Wednesday, June 30, 2004

What was once in darkness....

Oh yes, these are the end times. Can I get a witness?

Remember the CIA agent whose recently published book was done anonymously? (Maybe I was wrong when I last considered the angle.)

The active U.S. intelligence officer known only as "Anonymous," who has gained world renown this month as author of an upcoming book called "Imperial Hubris," is actually named Michael Scheuer, according to an article in the Boston Phoenix today by Jason Vest.

...Anonymous has appeared in brief television interviews always in silhouette.

According to Vest, "Nearly a dozen intelligence-community sources, however, say Anonymous is Michael Scheuer -- and that his forced anonymity is both unprecedented and telling in the context of CIA history and modern politics."

...Vest in his article notes that "at issue here is not just the book's content, but why Anonymous is anonymous. After all, as the Times and others have reported, his situation is nothing like that of Valerie Plame, a covert operative whose ability to work active overseas cases was undermined when someone in the White House blew her cover to journalist Robert Novak in an apparent payback for an inconvenient weapons-of-mass-destruction intelligence report by her husband, Joseph Wilson. Anonymous, on the other hand, is, by the CIA's own admission, a Langley, Va.-bound analyst whose identity has never required secrecy.

"A Phoenix investigation has discovered that Anonymous does not, in fact, want to be anonymous at all -- and that his anonymity is neither enforced nor voluntarily assumed out of fear for his safety, but rather compelled by an arcane set of classified regulations that are arguably being abused in an attempt to spare the CIA possible political inconvenience. In the Phoenix's view, continued deference by the press to a bogus and unwanted standard of secrecy essentially amounts to colluding with the CIA in muzzling a civil servant -- a standard made more ridiculous by the ubiquity of Anonymous's name in both intelligence and journalistic circles."

When asked to confirm or deny his identity in an interview with the Phoenix, Anonymous declined to do either, explaining, "I've given my word I'm not going to tell anyone who I am, as the organization that employs me has bound me by my word."

Jonathan Turley, a national-security-law expert at George Washington University Law School, told Vest, "The requirement that someone publish anonymously is rare, almost unheard-of, particularly if the person is not in a covert position. It seems pretty obvious that the requirement he remain anonymous is motivated solely by political concerns, and ones that have more to do with the CIA."
  Media Info article

If you follow politics, one thing you are not these days is bored. It is so hard to keep a secret any more.

But, you know me. I'm forever encouraging whistleblowers. Go ahead. Let the light in. The world has lived in darkness for too long.

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

Shades of Rwanda

In Sudan, Powell needs to call it what it is. And here's why (from a mailing):

A major human tragedy is unfolding in Sudan, one that has reportedly
claimed at least 30,000 lives, and could claim hundreds of thousands more unless the world community works together, starting immediately,
to end it.

Although Secretary of State Colin Powell is in Sudan now, he has yet to declare that the atrocities there constitute genocide. Such
recognition would make a huge difference, catalyzing the world community to help stop the bloodshed. Powell should also publicly
condemn the genocide -- so far, he has stopped short of that.

Please call Powell today at:

Secretary of State Colin Powell
202-647-4000 or 202-647-6575

Urge him to:
- Immediately declare the atrocities in Sudan to be "Genocide"; and
- Publicly condemn them.

Please also call your Senators and Representative. Urge them to demand that the United States recognize the genocide and condemn it.

Please let us know you're calling, at:

Sudan's government is orchestrating a genocide [1] against people living in the country's Darfur region, who have challenged the government's authoritarian rule. In addition to tens of thousands of killings, there is widespread rape, and poisoning of water systems. Up to one million people have reportedly been displaced from their homes.

More than 130 countries are obligated by the 1948 Genocide Convention to prevent and punish such crimes against humanity. So even if the
United States sends no troops to Sudan, formally recognizing the genocide would enable the U.N. security council to authorize other countries, like Germany, France, and Spain, which don't have troops to Iraq, to help stop the killing in Sudan.

We could also take another simple step, and publicly condemn the genocide. This would send a powerful signal that the world is watching, not looking the other way. "Genocide is still calibrated to the international reaction," writes Nicholas Kristof in the New York Times.

Whenever genocide has occurred before, the world community has vowed, "never again." Yet today, it is happening again.

The Bush administration has failed so show leadership on Sudan. For example, President Bush passed up a prime opportunity to highlight the
issue at a recent G-8 summit, although it was reportedly discussed in private there.

Is President Bush now so preoccupied with Iraq that he is incapable of action on emergent issues of the day? Sadly, the answer appears
so far to be yes.

Please help stop this genocide, by making your calls today.


- Carrie, Joan, Lee, Noah, Peter, and Wes
The team
Wednesday, June 30th, 2004


New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof has written a moving series of columns from Sudan, many of them focusing on the personal experiences of a young woman there named Magboula. You can read them at:

1. "Dare We Call It Genocide?"
(Archived and available for purchase)

2. "Sudan's Final Solution"
(Archived and available for purchase)

3. "Magboula's Brush With Genocide"

4. "Dithering as Others Die"

Newspapers everywhere are calling for action:

The Washington Post: "As Genocide Unfolds"

The New York Times: Time for Action on Sudan
(Archived and available for purchase)

Calls for action from newspapers throughout the country have been
compiled by the Center for American Progress, at:


[1] Genocide is defined as "the systematic and planned extermination of an entire national, racial, political, or ethnic group."

Cleaning up Saddam's security forces

The United States released hundreds of inmates after determining they posed no danger.

But some of the former detainees and former Saddam security forces had joined forces with Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi, Time said.

The United States blames Zarqawi for many of the bloodiest attacks in Iraq. Commanders told Time that Zarqawi did not personally direct the attacks, but set long-term strategy.

The recruited former regime officers, once known for their wayward behaviour, were no longer drinking or smoking, they told Time.

They said they wanted to turn Iraq into another Afghanistan, as it was before the 2001 US invasion - a place for groups like al-Qaeda to flourish.
  The Australian article

Way to go USA.

Who's the boss?

In recent weeks, however, the astonishing range of Cheney's influence has been on display in virtually every controversy involving the administration. The chain of events drew Cheney out of the shadows even before he created a ruckus by lobbing an obscenity at his slightly thinner twin, Senator Patrick J. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont.

First came the 9/11 Commission reports showing Cheney's take-command attitude on Sept. 11, 2001, ordering the shootdown of any hijacked plane and then warning the president of an alleged threat to Air Force One, which sent Bush to a bunker in Nebraska.

Cheney claims that he got Bush's approval for the shootdown order, but notes taken at the time made no reference to it, and the commission found discrepancies in the accounts of those present.

...Since the vice president's influence is already embedded in the administration through his numerous friends appointed to high positions -- including his mentor, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld -- Cheney's character and motivations ought to be fair game for the media as the campaign heats up. So should efforts to connect the dots on his unusual ascent.

It began with a move that was, in retrospect, perfectly illustrative of his approach to power: Charged with heading the committee to choose Bush's running mate, Cheney quietly shifted his voter registration from Texas (the presidential nominee's state, and thus ineligible) to Wyoming and appointed himself to the job. article

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

I didn't know Moon also owns UPI

Check out some of his great ideas.

These diatribes haven’t stopped Washington’s conservatives from getting in bed with Moon–whose goal is to create a global theocracy, a la Muslim fundamentalists–and elevating his and his paper’s stature in return for cold, hard cash for themselves and for their movement. George H.W. Bush took $100,000 from him in 1996 for a speaking engagement, praising the Washington Times as "a paper that in my view brings sanity to Washington, D.C." After Bush called Moon "the man with the vision," the reverend gave him $1 million for his presidential library.

Contrary to the claims of the paper’s defenders on the right, a former editor reported recently that Moon has much more involvement in the paper than he and his apologists lead people to believe. Last June, Moon, who believes he’s the "Messiah," launched a "special media training" for church leaders with the Times’ staff.

