Friday, April 30, 2004

It's official

No touch screen voting in California. And Diebold will face criminal charges.

California Secretary of State Kevin Shelley ended five months of speculation and announced Friday that he was decertifying all electronic touch-screen voting machines in the state due to security concerns and lack of voter confidence.

He also said that he was passing along evidence to the state's attorney general to bring criminal and civil charges against voting-machine-maker Diebold Election Systems for fraud.

Another one bites the dust

Perhaps she found the job impossible.

Margaret D. Tutwiler, the State Department veteran who was summoned from abroad to overhaul the public diplomacy effort, said Thursday that she was resigning to take a position at the New York Stock Exchange.

The move was a blow to the Bush administration's hopes to improve America's image and better articulate its policy goals as the country faces growing opposition to the war in Iraq and to its support of Israel's plan to redraw its boundaries.

It also highlighted the administration's difficulty in retaining managers of public diplomacy. Ms. Tutwiler's predecessor in the job was Charlotte Beers, a former New York advertising executive, who resigned in March of last year. At the White House, another official responsible for the administration's international message, Tucker Eskew, quit after about a year.

She and a couple others.

I keep a page of the fallout from this administration.

Teen Endangerment Bill

It's not what you might guess, I'll bet. Although I don't think I'd have been able to guess anything.

Thanks to La Belle for this item from a Planned Parenthood letter:

On Thursday, April 29, the Missouri House passed HB 1339, the Teen Endangerment bill, by a vote of 120-37.

HB 1339 would penalize any trusted adult - grandmother, aunt, minister – who attempts to help a young woman obtain abortion services outside of Missouri. It jeapordizes young women’s health but does nothing to reduce the number of teen pregnancies or abortions.

Next, this bill will be heard in the Senate Judiciary committee on Monday night, May 3.

La Belle asks, "So who's surprised?"

Well, not me, I guess.

The nightmare of 21st Century America only gets darker it seems.

Iraqi police force

Although Paul Bremer and his occupation authority in Baghdad claim to have been aggressively pursuing a policy of "Iraqification" within the security forces, to date the project has not exactly been a success.

The total death count for Iraqi police and military that have been slain while serving alongside US-led occupation troops now stands above 400 with another 1500 having been seriously wounded.

...Admittedly, with post-war unemployment still around 80% there has been no shortage of recruits anxious to earn the relatively princely sum of $54 a month.

...A typical Iraqi policeman or soldier is processed through a brief three-week training course before being issued an armband and a Kalashnikov and sent off to man the frontline checkpoints.

While some of the Iraqi Civil Defence Corps (ICDC) units are issued with ridiculous looking plastic helmets, there has been very little provision made by the occupation authority to outfit the Iraqi security forces with any real protective clothing.

...American occupation soldiers protecting the same installations will be wearing Kevlar helmets, and body armour while sitting in reinforced concrete guardhouses whereas their Iraqi counterparts who conduct the first line of vehicle searches, are afforded no such protection.

...In lieu of armoured patrol vehicles, the Iraqi security forces simply mount machine guns on small Nissan civilian pickup trucks.

Hell, it's just another way to speed the genocide. What's your problem?

New prison warden

A former head of the U.S. Guantanamo Bay jail in Cuba has been sent to Iraq to ensure proper prison conditions, after photos apparently showed U.S. soldiers abusing Iraqi prisoners, the military said on Friday.

What a great idea. The prison warden from Guantanamo! Because - there are NO abuses happening there!

What challenge?

The ACLU has filed a lawsuit challenging FBI rights under the PATRIOT ACT, but, according to the provisions in the PATRIOT ACT, were barred from telling you about it.

"It is remarkable that a gag provision in the Patriot Act kept the public in the dark about the mere fact that a constitutional challenge had been filed in court," Ann Beeson, the ACLU's associate legal director, said in a statement. "President Bush can talk about extending the life of the Patriot Act, but the ACLU is still gagged from discussing details of our challenge to it."
  WaPO article

...but, hey....

Our all-time favorite enemy: Fidel Castro

The Treasury Department agency entrusted with blocking the financial resources of terrorists has assigned five times as many agents to investigate Cuban embargo violations as it has to track Osama bin Laden's and Saddam Hussein's money, documents show.

In addition, the Office of Foreign Assets Control said that between 1990 and 2003 it opened just 93 enforcement investigations related to terrorism. Since 1994 it has collected just $9,425 in fines for terrorism financing violations.

In contrast, OFAC opened 10,683 enforcement investigations since 1990 for possible violations of the long-standing economic embargo against Fidel Castro's regime, and collected more than $8 million in fines since 1994, mostly from people who sent money to, did business with or traveled to Cuba without permission.

When was the last time Cuba attacked the U.S.?

DoJ seeks to gag FBI translator

Remember Sibel Edmonds? 9/11 widows and families' lawyers are trying to secure her testimony, and Doubleface and AssKKKroft are trying to stop it.

Look at what she knows, and then try to make that fit the DoJ's claim that "disclosure of her evidence 'would cause serious damage to the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States'."

The national security was already seriously damaged when they ignored Edmonds pre-9/11. What her evidence could damage is the administration's already effed-up credibility.

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

And monkeys might fly out of my butt

APRIL 27, 2004 - "Sen. Christopher J. Dodd, D-Ct., noted differences that he had with Negroponte when the diplomat was ambassador to Honduras in the 1980s. "Those differences stem largely from a lack of candor about what the U.S. was and wasn't doing in Central America in the conflict at that time," Dodd said. "And although I intend to support and strongly support this nomination when it comes to a vote in this committee, and later on the Senate floor, I want to make one point especially clear: That same issue -- candor -- in my view, is going to be critical with respect to continued support for U.S. policies in Iraq." Dodd told Negroponte that if the administration's policies are not working, "it'll be your duty to the American people to say so, and to say so very clearly and without any hesitation so that we can make course corrections before it's too late."

This is a real moment of danger for America.

The Bush/Limbaugh Republicans are the 1930's Nazis, period. And these eunuchs that make up the Democratic Party - these battered wives who will come up with any excuse to allow these Nazis to continue doing what they are doing - means that America will go the way of Nazi Germany.

I mean, look at who this Negroponte is and what his record is: READ HERE And then look at Dodd's words.

This is today's Democrat party.

"Now, Fox, I'm going to put you back in charge of the chicken coop even though you ate all the chickens last time, with the extreme admonition that you are definitely not to eat them this time." (Fox: "Okie dokie.")

Dimwit Dodd.

Just add him to the list of Demwits. It's a long, long list.

Is there anyone with both balls and a conscience living in America - who is willing to put down their remote control and stand up in defense of their nation?

Is that a rhetorical question?

Par for the Liars' course

From the Daily Mislead:

President Bush yesterday tried to deflect questions about his environmental record by claiming that he supports efforts to reduce America's fossil fuel usage. He said he had "introduced ideas like a hydrogen-powered automobile, put money behind it and research behind it" so that so that we will be "less dependent on foreign sources of energy" and we will "improve the environment." But Bush's hydrogen-automobile proposal is purposely engineered to be fossil fuel dependent, and it is paid for by taking money out of programs that are actually reducing fossil fuel use.

As Mother Jones reported, "the Bush Administration has been working quietly to ensure that the system used to produce hydrogen will be as fossil fuel-dependent - and potentially as dirty - as the one that fuels today's SUVs. According to the administration's National Hydrogen Energy Roadmap, drafted last year in concert with the energy industry, up to 90% of all hydrogen will be refined from oil, natural gas, and other fossil fuels". Such a system, experts say, would effectively eliminate most of the benefits offered by hydrogen because the Bush plan's use of oil/coal/gas to create fuel cells would generate large amounts of pollution. Not surprisingly, such a system would insure the massive profits of the energy industry, which bankrolls Bush's campaign.

Bush is, in part, paying for this fossil-fuel-based program by stripping funding from programs that are actually reducing fossil fuel use in America. As AP reported, Bush moved money into his hydrogen program at the same time he "ended an eight-year program to help automakers develop high-mileage, family size cars" such as the successful hybrids now beginning to permeate the U.S. market. Additionally, Bush proposed reducing "federal funding for renewable energy and efficiency research program by more than $200 million in 2002".

