Tuesday, August 03, 2004

That new intelligence czar?

I said it wouldn't work.

Somebody seems determined to make sure it doesn't.

Bush said the new director "will serve as the president's principal intelligence adviser and will oversee and coordinate the foreign and domestic activities" of the intelligence community. He said the counterintelligence center "will become our government's knowledge bank for information about known and suspected terrorists," coordinating counterterrorism plans across the government and preparing the daily terrorism threat report for the president and other senior officials.

...Rather than adopting the commission's idea of making the position part of the White House structure, Bush proposed making the director a free-standing office of Cabinet rank but not actually in the Cabinet.

... Bush and Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr., who later briefed reporters on the plan, made it clear that the director would not control the nation's $40 billion-a-year intelligence budgets. That power would remain with the individual Cabinet departments and agencies.

Bush said the director "ought to be able to coordinate budgets," and Card said that the director would have "significant input" and "tremendous clout" in developing the intelligence budget but that "it would have to be a developed budget consistent with other agencies."

...As for authority to hire or fire top personnel within the 15 agencies in the community...[t]he Bush proposal does not include giving the new intelligence chief power over personnel.

...Where the Sept. 11 commission would give its national counterterrorism center and other national intelligence centers the power to order clandestine operations and collections, Bush's proposal would apparently give its counterterrorism unit only the authority to gather intelligence from other agencies and prepare coordinated threat information.
  WaPo article

An executive summary writer.

Just out there, not actually in the Cabinet, not part of the White House, and with no authority. I think that takes care of everything.

"Now watch this drive."

Bush's proposals drew a generally favorable response on Capitol Hill.

But, of course! Was there ever any question?

Actually, the initials work pretty well: National Intelligence Director - NID.

It sounds like a NID, doesn't it? I'll just use the alternative spelling of czar and make him (or her) the National Intelligence Tsar.

Update 08/05:

Pat Oliphant

I needed a laugh

Josh Marshall, on the Illinois GOP trying to get Alan Keyes - from Maryland - to run against Barack Obama for an Illinois Senate seat:

It certainly doesn't seem like there's much time to make a drama out of the Illinois senate race. But comedy, it seems, is still a possibility.

...For more on Keyes, the self-proclaimed 'Quintessential American', see this page on his website.

Oooh, lordy. It just keeps getting more and more bizarre.

Good luck, Illinois.

Digby explains the dynamics

I think this is because the right is essentially authoritarian
and group derision is one of the most powerful weapons in the bully's arsenal. Frat boys, Heathers, street gangs, insider cliques of all kinds use it to terrorize the loners and coerce fealty from those who don't want to be a target. Indeed, forcing others to join in the cruelty is the actual point. I've loathed and resisted this dynamic my whole life. It may be the single most important reason I am a Democrat. I just can't stand those assholes.

But, it is a very powerful social force that asserts itself in various ways from childhood into old age. Right now, we seem to be in one of those periodic cultural eras in which these kinds of adolescent, anti-intellectual social types come to the fore. (There is no greater example than the president himself --- "Fuck Saddam, we're takin' 'im out.") It's hard to fight in this environment and while I am all for ridiculing them right back, I'm afraid that most liberals are never going to have quite the flair for it that they do. We have way more genuinely funny guys and gals deflating the hypocricies of our times, but the bullies have that nasty coercive streak that really gives this stuff its punch. "Laugh, you pussies, unless you want a piece of this."


Another look at it comes from an interview (forwarded through La Belle from Bill) with a fellow I referred to in an earlier post, George Lakoff:

[The conservatives] have a huge, very good operation, and they understand their own moral system. They understand what unites conservatives, and they understand how to talk about it, and they are constantly updating their research on how best to express their ideas.

Why haven't progressives done the same thing?

There's a systematic reason for that. You can see it in the way that conservative foundations and progressive foundations work. Conservative foundations give large block grants year after year to their think tanks. They say, 'Here's several million dollars, do what you need to do.' And basically, they build infrastructure, they build TV studios, hire intellectuals, set aside money to buy a lot of books to get them on the best-seller lists, hire research assistants for their intellectuals so they do well on TV, and hire agents to put them on TV. They do all of that. Why? Because the conservative moral system, which I analyzed in "Moral Politics," has as its highest value preserving and defending the "strict father" system itself. And that means building infrastructure. As businessmen, they know how to do this very well.

Meanwhile, liberals' conceptual system of the "nurturant parent" has as its highest value helping individuals who need help. The progressive foundations and donors give their money to a variety of grassroots organizations. They say, 'We're giving you $25,000, but don't waste a penny of it. Make sure it all goes to the cause, don't use it for administration, communication, infrastructure, or career development.' So there's actually a structural reason built into the worldviews that explains why conservatives have done better.

Back up for a second and explain what you mean by the strict father and nurturant parent frameworks.

Well, the progressive worldview is modeled on a nurturant parent family. Briefly, it assumes that the world is basically good and can be made better and that one must work toward that. Children are born good; parents can make them better. Nurturing involves empathy, and the responsibility to take care of oneself and others for whom we are responsible. On a larger scale, specific policies follow, such as governmental protection in form of a social safety net and government regulation, universal education (to ensure competence, fairness), civil liberties and equal treatment (fairness and freedom), accountability (derived from trust), public service (from responsibility), open government (from open communication), and the promotion of an economy that benefits all and functions to promote these values, which are traditional progressive values in American politics.

The conservative worldview, the strict father model, assumes that the world is dangerous and difficult and that children are born bad and must be made good. The strict father is the moral authority who supports and defends the family, tells his wife what to do, and teaches his kids right from wrong. The only way to do that is through painful discipline — physical punishment that by adulthood will become internal discipline. The good people are the disciplined people. Once grown, the self-reliant, disciplined children are on their own. Those children who remain dependent (who were spoiled, overly willful, or recalcitrant) should be forced to undergo further discipline or be cut free with no support to face the discipline of the outside world.

We're going to have to find the way to run a country split so decisively between world views if we hope to survive as a country.

Red alert on standby

The general who headed the U.S. military prison at Abu Ghraib said in an interview broadcast Tuesday that there had been a conspiracy to prevent her knowing about prisoner abuse at the jail.

...Karpinski told British Broadcasting Corp. radio that she had information suggesting officials took action to keep her in the dark about the mistreatment.

"I have been told there's a reliable witness who's made a statement ... indicating that not only was I not included in any of the meetings discussing interrogation operations, but specific measures were taken to ensure I would not have access to those facilities, that information or any of the details of interrogations at Abu Ghraib or anywhere else," Karpinski said.

..."Correct," Karpinski responded when asked if she thought there was a conspiracy at senior level to stop her knowing what was going on.

...Asked whether she thought the conspiracy reached up to the Pentagon or the White House, she said: "The indication is that it may have."
  Seattle Post-Intelligencer article

And Lynndie England's hearing to decide if she should be court martialed is being held at Fort Bragg this week. Her attorney says she's being scapegoated.

There goes your job, sucker

The number of job cuts planned by U.S. employers rose in July, while hiring announcements fell for the second straight month, an outplacement firm said Tuesday.
  CNN Money article

"Now watch this drive."

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

Orange alert, dumbshitz

Further on that three-four-year-old information that led to the high alert to steal Dem convention attention:

That stunt. That shameless propaganda. Your trusted leaders have both your tits in a wringer and your balls (if you have any) in their self-serving greedy, grubby fists. Right where they want you.

Now vote Republican, unless you want them to squeeze.

"There is nothing right now that we're hearing that is new," said one senior law enforcement official who was briefed on the alert. "Why did we go to this level? . . . I still don't know that."

One piece of information on one building, which intelligence officials would not name, appears to have been updated in a computer file as late as January 2004, according to a senior intelligence official. But officials could not say yesterday whether that piece of data was the result of active surveillance by al Qaeda or came instead from information about the buildings that is publicly available.
  WaPo article

Many administration officials stressed yesterday that even three-year-old intelligence, when coupled with other information about al Qaeda's plans to attack the United States, justified the massive security response in the three cities....

Intelligence officials said that the remarkably detailed information about the surveillance -- which included logs of pedestrian traffic and notes on the types of explosives that might work best against each target -- was evaluated in light of general intelligence reports received this summer indicating that al Qaeda hopes to strike a U.S. target before the November presidential elections.

