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Saturday, August 20, 2005

You Mowed Down His Cross

By Perry Jefferies, First Sergeant, USA (retired) t r u t h o u t Letter
Thursday 18 August 2005

Mr. Northern:

I am a Veteran of the Iraq war, having served with the 4th Infantry Division on the initial invasion with Force Package One.

While I was in Iraq, a very good friend of mine, Christopher Cutchall, was killed in an un-armored HMMWV outside of Baghdad. He was a cavalry scout serving with the 3d ID. Once he had declined the award of a medal because Soldiers assigned to him did not receive similar awards that he had recommended. He left two sons and a wonderful wife. On Monday night, August 16, you ran down the memorial cross erected for him by Arlington West.

One of my Soldiers in Iraq was Roger Turner. We gave him a hard time because he always wore all of his protective equipment, including three pairs of glasses or goggles. He did this because he wanted to make sure that he returned home to his family. He rode a bicycle to work every day to make sure that he was able to save enough money on his Army salary to send his son to college. At Camp Anaconda, where the squadron briefly stayed, a rocket landed inside a tent, sending a piece of debris or fragment into him and killed him. On Monday night, August 16, you ran down the memorial cross erected for him by Arlington West.

One of my Soldiers was Henry Bacon. He was one of the finest men I ever met. He was in perfect shape for a man over forty, working hard at night. He told me that he did that because he didn't have much money to buy nice things for his wife, who he loved so much, so he had to be in good shape for her. He was like a father to many young men in his section of maintenance mechanics. They fixed our vehicles with almost no support and fabricated parts and made repairs that kept our squadron rolling on the longest, fastest armor advance ever made under fire. He was so very proud of his son-in-law that married the beautiful daughter so well raised by Henry. His son-in-law was a helicopter pilot with the 1st Cavalry Division, who died last year.

Henry stopped to rescue a vehicle belonging to another unit on what was to be his last day in Iraq. He could have kept rolling - he was headed to Kuwait after a year's tour. But he stopped. He could have sent others to do the work, but he was on the ground, leading by example, when he was killed. On Monday night, August 16, you took it upon yourself to go out in the country, where a peaceful group was exercising their constitutional rights, and harming no one, and you ran down the memorial cross erected for Henry and for his son-in-law by Arlington West.

Mr. Northern - I know little about Cindy Sheehan except that she is a grieving mother, a gentle soul, and wants to bring harm to no one. I know little about you except that you found your way to Crawford on Monday night in August with chains and a pipe attached to your truck for the sole purpose of dishonoring a memorial erected for my friends and lost Soldiers and hundreds of others that served this nation when they were called. I find it disheartening that good men like these have died so that people like you can threaten a mother who lost a child with your actions. I hope that you are ashamed of yourself.

Perry Jefferies, First Sergeant, USA (retired)

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Hypocrites and Liars


By Cindy Sheehan t r u t h o u t Letter
Saturday 20 August 2005

The media are wrong. The people who have come out to Camp Casey to help coordinate the press and events with me are not putting words in my mouth, they are taking words out of my mouth. I have been known for sometime as a person who speaks the truth and speaks it strongly. I have always called a liar a liar and a hypocrite a hypocrite. Now I am urged to use softer language to appeal to a wider audience. Why do my friends at Camp Casey think they are there? Why did such a big movement occur from such a small action on August 6, 2005?

I haven't had much time to analyze the Camp Casey phenomena. I just read that I gave 250 interviews in less than a week's time. I believe it. I would go to bed with a raw throat every night. I got pretty tired of answering some questions, like: "What do you want to say to the President?" and "Do you really think he will meet with you?" However, since my mom has been sick I have had a chance to step back and ponder the flood gates that I opened in Crawford, Tx.

I just read an article posted today on LewRockwell.com by artist Robert Shetterly who painted my portrait. The article reminded me of something I said at the Veteran's for Peace Convention the night before I set out to Bush's ranch in my probable futile quest for the truth. This is what I said:

I got an email the other day and it said, "Cindy if you didn't use so much profanity ... there's people on the fence that get offended.

And you know what I said? "You know what? You know what, god damn it? How in the world is anybody still sitting on that fence?

