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Occupation made world less safe, pro-war institute says
(Kim Sengupta, The Independent, 26 May 2004)
The US and British occupation of Iraq has accelerated recruitment to the ranks of Osama bin Laden's terrorist network and made the world a less safe place, according to a leading London-based think-tank. . . . The assessment, by the International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS), states that the occupation has become "a potent global recruitment pretext" for al-Qa'ida, which now has more than 18,000 militants ready to strike Western targets. . . . It claims that although half of al-Qa'ida's 30 senior leaders and up to 2,000 rank-and-file members have been killed or captured, a rump leadership is still intact and over 18,000 potential terrorists are at large, with recruitment accelerating on account of Iraq. About 1,000 al-Qa'ida supporters are believed to be active in Iraq. . . . The IISS report, published yesterday, says that the Iraq invasion "galvanised" al-Qa'ida while weakening the campaign against terrorism. At the same time it has split the Western alliance, leaving the US and Britain isolated. . . . The report amounts to a sustained condemnation of US and British tactics, especially during the post-war period. . . . The report adds that later swoops, which led to mass arrests, and aggressive house searches "perversely inspired insurgent violence". . . . The report points out that such is the level of turmoil in Iraq that the US and Britain will need 500,000 troops in the country, a huge increase from the 145,000 the Allies have at present, to stabilise the country. . . . Jonathan Stevenson, the editor of the survey, said: "Invading Iraq damaged the war on terror, there is no doubt about that. It has strengthened rather than weakened al-Qa'ida." . . . The CPA, says the report, has little knowledge of the area it is meant to control. And Iraqi exiles brought back to the country by the Americans to become the new political elite "are very unpopular ... they have not managed to penetrate Iraqi society, mobilise support or engender allegiance". . . . The IISS has strong establishment links, with former US and British government officials among its members. . . . Dr Chipman said of the behaviour of American forces: "The US is realising the awful truth that the first law of peacekeeping is the same as the first law of forensics: 'Every contact leaves a trace.' Unfortunately, too many bad traces have been left recently, and many good ones will be needed to recover its reputation, prestige and effective power."
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posted by Lorenzo 9:36 PM

Iran duped Bush into Iraq war
(Julian Borger, The Guardian, May 25, 2004)
An urgent investigation has been launched in Washington into whether Iran played a role in manipulating the US into the Iraq war by passing on bogus intelligence through Ahmad Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress, it emerged yesterday. . . . Some intelligence officials now believe that Iran used the hawks in the Pentagon and the White House to get rid of a hostile neighbour, and pave the way for a Shia-ruled Iraq. . . . The CIA has asked the FBI to investigate Mr Chalabi's contacts in the Pentagon to discover how the INC acquired sensitive information that ended up in Iranian hands. . . . The implications are far-reaching. Mr Chalabi and Mr Habib were the channels for much of the intelligence on Iraqi weapons on which Washington built its case for war. . . . "It's pretty clear that Iranians had us for breakfast, lunch and dinner," said an intelligence source in Washington yesterday. "Iranian intelligence has been manipulating the US for several years through Chalabi." . . . Larry Johnson, a former senior counter-terrorist official at the state department, said: "When the story ultimately comes out we'll see that Iran has run one of the most masterful intelligence operations in history. They persuaded the US and Britain to dispose of its greatest enemy." . . . it is clear that the CIA - at loggerheads with Mr Chalabi for more than eight years - believes it has caught him red-handed, and is sticking to its allegations. . . . "The suggestion that Chalabi is a victim of a smear campaign is outrageous," a US intelligence official said. "It's utter nonsense. He passed very sensitive and classified information to the Iranians. We have rock solid information that he did that." . . . An intelligence source in Washington said the CIA confirmed its long-held suspicions when it discovered that a piece of information from an electronic communications intercept by the National Security Agency had ended up in Iranian hands. The information was so sensitive that its circulation had been restricted to a handful of officials. . . . "This was 'sensitive compartmented information' - SCI - and it was tracked right back to the Iranians through Aras Habib," the intelligence source said. . . . An intelligence source in Washington said the FBI investigation into the affair would begin with Mr Chalabi's "handlers" in the Pentagon, who include William Luti, the former head of the office of special plans, and his immediate superior, Douglas Feith, the under secretary of defence for policy. . . . The CIA allegations bring to a head a dispute between the CIA and the Pentagon officials instrumental in promoting Mr Chalabi and his intelligence in the run-up to the war. By calling for an FBI counter-intelligence investigation, the CIA is, in effect, threatening to disgrace senior neo-conservatives in the Pentagon.
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posted by Lorenzo 9:45 AM

Bush and the Carlyle Group, big time war profiteers
(Geffrey St. Clair, Counterpunch, May 22/23, 2004)
not all of the president's men are in a despairing mood. Amid the wreckage, there remain opportunities for profit and plunder. Halliburton and Bechtel's triumphs in Iraq have been chewed over for months. Less well chronicled is the profiteering of the Carlyle Group, a company with ties that extend directly into the Oval Office itself. . . . Even Pappy Bush stands in line to profit handsomely from his son's war making. The former president is on retainer with the Carlyle Group, the largest privately held defense contractor in the nation. Carlyle is run by Frank Carlucci, who served as the National Security advisor and Secretary of Defense under Ronald Reagan. Carlucci has his own embeds in the current Bush administration. At Princeton, his college roommate was Donald Rumsfeld. They've remained close friends and business associates ever since. . . . Bush Sr. serves as a kind of global emissary for Carlyle. . . . His special area of influence is the Middle East, primarily Saudi Arabia, where the Bush family has extensive business and political ties. According to an account in the Washington Post, Bush Sr. earns around $500,000 for each speech he makes on Carlyle's behalf. . . . One of the Saudi investors lured to Carlyle by Bush was the BinLaden Group, the construction conglomerate owned by the family of Osama bin Laden. . . . One of Bush Sr.'s top sidekicks, James Baker, is also a key player at Carlyle. Baker joined the weapons firm in 1993, fresh from his stint as Bush's secretary of state and chief of staff. Packing a briefcase of global contacts, Baker parlayed his connections with heads of state, generals and international tycoons into a bonanza for Carlyle. After Baker joined the company, Carlyle's revenues more than tripled. [COMMENT: And in Bush's speech about Iraq on May 24, 2004, he mentioned Baker by name as having renegotiated Iraq's long-term debt. I wonder if Carlyle got "points" for those financial transactions?] . . . Baker and Carlyle enjoy another ace in the hole when it comes to looking out for their Saudi friends. Baker prevailed on Bush Jr. to appoint his former law partner, Bob Jordan, as the administration's ambassador to Saudi Arabia. . . . Carlyle and its network of investors are well positioned to cash in on Bush Jr.'s expansion of the defense and Homeland Security department budgets. Two Carlyle companies, Federal Data Systems and US Investigations Services, hold multi-billion dollar contracts to provide background checks for commercial airlines, the Pentagon, the CIA and the Department of Homeland Security. USIS was once a federal agency called the Office Federal Investigations, but it was privatized in 1996 at the urging of Baker and others and was soon gobbled up by Carlyle. . . . Another Carlyle subsidiary, Vought Aircraft, holds more than a billion dollars in federal contracts to provide components for the C-117 transport plane, the B-2 bomber and the Apache attack helicopter. Prior to 2001, Vought had fallen on hard times. Just before the 9/11 attacks, Vought announced that it was laying off more than 1,200 employees, more than 20 percent of its workforce. But business picked up briskly following the airstrikes on Afghanistan and the war on Iraq. . . . Carlucci and Baker devised a plan to take United Defense public. The sale to unsuspecting investors netted Carlyle more than $237 million. Six months later, Rumsfeld closed the book on the Crusader. By then the gang at Carlyle had slipped out the back door, their pockets stuffed with cash. . . . So the men behind the Carlyle Group drift through Washington like familiar ghosts, profiteering off the carnage of Bush's disastrous crusades, untroubled by any thought of congressional investigation or criminal prosecution, firm in the knowledge that the worse things get for the people of the world, the less secure and more gripped by fear the citizens their own country become, the more millions they will reap for themselves. Perpetual war means perpetual profits.
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posted by Lorenzo 8:09 PM

