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If Fear Fails, What's Next?(Charles Cutter, cuttersway.com)
Attorney General John Ashcroft made a dramatic television appearance on Wednesday. He warned Americans that al Queda is planning an attack within our borders in the next few months, with a "specific intention to hit the United States hard." In his announcement, Mr. Ashcroft paused for emphasis before stressing the word "hard." (It was a very theatrical moment.) Conveniently, the danger zone coincides with the precise time period leading up to the presidential election. Just as conveniently, national security remains (inexplicably) one of the last areas in which Mr. Bush leads Mr. Kerry in the polls. To many, it seemed a transparent effort to deflect the attention of American voters from the Iraqi quagmire. With just over five months to go before election day, it must be asked: How far would they go? With blood on their hands and God on their side, what actions would Bush & Co. consider too extreme - when the goal is to extend their control over the financial and military power of the American presidency? The anti-Bush forces are thick with speculation, from planted WMDs, to rigged paperless balloting, to an elevated threat level "justifying" a declaration of martial law (either before the election itself, or before the January 2005 transfer of power). Some even suggest Mr. Bush might "look the other way" while al Queda launches another attack on American soil, counting on a "rally-round-the-flag" response (and the return to a ninety-percent approval rating). Let's hope there is a moral line, somewhere, that Mr. Bush and his people will not cross. Otherwise, today's conspiracy theory may turn into November's nightmare.
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posted by An Old Curmudgeon 8:09 AM
Rumsfeld's Plan to Provoke Terrorist Attacks
(Chris Floyd, Counterpunch, November 1, 2002)
[COMMENT: This story has been buried for a long time. I am posting it here as a reminder that Rumsfeld is capable of almost anything as a last gasp before he is summarily run out of the country for war crimes he has committed. However, it might be worthwhile keeping in mind the fact that nothing is beyond the scope of what these insane criminals in Washington are capable of inflicting on the US populace in pursuit of their quest for total power. This story is #4 on the Project Censored 2004 list.]
This column stands foursquare with the Honorable Donald H. Rumsfeld, U.S. Secretary of Defense, when he warns that there will be more terrorist attacks against the American people and civilization at large. We know, as does the Honorable Donald H. Rumsfeld, U.S. Secretary of Defense, that this statement is an incontrovertible fact, a matter of scientific certainty. And how can we and the Honorable Donald H. Rumsfeld, U.S. Secretary of Defense, be so sure that there will be more terrorist attacks against the American people and civilization at large? . . . Because these attacks will be instigated at the order of the Honorable Donald H. Rumsfeld, U.S. Secretary of Defense. . . . in an article by military analyst William Arkin, detailing the vast expansion of the secret armies being massed by the former Nixon bureaucrat now lording it over the Pentagon--came the revelation of Rumsfeld's plan to create "a super-Intelligence Support Activity" that will "bring together CIA and military covert action, information warfare, intelligence, and cover and deception." . . . According to a classified document prepared for Rumsfeld by his Defense Science Board, the new organization--the "Proactive, Preemptive Operations Group (P2OG)"--will carry out secret missions designed to "stimulate reactions" among terrorist groups, provoking them into committing violent acts which would then expose them to "counterattack" by U.S. forces. . . . In other words--and let's say this plainly, clearly and soberly, so that no one can mistake the intention of Rumsfeld's plan--the United States government is planning to use "cover and deception" and secret military operations to provoke murderous terrorist attacks on innocent people. Let's say it again: Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, George W. Bush and the other members of the unelected regime in Washington plan to deliberately foment the murder of innocent people--your family, your friends, your lovers, you--in order to further their geopolitical ambitions. . . . they can then take measures against the "states/sub-state actors accountable" for "harboring" the Rumsfeld-roused gangs. What kind of measures exactly? Well, the classified Pentagon program puts it this way: "Their sovereignty will be at risk." . . . The Pee-Twos will thus come in handy whenever the Regime hankers to add a little oil-laden real estate or a new military base to the Empire's burgeoning portfolio. Just find a nest of violent malcontents, stir 'em with a stick, and presto: instant "justification" for whatever level of intervention/conquest/rapine you might desire. . . . The Rumsfeld-Bush plan to employ murder and terrorism for political, financial and ideological gain does have historical roots . . . Operations Northwoods, oft mentioned in these pages: the plan that America's top military brass presented to President John Kennedy in 1963, calling for a phony terrorist campaign--complete with bombings, hijackings, plane crashes and dead Americans--to provide "justification" for an invasion of Cuba, the Mafia/Corporate fiefdom which had recently been lost to Castro. . . . Kennedy rejected the plan, and was killed a few months later. Now Rumsfeld has resurrected Northwoods, but on a far grander scale . . . Acting in deadly symbiosis with rage-maddened killers, God-crazed ranters and those supreme "sub-state actors," the mafias, Bush and his cohorts are plunging the world into an abyss, an endless night of black ops, retribution, blowback, deceit, of murder and terror--wholesale, retail, state-sponsored, privatized; of fear and degradation, servility, chaos, and the perversion of all that's best in us . . . It's not a fight for freedom; it's a retreat into darkness.
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posted by Lorenzo 12:29 PM
Al Gore says "Fire Rumsfeld"
(Al Gore Speech on Iraq, May 26, 2004)
George W. Bush promised us a foreign policy with humility. Instead, he has brought us humiliation in the eyes of the world. . . . He promised to "restore honor and integrity to the White House." Instead, he has brought deep dishonor to our country and built a durable reputation as the most dishonest President since Richard Nixon. . . . Honor? He decided not to honor the Geneva Convention. Just as he would not honor the United Nations, international treaties, the opinions of our allies, the role of Congress and the courts, or what Jefferson described as "a decent respect for the opinion of mankind." He did not honor the advice, experience and judgment of our military leaders in designing his invasion of Iraq. And now he will not honor our fallen dead by attending any funerals or even by permitting photos of their flag-draped coffins. . . . from its earliest days in power, this administration sought to radically destroy the foreign policy consensus that had guided America since the end of World War II. . . . instead of making it better, he [Bush] has made it infinitely worse. We are less safe because of his policies. He has created more anger and righteous indignation against us as Americans than any leader of our country in the 228 years of our existence as a nation -- because of his attitude of contempt for any person, institution or nation who disagrees with him. . . . He has exposed Americans abroad and Americans in every U.S. town and city to a greater danger of attack by terrorists because of his arrogance, willfulness, and bungling at stirring up hornet's nests that pose no threat whatsoever to us. And by then insulting the religion and culture and tradition of people in other countries. And by pursuing policies that have resulted in the deaths of thousands of innocent men, women and children, all of it done in our name. . . . The unpleasant truth is that President Bush's utter incompetence has made the world a far more dangerous place and dramatically increased the threat of terrorism against the United States. . . . And the worst still lies ahead. General Joseph Hoar, the former head of the Marine Corps, said "I believe we are absolutely on the brink of failure. We are looking into the abyss." . . . When a senior, respected military leader like Joe Hoar uses the word "abyss", then the rest of us damn well better listen. Here is what he means: more American soldiers dying, Iraq slipping into worse chaos and violence, no end in sight, with our influence and moral authority seriously damaged. . . . Retired Marine Corps General Anthony Zinni, who headed Central Command before becoming President Bush's personal emissary to the Middle East, said recently that our nation's current course is "headed over Niagara Falls." . . . In his upcoming book, Zinni blames the current catastrophe on the Bush team's incompetence early on. "In the lead-up to the Iraq war, and its later conduct," he writes, "I saw at a minimum, true dereliction, negligence and irresponsibility, at worst, lying, incompetence and corruption." . . . former Domestic Adviser on faith-based organizations, John Dilulio, who said, "There is no precedent in any modern White House for what is going on in this one: a complete lack of a policy apparatus. What you've got is everything, and I mean everything, run by the political arm. It's the reign of the Mayberry Machiavellis." . . . Private Lynndie England did not make the decision that the United States would not observe the Geneva Convention. Specialist Charles Graner was not the one who approved a policy of establishing an American Gulag of dark rooms with naked prisoners to be "stressed" and even - we must use the word - tortured - to force them to say things that legal procedures might not induce them to say. . . . These policies were designed and insisted upon by the Bush White House. Indeed, the President's own legal counsel advised him specifically on the subject. His secretary of defense and his assistants pushed these cruel departures from historic American standards over the objections of the uniformed military . . . President Bush set the tone for our attitude for suspects in his State of the Union address. He noted that more than 3,000 "suspected terrorists" had been arrested in many countries and then he added, "and many others have met a different fate. Let's put it this way: they are no longer a problem to the United States and our allies." . . . The perpetrators as well as the victims were both placed in their relationship to one another by the policies of George W. Bush. . . . Chalabi had been convicted of fraud and embezzling 70 million dollars in public funds from a Jordanian bank, and escaped prison by fleeing the country. But in spite of that record, he had become one of key advisors to the Bush