.

Update December 1: It only takes 40 minutes to get from Maryland to Baghdad? Further revelation of the bogus photo-op is in a follow-up post.

Hail the conquering hero

The president also chopped cedar [on his ranch Friday] and did some other mind-clearing chores around his land, Buchan said.

Those last chores didn't take long, I'd wager to say. What a putz. Like we're going to think this is a rugged All-American kind of guy. Dimestore cowboy.

Rice dodged questions about whether the Secret Service had lodged objections to the trip, saying only that agents were "prepared to go forward" and were "right in the middle" of the planning.

"I'm not going to try to characterize what they thought, but they were involved in the planning from the very beginning," Rice said. "The president made clear that he wasn't going to take undue risk."

And I say, another big BullF#%k. They apparently were having veritable fits about him going to London - how that was so spectacularly risky. And if you don't remember how much that cost us and the Brits in extraordinarily ridiculously over-the-top protection measures, then check back on my previous posts. Here. Or here.

What does that tell us about the idiot? He's more likely to be whacked in London than Baghdad? Is that a good sign?


Update on the secret visit

Bob has a link to an interesting article on Double-face's Iraq photo-op.

[Bush] said he "was the biggest skeptic of all" about the trip, but "our planners worked hard to answer all the questions -- and I had a lot of questions."

"I think Americans understand that we have a bunch of kids in harm's way, and that a president -- if it can be done safely -- owes an explanation of thanks and thanksgiving to these kids," he said.
"I understood the consequences and risks. And over time, I was assured by our planners and, as importantly, our military people and the pilot here of this airplane that the risk could be minimized if we kept the trip quiet," he said.

"I was fully prepared to turn this plane around."

Interesting, because another article that I looked at earlier today claimed the whole thing was Bonehead's idea - he got it while in Asia, and no one was privy to it until this week - not even his pickled wife till Wednesday. (Can't find that article - perhaps it was a misinterpretation and removed? The article above, however, repeats something similar: "A couple weeks ago, he said he had mentioned to first lady Laura Bush while in Asia that he was considering a Baghdad trip, but it wasn't until Wednesday when he told her he was definitely going." Another article says he told his wife and daughter on Wednesday, but that Pickles had known all along.) Yet another article reports that he says he told Pickles in October.

At any rate, the first article that Bob has pointed to has him acting like it was somebody else's idea. I suppose this way, depending on which way the public winds blow, he can claim either stance - it was all his idea, or he never thought it was a good idea in the first place.

Spin, spin, spin. We can only hope that our heads will be facing front again when they come to a stop.

Well, regardless, isn't he just the bravest? And so compassionate.

Yeah, right. He obviously wasn't that worried. We've seen the extent of the measures taken when he thinks he's in real danger. The real danger to him is not in Iraq, apparently, if you look at the protective measures and numbers of bodies he took with him yesterday compared to those for his London trip.

And, the real reason for the turkey's visit we found tucked into the end of an article - see my previous post.

That, and photo-op - election coming up.

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

Aha - the real reason for the turkey to pop in to Baghdad for a couple of hours on Thursday (Thanksgiving)...

Bush's brief visit upstaged Friday's arrival in Baghdad of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, who is visiting U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan along with Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I.


Meanwhile, in Baghdad

US soldiers kill two Iraqi sisters

Friday 28 November 2003, 15:09 Makka Time, 12:09 GMT

Two young Iraqi sisters have been shot and killed by US troops near Baqubah, some 60km (35 miles) north of Baghdad, police and family members said Friday.

American troops at Ibn Firnas airport, seven kilometres (four miles) from Baquba, shot Fatima and Azra, 15 and 12, on Thursday at midday as they were collecting wood from a field some 30m away, their brother said.

"Azra died on the spot and my other sister later died from her wounds," said 18-year-old Qusay.

Policeman Hussein Ali said US forces handed one of the girls' bodies over to the police "arguing that she had a gun in her possession."

Police searched the girls' home, "without finding anything illegal," Ali added.

There was no immediate comment from the US military.

Baghdad march

Meanwhile in Baghdad, police closed off the capital's main commercial thoroughfare on Friday for hundreds of Iraqis demonstrating against terrorism amid persistent fears of attack by anti-US insurgents or Islamic militants.

There was a brief flurry of panic at the front of the march as it passed the Palestine - Baghdad's best-known media hotel - and police halted the demonstrators because of a suspect car.

An aggressive search of the vehicle turned up no explosives and the rally was able to continue on its way.

But the security services were taking no chances with a rally insurgents were bound to see as pro-US.

A heavy Iraqi police presence accompanied the marchers while two US military helicopters hovered overhead.

Well, there's the answer to security for Iraqis, isn't it? Participate in pro-US marches.

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

Update Dec 2, 03: The case has since been reported as a civilian murder case. And the article in the link above now reflects that. At the time I originally posted, that was not in the report.

Buy Nothing Day

This is your reminder.
(See previous post.)

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

Thursday, November 27, 2003

Don't forget what day it is tomorrow.

I'll remind you again then.

November 28 is "Buy Nothing Day".

See Adbusters' home page.

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

More Bad News from Miami - medical team member was infected with a highly contagious disease

lNot good.
From IndyMedia:

Jordan of New Jersey Anti-Racist Action, who served on the medical team at the FTAA protests in Miami, died this morning of bacterial meningitis.

This disease is highly contagious. If you served on a medic team in Miami, or were treated by a medic, you should see a doctor immediately.

All others should visit the Medical Activists of New York website to learn about possible early symptoms of this highly deadly disease.

....but hey, do what you want....but.....

9/11 Widow's Lawsuit & Open Letter to the pResident

I haven't been able to find this anywhere except on a Democratic Underground discussion board, so caveat lector, but it is true that this woman is suing the prezidiot, Cheney, Asskroft, Rumsfiend, DoD, CIA, NSA, DIA and CFR.

Thursday, 27 November 2003, 1:36 pm

Press Release: Ellen Mariani Lawsuit
Open Letter To The President Of The United States

Mr. Bush,

This ''open letter'' is coming from my heart. I want you to know that I am neither a Republican nor a Democrat and that this is not an attempt to ''bash the Government''.

You Mr. Bush should be held responsible and liable for any and all acts that were committed to aid in any "cover up" of the tragic events of September 11, 2001. As President you have a duty to protect the American people. On September 11th you did not instruct your staff to issue a nationwide emergency warning/alert to advise us of the attack on America. We had to receive the news of the attacks via the news networks.