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

Other incidents of American brutality


Three more British citizens who were released from Guantanamo are telling tales of torture abuse, as has been reported by earlier released prisoners.

And in case you missed it:

Take no prisoners - yee-haw! Got anuther 'un!

Unfortunately, I have a growing list of articles on American war shame/war crimes. I don't intend to link them here, but maybe one day I will make web page for them.

American Women during the Bush years

As I've said recently, Third World Venezuelan women under the Chavez administration and their new constitution now have more equality and better rights protections under the law than American women do.

The Bush administration has stripped information on a range of women's issues from government Web sites, apparently in pursuit of a political agenda, researchers reported on Wednesday.

... A council report said the missing information fell into four categories: women's health; their economic status; objective scientific data; and information aimed at protecting women and girls and helping them advance.
  Reuters article

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

Tracking the bloggers

A new website tracks the most popular blogger stories in the news and provides links to some of the blogs discussing them. Memorandum

Don't expect to find YWA there.

We may not be big time or popular, but we try to keep you informed. (And believe me, it's sometimes a depressing job.)

....but hey, we'll do it anyway.

Joe Wilson's book is out

America's national security has been jeopardized because a man who showed heroism in the diplomatic corps told the truth about the Bush Cartel and the Bush Cartel sought revenge.

The story is mind boggling, and it is even more tragically ironic as you read the details in this personal memoir by Ambassador Joe Wilson, "The Politics of Truth: Inside the Lies That Led to War and Betrayed My Wife's CIA Identity-A Diplomat's Memoir."

Buzzflash interview

I wrote my article only after I had given the government several months, both in terms of talking to people close to the Administration, as well as some people within the Administration, and by talking on background to the press. I urged the government to come clean with this story that was patently not true. I did so because I fully understood that it is a penchant of this Administration, and it is a modus operandi of Karl Rove, to attempt to destroy the messenger who brings bad news.

It was important that the government correct the report that Iraq obtained uranium from Niger. And it was important that if, in fact, the government was going to come after me, which I fully understood they would, that the story was fully understood by the American people before they in fact destroyed the messenger. In urging the government to come clean on this Niger business, I was doing nothing more and nothing less than any American has been taught from social studies in seventh grade -- it is the responsibility of any American citizen in our democracy. We have checks and balances, and we have rights, and we have protections to ensure that we hold our government accountable for its actions. And that’s exactly what I was doing.

...What did shock me and I think shocks most Americans was what this Administration decided when they couldn’t discredit me to their satisfaction. Somebody close to the President of the United States decided that in order to defend Bush’s political agenda, that individual or individuals would violate the national security of the country and expose my wife’s name and her profession.

...It was a betrayal of the country, irrespective of whether they can prosecute this through conviction. It was treasonous and clearly the act and the subsequent pushing of the story, and trying to sort of promote this lie, was un-American in every sense of the word.

And I am unable to understand why these people are still in office.

BuzzFlash: Right now, the Department of Justice investigation into the national security leak that exposed your wife is in the hands of a U.S. prosecutor from the Northern District of Illinois. And Attorney General Ashcroft has claimed that he is no longer involved in the case. Is there anything that you can add about the status of the Department of Justice investigation, since there’s essentially been no real media coverage of this important national security issue?

Ambassador Wilson: Let me just say that the investigation is in the hands of the professionals. The prosecutor is a career prosecutor whom I hold in the highest esteem, and the FBI people who are looking into this are also professionals. So long as they’re handling it, I know for a fact that they’re doing everything they can to get to the bottom of it. Now the fact that they haven’t yet been able to get to the bottom of it suggests that there is a fair amount of covering up and stonewalling going on over at the White House, despite the President’s claim that he wanted his senior government officials to cooperate. Either he has no control over them, or they’re just simply not doing it.


Those useless polls

WASHINGTON - One year after President George W Bush declared an end to "major hostilities" in Iraq, public opinion there and in the United States is beginning to converge as people in both countries increasingly agree that the US invasion and occupation might not have been such a good idea after all. That is one conclusion of two major public opinion polls released on Thursday.

One poll by the New York Times and CBS News suggested that a record 58 percent of US respondents now believe the invasion was not worth the cost in lives and resources. And another by CNN, USA Today, and Gallup found that 57 percent of Iraqis believe US-led coalition forces should leave their country "in the next few months."
  Asia Times article

A national poll of Iraqis published Friday indicates 63 percent are optimistic their lives will be better in five years, USA Today reported.

The USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll in late March and early April queried 3,444 Iraqis.

Most want the United States to leave immediately or soon after the transfer of power June 30 to an as-yet-undefined transitional Iraqi government.
  Washington Times article

Let's take just a minute to reflect on polls in Iraq. Just a second, even.

Where are the poll-takers doing their poll-taking? Do you suppose they're in any of the bitterly embattled areas? Even at that, the Iraqis in safe areas don't seem to be too fond of our being there, do they, Mr. Faber?

Perhaps the polls should at least stipulate that, amongst Iraqis who are not under seige or being fired upon on a daily basis, the poll results indicate such and such.

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


Apparently, ABC Nightline's Ted Koppel is about to get himself the "traitor" label.

The country's largest owner of television stations announced yesterday that it has ordered its eight ABC affiliates not to carry tonight's "Nightline" broadcast, in which the names of hundreds of U.S. servicemen and women killed in Iraq will be read as their photographs appear on-screen.

"The action appears to be motivated by a political agenda designed to undermine the efforts of the United States in Iraq," the Baltimore County-based Sinclair Broadcast Group said in a statement announcing that it would yank the show.
  WaPo article

Yeah, right. ABC has really been out to undermine the U.S. efforts in Iraq.

Actually, maybe some of the media are finally noticing their conscience, as CBS finally aired the story of the prison tortures, after sitting on it for months.

[Barry Faber, Sinclair vice president and general counsel] told The TV Column yesterday that "our view was that the mainstream media focuses such a large percentage of their coverage of the U.S. efforts in Iraq on two things: one, the deaths of U.S. military members, and two, on Iraqis who are opposed to our presence in Iraq. We don't believe they're telling the whole story," he said, "so we sent people over there. We found, according to our reports, that the overwhelming majority are thrilled the U.S. is there after suffering years of oppression, and they are worried about what some radicals would do if we left."

Hello? Head up your ass, Mr. Faber? Majority of the Iraqis are thrilled with our presence there? I guess that's why things are going so swimmingly.

In an interview this week with the Associated Press, Koppel said he was concerned that tonight's "Nightline" broadcast not be seen as a political gesture.

"We had to be careful that it could not be seen as political on our part," he said. "I think it can be seen just as powerfully by people who are totally supportive of the war as those who aren't."

..."We believe ['Nightline' anchor Ted Koppel's] motivation is to focus attention solely on people who have died in the war in order to push public opinion toward the United States getting out of Iraq," Barry Faber, Sinclair vice president and general counsel, told The TV Column.

"If they wanted to do a program on, is the cost of this war in human life worth it, and discuss that issue and explain the benefit of what [the U.S.] is doing and what the cost has been and allow people to comment on it, that public debate we would welcome.

"But without any context and any discussion of why we're there and why these lives are being sacrificed, it will unduly influence people," Faber said.

One can only hope.

The Ugly American

And here is how the families of those soldiers excuse them...

Lawson, of Newburg, W.Va., said his nephew was being portrayed "as a monster. He's just the guy they put in charge of the prison."...Lawson and Martha Frederick, the sergeant's wife, said Frederick was being made a scapegoat for commanders who gave him no guidance on managing hundreds of POWs with just a handful of ill-trained, poorly equipped troops..."I can assure you Chip Frederick had no idea how to humiliate an Arab until he met up" with higher-ranking people who told him how, [his attorney] said.

..."We really don't know how those prisoners are behaving," said Zeenithia Davis, who is in the Navy in Mississippi. "There's a line between heinous war crimes and maintaining discipline."