Administration on planning and promoting the War against Iraq. . . . And they repeatedly cited him as an authority, perhaps even a future president of Iraq. Incredibly, they even ferried him and his private army into Baghdad in advance of anyone else, and allowed him to seize control over Saddam's secret papers. . . . Now they are telling the American people that he is a spy for Iran who has been duping the President of the United States for all these years. . . . One of the Generals in charge of this war policy went on a speaking tour in his spare time to declare before evangelical groups that the US is in a holy war as "Christian Nation battling Satan." This same General Boykin was the person who ordered the officer who was in charge of the detainees in Guantanamo Bay to extend his methods to Iraq detainees, prisoners. . . . "We are now being viewed as the modern Crusaders, as the modern colonial power in this part of the world," Zinni said. . . . It is therefore essential that even as we focus on the fateful choice, the voters must make this November that we simultaneously search for ways to sharply reduce the extraordinary danger that we face with the current leadership team in place. It is for that reason that I am calling today for Republicans as well as Democrats to join me in asking for the immediate resignations of those immediately below George Bush and Dick Cheney who are most responsible for creating the catastrophe that we are facing in Iraq. . . . We simply cannot afford to further increase the risk to our country with more blunders by this team. Donald Rumsfeld, as the chief architect of the war plan, should resign today. His deputies Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith and his intelligence chief Stephen Cambone should also resign. The nation is especially at risk every single day that Rumsfeld remains as Secretary of Defense. . . . Condoleeza Rice, who has badly mishandled the coordination of national security policy, should also resign immediately. . . . George Tenet should also resign. . . . A policy based on domination of the rest of the world not only creates enemies for the United States and creates recruits for Al Qaeda, it also undermines the international cooperation that is essential to defeating the efforts of terrorists who wish harm and intimidate Americans. . . . Our troops are stretched thin and exhausted not only because Secretary Rumsfeld contemptuously dismissed the advice of military leaders on the size of the needed force - but also because President Bush's contempt for traditional allies and international opinion left us without a real coalition to share the military and financial burden of the war and the occupation. . . . The Bush Admistration has even acquired the power to compel librarians to tell them what any American is reading, and to compel them to keep silent about the request - or else the librarians themselves can also be imprisoned. . . . They have launched an unprecedented assault on civil liberties, on the right of the courts to review their actions, on the right of the Congress to have information to how they are spending the public's money and the right of the news media to have information about the policies they are pursuing. . . . The same pattern characterizes virtually all of their policies. They resent any constraint as an insult to their will to dominate and exercise power. Their appetite for power is astonishing. . . . In December of 2000, even though I strongly disagreed with the decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to order a halt to the counting of legally cast ballots, I saw it as my duty to reaffirm my own strong belief that we are a nation of laws and not only accept the decision, but do what I could to prevent efforts to delegitimize George Bush as he took the oath of office as president. . . . I did not at that moment imagine that Bush would, in the presidency that ensued, demonstrate utter contempt for the rule of law and work at every turn to frustrate accountability... . . . So today, I want to speak on behalf of those Americans who feel that President Bush has betrayed our nation's trust, those who are horrified at what has been done in our name, and all those who want the rest of the world to know that we Americans see the abuses that occurred in the prisons of Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantanamo and secret locations as yet undisclosed as completely out of keeping with the character and basic nature of the American people and at odds with the principles on which America stands. . . . I believe we have a duty to hold President Bush accountable - and I believe we will. As Lincoln said at our time of greatest trial, "We - even we here - hold the power, and bear the responsibility."
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posted by Lorenzo 2:55 PM
Bush's Breathtaking Ignorance of What He Has Done
(William Saletan, Slate, May 24, 2004)
In press conferences, TV ads, and interviews this year, President Bush has manifested a series of psychopathologies: an abstract notion of reality, confidence unhinged from facts and circumstances, and a conception of credibility that requires no correspondence to the external world. Tonight, as he vowed to stay the course in Iraq, Bush demonstrated another mental defect: incomprehension of his role in history as a fallible human agent. Absent such comprehension, Bush can't fix his mistakes in Iraq because he can't see how-or even that-he screwed up. . . . [Bush's] description is almost biblical. The narrative-"this war on terror"-is a moral test arranged by higher powers. Postwar Iraq, like 9/11, Madrid, and Bali, is "the world as we find it," not as we made it. "History," not Bush, has placed the demands of occupation on our country. "Events," not Bush's mistakes and their consequences, have come quickly. We must focus on the "duty" defined by our situation, not on how we got here. . . . When you deceive yourself about the past, it's easy to deceive yourself about the future. A month from now, Bush vowed, "Our coalition will transfer full sovereignty to a government of Iraqi citizens. - By keeping our promise on June 30, the coalition will demonstrate that we have no interest in occupation." Er, almost no interest. Iraq's generals will still answer to ours. And we'll hold the strings to $20 billion in reconstruction aid. "To ensure our money is spent wisely and effectively, our new embassy in Iraq will have regional offices in several key cities," Bush decreed. "These offices will work closely with Iraqis at all levels of government to help make sure projects are completed on time and on budget." That's a lot of control and certainty for a non-occupying power to assert. It sounds almost like, well, dictation. . . . Bush, being Bush, thinks abstractions and good intentions will conquer such unpleasant facts. To Bush, they aren't even facts; they're illusions. The reality is the great narrative of the war on terror, whose infallible course is set by a higher power.
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posted by Lorenzo 4:19 PM
Set a Date to Pull Out
(James Steinberg and Michael O'Hanlon, Washington Post, May 18, 2004)
American policy in Iraq faces a crisis. Mainstream U.S. political leaders, including President Bush and Sen. John F. Kerry, have continued to insist that we must "stay the course" and that "failure is not an option." But these slogans are not enough to rescue a failing policy. The success of our mission has depended from the outset on the perception by the Iraqi people that our presence is necessary to secure their own future. Today that premise is increasingly in doubt. . . . Unless we restore the Iraqi people's confidence in our role, failure is not only an option but a likelihood. Critical to achieving our goal is an announced decision to end the current military deployment by the end of next year, following the Iraqi adoption of a constitution, together with greatly intensified training for the Iraqi security forces. Otherwise, the issue may well be not how long we want to stay but how soon the Iraqis kick us out. . . . A majority of Iraqis now believe their country is worse off than before Saddam Hussein was overthrown, according to a recent poll. . . . This dramatic loss of support undermines the legitimacy of our continued military presence. It also makes our task of stabilizing the country nearly impossible. . . . Although we defined our mission as liberation, we have been deeply reluctant to trust the Iraqi people to set their own course. From the decision to install a handpicked interim governing council, to our initial reluctance to support early elections for the limited authority we plan to grant the transition government after June 30, the message is that we will not permit self-determination in Iraq until Iraqis choose a government that meets our goal: a Western-style democracy broadly supportive of U.S. interests in the region. . . . That objective was wildly ambitious even before the military operation began; today it is simply unattainable in the near term. The more we talk about staying "as long as it takes" the more it appears we are trying to impose our vision on Iraq -- further alienating the Iraqi public. . . . How can we avoid such a disaster? First, we must make clear that our military presence in Iraq is designed to permit the Iraqis to freely choose their own future -- even if it is not fully to our liking. We should indicate not just that we will leave if asked but that we will ourselves plan to end the deployment of coalition forces following the election of an Iraqi government and the adoption of a new constitution next year. . . . we should shift the focus away from the United States as the enforcement arm of the international community to Iraq's neighbors and others that share these interests, including NATO and the United Nations. We should begin by convening a major international summit on Iraq, involving not only Western allies but also Arab leaders and Iraqis, at the time of the NATO summit next month in Istanbul. . . . we should accelerate the training and equipping of new security forces for Iraq. Less than 10 percent of the necessary numbers of soldiers and police have been properly trained to date. . . . If Arab countries and NATO devoted just 10 percent of their police and military training capacity to Iraqi forces, we could complete an intensified training process by next year. . . . Some will see this as cut-and-run. It is not. Unlike the case with most previous stabilization missions, our own enduring commitment to success in Iraq is beginning to work against us. It breeds cynicism among Iraqis that we are like the colonialists of old, planning to stay indefinitely to keep our hands on their oil and to use Iraq for our own, broader foreign policy objectives. [COMMENT: Of course, this is exactly what the neocons have in mind.] The lesson of our history is that our best partners are those who freely choose to be. We must give the Iraqis the opportunity to seize that possibility for themselves.