The film-maker who could help to bring down Bush...(Michael Moore's film: Fahrenheit 9/11)
(by Andrew Anthony, Sunday May 23, 2004, The Observer)
...The film, as it turned out, is Moore's strongest since Roger and Me, his debut documentary 15 years ago which examined the damage wrought by General Motors on his home town of Flint. Whereas the Oscar-winning Bowling for Columbine was hit-and-miss, self-contradictory, and more than a little sanctimonious, Fahrenheit 9/11 seldom loses sight of its target - the Bush administration - or its sense of humour. . . . It is also, with a couple of exceptions, a triumph of editing. Indeed, Moore is arguably the most ideological and emotive editor since Sergei Eisenstein, the Soviet propagandist who developed a kind of didactic montage. Juxtaposing heroes and villains, he cuts between political comedy and tragic reality with intoxicating glee. There is no information that is vitally new, nor are there any images that are more shocking than those from Abu Ghraib prison, but such is the cumulative force of the film, with its kinetic humour and insistent sentiment, that it is hard to come away from it without concluding a) that George W Bush is not fit to be president of a golf club let alone the world's most powerful nation and b) the war in Iraq was woefully misconceived. In the year of an election that could well prove close, it's the kind of film that could make a historic difference.

Anti-Bush "doco" takes top Cannes honours The Palme d'Or of the Festival de Cannes has gone to Fahrenheit 9/11. a self-proclaimed anti-Bush film by Michael Moore, earning the controversial documentary film maker a standing ovation from the glittering throng assembled in the Grand Théâtre Lumière... . Mr Moore's acceptance speech: "I can't begin to express my appreciation and my gratitude to the jury, the Festival, to Gilles Jacob, Thierry Frémaux, Bob and Harvey at Miramax, to all of the crew who worked on the film. [...] I have a sneaking suspicion that what you have done here and the response from everyone at the festival, you will assure that the American people will see this film. I can't thank you enough for that. You've put a huge light on this and many people want the truth and many want to put it in the closet, just walk away. There was a great Republican president who once said, if you just give the people the truth, the republicans, the Americans will be saved. [...] I dedicate this Palme d'Or to my daughter, to the children of Americans and to Iraq and to all those in the world who suffer from our actions...

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posted by moshido praxis 12:24 AM

New film on Middle East: The Control Room
Is America radicalizing or stabilizing the Arab world? Award-winning filmmaker Jehane Noujaim (Startup.com) provides a balanced view of Al-Jazeera's presentation of the second Iraq war, and in so doing calls into question many of the prevailing images and positions offered up by the U.S. news media. The film's view inside Al-Jazeera—a network branded "Osama bin Laden's mouthpiece" and subject of intense criticism from U.S. administration officials—suggests that its views on news reportage might actually be more in tune with democratic ideals than those of its Western counterparts.
Running time: 86 minutes
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posted by moshido praxis 4:47 PM

US Senator says Bush went to war on Israel's behalf
(Ernest F. Hollings, The State, May 7, 2004)
Now everyone knows what was not the cause of this war. Even President Bush acknowledges that Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with 9/11. Listing the 45 countries where al Qaeda was operating on Sept. 11 (70 cells in the United States), the State Department did not list Iraq. . . . Richard Clarke, in Against All Enemies, tells how the United States had not received any threat of terrorism for 10 years from Saddam at the time of our invasion. . . . Of course there were no weapons of mass destruction. Israel’s intelligence, Mossad, knows what’s going on in Iraq. It is the best. It has to know; Israel’s survival depends on knowing. Israel long since would have taken us to the weapons of mass destruction if there were any, or if they had been removed. With Iraq no threat, why invade a sovereign country? The answer: President Bush’s policy to secure Israel. . . . [Bush] came to office imbued with one thought — re-election. Bush felt tax cuts would hold his crowd together and spreading democracy in the Mideast to secure Israel would take the Jewish vote from the Democrats. . . . You don’t come to town and announce your Israel policy is to invade Iraq. But George W. Bush, as stated by former Secretary Paul O’Neill and others, started laying the groundwork to invade Iraq days after inauguration. And, without any Iraq connection to 9/11, within weeks he had the Pentagon outlining a plan to invade Iraq. He was determined. . . . President Bush thought taking Iraq would be easy. Wolfowitz said it would take only seven days. Cheney believed we would be greeted as liberators. But Cheney’s man, Ahmed Chalabi, made a mess of the de-Baathification of Iraq by dismissing Republican Guard leadership and Sunni leaders, who soon joined with the insurgents. . . . Worst of all, we tried to secure Iraq with too few troops. . . . In Iraq with a population of 24.6 million, Gen. John Abizaid with only 135,000 troops can barely secure the troops, much less the country. If the troops are there to fight, they are too few. If there to die, they are too many. . . . To secure Iraq we need more troops — at least 100,000 more. The only way to get the United Nations back in Iraq is to make the country secure. . . . With President Bush’s domino policy in the Mideast gone awry, he keeps shouting “War on Terror.” Terrorism is a method, not a war. We don’t call the Crimean War, with the Charge of the Light Brigade, the Cavalry War. Or World War II the Blitzkrieg War. There is terrorism in Ireland against the Brits. There is terrorism in India and in Pakistan. In the Mideast, terrorism is a separate problem to be defeated by diplomacy and negotiation, not militarily. Here, might does not make right — right makes might. Acting militarily, we have created more terrorism than we have eliminated. . . . [Mr. Hollings is the senior senator from South Carolina.]
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posted by Lorenzo 11:55 AM