If you fall on the side that is pro-George and pro-war, you get your ass over to Iraq, and take the place of somebody who wants to come home. And if you fall on the side that is against this war and against George Bush, stand up and speak out.

This is what the Camp Casey miracle is all about. American citizens who oppose the war but never had a conduit for their disgust and dismay are dropping everything and traveling to Crawford to stand in solidarity with us who have made a commitment to sit outside of George's ranch for the duration of the miserable Texan August. If they can't come to Texas, they are attending vigils, writing letters to their elected officials and to their local newspapers; they are setting up Camp Casey branches in their hometowns; they are sending flowers, cards, letters, gifts, and donations here to us at Camp Casey. We are so grateful for all of the support, but I think pro-peace Americans are grateful for something to do, finally.

One thing I haven't noticed or become aware of though is an increased number of pro-war, pro-Bush people on the other side of the fence enlisting to go and fight George Bush's war for imperialism and insatiable greed. The pro-peace side has gotten off their apathetic butts to be warriors for peace and justice. Where are the pro-war people? Everyday at Camp Casey we have a couple of anti-peace people on the other side of the road holding up signs that remind me that "Freedom isn't Free" but I don't see them putting their money where their mouths are. I don't think they are willing to pay even a small down payment for freedom by sacrificing their own blood or the flesh of their children. I still challenge them to go to Iraq and let another soldier come home. Perhaps a soldier that is on his/her third tour of duty, or one that has been stop-lossed after serving his/her country nobly and selflessly, only to be held hostage in Iraq by power mad hypocrites who have a long history of avoiding putting their own skin in the game.

Contrary to what the main stream media thinks, I did not just fall off a pumpkin truck in Crawford, Tx. on that scorchingly hot day two weeks ago. I have been writing, speaking, testifying in front of Congressional committees, lobbying Congress, and doing interviews for over a year now. I have been pretty well known in the progressive, peace community and I had many, many supporters before I even left California. The people who supported me did so because they know that I uncompromisingly tell the truth about this war. I have stood up and said: "My son died for NOTHING, and George Bush and his evil cabal and their reckless policies killed him. My son was sent to fight in a war that had no basis in reality and was killed for it." I have never said "pretty please" or "thank you." I have never said anything wishy-washy like he uses "Patriotic Rhetoric." I say my son died for LIES. George Bush LIED to us and he knew he was LYING. The Downing Street Memos dated 23 July, 2002 prove that he knew that Saddam didn't have WMD's or any ties to Al Qaeda. I believe that George lied and he knew he was lying. He didn't use patriotic rhetoric. He lied and made us afraid of ghosts that weren't there. Now he is using patriotic rhetoric to keep the US military presence in Iraq: Patriotic rhetoric that is based on greed and nothing else.

Now I am being vilified and dragged through the mud by the righties and so-called "fair and balanced" main stream media who are afraid of the truth and can't face someone who tells it by telling any truth of their own. Now they have to twist, distort, lie, and scrutinize anything I have ever said when they never scrutinize anything that George Bush said or is saying. Instead of asking George or Scotty McClellan if he will meet with me, why aren't they asking the questions they should have been asking all along: "Why are our young people fighting, dying, and killing in Iraq? What is this noble cause you are sending our young people to Iraq for? What do you hope to accomplish there? Why did you tell us there were WMD's and ties to Al Qaeda when you knew there weren't? Why did you lie to us? Why did you lie to the American people? Why did you lie to the world? Why are our nation's children still in harm's way and dying everyday when we all know you lied? Why do you continually say we have to "complete the mission" when you know damn well you have no idea what that mission is and you can change it at will like you change your cowboy shirts?"

Camp Casey has grown and prospered and survived all attacks and challenges because America is sick and tired of liars and hypocrites and we want the answers to the tough questions that I was the first to dare ask. THIS is George Bush's accountability moment and he is failing ... miserably. George Bush and his advisers seriously "misunderestimated" me when they thought they could intimidate me into leaving before I had the answers, or before the end of August. I can take anything they throw at me, or Camp Casey. If it shortens the war by a minute or saves one life, it is worth it. I think they seriously "misunderestimated" all mothers. I wonder if any of them had authentic mother-child relationships and if they are surprised that there are so many mothers in this country who are bear-like when it comes to wanting the truth and who want to make meaning of their child's needless and seemingly meaningless deaths?