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posted by Lorenzo 1:22 PM
Something to think about
In the history of the world, several great civilizations that seemed immortal have deteriorated and died. I don't want to seem dramatic tonight, but I've lived a long while, and for the first time in my life, I have this faint, faraway fear that it could happen to us here in America as it happened to the Greek and Roman civilizations.
-- Andy Rooney
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posted by Lorenzo 9:49 AM
Military Punishes Abu Ghraib Key Witness
(Brian Ross and Alexandra Salomon, ABC News, May 21, 2004)
A witness who told ABCNEWS he believed the military was covering up the extent of abuse at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison was today stripped of his security clearance and told he may face prosecution because his comments were "not in the national interest." . . . Provance said he was told he will face administrative action for failing to report what he knew at the time and for failing to take steps to stop the abuse. . . . "I see it as an effort to intimidate Sgt. Provance and any other soldier whose conscience is bothering him, and who wants to come forward and tell what really happened at Abu Ghraib," said his attorney Scott Horton. . . . A key witness in the military investigation into prisoner mistreatment at Abu Ghraib, Provance told ABCNEWS earlier this week that dozens of soldiers -- in addition to the seven military police reservists who have been charged -- were involved in the abuse at the prison, and he said there is an effort under way in the Army to hide it. . . . "There's definitely a cover-up," Provance said. "People are either telling themselves or being told to be quiet." . . . Provance, 30, was part of the 302nd Military Intelligence Battalion stationed at Abu Ghraib last September. He spoke to ABCNEWS despite orders from his commanders not to. . . . "What I was surprised at was the silence," said Provance. "The collective silence by so many people that had to be involved, that had to have seen something or heard something." . . . He said that while he did not see the actual abuse take place, the interrogators with whom he worked freely admitted they directed the MPs' rough treatment of prisoners. . . . Provance says the sexual humiliation of prisoners began as a technique ordered by the interrogators from military intelligence. . . . Fay started his probe on April 23, but Provance said when Fay interviewed him, the general seemed interested only in the military police, not the interrogators, and seemed to discourage him from testifying. . . . Provance said Fay threatened to take action against him for failing to report what he saw sooner, and the sergeant said he feared he would be ostracized for speaking out. . . . "I feel like I'm being punished for being honest," Provance told ABCNEWS on Tuesday. "You know, it was almost as if I actually felt if all my statements were shredded and I said, like most everybody else, 'I didn't hear anything, I didn't see anything. I don't know what you're talking about,' then my life would be just fine right now." . . . "I would say many people are probably hiding and wishing to God that this storm passes without them having to be investigated [or] personally looked at," he said.
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posted by Lorenzo 7:40 PM
PsyberNetic Media: PlaNetwork Conference to Feature Internet Activism's Rising Stars
Opportunities and Lessons for 2004
Planetwork Interactive held June 5-6, 2004
San Francisco Presidio at the Golden Gate Club
SAN FRANCISCO, March 22, 2004 -- A multidisciplinary community of social change agents and technologists will be gathering here to explore how social networks, information technologies and the Internet can play a key role in the 2004 election and beyond. The Dean Campaign and other online organizing efforts have already demonstrated that the Internet has become perhaps the most potent force in U.S. political fundraising, if not organizing, tapping an online mass movement that is already changing the rules of the game while, many believe, still just getting started.
This large-scale event, significant during this election year, will bring together the luminaries of online InterActivism; MoveOn, True Majority, Act for Change, the Dean Campaign, Get Active Software and others to discuss where political organizing is going, while a major self-organizing component of the program will provide an opportunity for all participants to bring forward their own passions and projects. This process will begin online in advance of the conference with participants posting proposed presentation topics and discussion sessions and ranking which ones are of greatest interest...
...Nature teaches us much about assembling complexity. Nothing evolves or survives on its own. Life co-evolves through relationships and networks; constantly learning, perturbing, and seeking both to optimize their own wellbeing while simultaneously creating a greater whole. Complexity is assembled from the bottom up following simple rules of organization and communication - as Kevin Kelly points out beautifully in: Out of Control.
Our design will use these principles as the template for the InterActive event, making it easy for us to follow them, understand their significance, and in the process, become more adept with the dynamics of self-organization...
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posted by moshido praxis 5:43 PM
US complicit in its own decline
By W Joseph Stroupe
It is now well known and appreciated that in the past 30 years, since the Arab oil embargo of 1973-74, every global oil price "shock" has been followed closely by a US economic recession. The link between the two is indisputable. What applies to the US economic engine also applies to the global economy as well. However, US economic vulnerability to the global price of oil is now significantly greater as compared with the vulnerability of most other economies. How is that true? . . . The US has been steadily transferring its economic wealth and the power that goes with it to other nations, directly as a result of its enormous debt. The US is frighteningly dependent upon foreign cash inflows to finance its huge deficit. This increasingly places the very solvency of the US economy in foreign hands. The US currently runs an account deficit of 5 percent of its GDP, a record high, which cannot be maintained indefinitely. Crude-oil imports account for a sizable portion of this current account deficit, and become increasingly significant as the global price of oil elevates. An orderly decline of the dollar by about 40 percent, far greater than the overall 8 percent (about 20 percent against the euro) seen so far, would be required to help shrink the dangerous current account deficit. However, such a decline presents a range of other problems that are considerable in their impact and risk. . . . As the dollar declines, oil producers, which currently price their exports in terms of US dollars, seek to hedge against the lessening of their real profits resulting directly from the dollar decline. They do this by pegging the price of exports to a more stable currency with fewer structural problems, the euro. Evidence compiled by James Turk, founder of Goldmoney.com, strongly indicates they may already have established a de facto but undeclared peg to the euro. As a result, oil producers artificially inflate the price (in dollars) of oil to hedge against a weaker dollar, and that puts increasing upward pressure on the US current account deficit, which puts further downward pressure on the value of the dollar. A vicious cycle has already ensued. The likely effect is an eventual not-so-orderly decline in the value of the dollar. This can have a catastrophic impact upon the US economy and upon the global economy as well. . . . The United States is helping to create severe problems for itself by participating in the transfer of its wealth overseas, and at the same time, by pursuing a militarized foreign policy that alienates it from traditional friends and allies, and which creates an atmosphere of distrust of its real intentions and its underlying motives. The US is therefore helping to marshal opposition to itself, helping to consolidate such opposition and continuing to give impetus to collective moves on the part of its friends and rivals alike, designed to limit US power and intensify their own. In essence, the US is unwittingly causing the accelerated creation of a multipolar world, where US global dominance is no longer desired, no longer accepted as inevitable. Now, the US is finding that it no longer possesses the influence among the global community of nations that it once had. . . . The US is also working to undermine international confidence in its economy as it facilitates corporate fraud, a la Enron, WorldCom and many others, seemingly without end. These scandalous, gigantic corporate failures have a serious effect on investor confidence worldwide. There are other places to put one's money, and when such monumental failures occur in the heart of the US economy, investors are forced to hedge their bets, to diversify their investments for fear they will lose everything in the US system. They have already begun to put their money elsewhere, on a large scale. Unfortunately, few in the United States understand, or even see, such trends. But they are continuing briskly, even accelerating, thereby weakening the US economy by undermining international confidence in it.