In the months leading up to the attacks you were repeatedly advised of a possible attack on American soil. During your daily intelligence briefings you were given information that had been uncovered that the very real possibility existed that certain undesirable elements would use commercial aircraft to destroy certain "target" buildings. You never warned the American people of this possible threat. Who were you protecting?

When you took no responsibility towards protecting the general public from the possibility of attack, you were certainly not upholding the oath you spoke when you took office. In that oath you pledged to uphold the Constitution of the United States of America.

On the morning of the attack, you and members of your staff were fully aware of the unfolding events yet you chose to continue on to the Emma E. Booker Elementary School to proceed with a scheduled event and "photo op". While our nation was under attack you did not appear to blink an eye or shed a tear. You continued on as if everything was "business as usual".

In the days following the attacks all air traffic was grounded and Americans, including myself, were stranded wherever they had been when the flight ban was imposed. I was stranded at Midway Airport in Chicago, unable to continue on to California for my daughter's wedding. Imagine my surprise when I later found out that during this "no fly" period a number of people were flown out of the country on a 747 with Arabic lettering on the fuselage. None of these people were interviewed or questioned by any local, State or Federal agencies. Why were they allowed to leave and who exactly was on that flight. We know for a fact that some of the people on the flight were members of (or related to) the royal family of Saudi Arabia and members of the Bin Laden family. Were these people allowed to leave because of the long-standing relationships that your family has with both families?

It is my belief that you intentionally allowed 9/11 to happen to gather public support for a "war on terrorism". These wars, in Afghanistan and Iraq, have not accomplished what you stated were your goals. Why have you not captured Osama Bin Laden? Where are Saddam's weapons of mass destruction? All that has happened is a bill that is passed before Congress for 87 billion dollars to rebuild what you ordered blown to bits. As an American who lost a loved one in the "war on terror" I do pray and support our troops who were sent to Afghanistan and Iraq by you. These troops have and will continue to die for your lies. As an American I can make this statement as it appears that associates of your family may stand to prosper from the rebuilding of Afghanistan and Iraq.

Mr. Bush the time has come for you to stop your control over us. Stop blocking the release of certain evidence and documents that were discovered by the 9/11 Investigation Commission if you have nothing to hide proving you did not fail to act and prevent the attacks of 9/11. Your reason for not releasing this material is that it is a matter of "national security". When in fact I believe that it is your personal credibility/security that you are concerned with. You do not want the public to know the full extent of your responsibility and involvement.

After 9/11 the Patriot Act and Homeland Security Act were passed. Both of these allow the government to tap your telephone, search your home, and seize whatever they feel they need to do on a whim. They can do this without a judge's review or a warrant. I feel that this is in direct conflict with our rights as stated in the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

We the families of 9/11 victims need to have answers to the following questions:

1. Why were 29 pages of the 9/11committee report personally censored at your request?

2. Where are the "black boxes" from Flight 11 and Flight 175?

3. Where are the "voice recorders" from Flight 11 and Flight 175?

4. Why can't we gain access to the complete air traffic control records for Flight 11 and Flight 175?

5. Where are the airport surveillance tapes that show the passengers boarding the doomed flights?

6. When will complete passenger lists for all of the flights be released?

7. Why did your brother Jeb (the Governor of Florida) go to the offices of the Hoffman Aviation School and order that flight records and files be removed? These files were then put on a C130 government cargo plane and flown out of the country. Where were they taken and who ordered it done?

It has been over two years since hundreds of our lost loved ones "remains" have still yet to be identified and their remains placed in a landfill at Fresh Kill. We want our heroes brought back and given a public and proud resting place where we all can pay our respects and honor them. These innocent people never had a chance as they were taken from us on that sad September Day.

In the court of public opinion Mr. Bush, your lies are being uncovered each day. My husband, all of the other victims and their families and our nation as a whole, has been victimized by your failed leadership prior to and after 9/11!

I will prove this in a court of law!


For Immediate Release: - 11/26/03

PRESS ADVISORY: News Conference - Wednesday - 11/26/03 - 12 Noon


(Lafayette Hill, PA - 11/26/03) - Philip J. Berg, Esquire, announced today that he, attorney for Ellen Mariani, wife of Louis Neil Mariani, who died when United Air Lines flight 175 was flown into the South Tower of the World Trade Center on 9-11 will be holding a news conference regarding the filing of a detailed Amended Complaint in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on 11/26/03 in the case of Mariani vs. Bush et al that will be alleging President Bush and officials to include but not limited to Cheney, Ashcroft, Rumsfeld and Feinberg that they:

1. had knowledge/warnings of 911 and failed to warn or take steps to prevent;
2. have been covering up the truth of 911; and
3. have therefore violated the laws of the United States; and
4. are being sued under the Civil RICO Act.

Berg stated: "I will be detailing the charges against Bush and others and handing out copies of the:
1. Amended Complaint;
2. a Letter from Ellen Mariani to President Bush that sets forth her beliefs that President Bush knowingly and willfully failed to act and prevent the murder of her husband on 911 and the ongoing obstruction of justice; and
3. a Sworn Affidavit that the United States government twenty-eight years ago undertook a study to prevent the very events of 911.
Mrs. Mariani was the first victim family member to bring civil action regarding the events of 911 against United Airlines. Since then, the "truth" of 911 has not been forthcoming and Mrs. Mariani, for the good of her country, now seeks the truth via this courageous action under the RICO Act.

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

Update December 05, '03: Thanks to Maru, I've just gotten the link for this story.

The human cost of war... not counted in lives lost.

I so agree with Bob who has laid out the true cost of war over at his Links & Rants page.

I was rewatching Band of Brothers, the HBO/Tom Hanks/Steven Spielberg production about the experiences of the Airborne Easy Company from D-Day through VE day in 1944-45. One segment shows the troops liberating a town in Holland. While most of the townsfolk are celebrating and welcoming the American soldiers, others are dragging out women who had slept with the Germans and shaving their heads in order to humiliate them. I'm sure many families were faced with shortages and potential starvation under German occupation, and many of these women slept with the Germans in order to get additional rations for their families. War forces people into impossible choices, even worse, in my opinion, than does a simple totalitarian system. To me, that is why anyone who starts a war by choice is probably the worst type of criminal there is. Perhaps George W. Bush should have his head shaved and be forced to walk the streets of Iraq, and face the jeers of those whose lives he has ruined.

