Sunday, July 31, 2005

Getting out of Iraq

The Pentagon has developed a detailed plan in recent months to scale down the U.S. troop presence in Iraq to about 80,000 by mid-2006 and down to 40,000 to 60,000 troops by the end of that year, according to two Pentagon officials involved in the planning who asked not to be identified because of the sensitive nature of their work. Their account squares with a British memo leaked in mid-July. "Emerging U.S. plans assume that 14 out of 18 provinces could be handed over to Iraqi control by early 2006, allowing a reduction in overall [U.S. and Coalition forces] from 176,000 down to 66,000," says the Ministry of Defense memo.

  MSNBC article

I guess something magic is going to happen this Christmas.

Oh yeah, oh yeah. Iraq will have a new constitution.

And then it's adios muthafuckers.

No, no, wait, I know. We'll have the permanent bases built and running by the end of this year.

Help me out here.
[E]arlier this year the Pentagon had been mum on a withdrawal timetable, in part so as not to encourage the insurgents. Now the conditions for U.S. withdrawal no longer include a defeated insurgency, Pentagon sources say. The new administration mantra is that the insurgency can be beaten only politically, by the success of Iraq's new government.
Oh yeah, that's it.

Ben Sargent
Indeed, Washington is now less concerned about the insurgents than the unwillingness of Iraq's politicians to make compromises for the sake of national unity. Pentagon planners want to send a spine-stiffening message: the Americans won't be there forever.
"At this hour, our men and women in uniform are defending America against the threats of the 21st century," the President said. "We know that the best way to honor their sacrifice is to complete their mission, so we will stay until the fight is won."

-- George W. Bush July 5, 2005

  Times Union article

"Setting an artificial timetable would send the wrong message to the Iraqis, who need to know that America will not leave before the job is done. It would send the wrong message to our troops, who need to know that we are serious about completing the mission they are risking their lives to achieve. And it would send the wrong message to the enemy, who would know that all they have to do is to wait us out. We will stay in Iraq as long as we are needed, and not a day longer." [George W. Bush, June 28, 2005]


Regarding the question of setting a deadline for withdrawing U.S. forces from Iraq, Bush said such an action would be a "serious mistake" in that it would send the wrong message to the Iraqi people, U.S. troops and the terrorists.

  US Embassy in England article

[June 29, 2005]

FORT BRAGG, North Carolina – US President George W Bush late Tuesday acknowledged worries about deadly violence in Iraq but rejected calls for sending reinforcements or setting a deadline to bring US troops home.


Hours before the president spoke, a suicide car bombing north of Baghdad killed the oldest member of Iraq’s fledgling parliament, while separate attacks killed two US soldiers and injured three more.


July 27, 2005

At a joint conference with U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Prime Minister al-Jaafari said the time has arrived to plan a coordinated transition from American to Iraqi military control throughout the country.

  Aljazeera article

Good boy.

The Fiend has paid a couple of surprise visits to Jaafari recently. No gun to Jaafari's back there, or anything.
Meanwhile, speaking with U.S. reporters traveling with Rumsfeld, Gen. George Casey, the top American commander in Iraq, said he believed a U.S. troop withdrawal could begin by spring 2006 if progress continues on the political front and if the resistance does not expand.
A couple of pretty big "ifs".

And I find this rather interesting:
The Secretary of Defense said he would be pushing the Iraqis to provide more people who can be trained by U.S. personnel to handle the growing number of detainees in the country, now estimated to number at least 15,000.
Will the ratio of insurgents infiltrating the ranks of guards be about the same as the number infiltrating the police and military?
On April 20, 2003, The New York Times ran a story citing unnamed sources indicating the U.S. military was planning as many as four permanent military bases in Iraq. The next day, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld dismissed the story as "inaccurate and unfortunate." But what did Rumsfeld mean by "inaccurate"? Perhaps it was "unfortunate" for the administration when the basing plan was leaked to the press. Perhaps the plan was deliberately leaked by the Pentagon or White House. The national media dropped the story after Rumsfeld's disclaimer.

Was the story "inaccurate" because instead of four military installations, the government has plans for six bases, as reported on November 19, 2003, by the Jordanian daily al-Arab al-Yawm:

The sources revealed the names of these bases and the planned positions for permanent deployment. They are:

* Al-Habbaniyah Airbase [already an RAF airbase for much of the last century] near the city of al-Fallujah, 65km west of Baghdad;

* Ash-Sha'biyah Airbase in Basra, 600km south of Baghdad;

* 'Ali ibn Abi Taleb Airbase on the outskirts of the city of an-Nasiriyah, 400km south of Baghdad;

* al-Walid Airbase about 330km north west of Baghdad;

* al-Ghazlani Camp in the city of Mosul, 400km north of Baghdad;

* A permanent deployment of forces in the east of Iraq in what is known as the Hamrin mountain range that extends from Diyala Provice, 60km east of Baghdad, and borders on Iran and extends to the oil-rich city of Kirkuk, 260km north of Baghdad.

  Doug Geibel article

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

Gitmo trials rigged?

I can't believe it.
Leaked emails from two former prosecutors claim the military commissions set up to try detainees at Guantanamo Bay are rigged, fraudulent, and thin on evidence against the accused.

Two emails, which have been obtained by the ABC, were sent to supervisors in the Office of Military Commissions in March of last year - three months before Australian detainee David Hicks was charged and five months before his trial began.

The first email is from prosecutor Major Robert Preston to his supervisor.

Maj Preston writes that the process is perpetrating a fraud on the American people, and that the cases being pursued are marginal.

"I consider the insistence on pressing ahead with cases that would be marginal even if properly prepared to be a severe threat to the reputation of the military justice system and even a fraud on the American people," Maj Preston wrote.

"Surely they don't expect that this fairly half-arsed effort is all that we have been able to put together after all this time."

Maj Preston says he cannot continue to work on a process he considers morally, ethically and professionally intolerable.

"I lie awake worrying about this every night," he wrote.

"I find it almost impossible to focus on my part of mission.

"After all, writing a motion saying that the process will be full and fair when you don't really believe it is kind of hard, particularly when you want to call yourself an officer and lawyer."

Maj Preston was transferred out of the Office of Military Commissions less than a month later.

  ABC Australia article

Oh, and...
The second email is written by another prosecutor, Captain John Carr, who also ended up leaving the department.


Capt Carr says that the prosecutors have been told by the chief prosecutor that the panel sitting in judgment on the cases would be handpicked to ensure convictions.


But the Pentagon's Brigadier General Thomas Hemingway, who is a legal advisor to the military commissions, says an investigation has found the comments are based on miscommunication, misunderstanding and personality conflicts.

He says changes have been made in the prosecutors' office.

No doubt. Beginning with the canning of Major Preston.

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

And speaking of sanctioned child rape

Nearly 2,100 incidents of rape and other sexual violence were recorded in US prisons in 2004, US justice authorities said.

The Department of Justice said that the highest rate of prison rape and other forced sexual acts was in state-run juvenile prisons, and that the largest portion involved prison staff abuse of inmates.


The report [...] noted that sexual violence in state-run youth prison facilities was 10 times higher than that in adult prisons.

  Yahoo News article

But it can't be true, because, as you know from the Abu Ghraib stories...
"Their treatment does not reflect the nature of the American people. That's not the way we do things in America."

--George W. Bush April 30, 2004

Leave every child behind

ARKADELPHIA, Ark. - About 30 children, some as young as 3 months old, were left without their parents after immigration agents raided a poultry plant and took the parents away to face possible deportation.


The mayor said what happened to the children was a shame.

  Yahoo News article

Yeah, well, fuck 'em. The Feds are here now.
Federal agents arrested 119 people Tuesday in a raid that was triggered after a former worker at Petit Jean Poultry said she supplied others with fake identification cards.


Temple Black, a spokesman for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in New Orleans, said Friday that each person arrested was asked whether they had children and they all said they did not.