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posted by Lorenzo 3:54 PM
Military Families Speak Out is an organization of people who are opposed to war in Iraq and who have relatives or loved ones in the military. We were formed in November of 2002 and have contacts with military families throughout the United States, and in other countries around the world. . . . As people with family members and loved ones in the military, we have both a special need and a unique role to play in speaking out against war in Iraq. It is our loved ones who are, or have been, or will be on the battlefront. It is our loved ones who are risking injury and death. It is our loved ones who are returning scarred from their experiences. It is our loved ones who will have to live with the injuries and deaths among innocent Iraqi civilians. . . . If you have family members or loved ones in the military and you are opposed to this war, join us. Send us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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posted by Lorenzo 1:44 PM
White House Memo Warns War Crimes Charges Possible
(Michael Isikoff, Newsweek, 17 May 2004)
The White House's top lawyer warned more than two years ago that U.S. officials could be prosecuted for "war crimes" as a result of new and unorthodox measures used by the Bush administration in the war on terrorism, according to an internal White House memo and interviews with participants in the debate over the issue. . . . The concern about possible future prosecution for war crimes - and that it might even apply to Bush administration officials themselves - is contained in a crucial portion of an internal January 25, 2002, memo by White House counsel Alberto Gonzales obtained by NEWSWEEK. . . . In the memo, the White House lawyer focused on a little known 1996 law passed by Congress, known as the War Crimes Act, that banned any Americans from committing war crimes-defined in part as "grave breaches" of the Geneva Conventions. Noting that the law applies to "U.S. officials" and that punishments for violators "include the death penalty," Gonzales told Bush that "it was difficult to predict with confidence" how Justice Department prosecutors might apply the law in the future. This was especially the case given that some of the language in the Geneva Conventions - such as that outlawing "outrages upon personal dignity" and "inhuman treatment" of prisoners - was "undefined." . . . One key advantage of declaring that Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters did not have Geneva Convention protections is that it "substantially reduces the threat of domestic criminal prosecution under the War Crimes Act," Gonzales wrote. . . . The best way to guard against such "unwarranted charges," the White House lawyer concluded, would be for President Bush to stick to his decision - then being strongly challenged by Secretary of State Powell - to exempt the treatment of captured Al Qaeda and Taliban fighters from Geneva convention provisions. . . . "Your determination would create a reasonable basis in law that (the War Crimes Act) does not apply which would provide a solid defense to any future prosecution," Gonzales wrote. . . . The memos provide fresh insights into a fierce internal administration debate over whether the United States should conform to international treaty obligations in pursuing the war on terror. Administration critics have charged that key legal decisions made in the months after Sept. 11, including the White House's February 2002 declaration not to grant any Al Qaeda and Taliban fighters prisoners of war status under the Geneva Convention, laid the groundwork for the interrogation abuses that have recently been revealed in the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. . . . But while top White House officials publicly talked about trying Al Qaeda leaders for war crimes, the internal memos show that administration lawyers were privately concerned that they could tried for war crimes themselves based on actions the administration were taking, and might have to take in the future, to combat the terrorist threat. . . . But while the discussion in the Justice memo revolves around the possible application of the War Crimes Act to members of the U.S. military, there is some reason to believe that administration lawyers were worried that the law could even be used in the future against senior administration officials. . . . One lawyer involved in the interagency debates over the Geneva Conventions issue recalled a meeting in early 2002 in which participants challenged Yoo, a primary architect of the administration's legal strategy, when he raised the possibility of Justice Department war crimes prosecutions unless there was a clear presidential direction proclaiming the Geneva Conventions did not apply to the war in Afghanistan. The concern seemed misplaced, Yoo was told, given that loyal Bush appointees were in charge of the Justice Department. . . . "Well, the political climate could change," Yoo replied, according to the lawyer who attended the meeting. "The implication was that a new president would come into office and start potential prosecutions of a bunch of ex-Bush officials," the lawyer said. . . . This appears to be precisely the concern in Gonzales's memo dated January 25, 2002, in which he strongly urges Bush to stick to his decision to exempt the treatment of Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters from the provisions of the Geneva Conventions. . . . One reason to do so, Gonzales wrote, is that it "substantially reduces the threat of domestic criminal prosecution under the War Crimes Act."
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posted by Lorenzo 7:21 PM
Army & CIA at odds with Bush & Rumsfeld
(Martin Sieff, UPI, May 18, 2004)
Efforts at the top level of the Bush administration and the civilian echelon of the Department of Defense to contain the Iraq prison torture scandal and limit the blame to a handful of enlisted soldiers and immediate senior officers have already failed. . . . Even worse for Rumsfeld and his coterie of neo-conservative true believers who have run the Pentagon for the past 3½ years, three major institutions in the Washington power structure have decided that after almost a full presidential term of being treated with contempt and abuse by them, it's payback time. . . . Those three institutions are: The United States Army, the Central Intelligence Agency and the old, relatively moderate but highly experienced Republican leadership in the United States Senate. . . . Hersh revealed that a high-level Pentagon operation code-named Copper Green "encouraged physical coercion and sexual humiliation" of Iraqi prisoners. . . . Hersh further claimed in his article that Rumsfeld himself approved the program and that one of his four or five top aides, Cambone, set it up in Baghdad and ran it. . . . Indeed, intelligence and regular Army sources have told UPI that senior officers and officials in both communities are sickened and outraged by the revelations of mass torture and abuse, and also by the incompetence involved, in the Abu Ghraib prison revelations. These sources also said that officials all the way up to the highest level in both the Army and the Agency are determined not to be scapegoated, or allow very junior soldiers or officials to take the full blame for the excesses. . . . Torturers usually make lousy combat soldiers, which is why combat soldiers in every major army hold them in contempt. . . . Therefore, several U.S. military officers told UPI, the idea of using regular Army soldiers, including some even just from the Army Reserve or National Guard, and encouraging them to inflict such abuses ran contrary to received military wisdom and to the ingrained standards and traditions of the U.S. Army. . . . The pattern of the latest wave of revelations is clear: They are coming from significant numbers of senior figures in both the U.S. military and intelligence services. They reflect the disgust and contempt widely felt in both communities at the excesses . . . Rumsfeld and his team of top lieutenants have therefore now lost the confidence, trust and respect of both the Army and intelligence establishments. Key elements of the political establishment even of the ruling GOP now recognize this. . . . Yet Rumsfeld and his lieutenants remain determined to hang on to power, and so far President Bush has shown every sign of wanting to keep them there. The scandal, therefore, is far from over. The revelations will continue. The cost of the abuses to the American people and the U.S. national interest is already incalculable: And there is no end in sight.
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posted by Lorenzo 5:39 PM
The Uglyness of America May Be More Than Skin Deep
"The most distressing of the scandal photos is, to me, the one of an American woman, a GI, who is laughing, holding a cigarette and aiming her fingers as if comically shooting or aiming at a group of prisoners, presumably Iraqi. They are naked and hooded. She looks coarse, cruel, perhaps drunk. And as I looked at her I thought Oh, no. This is not equality but mutual degradation. Can anyone imagine a WAC of 1945, or a WAVE of 1965, acting in this manner? I can't. Because WACs and WAVEs were not only members of the American armed forces, which responsibility brought its own demands in terms of dignity and bearing; they were women. They apparently did not think they had to prove they were men, or men at their worst. I've never seen evidence to suggest the old-time WACs and WAVEs had to delve down into some coarse and vulgar part of their nature to fit in, to show they were one of the guys, as tough as the guys, as ugly at their ugliest. . . . But the young woman soldier in the scandal photo--she looked, shall we say, confused about these issues. It was chilling. Perhaps we should be worrying about that, too."
-- Peggy Noonan
[COMMENT: Noonan was a speechwriter for Reagan and the first Bush.]