...It’s sleazy enough that a conservative would work for Moon and ignore his dark and dangerous agenda. But how on earth could a gay writer take a check from a man who can’t wait to see him thrown into an oven? Andrew Sullivan has reveled in his own idiotic claim that after 9/11 certain liberals, because they didn’t agree with George W. Bush’s policies, represented a "fifth column" supporting Osama bin Laden. Meanwhile, here he is, on the payroll of a guy who would like to see the mass extinction of his own people. Sullivan likes to think of himself as a gay rights activist–that’s actually how New York magazine described him recently–but he only seems to activate when the targets are liberals.

Funny how [Matt] Drudge blew up a fake story and expressed outrage about Bush being compared to a genocidal dictator, but then didn’t find it newsworthy to link to the comments of a powerful newspaper owner, cult leader and Bush family pal who is actually calling for genocide–of Drudge’s own kind, no less.

In case you missed the coronation on Capitol Hill.

Is the world strange, or is it just me?

Hagel pulls away from the pack

I have some very mixed feelings about the following quote.

Sen. Chuck Hagel, an influential moderate Republican from Nebraska, sharply criticized the Bush administration in an interview here Tuesday, saying that the war in Iraq appears to have hurt America in its battle against terrorism.

Hagel, a politician sometimes mentioned as a future presidential contender, also said the United States is going to have to consider restarting the draft to maintain its many military commitments abroad.

In a sharp critique of the leader of his own party, Hagel said he believes the occupation of Iraq by the American military was poorly planned and has spread terrorist cells more widely around the world.

...In another area in which Hagel's views differ sharply from the president's, he suggested that the best way to ultimately win the war on terror is to earn the trust and respect of foreigners, especially younger people in the Arab world and other parts of the globe. The best way to do that, he said, is to make the United States more accessible to them and more open to immigration.
  SF Gate article

I think it's the draft thing that bothers me. I have no hope that the majority of Congress will wake the fuck up and redirect the course of our nation. As I've mentioned before, they are too personally vested in the game - particularly our Senators - and our oil-dependent, free market, debt-laden economy demands more war.

Not exactly better off

In a few key areas - electricity, the judicial system and overall security - the Iraq that America handed back to its residents Monday is worse off than before the war began last year, according to calculations in a new General Accounting Office report (pdf) released Tuesday.
  Knight Ridder article

That's not what I heard.

The 105-page report by Congress' investigative arm offers a bleak assessment of Iraq after 14 months of U.S. military occupation. Among its findings:

-In 13 of Iraq's 18 provinces, electricity was available fewer hours per day on average last month than before the war. Nearly 20 million of Iraq's 26 million people live in those provinces.

-Only $13.7 billion of the $58 billion pledged and allocated worldwide to rebuild Iraq has been spent, with another $10 billion about to be spent. The biggest chunk of that money has been used to run Iraq's ministry operations.

-The country's court system is more clogged than before the war, and judges are frequent targets of assassination attempts.

-The new Iraqi civil defense, police and overall security units are suffering from mass desertions, are poorly trained and ill-equipped.

-The number of what the now-disbanded Coalition Provisional Authority called significant insurgent attacks skyrocketed from 411 in February to 1,169 in May.

You don't understand. Saddam is gone.

The report was released on the same day that the CPA's inspector general issued three reports that highlighted serious management difficulties at the CPA. The reports found that the CPA wasted millions of dollars at a Hilton resort hotel in Kuwait because it didn't have guidelines for who could stay there, lost track of how many employees it had in Iraq and didn't track reconstruction projects funded by international donors to ensure they didn't duplicate U.S. projects.

Lalalalalalalalalala. I can't heeeeeeeeeeeear you.

"The picture it paints of the facts on the ground is one that neither the CPA nor the Bush administration should be all that proud of," said Peter W. Singer, a national security scholar at the centrist Brookings Institution. "It finds a lot of problems and raises a lot of questions."

One of the biggest problems, Singer said, is that while money has been pledged and allocated, not much has been spent. The GAO report shows that very little of the promised international funds - most of which are in loans - has been spent or can't be tracked. The CPA's inspector general found the same thing....He said the figures on electricity "make me want to cry."

....well, do what you will anyway.

First acts of sovereignty

And these, we'll let them get away with, unlike some others.

Curfew in Najaf.

Reinstate the death penalty.

....but hey, do what you want....if you think you can.


American military police yesterday raided a building belonging to the Iraqi ministry of the interior where prisoners were allegedly being physically abused by Iraqi interrogators.

The raid appeared to be a violation of the country's new sovereignty, leading to angry scenes inside the ministry between Iraqi policemen and US soldiers.

The military police, who had been told of abuse, seized an area known as the Guesthouse just outside the ministry's main building. They disarmed the Iraqi policemen and at one stage threatened to set free prisoners whose handcuffs they removed, according to Iraqi officials.

...The men were captured in the first big Iraqi-led anti-crime and anti-terrorism operation, which took place a few days before the transfer of power, with US military police in support and using US satellite images.

Senior Iraqi officers described those captured as "first class murderers, kidnappers and terrorists with links to al-Ansar" - a militant group in the former Kurdish no-fly zone - who had all admitted to "at least 20 crimes while being questioned".

...Nashwan Ali - who said his nickname was Big Man - said: "A US MP asked me this morning what police division I was in. I said I was in criminal intelligence.

"The American asked me why we had beaten the prisoners. I said we beat the prisoners because they are all bad people. But I told him we didn't strip them naked, photograph them or fuck them like you did."
  Guardian article

Tell it like it is

A prominent federal judge has told a conference of liberal lawyers that President Bush’s rise to power was similar to the accession of dictators such as Mussolini and Hitler.

“In a way that occurred before but is rare in the United States…somebody came to power as a result of the illegitimate acts of a legitimate institution that had the right to put somebody in power.That is what the Supreme Court did in Bush versus Gore. It put somebody in power,” said Guido Calabresi, a judge on the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, which sits in Manhattan.

“The reason I emphasize that is because that is exactly what happened when Mussolini was put in by the king of Italy,” Judge Calabresi continued, as the allusion drew audible gasps from some in the luncheon crowd Saturday at the annual convention of the American Constitution Society.

“The king of Italy had the right to put Mussolini in, though he had not won an election, and make him prime minister. That is what happened when Hindenburg put Hitler in. I am not suggesting for a moment that Bush is Hitler. I want to be clear on that, but it is a situation which is extremely unusual,” the judge said.

...“When somebody has come in that way, they sometimes have tried not to exercise much power. In this case, like Mussolini, he has exercised extraordinary power. He has exercised power, claimed power for himself; that has not occurred since Franklin Roosevelt who, after all, was elected big and who did some of the same things with respect to assertions of power in times of crisis that this president is doing,” he said.

The 71-year-old judge declared that members of the public should, without regard to their political views, expel Mr. Bush from office in order to cleanse the democratic system.

“That’s got nothing to do with the politics of it.It’s got to do with the structural reassertion of democracy,” Judge Calabresi said.

His remarks were met with rousing applause from the hundreds of lawyers and law students in attendance.
  The Sun article

American democracy now official in Iraq

Among the most controversial orders is the enactment of an elections law that gives a seven-member commission the power to disqualify political parties and any of the candidates they support.

The effect of other regulations could last much longer. Bremer has ordered that the national security adviser and the national intelligence chief chosen by the interim prime minister he selected, Ayad Allawi, be given five-year terms, imposing Allawi's choices on the elected government that is to take over next year.
  WaPo article

Screw those elections. They don't serve neoliberalism and the neocon agenda. We don't use 'em here. They won't be needing them in Iraq.

Some Iraqi officials condemn Bremer's edicts and appointments as an effort to exert U.S. control over the country after the transfer of political authority.

Like Butt Plug said (to Irish reporter Carole Coleman about some questions the Irish had about the reason for invading Iraq in the first place), they just don't understand.

At the stroke of sovereignty

On the first day of the official New Iraq®...

Iyad Akmush Kanum, 23, learnt the limits of sovereignty on Monday when US prosecutors refused to uphold an Iraqi judges' order acquitting him of attempted murder of coalition troops.

US prosecutors said that he was being returned to the controversial Abu Ghraib prison because under the Geneva Conventions they were not bound by Iraqi law.
  Financial Times article

But you will see that they had no choice.