He also talks about the latest Bush move in taking wives and children hostage - well, of course, they were just brought in for questioning, and what the hell is wrong with that?

This is the second time this despicable ploy has been reported in operation-whatever-the-hell-it-is in Iraq. No telling how often it is done without being reported.

And these warmongers are sitting down today with their own families in the land of way-more-than-plenty and feeling superior to the "enemy", likely without a thought for what their wars are forcing upon the unfortunate people in between them and their future payoffs. Without a thought even for the poor among their own citizens who will be hungry and perhaps cold today. Because, after all, there's a Salvation Army where they can get a meal if they want one. And if they're not in a city, then there's a local church group who probably collected cans of food and distributed them. And if there's not, then they need to go find a job.

God bless America.

Except for one extraordinarily compassionate conservative - George W. Bush - who is paying a "surprise visit" to Iraq today to be with the troops. It was top secret.

Okay, well, he spent only 2-1/2 hours there.

Without hinting of the enormous surprise to come, Iraq's US civil administrator Paul Bremer told the soldiers he was supposed to read the president's Thanksgiving proclamation to them but would instead defer to the most senior person on the premises.

At that point, Bush emerged wearing a military jacket and loud cheering began.

Do I hear the sound of shutters clicking?

Yeah, I hear you. I'm such a Bush-hater that he couldn't do anything right at this point - he couldn't do anything that would suit me.

The honest answer is, probably not. I've seen too much of him to be taken in. And he truly, truly needs some good PR and new photo ops for the campaign right now.

That's show-biz.

And I bet in that 2-1/2 hours with the troops he saw a lot of progress and "good stuff". Or, er, maybe he heard stories about it. I'm sure we'll hear.

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Today's parting thought

"Anyone who has the power to make you believe absurdities has the power to make you commit injustices."

- Voltaire, 1767.

Meanwhile in Venezuela

And if you look closely, you'll see in the shadows one other character with the power over Venezuela's future... George Bush. Fresh from bringing democracy to Afghanistan and Iraq, the US strongman has quietly turned his sights southward.

Mr. Bush has quite a different idea of democracy than the 'Chavistas' in the red t-shirts. Elections don't necessarily figure into Bush's picture of democracy. The White House once said that Chavez' winning a crushing majority of the vote in his 2000 election did not confer "legitimacy" on Chavez' presidency. Hmmm.

The director of the CIA, George Tenet, testified to the US Congress that Venezuela "worries" him. And that should worry the Venezuelans - except, of course, the blondes who, like the US president, seem to prefer their democracy without elections.

I have a page on my website keeping track of what's happening in Venezuela, as there is no doubt in my mind that it's high on our list of countries to be invaded.

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

Fairly unbalanced

I don't get it. PBS won't air the interview it did with author Michael Wolff because he isn't "fair and balanced". I really don't get it. Isn't the idea of being a fair and balanced news source (as PBS might be expected to be) that you present arguments from both sides of an issue? You probably aren't going to find many people to interview if you expect them each to be fair and balanced within their own views.

Oh well, here's Michael Wolff's response to PBS.

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

Orrin Hatch's staffer "compromised" the "secure" computers of the Dems

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch said Tuesday he had put one of his staffers on administrative leave for improperly obtaining data from the secure computer networks of two Democratic senators.

Hatch, R-Utah, said preliminary interviews suggested that a former Republican member of the committee staff may have also been involved in penetrating the Democratic computers.

Oh yeah. Didn't Nixon get into some serious trouble for essentially the same thing?

The affair.

Josh Marshall comments:

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch has placed one of his committee staffers on administrative leave for what the media reports are agreeing to call, with some delicacy, "improperly obtaining data from the secure computer networks of two Democratic senators."

(Reminds me of my pals who used to get kicks by improperly obtaining Snickers bars from the local drug store when we were in grade school.)

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

Oh yes, the screws are being tightened

One by one.

Congress has just passed a bill - hmmm, where was there any news of it? - limiting what college professors may teach.

This past month, Congress passed HR 3077, the "International Studies in Higher Education Act of 2003." The bill reauthorizes and extends Title VI programs that ensure that public funds are not used to support or further racial discrimination at educational institutions. Since 1964, area studies programs and the study of underrepresented languages have been supported by Title VI funding.

...Portraying academic institutions, particularly area studies programs, as hotbeds for anti-American sentiment, proponents of the bill proposed the creation of an advisory board that has the final word on curricula taught at Title VI institutions, course materials assigned in class, and even the faculty who are hired in institutions that accept Title VI funding.

Using the Solomon Amendment as precedent, the advisory board will also ensure that programs receiving Title VI funding encourage students to enter careers in government, including those related to national-security, by requiring that recruiters from U.S. government agencies be given regular access to students.


Banana Republicans

Speaking of being a banana republic....

The authors of Weapons of Mass Deception are writing a new book: Banana Republicans

Authors Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber will appreciate any information that you add to the Disinfopedia related to the topics above, but will of course do their own fact-checking and synthesis, using their own research and analysis to determine which information is appropriate for inclusion in the book. While they will not be able to acknowledge (except in the aggregate) individuals who contribute information via the Disinfopedia which is incorporated into the book, we hope that you will consider participating in what we see as an important experiment in developing democratic information systems. As with past books written by Rampton and Stauber, all author's royalties and other proceeds from the sale of Banana Republicans will go to their employer, the Center for Media & Democracy.

Click on the link above to view the topics they are covering, and to suggest topics if you wish.

Also, click here for Disinfopedia. It's a pretty interesting undertaking that I knew about since its inception but haven't been checking. I probably should. Hey! Maybe I just will. what I want....I will anyway.

Posts from the edge

Just checked in on an arborist forum where I used to regularly take a beating for my views on the war and the Butch administration. The following three posts are from a former Canadian paratrooper - well, he's still a Canadian - who's working as a civilian in Afghanistan - "for an up to a year long contract with SNC Lavalin/PAE doing Logistics supply chain support to the Canadian military engaged in Op Athena."