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posted by Lorenzo 3:42 PM
The US Treasury Is Being Looted
To win hearts and minds, America needs to turn on the lights, provide clean water, give people jobs and impose law and order. But hardly any of this has happened because Bush administration-connected firms such as Halliburton and Bechtel have stolen the vast majority of the money allocated for such tasks.
-- Christian Parenti, "Autopsy of a Failed Occupation", AlterNet.org, April 14, 2004.
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posted by Lorenzo 11:05 AM
Things you have to believe to be a Republican today:
1. Being a drug addict is a moral failing and a crime, unless you're a conservative radio host. Then it's an illness and you need our prayers for your recovery.
2. The United States should get out of the United Nations, and our highest national priority is enforcing U.N. resolutions against Iraq.
3. Government should relax regulation of Big Business and Big Money but crack down on individuals who use marijuana to relieve the pain of illness.
4. "Standing Tall for America"; means firing your workers and moving their jobs to India.
5. A woman can't be trusted with decisions about her own body, but multi-national corporations can make decisions affecting all mankind without regulation.
6. Jesus loves you, and shares your hatred of homosexuals and Hillary Clinton.
7. The best way to improve military morale is to praise the troops in speeches while slashing veterans' benefits and combat pay.
9. If condoms are kept out of schools, adolescents won't have sex.
10. A good way to fight terrorism is to belittle our long-time allies, then demand their cooperation and money.
11. HMOs and insurance companies have the interest of the public at heart.
12. Providing health care to all Iraqis is sound policy. Providing health care to all Americans is socialism.
13. Global warming and tobacco's link to cancer are junk science, but creationism should be taught in schools.
14. Saddam was a good guy when Reagan armed him, a bad guy when Bush's daddy made war on him, a good guy when Cheney did business with him and a bad guy when Bush needed a "we can't find Bin Laden" diversion.
15. A president lying about an extramarital affair is an impeachable offense. A president lying to enlist support for a war in which thousands die is solid defense policy.
16. Government should limit itself to the powers named in the Constitution, which include banning gay marriages and censoring Teleision and the Internet.
17. The public has a right to know about Hillary's cattle trades, but George Bush's driving record is none of our business.
18. Trade with Cuba is wrong because the country is communist, but trade with China and Vietnam is vital to a spirit of international harmony.
Feel free to pass these on. If you don't send them to at least ten other people, we're likely to be stuck with Bush for 4 more years.
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posted by Lorenzo 2:06 PM
CIA Operating Phoenix-like Assassination Program in Iraq
(Douglas Valentine, Counterpunch, May 8/9, 2004)
Even as we examine our policies and policy-makers, US Army snipers are peering out of minarets, picking off civilians on the bloody streets of Fallujah and Najaf, and a dozen other anonymous outposts in Iraq. So while the opportunity presents itself, let's be quick about this, and ask the overarching question: How did we get from 9/11 to Abu Ghoryab? . . . In particular, I blame the journalists who chose not to call for restraint in the aftermath of the Twin Towers, but who filled their columns and articles not with calls for restraint, but for swift revenge. . . . Fist came the attack on the Taliban in Afghanistan, then the promulgation, six months before the invasion of Iraq, of "The National Security Strategy of the United States," through which the Bush Regime conferred upon itself the divine right to devastate any nation it disliked, or had vast oil fields that it coveted. . . . In 1995, when a CIA employee was linked to the murder of "an American innkeeper and the Guatemalan husband of an American lawyer," Deutch issued a "scrub order" that prevented the CIA from hiring murderers. After 9/11, this "scrub order" seemed absurd. If it takes a thief to catch a thief, then it takes a killer to kill a killer. The logic was irrefutable, and suddenly the corporate media was begging the military and the CIA to adopt the torture, detention, and assassination techniques of the Israelis . . . We were at risk and unable to strike back against terrorists, because the CIA had stopped putting tough agents in the field, Hersh reported . . . Having said that, he drew a blueprint of exactly what was to come: "in Afghanistan," [Hersh] said, "or anywhere in the Middle East or South Asia, a C.I.A. operative would have to speak the local language and be able to blend in. The operative should seemingly have nothing to do with any Americans, or with the American embassy, if there is one. The status is known inside the agency as "nonofficial cover," or NOC. Exposure could mean death.” . . . Is this not a recipe for the type of "contractors" who flooded Iraq after the invasion and occupation? The only difference is that a CIA agent under "non-official cover" is no longer referred to as a NOC, but as an OGA, for Other Government Agency. . . . Try, if you can, to imagine a trial by jury, or tribunal, in which a CIA officer was sentenced to death for killing an Iraqi civilian. . . . Then come quickly to your senses, and realize that CIA officers have a license to kill, just as Army snipers can assassinate Iraqi civilians with impunity. The fact is, the war crime of murder is not punishable by death under the Bush Regime, for it was the Bush Regime that lifted all the moral and legal restraints on its soldiers and spies in the first place. So far, murdering Iraqis carries with it only a less than honorable discharges. . . . Just to remind everyone, Vice-President Dick Cheney defended CIA Director George Tenet after Hersh broke the Abu Ghoryab scandal, and said that Tenet had Bush's "full confidence." This is important to note, for it establishes the chain of command, which leads from Bush, through Cheney, through Tenet, to the CIA people who did hire Messrs. Stephanowicz and Israel; and even more to the point, it illustrates how policies made by Bush and company flow through the corporate media to the public, and become directly responsible for the kidnapping, illegal detention, torture, rape and murder of tens of thousands of innocent civilians in Afghanistan and Iraqi. . . . This unstated connection to the Phoenix Program, which was a major factor in the May Lai Massacre, is also significant in understanding what Hersh wants us to infer from his articles on national security issues. Specifically, as Hersh informed us in a December 2003 article in The New Yorker (titled "MOVING TARGETS: Will the counter-insurgency plan in Iraq repeat the mistakes of Vietnam?"), the CIA had formed a new Special Forces group, designated Task Force 121, to neutralize Baathist insurgents, by capture or assassination. According to Hersh, many of the anonymous officials he interviewed for his article feared that the new operation, called "preemptive manhunting" by one of them, had "the potential to turn into another Phoenix Program." . . . "Phoenix," Hersh went on to say, without mentioning the CIA, "was the code name for a counter-insurgency program that the U.S. adopted during the Vietnam War, in which Special Forces teams were sent out to capture or assassinate Vietnamese believed to be working with or sympathetic to the Vietcong." . . . The Phoenix Program "got out of control," Hersh reported. "According to official South Vietnamese statistics, Phoenix claimed nearly forty-one thousand victims between 1968 and 1972; the U.S. counted more than twenty thousand in the same time span. Some of those assassinated had nothing to do with the war against America but were targeted because of private grievances." . . . Two things require our attention here. First, why has no one in the press, or Congress, devoted the same degree of attention to the CIA's death squads roaming around Iraq, as they have to the Abu Ghoryab scandal? We know from CNN's David Ensor that "An Iraqi prisoner who died in November while being interrogated by a CIA officer and contract translator arrived at Abu Ghraib (sic) prison with "broken ribs and breathing difficulties" after being arrested by Navy SEALs, U.S. officials said Thursday. Unnamed Pentagon officials were quoted Wednesday saying the man had been delivered to the prison in "good health." . . . We know from Hersh that Phoenix is policy in Iraq, and that it got out of control in Vietnam. We also know that Navy SEALs are one of CIA's primary unilateral facets of its Phoenix-style Program in Iraq but there’s no accounting for the number of Iraqis killed, abducted or tortured through the Program. . . . There are so many other buried stories, one can only guess at the extent of the war crimes that have, and are being committed. Which leads us to the conclusion that once the Hawks had invaded and occupied Iraq, the only thing they really needed was an unbridled CIA now totally over 500 officers with its own secret detention and interrogation facilities, and assassination squads, and, most importantly, control over the information that reaches the Iraqi and American public. . . . Hersh, of course, isn’t to blame for America’s preemptive strategy for fighting the phantom war on terror. That is a projection of our president's sadistic personality, and his message of hatred that appeals to what is perverse in American culture of knowingly doing what is wrong, for the sake of power over others, but denying it to one’s self. In this way Bush’s immorality has, in the name of righteous sake, been adopted by the soldiers and spooks he has sent to fight a war on behalf of giant corporations. . . . Even though Bush let the dogs out, others of inconsequence will pay for his war crimes. And therein lies the tragedy of this tale.