...The alleged abuses of prisoners were "stupid, kid things — pranks," Terrie England said. "And what the (Iraqis) do to our men and women are just? The rules of the Geneva Convention, does that apply to everybody or just us?"
  USA Today article

Stupid kid pranks.

Stupid, yes. Viscious and depraved. Let's pull a couple of "pranks" on Mrs. England - let's stand her naked on a box with electrodes attached to her genitals and a hood over her head and see if she thinks it qualifies as just a stupid prank.

To add insult to injury, Americans are going to defend these criminals. At least in the Viet Nam My Lai scandals, Americans really seemed to be shocked and ashamed of the perpetrators.

These days, we're apparently determined to give the Nazis a run for their money in the brutal, soulless, scourge of the planet competition.

Actually, I think we may be pulling ahead.

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

The photos that shocked the world

I really don't know how people can still be shocked at the shameful, despicable policies and actions of the U.S., but at least they are still claiming to be.

Papers apparently aren't published on Fridays in Iraq, but the photos of extreme prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib have hit European publications, and the Arabs are certainly able to see them, as well as TV coverage showing the photographs. Of course, Iraqis have been complaining about the tortures and abuses all along. Perhaps, like most Americans, however, the majority of Iraqis, who had no first hand experience with the prison, are impacted by wide media visual proofs more than by a few stories.

"The expectation is that this is going to be a huge problem to the U.S.-led coalition trying to explain the situation, trying to calm down what are going to be some pretty fiery emotions."

Abdel Bari Atwan, editor of the London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi newspaper, agreed. "It is absolutely shocking. I think this is the end of the story, the straw that broke the camel's back, for America," he told the UK Press Association.

"People will be extremely angry ... sexual abuse is the worst thing in that part of the world. It is shocking to all Muslims. America has lost the battle completely. I believe there will be more attacks."

Yeah. I believe there will.

Perhaps it is no coincidence in timing that the U.S. just announced it will put one of Saddam's generals (complete in full regalia of his Republican Guard unit when he met with tribal leaders) in charge of an Iraq armed detachment in Fallujah and is pulling out U.S. soldiers today.

The Fallujah force is expected to include former Iraqi police and soldiers including gunmen who fought against the Americans, particularly ex-soldiers disgruntled over losing their jobs when the United States disbanded the old Iraqi army.

...As negotiations continued, one of three battalions of U.S. Marines packed up and withdrew from most of its positions in an industrial zone in the southern area of the city.

...In an apparent move to help the Fallujah negotiations, U.S. authorities Thursday released the imam of the city's main mosque, Sheik Jamal Shaker Nazzal, an outspoken opponent of the U.S. occupation who was arrested in October.

...Marines in the southern industrial zone began packing up their gear Thursday in preparation for a withdrawal.

This isn't that cut-and-run move the Oaf says we can't choose, is it?

Saddam must be getting the last laugh if he has any idea what's happening. And American troops in the area must be shitting their pants about now. That scene of the four contractors' bodies being dismembered and dragged around town is still pretty fresh. We might want to consider some more reliable helicopters than those Black Hawks have appeared to be for some under-cover-of-night major mass evacuations of American military personnel, instead of trying to pull out one battalion at a time. Just a suggestion.

Anybody heard anything more about hostages since the Italians were executed?

And whatever happened to Izzat al-Douri?

And whatever happened to having bin Laden surrounded in the mountains on the Pakistan border?

Yeah. What.

Thursday, April 29, 2004

Liberating the Iraqis

And freeing that awful prison where Saddam tortured people.... we could use it.

Justin Raimondo has a very good piece on the heinous behavior of our troops at Abu Ghraib prison: Depravity as "Liberation".

As I've always said, our troops don't deserve to be supported when they are behaving inhumanely, and this is only just coming to light. There's much, much more that hasn't been getting any press. It's a wonder this is getting press now. What if we had managed to have some semblance of order in Iraq by now? Would our media have ever reported this?

Buried in old reports from foreign journalists from the onset of the invasion are other appalling stories of American troops behaving like rabid sadists. Our attitudes that we have the right to invade and dominate other countries go a long way to encouraging such beastial behavior.

But, we're the good guys.

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

Worthless Commission

From an earlier post this morning:

Two Democrats on the panel, Vice Chairman Lee Hamilton and former U.S. Senator Bob Kerrey of Nebraska, left the session about an hour early. Hamilton, a former congressman from Indiana, was said to have had a prior commitment to introduce visiting Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin at a lunch.

Quotes from this afternoon:

"We had a marvelous meeting with the president. The president's comments were very candid."-Commission Vice Chairman Lee Hamilton, former Democratic congressman from Indiana.

Those that you stuck around for, Lee?

I can see how introducing the Canadian PM at a lunch would be much more important than what your worthless leader was doing on 9/11 while your country was under attack, Lee. I wonder what your worthless compatriot Mr. Kerrey had going that was so important.

Wouldn't have mattered I suppose. It appears to have been a suck-up fest. What a surprise.

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

INC investigations

Members of the Iraqi National Congress and its leader Ahmed Chalabi were airlifted into southern Iraq the day Saddam’s government fell. Chalabi was President Bush’s guest at the State of the Union address. Even today, the INC gets $340,000 a month from the Pentagon to feed the United States intelligence information.

But NBC News has learned that members of the group are now under investigation by Iraqi police in Baghdad...

Iraqi authorities tell NBC that four INC operatives are under arrest, and an arrest warrant has been issued for the INC’s chief of intelligence.

...All this comes in the wake of findings that key intelligence on weapons of mass destruction provided by Chalabi’s group was false, perhaps even fabricated.

In fact, the former head of the weapons hunt, David Kay, questions why a group that provided “fabricated information” is still on the U.S. payroll.

...Tonight, a Pentagon spokesman says he knows nothing about the police investigation but that the 4 million taxpayer dollars going to Chalabi’s group is already being reviewed.
  MSNBC article

Ah yes, our buddies. Thick as thieves. Or is that thick with thieves?

What a collossal shithole of a mess we have created in Iraq.

I think I need a vacation.

Correct me if I'm wrong...

....but didn't Billmon used to say that once we went into Iraq we couldn't pull out?

I could be wrong about that. At any rate, it's not what he's saying now.

More on those photos

From our sterling forces in Iraq...

The images, broadcast as part of the “60 Minutes II” program, demonstrated male and female U.S. troops laughing and joking in front of naked, hooded Iraqi prisoners in the Abu Ghraib prison.

The photos showed soldiers who run the prison, most them reserve troops, placing prisoners on top of boxes and tying their arms with cables, telling them that if they fell off, they would be electrocuted.

One photo shows a pyramid of naked prisoners with insults in English written on their bodies, and with soldiers standing on top of them. Several other photos showed prisoners forced to pose as though they were sodomizing each other or having oral sex with each other.

Gary Myers, the lawyer for one of the enlisted men charged, said in an interview that the military had treated the six soldiers as scapegoats and had failed to address adequately the responsibilities of senior commanders and intelligence personnel involved in the interrogations.

"This case involves a monumental failure of leadership, where lower-level enlisted people are being scapegoated," Myers said. "The real story is not in these six young enlisted people. The real story is the manner in which the intelligence community forced them into this position."

Excuse me?

What a sick lot. The bunch of them, enlisted men (and women!) and commanders alike.

I dont' know why Iraqis hate us. But I think they're jealous and they hate freedom.

Just in time for the Worthless Commission liefest: Lying administration database

From The Daily Mislead:

As the September 11th Commission grills President Bush and Vice President Cheney about their contradictory statements today, we wanted to alert you to a powerful new tool to help journalists, activists and the public compare the Bush administration's claims against well-documented facts. The Center for American Progress today launched a comprehensive Claim vs. Fact database at that documents statements from conservatives like President Bush, Vice President Cheney, Members of Congress and Fox News personalities, and compares those statements to the facts. Each fact is sourced, and in many cases includes a web link directly to that source.

Frick and Frack went before the Worthless Commission today.