- I was in town when all this happened [rockets launched at the camp] so we were a bit late getting back as all the roads were off limits, and all the phone lines were otu of bounds (last time I leave here without a cell phone). First view of Kabul yesterday up close-EEEEYEW. Dunno if the rockets were intended to make a statement while the Minister of National Defence is visiting, but they were live, and on a time. People spent almost four hours in the bunkers until the all clear was given.

- It appears to be a lot worse there [Iraq] than it is here right now. My first trip into town is Wednesday-and I go unarmed albeit with an escort. This place is unbelieveable- little kids running around in rags in the pouring rain/41F temps. Apparently southern Afghanistan is a lot worse, and our AOR is bound to expand. I have had a lot worse jobs however!!! Again all the best.

- The world is indeed an ugly place at times and I see a lot of it here as well. We lost two of Canada's finest not three kilometres from where I write this less than one month ago. Even as a civilian I wear a kevlar Army helmet and flak jacket to work instead of a hardhat and chain saw pants.I do firmly believe that the closer good comes to winning the altercation we find us in, the more desparate the bad gets, resorting to such desparate measures. You should have seen our approach to Kabul in our Ariana Afghan Airlines A300; the pilot threw that huge plane through steep turns and slips to avoid exposure to ground fire until the last minute; no other airline will fly into here. You see the airline represents stability, and that is exactly what the Taliban want to disrupt. The exact same type of attack happened to a busload of German soldiers en route to R&R here, killing 33, which is why I rode from Kabul Airport in an APC wearing the aforementioned kit, hatches closed. Right now we are digging bunkers because there is a high risk of rocket attack on this location.

Here's his picture of the King's palace.

And here's an exchange between a middle-aged former military man (Hal) with a son in the armed services stationed in Afghanistan, who has been in Iraq for six months (just now back in Texas), and a Viet Nam vet. The six months have seen a change in Hal's position on getting into this war, although he has questioned the "leadership" the troops in the field have had from the beginning. He didn't post back after the response.

I've written privately to Hal a few times, and although he was very disturbed by my leftist view of the world and refusal to support the administration's moves, he eventually began to encourage me (perhaps a little begrudgingly) to keep reporting, as he said, people need to know what's really going on.


Hope you will understand but I need to do something.

Today a Chinook helecopter with 33 soldiers about to go on R and R was shot down North of Baghdad. 13 died and 20 are injured.

Why are we trying to assist a people who would do this? Is there a way we can possabily change things here if the people do not want to make a change?

To the wives and husbands, mothers and fathers of the soldiers killed and injured today; Your soldier is in my prayers.

35 years ago, a little farther around the planet than you are now, a lot of young American GIs had to learn the lesson you are learning now, myself among them, and even back then, it wasn't an easy lesson for American GIs.

Never go where you are not wanted without sufficient firepower to get the hell out, and the will to use it. There is something unnatural to Americans about a society that will use a 5 year old to execute an attack with a grenade, but those societys do exist.

The only difference I see today is that entirely too ???? much "media" is looking over your shoulder. War, and the control of geography isn't a PC situation, but all the pukes in the media seem to want it to be PC, again, not much different from 35 years back, other than the instant ability to send pictures around the globe.

The people you are fighting today have the clear impression that they can cause a withdrawl, just as Mogadishu caused Clinton to tuck his tail between his legs and run for cover. That impression needs to change, and will change.
In the meantime, remember your friends, and the only people you can trust wear the same clothes you do. Also remember, when you eat the King's bread, you fight the King's fight.

Here's a link to a site organizing airline tickets for soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq to get home for the holidays.

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

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Favorable media coverage

By golly, Bubblehead is going to get the coverage he wants one way or another. The Carlyle Group - you remember them, Georgie's Daddy just retired his post as Senior advisor, and they have their crooked little paws everywhere - is proposing to buy out the Daily Telegraph (UK).

A powerful banking group with close links to the Pentagon, which has also invested money on behalf of the Bin Laden family, is in talks to bail out beleaguered Daily Telegraph owner Conrad Black.

The revelation suggests that Britain's bestselling broadsheet - coveted by rival newspaper barons because of its political influence - may not go under the hammer after all, as Lord Black tries to quell a shareholder rebellion in the face of allegations that he and several acolytes pocketed millions of dollars that was not theirs to take.

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

Miami judges are part of the police state

Like we would have expected something better.

A University of Massachusetts freshman who says he suffered a severe head injury at the hands of police when they arrested him during FTAA protests last week remained at Jackson Memorial Hospital on Sunday.

...Edward Owaki, 19, originally charged with disorderly conduct, said that during his time in custody he received minimal medical treatment for his head wound -- despite his complaints of dizziness and vomiting spells.

He described his arrest on Biscayne Boulevard in downtown Miami during the first major clashes between police and demonstrators Thursday morning. As the protesters stood their ground, riot-geared police with shields pushed them back. He said he was linking arms with other demonstrators when police broke the human chain.

"I got pinned to the street for a few minutes. By the time I realized what was going on, I had my arms in plastic cuffs behind me," said Owaki, who is five feet six and weighs 130 pounds.

...After spending the night in jail, Owaki was one of more than 100 defendants who appeared for misdemeanor bond hearings Friday before Judge Ivan Hernandez.

Miami-Dade Assistant Public Defender Hugh Keough was outraged over the lack of medical attention Owaki was receiving in jail -- and told the judge so.

"He is constantly fading in and out of consciousness, your honor," Keough said. "He needs access to medical attention."

The prosecutors offered Owaki a plea deal of five days' probation, a special order forbidding him to return to the area surrounding the FTAA talks and the withholding of adjudication, which would keep the charge off his record.

His bond was set at $500.

"If he takes this plea, your honor, it's because he needs medical treatment," said Keough, who brushed Owaki's hair to the side in order to show the judge a contusion on his forehead. "The access to medical treatment in the jail is inadequate."

That made Hernandez take the plea deal off the table. The judge said he would not accept the plea arrangement because Owaki was not in his right mind and therefore could not make an informed decision, thus barring him from being released without posting bond....

"I'm concerned with the safety of this community," Hernandez said. "You just told me he was incapacitated. I will not accept the plea."

Despite that exchange, Owaki did not receive additional medical attention until after his friends bailed him out of jail at 8:15 p.m. Friday, according to Hall, the jail spokeswoman. The charge against him was reduced to failure to obey an officer.

He headed back to a protesters' gathering place in Allapattah. A medic at the protesters convergence center examined Owaki and realized something was wrong and sent him to the hospital.