The Camp Casey movement will not die until we have a genuine accounting of the truth and until our troops are brought home. Get used to it George, we are not going away.

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Art for Everyone


Iraq weapons fear letter was 'buried'

A letter written by a former senior Foreign Affairs officer setting out grave concerns over the hunt for Iraq's weapons of mass destruction after the war was withheld from a Senate inquiry, blocking efforts to investigate US pressures on Australian personnel in Iraq, according to a new report.

The five-page letter, written by a senior Australian weapons analyst, Dr John Gee, explained his resignation from the US-led Iraq Survey Group, the body charged with finding Iraq's WMD.

The letter was given to the offices of the Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer, and the Prime Minister, John Howard, in early 2004, just as the Australian and US governments were dealing with reports that no WMDs had been found in Iraq.

According to a Senate report released yesterday, no official in the Federal Government would provide information on Dr Gee's resignation or on the high-level meetings Dr Gee held with Mr Downer, the Defence Department or the Prime Minister's office at the time.

Dr Gee, who still works as a consultant to Australian intelligence, also declined to appear before the Senate inquiry or provide a copy of his resignation letter. The Senate inquiry into Duties of Australian Personnel in Iraq was prompted by revelations earlier this year by another former Australian weapons inspector, Rod Barton, about pressures from the CIA on the Iraq Survey Group and the abuse of Iraqi scientists under US interrogation.

Yesterday Mr Barton expressed disappointment that he was the only witness who agreed to give evidence to the inquiry: "It's a funny sort of democracy, it seems to me, where the truth is withheld. there are those in the Government that could have testified before the committee, in Foreign Affairs and Defence."

Mr Barton resigned from the Iraq Survey Group shortly before Dr Gee, after he witnessed pressure on the inspectors in Iraq to influence their interim findings. Mr Barton told the Howard Government about the pressure on the inspectors but it did not disclose either his or Dr Gee's resignation at the time.

"Making it known that the two most senior people Australia had in the Iraq Survey Group had quit within a few weeks of each other would have been embarrassing to everyone, to the Australian Government and to the Americans,"he told the Herald.

Significantly, the final report of the Iraq Survey Group confirmed that Iraq had no active WMD programs before the war, undermining the principal reason for the US led invasion.

Because no other witness agreed to appear, the Senate committee said it was unable to find sufficient evidence that the Iraq Survey Group was pressured over its interim findings.

"Mr Barton's evidence indicates that there were attempts to influence the ISG [Iraq Survey Group] but there is no corroborating evidence," the report concluded.

Mr Barton had also raised concerns with the Defence Department over his concerns that Iraq scientists under interrogation were being abused in a "softening-up" process. He specifically raised the case of Dr Mohammad al-Azmerli, who died while he was being held for interrogation in US custody.

Mr Barton had been told that Dr Azmerli had died of natural causes, but he later learnt an Iraqi autopsy found he had died of a blunt trauma inquiry. Mr Barton's allegations of abuse were kept confidential until he went public earlier this year. US military investigators had subsequently reopened an inquiry into the scientist's death.

The Senate report recommends that the Defence Department review procedures for briefing all Australian personnel operating overseas on its code of conduct and legal responsibilities; that they "must be made aware of their obligations with regard to human rights issues which includes their obligations to report any activity that seems illegal".

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Posted for Christy

Jailed former foreign minister sees family

From correspondents in BaghdadAugust 21, 2005

THE family of former Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tareq Aziz saw him in prison for the first time overnight, his sister said.Saddam Hussein's minister was jailed after the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq.

Aziz, detained in Iraq, met his wife Violet, daughters Zainab and Saja, his sister Amal and her son Mazen, his sister said in Baghdad.

"He is tired but his spirits picked up when he saw us, after two-and-a-half years away," she said, adding that the visit lasted for only half an hour.

She said families visited other detainees today, but declined to give more details. Aziz's family will return to Amman tomorrow, she said.

It was not clear why US forces, who have physical custody over detained senior former regime members, allowed the family to visit now. Iraqi authorities have legal custody over the men.

