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[Note: The following news and opinions primarily came from email sent by our friends. Thank you Sirius and all the others who have forwarded these messages to us. Due to the large volume of email we are receiving, we can only post a sampling here, but we thank everyone for sending stories like this. We read them all and post what we can as time permits.]

Watergate On Acid !? (UPGRADEmag, January 18, 2002)
“On November 7th, 2000, a clear majority of Americans came to the conclusion that George W. Bush was unfit to govern this nation. For a variety of dark and controversial reasons, that conclusion was thrown over. Sometime soon, if the media’s electronic web continues to carry these sordid stories of corruption, greed and death, the American people will come to fully understand the consequences of that failed election. . . . It is one thing to coddle and court a corrupt energy company for political and financial gain. But it’s quite another to coddle and court a murderous terrorist-supporting regime, hindering anti-terrorism investigations in the process, for the purpose of exploiting valuable natural resources. The former cost a number of people their retirement funds. The latter has cost thousands of people their lives. One is criminal. The other is abominable. George W. Bush is deeply implicated in both.”

Black Hawk Down: Shoot first, don't ask questions afterwards (The Independent, 12 January 2002)
“In the 1970s and 1980s, Somalia was ruled by a corrupt president, Mohamed Siad Barre. . . . By his last days in power, Siad Barre had leased nearly two-thirds of Somalia to four huge American oil companies: Conoco, Chevron, Phillips, and Amoco . . . In 1991, unfortunately for the oil giants, Siad Barre was overthrown, and he fled the country. Somalia – as a functioning nation state with which they could do business – fell apart. . . . The United States meant business in Somalia: this was obvious from the location of the American embassy, established a few days before the US marines arrived in Mogadishu, in the Conoco corporate compound. The Los Angeles Times reported that Bush's special envoy to Somalia had used the Conoco compound as his temporary headquarters. . . . Of course, it is the American deaths, and the TV image of a couple of American bodies being dragged by enraged Somalis, rather than guilt over the massacre of hundreds of Africans, that haunts the popular-American-media mind. . . . US troops killed unarmed men, women and children from the outset of their mission: ‘In one incident, Rangers took a family hostage. When one of the women started screaming at the Americans, she was shot dead. In another incident, a Somali prisoner was allegedly shot dead when he refused to stop praying outside. Another was clubbed into silence.” . . . The author of Black Hawk Down is aware of the problem with these ‘elite, superior, special forces’: they are all white. But he doesn't deal with what that elite whiteness means, or where it leads. The American elite forces couldn't perform their central role in Somalia – to protect the oil business – because they were white racists, untrained and unable to relate to a humanitarian mission in Africa, even when corporate money was involved.”

Even suspected terrorists are entitled to humane treatment and a fair trial (The Independent, 18 January 2002)
“This is not the ‘patient justice’ of which President George Bush spoke in his measured address to the joint houses of Congress nine days after 11 September. The United States government is engaged in the extra-judicial humiliation of alleged terrorists in order to satisfy the understandable but misguided desire of many Americans for vengeance. . . . The al-Qa'ida terrorists have committed terrible crimes – which is why it is so important to show the value of universal human rights. That means they must be treated not just better than they have treated others, but in accordance with the principles of law, which include the rights to a fair trial and to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. . . . It is this intention to degrade that will prove most counter-productive. There seems little hope that the US President intends to live up to the high moral principles – the founding principles of the American nation – that he enumerated in his address to the joint houses of Congress. He should at least, however, be swayed by arguments of practical national interest. There can be no worse context for the diplomatic efforts of his Secretary of State, Colin Powell, now in Afghanistan and shortly to visit Pakistan and India, than headlines around the world about the apparent determination of the US to humiliate its enemies.”