Yes, and it just so happened that the most appropriate time to release that information and twist your tit a little tighter was right before John Kerry was to give his big speech. Not earlier this summer right after those reports were received. Not nearer the November election date. But right when it could steal a little thunder from the Dems' convention. Isn't that amazing? What a coincidence.

Bush said the alert shows "there's an enemy which hates what we stand for."

You know what, asshat? I hate what you stand for, too. You stand for greed, and arrogance, and corruption, and public manipulation. Deceit and dishonor. Avoidance of responsibility. So don't include me when you say "we", you pathetic piece of offal.

"It's serious business," Bush said. "I mean, we wouldn't be, you know, contacting authorities at the local level unless something was real."

I wouldn't be, like saying, you know, I mean, you know, if I had something honest to say. Lying coward.

Employees at announced targets in New York and New Jersey arrived at work yesterday with a mix of defiance and jitters. Some said they wanted to send a message that terrorists could not deter them from living their lives as usual. Others were visibly shaken by the presence of heavily armed police officers and new barricades

Yeah, well, thank your lying asshat of a president and his repugnant dick of a VP and their toxic slimey political manager for that.



You are right. My tolerance meter has about topped out.

Other officials also stressed that, however long ago al Qaeda operatives compiled the surveillance details, the information was new to U.S. intelligence agencies and was almost unprecedented in the depth of its details. "All this stuff was fresh to us," one official said.

Big whoop! It's still old information! Give it to the fucking Worthless Commission.

At the CIA's daily 5 p.m. counterterrorism meeting Thursday, the first information about the detailed al Qaeda surveillance of the five financial buildings was discussed among senior CIA, FBI and military officials. They decided to launch a number of worldwide operations, including the deployment of increased law enforcement around the five buildings.

There's a saying for that kind of action. Something about a horse and a barn door.

Initially, top administration officials had decided to wait until yesterday to announce the alert, but more intelligence information was coming in -- both new translations of the documents, and analysis of other sources' statements -- that deepened their concern about the information, and persuaded them to move ahead swiftly. "There was a serious sense of urgency to get it out," the senior intelligence official said.

There's your new information. New translations and new analyses. I don't know. Are these people total incompetents are just plain assholes? This country is going to implode. That much is obvious.

Numerous officials said yesterday, however, that most of the information was compiled prior to the Sept. 11 attacks and that there are serious doubts about the age of other, undated files. One senior counterterrorism official said many of the documents include dates prior to Sept. 11, 2001, but there are no dates after that.

"Most of the information is very dated but you clearly have targets with enough specificity, and that pushed it over the edge," the counterterrorism official said. "You've got the Republican convention coming up, the Olympics, the elections. . . . I think there was a feeling that we should err on the side of caution even if it's not clear that anything is new."

I'll be waiting to see what that reference to January 2004 actually turns out to be.

Sickening. The timing of course was absolutely necessary, right? Why not err on the side of caution in a few weeks at the Republican convention? After all, the information predates the WTC attacks. The logical assumption would be that this was information used to decide which building(s) to attack on 9/11/01, and that those other buildings were passed over in favor of the WTC. At any rate, there was absolutely no reason to release this very old information or raise the alert at this particular time. No reason whatsoever. Except for the Bush/Pinochet campaign.

In New York yesterday, traffic backed up at tunnels and bridges into the city, Hercules and Atlas police teams toting rifles and machine guns checked vehicles, police helicopters crisscrossed the skies, and employees throughout the financial district stood in long security queues, showing their corporate identifications and bags to guards.

Around the NYSE in Lower Manhattan, rows of concrete and metal barricades were in place and side streets were blocked off.

In Newark, officials set up concrete barriers and police teams around the 24-story Prudential building, where about 1,000 employees work. "I'm a little nervous," analyst Tracy Swistak, 27, told the Associated Press. "But I'm confident Prudential's doing everything they can to ensure our safety."

On a virtual hoax! How much money did that cost? How many freaked out people? Oh well, there'll probably be some kickback for the drug companies there. A few more Valium prescriptions.

Mistakes can be made. This is not an error. This was intentional. Disgusting. Tom Ridge should be sacked. And all who are complicit should hang their heads in shame and feel lucky they still get to retain their citizenship. Americans! Preying on the fears of their fellow citizens.

If this is what "the enemy" hates, I may actually start to believe they hate us for who we are. We're predators. And we prey on our own.

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

Update 08/05:

Plamegate update: Why Powell was called to testify

Sources close to the case say prosecutors were interested in discussions Powell had while with President George W. Bush on a trip to Africa in July 2003, just before Plame's identity was leaked to columnist Robert Novak. A senior State Department official confirmed that, while on the trip, Powell had a department intelligence report on whether Iraq had sought uranium from Niger—a claim Plame's husband, Joseph Wilson, discounted after a trip to Niger on behalf of the CIA...Though most lawyers thought the investigation was nearly complete, sources say Fitzgerald has recently recalled witnesses before the grand jury—apparently to ask about issues raised by a new Senate intelligence committee report that seemed to contradict some of Wilson's public statements about Plame's role in his trip to Niger.
  MSNBC article

al-Sadr update

U.S. forces have withdrawn from their position surrounding cleric al-Sadr's home. Source

Corporate blackmail

Because they can.

It was, as French trade unions have said in no uncertain terms, blackmail. In mid-July the 820 workers at the Robert Bosch plant voted to accept a new contract that increases their work week by one hour - with no increase in pay - cuts bonuses and freezes their salaries for three years. The company, Bosch France, a subsidiary of the German Bosch parent, had placed an ultimatum to the employees: accept the proposal or a slated new production line will be relocated in the Czech Republic. The move came quickly on the heels of a similarly coerced decision by 41,000 workers at a Chrysler-Daimler plant at Sindelfingen, Germany to give up $620 million in wages and unpaid hours or see 6,000 of their jobs moved to factories in Bremen, in northern Germany, where the hours worked per year is 72 hours longer than at Sindelfingen, or to South Africa.

The previous month in Germany, Siemens AG put a take- it-or-leave-it demand to phone factory workers: five more hours a week with no additional pay or the jobs go to Hungary. 'They chose to keep their jobs,' the Associated Press reported. Surprise.
  Bellaciao article

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

More on the Corporate nightmare that rules the world.

Oops, one little detail

That information that was handily provided just before Kerry's speech due to the capture of a "high value target" right on schedule, and which justified upping the color warning to orange, was three years old.

Much of the information obtained from al Qaeda that led the United States to raise terror alerts in Washington and New York was at least three years old but a top U.S. official said on Tuesday it remained relevant.

..."What we have learned about the 9/11 attacks, is that they do them (plan for attacks), years in advance and then update them before they launch the attacks," [White House homeland security adviser, Fran Townsend] told ABC's "Good Morning America" show, referring to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks against America.
  Reuters article

We know this is their pattern, because how many 9/11 attacks have we had? Maybe we have some more information on previous attempts which were foiled because we had this knowledge of how they plan?

Townsend said the U.S. government got its latest intelligence of planning for more attacks as little as 72 hours ago from Pakistan.

"We thought we had to get it to the American people so that they could protect themselves," she said.

How? Should we not go to work? Should we seal our houses in plastic and duct tape? Should we pack iron? Or should we just pack up and move to another country? Why don't we just shoot ourselves and get it over with?

Federal authorities said they were unsure whether al Qaeda's surveillance continued, the newspapers reported.

The Post cited officials as saying that much of the information al Qaeda gathered on buildings in Washington, New York and Newark, New Jersey, was obtained through the Internet or other "open sources" available to the general public, including floor plans.

"What we've uncovered is a collection operation as opposed to the launching of an attack," a senior U.S. official told the Post.

Well, that's not exactly how it was put to us, was it? No, I think it was: get ready because al-Qaeda is planning imminent attacks and here are the specific buildings.

This is your government gone amuck, screwing you without pause.

Bogus. Bullshit.

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

Intelligence Czar

Tom sends a link to an article about the lies told to us by NORAD and the FAA regarding 9/11.

During the hearing, [Sen. Mark Dayton, D-MN] told leaders of the Sept. 11 commission, that, based on the commission's report, a NORAD chronology made public a week after the attacks was grossly misleading.

The chronology said the FAA notified the military's emergency air command of three of the hijackings while those jetliners were still airborne. Dayton cited commission findings that the FAA failed to inform NORAD about three of the planes until after they had crashed.

And, he said, a squadron of NORAD fighter planes that was scrambled was sent east over the Atlantic Ocean and was 150 miles from Washington, D.C., when the third plane struck the Pentagon -- "farther than they were before they took off."