The president says he had a good conversation with the 10 members of the commission. He says he answered every question they asked.

"It was wide-ranging," he said. "It was important."
  VOA article

Of course it was private, no recording and no oaths. I can't imagine anything coming out of it to interest us. Perhaps someone on the Worthless Commission will leak something.

But maybe not.

Two Democrats on the panel, Vice Chairman Lee Hamilton and former U.S. Senator Bob Kerrey of Nebraska, left the session about an hour early. Hamilton, a former congressman from Indiana, was said to have had a prior commitment to introduce visiting Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin at a lunch.
  Reuters article

The meeting couldn't possibly hurt the president. It was secret. Bush and Cheney could cover each other's butts so there are no discrepancies. There is no record. No oath. Just a nice friendly get-together. It has little to do with informing the public.

Even so, after three hours of talking, the commission issued a statement saying the meeting was "extraordinary" and went on to gush, in a statement: "The commission found the president and the vice president forthcoming and candid. The information they provided will be of great assistance to the commission as it completes its final report. " Whatever that means.

...The 9-11 commissioners looked pretty silly, pulling their chairs up around George W. Bush and Dick Cheney in the White House this morning for a good 'ol gab fest. Some of them probably didn't figure on becoming props in Bush's re-election campaign.

That's exactly what they became. As the meeting got under way the Bush campaign launched its spin. "This is a good opportunity," White House press secretary Scott McClellan solemnly declared, "for the president to sit down with members of the commission and talk with them about the seriousness with which we took the threat from Al Qaeda, the steps we were taking to confront it, and how we have been responding to the attacks of September 11." He added, "This is a private meeting. The discussion from this meeting will be reflected in their final report."

And when it was over, the president briefly talked with reporters, saying he had had a "good discussion" with the commission. In a condescending tone, Bush said, "I'm glad I did it. I'm glad I took the time. . . I enjoyed it." He didn't say what the questions were or how he answered them, but when reporters pushed, the president said, "If we had something to hide, we wouldn't have met with them in the first place." He added, "We answered all their questions."

So once again, without telling us anything of substance, the president comes off looking solemn and presidential, capturing the news for a full day of headlines that can't help but further tie down his campaign stance as the wartime president.
  Village Voice article

Personally, I think it's a mistake to go on that war president thing with the war going so badly.

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

Haiti update

A CARICOM meeting on terrorism with the U.S. has been cancelled because Washington insists it won't meet with CARICOM without the inclusion of Haiti, and CARICOM members refuse to acknowledge Haiti's puppet government for inclusion in the organization.   article

Haitians fleeing the island and returned by U.S. Coast Guard now number nearly 1,600:

The three interdictions were the first since the upheaval of February and a reminder that, while the political violence has subsided, the outlook for many Haitians is still so dismal they will risk their lives just to get to the slums of Nassau.

Previous posts on Haiti
More information on Haiti

Meanwhile, elsewhere in Iraq

The Bulgarian Defence Ministry said on Wednesday some 20 to 25 soldiers have asked to go home after repeated attacks on their 450-strong light infantry battalion in the holy city.

Ten to 15 more soldiers have requested to be relieved from the unit, which is based in the centre of the tense city, than at the beginning of April, said ministry spokeswoman Rumiana Strugarova.

The coalition of the no-longer-so-willing.

Resistance fighters in the Iraqi city of Falluja have placed a $15 million bounty on the heads of key US occupation figures, including Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld.

The reward is also offered for the capture of US Commander in Iraq, Lieutenant-General Ricardo Sanchez and US occupation forces' spokesperson in the country, Brigadier Mark Kimmit.

I suppose that will curtail any plans Rumsfiend might be making to visit his new colony. (I wonder when they'll produce a deck of cards.)

A US general responsible for four jails in Iraq has been suspended pending an investigation into alleged abuse of her prisoners.

Brigadier General Janis Karpinski is among seven officers facing charges that soldiers under their command mistreated detainees.

The suspension follows shocking US television images of US soldiers stacking prisoners on top of each other and even applying electrodes to one at Abu Ghuraib prison near Baghdad.

CBS TV says it has dozens of pictures showing a wide range of maltreatment. Taken by US troops, many of the pictures show American troops watching in apparent approval.

...Among the more disturbing pictures were prisoners with wires attached to their genitals and others being attacked by a dog.

...If found guilty, Karpinski could receive a written reprimand.

Oh, and the Taliban have retaken yet another sector of Afghanistan.

Yep, things are going splendidly.

"Returning to normal" in Fallujah

As Maureen Dowd quotes him, the pReznit has said most of Fallujah is returning to normal.

Apparently he isn't looking at this part:

US soldiers have fired on a minibus full of civilians near a checkpoint on the outskirts of the besieged Iraqi town of Falluja.

Witnesses said a hail of bullets from occupation forces on Thursday turned the vehicle into a ball of fire.

Iraqi policeman Fuad al-Hamdani said four civilians were killed in the unprovoked attack.

People have been leaving Falluja following major US airstrikes on the town, 50km west of Baghdad.

No one was able to explain why soldiers fired at the vehicle and the US military said it had yet to receive information on any incident in the area.
  Aljazeera article

Or maybe that's normal for the U.S. occupation.

Oh, and here's what they think of their new flag:

Do you want the strichnine or the arsenic?

La Belle forwards a link to Maureen Dowd's fine assessment of our "choices" this election year:

A guy who mimed being a fighter pilot on a carrier versus a guy who mimed throwing his medals over a fence?

...In their new book, "The Bushes," Peter and Rochelle Schweizer, who interviewed many Bushes, including the president's father and his brother Jeb, quote one unnamed relative as saying that W. sees the war on terror "as a religious war": "He doesn't have a P.C. view of this war. His view of this is that they are trying to kill the Christians. And we the Christians will strike back with more force and more ferocity than they will ever know."

Bush strategists seem to believe that the worse Mr. Bush makes things, the better off he is, because nervous Americans will cling to the obstinate president they know over the vacillating challenger they don't know.

Senator Kerry's talent for turning a winning proposition into a losing one is disturbingly reminiscent of Al Gore, who somehow managed to lose an election he won.So is Mr. Kerry's sometimes supercilious manner, and his habit of exacerbating a small thing with an answer that is not quite straight.

When the senator was asked last week whether he owned a gas-scarfing Chevy Suburban S.U.V., he replied, "I don't own an S.U.V.," only to have to admit, when pressed further by reporters, that his wife owns the S.U.V. "The family has it," he said lamely. "I don't have it."

...Mr. Kerry errs on the side of giving the answer he thinks people want to hear, even as Mr. Bush errs on the side of giving the answer he expects people to accept as true.

When the president was asked yesterday by a reporter whether it would take an all-out military offensive to put down the violence in Falluja, and whether this would impede the transfer of power on June 30, he was reassuring, despite news of the aerial bombardment of Falluja by U.S. gunships and the 70-ton battle tanks being rushed in to aid marines in the escalating fight.

"Most of Falluja is returning to normal," the president said, presumably defining normal as flattened.
  NY Times article

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

Ah, here's a fine idea

Former Saddam general put in charge of Fallujah security   article

Maybe we'll just keep screwing around until we put Saddam back.

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

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Venezuela's Recall Referendum - Update

The opposition party has apparently agreed to abide by the electoral council's terms for confirming referendum signatures.

It's rather an interesting story for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that apparently no one in the know is expecting the recall to oust Chavez, as even when (if) they get the disputes settled as to having achieved enough signatures to call for the referendum, the matter then has to go to a vote on the recall itself. In that vote, the opposition has to get more votes than were cast to win Chavez the 1998 election. Everyone seems to concede that would be a highly unlikely accomplishment. So, it seems like a whole lot of show and contention (and even some deaths) for an outcome that nobody expects to be other than Chavez remaining in office.

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

Previous posts on Venezuela
More information on Venezuela

And, all you women out there....

