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If We’re Really in Danger,
Why Doesn’t the Government Act as if We’re in Danger?

By Robert Higgs - The Independent Institute

President George W. Bush, vice president Dick Cheney, defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld, homeland security adviser Tom Ridge, and other government leaders rarely miss an opportunity nowadays to remind us of the grave danger we face. In a speech on July 16, the president declared, “We are today a Nation at risk to a new and changing threat.” Noting that “the terrorist threat to America takes many forms, has many places to hide, and is often invisible,” the president emphasized “our enduring vulnerability.” Evidently, the danger has not diminished much lately. I have just checked the threat indicator at the Web site of the Office of Homeland Security and found it, as of October 27, to be yellow, signifying an “elevated” level. Obviously, we’re in a world of trouble. Equally obviously, the government accepts full responsibility for allaying the threat its leaders say we face. As the president himself put it in the July 16 speech, “The U.S. government has no more important mission than protecting the homeland from future terrorist attack.”

But you’ve got to wonder. If we are really in such danger, why doesn’t the government act as if we are? Danger is supposed to focus the mind and sharpen one’s responses. The actions of the federal government, however, continue to be anything but focused. “Scattered to hell and back” describes them more accurately. Consider, for example, that not long ago Congress passed and the president signed a farm bill that will increase spending by some $83 billion over the next decade. All disinterested parties recognize that the greater part of this vast sum constitutes nothing but welfare for rich landowners and related agribusiness interests. Regardless of how we might characterize it, however, one thing's for sure: every dollar spent on agricultural subsidies is a dollar not spent on fighting terrorism. If terrorists menace us so seriously, why is the government squandering precious fiscal resources on welfare for agribusiness?

. . . Read more!

posted by An Old Curmudgeon 4:56 PM

War on Iraq will heighten risk of further al-Qaida attacks
A U.S.-led war on Iraq would heighten the risk of regional conflict and increase support for Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida terror network, researchers warned on Monday, 10/28. The independent Oxford Research Group said conventional war would kill 10,000 civilians in Iraq, and could trigger a desperate and destructive response from Saddam Hussein's regime.

No Respect for Tenet
CIA Director George Tenet is the chief intelligence officer in the U.S. government and he has warned that a pre-emptive strike against Iraq could prompt that nation to engage in terrorism against America. Yet neither the White House nor many members of Congress apparently want to listen to Tenet. He must feel like the Rodney Dangerfield of the Bush administration. He seemingly gets no respect.
. . . Read more!

posted by Hal 3:26 PM

Checkmating Iraq
(Linda Heard, Alternet, October 24, 2002)
The proposal involves a joint U.S.-Israel mission whereby American Special Forces would be used, backed by Israeli intelligence, and is said to have been put to the U.S. administration by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon during his recent visit to the American leader in Washington. . . . Israel is actively encouraging the U.S. to invade Iraq and has threatened to retaliate should it be the recipient of Iraqi missiles as it was in the 1991 Gulf War. But, unlike his father, who managed to restrain the Israeli government of the day, Bush junior appears to have given Sharon the green light to enter the fray. . . . Starting this month, most Arab visitors to the U.S. will be fingerprinted, photographed and even interrogated by immigration officials at U.S. airports and border crossings. Saudi Arabia seems to have decided that enough is enough and has introduced a reciprocal policy applicable to Americans entering Saudi, as well as to those alrea4dy resident in the kingdom. . . . President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt believes that the United States would be better employed working on ways to stop Israeli aggression in the Occupied Territories than preparing to attack Iraq. . . . In an emotional public acceptance of a new seven-year term of office, shown in its entirety by CNN, the Iraqi President said: "Our friends everywhere. You are facing the U.S. policy of hegemony, which seeks the path of blood and violence as well as the means of destruction." . . . While the American administration's motives for a proposed attack on Iraq are already suspect, they have been further highlighted by last Friday's announcement by North Korea that it is developing nuclear weapons, despite an earlier agreement not to do so, brokered by ex-President Jimmy Carter. . . . Rumsfeld went as far as saying that North Korea only has two or three (nuclear missiles) in a tone implying that these were a mere drop in the ocean and hardly worth worrying about. The Defence Secretary is also strangely comfortable with Israel's 300 or so nuclear warheads even though the region is highly volatile. . . . why is Iraq a greater threat to world peace and security than North Korea? . . . The bottom line: Saddam is a threat not to world peace or American lives but to America's ambitions. . . . The report, entitled "Strategic Energy Policy Challenges for the 21st Century," concludes: "The United States remains a prisoner of its energy dilemma ... Saddam Hussein has also demonstrated a willingness to use the oil weapon and to use his own export programme to manipulate oil markets. . . . "Therefore, the US should conduct an immediate policy review towards Iraq, including military, energy, economic and political/diplomatic assessments." . . . In this lengthy game of chess with people's lives as the pawns, Saddam is currently emerging as the victor. World opinion is on the side of the Iraqi people.
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 6:20 PM