50 Years of Unbalanced American Foreign Policy About to Burst
(The Independent, 19 May 2004)
Misguided from the start, the war in Iraq is spiralling out of control. Any legitimacy the occupying forces may ever have possessed has been destroyed, and there are signs that Iraqi insurgents are coming together to mount a movement of resistance that could render the country ungovernable. With even more damning images likely to find their way into the public realm in the near future, the United States is facing an historic defeat in Iraq - a blow to American power more damaging than it suffered in Vietnam, and far larger in its global implications. . . . Abuse on the scale suggested by the Red Cross report cannot be accounted for by any mere lapse in discipline or the trailer-park mentality of some American recruits. It was inherent in the American approach to the war. American military intervention in Iraq was based on neo-conservative fantasies about US forces being greeted as liberators. In fact, as could be foreseen at the time, it has embroiled these forces in a brutal and hopeless war against the Iraqi people. . . . The resistance mounted by the Iraqi insurgents can be compared to the anti-colonial liberation struggles of the 1950s, but the closest parallels with the intractable conflict now under way are found in Chechnya, which remains a zone of anarchy and terror despite the ruthless deployment of Russian firepower and the systematic use of torture for more than a decade. It was the prospect of an intractable guerrilla conflict that led many soldiers in the Pentagon to express deep reservations regarding the war. When the civilian leadership launched the invasion of Iraq, US forces were plunged into a type of conflict for which they are supremely ill equipped. . . . leading naked Iraqi males around on dog leads and covering their heads with women's underwear look like techniques designed specifically in order to attack the prisoners' identity and values. The result is that an indelible image of American depravity has been imprinted on the entire Islamic world. . . . In effect, the Bush administration deliberately created a lawless environment in which abuse could be practised with impunity. . . . The torture of Iraqis by US personnel is an application of the Bush administration's strategy in the war on terror. . . . The immediate beneficiary of the torture revelations is likely to be Iran - a fact that seems to have been grasped by Ahmed Chalabi (the Iraqi emigre that the neo-conservatives believed would take the country to American-style democracy), who appears to be forging links with the Iranian regime. At a global level, the principal beneficiary is al-Qa'ida, which is now a more serious threat than it has ever been. . . . In part, the attack on Iraq was simply another exercise in the type of neo-Wilsonian fantasy that is a recurring feature of US foreign policy, but it was also an exercise in realpolitik - and a resource war. A key part of the rationale for the invasion was to enable the US to withdraw from Saudi Arabia, which had come to be seen as complicit with terror and inherently unstable. . . . If it was to pull out from Saudi Arabia, the US needed another source of oil. Only Iraq has it in sufficient quantities - hence the drive for regime change. In this Dr Strangelove-like vision, once Saddam had been removed and Iraq remodelled as a Western-style democracy, the oil would start flowing. The war would be self-financing, and the world economy would move smoothly into the sunlit uplands. . . . Things have not turned out quite like that. . . Iraq will be the scene of a mass exodus. International organisations and Western oil companies will leave and any prospect of rebuilding the country will be lost. Where will that leave Iraq - and its oil? . . . In the US, American withdrawal will be represented as a reward for a job well done. The rest of the world will recognise it as a humiliating defeat, and it is here that the analogy of Vietnam is inadequate. The Iraq war has been lost far more quickly than that in South-east Asia, and the impact on the world is potentially much greater. Whereas Vietnam had little economic significance, Iraq is pivotal in the world economy. No dominoes fell with the fall of Saigon, but some pretty weighty ones could be shaken as the American tanks rumble out of Baghdad. . . . The full implications of such a blow to American power cannot be foreseen. One consequence is clear enough, however. The world has seen the last of liberal imperialism. It died on the killing fields of Iraq. It is no consolation to the people of that country, but at least their sufferings have demonstrated the cruel folly of waging war in order to fight a liberal crusade. . . . The exodus will not be confined to Iraq. Western companies are already leaving Saudi Arabia, the producer of last resort in the global oil market. . . . Iraq and its people are now viewed with a mix of bafflement and hatred, and a mood of despair about the war has set in. Most Americans want out - and soon. Locked in internal dispute, the Democrats have not so far been able to grasp the nettle. The pressure on President Bush to announce that America has completed its mission with the handover of sovereignty may well prove overwhelming.
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posted by Lorenzo 5:02 PM

Israel's Failed Assassination Attempt on U.S. Ambassador Documented
(Andrew I. Killgore, wrmea.com, May 2004)
Had Mossad, Israel’s secret intelligence organization, succeeded, it would have been the perfect crime - the crime of the century. The plan was breathtaking in concept: to assassinate the American ambassador to Lebanon, in Lebanon, with American weapons, intended for Israeli's defense only. Everything about it would point to Lebanon as the culprit. . . . But fate intervened, and things went wrong. . . . Mossad's specialty was dirty tricks, even if (or perhaps because) it was not very good as an intelligence organization. Its modus operandi had always been the same: pull off a dirty trick but make it appear somebody else had done it. . . . Then came the June 8, 1967 attack on the USS Liberty, killing 34 Americans and wounding 171. Perpetrated by the Israeli air force and navy, this was not a Mossad operation, but it was suffused by the same spirit of stealth and trickery. During the Arab-Israeli war of 1967, unmarked Israeli jets raked the all-but-unarmed spy ship Liberty, steaming slowly off Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, with napalm and machine gunfire. . . . The Liberty was flying a large American flag, and the ship's designation, in English, was clearly visible on a cloudless day. But Israel said it thought it was attacking an Egyptian transport ship. Israel pleaded "a tragic accident" and still pleads that miserable lie today. . . . Now, thanks to Ambassador John Gunther Dean, the full taste of Mossad’s evil will be available at former President Jimmy Carter’s Presidential Library in Atlanta, Georgia. . . . The Dean papers—which include documents, messages, reports and telegrams—constitute hard evidence on the stultifying influence of the Israeli lobby as Dean tried to get answers from the Department of State on the Israeli assassination failure. . . . The papers include documentation of efforts by the Palestinians to help the U.S. with the American hostages in Iran. They demonstrate that, unlike today, the United States administration considered the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) "valid interlocutors" in the search for a negotiated settlement of the Palestine-Israel conflict. In fact, PLO leader Yasser Arafat and an assistant made a special visit to Iran, where they succeeded in gaining the immediate freedom of several of the American diplomatic hostages. Arafat performed a real favor for the United States for which he never received any thanks-perhaps because, once again, it would have been too "sensitive." . . . By June 2004 all other papers in Dean's possession will be housed in the National Archives. Among the information they will contain will be the role of certain congressmen with respect to nuclear proliferation. Some of the American legislators struck Dean as motivated more by fear of Pakistan obtaining "the Islamic bomb" than they were by defending U.S. policy of preventing the proliferation of arms.
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posted by Lorenzo 7:36 PM

Is Israel the US's Puppetmaster?
[COMMENT: This is a far-edge conspiracy theory. The following are excerpts from a quite long and well reasoned argument in favor of this particulary theory. If these things interest you, we highly recommend clicking the link above and reading this essay in its entirety.]