Days after hundreds of thousands of women gathered in Washington, D.C., to stand up for women's rights, a new report from the National Women's Law Center details the Bush administration's relentless attack on women's interests over the last four years. According to the American Prospect, the report cites, among other things, "the abolishment of the Equal Pay Matters Initiative; the cut in funding for programs that advocate gender equity in education; the reduction in the number of children served by the Child Care and Development Block Grant, which helps low- and moderate-income families afford child care; and the proposal to fund support services for domestic violence victims at 26 percent below the authorized level." The report concludes: "In ways both well-publicized and carefully hidden, glaring and subtle, the Bush administration is taking steps to roll back women's progress in every aspect of their lives -- their opportunities to succeed at work and in school, their economic security, their health and reproductive rights."
  Progress Report article

Women in Venezuela now have higher standards and better protections under the law.

....but hey, go ahead and vote for HeMan Bush. Do what you will anyway.

Economic Progress

TOM DELAY'S FANTASY WORLD: Meanwhile, the WSJ reports that while even some conservatives on Capitol Hill "are clearly nervous about letting the economic recovery speak for itself," House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX) said, "no matter what way you look at it, the American economy is the strongest it's been in 10 years." It seems DeLay hasn't seen the data which shows more than 8 million Americans are out of work, more than one million have exhausted their unemployment benefits, consumer debt is at record levels, wages are stagnating, and more than 40 million Americans are living without health insurance. See this new American Progress backgrounder of how rhetoric from conservatives compares with the harsh economic reality for millions of Americans.

More (plus links) here at The Progress Report.

They simply say whatever they want. It can even be an outright lie. They just repeat it a few times publicly, and that makes it true. And you can take the facts and stuff them up your.....

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

AWOL - redux

Of course, some of us didn't think the matter was satisfactorily put to rest.

From Josh Marshall:

Perhaps someone can help me with this.

Based on this article which ran today in Salon and emails I've exchanged today with veterans who are familiar with what these records should look like, apparently President Bush didn't release his complete military service records even though the White House repeatedly said he did.

What gives?

I fear this is becoming another example of my press colleagues' deep-seated corruption.

-- Josh Marshall

You know, I didn't start out being a Bush-hater, but I'm getting to the point where I want this slime ball to go down. And not only do I want him to go down, I want him to go down hard enough that it takes the whole criminal family, so that no Bush from this genetic line will ever again hold political power in any form.

Sorry. But that's not how I felt in 2000.

And may those neocon cronies - the whole damned administration - go down in the flames it deserves and in infamy as well.

I know that won't save the country (and by extension, the world), but it would sure clear the way for the possibility.

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

Operation Illusion of Iraqi Freedom

Billmon has a great series of quotes that should put to rest the theory that the U.S. has gone into Iraq to bring freedom to the Iraqi people. Of course, that would assume you are 1) able to read, and 2) not a rabid imperialist yourself.


Maru offers his view of the situation in Iraq:

The situation not being #ucked up enough, unindicted Iran-Contra criminal John 'human rights' Negroponte, the Bushies' new ambassador to Iraq, suggested that Iraq's "caretaker government" would only be a figurehead, with the US remaining in control of security forces, and the new government not having any authority to pass laws. What idiots. You can imagine how well that went over.
Mohsen Abdel-Hamid, a Sunni Arab on the Governing Council, said the prospect of the United States retaining some sovereignty is "not acceptable, this is totally rejected."

If the Americans do not respect agreements on giving complete sovereignty, "then the Iraqi people know what route to take," he said.

What a complete and utter #uckup. reports: Jamie Wilson, writing in the Guardian, lays out the whole sorry picture of what it really happening in Iraq - as opposed to the US media version -- which focuses on a battle here, a press statement there, a "patriotic human interest story" there.

Maru also offers in that post an exchange between the irrepressible Helen Thomas and spokesidiot Scott McClellan. Go get 'em, Helen. I understand she's been relegated to the back of the press room.

The Worthless Commission

This just slays me.

There will be note-takers in the room but no official record made when President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney appear before the 9/11 commission Thursday, the White House said Tuesday.

...In agreeing to the meeting, the White House insisted that the commission not make an official recording or transcript. One commission staffer will be allowed to take notes.

The decision, following a practice President Ronald Reagan used in 1987 when appearing before a commission probing the Iran-Contra matter, removes the possibility the transcript would become a political issue and prevents any subpoena of it.
  Indy Star article

Plausible deniability, I suppose.

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

I've said it before, and I'll say it again...

...the man has style.

I don't care to comment on his politics, or the absurdity of the whole show, but, hey, the man. has. style.

Colonel Gaddafi, wearing a brown burnous and black cap, was given a presentation box of euro coins after sweeping up in a white stretch limo accompanied by his female bodyguards in mottled blue camouflage and pearl earrings.

Damn, I wish I had a picture of that.

And don't think he's entirely docile these days, either.....

"We do hope that we shall not be forced to go back to those days when we bomb our cars or put explosive belts around our beds and around our women so that we will not be searched and harassed in our bedrooms and in our homes, as is taking place now in Iraq and Palestine," he said, as Mr Prodi fidgeted.

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

52 British dignitaries protest

The letter is worth reading in full, and probably it is also worth googling the signatories. It is extraordinary how terrified these experienced diplomats are, and amazing that these men who spent a lifetime practicing discretion would now speak out. I understand that the British special envoy in Iraq, Jeremy Greenstock himself, agreed with the substance but declined to sign because he was too close to the action. This letter is canary in the mine material, and should alarm everyone concerned with the situation in Iraq.

They clearly are afraid that the 7500 British troops and administrators in Iraq are in severe danger from Bush/Blair policies, and that Israeli Prime Minister Sharon's policy of "negotiation by murder" has the potential to set the whole region aflame, just as, in some ways, it already has Fallujah.

Juan Cole has the letter.

Iraq's political future

Juan Cole has a discussion of the situation as it currently stands for turning over power to the Iraqis. It doesn't stand well, as you might have guessed.

Ahmad Chalabi, Department of Defense officials like Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith, and the Israeli government all oppose Brahimi's role and plans. Secretary of State Colin Powell, some Bush administration centrists, and Saudi Arabia, in contrast, support Brahimi and his approach.

One additional player should be mentioned. Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani was the one who insisted on UN involvement in the process. He has been highly critical of the expatriate politicians, like Chalabi, whom he sees as corrupt and as working for foreign interests. Brahimi almost certainly would not be playing his current role had it not been for Sistani's demonstration of Shiite power, which was underlined by the recent uprising led by Muqtada al-Sadr. Although Sistani wanted earlier elections than are now planned, he also wants a limited caretaker government that will do very little other than prepare for elections. The Bush administration turned to Brahimi out of desperation and relative powerlessness, not voluntarily.

Chalabi has carefully larded the IGC and the cabinet with his relatives and cronies, and the Pentagon has given him most of what he wanted, including secret Baath government files that had no business being turned over to a private individual! Rather than democracy, the US has so far brought to Iraq cronyism, nepotism and financial corruption. Brahimi is attempting to move things in a different direction.

Read the full analysis here.

Negotiations - the U.S. Army way

Explosions and gunfire rocked Falluja again today in new fighting after a heavy battle the night before in which U.S. warplanes and artillery pounded Sunni insurgents holed up in a slum.

...Despite three straight days of battles, U.S. officials say they were pushing ahead with negotiations to resolve the Falluja standoff rather than launch an all-out offensive. Iraqi police took up posts in parts of the city, laying the groundwork for marine patrols.

I wonder if the Iraqis think three straight days of battle is "negotiations".

Juan Cole discusses whether it's legal.

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

Bad joke

Here's a video created from that real funny presentation DoubleSlime gave a while back at the Radio and Television Correspondent's Dinner.

Click the graphic.

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

Oh say can you see?

All that remains of America is the illusion.