"We interviewed every person and asked that specific question, and we were told that there were none," he said.

Clark County Sheriff Troy Tucker said agents failed to tell his agency about the raid. If they had, deputies would have made sure the immigration officials knew about the children, some of whom had been in the local public schools for years, he said.

One way or another

RABIAH, Iraq (AP) - Some survivors of a suicide bombing targeting Iraqi army recruits were shot and wounded immediately afterward when U.S. and Iraqi soldiers opened fire at the scene, police, doctors and witnesses said Saturday.


[T]he death toll from the suicide attack had risen to 52 dead and 93 injured by late Saturday. article

Wow. The Vatican finally dismisses the slime-sucking buggerer.

Eugene O'Sullivan, believed to be the first Massachusetts priest convicted of sexual abuse more than two decades ago, has been dismissed from the priesthood by the Vatican, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Boston said yesterday. article

Two decades. That didn't take long.

Of course, the real issue here, I suppose, is how many others the Vatican is still sheltering.
O'Sullivan, who served at a number of parishes in the area, including St. Agnes Church in Arlington, was sentenced to probation in 1984 after he admitted sodomizing a 13-year-old altar boy at St. Ann's Parish in Marshfield. One condition of his probation was that he not be allowed to work with children, but church officials, who had pleaded with a judge for leniency on his behalf, later assigned him priestly duties at four New Jersey parishes.


The Vatican has dismissed another priest, Paul E. McDonald, who had served in parishes in Hyde Park and Marlborough, Donilon said.

McDonald was accused of raping boys when he was a priest at St. Joseph Church in Hyde Park in the 1960s. He eventually left the priesthood voluntarily in 1976 after getting a woman pregnant.

And I'm not sure how that goes. If you leave voluntarily, you're still a priest until the Vatican dismisses you?
Documents from O'Sullivan's personnel file, made public in 2002, show that the archdiocese was alerted as early as the 1960s about allegations against him.


In a 2003 deposition Law gave in lawsuits filed against the archdiocese, he defended his decision to allow O'Sullivan to transfer from St. Agnes to the Diocese of Metuchen, N.J., less than a year after he pleaded guilty to sodomizing the 13-year-old boy. Law said he wanted to give O'Sullivan a chance at ''redemption."

''Obviously, if someone is going to start out fresh, it would be advantageous for that to be in a new place," Law said in the deposition.

Like somewhere they didn't know he'd been raping little boys for 40 years?

"Start out fresh."

With a new batch of boys.
O'Sullivan's case was cited in Attorney General Thomas F. Reilly's scathing 2003 report on the clergy sex abuse crisis that showed how, for many years, former cardinal Bernard F. Law and his senior managers knew that substantial numbers of children in the archdiocese had been sexually abused by substantial numbers of its priests.

Using previously unreleased church documents obtained through grand jury subpoenas, Reilly's report asserted that then-Bishop Robert J. Banks urged prosecutors and a judge to be lenient toward O'Sullivan, even though Banks knew that O'Sullivan had other victims. Banks later became bishop of the Diocese of Green Bay, Wis.
Promote the evil doers. Let's see....where else do we see that tendency?

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

London attacks reveal large network

When the bomb he tried to detonate aboard a London Tube train failed to explode, police say Osman Hussain jumped out a carriage window, ran along the track, then hopped through backyards before melting into the city's bustle.

After going underground for five days, Hussain boarded a train at Waterloo station -- possibly walking past his picture and those of three other suspected July 21 attackers on posters that blanketed the city. Then he slipped away, traveling from London through France to Rome.

His ability to escape a massive British dragnet, coupled with the arrest of another suspect in Zambia with al Qaeda ties, raised fears about the global reach of today's terrorists and the depth of their networks.

"The way people fanned out after the bombings, it's brought it home to people . . . that it is part of a kind of a network, interconnected -- all the fingerprints are there," said Michael Cox, a professor at London's Royal Institute of International Affairs specializing in the post-Sept. 11 terrorism threat.

"They'd have to have a much wider support base than just those who are active suicide bombers."

  Miami article


And welcome to the Global War on Terror.

Oh wait. We're not calling it that any more.

It's now the “global struggle against violent extremism."

Curses. Foiled again.

Wed Jul 27, 7:53 AM ET

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld made an unannounced visit to Baghdad on Wednesday and urged Iraqis to finish their draft constitution before an Aug. 15 deadline.

"We don't want any delays," Rumsfeld told reporters. "Now's the time to get on with it."

  Yahoo News article

Sunday July 31, 2005 11:01 AM

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - The committee writing the new Iraqi constitution decided Sunday to ask parliament for a 30-day extension to finish the draft, members said.

  Guardian article

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

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Uzbekistan to U.S.: Get out

Uzbekistan formally ordered the United States to leave an air base that has been a hub for operations in Afghanistan in protest over a predawn United Nations operation on Friday to spirit out refugees who had fled an uprising in Uzbekistan in May, senior State Department officials said Saturday.

The officials said Uzbekistan had given the United States 180 days to close the base, which has played a central role in rooting out fighters of the Taliban and Al Qaeda and in carrying out relief operations.


Another State Department official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of department ground rules, said, "Obviously we don't want to lose K-2." But he added that loss of the base was preferable to backing away from demanding that Uzbekistan start political and economic reforms and agree to an international investigation of the Andijon killings.

He said that position had been endorsed by top officials at the Pentagon, where Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld has said that the base, while important, could be substituted if necessary.

  NY Times article

Which is why it was so important for The Fiend to visit pressure upon Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan recently to allow us to keep our bases there.

Update: Evicted

Oklahoma City bombing - the conspiracy

From the documents Kenneth Trentadue's brother recently obtained...
Newly released documents received by a Salt Lake City attorney in his suit against the Oklahoma City FBI office provide the strongest evidence yet that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has been conducting a well-orchestrated cover-up of evidence linking Timothy McVeigh to subjects that frequented, and in some cases resided, at an eastern Oklahoma paramilitary compound called Elohim City.


Perhaps even more surprising is evidence in these 87 pages released by DOJ on behalf of the FBI and the Oklahoma City FBI office, is documentation showing that top FBI agents assigned the bombing case lacked authority to conduct interviews at Elohim City or to go after a leading suspect in the case, Andreas Carl Strassmeir, also known as "Andy the German."

  McCurtin Daily Gazette article July 30, 2005

Now, why would that be?
While the state's media ignored (and some even attacked) evidence this newspaper presented nine years ago linking McVeigh, Terry Nichols and Mike Fortier to Strassmeir and other radicals at Elohim City, these new but heavily redacted documents should provide a starting point for a real investigation into the horrific crime and apparent government sponsored cover-up.


In this newly disclosed report, the FBI notes that Fortier, identified as "the OKBOMB cooperating subject" (but with his name redacted), as having said that, "April 5, 1995, was around the time that he backed out of the plans to bomb the federal building. McVeigh may have been trying to recruit other individuals to assist him."

This new evidence from the top echelons of the FBI directly contradicts many statements made in federal court by top DOJ officials, who told federal judges they were not aware of any government information about any informants operating inside Elohim City before the bombing.


Furthermore, these same DOJ attorneys said absolutely nothing about an April 17, 1995 call by McVeigh, while at least one operative from the SPLC [Southern Poverty Law Center] was present at Elohim City, monitoring the compound, when McVeigh called.


According to a highly placed confidential source in the DOJ at the time of the bombing, Attorney General Janet Reno would not allow the FBI much latitude in developing intelligence inside the far-right due to concerns that such activities might violate existing departmental guidelines on "domestic spying."

To skirt Reno's policies, the FBI developed a relationship with cutouts such as the SPLC that could use their own spies to do what the FBI could not. These non-government agents then passed their intelligence products back to the bureau.