(Paul Balles, Rense.com, 5-4-4)
"When you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains--however improbable--must be the truth." --Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Not long after September 11, 2001, a story surfaced on the Internet accusing the Israelis of taking part in a conspiracy that resulted in the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks. . . . As might be expected, a number of people stormed onto the Internet to debunk the Israel conspiracy theories. That effectively put an end to questioning the official story of a plot generated by Osama bin Laden and executed by his Al-Qaeda operatives. No one dared ask the most important question: Who stood to benefit from the catastrophe that killed thousands on September 11, 2001? . . . Israel? Without a sliver of doubt, Israel was/is the major benefactor of the 9/11 strike. How has Israel benefited? Mossad, Israel's intelligence agency, believed that Iraq could have weapons of mass destruction and http://pballes.com/updates9.htm Israel wanted Iraq neutralized before they had a chance to use them against Israel. . . . So long as Iraq possessed a capacity to even develop WMD,s it would be impossible for Israel to get rid of the Palestinians. Thus, getting control of Iraq facilitated Israel's ultimate desire to eliminate the Palestinians. . . . How does 9/11 fit into the Iraq-Israel scenario? 9/11 provided the clarion call for the so-called war against terrorism. Without 9/11, the U.S. would have had no excuse for invading Afghanistan. The battle against Al-Qaeda and bin Laden was the precursor to the invasion of Iraq; and the trumped up connection between Iraq and Al-Qaeda provided the excuse for invading Iraq. . . . There's no doubt that Israel's Mossad, the Middle East intelligence experts as far as America is concerned, provided the assessment of Iraq's WMD's to America. . . . ISRAELI intelligence overplayed the threat posed by Iraq and reinforced an assumption by American and British counterparts that Saddam Hussein had large caches of weapons of mass destruction, a retired Israeli general said today, after studying the run-up to the US-led invasion of Iraq. . . The Israeli assessment may have been colored by politics, including a desire to see Saddam Hussein toppled, said Shlomo Brom, once a senior Israeli military intelligence officer and now a researcher with Israel's top strategic think tank. . . . Considering again the answer to the question "who benefited from 9/11?" it becomes perfectly clear that Israel, and Israel alone, had reason to plot and execute the disaster that hit The World Trade Center, the Pentagon and the four flights involved in that fateful September day in 2001. Israel, however, couldn't possibly have executed such a plan alone without help from some US authorities. Who might possibly provide the means for accomplishing that genocidal goal? . . . The process of elimination leaves only the Department of Defense (DoD). Its leaders are secretive enough to keep its plans under wraps. To violate the top-secret code of silence, even by someone who later felt moved by conscience to disclose the truth, would be cause for court martial and a death sentence for treason, if not to an assassination made to look like a suicide. . . . Unlike the CIA, which has "never killed Americans" in its covert activities, the DoD has been responsible for the deaths of thousands of Americans, both in the military and among civilians considered as collateral damage. The DoD has no qualms about killing Americans when it serves their purpose. . . . For 60 years the DoD managed to cover up their prior knowledge of the planned Pearl Harbor attack by the Japanese that killed 4575 US Navy personnel. The DoD also stopped US fighter jets from scrambling to end the Israeli massacre of US Navy personnel on the http://www.ussliberty.org/USS Liberty. . . . The DoD is the only body that could have kept the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) from performing its duty to http://www.publicaction.com/911/noradsend2.html scramble fighter jets to intercept the hijacked planes on 9/11. The DoD was in the position to stop the hijacked jets from performing their mission. They didn't, and they've never answered the question as to why they didn't. . . . Leading civilians in the DoD figure among US leaders serving Israel. Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle and Douglas Feith have been more devoted to Israeli interests than they have to those of America. At best, they have acted as "dual loyalists." [ALSO SEE: Israelis Infiltrate Bush Administration] . . . "The neoconservative members of President Bush's cabinet led by Wolfowitz advocated pre-emptive strikes on terror cells in Afghanistan." . . . "Wolfowitz, a 'hawkish' conservative military analyst under Ronald Reagan, had in the 1990s, during the Clinton presidency formulated a new foreign policy with regard to Iraq and other 'potential aggressor states', dismissing "containment, in favour of 'pre-emption' http://www.disinfopedia.org/wiki.phtml?title=Paul_Wolfowitz strike first to eliminate threats." Such a strike could not be made without an attack like Pearl Harbor or like 9/11. . . . together with Douglas Feith and Richard Wurmser, Perle authored a paper "A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm," in 1996 which declared that "removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq" was an "important Israeli strategic objective..." That removal could not be accomplished without a 'casus belli' (an event used to justify war). . . . Douglas Feith, Undersecretary of Policy at the U.S. Department of Defence: "A prolific writer, Feith has left a long paper trail of anti-Arab tracts and diatribes against those who challenge or seek to compromise Israel's strength and as he defines it, 'moral superiority' over the Arabs." Feith would participate in any plot to advance Israel's interests at the expense of the Arabs. . . . Elliot Abrams, described in The Nation as "the nastiest policy warrior as Washington has seen in decades" was convicted of lying to Congress about the Iran Contra affair and he serves Israel in the National Security Council. As Jim Lobe observed in Tom Paine "Israel's Likud Scores Big With White House Appointment." Abrams would have no qualms about sacrificing American lives for Israel's benefit. . . . All of these Likudite Bush aides are unequivocal supporters of Israel's conservative Likud Party, now headed by the 'Butcher of Sabra & Shatilla' Ariel Sharon; and the dual loyalists have past ties either to Likud or to Israeli companies. . . . Having eliminated the impossible, what remains is not as improbable as it might have looked at first. What remains are people in the DoD with a motive. Combine that with the history of deception of both Mossad and the DoD as well as their proven willingness to sacrifice American lives for their causes. . . . Mossad often infiltrated any organization it wanted to watch and/or control. For them, infiltrating Al-Qaeda cells would be a cinch; and getting a number of Arabs to hijack planes under any ruse would be normal Mossad behavior. . . . Since the supposed Arab hijackers couldn't even fly small planes solo, according to the testimony of their flight instructors, and since remote control devices had proven effective, the process of elimination again points to the only conclusion remaining: 9/11 was planned and executed by Mossad and the DoD in order to justify military action in the Middle East for the major benefactor, Israel. . . . Until now, the belief that Israel could have anything to do with planning or executing the atrocities of 9/11 have been arbitrarily dismissed as 'conspiracy theory'. The Anti Defamation League (ADL) in America has labeled any such beliefs as 'anti-Semitic.' Conveniently, the ADL has chosen to ignore the fact that Arabs are also Semites. Furthermore, presenting a well-reasoned case against Israel - even when it or its agent's activities are criminal - does not constitute anti-Semitism. Israel, through its admittedly deceptive intelligence arm, Mossad, in tandem with a DoD run by "dual loyalists", had all that it takes to establish a case in a court of law: the means, the motive and the opportunity. . . . If the ADL or any other group wishes to protect its followers from the dangers of spreading anti-Semitism, they need to closely examine the activities of the war hawks in both Tel Aviv (or Jerusalem) and Washington. Most importantly, they need to ask and seek an honest answer to the question: who benefited from the catastrophe that killed thousands on September 11, 2001?

*Dr. Balles is a retired university professor who has spent 34 years in the Middle East.
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posted by Lorenzo 4:19 PM

American Hypocrisy

Last week, in the middle of the growing chaos in Iraqi cities, Bremer savagely denounced groups 'who think power in Iraq should come out of the barrel of a gun'. He was not apparently referring to the US and British armed forces who seized power in Iraq (and put him into his powerful post) entirely and exclusively by sustained use of the barrels of thousands of guns.
-- Paul Foot
, "The beam in Bremer's eye", The Guardian, April 14, 2004.
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posted by Lorenzo 10:57 AM