The Central Criminal Court is a hybrid legal institution, created by the American-led occupation, in which US lawyers prepare cases for Iraqi prosecutors to present to Iraqi judges, who were in turn chosen by the coalition.

It tries cases based on Iraqi law and coalition decrees.

Even with the court being set up, judges chosen by the coalition, and US lawyers preparing the cases, they got an anti-American verdict. They were forced to ignore it.

Despite the end of the US occupation on Monday, US prosecutors said the Court would continue unchanged after the handover.

It was created by Mr Bremer last June to hear "significant security trials" and enable occupation troops to testify without leaving the Green Zone. Saddam Hussein is among the detainees intended to enter its dock.

Oh. This is the court where Saddam can be fairly tried.

Read the article, there are some other interesting insights into and opinions about the court.

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

The General has Google bombed Dickhead Cheney

If you have a blog or website, or if you post comments at places that are scanned by google, I urge you to link to the Deputy Leader's webpage using the word impotence (I'm going to put impotence in the "Patriots" section of my blogroll). That way, we will reclaim that word for neoconservatives everywhere.

Read why.

Allawi press conference regarding Saddam Hussein

Q (Through interpreter.) First of all, I would like to congratulate you for the transfer of sovereignty. But lots of legal experts, and especially the Arabs, they are now questioning the legitimacy of this government, and they say that if the former regime elements and Saddam Hussein were to declare another government in exile, they have the right to do so. What is your opinion?

PM ALLAWI: What is your source?

Q: It was on the Internet and this is the opinion of the Egyptian legal experts.

PM ALLAWI: ( response provided.)
Great answer.

Q Sir, will Saddam have the right to represent himself in court? And if he does have that internationally recognized legal right, then how will you prevent him from behaving like Milosevic did in his -- the early days of his trial, and indeed now, which has gone on for about two years and has no end in sight, and caused at the time a degree of unrest in Serbia?

PM ALLAWI: (In English.) No, Saddam will be entitled to have representation. He is entitled to appoint lawyers, and maybe if he doesn't have money to appoint lawyers the government will pay the money so -- (chuckles) -- so he's represented well. We assure you that it will be a just trial and a fair trial, unlike the trials that he afflicted on his enemies, on the Iraqi people.

Q: I'm sorry, sir; that's not what I asked. Will he be able to represent himself if he so chooses, without an attorney?

PM ALLAWI: (In English.) Yeah, yeah. He can represent himself, yes.

Isn't the question of what he inflicted on the Iraqi people what is to be determined in a trial? The Prime Minister seems to be pulling a John Ashcroft.

Q (Through interpreter.) (Name off mike) -- Egyptian Near East Agency. The Americans gave status of -- POW status to Saddam Hussein. Are you going to lift this status on him once you take over his custody?

PM ALLAWI: His status is not of interest to us. The status that was given to him when he was arrested by the coalition forces is not of interest to us. What is of interest to us is the status under which we take custody of him. He is accused of crimes that he has committed in Iraq and he is an accused that is facing accusation, and he does not have any privileges under the POW status of Geneva Convention.

And he is still in physical custody of the U.S. Anything can happen.

Q (Through interpreter.) Dr. Allawi, you have said that this is going to be an open hearing. What if Saddam asks the tribunal for this proceeding to be not open to the public?

PM ALLAWI: The fact that this is an open hearing, a public hearing, is a guarantee. If he wants to give up this guarantee, it's up to him. But the interests behind having a public hearing is that you have a guarantee that the proceedings are fair. And if he wants to give it up, we might look into that and let him get it.

Anything can happen. Sorry, we can't tell you what's going on. He asked for a private hearing and to be his own attorney.

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

Joke break

Well, it's a joke, but it's not all that funny.

Sent to me by Jeff....

A Japanese company and an American company decided to have a canoe race on the Missouri River. Both teams practiced long and hard to reach their peak performance before the race.

On the big day the Japanese won by a mile. Afterward, the American team became very discouraged and morally depressed. The American management decided the reason for the crushing defeat had to be found. A Management Team made up of senior management was formed to investigate and recommend appropriate action. Their conclusion was the Japanese had 8 people rowing and 1 person steering, while the American team had 8 people steering and one person rowing.

So American management hired a consulting company and paid them an incredible amount of money. They advised that too many people were steering the boat, while not enough people were rowing. To prevent losing to the Japanese again next year, the American rowing team's management structure was totally reorganized to 4 steering supervisors, 3 area steering superintendents and 1 assistant superintendent steering manager. They also implemented a new performance system that would give the 1 person rowing the boat greater incentive to work harder. It was called the Rowing Team Quality First Program, with meetings, dinners and free pens for the rower. Even new paddles and medical benefit incentives were promised for a winner. We must give the rower the empowerment and enrichments through this quality program.

The next year the Japanese won by two miles. Humiliated, the American management laid off the rower for poor performance, halted development of a new canoe, sold the paddles, and canceled all capital investments for new equipment. The money saved was distributed to the senior executives as bonuses.

Fahrenheit 9/11

Kevin Drum concludes...

So is Fahrenheit 9/11 unfair, full of innuendo and cheap shots, and guilty of specious arguments? Sure. But that just makes it the perfect complement to the arguments of many in the pro-war crowd itself. Perhaps the reason they're so mad is that they see more than a little of themselves in it.

And he's absolutely right. Thinking people who view the film will easily see the innuendo and cheap shots and the propaganda. It's not hidden by any stretch of the imagination. And I imagine that the people most upset about it are the ones who champion right wing propaganda. Using propaganda to combat propaganda is using their own weapon against them.

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

Looking back on the CPA

I never did any posts on these guys when they were there, but since they've gone, I've come across a few articles describing them. The first post I made was about the guy in charge of education, John Agresto, and I suggested that if they were all like him, it was no wonder things didn't exactly pan out in our Iraqi reconstruction project.

The second complained about the head incompetent himself, Paul Bremer, who took the first thing smoking immediately after handing over a rule book to Allawi.

The third mentioned Paul Krugman's article exposing Simone Ledeen.

Not surprisingly, that article got Paul some right wing blowback. And TBogg takes on the blowback, including more information on the incompetent group that was the Coalition Provisional Authority, and their (non)qualifications.

Read TBogg's post and see for yourself.

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

Progress in Turkey

NATO leaders agreed to augment their force of 6,500 troops in Afghanistan with as many as 3,500 more [but] they rejected an appeal on Tuesday from President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan to send the soldiers immediately.

Mr. Karzai, addressing the 26 NATO leaders and heads of state from the 22 other countries in the alliance's partnership program, begged for the new troops to be sent before elections in September. He said efforts to register voters had already been disrupted by violence, threatening the country's shaky progress toward democracy.

"I would like you to please hurry," Mr. Karzai said. "The Afghan people need that security today, and not tomorrow."

Reaction was cool. "We have rejected the request on the additional troops before the elections in Afghanistan," said Vecdi Gonul, defense minister of Turkey, which has the second largest army in NATO.

Earlier in the meeting, the leaders agreed to deploy some of their forces in troubled areas outside the capital, Kabul. But officials said as many as 2,000 of the new troops would probably remain outside Afghanistan, to be deployed only when the alliance decided they were needed.
  NY Times article

If Karzai doesn't understand, Dick Cheney can probably make it plainer.

The French president, Jacques Chirac, one of the fiercest opponents of the American-led invasion, repeated his objections to NATO involvement inside postwar Iraq. The presence of troops under the NATO flag, he said, would be "dangerous, counterproductive and misunderstood by the Iraqi people."

Somebody's been paying attention.

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

Do as I say, not as I do

"Any nation that compromises with violent extremists only emboldens them and invites future violence," Mr. Bush said. "Suppressing dissent only increases radicalism."

Tell it to John Ashcroft.

Speaking of compromising with violent extremists, I don't think the Butt Plug in Chief listens to himself, either.

We just put Saddam's army back in business in Iraq. And look at Haiti.

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

What's a "Plan B"?

We don't do plan Bs. We do plan BSes.

Digby quotes the LA Times (registration required).