Dayton said NORAD officials "lied to the American people, they lied to Congress and they lied to your 9/11 commission to create a false impression of competence, communication and protection of the American people."


The Worthless Commission, whose chairmen are allegedly being considered to man the post of head of the new agency, recommended the creation of an overlord of intelligence.

"What we're trying to do is force the sharing of information and then make one person responsible," [Chairman] Kean said.


It won't work.

We are so dense. If something isn't working, we try more of it. It seems to be a common human brain malfunction. Your kid didn't stop sneaking out of the house when you grounded him for a week, so you ground him for a month. The dog peed on the rug after you rubbed his nose in it the first time, so this time you whack him with a rolled up magazine while you rub his nose in it. And eventually, you will find the amount of force that works. Or not. You may get stuck in Iraq where there seems to be no end to the number of martyrs available. Maybe you'll have to nuke the world to control it.

Anyway. It won't work. It won't fix anything. If the heads of six intelligence agencies can lie, be bought, or otherwise controlled, then so can seven. Christ on a bicycle people, it's not rocket science. If the heads of twelve intellgence agencies are concerned about covering their asses, even if it means they have to cover up some pertinent bit of information, then the head of the thirteenth agency can be concerned about his ass, too.

You want somebody to make responsible, then why not the POTUS? He's at the top of the heap. Responsibility doesn't seem to reach that far for some reason I am unable to grasp.

And if the Congress or the Worthless Commission wants to delegate responsibility, they should probably start with themselves. They voted to give the Idiot in Chief powers the Constitution didn't. They didn't do any homework when issues came their way; they just voted "aye". You see where I'm going here. If people are not willing to actually take responsibility themselves, why on earth do they think they can appoint someone else to take it?

And just what does that mean anyway? When was the last time anybody in office took responsibility for anything and it made one iota of difference in what is happening?

Another agency, another position, won't fix anything.

I am reminded again of Jerry Brown in the presidential primaries back in whatever year it was that Bill Clinton was elected the first time around. Speaking at a debate, he said of the other candidates: You all want to go to Washington and tweak things when what we need is a crowbar.

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

Monday, August 02, 2004

Top cleric's home is surrounded

US occupation troops have surrounded the home of Shia Muslim leader Muqtada al-Sadr in the central Iraqi holy city of Najaf, an AFP correspondent witnessed.

US armoured vehicles, backed by Iraqi security forces, cordoned off the Al-Zahra neighbourhood, where Sadr's home is located in the eastern part of the city.

Smoke was seen rising from the area amid the sound of heavy gunfire, mortar fire and rocket-propelled grenade explosions.

No further details of the US occupation military action are immediately available and it's not clear if al-Sadr is at home.
  Aljazeera article

U.S. forces arrest Sunni editor

US occupation forces in Iraq have arrested Dr Muthana Harith al-Dhari the editor of al-Basaer newspaper (Insight) and media officer for the influential Association of Muslim Scholars.

"US forces arrested Muthana Harith al-Dhari this morning as he turned up at the Um al-Quraa mosque, the headquarters of the committee," Ahmad Abd Al-Ghafur al-Sammarai of the AMS, Iraq's leading Sunni authority, said.

"This is the work of the occupation forces. They're here to intimidate and terrorise people not to rebuild our country," he added.

..."We were on our way to the headquarters of the AMS, going out from the studio of the LBC (Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation), where Dr al-Dhari had given an interview.

"A US patrol emerged suddenly and stopped our convoy. They searched the cars, and then asked us to step aside and called for reinforcements.

"A number of Humvees arrived with detecting devices. They gave us body scans, and told us that Dr Muthana and two of his companions were to be arrested because the device detected remains of explosives on Dr al-Dhari's hands."

Abd Al-Karim said the group was enraged at the US's allegations and stressed that Dr al-Dhari was a guest in a TV interview.

"The US soldiers at the scene told us either we shut up, or we would be arrested with Dr al-Dhari," he said.

..."It appears that he was arrested for saying something in a broadcast interview that the US occupation authorities did not like," Ahmad said.
  Aljazeera article

Clothes make the man

There's this blurb in an article about the high value target that Pakistan promised the Bushies and handed over during the DNC - he had computers with some emails that discussed plans to attack US and UK. Okay, fine. But this bit deep into the article tossed in about the attempted assassination of the Pakistani bigwig is what really got my attention:

News of the break comes as police comb through evidence from an assassination attempt against Pakistan’s prime minister-designate believed orchestrated by Al Qaeda. Police were questioning a tailor they believe made the clothes for the suicide bomber who blew himself up Friday.

These guys have tailors? I guess you want to look your best when you meet those 70 virgins in heaven. I'm sorry the article didn't give a description of the outfit. Inquiring minds want to know.

Another level on the pyramid

Bush says he's going to name an intelligence czar. Because, for some reason, the FBI, the CIA, the NSA, the DIA and the CSS just aren't playing well together.

Asked why he embraced the idea over the objections of some of his advisors, Bush told reporters during an impromptu press conference in the White House Rose Garden he "thought it was the right thing to do."
  CBS article

I guess that's one better than, "Because I said so," which is only slightly better than, "Because God told me to."

Asked about the intelligence failures leading up to the war in Iraq, Bush defended his decision to oust former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

"Knowing what I know today, we still would have gone into Iraq," Bush said.

Because it was the right thing to do, of course.

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

Plamegate: the Niger forgeries

Martino may well be the "independent" source that British intelligence maintains it had, apart from the forged documents, for the story of Iraq attempts to purchase Niger uranium. If so, it turns out that his "reports" are no more genuine than his documents. Martino alleged that the forgeries were produced by Italian intelligence, SISMI, and were given to their agent in the Niger embassy in Rome to be passed on to Martino from there. They knew Martino, who had once worked for SISMI, would immediately sell the documents to Western intelligence agencies. The question of why SISMI would produce such bad forgeries, which were falsified within a day of their receipt by the IAEA in early March of 2003, remains a mystery unresolved in Martino's account.
Juan Cole post

And, then the obvious questions: 1) why was the Italian intelligence service feeding the U.S. false information, and 2) if the documents were proven false within a day of their receipt, why were they used as evidence in the Idiot Asshat's speech?

Bushies duped by bin Laden?

All of these wars were intended to stir hatred of the US invader throughout the Muslim world, to weaken the "puppet" governments of the Middle East that were allied with the US and make them ripe for overthrow, and to mire the US in a series of Islamic quagmires that would sap its will and strength and ultimately force its withdrawal from the region.


Read Juan Cole's post for the evidence and explanation.

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

Debt financing

The debt had yet to reach its first $1 trillion when Jimmy Carter left office in 1980. It tripled under Ronald Reagan, hit $4 trillion before George H.W. Bush left office, $5.6 trillion when Bill Clinton left, and has now passed the $7 trillion mark. Servicing that debt - paying the interest that the government must provide to lenders - takes one-fifth of your taxes. But you ain't seen nuthin' yet.
  Des Moines Register article

If you do that personally, you're considered irresponsible and a bad credit risk.

Those lenders are happy, though.

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

P.S.
If you started right now and spent 24/7 counting to 7 trillion, you'd never make it. It would take about 70,000 years.


Presidential Auction 2004


Will Ferrell as George W. Bush - campaign commercial. Click the graphic. Watch the video.

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

Report from Iraq

Living in Iraq these past few weeks is a weird as well as dangerous experience. I drive down to Najaf. Highway 8 is one of the worst in Iraq. Westerners are murdered there. It is littered with burnt-out police vehicles and American trucks. Every police post for 70 miles has been abandoned. Yet a few hours later, I am sitting in my room in Baghdad watching Tony Blair, grinning in the House of Commons as if he is the hero of a school debating competition; so much for the Butler report.

...[N]ot a single American soldier I have spoken to, not a single mercenary - be he American, British or South African - believes that there will be elections in January. All said that Iraq is deteriorating by the day. And most asked why we journalists weren’t saying so.

...I turn on my television and watch Bush telling his Republican supporters that Iraq is improving, that Iraqis support the "coalition", that they support their new US-manufactured government, that the "war on terror" is being won, that Americans are safer....Each day, the papers here list another construction company pulling out of the country. And I go down to visit the friendly, tragically sad staff of the Baghdad mortuary and there, each day, are dozens of those Iraqis we supposedly came to liberate, screaming and weeping and cursing as they carry their loved ones on their shoulders in cheap coffins.