Aziz's lawyer Badia Aref said last week he expected his client, who is in his late sixties, to be released from jail without being put on trial.

Aref says he has been getting more access to Aziz, a Christian who was the public face of Saddam's regime abroad, from US authorities in the last few weeks.

No formal charges have yet been brought against Aziz, who Aref said had been questioned by the US military exhaustively in 152 sessions.

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Gaddafi hopes for Bush to visit

Hell yeah go visit,

you both will be

in good company,

two diviates

chatting together

From correspondents in Tripoli
August 21, 2005

LIBYAN leader Muammar Gaddafi has expressed his hope that US President George W. Bush would visit his country, according to a message conveyed to visiting Senator Richard Lugar.

Lugar told journalists following talks with Gaddafi that he had given him a message from Bush and that in return the Libyan strongman had expressed "his hope that Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice would visit Libya".

Lugar arrived in Libya late on Friday as part of the normalisation process between Libya and the United States.

The United States and Libya last year re-established direct diplomatic relations after Libya renounced weapons of mass destruction.

Gaddafi's son, Seif al-Islam said in May that the two countries would open embassies in Washington and Tripoli toward the end of this year

Lugar left Libya late yesterday.

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Engine failure caused jet crash: probe

Colombian jetliner that killed all 160 people on board.

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Voters punish Beattie

Darn Darn Darn more Liberals into power

THE Liberals have trounced the ALP in two state by-elections overnight, the fuelled by voter concerns over the Beattie Labor Government's handling of the Bundaberg Hospital crisis.

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Big swings against Labor »

Piggy-back ... Discovery rides atop a modified 747on a trip back to base at Cape Canaveral /

From correspondents in Los AngelesAugust 20, 2005

A SPECIALLY modified jet carrying the US space shuttle Discovery left a California air base overnight to take the shuttle back to Cape Canaveral in Florida.Discovery left Edwards Air Force base on the back of the Boeing 747 jet 10 days after returning to Earth at the end of the first shuttle mission since the 2003 Columbia disaster.

Bad weather forced the shuttle to land in California instead of its home base at the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral.

The US space agency NASA said the shuttles would stay grounded until at least March 2006, scrubbing the next launch date originally slated for September.

Shuttle engineers need more time to fix the problem of foam insulation peeling off the craft's huge external fuel tank during launch -- which blighted the Discovery mission and doomed Columbia.

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Police chief knew truth

SIR Ian Blair said he had been told that a man shot dead by armed police was in fact innocent.

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Shoot to kill policy stays

Oh Yeah.... The Scene From Crawford

Crawford Update
We had an incredible evening yesterday up at the new Camp Casey site. Now, as you read the rest of this post, keep in mind that the new site is literally within spitting distance of Bush's ranch--though we wouldn't actually spit, as we're trying to behave ourselves. And besides, why stoop to vulgar behavior when we have a sound system so loud the words "No more war!" can surely be heard in the man's bedroom?!?

Other statements that boomed over the loudspeaker tonight, besieging Mr. Bush and his pro-war agenda:

Rev. Peter Johnson of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference snipx intoned, "If George Bush is right, then Mahatma Gandhi was wrong. If George Bush is right, then Martin Luther King, Jr. was wrong. If George Bush is right, then Jesus Christ was wrong!"

A Gold Star mother who lost her son in 2003 (speaking, above): "When I first met George Bush after my son was killed, I told him: I'm going to follow up with you! And here I am, following up with him!"

Juan Torres, father of a soldier killed by his superiors in Afghanistan for whistleblowing alleged drug trafficking on the base: "When I came to the U.S. from Argentina, I was looking for the American dream, especially for my children. Now my American dream is buried six feet underground."

We at Camp Casey are blessed by what generous supporters have donated to us and the courageous people who share their stories with us. Tonight we ate food donated by Food not Bombs, sheltered by a huge tent erected on the property of our dear friend Fred Mattlage. We gathered together after dinner to listen to the stories of a brawny Marine who was brave enough to come out of the closet on national television; a Minnesota state senator who buried her son this past May; two civil rights legends who walked with Martin Luther King, Jr.; and many other military families who are grieving their dead sons and daughters. Before the speeches, we were all a bit tired from the intensity of the past few days, but I think there was a definite rejuvenation last night as we grasped the significance of raising hell on the President's doorstep. Here's to 11 more days of hell-raising!!!

posted by Emily Sharpe @ 13:03

Art For Everyone


'Something's happened'

America Has Turned

Against the War

By Dave Lindorff, CounterPunch

It's not just Cindy Sheehan.