[S]enior administration officials acknowledged that they were unprepared for a rebuke in two landmark Supreme Court decisions that rejected the military's treatment of prisoners in the war on terrorism.


"They didn't really have a specific plan for what to do, case-by-case, if we lost," a senior defense official said on condition of anonymity. "The Justice Department didn't have a plan. State didn't have a plan. This wasn't a unilateral mistake on DOD's part. It's astounding to me that these cases have been pending for so long and nobody came up with a contingency plan."

Digby thinks this is because they fully expected to win. Will heads roll from the Supreme Court? Is that possible?

An internal Justice Department memo reviewed Tuesday by the Los Angeles Times outlining communications plans in response to high court rulings on the issue listed two pages of talking points to be used "in case of win," and a page of talking points to be used "in case of win if some sort of process is required" -- a partial victory. Yet, there was no category for action in the event of a broad defeat in the memo, titled "Supreme Court Decision Communications Plan."

..."The DOD/DOJ position on the detention of Hamdi will be decided in our favor as a clear-cut POW case," the memo said, although Hamdi was not held as a prisoner of war.

The memo predicted a 5-4 vote in favor of the government in Rasul vs. Bush and Al Odah vs. United States. Justices in that case, involving 16 Guantanamo detainees seized in Afghanistan and Pakistan, found in the reverse, voting 6-3 that military prisoners who are not U.S. citizens cannot be held without access to American courts.


Satan must be skating to work this morning

Israel's Supreme Court ordered the government on Wednesday to change a large section of its West Bank barrier, saying the current route violates the basic human rights of the local Palestinian population.

The court said the changes must be made, even at the risk of reducing Israeli security.
  ABC article

Saddam to stand trial

Legal custody of Saddam Hussein and 11 other senior figures from his regime was transferred to the Iraqis today, according to reports.

..."The first step has happened," Salem Chalabi, the director of the Iraqi special tribunal that will try Saddam, said. "I met him [Saddam] earlier today to explain his rights and what will happen," he said, refusing to elaborate.

The move comes ahead of a first court appearance by Saddam and the 11 other detainees, scheduled for tomorrow. Mr Allawi announced the trial yesterday.

...Saddam will remain in a US-controlled jail, guarded by Americans, until such time, not expected in the short term, as the Iraqis are ready to take "physical custody" of him.

However, the legal transfer means that Saddam and the other former members of his regime are no longer prisoners of war - entitled to the protection of the Geneva convention - but criminal defendants, who will be treated in accordance with Iraqi law.
  Guardian article

Yes, Salem is related to the other Chalabi. When you're running a world, you have to limit your officer pool.

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

Speaking of computers - IE users, listen up

The federal government's cyberdefense experts, along with other computer gurus, are urging users to consider a switch away from Microsoft's Internet Explorer because of new security problems.

The unusual warning follows an exploit that has allowed hackers to install software on Web sites that use Microsoft's Web server programs.

That in turn downloads a spyware program to personal computers, including one that steals credit card numbers and other forms of financial information.

"This is a wakeup call for us to advise users to switch to an alternative browser," said Johannes Ulrich of the SANS' Internet Storm Center based in Bethesda, Md., which tracks immediate threats on the Internet. "With Internet Explorer, you're playing Russian Roulette and hoping the sites you visit aren't compromised."

Most anti-virus software has been updated to block the specific program, the JS.Scob trojan, but Microsoft has not been able to inoculate Internet Explorer against the broad technique.

A Microsoft spokesman directed reporters to a Microsoft statement: "Customers using Internet Explorer should be sure that they have installed the latest security updates by visiting Windows Update at"

...None of the most prominent alternative browsers, Opera,, or Netscape, is vulnerable to the flaw. Nor are computers running Linux or the Macintosh operating system.

...The bug targets users of Internet Explorer. Experts said users can protect themselves from the bug by using a non-Microsoft Corp. browser or by employing software to block pop-ups. Internet Explorer users are immune if they download and install a patch that was released in April.
  Toledo Blade article

I have used Netscape for a long time for several reasons. It doesn't interface perfectly with all of Microsoft's programs, but I've always felt like it does well enough, and it's worth the very few quirks. I really like the latest version's option of opening new windows as tabs in the same window. Probably it's not the best choice, but it's free. My elder son who writes programs for a living has told me of another browser that he recommends, but I don't remember what it is. I think it's Opera.

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

Open source

Tim Lambert at Deltoid has posted about the complaints of "think tanks" regarding open source software.

Why are all these think tanks so down on Open Source? Well, the Small Business Survival Committee is concerned that using open source will expose small business to the risk of lawsuits. Citizens Against Government Waste is concerned that the Government might waste money on Open Source. Defenders of Property Rights is concerned that Open Source might be a threat to intellectual property rights. However, I was able to detect a common theme to all their criticism. They all seem to be funded by Microsoft.

No turning back

Nuclear power cannot solve global warming, the international body set up to promote atomic energy admits today.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which exists to spread the peaceful use of the atom, reveals in a new report that it could not grow fast enough over the next decades to slow climate change - even under the most favourable circumstances.
  Independent article

Face it children, we are on a dying planet. It's the way of the universe. Things are born. Things die.

Perhaps this helps explain the neo-con attitude, and why they're lately into Moon and Mars projects.

It works out well for me. I wish they'd hurry up. They can all go to the Moon, and I can stay here where it'll be nice and warm. Please let them take George's "base" with them.

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

I wonder if the genetic mutations caused around the globe by the Chernobyl accident have created beings that are immune to radiation poison.

Bloggers get press passes

PR Watch reports on a Guardian UK article:

"Not only are major news organisations rolling out blogs of their own, but in the past 12 months the influence of bloggers over their print, television and radio counterparts has grown massively," observes Paul Carr. "Consider a decision made by organisers of this year's Democratic National Convention (DNC), next month in Boston. So keen are John Kerry's men to get their message through to the people of Blogistan that for the first time they have issued press accreditation to political bloggers."

I guess mine's in the mail.

Stop the Press

When New York Times reporter Eric Lichtblau wrote a story last fall that the FBI didn't like, the bureau responded by trying to freeze him out.

FBI spokeswoman Cassandra Chandler sent top officials a memo disputing the story and assailing "the slanted and biased report[ing] style of Mr. Lichtblau. In the meantime, we encourage each of you to please avoid providing information to this reporter. He has consistently demonstrated that he lacks the ethics of a respected journalist."

During the same period, the Justice Department revoked Lichtblau's credentials -- a move that a spokesman calls coincidental.

"I was very surprised they took the action they did, both at the FBI and the Justice Department," says Lichtblau, whose credentials were restored after the Times protested. Earlier, he was abruptly disinvited from a Justice Department press briefing.

He reported in November, based on an FBI memo, that the bureau had collected extensive information on antiwar demonstrators. FBI officials were quoted as saying the effort was aimed at identifying extremists plotting violence.
  Wa Po article

Conservative activist Brent Bozell has long argued that the liberal media are distorting the news. Now, six months before the election, he's paying to get his message out.

Bozell's Media Research Center has raised $2.8 million for newspaper ads in 15 markets, billboards in 40 cities and a talk-radio blitz aimed at countering what he sees as a "liberal jihad" that is unfair to President Bush. The slogan (also on T-shirts and mugs) is not exactly subtle. A finger-pointing Uncle Sam declares: "Don't believe the liberal media!"

"This is a media that in the last year has gotten out of control," Bozell says. "They're so blatant in the way they slant the news. . . . It's as if people in newsrooms have just taken off the gloves, whether it's foreign policy, economic news or political news, there's a spin on everything that's said."

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

"So we prepared the post war"

The Center for the Research of Globalisation is carrying an interview with ex-Saddam officers.

The car stops in an alley, near a minibus with tinted windows. One of its doors opens. On board, there are three men and a driver carefully scrutinizing all the streets and houses around us. If we don't know at all what we are confronted with, our interlocutors seem to know very well who they're talking to. "Before any discussions, we don't want any doubts on your part about our identities," they say, while extracting some papers from inside a dusty plastic bag: identity cards, military IDs and several photos showing them in uniform beside Saddam Hussein. They are two generals and a colonel of the disbanded Iraqi army, now on the run for many months, chased by the coalition's intelligence services.