...Oil pipeline explosions are now as regular as power cuts. In parts of Baghdad now, they have only four hours of electricity a day; the streets swarm with foreign mercenaries, guns poking from windows, shouting abusively at Iraqis who don’t clear the way for them.

...The entire Arab press - including the Baghdad papers - prints the judge’s name [in Saddam's opening court appearance]. Indeed, the same judge has given interviews about his charges of murder against Muqtada Sadr. He has posed for newspaper pictures. But when I mention his name in The Independent, I was solemnly censured by the British Government’s spokesman. Salem Chalabi threatened to prosecute me.

...Indeed, watching any Western television station in Baghdad these days is like tuning in to Planet Mars. Doesn’t Blair realise that Iraq is about to implode? Doesn’t Bush realise this? The American-appointed "government" controls only parts of Baghdad - and even there its ministers and civil servants are car-bombed and assassinated. Baquba, Samara, Kut, Mahmoudiya, Hilla, Fallujah, Ramadi, all are outside government authority. Iyad Allawi, the "Prime Minister", is little more than mayor of Baghdad. "Some journalists," Blair announces, "almost want there to be a disaster in Iraq." He doesn’t get it. The disaster exists now.
  Information Clearinghouse article - Robert Fisk

Is this part of the plan?

We keep hearing that we're training the Iraqi police to take over the job of security in their country.

Five hooded men hopped out of a car at the checkpoint, heavily armed and clearly eager for blood. Iraqi policeman Maytham Talib figured it was time to quit his job.

"Each one of them had an automatic weapon. The police, we had four rifles, but only two worked. We had seven bullets for each rifle. We ran," said Talib, 25. He had already seen two colleagues gunned down at a checkpoint and two others slain by a grenade. He fled, took a bus home and has not been back to work since.

Established by the U.S. occupation authority and trained by foreign troops, Iraq's police and National Guard have been targets of insurgent attacks for months. With the formal end of U.S. occupation, they have been dying in ever larger numbers -- at least 127 have been killed in the last two months. The danger, coupled with low pay, has caused many to quit.

Defections pose a serious obstacle to the rebuilding of Iraq's security forces but not the only one. Planning has been chaotic, units have staged mutinies, and essential equipment has not been delivered. In recent months, the entire process of recruitment and training has been largely scrapped and begun again, and the interim Iraqi government that was installed on June 28 has dictated more changes.

"It was worse than starting from scratch," complained Sabah Kadhim, a top official in the Interior Ministry, which is in charge of police. "We had to weed out criminals from the policemen who the Americans put there."

After more than a year under the occupation, Kadhim said, "the police lacked efficiency, lacked organization, lacked cars, lacked weapons, lacked communication. Literally, they didn't have clothing."

Now, Iraqi and U.S. officials insist, the security forces are making progress.
  Information Clearinghouse article

Nuclear proliferation turn around

Read Hullabaloo regularly for news and insights. It's worth your while. But, as most people, Digby seems to be deluded about our leaders, believing they actually intend to serve America. Oh well, some beliefs die hard.

In this post, Digby is talking about the rather bizarre turn in discussions about an international ban on nuclear proliferation. It seems that the U.S. would have the ban in place, but no inspections or verification provisions - too expensive.

Nuclear proliferation is a potent issue politically and an extremely important issue on the merits. That Bush and his team think it's smart on either level to do this right now is simply inexplicable to me. I'm starting to wonder if those Capital Hill Blue reports of a White House on drugs aren't true.

There can be no peace, no winning the GWOT, no safety for the people of the United States and the world without new measures and controls on the development of nuclear weapons. The idea that they are not doing absolutely everything possible to get formal and informal information about those weapons, whatever the cost, is shocking. That they aren't concerned particularly about Pakistan and India, one of which is the prime breeding ground of islamic fundamentalism ferchristssake, is completely and totally bizarre.

But, Digby has some inklings, and after getting feedback, he comes out with them...

The neocons have never, to my knowledge, been consciously working against American interests. Indeed, they believe that Israel and the United States' interests are the same, which in many cases they are. But, in my view, many of the policies set forth by the Likud party, to which the neocons actively serve as advisors (see "Clean Break") are counterproductive to real American interests in the region and serve the neocons fevered troskyite wet dream of a democratic world revolution under the Pax Americana.

I think that first sentence is where people get off the track. The neocons' interets are themselves. If America's interests coincide or cross-over their own in any way, well and good. But America is their tool, not their charge. And that is the essential point to remember. Unfortunately, that isn't restricted to neocons.

Still, Digby points out the truth, without being able to see it. He should read his own writing. (Even as in the post before this one he closes in on the truth when he says about Republicans: These people are not interested in governing in a democratic system, which takes negotiation, compromise and patience. They are about power which requires far less complexity.)

But, this last year has been something of a disaster for the neocon vision of American hegemony. We have demonstrated to the entire world in as vivid a way as possible that we are something of a paper tiger. It is perhaps impolitic of me to suggest that this might have induced a nutcase like Josh Bolton (who isn't Jewish, btw) to try to use Israel to undermine America's now very practical necessity to play fair in that part of the world as regards nuclear proliferation. But, I would not put it past him. His loyalties to the US can surely be questioned when in light of failure after failure on this most serious of issues (let's not even discuss North Korea) he continues to press on. If that's anti-semitic, so be it.

That last is because some of Digby's readers jumped on his post. Lord knows you can't discuss Israel without being shouted down as anti-semitic. There will always be hordes of people preserving the higher thinking, rational parts of their brains. I suppose they're more valuable at collectors' auctions that way.

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

White Supremecists teaming up with Islamic terrorists?

Digby has the report.

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

King George nears November

And so, he is forced to consider implementing some of the Worthless Commission's recommendations. He didn't want the Commission in the first place. He stalled providing information to it. He withheld information from it. Now he's going to pick and choose the recommendations he wishes to put in place.

CNN lists some of those he's allegedly considering. A couple things - one of the recommendations he is apparently considering is that of creating an FBI work force of linguists and analysts to focus on national security. I thought we already had that. I thought that's what Sibel Edmonds was hired to do, and was subsequently fired when she blew the whistle on cover-ups and possible terrorist collaborators in the house.

Some of Bush's moves will go beyond the 9/11 commission's recommendations on civil liberties and privacy protections, sources said, and the president will highlight measures he can implement immediately with executive orders.

Is that what they call politicizing our national security? If he could have implemented some measures by executive order that would increase our national security, why hasn't he done so already?

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

Turk executed, trucking company relents

A video posted on the Internet shows a masked gunman pumping three bullets into the head of a Turkish hostage, and the Turkish truckers' union said Monday it would stop bringing supplies to U.S. forces in Iraq, bowing to militant demands in hopes of saving two other captive Turks.
  Boston.com article

Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Husseini al-Sistani said in a statement that Sunday's assaults on Christian churches ''targeted Iraq's unity, stability and independence.''

The unprecedented attacks against Iraq's 750,000-member Christian hitting four churches in Baghdad and one in Mosul appeared to confirm community members' fears they might be targeted as suspected collaborators with American forces amid a rising tide of Islamic fundamentalism.

Preempted, I think is the way George describes it.

Sunday, August 01, 2004

AWOL

Lawrence J. Korb, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Manpower, Reserve Affairs, Installations and Logistics under Ronald Reagan from 1981-1985, confirmed RAW STORY’s legal analysis of President Bush’s Guard Service in a telephone call Friday afternoon.

The analysis, which proves that President George W. Bush was absent without leave from the Texas Air National Guard in 1972, is available here.

Given proof that Bush missed five months of Guard training sessions, he said that Bush would be considered AWOL.

“If you don’t show up, you’re absent without leave, by definition,” Korb said.

No more than ten percent of sessions could be missed without them being made up, he asserted, confirming RAW STORY’s findings. He added that President Bush should have been mandated to serve active duty if he missed even two months of service in a fiscal year – 24 months of active duty minus the amount of active duty already served.
  Blue Lemur article

Sieg heil

President Bush's re-election campaign insisted on knowing the race of an Arizona Daily Star journalist assigned to photograph Vice President Dick Cheney.

The Star refused to provide the information.

...A rally organizer for the Bush-Cheney re-election campaign asked Teri Hayt, the Star's managing editor, to disclose the journalist's race on Friday. After Hayt refused, the organizer called back and said the journalist probably would be allowed to photograph the vice president.