Protesters All Around the World March Against War in Iraq
(Lawrence L. Knutson, Associated Press, 10-27-02)
Tens of thousands of anti-war protesters circled the White House on Saturday after Jesse Jackson and other speakers denounced the Bush administration's Iraq policies and demanded a revolt at the ballot box to promote peace. . . . The protest coincided with anti-war demonstrations from Augusta, Maine, to San Francisco and abroad from Rome and Berlin to Tokyo to San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Mexico City. In Washington and many of the other demonstrations, protesters added complaints about U.S. policy toward the Palestinians. . . . ``If we launch a pre-emptive strike on Iraq we lose all moral authority,'' Jackson told the chanting, cheering throng spread out on green lawns near the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. . . . A sign showed Bush's face at the end of two bright red bombs with the caption: ``Drop Bush, not bombs.'' . . . Protest organizers claimed up to 200,000 people had answered the call to challenge President Bush's determination to force out Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. Because the U.S. Park Police no longer issues crowd estimates, the size of the crowd could not be verified. As the march began, participants stretched for at least five city blocks. . . . New Englanders ventured out in snow, sleet and rain to join demonstrations in Maine and Vermont. Across the nation a couple thousand showed up at the Colorado capitol in downtown Denver, and demonstrators marched at San Francisco. . . . The thousands who gathered in cities across Europe, Asia and beyond also displayed vocal opposition to the U.S. policy toward Iraq and demanded reversal of Bush's Iraq policies. . . . In San Francisco, demonstrators stretched about a mile as they marched from the financial district to City Hall, carrying placards that read, ``Money for jobs, not for war'' and ``No blood for oil.'' . . . More than 2,000 chanting, drum-beating protesters marched on a home owned by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld near Taos, N.M., waving placards that read, ``Rumsfeld is a War Criminal'' and ``Teachers Against War.'' A few protesters held photographs of Iraqi children. . . . In Berlin, an estimated 8,000 people, brandishing placards that declared ``War on the imperialist war,'' converged on the downtown Alexanderplatz and marched past the German Foreign Ministry. Another 1,500 showed up in Frankfurt, 500 in Hamburg. . . . Another 1,500 rain-soaked demonstrators gathered under umbrellas outside the U.S. Embassy in Copenhagen, Denmark. More than 1,000 marched in Stockholm, Sweden. . . . ``We are the patriots that believe that America should heal the world and not bring the world to nuclear war over the interests of those business tycoons who put you in the White House.''
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 5:47 PM

Chickenhawk Politics
(The Nation, October 17, 2002)
he war debate is not over. Bush's chickenhawk brigade huffed and bluffed its way to an important victory in Congress, and the boardroom commandos--Field Marshal Cheney and Generals Rove, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and Perle--may imagine they can topple Saddam, capture Iraq and rearrange control of Middle East oil merely by firing off more bellicose, deceitful threats. But they have not won the American people, or a substantial number of their elected representatives, or their allies abroad, to the cause of war. . . . Congress, it is true, did sign another blank check for open-ended war, acquiescing in the same chickenhawk politics that produced the Gulf of Tonkin resolution of 1964, which led to the quagmire in Vietnam. . . . majority leader Tom Daschle sulked, whined and then, as usual, caved. So, too, did John Kerry, who made a somber speech echoing his Vietnam experience, then crumpled (despite the nearly 20,000 antiwar e-mails his office received), joined by other White House wannabes John Edwards, Joseph Lieberman, Joseph Biden and Hillary Rodham Clinton. . . . One reason we are convinced the war issue remains unsettled (perhaps even within the Bush crowd) is that it was birthed and developed by the White House as a political strategy, then foreign policy and defense strategy tagged along. Thus, during the past nine months, Bush has "campaigned" for going into Iraq but never squarely articulated either the justifying evidence or why he was unconcerned by the very dangerous potential collateral consequences. . . . The New York Times revealed recently a US occupation plan calling for Iraq to be governed by a military proconsul. That scheme sounds like a formula for an oil protectorate run from Washington in which the United States attempts to steer global oil prices while handing out drilling and service contracts to Texas business buddies of the Commander in Chief and his field marshal from Halliburton. . . . If domestic politics is the true subtext of Bush's imperial adventure, then an aggressive politics of public opposition can stop it. The targets now are bipartisan--every Democrat and Republican who supports war--and the pressure must not cease after the election. A vocal citizenry can put the chickenhawks to flight. . . . [Editor's Note: A chickenhawk is a leader who sends other people's children into battle without ever having participated in war himself or herself, as is the case of the Bush junta.]
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 5:39 PM

Iraq: Foreign Policy Malpractice
The Independent Institute
By Jonathan Marshall
This article is based on his presentation at the Institute’s forum in San Francisco, “The U.S. War on Terrorism: Myths and Realities,” September 24, 2002.

Regime change—the phrase sounds so cool and antiseptic. But before Congress bought President Bush's prescription for curing the world’s ills, it should have reviewed some medical history on the disastrous side effects of this quack remedy. The first patient in line for this harsh medicine—Iraq—has already taken it twice before. The results turned a minor regional irritant into a wound of worldwide concern. Iraq’s first dose came in 1963, when a young CIA protege named Saddam Hussein helped overthrow Gen. Abdul Qassim, who had nationalized some of the country's foreign oil interests two years earlier. According to one history, “CIA assistance reportedly included coordination of the coup plotters from the agency’s radio station inside the U.S. Embassy in Kuwait and solicitation of advice (on who) should be eliminated once the coup was successful.” After more domestic political instability, another CIA-backed coup in 1968 installed Hussein as deputy to the new military ruler. Hussein waited his turn and became dictator in 1979.

. . . Read more!

posted by An Old Curmudgeon 2:01 PM

"I'm not sure which planet they live on"

Hawks in the Bush administration may be making deadly miscalculations on Iraq, says Gen. Anthony Zinni, Bush's Middle East envoy.

Oct. 17, 2002 |

President Bush continues to encounter war critics in the unlikeliest of places -- the United States military, for example. Last summer, retired Gen. Brent Scowcroft, who served as national security advisor to Bush's father during the Gulf War, bluntly expressed his doubt about a unilateral war against Iraq. A few weeks later, a trio of four-star generals appeared before Congress to echo that concern. One of them was Gen. Wesley Clark, a former NATO military commander. "If we go in unilaterally, or without the full weight of international organizations behind us, if we go in with a very sparse number of allies, if we go in without an effective information operation ... we're liable to supercharge recruiting for al-Qaida," Clark said.