"We would like to rectify some information now circulating in the Western media, that's why we took the initiative of meeting you." Our discussion lasts for more than three hours.

"We knew that if the United States decided to attack Iraq, we would have no chance faced with their technological and military power. The war was lost in advance, so we prepared the post-war....Opposition movements to the occupation were already organized. Our strategy was not improvised after the regime fell.

..."What American troops cannot do today, NATO troops won't be able to do later on. Everyone must know: Western troops will be regarded by Iraqis as occupiers. This is something that George W Bush and his faithful ally Tony Blair will do well to think about. If they have won a battle, they have not won the war yet. The great battle is still to begin. The liberation of Baghdad is not far away."

Read the interview

Kerry's new statement on Latin America

Kerry has a statement out in time to campaign to America's Latin community titled: Strengthening U.S. Relations with Latin America and Creating a New Community of the Americas (pdf)

I skimmed through it to find anything particular about Venezuela, and found this under the section Strengthening Democracy:

Support Democratically Elected Leaders. Governments that uphold democratic principles deserve our support We should not countenance mob rule nor military force or inaction to oust an elected president, even an imperfect one such as Aristide in Haiti or Chavez in Venezuela. Instead, we should exercise our considerable diplomatic and moral force in support of democratically elected leaders.

Those two are imperfect presidents unlike the ones we get here, I guess.

Kerry's out of date statement on Venezuela, falsely claims that Hugo Chávez has been trying subvert the referendum process and calls for pressuring him to do something that he's already done, which is to comply with all agreements he made and with all Venezuelan laws. It's the Opposition who has been guilty of inciting mob rule in Venezuela in order to oust the democratically elected president. And it is the National Endowment for Democracy, created under Reagan to funnel money by legal means to organizations working toward regime changes favored by the United States after getting busted (but unpunished) for the illegal and covert money funneling of the Iran-Contra scam, that has been providing funding.

It will be interesting to see what action he proposes if Chávez is not recalled and the Opposition resorts to mob rule or another military coup.

Previous Venezuela posts
More on Venezuela

And an update on the situation in Haiti:

• On Sunday, June 20, a U.N. peacekeeping mission led by Brazil will take over command authority in Haiti from U.S. forces, which have witnessed an alarming deterioration of the political and economic situation on the island in recent weeks.

• The ongoing chaos highlights the hapless leadership of Prime Minister Gerald Latortue and his Rasputin-like Justice Minister Bernard Gousse, as well as the persistence of a host of unanswered questions about the ambience of violence surrounding February’s forced transfer of power and Aristide’s flight into exile.....

• The new government has eagerly aligned itself with the coalition of thugs that ousted Aristide, making few efforts to prosecute them for their manifest human rights abuses or return to prison those who already have been convicted. Meanwhile, Gousse parades around barking out orders regarding issues far beyond his control, pretending to be a bona fide figure with authentic legitimacy while he devotes his days to fabricating charges against Aristide.

...There remains a pressing need for a comprehensive and aggressive investigation into U.S. involvement in Haiti over the past four years, modeled after the Iran-contra hearings in the late 1980s, which could call for punitive action against State Department officials, either in Washington or in Port-au-Prince, found to have played an improper role in the forced removal of Aristide from office. Congressional advocates of a less aggressive and more nuanced U.S. policy towards Latin America and especially Haiti—which has suffered under a lengthy stream of U.S.-backed dictators and periodic occupations over the past two hundred years— should step up the volume of their calls for a full accounting of Aristide’s alleged kidnapping.

In addition, presumed Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry would do well to return to his earlier sharp criticisms of the Bush administration’s Haiti policy (which was followed with a later dismissive attack on Aristide) with a similar call for an investigation, both in his capacity as the presumptive presidential candidate and as a long-standing member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Such a stance could only enhance his efforts to portray himself as an advocate of a more constructive foreign policy than the bumbling and heavy-handed initiatives being implemented by the incumbent administration.
  Scoop article

Previous Haiti posts
More on Haiti

Update 6:30 pm:

Last week, the Constitutionally appointed Prime Minister of Haiti, Yvon Neptune, courageously came out of hiding after his initial first statement demanding an investigation of the Coup D'etat back in early March, 2004 and publicly denounced the systemic political repression of the Haitian people by the un-elected Latortue U.S.-backed regime.

This morning, Sunday, June 27, 2004, at 10:00 am, Yvon Neptune, Haiti's legitimate Prime Minister was arrested by the imported U.S. dictator, Gerald Latortue.

...We urge everyone from the Network to contact their representatives, the U.N. and Ambassador Foley to denounce the arrest of the only legitimate Prime Minister of Haiti and to demand the immediate release of all political prisoners as well as for the U.S. to stop supporting death squad leaders and un-elected Prime Ministers. We also ask that everyone write to their local and national media or about the political persecution and arrest of Yvon Neptune and the continued political repression and silencing of the true Haitian freedom fighters and democracy supporters in Haiti.
  Global Research article

DoJ refuses to produce records

La Belle Soeur sends this posting from Bill on a political forum:

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Bush administration is offering a novel reason for denying a request seeking the Justice Department's database on foreign lobbyists: Copying the information would bring down the computer system.

"Implementing such a request risks a crash that cannot be fixed and could result in a major loss of data, which would be devastating," wrote Thomas J. McIntyre, chief in the Justice Department's office for information requests.


"This was a new one on us. We weren't aware there were databases that could be destroyed just by copying them," Bob Williams of the Center for Public Integrity said Tuesday. The watchdog group in Washington made the request in January. He said the group expects to appeal the Justice Department's decision.

Many Justice Department computer systems, especially at the FBI, are considered outdated. The FBI is spending nearly $600 million to modernize its antiquated systems.

The Center for Public Integrity sought information about lobbying activities available under the U.S. Foreign Agents Registration Act, a 1938 law passed in response to German propaganda before World War II. Database records describe details of meetings among foreign lobbyists, the administration and Congress, and payments by foreign governments and some overseas groups for political advertisements and other campaigns.

"What they're asking for is a lot, and it's not something at this particular point in time we have the technical ability to do," Justice Department spokesman Bryan Sierra said Tuesday.

McIntyre explained in a May 24 letter that the computer system - operated in the counterespionage section of the Justice Department's criminal division - "was not designed for mass export of all stored images" and said the system experiences "substantial problems."

"It sounds like incredible negligence for an agency that is keeping public records to keep them in such a precarious condition," said Stephen Doig, interim director at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University. "I've never heard the excuse that making the equivalent of a backup copy would somehow cause steam to rise out of the computer."

...shoot but it'll all be available by...a guess anyone?...
The government said an overhaul of the system should be finished by December and copies should be available then.

They've gotten so desperate they'll pull out anything now.

And if that's not the excuse, then the alternative is that they are telling the American public the same thing Dickhead Cheney told Senator Leahy: Go fuck yourself.

Israeli-Palestinian conflict photos

A group of young Israeli soldiers took pictures of what they were doing in Palestine, and those pictures are now a traveling exhibit, Breaking the Silence

Yesterday military police raided the exhibition, confiscating items from it. An army spokesman insisted that the raid was not to stop the exhibition or to punish the soldiers for going public, but to see if there is a case for court-martialling soldiers who mistreated Arabs.

...The idea of the exhibition did not occur to the soldiers until they had left the army (for most of them that moment came earlier this year). The photographs were taken strictly for private consumption. "Some pictures I took because I knew I couldn't handle what I was seeing at the time and I wanted to think about it later," says Jonathan Boumfeld, 21, "and some I took just as souvenirs."

But, in the words of the leaflets they sent out to advertise the show, they then discovered that the memories captured in these "souvenirs" were "common to all of us who served together ... In coping daily with the madness of Hebron, we couldn't remain the same people beneath our uniforms. We saw our buddies and ourselves slowly changing.
  Independent article

Toys for our times

Suicide bomber Barbie

New Senate procedures

The Republican-controlled Senate revised its voting procedures today to reflect the new-found propriety of Vice President Dick Cheney's behavior last week on the Senate floor.