"It was such an outrageous request, I was personally insulted," Hayt said later.
  Daily Star article

Powell called to testify in the Plame case

I don't know why.

Reuters report
Seattle Post Intelligencer

Maybe Josh Marshall will have some insight on it now that he's finished with the Demo Convention. He's been working on this case for a long time and dropping hints of a scoop about the forged Niger documents. Apparently, his scoop got scooped.

"Sexing up" the WMD reports

John Scarett, who was at the time the head of Britain's Joint Intelligence Committee, which advises the Prime Minister on intelligence matters, allegedly tried to get Britain's secret intelligence service MI6 to include false information about WMD in Iraq.

Respected investigative journalist Tom Mangold – a friend of UK weapons inspector David Kelly, who killed himself last year after being exposed as the source of stories casting doubt on Government claims about Iraqi WMD – said that he had been informed that ISG officials were “stunned and dismayed” by the request.

He quoted the unnamed ISG insider as saying: “Inclusion of Scarlett’s nuggets would have been grossly manipulative of the truth. In fact, let’s face it, he wanted us to include lies.

“This was a blatant attempt by the highly influential and respected British intelligence chief to insert material into our report which we knew for a hard fact was totally untrue.
  Scotsman article

Apparently, it was good enough for a promotion, though. Mr. Scarlett is the new head of MI6.

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

Now they've gone and crossed the line

At least two people are dead and 60 injured in a series of coordinated bombings at Christian churches in Iraq.

Two explosions just minutes apart shook separate Baghdad churches in a largely Christian neighborhood during Sunday evening services. Those blasts were followed shortly by two more explosions at churches in other areas of the capital. And a third bomb was found in front of another church nearby, but it didn't explode.

At about the same time, a car bomb and a grenade attack hit a Catholic church in Mosul, just as worshipers were coming out of Mass.

The attacks mark the first time insurgents have targeted Iraq's Christian minority.
  Capital News article

Those evil-doers are really in trouble now.

The color code just got more complicated

The federal government warned Sunday of possible terrorist attacks against "iconic" financial institutions in New York City, Washington and Newark, N.J., saying a confluence of intelligence over the weekend pointed to a car or truck bomb.

Specifically, the government named these buildings as potential targets:

The Citicorp building and the New York Stock Exchange in New York City.

The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank buildings in Washington.

The Prudential building in Newark.

...Ridge said the government's threat level for financial institutions would be raised to orange, or high alert, but would remain at yellow, or elevated, elsewhere.
  ABC News article

Actually, I like this turn if they'll just take it a step further. I mean, there are some buildings whose threat of terrorist attack probably wouldn't even make the color chart, right? Like those porta-johns at construction sites. Maybe not odorless, but absolutely colorless, huh? I bet if you just hung out in a porta-john, you'd never have to worry about being attacked by freedom-hating Middle East-looking suiciders, right?

Ridge said it would be up to New York City officials to decide whether to move to the highest level, red. The city has remained on orange since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

And I didn't even know. Obviously, you're not going to be able to count on me to keep you posted. You'll have to scare yourself.

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

Master Blaster



It's a Long Range Acoustic Device—a megaphone with unprecedented clarity and aim that can shoot compact sound waves across several hundred yards at up to 150 decibels. Designed by American Technology Corp., the LRAD is for fending off insurgents, dispersing crowds, flushing out buildings and telling people "not to come any closer," says Marine Capt. D. J. McSweeney. Thirty-three inches in diameter, the LRAD plays MP3s and prerecorded warnings in several languages and has an adjustable screeching tone. "It's very, very irritating," says American Technology's Carl Gruenler. So irritating that human-rights activists are worried about lasting hearing damage.
  article

Would that be before or after the worry about it being used on American citizens?

Miami, Los Angeles, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and the Department of Homeland Security are considering purchases. With protestors coming to New York and Boston for the conventions, might we see the first domestic use this summer? Gruenler hints: "All I can say is there are cities you would recognize."

Yeah, okay, sure

Days after 9/11, a senior Pentagon official lamented the lack of good targets in Afghanistan and proposed instead U.S. military attacks in South America or Southeast Asia as "a surprise to the terrorists," according to a footnote in the recent 9/11 Commission Report. The unsigned top-secret memo, which the panel's report said appears to have been written by Defense Under Secretary Douglas Feith, is one of several Pentagon documents uncovered by the commission which advance unorthodox ideas for the war on terror. The memo suggested "hitting targets outside the Middle East in the initial offensive" or a "non-Al Qaeda target like Iraq," the panel's report states. U.S. attacks in Latin America and Southeast Asia were portrayed as a way to catch the terrorists off guard when they were expecting an assault on Afghanistan.
  MSNBC article

So, I guess when the Asshat in Chief was given the list of choices, Iraq fit his personal bill better than any of the others. And these are the people in charge of the greatest military force on earth. No wonder the EU wants to bolster China's.

The 9/11 Commission plans to put more aspects of the government's secret war on terror into the public domain this month, including a report on the role of Saudi-backed charities in financing Al Qaeda.

They going to piecemeal the information out? That seems to be the mode du jour for everything.

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

Those responsible for 9/11 will be hunted down and brought to justice

Unless....

U.S. STILL BLOCKING RELEASE OF INFORMATION TO GERMAN PROSECUTORS. Germany's federal prosecutor has said the United States was still holding up efforts to gain access to intelligence that could help convict one of the suspected Sept. 11 hijackers, Reuters reported. In comments published Friday, Federal Prosecutor Kay Nehm said he had traveled to the United States in April to urge U.S. authorities to release information that would help gain a conviction in the re-trial of Moroccan Mounir El Motassadeq. Motassadeq, the only man found guilty over the Sept. 11, 2001 hijack attacks in the United States, won an appeal against his conviction in the German Supreme Court in March and now faces a re-trial which is due to start on August 10. While the United States shares much intelligence with German security services, it has refused to allow such information to be made public and submitted to court scrutiny on national security grounds.
  Behind the Homefront article


The wave of power moves on

As it leaves the U.S., another step in the path to China is laid in place.

Bush administration officials call it the "new great game." It threatens to rival the war in Iraq as a source of transatlantic tension and poses a serious, if subtle, challenge to U.S. hegemony in the world's most dynamic and populated region.

The European Union is reviewing the arms embargo imposed on China after the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown, and is likely to scrap it soon, widening Beijing's access to modern weaponry. Pentagon officials say France and Germany, which are spearheading the drive in the face of fierce U.S. opposition, hope to have the matter settled in time for a Sino-EU summit in December. "The Americans are laying very clear markers to warn the Europeans how they feel about this," says Banning Garrett, an Asia expert at the Washington-based Atlantic Council of the United States. "But there is a good chance the embargo will be lifted late this year."
  MSNBC article

This summer's unprecedented naval show off the China coast; China's current oil negotiations with Venezuela - to name a couple other recent steps. The signs are there, but I hope some idiot in the White House doesn't decide we can wage a preemptive war on China. Hoping for too much?

Bush administration officials say the embargo is crucial to "managing" China's evolution as a regional power. Removing it now, they argue, would reward an autocratic regime and imperil American forces should they be deployed in support of Taiwan, which Beijing regards as a breakaway province. Washington has even threatened "in the most emphatic manner" to deprive NATO allies of new defense technology if they drop the arms ban, says Cevasco.

The official EU position is that there is no move to end the embargo, but many of its leaders have made their intentions plain....

European leaders make no secret of the fact that China is their most effective counterweight to U.S. hegemony. EU External Relations Commissioner Chris Patten said recently that China has a "multipolar view of the world into which Europe fits rather well." Four days before Taiwan's March presidential elections, France held its first joint naval maneuvers with China. Umbach says China is playing Europe against America, forcing Washington to pay attention to EU-China ties "it has tended to overlook." The game is on; Washington must play.

Maybe pissing off France and Germany, and telling the rest of the world we are bad enough to take them all on single-handedly wasn't such a great idea after all.

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

Saturday, July 31, 2004

Presidential Auction 2004

The millionaires are dancing now. The balloons are falling on John Kerry, John Edwards and their nuclear families.

They're playing "Johnnie B. Goode" over the loudspeakers. Democrats are hopping up and down like JFK never went to Dallas; like Bill Clinton didn't blow it for us; like there's a chance to bring the boys home alive; like America can crawl out of Dick Cheney's bunker and look at the sun again.

But has Johnnie Kerry been good so far?


More from Greg Palast...