Welcome to justice in the land of free speech.


GOP strong-arm tactics on Medicare bill

From Josh Marshall:

Yet another laugh-test failure ...

Nick Smith, the Republican congressman from Michigan's 7th district, says House GOP leaders threatened to support candidates running against his son if he didn't vote for the Medicare bill that just raced through the Congress.

(Smith's son, Brad, is running to replace his dad, who is retiring at the end of this term.)

Au contraire! says John Freehery, a spokesman for Speaker Denny Hastert. "What the speaker said," according to Freehery, "was that a vote on this would help him and help his son because it would be a popular vote."

Yeah ...

He didn't cave, you'll at least be happy to note.

"This was the most intense and strongest pressure to change my vote that I've ever experienced," said Smith, R-Addison, the only state Republican to vote against the bill, approved Saturday in the House,. 220-215.

There'll be hell to pay, Mssrs. Smith. Count on it. The GOP is the party of the vengeful. (And an elephant never forgets.)

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

Now this is rich.

Remember they charged this guy with espionage - aiding terrorists by relaying materials to and from Guantanamo prisoners. 'Member? He had maps of the compound and stuff. Here.

A Muslim chaplain accused of taking classified material from the U.S. prison for terrorist suspects in Cuba was charged Tuesday by the military with adultery and storing pornography on a government computer.

The military released Army Capt. Yousef Yee from custody and will allow him to return to duty at a base in Georgia, said Raul Duany, a spokesman for the U.S. Southern Command.

Yee, while back on duty, will be prohibited from having contact with prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the spokesman said.


The new Iraqi army

Billmon has an excellent critique of the new Iraqi troops.

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

Media ground rules at Ft. Carson

FORT CARSON - Ground Rule 9 for the media covering President Bush's presidential visit Monday sounded more like an edict from Beijing or a banana republic.

Perhaps it is time for us to come out of denial and realize that we have become a banana republic. With the Smirking Chimp in charge.

"Write positive stories about Ft. Carson and the U.S. Army," Ground Rule 9 commanded.

That would have been easier if Ground Rule 3 of the presidential visit had not also forbidden reporters to talk to any soldiers or their families before, during or after the president's appearance.

Ground Rule 6 - "no roaming" - amounted to a heavy-handed smack at the First Amendment. But it was an insult to the intelligence of military men and women and their families as much as it was an indictment of the media.

Standing before a 30-by-50-foot American flag, preaching to a choir of 4,000 uniformed, flag-waving troops, Bush wore an olive green flight jacket with a red and black Fort Carson insignia sewn on it. Family members of the dead gathered to his right. A couple of hundred soldiers sat behind him on the stage.

"This war depends on people in uniform and the support of their families," the president told them all.


I'm guessing his green flight jacket was his claim to be one of those in uniform. The Emperor's new clothes. He sure has lots of costumes, doesn't he? Dubbie's favorite holiday must surely be Halloween. Maybe he liked to play dress-ups when he was a kid. Hmmmmm...J Edgar liked to dress up, too.

I don't remember ever seeing a president in so many different get-ups. They usually just wore a suit and tie.

Disgusting dickhead. Grow up and get real.

Pardon my French.

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

You think they'll make Yahoo scrub this photo?

The Miami Model

From Naomi Klein at Information Clearinghouse:

The FTAA Summit in Miami represents the official homecoming of the "war on terror." The latest tactical and propaganda techniques honed in Iraq — from a Hollywoodized military to a militarized media — have now been used on a grand scale in a major U.S. city. "This should be a model for homeland defence," Miami Mayor Manny Diaz proudly said of the security operation that brought together over 40 law-enforcement agencies, from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, to the Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Yes, indeed. As I was saying in a previous post:

"P.S. Where were those recent urban military maneuvers? They're getting ready for an assault on our own cities. Pretend it's exercises to combat terrorists if you want. The terrorists they're preparing for are Americans."

And I must look up that information - I believe they were held on the West Coast, but for some reason Philadelphia keeps coming to mind. And I'm trying to remember when they were doing it, but can't recall whether it was pre-9/11 or post-9/11 - if before, it wasn't much before.
[D]espite the Bush brothers' best efforts, the dream of a hemisphere united into a single free-market economy died last week. It was killed not by demonstrators in Miami, but by the populations of Brazil, Argentina, and Bolivia, which have let their politicians know that if they sign away any more power to foreign multinationals, they may as well not come home.

The Brazilians brokered a compromise that makes the agreement a pick-and-choose affair, allowing governments to sign on to the parts they like and refuse the ones they don't. Washington will, of course, continue to try to bully individual countries and groups of nations into sweeping trade contracts on the model of the North American free-trade agreement, but there will be no single, unified deal.

Inside the Hotel Inter-Continental, it was being called "FTAA Lite."

Outside, we experienced something distinctly heavier: "War Lite." In fact, the more control the U.S. trade representatives lost at the negotiating table, the more raw power the police exerted on the streets.

"Our goal was to drown you out," one Miami-Dade police officer explained to me, and that's exactly what they did. Small, peaceful demonstrations were attacked with extreme force; organizations were infiltrated by undercover officers who then used stun guns on activists; busses filled with union members were prevented from joining permitted marches; dozens of young faces were smashed into concrete and beaten bloody with batons; human rights activists had guns pointed at their heads at military-style checkpoints.

Police violence outside of trade summits is not new, but what was striking about Miami was how divorced the security response was from anything resembling an actual threat. From an activist perspective, the protests were disappointingly small and almost embarrassingly obedient, an understandable response to weeks of police intimidation.

Listening to the incessant roar of helicopters and the march of police boots, I couldn't shake the feeling that something new was going on. It felt less like we were the targets of this operation than the target practice, unwitting extras in an elaborate military drill.

I think you have just hit the key, Naomi.
But in order for the Miami Model to work, the police first had to establish a connection between legitimate activists and dangerous terrorists. Enter Miami Police Chief John Timoney, an avowed enemy of activist "punks" who repeatedly classified FTAA opponents as "outsiders coming in to terrorize and vandalize our city."

With the activists recast as dangerous aliens, Miami became eligible for the open tap of public money irrigating the "war on terror." In fact, $8.5-million spent on security during the FTAA meeting came directly out of the $87-billion President Bush extracted from Congress for Iraq last month — a fact barely reported outside of the Miami press.