It may come as a surprise to some that the Kremlin, symbol of secrecy and repression, has become more transparent than the White House, symbol of freedom and democracy. But such experience has become routine -- so routine, in fact, that Agence France-Presse White House correspondent Olivier Knox has proposed a slogan for the Bush team: "When we have something to announce, another country will announce it."
  WaPo article

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

Big Pharma

From The Weekly Spin:

The British medical journal The Lancet published a review of "six published and six unpublished trials" studying antidepressant use by children that concluded that, in most cases, "the risks exceeded the benefits." More disturbingly, the review found evidence that pharmaceutical companies "had been aware of problems but did not reveal them." In a memo leaked last month from GlaxoSmithKline, the company warned, "negative trial results could not be released" because it would damage the "profile" of the drug. An earlier review of cancer drug trials found that 5 percent of pharmaceutical industry studies reported negatively on the drug under examination, compared to 38 percent of studies carried out by independent labs.
  Reuters article

And aren't you surprised?

Fifteen-year-old American terrorist

A high school boy's artwork was turned over to the police by his teacher, and the Secret Service paid him a visit.

Welcome to the land of the free.

Cotton subsidies on the chopping block

Now, how do we promote the WTO and avoid its rulings at the same time? A little tricky, perhaps, but I'll be waiting to see.

The Geneva-based World Trade Organization (WTO), in a confidential decision, told Washington to halt much of the lavish aid it gives the country's some 25,000 cotton farmers, ruling it illegal...
  ENN article

Thanks to the firm stance of countries who are tired of being the lackies in world trade, specifically the efforts of Brazil and several African nations, the WTO appears to be coming around to some semblance of usefulness. On the other hand, I suppose we can simply withdraw our "membership".

At the WTO, trade sources said Brazil had successfully argued that the United States had gone above agreed limits for cotton subsidies and that this had led to over-supply which in turn had helped depress world cotton prices.

"They did not go into all the aspects of the Brazilian case, they focused on the price argument," one trade source said.

It was the first time that a developing country had challenged the crop support programs of a big trade power and analysts and diplomats said that other cases could follow. The European Union, another big user of farm subsidies, is already under attack from Brazil, Australia, and Thailand, all major sugar exporters, over the massive assistance it gives its sugar beet growers in a case that could be decided this summer.

...Trade sources said many U.S. and E.U. crops, including soybeans, wheat, and rice as well as beef and dairy produce, were possible future targets for WTO challenges.

"People are looking at other cases," said Argentina's ambassador to the WTO, Alfredo Chiaradia. "We might move on dairy."

But the United States has said it will appeal the WTO verdict, if, as is usually the case, the ruling is confirmed in a final decision to be made public around June 18.

Cotton kings have a lot of pull still in Texas and California, so this should be interesting, but when they get to Florida's sugar business, I imagine the big guns will come out.

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

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Blog spies

Junglegeorge sends this link, with the comment: "I guess it's easier to chase bloggers than terrorists."

Some blogs are whimsical and deal with "soft" subjects. Others, though, are cutting edge in delivering information and opinion.

As a result, some analysts say U.S. intelligence and law enforcement officials might be starting to track blogs for important bits of information. This interest is a sign of how far Web media such as blogs have come in reshaping the data-collection habits of intelligence professionals and others, even with the knowledge that the accuracy of what's reported in some blogs is questionable.

Still, a panel of folks who work in the U.S. intelligence field - some of them spies or former spies - discussed this month at a conference in Washington the idea of tracking blogs.

...The CIA (news - web sites) and FBI (news - web sites) haven't publicly commented about use of blogs in their work, but many D.C. observers believe both agencies monitor certain blogs.

At least one nation, China, is actively tracking blogs. It's also reportedly trying to block blogs. Several press reports earlier this year said the government shut two blogging services and banned access to all Web logs by Chinese citizens.

It's probably just a matter of time before some bloggers get labeled terrorists. Especially if Rabid Beadie Eye gets a second term.

Do they actually think they'll get it?

And why has it taken them this long to demand the reports? They're simply not doing their job, and they haven't been doing it for a long, long time. Which goes a good way to explain how this administration has managed to do what it has.

9/11 – CONGRESSMEN DEMAND FULL ACCOUNTING OF EMERGENCY MONEY: On the heels of reports the president diverted $700 million into Iraq invasion planning without informing Congress, Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV) and Rep. David Obey (D-WI) pressed the White House on Monday "for a full accounting of how the Bush administration had spent $40 billion in emergency money that was provided by Congress just days after the Sept. 11 attacks." In a letter to the White House, Byrd and Obey say that "contrary to the requirements of law, there appeared to have been no consultation with Congress on how $20 billion specifically handed over to the president for his allocation had been distributed. They also said the administration had not submitted required quarterly reports on the use of the entire $40 billion for almost a year."

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

After Bremer....

Today, Senate confirmation hearings begin for John Negroponte. If confirmed, he would assume control of the American presence in Iraq on June 30 and would inherit a host of occupation responsibilities and challenges from Paul Bremer. As Peter Ogden writes for American Progress, Negroponte was ambassador to Honduras when "the country was the base for President Reagan's covert war against Nicaragua's Sandinista government." While serving in that position, Negroponte was accused of "covering up abuses by the Honduran military to ensure the flow of U.S. aide from an increasingly skeptical Congress." His current tenure as the U.S. representative to the U.N. has only further undermined his credibility in the international community, especially in regards to Iraq, by leading a diplomatic effort that has been increasingly dismissive of the rest of the world. Other problems: Negroponte doesn't speak Arabic, has never been based in the region and has never been involved in post-conflict reconstruction. American Progress Senior Policy Analyst Michael Pan details ten tough scenarios the Senate should ask Negroponte to consider.

More on The Progress Report's analysis of Negroponte's qualifications for the job.

I'd say this is par for the course, and be very surprised if Negroponte fails to get the confirmation.

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

Failure of intelligence or deliberately misleading intelligence?

Justin Raimondo tackles the question:

I have long believed that the key to fighting the War Party is demolishing its central myth: the outlandish idea that the 19 Arab hijackers, all on their own, and managing to avoid detection for years, somehow humbled the mightiest superpower on earth.

...Somewhere in the chain of command there was a bottleneck, and this raises two questions: where – and why?

It seems logical to assign the task of the nation's security from terrorist attacks to the National Security Advisor, but Condi, as made clear in her testimony, is not taking responsibility. Whether the bottleneck was located in her office, or originated further down the federal hierarchy, answering the question of why is the ostensible purpose of the 9/11 Commission – which is charged with discovering how this vast "intelligence failure" occurred, and how to prevent it from ever happening again. But what if there was no failure involved here, but instead a great success: a concerted effort to divert attention away from Al Qaeda (and toward Iraq) that succeeded – with crucial inside help provided by operatives working in the upper and mid-level echelons of the US government.

As the focus of the Commission's investigations zeroes in on the crucial months and weeks prior to 9/11, Sibel Edmonds, a 32-year-old former translator at the National Security Agency, has her turn in the spotlight. She has been trying to direct the attention of government officials and Congress to her explosive contentions. Edmonds says that a cabal of spies, associated with Turkish intelligence, was working inside the NSA listening station, where electronic messages and other sorts of "chatter" are picked up, sifted, and translated, and that they tried to recruit her. They wanted her to refrain from translating certain taped phone conversations and other surveillance, and threatened her when she refused. In an affidavit filed with the Senate Intelligence Committee, Ms. Edmonds testified that "investigations are being compromised, incorrect or misleading translations are being sent to agents in the field. Translations are being blocked and circumvented."

The NSA is the eyes and ears of the US government as it surveys the world, and its own back yard, assessing threats and preparing to respond. But if foreign agents have penetrated the system, then decision-makers are deliberately blinkered, flailing about in the dark, deaf, dumb, and blind. Just as we were on the eve of 9/11, when two crucial messages were picked up:

"The match is about to begin."


"Tomorrow is zero hour."

These bits of "chatter" were given low priority and left untranslated until September 12. Given what we now know about the threat level at that point, how can such a "glitch" be explained?

Given what we know about Ahmed Chalabi's phony intelligence fed to our warhawks, the "failure" begins more and more to look like a question of being duped.

I might have to reassess my conviction that the warhawks themselves, with DoubleDumb at the helm, are complicit in the WTC attacks in their efforts to create a scenario of perpetual war to fill their personal coffers and greed for power. An alternative is that, in their greedy desires, they were easy marks for cleverer plotters.