Israeli Agents Infiltrate the Bush Administration
(Stephen Green, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, May 2004)
Since 9/11, a small group of "neoconservatives" in the administration have effectively gutted—they would say reformed—traditional American foreign and security policy. Features of the new Bush doctrine include the pre-emptive use of unilateral force, and the undermining of the United Nations and the principle instruments and institutions of international law...all in the cause of fighting terrorism and promoting homeland security. . . . Some skeptics, noting the neo-cons’ past academic and professional associations, writings and public utterances, have suggested that their underlying agenda is the alignment of U.S. foreign and security policies with those of Ariel Sharon and the Israeli right wing. . . . Have the neoconservatives—many of whom are senior officials in the Department of Defense (DOD), National Security Council (NSC) and Office of the Vice President—had dual agendas, while professing to work for the internal security of the United States against its terrorist enemies? . . . A review of the internal security backgrounds of some of the best known among them strongly suggests the answer. . . . Dr. Stephen Bryen and Colleagues . . . The evidence was strong. Bryen had been overheard, in the Madison Hotel Coffee Shop, offering classified documents to an official of the Israeli Embassy in the presence of the director of AIPAC, the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee. It was later determined that the embassy official was Zvi Rafiah, the Mossad station chief in Washington. . . . Bryen was asked to resign from his Foreign Relations Committee post shortly before the investigation was concluded in late 1979. For the following year and a half, he served as executive director of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), and provided consulting services to AIPAC. . . . In April 1981, the FBI received an application by the Defense Department for a Top Secret security clearance for Dr. Bryen. Richard Perle, who had just been nominated as assistant secretary of defense for international security policy (ISP), was proposing Bryen as his deputy assistant secretary! Within six months, with Perle pushing hard, Bryen received both Top Secret-SCI (sensitive compartmented information) and Top Secret-"NATO/COSMIC" clearances. . . . in early 1988, Israel was in the final stages of development of a prototype of its ground-based "Arrow" anti-ballistic missile. One element the program lacked was "klystrons," small microwave amplifiers which are critical components in the missile’s high-frequency, radar-based target acquisition system which locks on to incoming missiles. In 1988, klystrons were among the most advanced developments in American weapons research, and their export was, of course, strictly proscribed. . . . The DOD office involved in control of defense technology exports was the Defense Technology Security Administration (DTSA) within Richard Perle’s ISP office. The director (and founder) of DTSA was Perle's deputy, Dr. Stephen Bryen. In May of 1988, Bryen sent a standard form to Richard Levine, a Navy tech transfer official, informing him of intent to approve a license for Varian Associates, Inc. of Beverly, Massachusetts to export to Israel four klystrons. This was done without the usual consultations with the tech transfer officials of the Army and Air Force, or ISA (International Security Affairs) or DSAA (Defense Security Assistance Agency). . . . Two senior DOD colleagues who wish to remain anonymous have confirmed that this attempt by Bryen to obtain klystrons for his friends was not unusual, and was in fact "standard operating procedure" for him, recalling numerous instances when U.S. companies were denied licenses to export sensitive technology, only to learn later that Israeli companies subsequently exported similar (U.S.-derived) weapons and technology to the intended customers/governments. . . . Michael Ledeen, Consultant on Chaos . . . If Stephen Bryen is the military technology guru in the neocon pantheon, Michael Ledeen is currently its leading theorist, historian, scholar and writer. . . . In 1983, on the recommendation of Richard Perle, Ledeen was hired at the Department of Defense as a consultant on terrorism. His immediate supervisor was Principle Assistant Secretary for International Security Affairs Noel Koch. Early in their work together, Koch noticed with concern Ledeen’s habit of stopping by in his (Koch’s) outer office to read classified materials. When the two of them took a trip to Italy, Koch learned from the CIA station there that when Ledeen had lived in Rome previously, as correspondent for The New Republic, he’d been carried in agency files as an agent of influence of a foreign government: Israel. . . . In early 1986, however, Koch learned that Ledeen had joined NSC as a consultant, and, sufficiently concerned about the internal security implications of the behavior of his former aide, arranged to be interviewed by two FBI agents on the matter. After a two-hour debriefing, Koch was told that it was only Soviet military intelligence penetration that interested the Bureau. The follow-on interviews that were promised by the agents never occurred.

In any event, Koch's belated attempts to draw official attention to his former assistant were too late, for within a very few weeks of leaving his DOD consultancy in late 1984, Ledeen had found his gainful (classified) employment at the NSC. In fact, according to a now declassified chronology prepared for the Senate/House Iran-Contra investigation, within calendar 1984 Ledeen was already suggesting to Oliver North, his new boss at NSC, "that Israeli contacts might be useful in obtaining release of the U.S. hostages in Lebanon." . . . What is so striking about the Ledeen-related documents, which are part of the National Security Archive’s Iran-Contra Collection, is how thoroughly the judgments of Ledeen’s colleagues at NSC mirrored, and validated, Noel Koch’s internal security concerns about his consultant. . . . [five bullet points follow here] . . . Like his friend Stephen Bryen (the two have long served together on the JINSA board of advisors) Ledeen had been out of government service since the late 1980s…until the present Bush administration. He, like Bryen, is presently a serving member on the China Commission and, with the support of DOD Undersecretary for Policy Douglas Feith, has been employed since 2001 as a consultant for the Office of Special Plans (OSP). Both positions involve the handling of classified materials and require high-level security clearances. . . . Richard Perle: A Habit of Leaking . . . An FBI wiretap authorized for the Israeli Embassy in Washington picked up Perle discussing with an embassy official classified information which he said had been supplied by a staff member of the National Security Council. . . . Perle's second brush with the law occurred in 1978, when he was the recipient of a classified CIA report on alleged past Soviet treaty violations. The leaker (and author) of the report was CIA analyst David Sullivan. CIA Director Stansfield Turner was incensed at the unauthorized disclosure, but before he could fire Sullivan, the latter quit. Turner urged Senator Jackson to fire his aide, but Perle was let off with a reprimand. Jackson then added insult to injury by immediately hiring Sullivan to his staff. Sullivan and Perle became close friends and co-conspirators, and together established an informal right-wing network which they called "the Madison Group," after their usual meeting place in - you might have guessed - the Madison Hotel Coffee Shop. . . . In 1981, shortly before being appointed assistant secretary of defense for international security policy—with responsibility, inter alia, for monitoring of U.S. defense technology exports—Richard Perle was paid a substantial consulting fee by Israeli arms manufacturer Tamares, Ltd. Shortly after assuming the ISP post, Perle wrote a letter to the secretary of the army urging evaluation and purchase of 155 mm. shells manufactured by Soltam, Ltd. After leaving DOD in 1987, Perle worked for Soltam. . . . Paul Wolfowitz: A Well-Placed Friend . . . In 1978, he was investigated for providing to an Israeli government official, through an AIPAC intermediary, a classified document on the proposed sale of U.S. weapons to an Arab government. An inquiry was launched and dropped, however, and Wolfowitz continued to work at ACDA until 1980. . . . Of particular concern at the time was the transfer to China by Israel of U.S. Patriot missiles and/or technology. During that investigation, in a situation very reminiscent of the Bryen/Varian Associates/klystrons affair two years earlier, the Pentagon discovered that Wolfowitz’s office was promoting the export to Israel of advanced AIM-9M air-to-air missiles. . . . In this instance, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, aware that Israel already had been caught selling the earlier AIM 9-L version of the missile to China in violation of a written agreement with the U.S. on arms re-sales, intervened to cancel the proposed AIM 9-M deal. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs at the time was Gen. Colin Powell, currently secretary of state. . . . In 1998, Wolfowitz was a co-signer of a public letter to the president organized by the "Project for the New American Century." The letter, citing Saddam Hussain’s continued possession of "weapons of mass destruction," argued for military action to achieve regime change and demilitarization of Iraq. Clinton wasn’t impressed, but a more gullible fellow would soon come along. . . . And indeed, when George W. Bush assumed the presidency in January 2001, Wolfowitz got his opportunity. Picked as Donald Rumsfeld’s deputy secretary at DOD, he prevailed upon his boss to appoint Douglas Feith as undersecretary for policy. On Sept. 12, 2001, the day after the destruction of the World Trade Center, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz raised the possibility of an immediate attack on Iraq during an emergency NSC meeting. The following day, Wolfowitz conducted the Pentagon press briefing, and interpreted the president’s statement on “ending states who sponsor terrorism” as a call for regime change in Iraq. Israel wasn’t mentioned. . . . Douglas Feith: Hardliner Security Risk . . . Feith was certainly the first, and probably the last, high Pentagon official to have publicly opposed the Biological Weapons Convention (in 1986), the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty (in 1988), the Chemical Weapons Convention (in 1997), the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (in 2000), and all of the various Middle East Peace agreements, including Oslo (in 2000). . . . Even more revealing, perhaps—had the transition team known of it—was Feith’s view of "technology cooperation," as expressed in a 1992 Commentary article: "It is in the interest of U.S. and Israel to remove needless impediments to technological cooperation between them." . . . A total of nine NSC staff members were fired, including Feith, who’d only been with the NSC for a year. But Feith was fired because he’d been the object of an inquiry into whether he’d provided classified material to an official of the Israeli Embassy in Washington. The FBI had opened the inquiry. . . . In 2001, Douglas Feith, having returned to DOD as Donald Rumsfeld’s undersecretary for policy, created in his office the "OSP," or Office of Special Plans. It was OSP that originated - some say from whole cloth - much of the intelligence that Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld have used to justify the attack on Iraq, to mis-plan the post-war reconstruction there, and then to point an accusing finger at Iran and Syria... all to the absolute delight of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. . . . Reason for Concern . . . Many individuals with strong attachments to foreign countries have served the U.S. government with honor and distinction, and will certainly do so in the future. The highest officials in our executive and legislative branches should, however, take great care when appointments are made to posts involving sensitive national security matters. Appointees should be rejected who have demonstrated, in their previous government service, a willingness to sacrifice U.S. national security interests for those of another country, or an inability to distinguish one from the other.
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posted by Lorenzo 3:49 PM