Now comes retired Marine Gen. Anthony Zinni, former head of Central Command for U.S. forces in the Middle East, who has worked recently as the State Department's envoy to the region with a mission to encourage talks between Palestinians and Israelis. Zinni, a Purple Heart recipient who served in Vietnam and helped command forces in the Gulf War and in Somalia, spoke last Thursday in Washington at the Middle East Institute's annual conference and laid out his own reservations about a potential war with Iraq. In a keynote address striking for its critical assessment of the Bush administration, Zinni stressed the need to get the Israeli-Palestinian peace process back on track, build a broad coalition against Iraq, create trust among allies in the region -- and put Saddam Hussein's threat in perspective.
. . . Read more!

posted by An Old Curmudgeon 12:33 PM

Warmongers R Us?
by Dennis D. Hayes
Liberty For All Online Magazine

Painters paint, plumbers plumb, and warmongers make war. And so it is, in early October, as Congress does what politicians do best; stand to the side so their hands will not be bloodied. Early this week, the House and Senate handed President Bush the keys to make war with Iraq. That is, without any oversight by any other body.

The line of least resistance for the warmonger is to make war. First, declare your enemy. Next, sensationalize the threat. Finally, flood the airwaves with propaganda and follow this by defining your cause as true and just. In this case, we the people are being asked to send our sons and daughters to die for "a threat" to our way of life. Will it go unnoticed that the acceptance of this cause will mean that America is openly announcing to the world a shift in our military policy? Will anyone acknowledge our switch from a policy of defense and deterrence to one of first strike capability? Or maybe we are not supposed to. After all, it is in the name of freedom, right?

But the people know. They know that freedom does not come about as a result of politics. That the illusion being performed before our very eyes is just that, a trick. We know that a better set of rules, or a better set of men, or even men who may act in a more noble manner, does not result in freedom. Freedom comes about from individual initiative. What is clear, is that what is about to happen in the Middle East is a gambit for supremacy. In any battle for supremacy, someone must be defeated and someone must survive. For George Bush, Saddam must be defeated...and the "American way" must survive. How ironic that President Bush has assumed the role of Hannibal (of the first Punic wars) and ascribed to Saddam the role of Rome. Check your history for that result. So the question comes, will you buy into the political motive or do you stand back as an individual dedicated to freedom?

The most problematic aspect for the Bush regime is that recent polls show we the people are not fully behind him. It gives us a powerful place from which we can ultimately dismiss the political warmongers and the theft of ours and our children's freedom and lives. Consider, if you will that power and how you may yet have the ability to influence the course of events to come. I invite you to read carefully the thoughts of a young American woman, as she ponders our role in the world, in a poem she calls...

We The People, we are the ones; the little guys
The masses who hear the ghostly call,
We are the ones who will stand UNITED and STRONG
Or will stay DIVIDED and FALL.
We The People, we are the ones,
Who can vote for the laws that run our land,
We are the ones who could pass down the amendments
That could have made this land so grand.
We The People, we are the ones,
Forsaking our ancestors' written laws,
Not defending the rights they fought and died for
Not fighting to defend their cause.
We The People, we are the ones,
Look around at what we have done,
We have trashed our Mother Earth, destroyed our ancestors' birth,
What have We the People become?
We The People, we are the ones,
Who must stop this madness destroying our land,
Stop them from herding us like cattle or lemmings,
Awaiting that deadly command.
We The People, we are the ones,
Not choosing to unite and stand as one,
By being weak, lazy, arrogant and scared,
Too vain to see what we have become.
We The People, we are the ones,
Who can still wake up and take a stand,
Still stand united, even if JUSTICE means
JUST US throughout the land.
We The People, we are the ones
Who never had to fight for our freedom to live
Being free to us is like breathing,
So we take instead of give.
We The People, we are the ones,
Who must decide if we do or die ,
They are taking our rights and our freedom,
And not listening to our ancestors' cry.

We The People, we are the ones,
Who can still unite and agree,
Don't be lemmings, but stand up and fight,
For what our ancestors gave birth to…..BEING FREE.
Written by Billie Boucher January 10, 1999

"Give peace a chance" - John Lennon.

. . . Read more!

posted by An Old Curmudgeon 6:08 AM

War and Freedom
by Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr.

Concerning the Bush foreign policy, I'm not sure that most libertarians – to say nothing of most Americans – have considered the full extent of what we are dealing with here. The other night on television Bush promised war against Iraq, and war-crimes trials for any Iraqi military leader who follows orders, if Iraq failed to meet a series of demands. One of them is as follows: Iraq "must stop all illicit trade outside the oil-for-food program."

Consider what this means. The US is threatening total war against a country if it permits its citizens to exercise their natural right to trade and improve their lot in life. This is not just contrary to free-trade principles. It is contrary to all standards of human decency. Quite frankly, a more despotic demand is hard to imagine.

Bush says there "can be no peace if our security depends on the will and whims of a ruthless and aggressive dictator." If others take that statement differently from the way he intended it, they might be forgiven.

Before Bush gave his speech, the Bush administration had issued a National Security Strategy for the United State" – a blueprint for domestic and global conquest by the US government – in the name of free markets and free trade. It asserts the right of the US to deliver a preemptive strike against any country anywhere that gets on Washington's nerves, and lays out a blueprint for permanent military occupation of the entire world by the US.
. . . Read more!

posted by An Old Curmudgeon 6:49 AM

Declassified CIA Report Undercuts Bush's Desire to Invade Iraq
by Ivan Eland, The Cato Institute
October 14, 2002

Ivan Eland is director of defense policy studies at the Cato Institute, and author of the book, "Putting 'Defense' Back into U.S. Defense Policy: Rethinking U.S. Security in the Post-Cold War World."

The CIA's newly declassified judgments on the likelihood of Iraq's use of weapons of mass destruction severely undercut the Bush administration's case for attacking Iraq. The CIA noted that Iraq now appears to be deterred from initiating terrorist attacks against the United States with conventional, biological or chemical weapons. But if the United States invades Iraq and attempts to depose Hussein, the CIA concluded that he would be more likely to conduct such attacks.

According to the CIA's analysis, Hussein might decide that the extreme action of helping radical Islamist terrorists in carrying out a biological or chemical attack on the United States would be his last chance to get revenge by taking a large number of American victims with him. The CIA's assessment confirms what opponents of a U.S. invasion of Iraq have been arguing in public all along.