Something has happened in the country in the last few weeks.

Suddenly the deaths of Americans in Iraq are being recognized and talked about.

You could tell here in Philadelphia when the local TV news programs featured lengthy stories on the funeral plans of the half dozen National Guard troops who were killed recently.

You could tell too by a new attitude among the local reporters themselves.

All four of the broadcast network affiliates, including the local Fox station, sent reporters out to cover the August 17 candlelight vigil in support of Sheehan. All chose to send their crews to a church in Philadelphia's integrated Germantown section, where a Methodist church had announced a vigil as part of the MoveOn/True Majority-organized nationwide event.

Hosting that gathering was Celeste Zappala, who lost a foster son in Iraq in April, 2004 (the same month Sheehan's son Casey was killed), and who is a co-founder with Sheehan of Gold Star Mothers.

When the reporters from the network affiliates interviewed her, and heard her speak movingly about the losses being suffered because of a war based upon lies for which so many reasons have been given and then debunked or rejected, there were tears in some of their eyes.

There were no hard-edged, cynical questions about motives or politics.

Something has happened.

The stories that ran late that evening, juxtaposed appropriately next to reports on the funerals and on the latest devastating bombing of a bus depot and a hospital in Baghdad that killed 43, were sober and respectful. No references to "'60s graybeards." No effort to scare up some small bunch of counterdemonstrators for "balance."

The national media may still be more timid about stories critical of the administration. The N.Y. Times buried its story on the nationwide vigil on an inside page, as did the Philadelphia Inquirer locally, leaving it to USA Today to give the story the page one prominence it deserved based upon simple news value.

That was why the local coverage was so important all around the country. Closer to the ground, away from the self-important editors of the national media, who seem to have trouble realizing they aren't part of the government, editors and reporters are picking up the groundswell of opposition to the war that is building with every new coffin unloaded at Ft. Dix.

You could see it in the street-hardened white Philly cop who, as he drove slowly down the cobblestoned Germantown Avenue pathway between the two rows of hundreds of candle-holding vigil-goers, made a peace sign with his fingers.

Something has happened.

N.Y. Times columnist Frank Rich may have jumped the gun and oversimplified when he wrote last week that someone needs to tell the president the war is over. It's certainly far from over. But its days are clearly numbered.

Dave Lindorff is the author of Killing Time: an Investigation into the Death Row Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. His new book of CounterPunch columns titled "This Can't be Happening!" is published by Common Courage Press. Information about both books and other work by Lindorff can be found at www.thiscantbehappening.net.

He can be reached at: dlindorff@yahoo.com

Reprinted from CounterPunch:

Why Bush Can't Answer Cindy

By Marjorie Cohn t r u t h o u t Perspective
Thursday 18 August 2005

Cindy Sheehan is still waiting for Bush to answer her question: What noble cause did my son die for? Her protest started as a small gathering 13 days ago. It has mushroomed into a demonstration of hundreds in Crawford and tens of thousands more at 1,627 solidarity vigils throughout the country.

Why didn't Bush simply invite Cindy in for tea when she arrived in Crawford? In a brief, personal meeting with Cindy, Bush could have defused a situation that has become a profound embarrassment for him, and could derail his political agenda.

Bush didn't talk with Cindy because he can't answer her question. There is no answer to Cindy's question. There is no noble cause that Cindy's son died fighting for. And Bush knows it.

The goals of this war are not hard to find. They were laid out in Paul Wolfowitz's Defense Policy Guidance in 1992, and again in the neoconservative manifesto - The Project for a New American Century's Rebuilding America's Defenses - in September 2000.

Long before 9/11, the neocons proclaimed that the United States should exercise its role as the world's only superpower by ensuring access to the massive Middle East petroleum reserves. To accomplish this goal, the US would need to invade Iraq and establish permanent military bases there.

If Bush were to give an honest answer to Cindy Sheehan's question, it would be that her son died to help his country spread US hegemony throughout the Middle East.