But more was borrowed from the Iraq invasion than just money. Miami police also invited reporters to "embed" with them in armoured vehicles and helicopters. As in Iraq, most reporters embraced their role as pseudo-soldiers with unsettling zeal, suiting up in ridiculous combat helmets and brand-new camouflage flak jackets.

Local television stations didn't cover the protests so much as hover over them. Their helicopters showed images of confrontations but instead of hearing the voices on the streets — voices of demonstrators pleading with police to stop shooting and clearly following orders to disperse — we heard only from senior police officials and perky news anchors commiserating with the boys on the front line.

Meanwhile, independent journalists who dared to do their jobs and film the police violence up close were actively targeted. "She's not with us," one officer told another as they grabbed Ana Nogueira, a correspondent with Pacifica Radio's Democracy Now! who was covering a peaceful protest outside the Miami-Dade county jail. When the police established that Ms. Nogueira was indeed "not with us" (i.e. neither an embedded reporter nor an undercover cop) she was hauled away and charged.

Those unnamed sources

Being forced to use unnamed sources has often angered reporters, except in the cases where they invite the leak.

CBS White House correspondent Bill Plante says the game of identifying SAOs is an old one. He and Sam Donaldson would try to slip silhouettes of unnamed sources on the TV screen.

Henry Kissinger, who made background interviews a maddening art form, once offered reporters an endless interview on a long plane ride during the Ford administration. Then Post editor Ben Bradlee was so furious at the constraints that he ran Kissinger’s photo over the SAO caption.

So far the Bush administration has maintained discipline over its talking troops. But as the political season matures and the White House needs to get its message to receptive reporters, it might be forced to loosen its grip.

This Washingtonian article gives you names from the various government departments that you might expect to be the quoted sources referred to in the press as "Senior Administration Official".


Bill Keller says he will soon announce a policy at the New York Times that "cuts back on the reflexive use and the pointless use of anonymous sources," which has "gotten out of hand."  article

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

No, Mr. President

A John Kerry ad responds to GOP ads that say people are attacking His Slowliness the Dope for attacking terrorists.

And those "Mission Accomplished" photo-ops? Oooops. They're being used alright.

Windows Media DSL   56K
Real Player DSL   56K


Opening schools and firing the teachers

November 22, 2003

America's top man in Baghdad, L. Paul Bremer, last week fired 28,000 Iraqi teachers as political punishment for their former membership in the Saddam Hussein-dominated Baath Party, fueling anti-U.S. resistance on the ground, administration officials have told United Press International.

A Central Command spokesman, speaking to UPI from Baghdad, acknowledged that the firings had taken place but said the figure of 28,000 "is too high."

He was unable, however, after two days, to supply UPI with a lower, revised total.


No. I don't have anything to say. We're living in a f#%king nightmare 3-ring circus. What's to comment?

But read the article. At least other officials are criticizing Bremer. For whatever good that might do. I think after the microphone was cut off, they were heard to say:

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

Just say no to Colin Powell

Powell wants young people to abstain from sex.

Sabrina Becker says, not only is that ridiculous, but: "We all need to remember that war has killed more people the world over than AIDS ever will. Maybe it's time the world just said no to Mr. Powell."

I'm on board.

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

No lie too big to handle for Despicable Liar

November 25, 2003 Misleader:

President Bush yesterday said that we "put the Taliban out of business forever" - taking credit for supposedly ridding the world of the terrorist regime. He made these comments just a day after the Taliban launched a rocket attack on Kabul's most prominent hotel. It was also one day after Reuters reported Mullah Omar, the Taliban's still at-large leader, "urged Afghans to unite against U.S.-led foreign forces on their soil" and the same day Afghanistan's Foreign Minister desperately requested more international help in fighting off Taliban guerillas.


Recent headlines from POAC:

11-22 TALIBAN on the rise in Afghanistan MSNBC
11-22 Taliban Wage Major Battle In Khost, 14 Afghan Soldiers Killed
11-20 KABUL, Afghanistan - Unable to protect its staff from Afghanistan's cascade of violence, the UN refugee agency on Tuesday pulled international workers out of Afghanistan

Miami blowback - United Steel Workers are demanding a Congressional investigation

Read the whole thing for complaints, descriptions of ugly and outrageous police action and demands for Congress:

November 24, 2003

Honorable Bill Frist
Senate Republican Leader

Honorable J. Dennis Hastert
Speaker of the House

Honorable Tom Daschle
Senate Democratic Leader

Honorable Nancy Pelosi
House Democratic Leader

Honorable Tom DeLay
House Republican Leader


Last week, the fundamental rights of thousands of Americans — including our Union's active members and retirees, members of other AFL-CIO unions, our allies in the Citizens Trade Campaign and Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch, as well as members of United Students Against Sweatshops — who had gathered in Miami to peacefully protest the creation of a Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) were blatantly violated, sometimes violently, by the Miami police, who systematically repressed our Constitutional right to free assembly with massive force, riot gear and armaments, including combat vehicles.

It is condemnable enough that a massive police state was created to prevent American citizens from directly petitioning FTAA negotiators for redress of their grievances, for there can be no doubt that using massive armed force to deny us the right to publicly and peacefully confront them put the full powers of the state in the service of the multinational corporations and financiers who singularly benefit from the expansion of so-called "free trade."

It is doubly condemnable that $9 million of federal funds designated for the reconstruction of Iraq were used toward this despicable purpose. How can we hope to build democracy in Iraq while using massive force to dismantle it here at home?

The obvious purpose of the repressive police presence in Miami was, at a minimum, to intimidate us and limit the exercise of our rights. Phalanxes of police in riot gear stretched for blocks, as did police cars buttressed bumper to bumper. These heavily armed forces gratuitously instigated tensions by forcing demonstrators to pass through narrow gauntlets merely to enter sites for which the AFL-CIO had secured permits for rallies and parades. Indeed, a manned, armored personnel carrier sat poised within a few yards from the entrance to the venue.

The specter of thousands of union members, many of whom have served the nation with great honor in combat, being forced to walk such a gauntlet, as if they were a common enemy rather than law abiding citizens united in common cause, was truly appalling.

Unfortunately, the exercise of unwarranted force was even worse, in many instances, than the affront created by its threat.