The uncovering of such analysis shows that the policy of deterring and containing Iraq does work and that a more aggressive policy of invasion could prove disastrous. The U.S. government's national security policy is supposed to enhance the security of the nation, not reduce it. Risking terrorist attacks against the United States with conventional, biological, or chemical weapons merely to remove a thug who has been successfully deterred and contained for more than a decade defies common sense.

. . . Read more!

posted by An Old Curmudgeon 6:14 AM

What Bush wants us to forget
(Robert Fisk
, The Independent 09 October 2002)
In 1988, as Saddam destroyed the people of Halabja with gas, along with tens of thousands of other Kurds – when he "used gas against his own people" in the words of Messrs Bush/Cheney/Blair/Cook/Straw et al –President Bush senior provided him with $500m in US government subsidies to buy American farm products. We must forget that in the following year, after Saddam's genocide was complete, President Bush senior doubled this subsidy to $1bn, along with germ seed for anthrax, helicopters, and the notorious "dual-use" material that could be used for chemical and biological weapons. . . . We must forget how President Bush junior promised to "stand by" Afghanistan before he began his bombings last year – and has left it now an economic shambles of drug barons, warlords, anarchy and fear. He boasted yesterday that the people of Afghanistan have been "liberated" – this after he has failed to catch bin Laden, failed to catch Mullah Omar, and while his troops are coming under daily attack. We must forget, as we listen to the need to reinsert arms inspectors, that the CIA covertly used UN weapons inspectors to spy on Iraq. . . . Indeed, oil is the one commodity – and one of the few things which George Bush junior knows something about, along with his ex-oil cronies Cheney and Rice and countless others in the administration – which is never mentioned. . . . there wasn't a single reference to the fact that Iraq may hold oil reserves larger than those of Saudi Arabia, that American oil companies stand to gain billions of dollars in the event of a US invasion, that, once out of power, Bush and his friends could become multi-billionaires on the spoils of this war. We must ignore all this before we go to war. We must forget.
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 5:14 PM

White House 'exaggerating Iraqi threat'
(Julian Borger, The Guardian, October 9, 2002)
President Bush's case against Saddam Hussein, outlined in a televised address to the nation on Monday night, relied on a slanted and sometimes entirely false reading of the available US intelligence, government officials and analysts claimed yesterday. . . . Basically, cooked information is working its way into high-level pronouncements and there's a lot of unhappiness about it in intelligence, especially among analysts at the CIA," said Vincent Cannistraro, the CIA's former head of counter-intelligence. . . . "I would just say there is not much support for that [nuclear] theory around here," said a department of energy specialist. . . . Mr Albright said sceptics at the energy department's Lawrence Livermore national laboratory in California had been ordered to keep their doubts to themselves. He quoted a colleague at the laboratory as saying: "The administration can say what it wants and we are expected to remain silent." . . . There is already considerable scepticism among US intelligence officials about Mr Bush's claims of links between Iraq and al-Qaida. . . . There is also profound scepticism among US intelligence experts about the president's claim that "Iraq has trained al-Qaida members in bomb-making and poisons and deadly gases". . . . Mr Cannistraro said the flow of intelligence to the top levels of the administration had been deliberately skewed by hawks at the Pentagon. . . . "CIA assessments are being put aside by the defence department in favour of intelligence they are getting from various Iraqi exiles," he said. "Machiavelli warned princes against listening to exiles. Well, that is what is happening now."
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 3:58 PM

CIA deal blow to Bush attack plans
(Julian Borger, The Guardian, October 10, 2002)
President George Bush's attempt to maintain public support for military action against Iraq has taken a fresh blow from an unexpected quarter, with the publication of a letter from the CIA stating that while Saddam Hussein poses little threat to America now, a US invasion could push him into retaliating with chemical or biological weapons. . . . The unusually detailed public statement, in the form of a letter from the CIA director, George Tenet, to Congress, comes at a highly sensitive moment . . . In a chilling excerpt, Mr Tenet warned that if Saddam was personally threatened he might seize "his last chance to exact vengeance by taking a large number of victims with him". . . . The risk of such an attack, possibly involving weapons of mass destruction, would rise from "low" to "pretty high" were Saddam to feel cornered by US military might. . . . Approval for military action has fallen from 57% last month to 53% this week, according to a US Gallup poll. . . . It is unusual for the CIA to put such details of its intelligence assessments into a public document. The letter was produced after intense pressure from senators. . . . The letter also comes at a time when the CIA is competing with the more hawkish Pentagon, which is also supplying the White House with intelligence on the Iraqi threat.
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 3:52 PM

Will Bush's carve-up of Iraq include getting hands on its oil?
(Robert Fisk,
The Independent, 12 October 2002)
General Franks will have to combine the role of emperor and colonial governor – which is how America's whole imperial adventure is likely to come unstuck. . . . What if the mosques defy American occupation? What if the Shia in the south and Kurds in the north set up their own secret administrations? Will the US arrest all the imams who preach against America's hegemony? . . . Now it just might be that the Americans have an emperor in mind for occupied Iraq, a member of the same Hashemite family that was long ago awarded the throne of Baghdad – courtesy of Winston Churchill – as a consolation prize for being chucked out of Damascus by the French. . . . The re-establishment of the Hashemite kingdom of Iraq would allow King Abdullah of Jordan to combine his own penniless and vulnerable statelet with the massive oil wealth of Iraq, albeit he will have to share the latter with the equally massive American conglomerates run by President Bush's chums. . . . And then it just might be that Israel's Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, whose ministers have spoken openly of "transferring'' the Palestinians out of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, will find the judicious moment to "encourage'' the same Palestinians to leave their land for the new Jordan. Has President Bush thought of this? Has it perhaps crossed the minds of Israel's friends within the US administration? . . . But would the Iraqis go along with this? Do they really want another emperor? No wonder US officials talk of a slow journey to democracy. Japan got its democracy in the end, of course. But Japan didn't have oil.
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 3:36 PM