Reaching the parts other empires could not reach (Simon Tisdall, The Guardian, January 16, 2002)
“The United States is engaged in a strategic power grab in central Asia of epic proportions. In previous eras, this sort of expansionism would have been called colonialism or imperialism. . . . Having pushed, cajoled and bribed its way into their central Asian backyard, the US clearly has no intention of leaving any time soon. Romantics who believe this demonstrates a commitment to rebuilding shattered Afghanistan can dream on. . . . The task of the encircling US bases now shooting up on Afghanistan's periphery is only partly to contain the threat of political regression or Taliban resurgence in Kabul. Their bigger, longer-term role is to project US power and US interests into countries previously beyond its reach. . . . Thus Uzbekistan now finds itself home to a permanent American base at Khanabad, housing 1,500 personnel; Manas, near Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan, is described as a future ‘transportation hub’ housing 3,000 soldiers, warplanes and surveillance aircraft; more airfields are under US control in Tajikistan and Pakistan; and the Pentagon has begun regular replacement and rotation of troops, thereby instit-utionalising what were at the outset temporary, emergency deployments. . . . Meanwhile, the potential benefits for the US are enormous: growing military hegemony in one of the few parts of the world not already under Washington's sway, expanded strategic influence at Russia and China's expense, pivotal political clout and - grail of holy grails - access to the fabulous, non-Opec oil and gas wealth of central Asia. If the Afghans behave themselves, they even may get to run the pipeline.”

Oil company adviser named US representative to Afghanistan (Patrick Martin, World Socialist Web Site, 3 January 2002)
“President Bush has appointed a former aide to the American oil company Unocal, Afghan-born Zalmay Khalilzad, as special envoy to Afghanistan. . . . The nomination underscores the real economic and financial interests at stake in the US military intervention in Central Asia. . . . As an adviser for Unocal, Khalilzad drew up a risk analysis of a proposed gas pipeline from the former Soviet republic of Turkmenistan across Afghanistan and Pakistan to the Indian Ocean. He participated in talks between the oil company and Taliban officials in 1997, which were aimed at implementing a 1995 agreement to build the pipeline across western Afghanistan. . . . Khalilzad also lobbied publicly for a more sympathetic US government policy towards the Taliban. Four years ago, in an op-ed article in the Washington Post, he defended the Taliban regime against accusations that it was a sponsor of terrorism, writing, ‘The Taliban does not practice the anti-U.S. style of fundamentalism practiced by Iran.’ . . . He was a special adviser to the State Department during the Reagan administration, lobbying successfully for accelerated US military aid to the mujahedin, including hand-held Stinger anti-aircraft missiles which played a key role in the war. He later became undersecretary of defense in the administration of Bush’s father, during the US war against Iraq, then went to the Rand Corporation, a top US military think tank. . . . After Bush was installed as president by a 5-4 vote of the US Supreme Court, Khalilzad headed the Bush-Cheney transition team for the Defense Department and advised incoming Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Significantly, however, he was not named to a subcabinet position, which would have required Senate confirmation and might have provoked uncomfortable questions about his role as an oil company adviser in Central Asia and intermediary with the Taliban. Instead, he was named to the National Security Council, where no confirmation vote was needed. . . . At the NSC Khalilzad reports to Condoleeza Rice, the national security adviser, who also served as an oil company consultant on Central Asia. After serving in the first Bush administration from 1989 to 1992, Rice was placed on the board of directors of Chevron Corporation and served as its principal expert on Kazakhstan, where Chevron holds the largest concession of any of the international oil companies. . . . the pipeline consortium involved in the Baku-Ceyhan plan, led by the British oil company BP, is represented by the law firm of Baker & Botts. The principal attorney at this firm is James Baker III, secretary of state under Bush’s father and chief spokesman for the 2000 Bush campaign during its successful effort to shut down the Florida vote recount.”