Either way, the losers are the people of the world (and the world itself), because the whole mess still works to the benefit of the warmongers, no matter which side of the game they are playing on.

(More about Sibel Edmonds.)

The new Iraqi flag

It's causing a stir. I can't imagine why.

Iraq's U.S.-picked leaders approved a new flag for the country, dumping Saddam Hussein's red-and-black standard. The new design is white with two blue stripes, and although it has a crescent representing Islam, the flag no longer bears the words ''God is great.''

The new design not only abandons the symbols of Saddam's regime. It also avoids the colors used in other Arab flags: green and black for Islam and red for Arab nationalism. The change recalls the U.S. agenda of creating a ''New Iraq'' that is exceptional in the Arab world.

First of all, there's the question of creating a new flag before the Iraqis even get to elect their own leaders. (Oh yeah, maybe they never will get to.)

Secondly, there's the problem that the new design is very reminiscent of the Israeli flag.

Iraqi flag under Saddam

New flag proposed by U.S. appointed Governing Council

Israeli flag
graphics from Washington Post

And thirdly, the above-mentioned: "Allahu akbar" has been removed, and there is no reflection of Arab nationality in the flag's colors.

Oh well, it's just a symbol, right? Why all the fuss?

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

Fallujah - additional

A spokesman for an Iraqi delegation from the violence-gripped city of Fallujah Monday accused U.S. troops of using internationally banned cluster bombs against the city and said they had asked the U.N. to mediate the conflict.

Mohammed Tareq, a spokesman for the governing council of Fallujah and a member of the four-person delegation, said U.S. military snipers were also responsible for the deaths of many children, women and elderly people.

"In Fallujah, the American troops killed at least 800 people and wounded 1,800," Tareq told reporters. "We want to inform the world about the massacres and the human rights violations by the Americans in our city."

The Iraqi delegation has been lobbying in the Jordanian capital for international pressure on the Americans to abide by a cease-fire in the battle-scarred city.

Recent posts on the situation in Fallujah:
Drugged and Laughing
And in Fallujah, the truce ends
Baghdad Burning

Your leader on 9/11

Take Back the Media has a nice video that puts the lie to the claims that Bush acted decisively as a great leader on 9/11. I thought I was aware of most of the lies surrounding his actions that day, which convince me that he already knew about the planned WTC attack, if not the precise timing of it. But this video makes a point I had missed - that he admitted to a reporter before he went into that classroom, in fact, leaving his hotel room, that he was aware of what had happened in New York.

Watch the video.

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

The CIA killed Pat Tillman

Tillman, an ex-NFL star who threw away his career and a $3.6 million contract with the Arizona Cardinals to fight Bush's war as an Army Ranger, was killed in Afghanistan this week.

...So, how did the CIA indirectly kill Pat Tillman? It's quite simple, actually -- the CIA created and provided sustenance for both the Taliban and al-Qaeda.

...For millions of Americans, conditioned daily by the corporate pro-war media, the Taliban and al-Qaeda came out of nowhere, a rabble of terrorists united simply by their undivided hatred of our way of life and revulsion for our so-called freedom, as Dubya the Christian Zionist Crusader would have it.

Never mentioned is the possibility that Pat Tillman was murdered by militant Islamic warriors trained by the CIA at Camp Peary, Virginia, also known as the "Farm" (see Giles Foden, Blowback chronicles, the Guardian, September 15, 2001). Instead of attributing Tillman's death to blowback and failed policies, the Bushites wasted little time elevating the misguided and brainwashed football star's "patriotism" to mythical proportions and, unfortunately, they have cynically exploited it as an example of selfless "sacrifice" in the "war on terrorism," in other words the neocon war against Islam in the name of Israel, oil, neoliberalism, and corporate carpetbaggerism.

...After the Soviets unwisely invaded Afghanistan, the CIA and its Pakistani client, the ISI, recruited the most vile and demented Muslim fundamentalists it could scrounge up. For instance, guys like Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, "a particularly fanatical fundamentalist and woman-hater," as journalist Tim Weiner writes. "[Hekmatyar's] followers first gained attention by throwing acid in the faces of women who refused to wear the veil."

So enamored was Jimmy Carter, Zbigniew Brezinski, Harold Brown, Pakistan's military dictator General Zia-ul-Haq, Ronald Reagan -- he liked to call Hekmatyar and his cutthroat associates "freedom fighters" - William Casey and the CIA with the so-called Afghan rebels, they spent a whopping $6 billion grooming them. Between 1982 and 1992, some 35,000 Muslim radicals from 43 Islamic countries in the Middle East, North and East Africa, Central Asia, and the Far East were recruited.

Reagan was so excited about the idea of the mujahideen killing conscripted Soviet teenagers he issued National Security Decision Directive 166,29, a secret plan to significantly escalate covert action in Afghanistan. Reagan's directive came bundled with all sorts of fancy high-tech equipment and military assistance.

...One of these radical Muslims was Osama bin Laden.

...Although the Bush Ministry of Disinformation likes to claim Reagan and the CIA did not directly support bin Laden, defendants accused of the 1998 U.S. embassy bombing in Kenya have revealed the CIA shipped high-powered sniper rifles directly to bin Laden's operation in 1989, a fact confirmed by the Tennessee-based manufacturer of the rifles. "In 1988, with U.S. knowledge, bin Laden created al-Qaeda (the Base): a conglomerate of quasi-independent Islamic terrorist cells spread across at least 26 countries," explains Indian journalist Rahul Bhedi. "Washington turned a blind eye to al-Qaeda, confident that it would not directly impinge on the U.S."

Of course, on September 11, 2001, everything changed.

As for the Taliban, they were nurtured by the ISI and the Pakistani army. According to Selig Harrison, the creation of the Taliban was "actively encouraged by the ISI and the CIA." Glyn Davies, State Department spokesperson, saw "nothing objectionable" in the Taliban's plans to impose strict Islamic law on the war-battered people of Afghanistan.

Strict Islamic law, naturally, is good for business, just like it is in Saudi Arabia.

"The Taliban will probably develop like the Saudis," a US diplomat predicted in 1997. "There will be Aramco, pipelines, an emir, no parliament and lots of Sharia law. We can live with that." As well, they could live with the Taliban executing people for listening to music and women teachers. In May 2002, after Bush invaded, Hamid Karzai, the handpicked "interim ruler" of Afghanistan, held talks with his counterparts in Pakistan and Turkmenistan to finalize details on an 850-kilometer gas pipeline.

But it wasn't simply gas pipelines that motivated the CIA and the ISI -- it was, as well, the profits to be gained from drug production and smuggling.
  full Counter Punch article.

One of the events at the Solidarity Encounter in Caracas a couple weeks ago was a "Trial of the CIA." A group of panelists from Chile, Colombia, Cuba, El Salvador, Puerto Rico, U.S. and Venezuela discussed the CIA's involvement and crimes in Latin America. It's an incredible story that doesn't get any notice in American media. There's a book, Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II, which chronicles the long list of intervention and assassinations by the CIA (not limited to Latin America).

And if you want to know more about the ongoing real motive for the "war on drugs", Al Giordano's Narco News keeps track.

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

Collective Punishment

And more.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, things are most likely a lot uglier in Iraq than our media let on. Collective punishment is a war crime, plain and simple. And you won't see that phrase used in mainstream media to describe our actions, but even the commanding officers admit using the tactic. They just don't call it that. Independent reports are another matter.

But the clinic had no disinfectant, no anaesthetic, and other vital equipment required for the type of surgery the horrific wounds demanded. And as a form of collective punishment all electricity to Falluja had been cut for days. The clinic had a generator, but when the petrol ran out the Doctors had to continue surgery using the glow from cigarette lighters, candles and torches.