Only the American people can stop Bush now
(Simon Tisdall, The Guardian, October 12, 2002)
Who can stop Bush on Iraq? . . . respected analysts opine that nothing now can prevent the war. Bush will have his way because, whatever bishops and imams vicariously preach, no power on earth can stop him. . . . This is not entirely true; in truth, not true at all. Americans can stop America's next war as they have stopped similar planned or actual idiocies in the past. That the Bush clique pays scant heed to Arab and Muslim concerns, has no time for "euro-wimps" and other appeasers is brutally clear. But domestic public opinion is a different story - and that story is changing. . . . Each time Bush ups the ante, makes another, ever more far-fetched, fearsome claim about the Baghdad bogeyman, domestic support wavers or slips. It certainly does not rise . . . Far from uniting his nation, as he claims, Bush's demagoguery is discernibly exposing and deepening its divisions not just on Iraq but along the deep, still heaving faultlines of the 2000 election. More and more of the 76% of voters who did not support him then (he won 47% of the popular vote on a 51% turnout) find their judgment vindicated now. . . . Gallup shows support for military action dropping towards 50% despite the vast weight of official propaganda reworking last year's still resonant trauma. If a unilateral war without allies or UN backing is postulated, as in this week's New York Times/CBS poll, a clear majority opposes Bush. . . . That the anti-Bush, silenced majority feels it is being ignored by politicians and the mainstream media is abundantly clear . . . An Arizonan believes that Bush is "a complete and pathetic idiot ... I think enough Americans are beginning to see that the real regime change needs to take place at the White House". "The Bush presidency should have been nipped in the bud by the supreme court," writes an Illinois resident. "We've been bamboozled and Congress doesn't seem to know what to do." . . . In New York, some feel the same way. "To attack with so little proof is ghastly ... As someone who smelled the World Trade Center and its human occupants burn every day for three months, I do not wish that fate on the long-suffering Iraqi people." . . . An emailer from Bush's Texas believes "all he is trying to do is divert attention from his failure as a leader ... under Bush we are giving up all our civil rights in the name of fighting the war on terror. If we do not agree with him, we are anti-American." . . . Americans worry about Iraq. They worry about their own country more. And Bush, not Saddam, is pig in the middle. "This man is destroying our nation piece by piece," writes Jewel from Missouri. "We, the unheard American public, pray that the world realises that we have a fool in charge and he does not speak for us."
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 11:43 AM

Revolving-Door Monsters
[New York Times article - requires registration]
When Mr. Cheney was running Halliburton, the oil services firm, it sold more equipment to Iraq than any other company did. Halliburton subsidiaries submitted $23.8 million worth of contracts with Iraq to the United Nations in 1998 and 1999 for approval by its sanctions committee....it's a useful reminder of how fashions change in our perceptions of rogue states. Public Enemy No. 1 today is a government that Mr. Cheney was in effect helping shore up just a couple of years ago....The U.S. has a long history in which Saddam, though just as monstrous as he is today, was coddled as our monster. In the 1980's we provided his army with satellite intelligence so that it could use chemical weapons against Iranian soldiers. When Saddam used nerve gas and mustard gas against Kurds in 1988, the Reagan administration initially tried to blame Iran. We shipped seven strains of anthrax to Iraq between 1978 and 1988.

These days, we see Iraq as an imminent threat to our way of life, while just a couple of years ago it was perceived as a pathetic dictatorship hardly worth the bother of bombing. What changed? Not Iraq....The so-called Iraqi threat, for which we're now prepared to sacrifice hundreds or thousands of American casualties, just a few years ago was simply another tinhorn dictatorship where C.E.O. Cheney was earning his bonus.
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posted by Hal 3:14 PM

Defense Experts Say War With Iraq Could Undermine U.S. Security

WASHINGTON -- Cato Institute Vice President for Foreign Policy and Defense Studies Ted Galen Carpenter, and Ivan Eland, director of defense policy studies, issued the following statement regarding the House and pending Senate vote to authorize President Bush to take military action against Iraq:

Congress has overwhelmingly passed a resolution authorizing the president to use force against Iraq. Despite this outpouring of overt support, many in Congress are privately squeamish about an invasion of Iraq. For good reason. A conflict with Iraq will subvert the much more important war against the enemy at the gates: al-Qaeda. And an unprovoked invasion of another nation state will undermine the principle of national sovereignty that has undergirded the international system for more than 350 years. A war against Saddam Hussein could actually reduce U.S. security. According to a recently declassified CIA analysis, Hussein is likely to be deterred from perpetrating or assisting in terrorist attacks against the United States with conventional, biological, or chemical weapons unless the United States backs him into a corner by threatening his survival with an invasion.

Possible Iraqi use of biological or chemical weapons or urban combat could drive up U.S. military and Iraqi civilian casualties or lengthen the war. No one can predict the outcome of a war. But any difficulties in the war or the onset of carnage at home from retaliatory terrorism could make voting for the war resolution a lot less safe than many members of Congress anticipate. Polls indicate that the support of the American people for an attack on Iraq erodes significantly if high casualties occur or the war is drawn out. The rush by Congress to jump on the administration's bandwagon toward war is bad policy and may turn out to be bad politics.

I think it's time to vote every one who voted for this out of office.
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posted by An Old Curmudgeon 12:56 PM

Babies have been ripped off of incubators and
those incubators were shipped off to Baghdad.

The explosive allegation that Iraqi troops had invaded a Kuwaiti hospital in 1990, pulled babies from incubators and left them on the floor to die was a charge made on national TV by Bush's father. And it was patently false government propaganda. It was a hoax that was fabricated and perpetrated in 1990 by Hill & Knowlton, a Washington public relations firm, with a little help from President George Bush. Hill and Knowlton was paid $10.7 million by the government of Kuwait to sway U.S. public opinion in favor of the war.

Saddam has forced political prisoners to watch their own children being tortured.

Saddam has ordered that his opponents be decapitated.