While the FBI for years told the media that the agency had no interest in Strassmeir and any alleged connections to Tim McVeigh and the OKC bombing, these new documents establish that some key officials inside the FBI were monitoring Strassmeir's escape from the U.S. - but were doing nothing to stop him from leaving.


Taken in their entirety, Utah attorney Jesse Trentadue's latest documents clearly place the role of the SPLC and its own undercover operatives at the center of unresolved issues about federal law enforcement's prior knowledge of the conspiracy to bomb a federal building in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995.

Isn't that interesting?

Sort of like 9/11.
Trentadue says he now intends to go back to court for additional information concerning files the FBI has not yet turned over.

"If the Southern Poverty Law Center was providing information about Elohim City after the bombing to the FBI, they must have been providing it before April 19th, Trentadue noted. Asking further: "So where are those reports?"

Trentadue also says there is considerable information redacted in these latest reports that clearly should not have been withheld.

"The names of certain newspapers were even withheld," Trentadue quipped. "Hell, where does the FBI get the right to withhold the names of the papers it reads?"
I think they do what they please and let you try to correct them. And good luck.

There's much more to read in this article...

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

Back to politics

And a black and ugly little thing it is, too.
[...] George Bush will take advantage of the congressional recess and appointment [John Bolton] UN ambassador without confirmation from the legislative branch.

That the Senate might have denied Bolton's appointment was clearly possible, which would have meant a rare loss for the Bush Administration. So rare, I can't off the top of my head think of a single thing that's been denied them.

It's difficult to watch the perpetual dashing of hope in America amongst those who still think politics matters, and that political action is sufficient to reverse America's fascist course. To them, it remains a race. C'mon gang - we can win this thing! But their opponent is more than a competitor: he is also the track official, and what a bloody-minded bastard he is. He has neither conscience nor fear of reprisal for tripping them up, tying together their shoelaces and moving the finish line. If he's seen to be running, it's simply to be seen. And so he's not even a true competitor, because there is no competition.

After the Supreme Court rubber-stamped the coup of 2000, I heard "wait until '02!" After Wellstone was murdered and the black boxes began swallowing invisible votes, I heard "wait until '04!" And even before Ohio and the bizarre Skull and Bones shadowplay, I started hearing "wait until '06!" And I tell you, I just can't hear anymore.


It's not a race, but we have to keep moving. And long may you run.

  Rigorous Intuition post

Well....I think of Stephen King's "The Long Walk", and I wonder....who was better off? The "winner" or the ones who simply sat down on the side of the road?

If you're suffering, dying sooner seems like the winning position to me. Endurance may be overrated.

Hope may actually be your slave master.

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

Water World

Satellite data for the month of June show Arctic sea ice has shrunk to a record low, raising concerns about climate change, coastal erosion, and changes to wildlife patterns.

The National Snow and Ice Data Centre in the United States uses remote sensing imagery to survey ice cover at both poles.

The centre says 2002 was a record low year for sea ice cover in the Arctic, since satellite observations began in 1979.

There's evidence that may have been the lowest coverage in a century.

Now scientists fear this year could be worse.

  CBC Canada article

Planet X

July 30, 2005

Astronomers announced yesterday that they had found a lump of rock and ice that was larger than Pluto and the farthest known object in the solar system.


The new object - as yet unnamed, but temporarily known as 2003 UB313 - is now 9 billion miles away from the Sun, or 97 times as far away as Earth and about three times Pluto's current distance from the Sun.


The discovery was made Jan. 8 at Palomar Observatory in California. Dr. Brown and the other members of the team - Chadwick A. Trujillo of the Gemini Observatory in Hawaii and David L. Rabinowitz of Yale University - then found that they had, unknowingly, taken images of the planet, using the observatory's 48-inch telescope, as far back as 2003.


Informally, the astronomers have been calling it Xena after the television series about a Greek warrior princess, which was popular when the astronomers began their systematic sweep of the sky in 2000. "Because we always wanted to name something Xena," Dr. Brown said.


What is most surprising is that the orbit of the planet is sharply skewed to most of the rest of the solar system. The orbits of most planets lie close to the same plane as Earth's, known as the ecliptic plane. The orbit of 2003 UB313 is tilted by 44 degrees.

"That blows my mind," said Harold Levison of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colo., who was not involved in the discovery.


Mark V. Sykes [...] wondered whether it had an atmosphere and what sort of geological processes generated its apparently bright surface.


Astronomers will also have to figure out how the body made it to its current skewed orbit.


  NY Times article

November 1, 2003

Planet X is the new kid on the solar system block. The “X” can either refer to the fact it would be the tenth planet of our solar system, or an unknown planet. In many respects, it is probably the former, in that there appears to be a great deal of information on this deep denizen -- at least from the runaway nature of the Internet and e-mail circuits. For example, one circulating e-mail provides an executive summary to wit: “Two things are certain: 1) Planet X exists, and 2) it is coming between May 15 and May 30 of 2003.


Ancient Sumerian texts indicate that the Earth (“Tiamat”) was struck by a large planet, which moved it into its present orbit, and created the Moon and the Asteroid Belt. In his books, The Twelfth Planet and The Cosmic Code, Zecharia Sitchin outlines this “celestial battle”, as described in the Babylonian text, the Enuma Elish [“Epic of Creation”].

The planet “Marduk” (the Sumerian “Nibiru”), as it came into the solar system on its clockwise elliptical course, struck Tiamat, which was moving in a counterclockwise orbit. One of Marduk’s satellites struck Tiamat first, followed by two more of Marduk’s moons. Then Marduk itself, an enormous planetary body, struck Tiamat, smashing one half of the planet into pieces, which became the Earth’s Moon and the “Great Band” (Asteroid Belt). The other half of the planet, which was struck by a smaller moon of Marduk, was moved into a new orbit, along with a chunk of material which became its moon. The new planet was then called “KI,” meaning “cleaved one.” The Earth’s original moons were dispersed, many changing the direction of their orbits.


The ancient tale of Nibiru’s Celestial Battle is actually scientifically sophisticated, and current advances in astronomy have recently corroborated certain aspects of the Sumerian cosmogony, among them the following:


  Library of Halexandria article

So what? You may ask. The answer is that Sitchin's studies led him to conclude that the creators of humankind reside on Planet X, which returns to our orbit every 30,000 years or so. The parents coming to visit?

I assure you there are factions in the alphabet community who believe so.

Just tossing it out here.

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

Update 8/2/05:

Andy Lloyd draws a picture.

Our friend Musharraf making noise in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD,PAKISTAN - All foreign students studying at Islamic schools in Pakistan will be ordered to leave the country, President Pervez Musharraf said Friday.

About 1,400 foreign students are enrolled in madrassas, or Islamic seminaries, some of which have been linked to militant groups.

The foreign students "have to be removed from the country," Musharraf said at a news conference Friday. "Even those having dual nationality. No one in the madrassas will be allowed to spread extremism and hatred in the society."

  Houston Chronicle article

And heaven knows, if hatred and extremism is being spread, it's not by any of the Pakistani students.
Musharraf stressed Friday that he is very serious about the current crackdown, and told reporters he personally is supervising the operation.

"I have directed the police and law enforcement agencies not to arrest 'nobodys,' but only the leaders of banned militant organizations," Musharraf said. "The operation will continue."

Nearly 600 people were detained in the last week's crackdown against banned militant groups. But none of those detained are leaders of several known militant groups, some of whom emerged from previous crackdowns to make speeches, raise funds and publish magazines that openly advertised for recruits to attend training camps for jihad.

Afghanistan's government says numerous Taliban officials continue to live and organize in Pakistan, an assertion that Musharraf's government denies.
I guess "nobodys" will now be allowed to spread extremism and hatred as long as they aren't enrolled in a madrassa.

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

High-intensity operations in Baghdad will not be sustained (Update)

I do believe . . . that the ability of these insurgents to conduct sustained high-intensity operations [in Baghdad] as they did last year -- we've mostly eliminated that . . . I would say in the next couple of months we will not see sustained, long, bloody months in Baghdad.