The War on Terror is Lost
(William Rivers Pitt, truthout, 10 May 2004)
We have come now to the end of a week so awful, so terrible, so wrenching that the most basic moral fabric of that which we believe is good and great - the basic moral fabric of the United States of America - has been torn bitterly asunder. . . . We are awash in photographs of Iraqi men - not terrorists, just people - lying in heaps on cold floors with leashes around their necks. We are awash in photographs of men chained so remorselessly that their backs are arched in agony, men forced to masturbate for cameras, men forced to pretend to have sex with one another for cameras, men forced to endure attacks from dogs, men with electrodes attached to them as they stand, hooded, in fear of their lives. . . . George W. Bush would have us believe these horrors were restricted to a sadistic few, and would have us believe these horrors happened only in Abu Ghraib. Yet reports are surfacing now of similar treatment at another U.S. detention center in Iraq called Camp Bucca. According to these reports, Iraqi prisoners in Camp Bucca were beaten, humiliated, hogtied, and had scorpions placed on their naked bodies. . . . In the eyes of the world, this is America today. It cannot be dismissed as an anomaly because it went on and on and on in the Abu Ghraib prison, and because now we hear of Camp Bucca. According to the British press, there are some 30 other cases of torture and humiliation under investigation. The Bush administration went out of its way to cover up this disgrace, declaring secret the Army report on these atrocities. That, pointedly, is against the rules and against the law. You can’t call something classified just because it is embarrassing and disgusting. It was secret, but now it is out, and the whole world has been shown the dark, scabrous underbelly of our definition of freedom. . . . Representative John Murtha of Pennsylvania, the House Democrats’ most vocal defense hawk, joined Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to declare that the conflict is "unwinnable." Murtha, a Vietnam veteran, rocked the Democratic caucus when he said at a leader’s luncheon Tuesday that the United States cannot win the war in Iraq. . . . But let us consider the broader picture here in the context of that one huge word: "Unwinnable." Why did we do this in the first place? There have been several reasons offered over the last 16 months for why we needed to do this thing. . . . It started, for real, in January 2003 when George W. Bush said in his State of the Union speech that Iraq was in possession of 26,000 liters of anthrax, 38,000 liters of botulinum toxin, 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX, 30,000 munitions to deliver this stuff, and that Iraq was seeking uranium from Niger to build nuclear bombs. . . . That reason has been scratched off the list because, as has been made painfully clear now, there are no such weapons in Iraq . . . Next on the list was September 11, and the oft-repeated accusation that Saddam Hussein must have been at least partially responsible. That one collapsed as well - Bush himself had to come out and say Saddam had nothing to do with it. . . . Two reasons down, so the third must be freedom and liberty for the Iraqi people. Once again, however, facts interfere. America does not want a democratic Iraq, because a democratic Iraq would quickly become a Shi’ite fundamentalist Iraq allied with the Shi’ite fundamentalist nation of Iran, a strategic situation nobody with a brain wants to see come to pass. . . . So...the reason to go to war because of weapons of mass destruction is destroyed. The reason to go to war because of connections to September 11 is destroyed. The reason to go to war in order to bring freedom and democracy to Iraq is destroyed. . . . What is left? The one reason left has been unfailingly flapped around by defenders of this administration and supporters of this war: Saddam Hussein was a terrible, terrible man. . . . And here, now, is the final excuse destroyed. We have killed more than 10,000 innocent Iraqi civilians in this invasion, and maimed countless others. The photos from Abu Ghraib prison show that we, like Saddam Hussein, torture and humiliate the Iraqi people. Worst of all, we do this in the same prison Hussein used to do his torturing. The "rape rooms," often touted by Bush as justification for the invasion, are back. We are the killers now. We are the torturers now. We have achieved a moral equivalence with the Butcher of Baghdad. . . . This war is lost. I mean not just the Iraq war, but George W. Bush's ridiculous "War on Terror" as a whole. . . . I say ridiculous because this "War on Terror" was never, ever something we were going to win. What began on September 11 with the world wrapping us in its loving embrace has collapsed today in a literal orgy of shame and disgrace. This happened, simply, because of the complete failure of moral leadership at the highest levels. . . . Thus fails the "War on Terror." September 11 did not demand of us the lowest common denominator, did not demand of us that we become that which we despise and denounce. September 11 demanded that we be better, greater, more righteous than those who brought death to us. September 11 demanded that we be better, and in doing so, we would show the world that those who attacked us are far, far less than us. That would have been victory, with nary a shot being fired. . . . Our leaders, however, took us in exactly the opposite direction. . . . Every reason to go to Iraq has failed to retain even a semblance of credibility. Every bit of propaganda Osama bin Laden served up to the Muslim world for why America should be attacked and destroyed has been given credibility by what has taken place in Iraq. Victory in this "War on Terror," a propaganda war from the beginning, has been given to the September 11 attackers by the hand of George W. Bush, and by the hand of those who enabled his incomprehensible blundering. . . . The war is lost.
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posted by Lorenzo 5:21 PM

The secret American gulag
(Sidney Blumenthal, The Guardian, May 6, 2004)
Bush has created a global network of extra-legal and secret US prisons with thousands of inmates
The same day that Rumsfeld added his contribution to the history of Orwellian statements by high officials, the Senate armed services committee was briefed behind closed doors for the first time not only about Abu Ghraib, but about military and CIA prisons in Afghanistan. It learned of the deaths of 25 prisoners and two murders in Iraq; that mercenaries were at the centre of these lethal incidents; and that no one had been charged. The senators were given no details about the private contractors. They might as well have been fitted with hoods. . . . The Bush administration was well aware of the Taguba report, but more concerned about its exposure than its contents. . . . But Abu Ghraib was a predictable consequence of the Bush administration imperatives and policies. . . . Bush has created what is in effect a gulag. It stretches from prisons in Afghanistan to Iraq, from Guantánamo to secret CIA prisons around the world. There are perhaps 10,000 people being held in Iraq, 1,000 in Afghanistan and almost 700 in Guantánamo, but no one knows the exact numbers. The law as it applies to them is whatever the executive deems necessary. There has been nothing like this system since the fall of the Soviet Union. . . . Private contractors, according to the Toguba report, gave orders to US soldiers to torture prisoners. Their presence in Iraq is a result of the Bush military strategy of invading with a relatively light force. The gap has been filled by private contractors, who are not subject to Iraqi law or the US military code of justice. Now, there are an estimated 20,000 of them on the ground in Iraq, a larger force than the British army. . . . It is not surprising that recent events in Iraq centre on these contractors: the four killed in Falluja, and Abu Ghraib's interrogators. Under the Bush legal doctrine, we create a system beyond law to defend the rule of law against terrorism; we defend democracy by inhibiting democracy. Law is there to constrain "evildoers". Who doubts our love of freedom?