Now, in the event of a tie, the Vice-President will break the tie by voting in the affirmative and saying "Aye", or, when voting in the negative, saying "Go fuck yourselves."

Additonally, the more traditional "Aye" or "Nay" will be henceforth replaced by "Fuck Me" and "Fuck You."

The rest at Opinions You Should Have.

Who Forged the Niger yellowcake documents?

I don't think Josh Marshall could get any closer to saying that someone in the administration did it without using those words.

Get Your War On

This is a great toon. Go to this page and read the rest. I especially enjoyed the section:

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

Dissent award

Really. Who'd have thunk it?

"There is no value in imposing an American lead if the American lead would be less effective than a U.N. Special Representative," [U.S. Foreign Service officer Keith] Mines wrote. "At some point, it would seem that the reasons for going it alone in Iraq would be overshadowed by the need to create a viable Iraqi state."

For his willingness to challenge the Bush administration's conventional wisdom, Mines collected an award for "constructive dissent" from the State Department's professional association last week. The citation called his ideas "prescient" and noted that "some have, belatedly, been adopted."

Accepting a plaque, Mines said he hoped U.S. authorities had learned some lessons from the troubled Iraq occupation.
  WaPo article

While many others just hope the world survives it.

Earlier this month, 27 former senior diplomats and military commanders released a statement accusing the Bush administration of going astray on foreign policy, saying it is unable to handle "in either style or substance" the responsibilities of world leadership. The group said the United States had become "overbearing" in foreign affairs, "insensitive" to allies and "disdainful" of the United Nations and NATO.

Frustration with the approach directed by the White House was an undercurrent at the awards ceremony, which John W. Limbert, president of the American Foreign Service Association, opened with a wisecrack about some of the best-known purveyors of current U.S. foreign policy.

Noting that he was a hostage in Iran with L. Bruce Laingen, who chaired the committee that selected the award winners, Limbert said to laughter, "While Ambassador Laingen and I are ex-cons, neither of us are neo-cons!"

And if BushCo assumes another four years in the White House, I expect there to be an overhaul of the diplomatic corps to rout out any left in positions who might be likely to disagree with the neocon policy.

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

Accomplishments in Iraq

Here's a list. And here's my favorite:

Health-care spending in Iraq has increased some 30 times over prewar levels.

Indeed, I would think it could be even more, considering the ill effects on one's health that bombs have.

Reality break

And who we are and what we're doing here. Because we are creating the world. In a very fundamental sense. Quantum physics is trying to tell us. And now, it's not just the great fictional movies like Matrix.....

Click graphic to enter

Thanks to Jay for sending the link.

He who joyfully marches in rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would suffice.
- Albert Einstein

Krugman on the Iraq "handover"

But as he prepared to leave Iraq, Mr. Bremer listed reduced tax rates, reduced tariffs and the liberalization of foreign-investment laws as among his major accomplishments. Insurgents are blowing up pipelines and police stations, geysers of sewage are erupting from the streets, and the electricity is off most of the time — but we've given Iraq the gift of supply-side economics.
  NY Times article

Handover is a great description of what happened. Only it's what Iraq handed over that makes it so.

If the occupiers often seemed oblivious to reality, one reason was that many jobs at the C.P.A. went to people whose qualifications seemed to lie mainly in their personal and political connections — people like Simone Ledeen, whose father, Michael Ledeen, a prominent neoconservative, told a forum that "the level of casualties is secondary" because "we are a warlike people" and "we love war."

With a war president. (Wait till you see Bush telling you that in Fahrenheit 9/11.) And how about CPA choice for the education ministry?

Still, given Mr. Bremer's economic focus, you might at least have expected his top aide for private-sector development to be an expert on privatization and liberalization in such countries as Russia or Argentina. But the job initially went to Thomas Foley, a Connecticut businessman and Republican fund-raiser with no obviously relevant expertise. In March, Michael Fleischer, a New Jersey businessman, took over. Yes, he's Ari Fleischer's brother. Mr. Fleischer told The Chicago Tribune that part of his job was educating Iraqi businessmen: "The only paradigm they know is cronyism. We are teaching them that there is an alternative system with built-in checks and built-in review."

Isn't that grand? Isn't that rich?.......Send in the clowns.

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

Sovereignty restored

Eli and Left I comments on Iraq's sovereignty, from the rules Bremer left them with (which includes the rule that all Iraqis must drive with both hands on the steering wheel) to remote control of their internet technology.

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

Scripting it

Bush marked the transfer with a whispered comment and a handshake with Blair, gathered with world leaders around a table at a NATO summit. Stealing a glance at his watch to make sure the transfer had occurred, Bush put his hand over his mouth to guard his remarks, leaned toward Blair and then put out his hand for a shake. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, a row behind the president, beamed..
  WaPo article

Washington: George Bush was sitting in the NATO summit meeting when his National Security Adviser, Condoleezza Rice, passed the President a note telling him the handover of power in Iraq was done.

"Iraq is sovereign," wrote Rice. "Letter was passed from Bremer at 10.26am Iraq time, Condi." Bush turned the note over and wrote in reply, "Let Freedom Reign!"

Don't you get sick of this shit? Why oh why can't we just have reports? We are stuck in a never-ending movie, and it's not even a good one.

If those two idiots actually did pass that kind of note back and forth, it is further proof that they are as stupid as they look. And frankly, I think they are. And that is incredibly scary - the president of the United States and the director of the National Security Agency, two buffoons.

At any rate, I saw some of the event on the tube, and I noticed that the flag they were passing around was red, white and black (perhaps even the flag they had under Saddam). Not the one we designed for them, was it?

That would be the Israeli look-alike.

P.S. Of the two stories above, the first is the far more likely. That sounds more like Bush. I've got a secret. I can't wait to tell somebody. And the second more like the Karl Rove press machinery stupid faux patriotic canned crap to be fed to a gullible public who has the same juvenile mentality and disconnect from reality. The one-liner they always try for. Like the "Was that Airforce One I just saw?" media feed lie from the great Turkey Day caper.

Supreme court ruling

The headlines are conflicting and confusing in the Hamdi case before the Supreme Court which affects detainees. The bottom line is, I think, not a good sign for America. The Court ruled that people can be held indefinitely without charge, but that they have a right to contest their detention.

Many articles are calling this a major blow to the Bush Administration. Personally, I think we have gone a very long way down the road to the destruction of our democracy if we call this a victory.

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

The economics of war

I often remark about the need for perpetual war to keep our corporate government sustained, but I don't often enough remark about the danger to our survival of permitting oil producing countries to market their own oil. An article at VHeadline today has put it rather well and reminded me that I need to publish a few other articles from time to time.

First, here's the VHeadline article:

What is behind the constant manipulation, the virulent hostility, the verbal abuse, and the probable (I admit, not yet proven) support to Colombian paramilitaries who recently invaded [Venezuela]? I believe that the answer, albeit complicated, is to be found in the interesting thesis constructed by a Californian lawyer by the name of William Clarke, and which, obviously, has not been given wide coverage in the news media. I say interesting, because this plausible and well-constructed analysis allows us inter alia to understand primarily the real reasons behind the attack on Iraq, as well the hostility towards Iran and North Korea, the so-called Axis of Evil.

...He deftly argues that the economic problem plaguing the US at the moment is the financing of a huge external trade deficit (almost $500 billion per annum), not to speak of the total debt, which has reached more than US $7 trillion [iii]. His thesis is made more plausible when one considers that other countries, especially China, now hold an economic club over the head of the US because of their holdings of US treasury bills [iv].