But that answer, while true, does not sound very noble. It would not satisfy Cindy Sheehan, nor would it satisfy the vast majority of the American people. So, for the past several years, Bush and his minions have concocted an ever-changing story line.

First, it was weapons-of-mass-destruction and the mushroom cloud. In spite of the weapons inspectors' admonitions that Iraq had no such weapons, Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Powell, Rice, and Bolton lied about chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. Bush even included the smoking gun claim in his state of the union address: that Iraq sought to purchase uranium from Niger. It was a lie, because people like Ambassador Joe Wilson, who traveled to Niger to investigate the allegation, had reported back to Cheney that it never happened.

The Security Council didn't think Iraq was a threat to international peace and security. In spite of Bush's badgering and threats, the Council held firm and refused to sanction a war on Iraq. The UN weapons inspectors asked for more time to conduct their inspections. But Bush was impatient.

He thumbed his nose at the United Nations and invaded anyway. After the "coalition forces" took over Iraq, they combed the country for the prohibited weapons. But they were nowhere to be found.

Faced with the need to explain to the American people why our sons and daughters were dying in Iraq, Bush changed the subject to saving the Iraqis from Saddam's torture chambers. ]

Then the grotesque photographs emerged from Abu Ghraib prison outside of Baghdad. They contained images of US military personnel torturing Iraqis. Bush stopped talking about Saddam's torture.

Most recently, Bush's excuse has been "bringing democracy to the Iraqi people." On June 28, 2004, he ceremoniously hailed the "transfer of sovereignty" back to the Iraqi people. (See Giving Iraqis What is Rightly Theirs). Yet 138,000 US troops remained in Iraq to protect US "interests."

And Iraq's economy is still controlled by laws put in place before the "transfer of sovereignty." The US maintains a stranglehold on foreign access to Iraqi oil, private ownership of Iraq's resources, and control over the reconstruction of this decimated country.

For months, Bush hyped the August 15, 2005 deadline for Iraqis to agree on a new constitution. But as the deadline came and went, the contradictions between the Shias, Sunnis and Kurds over federalism came into sharp focus. The Bush administration admitted that "we will have some form of Islamic republic," according to Sunday's Washington Post.

So much for Bush's promise of a democratic Iraq.

The constitutional negotiations are far removed from the lives of most Iraqis. When journalist Robert Fisk asked an Iraqi friend about the constitution, he replied, "Sure, it's important. But my family lives in fear of kidnapping, I'm too afraid to tell my father I work for journalists, and we only have one hour in six of electricity and we can't even keep our food from going bad in the fridge. Federalism? You can't eat federalism and you can't use it to fuel your car and it doesn't make my fridge work."

Fisk reports that 1,100 civilian bodies were brought into the Baghdad morgue in July. The medical journal The Lancet concluded in October 2004 that at least 100,000 Iraqi civilians had died in the first 18 months after Bush invaded Iraq.

Unfortunately, the picture in Iraq is not a pretty one.

Bush knows that if he talked to Cindy Sheehan, she would demand that he withdraw from Iraq now.

But Bush has no intention of ever pulling out of Iraq. The US is building the largest CIA station in the world in Baghdad. And Halliburton is busily constructing 14 permanent US military bases in Iraq.

George Bush knows that he cannot answer Cindy Sheehan's question. There is no noble cause for his war on Iraq.


Bush invokes Sept 11 to defend Iraq war

By Tabassum Zakaria

CRAWFORD, Texas (Reuters) - President George W. Bush launched a counter-offensive against growing public discontent over Iraq on Saturday, when he defended the war as a way of protecting Americans from another September 11 attack, a message he will reinforce when he takes to the road next week.

"Our troops know that they're fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere to protect their fellow Americans from a savage enemy," Bush said in his weekly radio address.

"They know that if we do not confront these evil men abroad, we will have to face them one day in our own cities and streets, and they know that the safety and security of every American is at stake in this war," he said.

Bush next week will speak to the Veterans of Foreign Wars Convention in Utah, and meet with members of the Idaho National Guard and the Mountain Home Air Force Base, which played a leading role in the air bombing campaign in Afghanistan after the September 11 attacks.