Saddam has ordered women to be systematically raped.

Saddam Hussein is a murderous tyrant who poses an immediate threat to U.S. lives.

Saddam is developing weapons of mass destruction.

Hussein has gassed his own people.

Saddam Hussein has invaded his neighbors.

The North Vietnamese fired on a U.S. ship in the Gulf on Tonkin in 1964.


President Lyndon Johnson made the Gulf of Tonkin claim, which was instrumental in getting the Senate to vote for a war resolution, though historians now agree that the shooting incident never happened. Over 58,000 U.S. servicemen were killed in the Vietnam War, a tragedy that might not have happened if an unscrupulous U.S. president had not lied to the American people. The American people have every right to demand proof from the president as he tries to persuade them to risk the lives of their sons and daughters in battle.

Do the satellite photos that Bush mentioned in his speech really show the construction of a nuclear power plant outside Baghdad? Did Iraqi intelligence agents really meet with senior al Qaeda operatives? Does Saddam really behead his political opponents and torture children in front of their parents? Unfortunately, we may never know. But we do know that before presidents launch military attacks against foreign nations, they sometimes launch propaganda attacks against the American people. Beware of government propaganda.
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posted by Hal 7:36 PM

Oops, More Unexpected Casualties
(David Hackworth, AlterNet, September 24, 2002)
Because Stormin' Norman's forces brilliantly zapped Saddam Hussein's mob in a record-breaking 100-hour ground war, actual U.S. casualties were a mere fraction of these two estimates 147 Killed In Action and 457 Wounded In Action. At least at first look. . . . But within weeks after our warriors took off their boots and hung up their rifles, dozens, then hundreds, of Gulf War vets became casualties. And as the years tick by, this figure has already grown to tens of thousands. . . . It wasn't bullets that took them down, but a casualty-producer the experts didn't count on called Gulf War Illness. So far, according to an April 2002 Veterans Affairs report, an additional 7,758 Desert Storm vets have died, while 198,716 vets have filed claims for medical and compensation benefits. Of the claims filed, 156,031 have been granted as service-connected, with more vets being designated casualties as each day passes. The 198,716 figure represents a staggering 28 percent of the 696,579 vets who fought in the Gulf War conflict! . . . For five years after the war, the Pentagon and the VA refused to admit that our troops had been exposed to chemical weapons, via the same sort of despicable delaying tactics our Vietnam vets were subjected to over their Agent Orange claims. For example, the Pentagon brass were unwilling to admit U.S. Army culpability in blowing up captured Iraqi chemical munitions that caused the biggest friendly fire incident in the history of warfare. To date, not only has no one responsible been punished, instead, in typical fashion, all those who were in charge have been either promoted or knighted. . . . President Bush shouldn't order our warriors into another Gulf fight until we know what happened 11 years ago," says Robert McMahon, president of Soldiers for the Truth. "The VA needs to tell the truth regarding the suffering of thousands of vets." . . . Before we commit to another Gulf War, our government must come clean on what happened to our Desert Storm heroes. Congress and our media must hound the president and the VA until they tell the nation what caused the enormous casualties in the first place, and what's been done to reduce the hazards facing our troops this time around
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posted by Lorenzo 6:31 PM

Nothing and no one will stop this drift towards war
(Martin Woollacott, The Guardian, October 4, 2002)
The debate about Iraq is phoney - the decision has been made . . . An Iraq war looms because a group of American conservatives, now very influential inside and outside this administration, came to the conclusion years ago that Saddam had challenged the US and got away with it, and that his victory could not be allowed to stand. . . . Not allowed to stand because he might once again disturb a region of political and economic importance to the US, . . . The coming war is clearly not being rationally discussed in the US. With only a few exceptions, dissent has fastened on detail, pace and style. Republicans are committed, with a few honourable exceptions, to the position that the administration's policy is unarguably right. Democrats, again with a few exceptions, are committed to the principle that they must not be seen to be against the war, in case it is a huge success, but should have sounded enough warning notes to be able to accuse the Republicans of mismanaging it in case it turns out for the worse. . . . We are bumping along towards a conflict which will settle much more than the fate of Iraq. Its outcome will surely shape both American politics and the whole of international life for years to come.
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posted by Lorenzo 4:01 PM

Iraqi Official Suggests a Duel
Oct 3, 9:25 AM (ET)

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - An Iraqi vice president offered a unique solution to the U.S.-Iraq standoff: a duel between George W. Bush and Saddam Hussein. Taha Yassin Ramadan said the duel could be held at a neutral site and with U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan as the referee. Ramadan, wearing a green uniform and a black beret, made his remarks without giving any outward sign that he was joking although reporters who were present detected a note of irony in his voice.

"A president against a president and vice president against a vice president and a duel takes place, if they are serious, and in this way we are saving the American and the Iraqi people," Ramadan told the Associated Press Television Network.

**** this could work -- FOX could televise, BaBaWaWa could commentate, and Twisted Sister could provide background muzak - and commercials would probably go for about $10M/minute... ****

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posted by An Old Curmudgeon 9:53 AM

The Memory Hole >Reasons Not to Invade Iraq, by George Bush Sr.
(The Memory Hole)
Trying to eliminate Saddam, extending the ground war into an occupation of Iraq, would have violated our guideline about not changing objectives in midstream, engaging in "mission creep," and would have incurred incalculable human and political costs. Apprehending him was probably impossible. We had been unable to find Noriega in Panama, which we knew intimately. We would have been forced to occupy Baghdad and, in effect, rule Iraq. The coalition would instantly have collapsed, the Arabs deserting it in anger and other allies pulling out as well. Under those circumstances, furthermore, we had been self-consciously trying to set a pattern for handling aggression in the post-cold war world. Going in and occupying Iraq, thus unilaterally exceeding the U.N.'s mandate, would have destroyed the precedent of international response to aggression we hoped to establish. Had we gone the invasion route, the U.S. could conceivably still be an occupying power in a bitterly hostile land. It would have been a dramatically different--and perhaps barren--outcome."