• When the wife of a retired Steelworker from Grantsville, Utah, verbally protested what she considered the abusive treatment of a student activist at the entrance of the AFL-CIO rally on Friday, November 21, she was slammed to the ground face down by police and a gun was aimed point blank at the back of her head. A Steelworker who witnessed the violent repression reported that she was so terrified that her entire body was literally vibrating.

• In a case of blatant entrapment, a secretary in our International Headquarters in Pittsburgh, and a local Steelworker activist from Wisconsin who had worked all day as a parade marshal and was wearing a bright orange marshal's vest emblazoned with the words "AFL-CIO Peace Keeper," were returning to their hotel, when they were directed by armed police to abandon the sidewalk and to proceed down a set of trolley tracks. Once on the tracks, they were immediately pounced upon by armed riot police, handcuffed and arrested. They were forced to remain in cuffs for hours on end, even when visiting the washroom.

• The Co-Director of Citizens' Trade Campaign was forced to the ground and had a gun put to the back of her head while peacefully attempting to enter the AFL-CIO rally at the Bayfront Amphitheater. Furthermore, the headquarters of Citizens' Trade and Global Trade Watch were surrounded and under constant surveillance by armed riot police.

These were just some among countless instances of humiliating repression in which the Miami police force disgraced itself.

Based on these disgraceful circumstances, we believe several actions should immediately be taken.

First, Miami Police Chief John Timoney should be fired.

Second, all charges against peaceful demonstrators should be dropped.

Finally, since federal funds helped finance the violation of our members' constitutional right of free assembly, a Congressional investigation into the Miami Police Department's systematic repression should immediately be launched. To do less would be to endorse homeland repression in the guise of homeland security.

Leo W. Gerard
International President
[United Steel Workers of America]

cc: USWA International Executive Board
Manuel A. Diaz, Mayor, City of Miami
Alex Penelas, Mayor, Miami-Dade County
Katherine Fernandez Rundle, State Attorney
Alejandro Vilarello, City Attorney
Jeb Bush, Governor


Police State


A reporter for an alternative weekly newspaper said Monday that she doesn't understand why she was arrested during last week's protests outside the Free Trade Area of the Americas meeting.

Miami New Times reporter Celesete Fraser Delgado, 36, said she was interviewing protesters opposed to the proposed 34-nation free-trade pact Thursday when a Miami-Dade County police cruiser pulled up and an officer yelled at the group to get on the ground.

The protests had turned sporadically violent Thursday, with some demonstrators throwing objects and firing slingshots at officers and some officers hitting protesters with sticks, zapping them with stun guns and dispersing them with gas.

But Delgado said she and the others complied peacefully. She said she was handcuffed and put into a police van even though she told officers she was a reporter.

"I kept asking them 'What am I being detained for?' but they wouldn't say. In the paddy wagon we could hear the police officers arguing about what they were going to charge us with," Delgado said.

Delgado was charged with two misdemeanors, failure to obey a legal command and resisting arrest without violence. The charges were dropped Friday and she was released.


Resisting arrest without violence. In other words, asking why you're being arrested.

Deb forwards Miami FTAA notes from Starhawk - activist, organizer:

We are laughing and joyful, but as we are singing, over at the jail vigil a few blocks away the police declaire an illegal assembly. They tell people to get on the sidewalk and they'll be safe. Then they surround the group on the sidewalk, beat people to the ground, kneel on their spines and arrest them. (Note: this corroborates the video and reports from IndyMedia. Some still photos are here.)

Sobered, we go back to the convergence center to secure it, and pull together a debrief meeting. It's hard to debrief at this moment, when shit is still happening, I say, but it's a part of our resistance, a way of saying that our movement is strong and will continue and will grow.

In the middle of the debrief, a friend comes up and tells me that Abby and her friends have been badly beaten up, jumped by cops on their way home to their hotel, her sweet, lovely face pushed into the pavement.. "We could kill you here," the cops tell them.

I am really shaken. During the break I go off into the field and lay my head in Ruby's lap and just sob.

11/22 The School of the Americas
(Note: IndyMedia coverage of that protest is here.)

I wake up early, catch a plane to Georgia, get driven to the School of the Americas protest to shut down the institute that trains torturers and murderers for Latin America. I have promised to speak, and I speak about the connections - that the SOA trains torturers to enforce the global economic system we are fighting at the FTAA, which can only be sustained by police and military power, as we've seen in Miami. Today is the rally, very calm and peaceful except for the military music blasted from the base to try and drown out the rally.

The news from Miami comes in through the day, bad and worse. Our friends are being tortured in jail. We hear about a young Latino man, taken out and brutally beaten, pepper sprayed and not allowed to wash. They are being kept in cages with no toilets, forced to pee and shit on the floor, then hosed down under the pretence of cleaning the cages. The young anarchists of color are being especially targeted. I am sick with worry for a few friends in particular, and for any immigrants that might be among the group, subject to deportation or disappearance. We hear rumors of sexual assault. (Note: this echoes information on IndyMedia's site.)

...This week we have seen a blatant and ugly form of repression reveal itself. We have been targeted and attacked, not for anything we've done but for who we are and what we stand for. Yet I hear no one suggesting we stop, or give up - only thoughtful consideration of how we support each other and move forward, for we all know that if we don't, we will live with the boot in the face and the nightstick at the skull in unrelieved, grim, despair.

Tom forwards a Miami Herald article on a new piece of legislation currently under fire in Florida. Some folks, prodded by the NRA, want to limit police computer records of gun ownership to a thirty-day window. I can't see how that's going to protect anybody's right to anonymously own a gun, which is what the NRA is supporting. The cops would just be forced to make another computer list of gun-owners and call it something else - I don't know - terror suspects or something. They might not have the gun information in it, but they'd still have a list of gun-owners. According to this article, however, it seems the police would be allowed to keep records on paper, but not in computers, which also doesn't make any sense. Surely that's a misreading - the article isn't clear. But, from my reading, it just seems like a law that will hobble the police in their work at trying to solve crimes. (And I'm not going to look up the bill - if you want to get the actual wording, be my guest - I doubt I could get a much clearer idea from reading a bunch of legalese designed to keep people from truly understanding what's being enacted anyway.)

One thing the article does do, however, is to label this an "anti-cop" law. That's a little over the top, and it might not be the best way to present it in a positive light, especially considering the police action in Miami this week. I might be willing to vote for an "anti-cop" law if I thought it would limit that kind of police state brutality. Which this gun law wouldn't.