Bloody evidence of US blunder (Rory Carroll, The Guardian, January 7, 2002)
“A spokesman at the US central command in Tampa, Florida, had reassuring news: ‘Follow-on reporting indicates that there was no collateral damage.’ . . . Some of the things his follow-on reporters missed: bloodied children's shoes and skirts, bloodied school books, the scalp of a woman with braided grey hair, butter toffees in red wrappers, wedding decorations. . . . The charred meat sticking to rubble in black lumps could have been Osama bin Laden's henchmen but survivors said it was the remains of farmers, their wives and children, and wedding guests. They said more than 100 civilians died at this village in eastern Afghanistan. . . . About two dozen guests had crammed into the three occupied houses for a wedding, raising the number of occupants to more than 100, said the elder. The bombers came early in the morning. . . . Precision-guided bombs vapourised all five buildings and a second wave an hour later hit people digging in the rubble and, judging from hair and flesh on the edge of three 40ft holes some distance from the complex, those trying to flee. . . . Two days later villagers with shovels and tractors extracted the remains. A hand, an ankle, a bit of skull, sometimes an entire torso, and buried some in 11 graves, each said to contain several people, and relatives from Khost took some for burial in the mountains. . . . Haji Saifullah, head of Paktia's shura, or tribal council, said: ‘Our local enemies are delivering this information to the Americans that Taliban or al-Qaida people are here.”

The US has suppressed its own freedom of speech (Fergal Keane, The Independent, 19 January 2002)
“As it happens, I received a letter this morning from an old friend of his living in Queens. After filling me in about his own life, he referred briefly to the war and said he'd stopped watching international television reporting because it was anti-American. He preferred, he said, the ‘Mutt and Jeff reporting of the local TV channels’. By ‘anti-American’ I am assuming he is referring to journalism that concentrates on civilian casualties, and the treatment of captured Taliban and al-Qa'ida fighters. . . . Having visited the US recently I am not surprised by his letter. There is not so much an absence of dissent as an almost total prohibition on questioning of the war. The few who do stick their heads above the parapet invariably belong to the radical left and are shouted down with unprecedented ferocity. . . . It says something about the current state of affairs when a columnist on the conservative Washington Times worries about the absence of serious debate on the war and suggests that the American media may be giving George Bush a blank cheque for the creation of powerful central government. . . . The First Amendment may guarantee freedom of speech, but it is no protection against an atmosphere that makes traitors of the independent-minded. As Thomas Jefferson was only too aware when the Bill of Rights was drafted, the will of the majority must be subjected to checks and balances if an elective dictatorship is to be avoided. . . . As Mr Bush has said, unlike in previous American emergencies, there may never be a point at which victory can be declared, and thus no point at which normal civil liberties can be resumed.”

Saudis tell US forces to get out (Ewen MacAskill, The Guardian, January 19, 2002)
“Senior Saudi officials have privately complained that the US has ‘outstayed its welcome’ and that the kingdom may soon request that the American presence - a product of the Gulf war - is brought to an end. . . . The US is reluctant to withdraw its 4,500 troops from the Prince Sultan air base, south of Saudi's capital Riyadh, because it could be perceived as a propaganda victory for Osama bin Laden, who frequently protested at the presence of non-believers so close to the main Muslim holy sites. . . . But the US ambassador to Saudi, Robert Jordan, was quoted as saying when Mr Bloomfield arrived in the kingdom: ‘He is here for consultations with the Saudi government to review our presence here and to discuss what we need and what we don't need.’ . . . The kingdom is volatile, with a stagnant economy, high unemployment, no democratic outlets and King Fahd unable to crack down on militant clerics. . . . Hostility to the US is widespread but that is mirrored in the US where there is a huge well of resentment that, having fought to push back Iraq in 1991 and having protected Saudi since, Riyadh refused to provide military help during the Afghan campaign.”

OIL! This war is about oil
This is a picture of the oil tanker “Condoleezza Rice” [larger image] before Chevron quietly renamedit the “Altair Voyager” and before President George Bush appointed Ms. Rice as National Security Advisor. [Full Story]




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