>>> From "Why We Didn't Remove Saddam" by George Bush [Sr.] and Brent Scowcroft, Time (2 March 1998)
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posted by Lorenzo 4:43 PM

Attacking Iraq could cause collateral damage inside the US
Saddam Hussein and his army won't be the only ones who suffer from a U.S. invasion. The human costs of any war are incalculable. And, the financial costs of this war could cripple an already struggling American economy. So why are politicians blithely ignoring these domestic casualties? Missing from the debate is an acknowledgment that the war could have devastating consequences for America as well as for Iraq. For example, attacking Iraq may:
  • Trigger another September 11-like terror attack. The government says al Qaeda cells are operating inside the United States. If that's the case, launching an attack on an Arab nation could give these terrorists another incentive to murder scores of innocent men, women, and children. Why are saber-rattling politicians so silent about that possibility?
  • Cause U.S. troops to be targeted with weapons of mass destruction. Attacking Iraq could prompt Saddam to unleash chemical and biological weapons if he has them. But here's one surefire way to protect our troops from such a horrific attack: Keep them out of Iraq.
  • Subject U.S. troops and other Americans in the Middle East to a nuclear attack. In the event of a U.S. invasion, Saddam may lob Scud missiles at Israel, as he did during the Gulf War. But this time Israel says it will retaliate, perhaps with nuclear weapons. If that occurs, the lives of everyone in the region would be at risk of annihilation.
  • Harm the economy. Estimates say that the war will cost $100 billion to 200 billion, not including the costs of occupying Iraq. With the economy in recession, the government should be slashing federal spending, not increasing it.
  • Cause the stock market to plummet even further. The major stock indexes have suffered their worst quarterly loss since the crash of '87 – a drop that many analysts attribute to war fears.
  • Force taxpayers to foot the bill for nation-building. Even when the war is over for Saddam Hussein, it won't be over for American taxpayers. In fact National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice says the U.S. will be "completely devoted" to rebuilding Iraq. But wouldn't taxpayers be better off if the government didn't destroy other nations in the first place? And didn't conservatives ridicule nation-building back when Bill Clinton was doing it in Somalia?

Politicians treat war like every other government program, by overestimating the benefits, underestimating the true costs – and lying about who's really going to pay.
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posted by Hal 8:54 AM

Chomsky on Iraq
(Noam Chomsky, ZNet.com, September 5, 2002)
[Question] Has Saddam Hussein been as evil as mainstream media says? Domestically? Internationally? . . . He is as evil as they come, ranking with Suharto and other monsters of the modern era. No one would want to be within his reach. But fortunately, his reach does not extend very far. . . . Saddam's worst crimes, by far, have been domestic, including the use of chemical weapons against Kurds and a huge slaughter of Kurds in the late 80s, barbaric torture, and every other ugly crime you can imagine. . . . The crimes were well known at once, but of no particular concern to the West. Saddam received some mild reprimands; harsh congressional condemnation was considered too extreme by prominent commentators. The Reaganites and Bush #1 continued to welcome the monster as an ally and valued trading partner right through his worst atrocities and well beyond. . . . Bush authorized loan guarantees and sale of advanced technology with clear applications for weapons of mass destruction (WMD) right up to the day of the Kuwait invasion, sometimes overriding congressional efforts to prevent what he was doing. Britain was still authorizing export of military equipment and radioactive materials a few days after the invasion. . . . That he's a major criminal is not in doubt. That's not changed by the fact that the US and Britain regarded his major atrocities as insignificant in the light of higher "reasons of state," before the Gulf war and even after -- facts best forgotten. [Question] is Saddam Hussein as dangerous as mainstream media says? . . . he can't be anywhere near as dangerous as he was when the US and Britain were supporting him . . . Chances are that the events of Sept. 11 weakened him still further. If there are any links between Saddam and al-Qaeda, they would be far more difficult to maintain now because of the sharply intensified surveillance and controls. . . . That aside, links [to al-Qaeda] are not very likely. . . . The rational conclusion is that Saddam is probably less of a danger now than before 9-11, and far less of a threat than when he was enjoying substantial support from the US-UK (and many others). That raises a few questions. If Saddam is such a threat to the survival of civilization today that the global enforcer has to resort to war, why wasn't that true a year ago? And much more dramatically, in early 1990? . . . We might recall the warning of General Lee Butler, head of Clinton's Strategic Command in the early 90s, that "it is dangerous in the extreme that in the cauldron of animosities that we call the Middle East, one nation has armed itself, ostensibly, with stockpiles of nuclear weapons, perhaps numbering in the hundreds, and that inspires other nations to do so." He's talking about Israel of course. . . . In early January 1991, Iraq apparently offered to withdraw from Kuwait in the context of regional negotiations on reduction of armaments, an offer that State Department officials described as serious and negotiable. But we know no more about it, because the US rejected it without response and the press reported virtually nothing. . . . It is, however, of some interest that at that time -- right before the bombing -- polls revealed that by 2-1 the US public supported the proposal that Saddam had apparently made, preferring it to bombing. Had people been allowed to know any of this, the majority would surely have been far greater. Suppressing the facts was an important service to the cause of state violence.

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posted by Lorenzo 5:22 PM

Agency disavows report on Iraq arms
By Joseph Curl

The International Atomic Energy Agency says that a report cited by President Bush as evidence that Iraq in 1998 was "six months away" from developing a nuclear weapon does not exist. "There's never been a report like that issued from this agency," Mark Gwozdecky, the IAEA's chief spokesman, said yesterday in a telephone interview from the agency's headquarters in Vienna, Austria. "We've never put a time frame on how long it might take Iraq to construct a nuclear weapon in 1998," said the spokesman of the agency charged with assessing Iraq's nuclear capability for the United Nations.

In a Sept. 7 news conference with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Mr. Bush said: "I would remind you that when the inspectors first went into Iraq and were denied — finally denied access [in 1998], a report came out of the Atomic — the IAEA that they were six months away from developing a weapon. "I don't know what more evidence we need," said the president, defending his administration's case that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was building weapons of mass destruction.