No calm in sight for Iraq

Amidst the ongoing bombings and assassination attempts, the fighting and kidnapping, negotiations are ongoing for the lives of seven truck drivers held by Iraqi militants, and the governor of a southern province has agreed to quit if kidnappers will release his three sons who were taken on Wednesday, and the house torched.

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

Hands off Venezuela

Week of solidarity - London, August 9-15



A week of events is being held in London in solidarity with the Venezuelan people, and to tell the US and UK governments ... who've already backed one coup against Chavez ... to keep their hands off Venezuela!

Get involved now if you want to help or find out more about how power to the people is a reality and spreading throughout the world.


More...

Previous Venezuela posts
More on Venezuela

One less complication

From the Progress Report:

PESTICIDES WITHOUT SUPERVISION: Under new rules issued by the Bush administration "the Environmental Protection Agency will be free to approve pesticides without consulting wildlife agencies to determine if the chemical might harm plants and animals" currently protected by the Endangered Species Act. "The new rule benefits the pesticide industry at the expense of endangered species," said Aaron Colangelo, a lawyer for the Natural Resources Defense Council. The EPA claimed the old tests were complicated; instead, it's easier to just get rid of them. Easier, maybe, but not better for the environment. The old law, for example, was "successfully used by environmental groups in a recent lawsuit seeking to mitigate the effects of pesticides on salmon in the Pacific Northwest. A federal judge found that the EPA had failed to abide by a requirement that it consult with federal wildlife agencies over the potential harm from pesticides." Now, however, the EPA instead "will conduct its own scientific evaluation."

It's easier to be a dictator, like DoubleAss says.

Many years ago in a college entomology course, we were required to research the current literature on the safety (or lack thereof) of pesticide use. The professor wanted us to realize that environmentalists were making a big deal out of nothing. What I found instead at that time was that the majority of people running the EPA were also board members of or had other connections to the major chemical companies. Something tells me that hasn't changed.

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

The child that got left behind

This comes from Dena in New York who says it was sent to her by a Republican friend who says he's going to be voting Libertarian this year.

United States Grammar School Interim Report to Parents
May 2004

By Nancy Greggs

Dear Mr. and Mrs. G.H.W. Bush,

Once again, it is that time of year when we update the parents of our students on their child's progress, and we regret to inform you that your son, Georgie, is not doing as well as we'd hoped and expected when he
embarked on his four-year program at our school.

As you are well aware, Georgie was installed as class president at the start of the school year, despite the fact that the majority of his fellow students did not vote for him. We foresaw problems immediately, but were assured by several school board members (who, as we understand it, are friends of your family) that this would not result in any real difficulty. Unfortunately, they have been proven wrong.

In the area of scholastic achievement, despite our best efforts, Georgie is still reading and speaking at a grade level far below our usual standards. At this point, we are not sure if his failure to learn is due to laziness and a lack of ability to apply himself to his studies, or if he simply lacks the intellectual capacity to improve in these areas.

His oral presentations to the class are particularly troubling; it is apparent that Georgie has not read the necessary materials, and he often simply fabricates facts to hide this shortcoming. In oral exams, he tends to repeat the same answers over and over, e.g. "The economy is good; jobs are on their way," indicating a profound failure to keep up with the Current Events portion of the curriculum. Georgie also tends to fabricate elaborate stories about himself - which, admittedly, can sometimes be very amusing. During a school celebration last May, he delighted his fellow students by coming to class in a little "flight suit" just like the grown-ups wear!), and had everyone! in stitches with his story about the family dog having eaten his report card from military pre-school!

On the whole, however, Georgie does not play well with other children. His "leadership" in the classroom continues to divide many students, one against the other. Other study groups, such as our French- and German-language classes, are no longer willing to cooperate with Georgie's group, even though they haven't traditionally done so in the past.

Your son also displays a lack of taking responsibility for his failings, and seems unable to appreciate the consequences of his actions. Although he was provided with the best textbooks on the subjects of the Economy, Job Creation, The Environment, et cetera, these books were damaged or completely destroyed within a matter of months. Georgie insists that he "inherited" these books in poor condition, despite all evidence to the contrary. (In fact, these same textbooks were previously used by one of our very best students, who actually returned them in better condition than he found them!)

During his first few weeks with us, Georgie quickly became part of a group of other "problem students." Despite warnings, he has consistently befriended children whom we consider to be "bad elements," such as little Kenny Lay and a foreign-exchange student named Chalabi. Both of these youngsters have been expelled from other schools due to their involvement in cheating other students out of their lunch money. We feel that these kinds of relationships can only lead to no good, and hope that you will advise your child accordingly..

Georgie often displays aggressive behavior in the schoolyard, and recently assaulted a student in another school district, completely unprovoked. When asked about this incident, Georgie insisted that the other child was armed and dangerous. When investigation into the matter proved otherwise, Georgie changed his story several times: he was just trying to "democratize" the other child, the other child's school was harboring gang members, and so on. Quite frankly, his story on this topic has so changed from week to week, we simply can't trust his word at all anymore.

Georgie's friends, while not great in number, are very loyal, but tend to be over-protective. If any of the other students point out Georgie's failing grades, these friends simply shout them down and tell them not to speak at all. When Georgie was summoned to the principal's office several weeks ago, he insisted that his "best friend" come with him. We feel that it is in Georgie's best interest to learn to stand up for himself; failure to do so could seriously damage his ability to handle a leadership role in his adult years.

As you are aware, final exams will be held in November, and Georgie's past performance leads us to conclude that he will not be able to achieve the grades necessary to continue on with another four-year term at our institution.

Yours truly,

Ms. J.Q. Public,
Assistant Principal

A haven in Miami

Several of Venezuela's thugs from the attempted coup on Hugo Chávez are currently residing in Miami. (Well, several other Latin American countries' thugs make their homes in Miami, as well.)

One of them, an ex-president, seems to have reason to believe he can simply tell the truth.

It is hard to imagine a better gift to Mr. Chavez than the statements Carlos Andres Perez gave to Venezuelan newspaper El Nacional. Mr. Chavez "must die like a dog, because he deserves it," said Mr. Perez, who was impeached on corruption charges during his second term. Mr. Perez also said, "I am working to remove Chavez [from power]. Violence will allow us to remove him. That's the only way we have."

The former president, who lobbed the bloody barbs from his comfortable perch in Miami, said, "We can't just get rid of Chavez and immediately have a democracy... we will need a transition period of two to three years to lay the foundations for a state where the rule of law prevails."

When asked about the desire of Venezuelans to move forward on democratic reform, Mr. Perez hinted he sees a role for himself in this hypothetical, despotic future. "I am not the past, I am the future." But Mr. Perez is definitely part of Venezuela's past and personifies the kleptocracy and incompetence that originally gave rise to Mr. Chavez.
  VHeadline article from a Washington Times editorial

Previous Venezuela posts
More on Venezuela

Friday, July 30, 2004

Census Bureau is tracking Arab-Americans

Information about where the largest numbers of Arab-Americans reside in the U.S. is being provided to the Department of Homeland Security by the Census Bureau.

...Hermann Habermann, deputy director of the Census Bureau, told the New York Times: “We are required to provide information to other federal agencies. This is not a cabal calculating secret tabulations.”

He added: “We do worry about how information will be used. However, we have not been given the authority to determine which organisation gets which information.”

Four years ago the Census Bureau apologised for allowing its data to be used in the round-up of Japanese-Americans during the Second World War.

Herr Habermann iss only doing vhat he iss tolt.

Apology. That's just swell. I guess they can always apologize to the Arab-Americans one day in the future.

Customs and Border Protection, part of the Department of Homeland Security, said the information was needed so officials would know which national airports would need to display signs in Arabic as well as English.

Uh-huh, sure. And we've only had Arab-American communities since when? Suddenly it's important to have signs at airports that they can read in their native language.

“The information is not in any way being used for law enforcement purposes,” said a spokeswoman. “It’s being used to educate the traveller.”

Riiiight. Spokeswhore I think is a better term.

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

The July Surprise

Pakistan delivers on that request to provide a high value target around the time of the Democrat Convention.

A top al Qaeda operative [Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani], one of the world's most wanted men, has been captured in Pakistan and a senior government minister said Friday that the network supporting Osama bin Laden was crumbling.
  Reuters article

Sure it is.

Ghailani, who is in his early 30s and goes by the nicknames "Foopie" and "Ahmed the Tanzanian," was indicted in New York in 1998 for the synchronized blasts that blew up the U.S. embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam.