We spoke to the Doctors - they were exhausted, and looked defeated as they told us the stories of their recent cases - a ten-year-old boy with a bullet wound to the head, a grandmother with an abdominal bullet wound - both the victims of U.S snipers, young men with severe burns, limbs blown off and so on. But each time a new patient arrived the Doctors quickly got up, put on a new set of surgical gloves and got to work.
...The Doctors asked if we could accompany an ambulance packed with food and medical supplies across town to a hospital that had been cut off. It was in the US controlled section of the town so it was not able to receive aid because of constant sniper fire.

The Doctors figured our foreign nationality could make a difference in negotiating the safe passage of the ambulance with the soldiers.

It might seem a strange and unnecessary mission to help an ambulance drive from one place to another - anywhere else in the world it's a basic thing, but this is Fallujah and this is war and nothing is as it should be, despite guarantees laid out in the Geneva Convention.

...We drove slowly through the parts of Fallujah controlled by Iraqi fighters then stopped in a side-street that faced a main road. We could not go any further because the main road was under watch and control of US snipers. They had developed a habit of shooting at anything that moved.

So we parked the ambulance in the side street and the four of us got out with the task of approaching the American soldiers, communicating with them and getting permission for the ambulance to continue to the hospital.

The area was completely quiet. The silence was unnerving.

We prepared the loudspeaker, put our hands in the air and held our passports high. Before we ventured onto the main road we called out a message from the side street.

"Hello? American soldiers! We are a group of international aid workers. We are unarmed. We are asking permission to transport an ambulance full of medical supplies to the hospital. Can you hear us?"

The reply was just a chilling silence.

We repeated the message. Silence again.

...We walked slowly with our arms raised in the air. My eyes scanned the tops of the buildings for snipers. We didn't know where they were set up so we walked in the direction of the hospital.

We repeated the message over and over again on the loudspeaker, in the silence it would have been heard for hundreds of metres. It echoed eerily throughout the neighbourhood.

I turned my head briefly and just in time. In the distance I saw two white flashes, then the loud bang of gunshots and the ugly realisation that they were shooting into our backs.

...We re-grouped, but we didn't want to give up. Now we knew where the soldiers were, we could walk towards them. We decided to go out again.

Same drill: we called out the message first, then stepped out onto the road, this time facing the direction the gunfire had come from.

"Hello! American soldiers. We are foreign aid workers- British, Australian, American. We are not armed. We are asking permission to transport an ambulance on this road."

My injured hand was shaking as I held my passport now damp with my blood. I tried to work out what I was feeling: fear, anger, determination. I still don't know.

We had only repeated the message twice and walked a few metres when our answer came.

Two more bullets. By this stage I think I entered a state of shock. I had been shot at, not once, but twice by American soldiers after politely asking permission to transport aid to a hospital.

I guess the answer was 'No'.
  Full article

Diebold may be looking at criminal charges in California

After harshly chastising Diebold Election Systems for what it considered deceptive business practices, a California voting systems panel voted unanimously Thursday to recommend that the secretary of state decertify an electronic touch-screen voting machine manufactured by the company, making it likely that four California counties that recently purchased the machines will have to find other voting solutions for the November presidential election.

The panel also voted to send the findings of its recent Diebold investigation to the state's attorney general for possible criminal and civil charges against the firm for violating state election laws.

...Last November, the state discovered that Diebold had installed uncertified software on its voting machines in 17 counties without notifying state officials or, in some cases, even county officials who were affected by the changes.

...Diebold said it was not entirely responsible for the installation of uncertified software and systems in California because changes in certification practices at the federal level had caused delays with certification and that state rules about certification were confusing.

But state undersecretary and panel chairman Mark Kyle said the company's excuses rang "hollow" and that the state's rules were extremely clear. He expressed anger that Diebold had been deceptive about advance knowledge of problems with its smart card encoder before the March primary. He also accused the company of "bait-and-switch" tactics in trying to pass off uncertified software as certified software and suggested that the company might have colluded with the federal testing lab, Wyle Laboratories, to get its system through the California investigation.

...After the news in California, Diebold's shares on the New York Stock Exchange fell $1.10...
  Wired News article

Apparently that Diebold apology ("We're sorry for the inconvenience of the voters.") didn't quite do the trick.

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

Monday, April 26, 2004

Why do Americans still believe the false connection between UBL and Hussein?

Juan Cole speculates:

Why would so many Americans cling to patently false beliefs? One can only speculate of course. But I would suggest that the two-party system in the US has produced a two-party epistemology. Epistemology is the study of how we know what we know. If it were accepted that Saddam had virtually nothing to do with al-Qaeda, that he had no weapons of mass destruction (nor any significant programs for producing them), and that no evidence for such things has been uncovered after the US and its allies have had a year to comb through Baath documents-- if all that is accepted, then President Bush's credibility would suffer. For his partisans, it is absolutely crucial that the president retain his credibility. Therefore, rather than face reality, they re-jigger it to create a fantasy world in which Saddam and Usamah are buddies (as in the Jimmy Fallon/ Horatio Sanz skits on the American comedy show, Saturday Night Live), and in which David Kay (of whom respondents say they've never heard) never recanted his earlier belief that the WMD was there somewhere.

...It is bad for the country for policy to be made based on falsehoods, and it is even worse for failed policies not be be recognized as such because the public clings to myths.

I saw how the mythical opinions are generated at the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations where I testified last Tuesday. Former Secretary of Defense James Schlesinger testified, and began his testimony with a long quote from Usama Bin Laden about how the US was timid and had easily been chased out of Lebanon and Aden with a few bombs. It was an odd way to begin a hearing on what has gone wrong in Iraq.

Cole's entire post is here.

And he concludes:

There wasn't much partisanship at the hearings, since after all, Iraq affects all Americans. The only exception was Kansas Senator Sam Brownback, who seemed angry about the hearings and kept throwing leading questions only at Richard Perle. It seems clear that the momentum of the Republican Party at the moment is in the hands of the Brownbacks and the Santorums, and it is they who are shaping opinion among the rank and file, aided by the Limbaugh megaphone.

If nearly half the country cannot even see that things are going badly wrong in Iraq, one despairs that anyone will work up the political will to try to fix the problems before it is too late.

Personally, I think it is too late, precisely because half the country cannot (will not) see, and Congress has no political will other than to be reseated at election time.

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

Cheney in Missouri

Lifting an entire Josh Marshall post:

Dick Cheney goes to Westminster College, the site of Winston Churchill's 'iron curtain' speech, and embarrasses himself by sandbaging the University President who accepted Cheney's request to speak at the college.

Here's the first graf of an email President Fletcher M. Lamkin sent to faculty, students and staff this afternoon ...
I would like to thank each and every one of you who were so courteous and respectful to Mr. Cheney during his visit and speech. Frankly, I must admit that I was surprised and disappointed that Mr. Cheney chose to step off the high ground and resort to Kerry-bashing for a large portion of his speech. The content and tone of his speech was not provided to us prior to the event -- we had only been told the speech would be about foreign policy, including issues in Iraq. Nevertheless, I was extremely proud of the students, staff, and faculty who represented the College so well during the organization of the visit and during the speech itself -- inside and outside of the gym.

More background in this AP article.

Actually, I doubt if Oil Slick Dick embarrassed himself, even though he embarrassed Mr. Lamkin. And, frankly, I doubt if the students at this college in Fulton, a small town near the State capitol, had any problem with Kerry bashing. I'd like to be wrong on that, but it's really a very conservative place, and they are probably, for the most part, Bush supporters.

Still, hooray for Mr. Lamkin.

And, from the AP article:

Westminster College's president said Monday he was so "surprised and disappointed" by Vice President Dick Cheney's attacks on John Kerry during a speech that he is inviting the Democrat to visit for a reply.

...Lamkin, who described himself as a split-ticket voter, said he tends to be a bit on the conservative side because of his military background. He is a former administrator at West Point.

"I'm pretty independent," Lamkin said. "I can't tell you I am for one or the other, I'm not. As a college president, I try to remain someone who has all viewpoints represented on the campus fairly and equally."

Lamkin said he was not expecting a speech minus any mention of presidential politics during an election year, but that the second half "was all about politics and a political stump speech and in that respect it was disappointing."

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