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Iraq parliament speaker calls for U.S. withdrawal
(Yahoo News, 22 July 2006)
Iraq's parliament speaker Mahmud Mashhadani bitterly criticized U.S. forces in Iraq, accusing them of "butchery" and demanded that they pull out of the country. . . . Mashhadani was speaking at a UN-sponsored conference on transitional justice and reconciliation in Baghdad, and his strongly worded attack appeared to embarrass his international hosts, who grimaced on the podium. . . . "Just get your hands off Iraq and the Iraqi people and Muslim countries, and everything will be all right," the conservative Sunni Islamist said, in a speech opening the conference. . . . "What has been done in Iraq is a kind of butchery of the Iraqi people," he said in a long winded speech that criticized the tactics of the coalition forces as well as US support for Israeli strikes against Lebanon. . . . Mashhadani bluntly told the audience of UN officials, foreign experts, Iraqi politicians and civil society representatives that the Iraqi people had little use for foreign advice on running the country or foreign-sponsored conferences. . . . "If a reconciliation project is going to work it has to talk to all the people," he said. "It must go through our Iraqi beliefs and perceptions. What we need is reconciliation between Iraqis only, there can be no third party." . . . To underscore his distaste for US forces in Iraq, he related an anecdote about how U.S. soldiers keep people waiting in lines at checkpoints for hours because they insist on resting their bomb-sniffing dogs. . . . "The sleep of American dogs is more important than people being stopped in the street for hours," he said, evoking chuckles among Iraqi delegates.
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posted by Lorenzo 3:53 AM
Agent who led hunt for bin Laden attacks CIA
(The Guardian, 9 July 2006)
The man who led the US' hunt for Osama bin Laden says the CIA was wrong to disband the only unit devoted entirely to the Islamist leader's pursuit -- just at a time when al-Qaeda is reasserting its influence over the global jihad. . . . Shutting down the bin Laden unit squandered 10 years of expertise in the war on terror, said Michael Scheuer, who founded the unit in 1995 and arguably knows more about bin Laden than any other Western intelligence official. He believes the unit was dismantled because of bureaucratic jealousies within the CIA, and that the closure delivers a further setback to a pursuit that has been squeezed for resources for the past two years. . . . "What it robs you of is a critical mass of officers who have been working on this together for a decade," he said in an interview. "We had a breed of specialists rare in an intelligence community that prides itself on generalists. It provided a base from which to build a cadre of people specializing in attacking Sunni extremist operations, who sacrificed promotions and other emolients in their employment in the clandestine service, where specialists were looked on as nerds." . . . CIA officials disclosed this week that the Alec unit -- named after Scheuer's now teenage son -- had been disbanded, and its agents reassigned. . . . Scheuer said he disagreed with the argument it was making that bin Laden was isolated, the organization was broken and that he was now just a symbol. . . . "How do you explain the fact that he is able to dominate international media whenever he wants to?" he said. . . . In video footage released on the Internet on Thursday , bin Laden's deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, claimed to have directly masterminded last year's London bombings. . . . In recent weeks authorities have made arrests of alleged al-Qaeda activists in Manchester, London, Toronto and Miami. . . . "Bin Laden has always said the main activity of al-Qaeda is the instigation and inspiration of Muslims to jihad," Scheuer said. . . . "All of the people who have been picked up have said they were inspired by bin Laden, that they trained in their own countries, and used information picked up on the Internet," he said. . . . "So the fire that bin Laden was trying to set is what we are beginning to see around the world and, unfortunately, nowhere more than in the West," he said. . . . He said the closure of the unit reflected a myopia in an intelligence community uncomfortable with the independence of the agents who championed bin Laden's pursuit. . . . "From the very beginning, Alec was an anomaly in that it was not subordinated to any area division, and it was given the authority to communicate with overseas stations -- with or without the permission of area divisions. That caused a great deal of heartburn among very senior leaders at the agency," he said.
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posted by Lorenzo 3:22 PM
USA Is No Longer a Symbol of Hope
(Gulf Times, 4 July 2006)
People in Britain view the US as a vulgar, crime-ridden society obsessed with money and led by an incompetent president whose Iraq policy is failing, according to a newspaper poll published yesterday. . . . The US is no longer a symbol of hope to Britain and the British no longer have confidence in their transatlantic cousins to lead global affairs, according to the poll in The Daily Telegraph. . . . The YouGov poll found that 77% of respondents disagreed with the statement that the US is "a beacon of hope for the world". . . . As Americans prepared to celebrate the 230th anniversary of their independence today, the poll found that only 12% of Britons trust them to act wisely on the global stage. This is half the number who had faith in the Vietnam-scarred White House of 1975. . . . A massive 83% of those questioned said that the US doesn't care what the rest of the world thinks. . . . US President George W Bush fared significantly worse, with just 1% rating him a "great leader" against 77% who deemed him a "pretty poor" or "terrible" leader. . . . More than two-thirds who offered an opinion said America is essentially an imperial power seeking world domination. And 81% of those who took a view said President George W Bush hypocritically championed democracy as a cover for the pursuit of American self-interests. . . . U.S. policy in Iraq was similarly derided, with only 24% saying they felt that the US military action there was helping to bring democracy to the country.
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posted by Lorenzo 1:14 PM
10,000 EPA Scientists Protest Bush's 'Book Burning'
(Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, Jun 29, 2006)
In an extraordinary letter of protest, representatives for 10,000 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency scientists are asking Congress to stop the Bush administration from closing the agency's network of technical research libraries. The EPA scientists, representing more than half of the total agency workforce, contend thousands of scientific studies are being put out of reach, hindering emergency preparedness, anti-pollution enforcement and long-term research . . . [The criminally insane tyrant] Bush deleted $2 million of support for EPA's libraries, amounting to 80% of the agency's total budget for libraries. Without waiting for Congress to act, EPA has begun shuttering libraries, closing access to collections and reassigning staff. The letter notes that "EPA library services are [now] greatly reduced or no longer available to the general public" . . . "The ability of EPA to respond to emergencies will be reduced" due to a diminishing access to "the latest research on cutting-edge homeland security and public health" topics; . . . Approximately 50,000 original research documents will become completely unavailable because they are not available electronically and the agency has no budget for digitizing them; . . . The EPA scientists cite library closures as "one more example of the Bush administration's effort to suppress information on environmental and public health-related topics." At the same time, other outside observers, such as the Chair of EPA's own Science Advisory Board, are expressing growing concerns over the viability and coherence of EPA's research program.
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posted by Lorenzo 2:32 PM