He reportedly could not drive a car at the time of the bombings, but Ghailani is probably the most senior al Qaeda operative caught in Pakistan since the arrest in March 2003 of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the suspected mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington.

"It is a big achievement for our security forces," Hayat said. The minister said the capture of Ghailani was soley down to Pakistan's security forces, and there was no help from U.S. intelligence.


Too bad they hadn't played up his name a lot more beforehand (and "Foopie" would have been such an easy one to remember). I don't think this is going to make as big a splash as BushCo was hoping for. And, of course, the surprise part is a little deflated since the request for a capture to be "announced on twenty-six, twenty-seven, or twenty-eight July" was leaked early this month.

They've had Foopie for a little bit, so maybe they decided to wait till the day after the convention to announce it so that they could deny that 26-27-28 charge.

But maybe a lot of people didn't get that information. Two of the women in the office were talking a couple days ago about the fuss over Mrs. Kerry's "shove it" remark to a nagging reporter. They had never heard about Cheney telling Senator Leahy to go fuck himself.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Lasik break

If all goes well, I'll be back to the posting tomorrow afternoon - or evening or maybe even morning - who knows?

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

Update on a military investigation

More sickening shit, and more U.S. justice for the Iraqis.

One of four soldiers charged with shoving two Iraqi civilians into the Tigris River where one of them drowned says his superior officers ordered up the incident and told him what to say to officials looking into the death, an Army investigator testified Wednesday.

Spc. Terry Bowman said he "was told by his chain of command what version to give CID," Sgt. Irene Cintron of the Army's Criminal Investigation Command (CID) said during a teleconference from Iraq as the military convened a hearing to determine whether the soldiers will be court-martialed.

Bowman said he had been ordered to push the men into the river, Cintron said. No names were disclosed, though three of the soldiers' commanders have received nonjudicial punishments for their roles in the incident. None of the punishments include jail time.

... Marwan Hassoun said he watched the soldiers push his cousin into the water and then he was pushed in, Cintron testified. He said he could hear his cousin screaming.

"He said it was eight meters (24 feet) deep and at no point did he feel the bottom of the river," she said. She described the drop from the bridge as 10-12 feet.

After he got out on the bank, Hassoun said he could hear the soldiers above laughing as they drove away. He said he then went back to a checkpoint "soaking wet from the river" and reported what happened, Cintron said.

A search was begun for a body and it was found two or three miles downriver.

Martinez initially told investigators neither he nor anyone in his platoon pushed anyone in the river, Cintron said. He said they dropped the two men off on the side of the road. A week later, on Jan. 23, Martinez said he had gone to the river's edge with the men, "kicked one in the butt" but the man jumped in on his own.

Sgt. Alexis Rincon, a member of the patrol that night, testified the soldiers forced the men to jump and that Martinez leveled a rifle at one of the Iraqis to make his point.
  Denver Channel article

Background on the case: here and here

Conspiracy theories aren't theory

And if you don't suspect your government of underhanded, secret dealings, you're asleep at the wheel.

That, in the early 1970s, the newly-formed Trilateral Commission published a report which recommended that, in order for "globalization" to succeed, American manufacturing jobs had to be exported, and American wages had to decline, which is exactly what happened over the next three decades; and that, during that same period, the richest one percent of Americans doubled their share of the national wealth, is not "theory." It's fact.

...That George Bush was the CIA director who kept the names of what were estimated to be hundreds of American journalists, considered to be CIA "assets," from the Church Committee, the US Senate Intelligence Committe chaired by Senator Frank Church that investigated the CIA in the 1970s; that a 1971 University of Michigan study concluded that, in America, the more TV you watched, the less you knew; and that a recent survey by international scholars found that Americans were the most "ignorant" of world affairs out of all the populations they studied, is not a "theory." It's fact.

...Just before his death, James Jesus Angleton, the legendary chief of counterintelligence at the Central Intelligence Agency, was a bitter man. He felt betrayed by the people he had worked for all his life. In the end, he had come to realize that they were never really interested in American ideals of "freedom" and "democracy." They really only wanted "absolute power."

Angleton told author Joseph Trento that the reason he had gotten the counterintelligence job in the first place was by agreeing not to submit "sixty of Allen Dulles' closest friends" to a polygraph test concerning their business deals with the Nazis. In his end-of-life despair, Angleton assumed that he would see all his old companions again "in hell."

...Although I don't remember ever meeting James Jesus Angleton, I worked at the CIA myself as a low-level clerk as a teenager in the '60s. This was at the same time I was beginning to question the government's actions in Vietnam. In fact, my personal "paranoid shift" probably began with the disillusionment I felt when I realized that the story of American foreign policy was, at the very least, more complicated and darker than I had hitherto been led to believe.

But for most of the next 30 years, even though I was a radical, I nevertheless held faith in the basic integrity of a system where power ultimately resided in the people, and whereby if enough people got together and voted, real and fundamental change could happen.

What constitutes my personal paranoid shift is that I no longer believe this to be necessarily true.

In his book, "Rogue State: A Guide to the World's Only Superpower," William Blum warns of how the media will make anything that smacks of "conspiracy theory" an immediate "object of ridicule." This prevents the media from ever having to investigate the many strange interconnections among the ruling class—for example, the relationship between the boards of directors of media giants, and the energy, banking and defense industries. These unmentionable topics are usually treated with what Blum calls "the media's most effective tool—silence." But in case somebody's asking questions, all you have to do is say, "conspiracy theory," and any allegation instantly becomes too frivolous to merit serious attention.

On the other hand, since my paranoid shift, whenever I hear the words "conspiracy theory" (which seems more often, lately) it usually means someone is getting too close to the truth.


I got an email from Jay this morning wondering why in heck people don't see what's happening in our country - when the 9/11 Commission report is there for the reading, why are people still believing the ruses? He includes a response from Dave.


Jay wrote:

Subject: It wasn't the CIA's fault!!!

Everything politics is getting twisted from reality and I can't stand the pabulum dished out. It's like there's a mass hysteria. The lies are repeated so often I forget myself they are lies.

I know for instance the CIA was saying they weren't sure about the WMD's etc. They tried again and again (and it's documented in the very Senate report everyone is pointing to) to get the 16 words removed from the State of the U speech. BUT now everyone is down on the CIA and believing the lies people are telling, for giving shrub the wrong info.

It wasn't the CIA! It was the admin's. drive to produce info that turned out to be totally wrong. Think about what O'niell said in his book. Think about what so many other people have said about what the admin. wanted and that they were looking for a way to convince the congress to sanction this war.

And sure enough, now everyone is talking about taking independent power away from the CIA and giving it to a person closer to the president. For C's sake, that's exactly how the problem was created! Has everyone gone MAD?


Dave wrote:

Hey Jay,

The CIA, Bill Clinton, Vladimir Putin, Tony Blair and other leaders and their Intel agencies all agreed that there were WMDs in Iraq. Perhaps President Bush made a mistake. If so he had a lot of company. After the 9/11 attack on our country I believe he did what any prudent person would do under the same circumstances. It is a different world since the 9/11 attack. We are threatened by a determined and vicious enemy. The Islamic extremists have not changed over the past thousand years. Their methods remain the same... terrorism, murder and bombing. The only thing that changes is their target. Every American, including you and me are the targets now. They would love to saw our heads off or burn us the way they did to some of those people they kidnapped. They would love to destroy the people of the United States and turn the world back to the seventeenth century under their control.

President Truman accepted a cease fire in Korea and the war is still not officially over. Now North Korea has nukes and they hate us more than ever. I thought President Clinton was right in his Bosnia decision. However, it has turned out to be an unending quagmire, not a three month incursion like he said. He did what he thought was right at the time. He made some mistakes. The cost is great. Would anyone else with the same information have done any different? Maybe, but I believe it is unlikely.

I believe that we should give President Bush the benefit of the doubt in this case Jay. I believe he made a mistake, not a calculated political move. The situation is a long way from over and only the future will tell whether the action in Iraq was a good idea or not.

Best Regards,
Dave


Jay wrote:

Dave;

I understand about the Third Jihad and all that. And if I believed western civilization was at risk I too might not mind a few blunders. But I don't.

On the other hand I do believe in America and it's principles. And I'm willing to stick by those principles even when threatened.

In your email it seems you have not taken issue with what I said.

By reading the Senate report you will see what I'm saying. I'm not talking about someone elses version of what they think they read mind you. I'm talking about reading the report and coming to your own conclusions.