But how has the US managed to live so “high off the hog” and run up such a massive debt? Primarily, it has been made possible by the use of the US dollar as the favored petro-currency. In other words, all oil bought and sold on the world market is done through the exchange of the commodity for US dollars, allowing the US to run this huge deficit. Basically a long-term strategy, it began with a deal struck with Saudi Arabia in the 1970s. Writes Clark:

“According to research by Dr. David Spiro, in 1974 the Nixon administration negotiated assurances from Saudi Arabia to price oil in dollars only, and invest their surplus oil proceeds in U.S. Treasury Bills. In return the U.S. would protect the Saudi regime. According to his book, The Hidden Hand of American Hegemony: Petrodollar Recycling and International Markets, these purchases were done in relative secrecy. These agreements created the phenomenon known as "petrodollar recycling." In effect, global oil consumption via OPEC provides a healthy subsidy to the U.S. economy. Hence, the Europeans created the euro to compete with the dollar as an alternative international reserve currency. Obviously the E.U. would also like oil priced in euros as well, as this would reduce or eliminate their currency risk for oil purchases.” [v]

In January 2003, before the invasion of Iraq, Clark outlined his thesis. Basically, he argued that the attack was due to fears in the US administration that 1) future oil supplies had to be ensured since the arrival of Peak Oil (after which production will begin to decline) was approaching, and 2) it had to keep OPEC from following Iraq’s lead and converting to the Euro as favored petro-currency.

...Were oil-producing nations to start converting to sales in Euros, the oil-consuming countries would have to sell their US dollar holdings and buy Euros instead. This would have the dramatic effect of causing a crash in the value of the US dollar on world markets (estimated at between 20-40%) and produce massive inflation. The consequence of that would be a run on the markets and a flight of bond and security holders out of the US dollar and into other currencies [vii].

It is interesting to note that the conversion to Euros was precisely what Iraq did in 2002, followed by Iran, where half the central banks assets were converted to Euros in the same year. Effective December 2002, North Korea, although not an oil-producing country, did the same. Just coincidentally these three are part of what the US president called the Axis of Evil. Does it start to make sense?

This is exactly the conclusion that came to me shortly after we invaded Iraq when I read something about Hugo Chávez tossing the word euro around and noted that Hussein had decided to sell oil in euros. Washington's attempts to smear Chávez with talk that he was a friend of the tyrant Hussein are explained by the absolute need to stop the switch from dollars to euros for oil sales, as I imagine the two leaders did meet to discuss such an idea. Another problem Washington has with Chávez is that he makes direct trades to poor Latin American and Caribbean countries, as in the case of his trade of oil for doctors and educational supplies from Cuba, thereby bypassing the flow of dollars.

I do think that it's not likely the switch will be made, at least until the euro can become strong enough and widespread enough to support the global economy. And I have no idea how close or far away from that eventuality we might be. Trashing the dollar wouldn't just destroy the American economy, it would take the whole globe down with it at this point. Which is ironically why it's good for us to have such a huge debt. When other countries can afford to write off our debt and trade around us, then we're in big trouble. And this is also why BushCo was so quick to try to drive a wedge between "Old Europe" and "New Europe" when we invaded Iraq - to keep the European Union, and therefore the euro, weakened. Unfortunately, they totally screwed up in Iraq.

Personally, I think it's the rise of the euro and the necessity of keeping the dollar as the global exchange medium that is ultimately behind our Middle East policies, and it's probably why the Senate was so quick to go along with the invasion and why I don't think John Kerry is going to give us much of a different foreign policy. He has very little choice under the circumstances. I don't know enough about finances - lord knows I haven't had any to practice with - but I wonder how much the U.S. is invested in euros - just in case.

Anyway, I have been keeping some links to this idea on my webpage here.

Monday, June 28, 2004

U.S. Army specialist hostage reported killed

INSURGENTS in Iraq have reportedly murdered an American soldier who had been held hostage since April.

Arab television network Al-Jazeera reported US Army Specialist Keith Maupin of Batavia, Ohio, had been murdered by militants. article

I don't recall hearing about him before. I have the sense that there are any number of U.S. military hostages who haven't been reported. Like coffins, we don't get to see those reports.

Al-Jazeera aired footage of Spc Maupin sitting on the ground blindfolded, but did not show the killing. He had been shot, Al-Jazeera said.

US television networks reported the video footage showed a blindfolded Spc Maupin in a darkened room being shot in the head.

The US military was analysing the tape but had been unable to confirm the execution, a spokesman said.

Spc Maupin's parents have been told of the existence of the video, one US network reported.

Separately, insurgents are believed to be holding hostage US marine Corporal Wassef Ali Hassoun, who was shown on video released on Sunday.

Let me ask you to take a moment to think about 18, 19, 20-year-old boys and girls captured and waiting for a bullet or a beheading.

If the thought of 12, 15, 17-year-old Iraqi boys and girls in jails waiting for physical torture or humiliation didn't do it for you, that is.

Probably not good

I'm sorry, but I find this slightly unnerving. Mostly because they are bypassing the law, but also because I just watched a History Channel program about the Chernobyl nuclear disaster last night. Same hurried construction. Big problem during testing. And now the world is truly a different place. Funny, nobody talks about that any more. Can you say "mutant"?


In its effort to quickly build and deploy a missile defense system, the Bush administration has quietly sidestepped a federal law that requires "operational testing" for new weapons systems before they are deployed.

Instead, the Defense Department has argued that its ambitious $50 billion program to destroy missiles fired at the United States is still under development and not ready for such testing even though the first interceptors of the system are scheduled to be installed and switched on this fall.

...Critics argue that even after two decades of research, missile intercept technology is far from proven. No intercept flight tests have been conducted since December 2002, before Bush announced his program, and that test failed. A recent test planned for March was postponed until late July. article

Do you ever wonder where all this will end?

Fahrenheit 9/11

I just came home from seeing the film. I don't care for Michael Moore, but I must say that I think he did an excellent job of making a film that the average joe can understand and exposing a great deal of the dragon's underbelly. Whether it will make any tangible difference in the world is anybody's guess, and frankly, I doubt it. My philosophy won't allow me to think so.

Still, I think everyone should see the movie. So if you haven't, plan on it.

....then again, do what you will anyway.


Via Digby, via whatever....

It is a truth barely appreciated that government not only matters, but it is a matter of life and death that the right people run it. Lest you think that this is hyperbole, mosey on over to the USDA website and read their official release on the safety of deli meats and sausages. Yes, that's right; it is official government policy that ready to eat meat products, hot dogs, and etc are not fit for human consumption unless they are thoroughly cooked again. Listeria can kill you, and the USDA no longer stops companies from shipping products tainted with it.


How did these products get contaminated? By the simple action of allowing animal shit to contaminate the food after it was cooked. Yes, a plant so badly run that this is a reasonable possibility is perfectly acceptable under Bush and the GOP. You see, Reagan and Bush I slashed inspection procedures so badly that such undetected contamination was possible. Under Clinton, a rules change was pushed through (against absolute Republican opposition in Congress) to stop it. Uncooked animal shit was no longer going to be legal in school lunches (one of the main recipients of lunch meats, under a USDA program). Happily for the meat processing companies, the Republicans slowed the process so successfully that Congress was able to kill the new rules outright when Bush II took office (they hadn't been in the Federal Register long enough).

Qa'ida-Saddam connection source recants

Oh my.

A captured Qaeda commander who was a principal source for Bush administration claims that Osama bin Laden collaborated with Saddam Hussein's regime has changed his story, setting back White House efforts to shore up the credibility of its original case for the invasion of Iraq. The apparent recantation of Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, a onetime member of bin Laden's inner circle, has never been publicly acknowledged. But U.S. intelligence officials tell NEWSWEEK that al-Libi was a crucial source for one of the more dramatic assertions made by President George W. Bush and his top aides: that Iraq had provided training in "poisons and deadly gases" for Al Qaeda. Al-Libi, who once ran one of bin Laden's biggest training camps, was captured in Pakistan in November 2001 and soon began talking to CIA interrogators.

Well, CIA interrogators can be very persuasive.

U.S. interrogators went back to al-Libi with new evidence from other detainees that cast doubt on his claims. Al-Libi "subsequently recounted a different story," said one U.S. official. "It's not clear which version is correct. We are still sorting this out." Some officials now suspect that al-Libi, facing aggressive interrogation techniques, had previously said what U.S. officials wanted to hear. In any case, the cloud over his story explains why administration officials have made no mention of the "poisons and gases" claim for some time and did not more forcefully challenge the recent findings of the 9-11 Commission that Al Qaeda and Iraq had not forged a ?"collaborative relationship."