Maj. Gen. William Webster, Jr.
Commander of Multinational Division Baghdad
Press Briefing
July 8, 2005
A suicide bomber detonated a blast at an Iraqi army recruitment center in the capital today, witnesses said. A doctor at Yarmouk hospital said 20 people were killed and several were injured. The blast occurred just before 9 am (0500 GMT) at a western Baghdad recruiting center that had been hit several times by suicide attackers.

July 10, 2005

Up to 27 people, including seven children, have been killed and at least 18 wounded by a car bomb in Baghdad. The attack on Wednesday occurred near a patrol of US forces, police sources said. US troops said one US soldier and many Iraqi civilians were killed by the blast, including at least seven Iraqi children. Three US soldiers were among the wounded.

July 13, 2005

At least 22 people have been killed by a suicide bomber who blew up a lorry laden with explosives at a police station in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad.

BBC July 24, 2005
Two car bombs in Baghdad left at least eight dead and 27 wounded, an interior ministry official said.

Forbes July 25, 2005
In Baghdad, guerrillas shot up a minibus transporting factory workers near Abu Ghraib to the west of Baghdad, killing as many as 18 and wounding 9.

Also in the capital, guerrillas assassinated 3 employees of the Ministry of Health.

In a third incident in Baghdad, guerrillas injured a policeman when they attacked the Major Crimes Unit in the Karkh quarter.

Informed Comment July 27
Elsewhere, a senior Baghdad International Airport official was abducted today by gunmen, along with his driver and another companion, police said.

Mahir Yassin, director of the communication department at Baghdad airport, was kidnapped from Baghdad’s western Mansour neighbourhood on his way to work by assailants in two cars, said police Lt Saad Jawad.

The exclusive, largely residential neighbourhood, home to many foreign embassies, was the site of last week’s abduction of two Algerian diplomats, who on Wednesday were murdered by al-Qaida.

Ireland Online July 27, 2005

Update: Khaleej Times July 30

The bodies of two Baghdad International Airport employees and their driver, kidnapped earlier this week, were discovered Saturday in a field in southwestern Baghdad, police and hospital officials said.

A twin suicide attack struck a US-Iraqi army checkpoint near al-Nu'man Hospital in northern Baghdad on Wednesday, wounding eight soldiers, police said.

"The first blast was a suicide car bomb detonated at a checkpoint manned by US and Iraqi army forces near al-Nu'man Hospital in Adhamiyah district," an Interior Ministry source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.

Xinhuanet July 27, 2005
Two U.S. soldiers were killed Wednesday when their patrol struck a bomb in north Baghdad, military officials said Thursday. A third soldier was wounded in the attack.


Insurgents bombed a train Thursday in southern Baghdad, killing two people and wounding four, an Iraqi police official said. The train was pulling fuel tanker cars to a refinery when the bomb exploded, the official said.


The U.S. ambassador to Iraq said the United States will work with Iraqi officials and other diplomats to see what can be done to improve security for Baghdad's foreign envoys. Zalmay Khalilzad made the comments Thursday, a day after militants said they killed two Algerian diplomats kidnapped last week in Baghdad.

CNN July 28, 2005

An oil tanker train car was set on fire in Baghdad Thursday. Iraqi police officials suspected a bombing. One person was killed and four injured in the blaze. The train was carrying oil products from a refinery in Doura.

NY Times July 29, 2005
A car bomb exploded Saturday near the National Theater in Baghdad, killing five people, including three policemen, police and witnesses said.

Guardian Unlimited July 30, 2005
Gunmen kidnapped a female Iraqi Health Ministry official in western Baghdad on Saturday, police said.


Hours earlier, the bodies of three Baghdad airport employees kidnapped on Wednesday were found in southwestern Baghdad. Allthree were blindfolded and shot in the head.

Xinhuanet July 30, 2005

Wonder what's happening with Saddam Hussein?

Saddam asks to meet Ramsey Clark

Monday 25 July 2005 - Lawyers for former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein have said he has asked to meet a former US attorney general who is a member of his defence team, but he is yet to hear from the authorities.

A statement on Monday issued by the team, which goes by the acronym ISNAD, said Saddam asked the special tribunal set up to try him for a meeting with former US attorney general Ramsey Clark, but his request had not been answered yet.

The statement, which was sent to, said the team's representative in Baghdad, lawyer Khalil al-Dulaimi, had met Saddam on Thursday,

The statement expressed concern over the lack of access for Saddam and said it could not start preparing his defence unless Saddam enjoyed full access to his counsel.

A defence team member, Isam al-Ghazzawi, told that the team's representative in Baghdad had asked for permission for Clark and other lawyers to meet their client.

"The request has always been put on hold, but last Thursday the president himself asked to meet Clark and other lawyers, but the only answer we have been getting is: 'If God is willing'," al-Ghazzawi said.


Iraqi Leader Vows to Block Purges on Hussein Tribunal

BAGHDAD, Iraq, July 28 - The president of Iraq said Thursday that he would personally ensure the preservation of the Iraqi tribunal preparing the trials of Saddam Hussein and his aides.


On Tuesday, a senior official on the commission created to purge former Baath officials said it intended to rid the tribunal of 19 former Baathists.

That statement ignited concern among American officials and senior members of the Iraqi government that the cases against Mr. Hussein might be impaired, and apparently prompted Mr. Talabani's remarks in defense of the tribunal.

  NY Times article

Saddam Hussein's request for trial in Sweden turned down


An official from the justice ministry said that Sweden has turned down a request by one of Hussein's lawyers for him to come here, and for the time being, Swedish authorities were unlikely to change their minds.


Giovanni di Stefano has said that Iraq's insurgency has made Baghdad far too dangerous a venue for the former leader's trial, and that the proceeding should be moved to another country.

"Baghdad couldn't even prevent the recent kidnapping and killing of the Egyptian ambassador. There are also many Iraqis whowant to see Saddam executed and many others who want to see him freed. That means the defense and prosecution would both be in danger there," di Stefano said.

He said Saddam's defense team has contacted the Swedish government about the possibility of holding such a trial in Sweden.

  Xinhuanet article

Defence teams says Saddam attacked; U.S. denies it

[Sat Jul 30, 2005]


A statement issued by Saddam's legal team, which has an office in Amman, Jordan, said the former president was attacked and exchanged blows with another person during a hearing attended by his main lawyer, Khalil Dulaimi, on Thursday.

"As the president (Saddam) stood to leave the courtroom one of those present attacked him and there was an exchange of blows between the man and the president," the statement said, adding that the head of the tribunal did nothing to stop the assault.

It did not say if Saddam was hurt.

However, a spokeswoman for detainee operations in Iraq, the U.S. military unit charged with overseeing the custody of prisoners including Saddam, said no such incident took place.

"Nothing like that happened with Saddam whatsoever," Lieutenant Kristy Miller said.

  Reuters article

Saddam’s defense team has complained that he has had no access to international lawyers and says Saddam is sometimes called to hearings at a moment’s notice, in violation of rules.

The tribunal denies Saddam has been denied any rights.

Ramsey Clark, a former U.S. attorney general and one of the lawyers signed up to represent Saddam, said in a statement that Saddam’s rights were being violated.

  MSNBC article

More Saddam information.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Hollywood - those damned lefties

Barely two minutes into the premiere episode of Over There, Steven Bochco's gritty television series about soldiers fighting in the Iraq war, and already the myth of the "stab in the back" – the nutty idea that we are, somehow, not being allowed to win by pansy generals and public relations hacks – had reared its ugly and all-too-familiar head. The Americans are moving in on a mosque that is chock-full of insurgents, taking fire, while "Sergeant Scream" – AKA Chris Silas, played by Erik Palladino – is bellowing at his troops that he's being kept in Iraq for an extra 90-day stint. All the while they're being pinned down by enemy fire, he's complaining that they aren't allowed to just go in there and blow everyone to smithereens "because al-Jazeera has a reporter in there" and "some general 1,000 miles away" is more concerned with "public relations" than with winning the war.