[COMMENT: George Orwell must be spinning in his grave.]
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posted by Lorenzo 11:30 AM

A Wretched New Picture Of America
(Philip Kennicott, Washington Post, May 5, 2004)
Among the corrosive lies a nation at war tells itself is that the glory -- the lofty goals announced beforehand, the victories, the liberation of the oppressed -- belongs to the country as a whole; but the failure -- the accidents, the uncounted civilian dead, the crimes and atrocities -- is always exceptional. . . . This belief, that the photographs are distortions, despite their authenticity, is indistinguishable from propaganda. Tyrants censor; democracies self-censor. Tyrants concoct propaganda in ministries of information; democracies produce it through habits of thought so ingrained that a basic lie of war -- only the good is our doing -- becomes self-propagating. . . . But now we have photos that have gone to the ends of the Earth, and painted brilliantly and indelibly, an image of America that could remain with us for years, perhaps decades. . . . There are now images of men in the Muslim world looking at these images. On the streets of Cairo, men pore over a newspaper. An icon appears on the front page: a hooded man, in a rug-like poncho, standing with his arms out like Christ, wires attached to the hands. He is faceless. This is now the image of the war. . . . The American leaders' response is a mixture of public disgust, and a good deal of resentment that they have, through these images, lost control of the ultimate image of the war. All the right people have pronounced themselves, sickened, outraged, speechless. But listen more closely. "And it's really a shame that just a handful can besmirch maybe the reputations of hundreds of thousands of our soldiers and sailors, airmen and Marines. . . . " said Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on Sunday. . . . Reputation, image, perception. The problem, it seems, isn't so much the abuse of the prisoners, because we will get to the bottom of that and, of course, we're not really like that. The problem is our reputation. Our soldiers' reputations. Our national self-image. These photos, we insist, are not us. . . . But these photos are us. . . . But armies are made of individuals. Nations are made up of individuals. Great national crimes begin with the acts of misguided individuals; and no matter how many people are held directly accountable for these crimes, we are, collectively, responsible for what these individuals have done. We live in a democracy. Every errant smart bomb, every dead civilian, every sodomized prisoner, is ours. . . . These photos show us what we may become, as occupation continues, anger and resentment grows and costs spiral. There's nothing surprising in this. These pictures are pictures of colonial behavior, the demeaning of occupied people, the insult to local tradition, the humiliation of the vanquished. They are unexceptional. In different forms, they could be pictures of the Dutch brutalizing the Indonesians; the French brutalizing the Algerians; the Belgians brutalizing the people of the Congo. . . . Look at these images closely and you realize that they can't just be the random accidents of war, or the strange, inexplicable perversity of a few bad seeds. First of all, they exist. Soldiers who allow themselves to be photographed humiliating prisoners clearly don't believe this behavior is unpalatable. Second, the soldiers didn't just reach into a grab bag of things they thought would humiliate young Iraqi men. They chose sexual humiliation, which may recall to outsiders the rape scandal at the Air Force Academy, Tailhook and past killings of gay sailors and soldiers. . . . Is it an accident that the man in the hood, arms held out as if on a cross, looks so uncannily like something out of the Spanish Inquisition? That they have the feel of history in them, a long, buried, ugly history of religious aggression and discrimination? . . . US military power will be seen for what it is, a behemoth with the response speed of a muscle-bound ox and the limited understanding of a mouse," said Saudi Arabia's English language Arab News. . . . We reduce Iraqis to hapless victims of a cheap porn flick; they reduce our cherished, respected military to a hybrid beast, big, stupid, senseless. . . . Not quite 50 years ago, Aime Cesaire, a poet and writer from Martinique, wrote in his "Discourse on Colonialism": "First we must study how colonization works to decivilize the colonizer, to brutalize him in the true sense of the word, to degrade him, to awaken him to buried instincts, to covetousness, violence, race hatred, and moral relativism." . . . Are we decivilized yet? Are we brutes yet?
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posted by Lorenzo 11:13 AM

Europe Leaves the U.S. Behind
by Steven Hill
Spain's new left-leaning government attracted the ire of the Bush administration recently when it withdrew its troops from Iraq. Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero fulfilled a campaign pledge when he announced the withdrawal, aligning the Spanish government with the overwhelming sentiment of the Spanish people, as well as with most governments and peoples of Europe. . . . Receiving less attention than the troop withdrawal, in his speech Zapatero announced other priorities that further separated his government from the White House. Zapatero pledged greater spending on education and affordable housing for low- and middle-income families. He also pledged a crackdown on violence against women -- a scourge he called Spain's "greatest national disgrace" -- and recognition of gay marriage. The last one no doubt will be dismaying to religious fundamentalists in both the Bush administration and the Taliban. . . . From inside the White House, Zapatero must look like a flaming leftie and certainly no ally. But actually he is quite within the mainstream of European politics, both on foreign policy and domestic matters. The fact is, even the conservative parties of Europe are to the left of the Democratic Party in the U.S. The European political center is where the American left would love to be. . . . But the differences between Europe and the U.S. are growing, registering like a series of small quakes on the Richter scale. . . . Moreover, in numerous ways average Americans are falling behind our European counterparts in this age of globalization. . . . And yet the American media is not reporting much of this. The typical American depiction of “old Europe” usually is fraught with stereotypical extremes, either colorful vacation adverts about castles on the Rhine or goose-stepping neo-Nazi parties. . . . Why are Europeans outpacing Americans on so many social, political and economic fronts? The answers are complex but basically they boil down to the fact that, for the last 60 years in the post-WWII period, Europeans have been incubating markedly different "fulcrum institutions" -- the key institutions and practices on which everything else pivots. . . . In the political realm, Europe utilizes full representation electoral systems that gives representation to voters across the political spectrum, public financing of elections that fosters debate, universal voter registration, voting on a weekend or on a holiday, and national electoral commissions that establish nationwide standards and practices. . . . In the media realm, Europe boasts a robust public broadcasting sector (radio and TV) and subsidized daily newspapers, leading to more media pluralism, a better-informed citizenry, more people reading newspapers, and a higher level of what political scientist Henry Milner calls "civic literacy." . . . In the economic realm, Europeans have developed practices such as "codetermination," which provides meaningful worker representation on corporate boards of directors, and powerful works councils in the workplaces. . . . Taken together, these fulcrum institutions work coherently to form the basis of a “European Way” that is distinctly different from the “American Way.” This provides a rough blueprint of where institutional development in the United States needs to go in the 21st century. Those who care about the future of our country should take their cues from Europe.