The debate, however, is far from over.

And as soon as we can clear up this confusion over the technicalities of what torture we can use and what we can't, we will continue that debate.

DoJ covets interrogation rule rights

According to USA Today, a still-classified legal memo also written in August 2002 was "far more detailed and explicit" than the one the administration declassified last week, and had the approval of high-level officials in the Justice Department. The more detailed memo reportedly "spelled out specific interrogation methods that the CIA could use against top al-Qaeda members…A current Justice official who knows the memo's contents said it specifically authorized the CIA to use 'waterboarding,' in which a prisoner is made to believe he is suffocating." Initially, the Office of Legal Counsel was in charge of approving specific interrogation techniques, but "high-ranking Justice Department officials intercepted the CIA request, and the matter was handled by top officials in the deputy attorney general's office and Justice's criminal division."
From the Progress Report

Waterboarding. Sounds like a fun sport, doesn't it?

Somehow, I can almost feel John Jesus AssKKKroft relishing the chance to bring God's own interrogation methods from the days of the Spanish Inquisition and witch trials back into the modern era in which we have strayed from God's holy will.

image from Dunking Stool

Bremer: I believe my work here is done

From the Progress Report:

Before flying off into the sunset, Bremer "issued a raft of edicts revising Iraq's legal code." The new rules – which will be difficult, if not impossible, to overturn – will "restrict the power of the interim government, and impose U.S.-crafted rules for the country's democratic transition." Controversially, Bremer empowered an appointed electoral commission to "eliminate political parties or candidates." Another last minute edict gave "U.S. and other Western civilian contractors immunity from Iraqi law while performing their jobs in Iraq" – a provision that outraged many Iraqis because it "allows foreigners to act with impunity even after the occupation." Bremer also capped the tax rate at 15 percent, amended an industrial-design law to protect microchip designs, and stipulated the use of car horns be permitted in "emergency conditions only."

..A new report by Christian Aid – a non-profit that seeks solutions to poverty – reveals that Bremer left Iraq "without having properly accounted for what it has done with some $20 billion of Iraq's own money," accumulated from oil sales. The actions of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) appear to violate U.N. resolution 1483, which mandated that "Iraq's oil revenues should be paid into the Development Fund for Iraq (DFI), that this money should be spent in the interests of the Iraqi people, and [that it] be independently audited." Bremer did not even appoint an auditor until April 2004, and the report is not expected until mid-July – long after the CPA has been dissolved. In the meantime, the CPA has refused to provide even basic information about how the money is being spent. Christian Aid also notes that a "majority of Iraq's reconstruction projects have been awarded to U.S. companies, which charge up to 10 times more than Iraqi firms."


A new report by Georgetown University's Institute for the Study of Diplomacy concludes that the United States "is now vulnerable to strategic reversal in the region."


Abu Zubaydah, who managed Al Qaeda's recruiting system for its training camps in Afghanistan, was among the first Qaeda leaders to be captured, and his treatment in detention raised early concerns about the C.I.A.'s harsh tactics.

After his April 2002 capture in Pakistan, he was believed to have been taken to Thailand, where the local government had agreed to allow the C.I.A. to establish a secret interrogation facility for important prisoners. The tactics used on Mr. Zubaydah prompted concern among some F.B.I. agents who were aware of how the C.I.A. was treating him.
  NY Times article

If what we allowed inside Iraq and Guantanamo was not harsh enough torture - and I am not talking only about the humiliation, I am talking about the beatings and electric shocks and other physical torture which sometimes ended in death - imagine what they might be subjected to when the U.S. takes them to another country where there are no legal constraints at all. What do you suppose a secret interrogation facility is equipped with? I mean, a secret interrogation location is one thing, but to refer to a facility alludes to equipment, doesn't it?

In an earlier post, I wrote about an interview with U.S. News & World Report's Edward Pound mentioning the 'ghost detainee' known as XXX....
Apparently the prisoner was taken to another country (sorry I missed the particulars) and then brought back to Iraq at which time Rumsfiend ordered him taken into custody at Camp Cropper, the "high value detention center". There was something about deciding he was an Iraqi national and so he should be in Iraq. Maybe they had him at Gitmo - maybe they had him in one of those countries where torture isn't illegal - but that's just speculative on my part, and so not helpful, is it?
Perhaps prisoner XXX was taken to one of our "secret interrogation facilities for important prisoners" in some country like Thailand. Or maybe prisoner XXX is Zubaydah.

Let the information flow

There's been a lot of talk about the torture routinely used in Iraq as having been considered necessary because Washington was keen for more information - the term "flow of information" is always used. Like a spigot, you know. It will take a long, long time to fill your glass with water if you just let the water drip out. And kind of like all the poor people in America waiting for that trickle down.

So, guess what? Now that some shrill America-hating Democrats have called for an end to torture, the flow of information has slowed down. What do you people want? You want to lose this war? You want al-Qa'ida to attack America?!?

Confusion about the legal limits of interrogation has begun to slow government efforts to obtain information from suspected terrorists, American intelligence officials said Sunday.

Doubts about whether interrogators can employ coercive methods, the officials said, could create problems at the start of a critical summer period when counterterrorism officials fear that Al Qaeda might attack the United States.
  NY Times article

U.S. Marine head on the block

In addition to the three Turks who have been promised a release from earthly woes if their captors' (allegedly Zarqawi camp) demands are not met, there are now a U.S. Marine and a Pakistani man working for KBR waiting for their heads to be liberated from their bodies if Iraqis are not released from jail.

Oh, and allegedly, Zarqawi has not been captured.

Brigadier Gen. Mark Kimmitt, deputy director of operations for the U.S. army in Iraq, denied reports Monday that Zarqawi had been captured in a raid south of Baghdad.
  Reuters article

For Iraqi terrorists, a June surprise

The United States handed sovereignty to an interim Iraqi government two days earlier than expected Monday, aiming to forestall guerrilla attacks with a surprise ceremony formally ending 14 months of occupation.

Iraq's outgoing U.S. governor Paul Bremer handed a letter to Iraq leaders sealing the formal transfer of powers before flying out of the country. The low-key ceremony was over before it was announced and before ordinary Iraqis were aware of it.

At a second ceremony in the afternoon -- this time broadcast live on Iraqi television -- the government was sworn in.
  Reuters article

Progress as promised.

Thanks to the great humanitarian concern of the United States, Iraq is now a free and fully sovereign country, as the UN has announced. Except that we still have over 100,000 soldiers there, and that we still have the final word on where their oil goes, and that we can still arrest their citizens, and that the government can't make long-term policy decisions. Other than that.

Champagne all 'round.

Pip, pip, Hooray!!

Well done.

Mission accomplished.

U.S. and British officials say the handover is a key step on the path to democracy in Iraq, but one of the government's first actions as a sovereign power is expected to be the imposition of emergency laws, including curfews, to crack down on guerrillas.

...Allawi said after the handover that he was committed to holding elections in January as scheduled. Last week he was quoted as saying insecurity might force the polls to be postponed until February or March.

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

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Bringing back Saddam's army

I keep tellin' ya, it's gonna be just like before, only all bombed out.

Oh yeah, and we'll have control of the oil.

Exactly where we wanted 'em.

Iraq's new government plans to use former members of Saddam Hussein's army in the security forces after the transfer of political control from the U.S.-led coalition, President Bush's national security adviser said Sunday.

"But the Iraqis want everyone to know, and indeed the Iraqi government continues to say, that while they want to invite some trained personnel back, they are as concerned as everybody that people with blood on their hands not be brought back," Condoleezza Rice said.
  ABC article

There she is!

No doubt the Iraqi people are just thrilled about this. We just stood in for the goons till we could replace Saddam and bring them back, giving them a little break from the job of raping and torturing and knocking down doors. But now.....theeeey'rrrre baaaaaack.

And in case you didn't know it, with the exception of doing the raping and torturing and knocking down doors ourselves, that's very similar to what we did in Haiti in 1994 and again a few months ago - we just shuffle the people at the top around a bit, and then set the old armed goons back in business as usual. Works great.

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