Sergeant Scream's ranting rages continue throughout episode one, and, one suspects, throughout the series, although we are soon no doubt to be clued in that he really has a heart of gold. This rapid-fire stream of abuse, self-pity, and untrammeled rage is echoed – albeit less harshly – by the rest of the platoon, all freshly recruited to our noble Iraqi enterprise. These people are constantly talking – even as they're blowing apart insurgents, taking enemy fire, slinking through the desert, or just hanging out back at their base. The chatter is incessant, like the sound of cicadas in summer, and always about the same subject: their lives, their troubles, their cliché-ridden histories. What few Iraqis we see are merely stick figures waiting to be mowed down, moving through the garish yellow of the desert like zombies in Night of the Living Dead. This war might as well be taking place in an Arizona trailer park for all the characters seem to be aware of or even faintly curious about their surroundings. It isn't about Iraq, it's all about the Americans – their feelings, their class and ethnic divisions, and their endless narcissistic banter.

  Antiwar article

Yeah, well, that's what it is about to the folks who will be watching the show.

Talk about military PR. Sheesh.

There's also a new show coming on that's all about the Pentagon: E-Ring.

And I've noticed there are numerous TV shows and movies now all glorifying the CIA, JAG, and war in general.

Yeah, Hollywood is all liberal commies.

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

Put them all in jail

Where they belong.

It's a matter of national security.

“We don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud." It was September 2002, and then-National Security Advisor, now-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was fastening on CNN perhaps the most memorable and frightening single link in the Bush regime’s chain of lies propagandizing the war on Iraq. Behind her carefully planted one-liner with its grim imagery was the whole larger hoax about Saddam Hussein possessing or about to acquire weapons of mass destruction, a deception as blatant and inflammatory as claims of the Iraqi dictator’s ties to Al Qaeda.

Rice’s demagogic scare tactic was also very much part of the tangled history of alleged Iraqi purchases of uranium from Niger, the fabrication leading to ex-Ambassador Joseph Wilson’s now famous exposé of the fraud, the administration’s immediate retaliatory “outing” of Wilson’s wife Valerie Plame as a CIA operative, and now the revelation that the President’s supreme political strategist Karl Rove and Vice President Dick Cheney’s Chief of Staff Lewis Libby were involved in that potentially criminal leak—altogether the most serious political crisis Bush has faced. In fact, though her pivotal role has been missed entirely—or deliberately ignored—in both the media feeding frenzy and the rising political clamor, now-Secretary of State Rice was also deeply embroiled in the Niger uranium-Plame scandal, arguably as much as or more so than either Rove or Libby.
This article is from Roger Morris:
Roger Morris was Senior Staff on the National Security Council under both Presidents Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon, until resigning over the invasion of Cambodia. An award winning author, he has written extensively about the Presidency and American foreign policy.
Continue reading....

Update on Kevin Benderman

I'm going to keep this post at the top of the page for a little while. New posts will be entered below it.

This comes in an email from Jack Dalton. It's from Kevin's wife, Monica.
THANK YOU -- to everyone for supporting Kevin and me.Kevin is currently in a local county jail -- but he is being treated well. We are waiting to see where he will be going next, and what will be happening.The appeals process has been initiated - BUT -- Kevin has not actually been convicted as yet. He is in prison, but the conviction will not be official until the Convening Authority, Col. John Kidd, has signed off on it. He cannot make the sentence any greater, but he can reduce it. It's doubtful that he will do that, he has an inordinate amount of disdain for me.

The entire prosecution team, including witnesses, all stood outside the doorway and laughed while Kevin was walking to the van. They wanted to put him in shackles and chains "so that the media could take pictures of him that way" but his supervisor, the man they had placed in charge of that, refused to do that, so Kevin walked freely.

This supervisor has been very supportive of Kevin from the start - and continues to be very upset about what is happening, as he knows the truth.Kevin could serve his entire sentence without Col. Kidd approving the sentence, which means that he will have the potential to serve without being convicted.

The reason this is a possibility is that until the sentence is confirmed, they cannot officially process the appeal, and until the conviction is official, the defense team cannot receive the full transcripts from the trial. Without these, they cannot begin to create the brief to file for the appeal.People need to be aware of this. Please... let people know just what they are capable of.Kevin is fine, and says

THANK YOU for staying with him.

Love, Monica
The Bendermans have a website, the link to which you will always be able to access in the left sidebar here at YWA.

Also from Jack:
| Free Kevin Benderman! | open the link, send your support letters, let them know they are not in this alone! Also remember that all, and I mean all, pay and allowances have been cut off to the Benderman family. As soon as I know what the address will be for Kevin I will pass it on to all of you. Kevin has already been hailed as a “hero” (and rightly so might I add) by not only others incarcerated where he is at, but, by those who are paid to be his guards and jailers also. When I spoke with Monica earlier today the fight, life, was back in her voice. The “tiger” is back in her tank. Now it is up to us to support Kevin and Monica for as long as needed, and in any way we are able. Kevin’s attorney will handle the appeal, but right now Kevin and Monica owe him $2500 which they do not have. Those of you that are in a position to help with getting the $2500 paid, you can do that by opening this link, Free Kevin Benderman. Kevin put his entire life on the line for that which he believes in—the utter futility of war and especially one such as in Iraq based on nothing but lies--which is what we all profess to believe is it not? So, we can do no less.

In solidarity and peace


Kevin Benderman at trial
(CNN photo)

Oakland, CA, rally supporting Kevin Benderman
More photos here.

Not that you'll see this in the mainstream news, but...

An indefinite curfew was imposed Wednesday for all vehicle and pedestrian traffic in the central Iraqi city of Samarra, following an attack on a US convoy in the area, the US military and Iraqi police said.

  Ireland Online article

WIIIAI comments:
The Press Association story has this line:
“There is currently, and until further notice, no vehicle or pedestrian activity allowed in Samarra,” said a spokesman for Task Force Liberty.
They might want to rethink the name of that task force.

Bush: too bad for those boy scouts; now watch this drive

It's not bad enough that some scout leaders (who probably should have known better) were killed when lightning struck, and that another, along with a boy scout, suffered the same fate a couple days later.
More than 300 Boy Scouts were sickened by the heat Wednesday while waiting for President George W. Bush to arrive at a memorial service for four Scout leaders.


The president's visit to the Scout Jamboree was eventually postponed because of the threat of severe thunderstorms and strong winds.

  NBC5 article

Proof that there is no God. (Or else he's a Bush man. Mean and evil. Which I could believe.)

High-intensity operations in Baghdad will not be sustained (Update)

I do believe . . . that the ability of these insurgents to conduct sustained high-intensity operations [in Baghdad] as they did last year -- we've mostly eliminated that . . . I would say in the next couple of months we will not see sustained, long, bloody months in Baghdad.

Maj. Gen. William Webster, Jr.
Commander of Multinational Division Baghdad
Press Briefing
July 8, 2005
A suicide bomber detonated a blast at an Iraqi army recruitment center in the capital today, witnesses said. A doctor at Yarmouk hospital said 20 people were killed and several were injured. The blast occurred just before 9 am (0500 GMT) at a western Baghdad recruiting center that had been hit several times by suicide attackers.

July 10, 2005

Up to 27 people, including seven children, have been killed and at least 18 wounded by a car bomb in Baghdad. The attack on Wednesday occurred near a patrol of US forces, police sources said. US troops said one US soldier and many Iraqi civilians were killed by the blast, including at least seven Iraqi children. Three US soldiers were among the wounded.

July 13, 2005

At least 22 people have been killed by a suicide bomber who blew up a lorry laden with explosives at a police station in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad.

BBC July 24, 2005
Two car bombs in Baghdad left at least eight dead and 27 wounded, an interior ministry official said.