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posted by Lorenzo 9:57 AM
Prisoner torture - not an aberration but what we've become
(Bob Smith, No Force, No Fraud, 13 May 2004)
As you may have noticed, No Force, No Fraud is about opposing the use of force as a means to achieve results of any kind. I've approached that from many angles, attempting to demonstrate that force will always create move bad results than good. That IS the important lesson that libertarianism has for all of us... that force, OF ANY KIND, will result in increased force, escalating force, retaliatory force, and truly ugly forms of force. The U.S. acceptance of force as a tool of effecting change has led us into a morass of almost unthinkable depravity now... the use of torture, physical, psychological, and even sexual torture, as a means of achieving results. While we all protest such actions, there is one segment of America who will protest the loudest and righteously proclaim themselves as "above the morass"... the American do-gooders. By "do-gooders", I mean those who believe that government programs can improve our society... who believe that legislation is the appropriate way to effect change... and who are continually pushing for larger and more powerful government. We've known for a long time that our Guantanamo prison was probably much like what we now can no longer ignore at Abu Ghraib and other Iraqi facilities. We've known that torture and abuse exist in our own civilian prisons. What is the difference? That we can no longer turn our heads and deny? That we can now see it rather than picture it in our minds? Or, is it that it was acceptable until we got caught? There is no doubt that our leaders knew and sanctioned such torture and abuse, and didn't respond to humanitarian reports of it occurring. It wasn't news to them. Despite their use now of "plausible deniability", blaming it on a "few bad apples", and then blaming it on a few civilian contractors, and now blaming it on the military, there must be no escaping that the responsibility goes all the way up to the Presidency and to the Congress that approved and urged him on. We are not an evil people, but the government we elect to represent us damned sure is evil, and corrupt, and that government has been smearing the reputation of Americans for many decades. For perhaps the first time in history, most of the world views us as the "bad guys". We have become what the German people were while Hitler was in power... protesting that the results are not our fault. So, America... will you just continue with your home-improvement projects, and bigger SUV's, and celebrating holidays, taking vacations, planning for college, and getting fatter eating out? Will you continue busying yourselves while those we elected demolish our freedoms and make the world hate us? Is it possible that you might find a bit of spare time to reflect on this mess, or will you, like the Germans of 60 years ago, just wait until it is far too late and then make excuses about not realizing?
****** Very thought provoking commentary. ********
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posted by An Old Curmudgeon 8:25 PM
URGENT - Cut Funding for National Missile Defense
Union of Concerned Scientists
Next week the U.S. Senate will hold important votes on funding and testing requirements for the Bush administration’s unworkable but soon-to-be-deployed national missile defense system. Since its inception, the missile defense system has failed to overcome fundamental technical issues and has not been tested under realistic conditions. Given the failures of the system and the current national security situation, the administration’s record-setting $10 billion request for the system is clearly unreasonable. At this crucial time, please urge your senators to cut funds for missile defense and require realistic testing before it is deployed.
Click the link above to go to the Union of Concernet Scientists Web site, where you can send a letter to your Senator.
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posted by Lorenzo 1:55 PM
Autopoiesis & Evolution: Smart Mobs vs. Amway: Open Source/PsyberNetic Politics takes-off!
(By Brad deGraf, AlterNet, May 6, 2004)
...Or, in the open-source metaphor, as the Cathedral is from the Bazaar. The Republican worldview is the old paradigm: centralized, hierarchical, top-down, military command-and-control, the organizational model that has held sway since the Industrial Revolution. And they're masters at it, as far as that goes.
But this is the Information Age. The old paradigm can be expected to fight kicking and screaming (and who knows how far that will go, but that's another subject), but that won't change the fact that the organizational model for an information age is completely different: de-centralized, overlapping, emergent, self-organizing, adaptive, diverse, bottom-out social networks. Biology is a better metaphor than warfare; these are organisms, not organizations, and chaos is as important as order in making them function.
plenty of links on this article site>>
...But if a paradigm shift from industrial- to information-age and from hierarchies to networks is happening, it will naturally favor those who want that shift to happen. In that sense, it threatens the two-party system in general, Republicans and Democrats alike, because they can't control the game rules as they have in the past, and the "barrier to entry" just went from "establishing a third party" to "self-organizing a movement." The Dean campaign could be seen as the natural maturation of the Greens from the 3 percent that Ralph Nader got to the 20 percent for Dean, self-organizing and free-riding on the two-party system instead of trying to create a third.
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posted by moshido praxis 12:44 AM
[The following excerpts are from a letter to Bush from nine human rights groups.]
We are deeply disturbed by the photos of the treatment of prisoners by U.S. soldiers and interrogators and welcome your public condemnation of those acts. But more than statements are required. We write to urge you to take decisive and immediate action to address a problem that we believe is not an isolated incident, but rather illustrates a dangerous and illegal system of interrogation and detention in use by the United States in many places around the world. . . . Numerous detainees have been killed or attempted suicide in custody in Afghanistan, Iraq and Guantanamo Bay, prompting unprecedented expressions of concern by the International Committee of the Red Cross; suspects have been turned over to the foreign intelligence services of countries, such as Syria, with records of brutal torture; the ICRC has also specifically expressed concern about conditions at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq; and now, the U.S. military's own inquiry has found "systemic and illegal abuse of detainees" at Abu Ghraib. . . . These incidents occurred across continents and over many months, but they are nevertheless linked. . . . As Cofer Black, the head of the CIA's Counterterrorism Center, told Congress in September 2002: "There was a before 9/11, and there was an after 9/11 .... After 9/11 the gloves come off." Since then, intelligence officials have said repeatedly that they have a mandate to obtain information by "breaking" prisoners through a combination of pain and humiliation, if not outright torture. The sexual humiliation of prisoners now documented at Abu Ghraib was extreme, but not new. More than a year ago, The New York Times quoted prisoners held in Afghanistan saying that they were kept naked most of the time. Likewise, there have been numerous reports of female guards and interrogators used in a deliberate attempt to humiliate and degrade prisoners. . . . For more than a year, the undersigned organizations and others have repeatedly asked you and senior officials in your administration to act promptly and forcefully to publicly repudiate the statements of intelligence officials and to assure that the treatment of detainees is consistent with international humanitarian law. . . . Last June, human rights groups welcomed your pledge that the United States would lead by example in the fight against torture. Yet whatever steps your administration may have taken to implement that pledge have been inadequate to end torture and inhuman treatment of prisoners and to dispel the apparent belief among U.S. interrogators and guards that brutality and degradation are acceptable in the quest for information. The events at Abu Ghraib now in the headlines are the latest evidence of an interrogation and detention system that appears to be out of control and of inadequate action to match your pledges, not the isolated misdeeds of a few individuals allegedly acting without authorization. . . . This pattern of conduct has caused extraordinary damage to the cause of human rights around the world, as well as to the United States and to its ability to conduct foreign policy successfully, from Iraq to the global campaign against terrorism. . . . Extraordinary action on your part is now required to begin to repair this damage and, at long last, bring an end to this pattern of torture and cruel treatment. You have stated in eloquent terms that "human dignity is non-negotiable," but you have tolerated a U.S. system of interrogation that is specifically designed to degrade, humiliate and destroy the human dignity of prisoners to obtain information.