I used to be a proponent of strict gun control, even so far as to banning private ownership of guns. Not any more. I no longer trust our government administrators, our law enforcement agencies, or our justice system. I truly think the last thing that will stand between us and total tyranny is the fact that we can own guns. I sincerely hate it, but I think that's the reality of the situation. And, in the end, even that wouldn't be enough. The guns we can own are no match for the type of arms the police have. Just check some of those Miami photos. I don't know. But I'm not ready to disarm the citizenry yet. And I have to agree with that old cliché if we outlaw guns, then only outlaws will have guns.

I know there is a tremendous amount of deadly crime (and even deadly accidents) due to that same fact - that we can own guns, and I hate that, too. But the underlying reasons for the crime need to be addressed, and we don't do that. We are real good on after-the-fact action, and very poor on preventive activity. Because we'd have to address very real social injustices, and that will never happen.

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

P.S. Where were those recent urban military maneuvers? They're getting ready for an assault on our own cities. Pretend it's exercises to combat terrorists if you want. The terrorists they're preparing for are Americans. Whole armies of foreign terrorists on the order of what would make war in the streets of America have no way of getting into the country. Are they already here?

Iraqi resistance fighters are changing tactics

Well, in the press conference, Bremer did not call them resistance fighters.

Insurgents are trying to intimidate Iraqis from working with the U.S.-led coalition by targeting them more often, the U.S. chief administrator Paul Bremer said on Tuesday.

"They have failed to intimidate the coalition. They have now begun a pattern of trying to intimidate innocent Iraqis." -- Paul Bremer

Unlike the Coalition which attacks innocent Iraqis but fails to intimidate the resistance.


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

Monday, November 24, 2003

It's the Clenis again

No matter how much havoc Napoleon Bonehead, George the Double-faced, wreaks upon the world, he just can't keep Clinton out of the spotlight.

Link-hopping got me to this amazing book cover:

No mistaking that message is there?

From the Newsmax website:

Catastrophe [Clinton's role in America's worst disaster] begins on January 20, 1993, when William Jefferson Clinton took the oath of office as the 42nd president of the United States of America. Clinton swore to “preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States” from enemies both foreign and domestic.

During the next eight years, Bill Clinton would preside over the most corrupt administration in American history. He would be only the second president in American history to be impeached.

Very funny. The "most corrupt administration in American history". Really? I'd be willing to wager that it would not merit that distinction, assuming, of course, that one could find a standardized way to measure.

And the impeachable offense itself was a corruption of government? A lie? There wouldn't be a president left unimpeached if that were the case.

(And I won't mention the name of chickenshit criminal Richard Madhouse Nixon who resigned before impeachment proceedings could be brought. Nor will I mention that Clinton's impeachment was defeated, and therefore the charge of impeachment without removal from office may be considered an unsubstantiated charge.)

When Bill Clinton took office, American supremacy on the world stage had never been so great and unchallenged. Our military was without equal. The economy was beginning a record boom.

Soon after Bill Clinton left office, Americans began to discover his bitter legacy.

So that's what we're calling Georgie these days? Works for me.

When Clinton left office we weren't public enemy number one. Thanks to Bitter Legacy, we can once again claim supremacy on the world stage.

Even as Clinton was leaving Washington, the American economy had begun to move into a serious recession.

And America’s belief in invulnerability was shattered on September 11, 2001, when 19 Arab hijackers slammed civilian jets into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Excuse me. First of all, America's belief in invulnerability, if it existed, was just that - a belief. And a damned ridiculous and self-delusional one if we had it.

Regardless, the more important point I'd like to make here is: who was in the White House on September 11, 2001? If memory serves me, it was Bitter Legacy himself.

Catastrophe exposes what really happened during the Clinton years, and how Bill Clinton and his administration systematically undermined America’s national security by emasculating the U.S. military and the nation’s intelligence agencies.

I'm sure.

"Emasculating" is an interesting choice of words to use - loaded. And a clear clue as to whom this book will appeal.

And, as Michael Ruppert points out in his From the Wilderness Article, Failure and Crime Are Not the Same:

The American side of 9/11 (the suppression of warnings, the sabotage of investigative action, the stand-down, the insider trading, the Patriot Act, the pre-planning of the Afghan and Gulf II wars, the cover-up) was surely not built years in advance as a coherent and integrated plot using Al Qaida as assets. It was not hatched in some CIA basement. No, it was built the old-fashioned way, out of the accumulated toxic waste generated from preceding American adventures. This time around, these included the Carter - Reagan Afghan War against the USSR that produced Al Qaida; the Bush crime family and their Mahfouz / bin Laden ties; the matrix of oil and financial interests that Cheney, Rice, and Bush Sr. represent; the Clinton administration's systematic and relentless protection of the Taliban and refusals to capture Osama bin Laden; the abortive pipeline negotiations with the Taliban (represented by Richard Helms' niece); and the hidden alliance with Pakistani Intelligence (ISI). In other words, what led up to 9/11 was the systemic and ongoing deep politics of guns, oil, drugs, and war.

Here in the "Homeland," what flowed from 9/11 is the newly expanded American infrastructure of fiscally disastrous militarism and unconstitutional domestic repression. Every major budgetary and policy consequence of the attacks seems like the fulfilled dream of one or another megalomaniac. For instance, I think of the Patriot Act as John Ashcroft's sweet slice of the post-9/11 pie. The Central Intelligence Agency got billions of dollars and the key to the statutory "shackles" of the Church Committee - and the Constitution - that had bound its hands. Rumsfeld's Defense Department and its arms merchants got an ocean of new money. Bush got some respect and a mandate. Cheney got his reconstruction contracts.

And perhaps Clinton is making hay from the event, too. I don't know if he had any part in PNAC or P2OG. I haven't seen that reported anywhere - they both appear to be wholly concocted by the ultra-right. Certainly he had his part in the shame of American politics, and is no doubt making money from more than one shady deal with shady foreign, military and corporate entanglements. On the other hand, he was not in office when the WTC was attacked, he did not ignore the warnings from various intelligence agencies, he did not give the command for intercepter aircraft to stand down, and he is not engaged in stalling and covering up the investigation. I will never defend Clinton. He was just light years better than Cowboy Codpiece.

I mean, Bitter Legacy.