Forbes July 25, 2005
In Baghdad, guerrillas shot up a minibus transporting factory workers near Abu Ghraib to the west of Baghdad, killing as many as 18 and wounding 9.

Also in the capital, guerrillas assassinated 3 employees of the Ministry of Health.

In a third incident in Baghdad, guerrillas injured a policeman when they attacked the Major Crimes Unit in the Karkh quarter.

Informed Comment July 27
Elsewhere, a senior Baghdad International Airport official was abducted today by gunmen, along with his driver and another companion, police said.

Mahir Yassin, director of the communication department at Baghdad airport, was kidnapped from Baghdad’s western Mansour neighbourhood on his way to work by assailants in two cars, said police Lt Saad Jawad.

The exclusive, largely residential neighbourhood, home to many foreign embassies, was the site of last week’s abduction of two Algerian diplomats, who on Wednesday were murdered by al-Qaida.

Ireland Online July 27, 2005
Two U.S. soldiers were killed Wednesday when their patrol struck a bomb in north Baghdad, military officials said Thursday. A third soldier was wounded in the attack.


Insurgents bombed a train Thursday in southern Baghdad, killing two people and wounding four, an Iraqi police official said. The train was pulling fuel tanker cars to a refinery when the bomb exploded, the official said.


The U.S. ambassador to Iraq said the United States will work with Iraqi officials and other diplomats to see what can be done to improve security for Baghdad's foreign envoys. Zalmay Khalilzad made the comments Thursday, a day after militants said they killed two Algerian diplomats kidnapped last week in Baghdad.

CNN July 28, 2005

Thursday, July 28, 2005

And, about that fishy anthrax business...

I was wondering whatever happened.
A federal appeals court has reinstated a libel suit against the New York Times filed by a former Army scientist who claims one of the paper's columnists unfairly linked him to the deadly anthrax mailings in 2001.

Steven Hatfill sued the Times for a series of columns written by Nicholas Kristof that faulted the FBI for failing to thoroughly investigate Hatfill for the anthrax mailings that left five people dead.

  WaPo article

Somehow we just never did seem to concern ourselves much with the fact that no one was ever busted on the anthrax killings. Maybe Hatfill's suit will raise the issue again.

Another Bush liar busted

John Bolton, President Bush's nominee for U.N. ambassador, mistakenly told Congress he had not been interviewed or testified in any investigation over the past five years, the State Department said Thursday

  Yahoo News article

Bolton was interviewed by the State Department inspector general in 2003 as part of a joint investigation with the Central Intelligence Agency into prewar Iraqi attempts to buy nuclear materials from Niger, State Department spokesman Noel Clay said.

The admission came hours after another State Department official said Bolton had correctly answered a Senate questionnaire when he wrote that he has not testified to a grand jury or been interviewed by investigators in any inquiry over the past five years.

The reversal followed persistent Democratic attempts to question Bolton's veracity just days before Bush may use his authority to make him United Nations ambassador after Congress adjourns for its summer recess.

"It seems unusual that Mr. Bolton would not remember his involvement in such a serious matter," said Sen. Joseph Biden [...]
He just has so much on his mind.
The new information does not change the Bush administration's commitment to Bolton's nomination, said a senior State Department official who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the political sensitivity of the subject.
Well, of course it doesn't. Being a bald-faced liar without shame is a prerequisite for a job in the Bush administration.

And it also doesn't mean Congress won't approve the nomination. Except they probably won't have to, as Buttie has a tendency to make recess appointments.
Clay said Bolton, formerly undersecretary for arms control and international security, had no role in a separate criminal investigation into the leak of an undercover CIA official's identity.
The response came after Biden wrote to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice asserting Bolton had been interviewed and suggesting he had not been truthful in his questionnaire.
Josh Marshall clarifies.

Kevin Benderman further update

E-mail from Jack Dalton:
I just got off the phone with Monica Benderman. The court found Kevin guilty of "missing a movement" and sentenced him to 15 months in a military prison. The prosecutor told the court in his closing argument that, "because Sgt Benderman wouldn't deploy, soldiers in his unit died." What an outrageous lie! Not a single soldier in Kevin's unit has died. This was first and foremost punishment based on Kevin going public and not his refusal to deploy.


I'm working on a much bigger essay about this but wanted to let you all know the results of Kevin's court martial right away.


Posada denied bond; terrorism at the Bay of Pigs?

Dressed in orange prison shirt and pants, and wearing a none-too-hidden bullet-proof vest beneath his garb, Posada stood swiftly as Judge William Abbot entered the courtroom. The judge, an affable man who seemed intent on putting everyone at ease, never addressed Posada directly during the 90 minute hearing and referred to him only as "client" or "defendant." It was all but a foregone conclusion that Posada would continue to be detained without bond. And indeed this is how the judge ruled, but not without taking a few interesting turns. The two attorneys representing Posada expressed frustration that their client had not been charged with the crimes the government kept referring to by inference and implication. Matthew Archambeault claimed that the government was making reference to his client as a terrorist without having to answer for such characterizations or provide evidence of Posada’s terrorism. But this seemed an improvident point to press, as Posada was undeniably involved in a multitude of terrorist operations and attacks spanning five decades, including the infamous Operation Condor, Iran-Contra, a series of bombings in Cuba in 1997, and numerous attempts to assassinate Castro. But what weighed heavy in the courtroom is simply how to define the term terrorism. One would hope that such a term would prove not to be so malleable and manipulable as to be taken over by cynics; it is to stand for something clearly wrong, something clearly against humanity. Posada, though, makes the United States uncomfortable in the use of that term, for it is clear that much of what he did in Latin America was either at the behest of the United States or with its approval. And in recent months, more information has come to light to show clear U.S. involvement in violence and terrorism in Chile and elsewhere in Latin America over an extended period of time. For example, it now appears that Operation Condor, a cooperative venture by Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Brazil, and Bolivia to gather intelligence and hunt down and kill leftists and political opponents, was coordinated through an intelligence collection site operated by the U.S. in Panama. It also appears that U.S. encipherment systems were used to provide secure communications to the Condor group. The Condor killings, and killings of leftists generally, termed "justice actions" by Posada and his colleagues, numbered in the thousands and reached even to U.S. soil and Washington, D.C., with the assassination of Orlando Letelier and Ronni Moffit less than a month before the Cubana Flight 455 bombing arranged by Posada and Orlando Bosch.

Once, when asked when his work for the CIA had ceased, Posada claimed he could not remember when he left the Agency, but then responded that "all Cubans work for the CIA." But the man sitting in front of us today worked for no one, and Judge Abbott, noting Posada’s extensive terrorist background and a formal request for his extradition to Venezuela to stand trial for the Cubana Airlines bombing, was clearly unwilling to pay serious attention to any argument for bond. The court found at least two compelling reasons to deny Posada bond. First, Posada’s illegal entry into the U.S. coupled with the formal request for extradition from Venezuela prevented judicial discretion to set bond. Second, and more to the point of Posada’s background, Judge Abbott found that the case of In re Mohammad J.A. Khalifah deprived him of the discretion to do anything but retain Posada in custody, and that policy forced him to refuse a change of venue to Miami. Khalifah held that, "An alien subject to criminal proceedings for alleged terrorist activities in the country to which the Immigration and Naturalization Service seeks to deport him is appropriately ordered detained without bond as a poor bail risk." As Judge Abbot said, it is "better to be safe than sorry," but then immediately added "not that I really want to keep this case, it’s driving my docket crazy."

But as the hearing wound down, the judge dropped a bombshell in the courtroom. He informed both the attorneys for Posada and for the U.S. Government that he would issue a pretrial order in late July or early August requiring counsel to brief the court as to whether or not Posada’s actions in support of the Bay of Pigs invasion could be construed as terrorist actions under U.S. statutes governing detention and deportability of aliens. Abbot then pointedly noted that he looked especially forward to the government’s brief on that matter. The court was silent.