Immediately ban "stress and duress" interrogation and take immediate action to insure that all interrogation and detention practices are fully consistent with international human rights and humanitarian law. . . . Immediately ban any action taken anywhere in the world that would violate the prohibition on "cruel and unusual" punishment if conducted in the United States; this is the pledge that your administration made to the Congress in June 2003 that was apparently never implemented. . . . Immediately ban secret and incommunicado detention; specifically, mandate that the names of all detainees be published. . . . Immediately ban the transfer of prisoners to countries with a pattern of using torture in interrogation . . . Immediately ban the use of civilian contractors in conducting interrogations . . . Ensure that appropriate criminal penalties exist for any person involved in torturing or otherwise abusing detainees—no matter where in the world the conduct occurs. . . . Permit immediate access to every prisoner to independent monitors, including the ICRC, appropriate UN officials and human rights organizations, including the ability to interview prisoners in private, and conduct medical evaluations in accordance with the Manual on the Effective Investigation and Documentation of Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment . . . Permit all detainees to have access to family members and physicians, based on a recognition that secret and incommunicado detention is at the root of much of the prisoner abuse . . . Ensure that there is a record available to determine whether any abuses occurred by videotaping all interrogations and other interaction by military and intelligence personnel with detainees . . . Disclose publicly all interrogation manuals, instructions and guidance governing the conduct of detention and interrogation.
Amnesty International USA ... Global Rights ... Human Rights First ... Human Rights Watch ... International League for Human Rights ... Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights ... Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights ... Physicians for Human Rights USA ... RFK Memorial Center for Human Rights
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posted by Lorenzo 3:15 PM
Thread of Abuse Runs to the Oval Office
(Robert Scheer, Los Angeles Times, May 11, 2004)
Someone's lying — big-time — and neither Congress nor the media have begun to scratch the surface. Clearly we now know enough to stipulate that the several low-ranking alleged sadists charged in the Iraq torture scandal did not control the wing of the prison in which they openly and proudly did the devil's work. . . . The Red Cross complaint — and a follow-up report that was made available to the administration in February and obtained by the Wall Street Journal this week — raises the sobering possibility that these low-level members of the military police in Iraq may be right in claiming that they were just following orders of their superiors. . . . Upon witnessing such cases, the [Red Cross] interrupted its visits and requested an explanation from the authorities. The military intelligence officer in charge of interrogation explained that this practice was 'part of the process.' " The report said that what Red Cross representatives saw "went beyond exceptional cases" and was "in some cases tantamount to torture." . . . The Red Cross complained directly to the authorities at that time, two months before the now-infamous photographs were taken. . . . The White House and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld have for months stubbornly ignored and kept from the public the conclusions of both the Red Cross report and the even more damning internal report done by Army Maj. Gen. Antonio M. Taguba for the Pentagon in March. . . . On Monday, President Bush reiterated his unyielding support for Rumsfeld, even as the influential Army Times newspaper called for heads to roll "even if that means relieving top leaders from duty in a time of war." The abuses of Iraqi prisoners in Baghdad are "a failure that ran straight to the top," argued the newspaper. . . . And all of this does flow from the top. With the occupation itself built on a web of lies — that invading Iraq was part of the war on terror, that Iraq had threatening weapons of mass destruction, that anybody who resisted the occupation was a "terrorist" or "thug" — it can only be assumed that those interrogators dealing with the nearly 50,000 Iraqi detainees in the last year were under enormous pressure to produce statements that fit these phony "facts." . . . The big lie that the United States is merely a selfless battler against terrorists, with no other agendas, opens the door for brutality against any who dare resist. Bush has exercised an arrogance unmatched by any U.S. president in a century and brandished God's will as his carte blanche. His unilateral, preemptive "nation-building" — and the settling of old scores in the name of fighting terror — grants license to treat anybody, including U.S. citizens, in a barbaric manner that cavalierly sweeps aside all standards of due process.
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posted by Lorenzo 8:24 AM
Broadening the War (before the elelction)
White House to impose sanctions on Syria
(The Associated Press, May 10, 2004)
President Bush will order economic sanctions against Syria this week for supporting terrorism and not doing enough to prevent militant fighters from entering neighboring Iraq, congressional and administration sources said Monday. The sanctions, which the White House will impose as early as Tuesday, are being ordered because the administration believes Syria has aggravated tensions in the Middle East by supporting militant groups. Syrian Foreign Minister Farouk al-Sharaa spoke of a "unanimous Arab decision" to condemn the sanctions, which would be reflected in a final resolution from a meeting of the Arab League foreign ministers under way in Cairo, Egypt. Al-Sharaa said U.S. allegations that his country is not cooperating in the fight against terrorism are unfounded since his country has agreed with other Arab countries on the need to combat terrorists. The United States is ordering the sanctions "because they will not fight terror and they won’t join us in fighting terror," Bush said in an interview last week... "We've asked them to do some things and they haven’t responded," Bush said. "And Congress passed a law saying that if Syria will not join — for example, booting out a Hezbollah office out of Damascus — that the president has the right to put sanctions on."
******Seems to me that Little Bush and his neocon handlers are attempting to expand the Theater of War before the election - just in case Little Bush loses (uh huh) - because if we are "engaged", as we are now in Iraq, the ability and "desire" to "cut and run" would not be there - therefore, if engaged before a Federal regime change took place here in January 2005, the table would have been set for the neocons to fund their military-industrial backers far into the future. Fait accompli. *******
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posted by An Old Curmudgeon 8:02 AM
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posted by An Old Curmudgeon 1:13 PM
How the Bush Family is Profiting from the War
Close relatives of President George W. Bush continue to benefit financially from the Iraq invasion, as revealed by sources including regulatory filings. . . . St. Louis-based Engineered Support Systems Inc. (EASI), where William H.T. Bush, an uncle of George W. Bush, joined the board of directors in 2000, is a major military contractor. Following the 2000 election and 9/11, the company, which declined to comment for this article, has seen its federal contracts, revenues, and stock price increase. . . . Engineered Support Systems receives contracts from all branches of the military. The Defense Department listed EASI in its top 100 contractors in 2001, with $330 million in contracts; and in 2002, with $380 million in contracts. Estimates for 2003 are over $380 million. . . . As luck would have it, company products include "Field Deployable Environmental Control Units" (FDECUs) to deal with weapons of mass destruction. . . . On May 1, Engineered Support Systems announced the acquisition of its Maryland subsidiary, TAMSCO, the day President Bush made his televised flight-suit appearance to announce "mission accomplished" in Iraq. The following week, TAMSCO announced that it had begun technology support for US Army logistics operations in the Middle East, stating that this tech support began linking the US, Kuwait and Germany in February 2003. . . . The stock adviser service VectorVest, which puts out a daily list of 7500 American stocks ranked by value, safety and timing, has more than once ranked EASI stock first. Directors of the company including Bush's uncle received monthly consulting fees and options to buy stock at $28.42 per share. Company stock, which increased by 53% in two weeks after 9/11 and then tripled, now trades at $53. In January 2003, William Bush owned 33,750 shares. In January 2004, he owned 56,251 shares. Directors also own stock as a group. . . . Former president George H.W. Bush resigned in fall 2003 from the giant Carlyle Group, heavily into the military and security sectors, which received $677 million in contracts in 2002 and $2.1 billion in contracts in 2003. Carlyle recently sold $335 million in stock from its chief military subsidiary. . . . Neil M. Bush, a younger brother of George W. Bush, has obtained a $60,000-per-year contract from a principal in D.C.-based New Bridge Strategies, a private firm set up to generate contracts in Iraq. . . . A controversial $327 million contract awarded in January by the US Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) in Iraq potentially benefited Winston Partners, the private investment firm of Marvin P. Bush. . . . Other companies in Winston Partners' portfolio, including AMSEC, where Bush's partner, L. Scott Andrews, sits on the board of directors, also benefit from federal contracts. The new CEO of AMSEC, Michael Braham, formerly worked for L. Paul Bremer, now head of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq. . . . These business links suggest that Chalabi, a London-based Iraqi exile, has ties to the White House along with his known ties to Vice President Cheney and the Pentagon. At a House Government Reform Committee hearing on Iraq contracts on March 11, some congressmen began to raise questions about private connections behind some of the contracts. However, committee Chairman Tom Davis, R-Va., cut off the questions before witnesses could answer. . . . It looks more than ever as though Bush planned all along to invade Iraq, but whatever his motives, it is certain that the war benefits his own family.
Margie Burns, a native Texan, writes from Cheverly, Md. Email email@example.com. An earlier version of this appeared in the Prince George's County (Md.) Journal.