The White House says Mr. Bush was referring to an earlier IAEA report. "He's referring to 1991 there," said Deputy Press Secretary Scott McClellan. "In '91, there was a report saying that after the war they found out they were about six months away."

Mr. Gwozdecky said no such report was ever issued by the IAEA in 1991.

**Must be a cross-over from a parallel universe**
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posted by An Old Curmudgeon 6:09 AM

(John Pilger, The Mirror, 1 October 2002)
In the week that Parliament was manipulated by the Government and denied a proper vote on whether Britain should join the Bush gang in its assault on Iraq, many thousands of people will converge on London in what is expected to be the greatest demonstration against war for a generation. . . . Not since the days when American presidents were prepared to use nuclear weapons in Europe will there be such a demonstration of the popular will opposing violence as a means of resolving disputes between nations. A sea of people will cover much of central London and Hyde Park; and they will demand that a great crime is not committed in their name. As the opinion polls make clear, they represent the majority of the people of Britain. . . . We know about Bush. The gangleader and his vice president are currently up to their ears in accusations of serious corporate crime. . . . Ten years ago, strategists from the extreme right of American political life, followers of the present Vice-President Cheney and Deputy Secretary of Defence Paul Wolfowitz, wrote a secret Pentagon paper. They laid out a "vision" of a post-Cold War world where the US would aim to "prevent the re-emergence of a new rival ... This is a dominant consideration underlying the new regional defence strategy and requires that we prevent any hostile power from dominating a region". . . . THE attack on Afghanistan was a first test. An attack on Iraq brings the "vision" much closer, because an American conquest of the world's second biggest source of oil will give Washington greater control of the Middle East at a time when the loyalty of its principal oil protectorate, Saudi Arabia, is in doubt. Another, obedient Saddam Hussein will be installed in Iraq, and imperial history in the region will continue uninterrupted. . . . Only one country has used a nuclear weapon of mass destruction on civilians. Only one country has threatened to use nuclear weapons in Vietnam and the Middle East. Under Bush, the United States has revoked the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and refused to take part in a ban on chemical warfare. It is building a "star wars" programme, nuclear armed, costing billions of dollars. . . . As he stood in the dock at Nuremberg, Hitler's arch crony Hermann Goering said: "The people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and then denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country."
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 5:43 PM

Michael Moore's letter in support of a petition to stop the war in Iraq
Dear Friends,

I was going to write you a letter about what a pathetic liar George W, Bush is -- but then I figured, hey, why waste your time telling you something you already know!

You already know that his planned invasion of Iraq is a ruse meant to distract the public from the real issues, those issues being the following:
1. The number of people unemployed since he "took" office has risen by 35%.
2. We had a federal SURPLUS of $281 billion when he was inaugurated; today we have a DEFICIT of $157 billion.
3. TWO MILLION jobs have been eliminated since Bush began his occupation of the Oval Office.
4. The stock market is down 34% since January of 2001.
5. Another 1.4 million people now have NO health insurance, making it a total of over 41 million Americans who can't afford to get sick.
6. Only 13 corporate crooks out of HUNDREDS have been indicted, and none of them have been the close personal friends of Mr. Bush.

THOSE are the real issues facing us, not some phony excuse for a war.

But, like I said, you already know that. You know that Bush is lying through his smirk when he says Iraq has "weapons of mass destruction." He has not offered one shred of evidence to prove this. Not one! You know he is lying when he says that there is a "connection" between Saddam and bin Laden. Even members of his own administration have admitted that is not true. It's just one lie after another, and I applaud those three congressmen who went to Iraq this week and told it like it is -- and demanded that the sanctions which have already killed a half-million Iraqi children be ended. Sen. Trent Lott said "they should come home and keep their mouths shut." I say, we need more damn Democrats with that kind of courage and with mouths like that!

Which brings me to the real point of this letter. The Democrats.

I have never seen a more lame bunch of cowards and appeasers in my life. They are ready to bow down before Bush and give him what he wants to wage war against Iraq. This pathetic excuse of a party is an embarrassment to us all. The fact that they let Robert Torricelli run for re-election in New Jersey, knowing how dirty he was, shows just how capable they are of handing the Senate over to Bush and the Republicans come November. They have blown it over and over again, and lots of good people I know who keep putting their faith in the Democrats are just giving up -- and that is the worst thing to happen in a free society.

What are we going to do? Left to their own devices, the Democrats will not only hand both the House and the Senate to the Republicans in November, they will guarantee that Bush gets his second undeserved term in 2004. We must not let that happen. This year's election was theirs for the taking. Just look at the state of the union Bush gave us: Bush cronies caught stealing from the corporate till, Bush and Cheney caught breaking the law in the '90s, the economy in the toilet, and Bush failing to do the only real job he had to do since 9/11: Get bin Laden! What a disgrace! Yet the Democrats could not even find enough candidates to offer a REAL challenge to the Republicans in nearly 200 House districts for the November 5th elections. What an appalling excuse of a party.

OK, I know, there is not much we can do about this now. But we all need to get busy and ensure that this whole rotten system is rocked by the disgruntled millions come election day 2004. Otherwise, we have no right to complain.

In the meantime, we must stop the Bush attack on Iraq. We must find out now, as W says, "who is wid us and who is agin us." I am asking each of you to please sign the petition I have posted on my website informing the Democrats that whoever amongst them votes for this war, we pledge NEVER to vote for them again. I will personally see that your on-line signatures are delivered to every member of Congress. I guarantee your voice will be heard loud and clear.

Go to Michael Moore.com Act! React! Get Involved! and sign the petition to the Democrats: "You're Either With Us Or You're Fired."
Then let's figure out together what we can do to turn things around by 2004.

Thanks for taking the time to do this. We have no other choice.

Michael Moore
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posted by Lorenzo 12:48 PM

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