  Narco News article (links embedded)

That’s right, U.S. prosecutors and Posada’s attorneys will now have to duke it out over whether the U.S. government engaged in an act of terrorism against the Cuban government in the early 1960s. And the irony is that it will be to the benefit of U.S. prosecutors to argue that it was terrorism, since it would seem to bolster the government’s case against granting Posada asylum.

  Narco News article

The government has a hot potato here.

But, the old man is sick. He could die in prison before testifying, couldn't he?

CAFTA update

My surprise at the objection in Congress to CAFTA (to which I object, and Congress and I aren't typically on the same side these days), doesn't include surprise at them being strong-armed. It's happened before, eh?
The 217 to 215 vote came just after midnight, in a dramatic finish that highlighted the intensity brought by both sides to the battle. When the usual 15-minute voting period expired at 11:17 p.m., the no votes outnumbered the yes votes by 180 to 175, with dozens of members undeclared. House Republican leaders kept the voting open for another 47 minutes, furiously rounding up holdouts in their own party until they had secured just enough to ensure approval.


To win, the White House and GOP congressional leaders had to overcome resistance from dozens of Republican members who were also loath to vote for the accord because of issues ranging from the perceived threat to the U.S. sugar industry to more general worries about the impact of global trade on U.S. jobs.


Before the vote, GOP leaders, who had negotiated deals in recent days to sway Republicans, made it clear they were prepared to twist arms. "It will be a tough vote, but we will pass CAFTA tonight," House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) told reporters yesterday morning. "And we will do it with very few Democrats on board."


GOP leaders told their rank and file that if they wanted anything, now was the time to ask, lawmakers said, and members took advantage of the opportunity by requesting such things as fundraising appearances by Cheney and the restoration of money the White House has tried to cut from agriculture programs. Lawmakers also said many of the favors bestowed in exchange for votes will be tucked into the huge energy and highway bills that Congress is scheduled to pass this week before leaving for the August recess.

  WaPo article

We do of course understand how this works. Congressdicks don't vote on measures according to whether they believe in them or not - they vote on them as trading chits.

What's wrong with CAFTA?

What now for Guatemala? El Salvador?

And speaking of the energy bill...

With Congress poised for a final vote on the energy bill, the Environmental Protection Agency made an 11th-hour decision Tuesday to delay the planned release of an annual report on fuel economy.

But a copy of the report, embargoed for publication Wednesday, was sent to The New York Times by a member of the E.P.A. communications staff just minutes before the decision was made to delay it until next week. The contents of the report show that loopholes in American fuel economy regulations have allowed automakers to produce cars and trucks that are significantly less fuel-efficient, on average, than they were in the late 1980's.

Releasing the report this week would have been inopportune for the Bush administration, its critics said, because it would have come on the eve of a final vote in Congress on energy legislation six years in the making. The bill, as it stands, largely ignores auto mileage regulations.

  NY Times article

Update 7/29:
One Republican who agonized over the vote was Representative Mark Foley of Florida, whose district includes some of the biggest sugar producers in the country.

Mr. Foley, a member of the House leadership team responsible for lining up votes, supported the bill even though he staunchly opposed the pact because it would allow higher sugar imports.

"It was difficult, a gut-wrenching night," Mr. Foley said on Thursday. President Bush called him about 8:20 p.m. Wednesday to plead for his vote, he said, and Republican leaders had already made it clear that they would punish the sugar industry in the next farm bill if they managed to defeat the trade pact.

"If the administration thinks that sugar brought about the demise of this, there would have been hell to pay in the farm bill," Mr. Foley said. "This was somewhat of a vote for the survival of my constituents."

  NY Times article

Cynthia McKinney looking for trouble - again

Revisiting the issue that helped spur her ouster from Congress three years ago, Rep. Cynthia Mc­Kinney led a Capitol Hill hearing [July 22] on whether the Bush administration was involved in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.


"The commission's report was not a rush to judgment, it was a rush to exoneration," said John Judge, a member of Mc­Kinney's staff and a representative of a Web site dedicated to raising questions about the Sept. 11 commission's report.


"Congresswoman McKinney is viewed as a contrarian," panelist Melvin Goodman, a former CIA official, said. "And I hope someday her views will be considered conventional wisdom."


Nearly a dozen 9/11 enthusiasts lined one side of the room, camcorders at the ready, broadcasting the hearing live over the Internet or recording it for later release. C-SPAN cameras documented the hearing, and a DVD recording of the proceedings will soon be available.


Panelists called the commission's report "a cover-up."


The White House and the commission have dismissed such questions as unfounded conspiracy theories.

  AJC article

Late breaking news on Kevin Benderman

Debbie Clark covering the court-martial for from Fort Stewart, Georgia, reports that judge Col. Donna M. Wright has convicted Sgt. Kevin Benderman of the charge of missing movement," failing to convict on the charge of desertion.

Updated: Judge Wright sentenced Sgt. Benderman to 15 months. Observers felt this was a harsher sentence than expected for the lesser charge. He also received a dishonerable discharge and a reduction in rank to E-1. This is believed to be the harshest sentence yet for an Iraq resister. Judge Wright threw out the bogus charge of larceny (for receiving the wrong pay grade) earlier in the week.

Military police immediately took Sgt. Benderman into custody.

  Antiwar article

This is bad news for Kevin, but good news, in my opinion, for the anti-war movement. It shows that Kevin's case had way too much publicity for military comfort. The intent is clearly to make a point to other would-be consciencious objectors.

From what I've read about the case, this does seem an unjust finding, to say nothing of the sentencing. I don't know if it can be appealed, or if Kevin would consider that.

Stay tuned.

Kevin Benderman's trial starts today

YWA extends best wishes and kudos to the Bendermans.
Benderman faces up to seven years in prison.

Military Judge Col. Donna M. Wright threw out charges of larceny against Benderman on July 22. The Army had based the larceny charges against this war resister on an Army accounting error that resulted in Benderman receiving an extra $2,922 in combat pay.

Last May officers used the threat of an additional 10 years in prison to try to get Benderman to waive his right to a new investigation of the desertion charges.

Army mechanic Sgt. Benderman is a 10-year Army veteran. He and his spouse, Monica Benderman, have been equally active in speaking and writing against the war on Iraq. Their writings can be found at


Since he finished his one-year prison sentence for refusing to go to Iraq, Camilo Mejia has become an activist with the Iraq Veterans against the War (IVAW). He has now written a letter asking anti-war forces to support Sgt. Benderman at his court-martial.

"The best way to show your support," writes Mejia, "is by attending the trial and participating in any rallies and/or activities in support of the Bendermans. But also by announcing the trial and requesting support through your websites and publications."

  Workers World article

The Bendermans do have legal fees, which is also a way to help.

Military lawyers objected to Bush powers

WASHINGTON, July 27 - Senior military lawyers lodged vigorous and detailed dissents in early 2003 as an administration legal task force concluded that President Bush had authority as commander in chief to order harsh interrogations of prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, newly disclosed documents show.

Despite the military lawyers' warnings, the task force concluded that military interrogators and their commanders would be immune from prosecution for torture under federal and international law because of the special character of the fight against terrorism.

In memorandums written by several senior uniformed lawyers in each of the military services as the legal review was under way, they had urged a sharply different view and also warned that the position eventually adopted by the task force could endanger American service members.

  NY Times article

Obviously, the President is unconcerned with the safety of American service members.

Warning duly noted.
The documents include one written by the deputy judge advocate general of the Air Force, Maj. Gen. Jack L. Rives, advising the task force that several of the "more extreme interrogation techniques, on their face, amount to violations of domestic criminal law" as well as military law.
Details, details.
The memorandums provide the most complete record to date of how uniformed military lawyers were frequently the chief dissenters as government officials formulated interrogation policies.
And as we've been saying, there is a string of government officials who need to be charged and tried.