But in case you don't want to download the 24 meg file, I'll give you parts to think about.

Conclusion 1. Most of the major key judgments in the Intelligence Community's October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), Iraq's Continuing Programs for Weapons of Mass Destruction, either overstated, or were not supported by, the underlying intelligence reporting. A series of failures, particularly in analytic trade craft, led to the mischaracterization of the intelligence.

If you understand the difference between the NIE and the "underlying intelligence reporting" you will see what I mean. Some one or few persons changed the info from the intelligence reports, and the Senate says as much!

It wasn't the CIA's fault.


Being short of time (and perhaps just tired), I sent Jay a quick response:

here's my conclusion (for the time being!)...a conclusion which your dave confirms in his absurd message...most people just don't get it. according to their regular lives, they judge the people at the top positions as though they, too, have regular lives (ideas, desires, needs, etc.). they have no experience with anything deeper beneath the surface of (or farther out), and so they believe everyone functions at their level.

they truly do not see what you see. they can't.

while i think it is nobel of you to try to open the eyes of these people, you might think about an old navajo proverb: you can't wake someone who is pretending to sleep.

reality is going to get even wonkier - whatever it is that maintains time is weakening.

thanks for being.


So, Jay, this post is an addendum to that quick, philosophical brush-off of how people work. This article I'm quoting has the reasons well-articulated....

[T]here may be millions of us, lurking at websites like Online Journal, From the Wilderness, Center for Cooperative Research, and the Center for Research on Globalization, checking out right-wing conspiracists and the galaxy of 9/11 sites, and reading columnists like Chris Floyd at the Moscow Times, and Maureen Farrell at Buzzflash. But we know we are only a furtive minority, the human remnant among the pod people in the live-action, 21st-century version of "Invasion of the Body Snatchers."

And being paranoid, we have to figure out, with an answer that fits into our system, why more people don't see the connections we do. Fortunately, there are a number of possible explanations.


More...

Read it. I think you'll begin to see what I'm talking about.

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

Iraqi national conference is postponed

Key political groups have been promising to boycott, leaders in ethnically diverse areas have been unable to agree on delegates to send and even before Wednesday's car bombing, officials have expressed worries the gathering will be a target for terror attacks.

Abdul Halim al-Ruhaimi, one of the organizers, said that after U.N. requests, the Iraqis agreed to a postponement until mid-August to give officials time to speak with groups that had been reluctant to attend.

U.N. officials told The Associated Press they had repeatedly called on organizers to delay the conference for as long as a month to encourage wider participation and ensure it was properly prepared.

Al-Ruhaimi denied the suicide attack had any role in the decision to postpone the conference, which is to select a national assembly that will have some semi-parliamentary powers.

But the delay highlighted how Iraq's new government has struggled to get momentum in the democratic process even as violence has shown no sign of easing.
  Boston.com article

Rome wasn't built in a day, you know.

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

DoJ says Sibel Edmonds was fired from FBI because she blew the whistle on 9/11 cover-up

The Justice Department's inspector general concluded that the allegations by the translator, Sibel Edmonds, "were at least a contributing factor in why the F.B.I. terminated her services," and the F.B.I. is considering disciplinary action against some employees as a result...
  NY Times article

We still don't have Ms. Edmonds' testimony, as the DoJ is blocking that. For more on her case, go here.

Welcome to Amerika...you are now a Republican

The citizenship ceremony in Jacksonville [FL] seemed to go off as usual, with a crowd of nearly 200 people going home as new Americans.

Just before the new citizens left the June 29 event, an immigration official directing the swearing-in urged the them to stop by a voter registration table -- a not uncommon sight at naturalization ceremonies.

But this table was unusual: Those handing out forms were Republican volunteers -- and the party affiliation box had been checked off ahead of time to make all of the new voters members of the GOP.

...It is a third-degree felony in Florida to alter voter registration forms without the voter's consent.
  Miami Herald article

How many Rethugs do you think will be prosecuted?

Yeah, right.

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

The Worthless Commission Report


Pat Oliphant







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

Ricin in Gerber baby food

Poison found in two jars of baby food purchased at the same store was not in a deadly form and the two infants who ate small of amounts of the banana yogurt did not even fall ill, officials said.

The contamination of the Gerber brand food was disclosed Wednesday by police, who are searching for a man they believe may have witnessed the tampering. Charles Dewey Cage, 47, of Irvine, was "in the area at a relevant time," said Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas.
ABC News article

The poisoning was discovered when notes were found inside the jars. Authorities say only that the notes contained references to an Irvine police officer.

Ricin is made from castor beans. In its purest form, it can be fatal if swallowed, inhaled or injected.

A man wanted for questioning in the case says he "needs a good lawyer." A man identifying himself as Charles Dewey Cage reportedly called the Orange County Register on Wednesday night to deny any involvement in the incident.

The man said he had "two strikes" on him and that he "did not do it."
WisTV article

Well, of course not. Charles Dewey Cage is not an Arab name.

Federal authorities are downplaying the threat from the trace amounts of poison found in at least two jars of baby food in Southern California.

Officials in Orange County say they've determined that the amounts of ricin found inside the jars were probably not sufficient or pure enough to injure an infant. And, other federal officials say there's no reason to believe in a wider threat of contamination.

So let's not put a slump on Gerber sales.

Your food supply is safe. Your children are safe. We are fighting the terrorists in the Middle East so we don't have to fight them here.

Oh wait...

WASHINGTON (July 16) -- Al-Qaida may be recruiting non-Arabs less likely to attract the notice of security personnel to carry out attacks inside the United States, the FBI warned on Friday.
Free Republic article

So report any suspicious activities - by strangers or by your neighbors, because now you can't tell the good guys from the evil ones just by their names and nationalities. And be very afraid, because now it could be anybody. And especially keep an eye on liberal women.

Because of its hardline Muslim views, al-Qaida favors using male operatives between the ages of 18 and 35 in its attacks, the FBI said. But women could also be recruited, especially from areas considered more liberal on the subject such as North and East Africa and the eastern Mediterranean, the FBI bulletin said.


But keep buying Gerber products.

Doctors Without Borders leaves Afghanistan

With a deep feeling of sadness and anger, the international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) announces the closure of all medical programs in Afghanistan. MSF is taking this decision in the aftermath of the killing of five MSF aid workers in a deliberate attack on June 2, 2004, when a clearly marked MSF vehicle was ambushed in the northwestern province of Badghis. Five of our colleagues were mercilessly shot in the attack. This targeted killing of five of its aid workers is unprecedented in the history of MSF, which has been delivering medical humanitarian assistance in some of the most violent conflicts around the world over the last 30 years.


Although government officials have presented MSF with credible evidence that local commanders conducted the attack, they have neither detained nor publicly called for their arrest. The lack of government response to the killings represents a failure of responsibility and an inadequate commitment to the safety of aid workers on its soil.

In addition, following the assassinations, a Taliban spokesperson claimed responsibility for the murders and stated later that organizations like MSF work for American interests, are therefore targets, and would be at risk of further attacks. This false accusation is particularly unjustified as MSF honors the separation of aid from political motives as a founding principle. The sole aim of the organization is to provide assistance to populations in distress in the name of medical ethics and solely based on their needs. This threat undeniably constitutes a refusal by the Taliban to accept independent and impartial humanitarian action.
PNN Online article

I guess it's no help to remind anyone that the Taliban are a creation of the U.S. But maybe this bit of information sheds some more light on the subject:

The violence directed against humanitarian aid workers has come in a context in which the United States-backed coalition has consistently sought to use humanitarian aid to build support for its military and political ambitions. MSF denounces the coalition’s attempts to co-opt humanitarian aid and use it to "win hearts and minds." By doing so, providing aid is no longer seen as an impartial and neutral act, endangering the lives of humanitarian volunteers and jeopardizing the aid to people in need. Only recently, on May 12, 2004, MSF publicly condemned the distribution of leaflets by the coalition forces in southern Afghanistan in which the population was informed that providing information about the Taliban and al Qaeda was necessary if they wanted the delivery of aid to continue.

People, our country is fucking over the world in our names and with our tax dollars. You do realize that, don't you?

Over the last 24 years, MSF has continued to provide health care throughout difficult periods of Afghanistan’s history, regardless of the political party or military group in power. "After having worked nearly without interruption alongside the most vulnerable Afghan people since 1980, it is with outrage and bitterness that we take the decision to abandon them.

Abandon hope all ye who enter here...