[COMMENT: We highly recommend you click the link above and read the full text of this well-reasoned essay.]
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posted by Lorenzo 10:54 AM

Bombs Rock Central Athens Police Station
(Bombs Rock Central Athens Police Station, May 4, 2004)
Three timebombs exploded outside a central Athens police station early on Wednesday but caused no serious casualties, a police official said.
Authorities had cordoned off the area around the station in Kalithea after an anonymous caller warned a newspaper about them, the official said. . . . "The first two explosions went off in a span of five minutes. The third exploded half an hour later as bomb experts were still looking for it," the police official told Reuters. . . . An ambulance was called for one policeman slightly hurt by the third blast, he said. . . . Kalithea is near several hotels to be used by Olympic officials during the games in August. Fears have been running high that the games could be a target of political violence. . . . "The police are treating this matter very seriously with only three months to go until the games," the official said. "You have three sophisticated time bombs going off outside a police station, that's serious enough for police." . . . The number of bomb attacks in Greece had decreased after the dismantling of the guerrilla group November 17 in 2002.
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posted by Lorenzo 8:06 PM

Letter from diplomats tells Bush: Middle East policy is 'dangerous'
(Rupert Cornwell, The Independent, 05 May 2004)
More than 60 former US diplomats yesterday lambasted George Bush for running a one-sided Middle East policy, claiming that the President's open-ended support for Israel was costing the US "credibility, prestige and friends". . . . "Your unqualified support for Israel's extra-judicial assassinations, its Berlin Wall-like barrier, and its harsh military measures in occupied territories" was costing the country its credibility, the letter said. It warned that current US policies were placing US diplomats, civilians and military overseas "in an untenable, even dangerous position." . . . As with their British counterparts, the last straw for the letter's signatories - many of them veterans of Middle East postings - was the 14 April meeting in Washington when Mr Bush endorsed the plan of Ariel Sharon, Israel's Prime Minister, to hang on to five substantial settlement areas in the West Bank, and flatly rejected the right of return for Palestinian refugees. . . . Describing what he called "an almost hopeless situation", Andrew Killgore, a former US envoy to Qatar, complained that Mr Bush had given his public support to Mr Sharon without talking to the "quartet" of the US, the United Nations, the European Union and Russia, which devised the so-called "road-map" plan for a settlement. . . . "There was no need to go that far," Mr Killgore, the prime organiser of the letter, told a press conference yesterday. And there was "no competition" between the President and Senator John Kerry, his probable White House challenger in November, he said. "They're both very dedicated Zionists, it seems to me." . . . Edward Peck, a former senior US diplomat in Baghdad, said Mr Bush had been "misled" by his closest advisers. By endorsing Mr Sharon's proposals, he said, the President had effectively "ended the tripartite arrangement" of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, brokered by the US. . . . Mr Bush is probably the most pro-Israeli president in recent times (certainly more so than his father). But John Kerry, his Democratic challenger-designate this autumn, is a scarcely less ardent supporter of the Jewish state, promising that if elected president, he would never push Israel into peace agreements that were against its interest.
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posted by Lorenzo 7:46 PM

American War Crimes Exposed
(Seymour M. Hersh, The New Yorker, 2004-05-10)
A fifty-three-page report, obtained by The New Yorker, written by Major General Antonio M. Taguba and not meant for public release, was completed in late February. Its conclusions about the institutional failures of the Army prison system were devastating. Specifically, Taguba found that between October and December of 2003 there were numerous instances of “sadistic, blatant, and wanton criminal abuses” at Abu Ghraib. This systematic and illegal abuse of detainees, Taguba reported, was perpetrated by soldiers of the 372nd Military Police Company, and also by members of the American intelligence community. . . . Taguba’s report listed some of the wrongdoing: Breaking chemical lights and pouring the phosphoric liquid on detainees; pouring cold water on naked detainees; beating detainees with a broom handle and a chair; threatening male detainees with rape; allowing a military police guard to stitch the wound of a detainee who was injured after being slammed against the wall in his cell; sodomizing a detainee with a chemical light and perhaps a broom stick, and using military working dogs to frighten and intimidate detainees with threats of attack, and in one instance actually biting a detainee. . . . There was stunning evidence to support the allegations, Taguba added—“detailed witness statements and the discovery of extremely graphic photographic evidence.” . . . The photographs—several of which were broadcast on CBS’s “60 Minutes 2” last week—show leering G.I.s taunting naked Iraqi prisoners who are forced to assume humiliating poses. . . . Such dehumanization is unacceptable in any culture, but it is especially so in the Arab world. Homosexual acts are against Islamic law and it is humiliating for men to be naked in front of other men, Bernard Haykel, a professor of Middle Eastern studies at New York University, explained. “Being put on top of each other and forced to masturbate, being naked in front of each other—it’s all a form of torture,” Haykel said. . . . Two Iraqi faces that do appear in the photographs are those of dead men. There is the battered face of prisoner No. 153399, and the bloodied body of another prisoner, wrapped in cellophane and packed in ice. There is a photograph of an empty room, splattered with blood. . . . The 372nd’s abuse of prisoners seemed almost routine—a fact of Army life that the soldiers felt no need to hide. . . . General Taguba saved his harshest words for the military-intelligence officers and private contractors. He recommended that Colonel Thomas Pappas, the commander of one of the M.I. brigades, be reprimanded and receive non-judicial punishment, and that Lieutenant Colonel Steven Jordan, the former director of the Joint Interrogation and Debriefing Center, be relieved of duty and reprimanded. . . . There were gross differences, Taguba said, between the actual number of prisoners on hand and the number officially recorded. A lack of proper screening also meant that many innocent Iraqis were wrongly being detained—indefinitely, it seemed, in some cases. The Taguba study noted that more than sixty per cent of the civilian inmates at Abu Ghraib were deemed not to be a threat to society, which should have enabled them to be released. . . . As the international furor grew, senior military officers, and President Bush, insisted that the actions of a few did not reflect the conduct of the military as a whole. Taguba’s report, however, amounts to an unsparing study of collective wrongdoing and the failure of Army leadership at the highest levels. The picture he draws of Abu Ghraib is one in which Army regulations and the Geneva conventions were routinely violated, and in which much of the day-to-day management of the prisoners was abdicated to Army military-intelligence units and civilian contract employees. Interrogating prisoners and getting intelligence, including by intimidation and torture, was the priority. . . . Human Rights Watch complained to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld that civilians in Iraq remained in custody month after month with no charges brought against them. Abu Ghraib had become, in effect, another Guantánamo. . . . As the photographs from Abu Ghraib make clear, these detentions have had enormous consequences: for the imprisoned civilian Iraqis, many of whom had nothing to do with the growing insurgency; for the integrity of the Army; and for the United States’ reputation in the world.
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posted by Lorenzo 9:56 AM

Five Westerners killed in Saudi attack
(China View, May 1, 2004)
Two Americans, two Britons and an Australian were killed in an attack on an engineering firm in the Saudi Red Sea port of Yanbu on Saturday, security sources said. . . . According to the sources, all the five Western engineers worked for ABB Lummus, a subsidiary of Swiss-Swedish engineering and oil services giant ABB. . . . The Saudi Interior Ministry earlier said in a statement that four men entered the headquarters of a Saudi contractor in Yanbu Saturday morning and fired at random at Saudis and foreigners. . . . Saudi security forces chased the gunmen who took refuge in residential areas and hijacked some cars. Three of them were killed and a fourth was wounded, the statement said. . . . It was the first such attack on a Western oil facility in Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil exporter.. . . Yanbu, about 250 km north of Jeddah, is home to much of the kingdom's oil refining and petrochemicals industries together with nearby Jubail.
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posted by Lorenzo 12:39 PM

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