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posted by Lorenzo 12:06 PM
Rumsfeld is Lying - US has engaged in torture for years
In case you missed it:
October 22, 2001: FBI Considers Torture as Suspects Stay Silent :
AMERICAN investigators are considering resorting to harsher interrogation techniques, including torture
In case you missed it:
July 25, 2002: U.S. fails to block U.N. anti-torture vote:
The United States failed to block a U.N. vote Wednesday on a plan to strengthen a treaty on torture, and was widely criticized by allies for trying to do so.
In case you missed it:
27 December, 2002: Campaigners demand US 'torture' probe :
Human rights campaigners have urged the United States to investigate allegations that suspected al-Qaeda and Taleban detainees are being tortured.
In case you missed it:
14 February, 2003: US denies 'prison torture' charges :
US officials have denied allegations of torture after human rights groups called for "urgent intervention" to protect terror suspects detained at an American military base.
In case you missed it?
07/19/03: U.S. Accused Of Torture In Iraq:
Amnesty International is looking into a number of cases of suspected torture in Iraq by American authorities. One of case involves Khraisan al-Aballi.
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posted by Lorenzo 4:27 PM
Bush Was Told About Prison Abuse in December
[Click on the above link for detailed references for each fact stated below.]
Since late February, the Pentagon has been in possession of a report produced by Major General Antonio M. Taguba that details the abuse of Iraqis incarcerated in Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison. Months later, despite knowing of the 53-page report's existence, top administration officials responsible for the military still have not read the document. . . . White House officials told the Los Angeles Times that "the abuse of Iraqi prisoners sparked so much concern that President Bush was told about an investigation during the winter holidays." But White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan tried to insulate the President from criticism by suggesting that the President was surprised by the report's findings. McClellan told reporters yesterday that Bush "only become aware of the photographs and the Pentagon's main internal report about the incidents from news reports last week." Yet President Bush still has not read the report. . . . Three weeks before the press reported the story of the Abu Ghraib report, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Richard B. Myers knew enough about it to call Dan Rather and ask him to delay airing the story. Yet, as of this Tuesday, Myers still hadn't read the report. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said yesterday that he had merely "seen a summary."
[COMMENT: If a fish stinks, it stinks from the head down. It now appears that everyone in the chain of command from Bush on down knew about the prisoner abuses. Yet they did nothing because they obviously saw no problem with what was going on. Keep in mind that this band of looters who have taken over control of our government have never had to dirty their own hands in war. They all had "other priorities" when it was their turn to serve. Now they are sending our young people to not only die and be wounded in ever-increasing numbers, they are also responsible for the climate in which our nation has been engaging in war crimes. Bush should be impeached, and he and his gang of looters should be run out of the country just like they did to Aristide.]
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posted by Lorenzo 1:29 PM
Powell aides go public on rift with Bush
(Gary Younge, The Guardian, May 6, 2004)
Colin Powell's key aide has described US sanctions policy against countries such as Pakistan and Cuba as "the dumbest policy on the face of the Earth". . . . Larry Wilkerson, chief of staff of the United States secretary of state, bemoans Mr Powell's firefighting role in President George Bush's cabinet. . . . "He has spent as much time doing damage control and, shall we say, apologizing around the world for some less-than-graceful actions as he has anything else." . . . Meanwhile his [Powell's] mentor from the National War College, Harlan Ullman, describes the US national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, as a "jerk". . . . Their candor suggests that the internecine battles within the administration are becoming increasingly bitter and open, particularly those between the departments of defence and the state. "None of Powell's friends had made any pretence of speculating about or guessing at his feelings," wrote the journalist, Wil Hylton. "They spoke for him openly and on the record." . . . Mr Wilkerson even makes jibes at the war record of Mr Bush's inner circle, comparing their desire for military conflict with their reluctance to serve as young men: "I make no bones about it. I have some reservations about people who have never been in the face of battle, so to speak, who are making cavalier decisions about sending men and women out to die." . . . He then goes on to name former neo-conservative adviser, Richard Perle. He said: "Thank God [he] tendered his resignation and no longer will be even a semi-official person in this administration."
[COMMENT: Powell has lost all credibility with anyone who has even moderate intelligence. It is time for him to leave the government and get off the world stage. Interestingly, he first came on the national scene when he assisted in the initial cover-up of the Mai Lai massacre by US troops in Viet Nam. Perhaps his last "public service" will be to try to cover up the atrocities by US troops in Iraq's prisons. This guy is simply too much of a "yes man" to hold a position of such great authority. In the military there is some benefit in having people around to blindly follow orders. But in a Secretary of State one would hope to find more of an original mind. More importantly, when someone as crazed as Bush is in control of the White House, we need strong leaders who can prevent madmen like him from starting World War III, as he now appears to have done.]
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posted by Lorenzo 10:34 AM
Paul Bremmer Says Bush Administration Weak on Terrorism Prevention
The new administration seems to be paying no attention to the problem of terrorism. What they will do is stagger along until there's a major incident and then suddenly say, 'Oh, my God, shouldn't we be organized to deal with this?' . . . That's too bad. They've been given a window of opportunity with very little terrorism now, and they're not taking advantage of it.
L. Paul Bremer, U.S. Proconsul in Iraq, February 26, 2001)
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posted by Lorenzo 10:07 AM
Selective Service eyes women's draft
(ERIC ROSENBERG, SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER, 5/1/2004)
The chief of the Selective Service System has proposed registering women for the military draft and requiring that young Americans regularly inform the government about whether they have training in niche specialties needed in the armed services. The proposal, which the agency's acting Director Lewis Brodsky presented to senior Pentagon officials just before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, also seeks to extend the age of draft registration to 34 years old, up from 25.
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posted by An Old Curmudgeon 6:42 AM
Bush's friends dishonor war dead, attempt to hide them from public view
(Alessandra Stanley, New York Times, May 2, 2004)
The decision by "Nightline" on ABC to devote Friday's broadcast to reciting the names of all the troops killed in Iraq seemed like such a huge, grandstanding gesture, until it actually began. Once the names and faces of the dead began rolling, so quickly, across the screen, the program became a small, quiet thing -- a fleeting, moving and inadequate tribute . . . When the plan was announced earlier this week, many conservatives denounced it as a liberal ruse to undermine the Bush administration's war effort while maintaining a holier-than-thou pose of patriotism. The Sinclair Broadcast Group, one of the country's largest owners of local television stations, pre-empted the broadcast from its eight ABC-affiliated stations, saying the program amounted to an antiwar statement. . . . Not all conservatives agreed. "Your decision to deny your viewers an opportunity to be reminded of war's terrible costs, in all their heartbreaking detail, is a gross disservice to the public, and to the men and women of the United States Armed Forces," Senator John McCain wrote in a letter to the chief executive of Sinclair that was published Friday. "It is, in short, sir, unpatriotic." . . . Senator McCain was right of course: whatever the producers' motives, giving a face and a name to each of the 721 dead who had been identified at that moment could hardly be described as sedition. . . . There was very little to it, just the portraits of the dead, some in dress uniform, some in fatigues, a few in tuxedos from their high school yearbook pictures, and their names, intoned slowly and carefully by Ted Koppel. The portraits were shown two at a time, just enough to register a name, an age, and shock at how young -- and how old -- some were. All generations have lost some of their own -- the death count spans Army Specialist Michael Mihalakis, 18, to Sgt. Floyd G. Knighten Jr., 55.
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posted by Lorenzo 12:50 PM
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pennsylvania)
August 17, 1996, Saturday, SOONER EDITION . . . David D. Smith, president and chief executive officer of Sinclair Broadcast Group, was arrested this week in his hometown of Baltimore and charged with a misdemeanor sex offense. Sinclair owns WPGH, the Fox affiliate in Pittsburgh, and programs most of WPTT. . . . The Baltimore Sun reported that Smith, 45, was arrested Tuesday night in an undercover sting at a downtown corner frequented by prostitutes. . . . On Thursday night, Sinclair issued a statement that Smith's arrest was unrelated to company business and ''The company will continue to operate under the direction of its current management.''
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posted by Lorenzo 11:53 AM