And related...
FORT MEADE, Md., July 27 (AP) - The former warden of the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq testified Wednesday that he attended a meeting in which the commander of the Guantánamo prison recommended using military dogs for interrogation.

The former warden, Maj. David Dinenna, testified at the end of a preliminary hearing for two Army dog handlers accused of abusing Iraqi detainees. Major Dinenna said that at a meeting in September 2003, Maj. Gen. Geoffrey D. Miller, then the Guantánamo commander, talked about the effectiveness of using the dogs.

  NY Times article

DeLay still not behind bars

And still dealing dirty.
Tom DeLay thinks the federal treasury is his personal piggy bank. DeLay slipped “a $1.5 billion giveaway to the oil industry, Halliburton, and Sugar Land, Texas” into the energy bill.

But this isn’t a normal case of government pork. DeLay has completely dispensed with the democratic process. From a letter Rep. Henry Waxman just sent Speaker Dennis Hastert:
The provision was inserted into the energy legislation after the conference was closed, so members of the conference committee had no opportunity to consider or reject this measure.


The subtitle appears to steer the administration of 75% of the $1.5 billion fund to a private consortium located in the district of Majority Leader Tom DeLay. Ordinarily, a large fund like this would be administered directly by the government.

Hastert and DeLay need to explain themselves immediately. No member of Congress who takes taxpayer dollars seriously should vote for the energy bill until this matter is resolved.

  Think Progress post

The plot thickens

Apparently, the pressure on Fitzgerald about to come out of Congress isn't just about investigating his Plame probe.
Late this evening I got emails from a few readers who told me about a news story on Chicago's Channel 9, WGN-TV which pointed out that Patrick Fitzgerald's term as US Attorney in Chicago is coming up in October and that pressure is building to deny him a reappointment.

As it was described to me, the news segment featured an interview with former Sen. Peter Fitzgerald (R)(no relation), who suggested that Denny Hastert might be pushing to turn Fitzgerald out of his job.

And who would think a stand-up guy like Denny Hastert would stoop to something like that?

  Josh Marshall post

GOP paybacks to me means that the man is on to something. I'm having doubts now about Fitzgerald ultimately clearing the WH with this investigation.

I like it.

And there's more...
[S]pecial prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald has asked not only about how CIA operative Valerie Plame's name was leaked but also how the administration went about shifting responsibility from the White House to the CIA for having included 16 words in the 2003 State of the Union address about Iraqi efforts to acquire uranium from Africa, an assertion that was later disputed.


[Bill] Harlow, the former CIA spokesman, said in an interview yesterday that he testified last year before a grand jury about conversations he had with Novak at least three days before the column was published. He said he warned Novak, in the strongest terms he was permitted to use without revealing classified information, that Wilson's wife had not authorized the mission and that if he did write about it, her name should not be revealed.

Harlow said that after Novak's call, he checked Plame's status and confirmed that she was an undercover operative. He said he called Novak back to repeat that the story Novak had related to him was wrong and that Plame's name should not be used. But he did not tell Novak directly that she was undercover because that was classified.


Harlow was also involved in the larger internal administration battle over who would be held responsible for Bush using the disputed charge about the Iraq-Niger connection as part of the war argument. Based on the questions they have been asked, people involved in the case believe that Fitzgerald looked into this bureaucratic fight because the effort to discredit Wilson was part of the larger campaign to distance Bush from the Niger controversy.


Behind the scenes, the White House responded with twin attacks: one on Wilson and the other on the CIA, which it wanted to take the blame for allowing the 16 words to remain in Bush's speech.

  WaPo article

Incidentally, in that article, a CIA official denies that Rove and Libby had anything to do with writing Tenet's sacrificial speech.
Not everyone in the Times building is on the same page when it comes to Judy Miller. The official story the paper is sticking to is that Miller is a heroic martyr, sacrificing her freedom in the name of journalistic integrity.

But a very different scenario is being floated in the halls. Here it is: It's July 6, 2003, and Joe Wilson's now famous op-ed piece appears in the Times, raising the idea that the Bush administration has "manipulate[d]" and "twisted" intelligence "to exaggerate the Iraqi threat." Miller, who has been pushing this manipulated, twisted, and exaggerated intel in the Times for months, goes ballistic. Someone is using the pages of her own paper to call into question the justification for the war -- and, indirectly, much of her reporting. The idea that intelligence was being fixed goes to the heart of Miller's credibility. So she calls her friends in the intelligence community and asks, Who is this guy? She finds out he's married to a CIA agent. She then passes on the info about Mrs. Wilson to Scooter Libby (Newsday has identified a meeting Miller had on July 8 in Washington with an "unnamed government official"). Maybe Miller tells Rove too -- or Libby does. The White House hatchet men turn around and tell Novak and Cooper. The story gets out.

This is why Miller doesn't want to reveal her "source" at the White House -- because she was the source. Sure, she first got the info from someone else, and the odds are she wasn't the only one who clued in Libby and/or Rove (the State Dept. memo likely played a role too)… but, in this scenario, Miller certainly wasn't an innocent writer caught up in the whirl of history.

  Arianna Huffington article

As Pincus and Jim VandeHei rightly say, twin attacks -- one aimed at Wilson for blowing the whistle, the other at the CIA, an elaborate fraud perpetrated upon the American people (and perpetuated through last year's SSCI report) in which the CIA, which had repeatedly tried to prevent the president from publicizing and validating the bogus Niger uranium claims, was forced to take the blame for not warning the president of their falsity. (As this ball of yarn unravels, remember the name Alan Foley.)


As Frank Rich put it so aptly less than two weeks ago, "the administration knows how guilty it is. That's why it has so quickly trashed any insider who contradicts its story line about how we got to Iraq, starting with the former Treasury secretary Paul O'Neill and the former counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke."

  Josh Marshall post

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

Hey, it's the manufacturing sector

McDonald’s D’s “also offers career opportunities to disabled servicemembers and military veterans”. Sarcastic responses to that in comments, please.

Rummy told the future burger-flippers troops that he expected terrorist attacks to increase until the new Iraqi constitution is finalized, oh and until the referendum on it, and gosh who knows, maybe after that as well. And that’s an excellent sign, because suicide bombings are “a sign of weakness” and desperation. Can you believe they’re still pushing that line?

  WIIIAI post

Further info on the "mistaken" police slaying in London

Jean Charles de Menezes, the Brazilian shot dead in the head, was not wearing a heavy jacket that might have concealed a bomb, and did not jump the ticket barrier when challenged by armed plainclothes police, his cousin said yesterday.

Speaking at a press conference after a meeting with the Metropolitan police, Vivien Figueiredo, 22, said that the first reports of how her 27-year-old cousin had come to be killed in mistake for a suicide bomber on Friday at Stockwell tube station were wrong.


Yesterday it emerged one armed officer involved has been given leave, and two have been moved to non-firearm duties

  Guardian article

Previous posts on the London attacks.

Personal integrity

The soldiers could get life in prison without parole if they are tried and convicted. All have denied wrongdoing, saying commanders had sanctioned their actions.
It's not wrong if commanders sanction it. The Nazi defense.

The charges.

Support our troops.

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

Labor calls for Iraq pullout

The largest US labor federation has called for the rapid return of US troops from

It was the first time in the federation's 50-year history that the AFL-CIO has taken a position squarely opposing US foreign policy or military action.

"An unending military presence will waste lives and resources, undermine our nation's security and weaken our military," the AFL-CIO stated in a resolution adopted at the federation's convention in Chicago Thursday.

The resolution called for proper equipment to protect the troops, an expansion of veterans benefits and "a commitment to bring them home rapidly."

The federation, which has nearly 11 million members, also blasted President George Bush for misleading the public.

  Yahoo News article

By the way, the AFL-CIO is apparently having some internal problems of its own. Splitting in two seems to be a major theme in the world these days.

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