The public is showing more discontent with Bush's handling of Iraq, with high-profile protests during his ranch vacation and new poll results showing nearly six in 10 Americans are worrying about the outcome of the war.

"They're trying to get the public's attention again and remind them of the arguments that once worked with the public," Larry Sabato, director of the center for politics at the University of Virginia, said.

Asked whether the United States was meeting its objectives in Iraq, 56 percent of those polled said it was not and 39 percent said it was. The poll is to be published in next month's issue of Foreign Affairs, the journal of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Cindy Sheehan, the mother of a soldier killed in Iraq, became a symbol for anti-war protesters after camping near Bush's Crawford, Texas, ranch, while he is on vacation, urging the president to bring U.S. troops home.


"He bottomed out on Iraq even before Cindy Sheehan's protest started. Look at the poll numbers, Americans have been increasingly disaffected," Sabato said.

But there is little that Bush can do after ruling out a withdrawal from Iraq in the near-term, Sabato said. "All he can hope for is that conditions improve in Iraq." Continued ...

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Bizarre war

AS THE Iraq war proceeds through its 29th month, there are aspects of it that are so bad that they provoke moments of dark humor, which sometimes ward off the tears of the ongoing tragedy.

Last week during a major sandstorm in Baghdad, Shiite militiamen from the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq went to the offices of the mayor of Baghdad, Alaa al-Tamimi, and replaced him with one of their own people, Hussein al-Tahaan. No muss, no fuss, no elections, nobody got killed, but Baghdad now has a new mayor in place of the one the United States put in place last year.

Now brace yourself for another item. Gasoline costs a lot less in Baghdad than it does in the United States. The current average U.S. price per gallon is around $2.52; in Baghdad it's 8 cents a gallon. This astonishing price is not a result of Iraq's producing oil; it's because the United States subsidizes the price of gas in Iraq, most of which is imported.

Why? First, because Iraqis have always had cheap, subsidized gas; even the fearsome Saddam Hussein regime didn't want to take that one on. Second, a more logical argument is that cheap gas in principle encourages economic development, which the United States wants to see occur in Iraq.

Cheap gas also encourages the smuggling of gas into neighboring countries such as Turkey, where the price is much higher. Never mind whether cheaper gas might not be good for the American economy.

The current drama in the unfortunate Iraq saga is the question of when the contesting groups will complete the draft constitution.

It was due last Monday; it is now due next Monday. The week's postponement wouldn't matter that much if the issues remaining to be resolved were not so serious.

They include federalism and the degree of autonomy that the Kurd, Shiite, and Sunni-majority parts of the country will have. They include the division of Iraq's oil receipts, comparable to determining the split in passing out Pittsburgh's future casino and slot earnings.

Another is the degree to which future, constitutional Iraq will be an Islamic state, in contrast to the secular state that Iraq was under Saddam.

And the killing continues.

U.S. deaths there now stand at 1,858. In Baghdad suicide car bombers carried out a particularly vicious series of attacks the other day, two at a bus station, then a third at the hospital to which the bus-station victims had been taken. Dozens of Iraqis died.

Meanwhile millions of Americans wonder why this war continues and if anybody in charge has an idea when it will end.

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Things are starting to get interesting around here.

Senator Wants Improved

Venezuela Relations
The Associated Press
Go to Original
Friday 19 August 2005

Washington - A Republican senator asked Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld on Friday to lower his rhetoric against Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to help win Venezuela's support for combating illegal narcotics.

Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa. who met this week with Chavez, reminded Rumsfeld in a letter that the United States needs Venezuela's help for effective action against drug trafficking in South America.

"In this context," the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman wrote, "it may well be helpful to, at least, have a moratorium on adverse comments on Venezuela."

Pentagon officials said the letter had not been received by late Friday and refused immediate comment.

Rumsfeld and other members of the Bush administration have been linking Chavez with Cuban President Fidel Castro as destabilizing troublemakers in teetering Latin American democracies. En route home from visits this week to Paraguay and Peru, Rumsfeld told reporters Thursday that "there certainly is evidence that both Cuba and Venezuela have been involved in the situation in Bolivia in unhelpful ways."

Specter's letter, distributed by his office, referred to comments in a speech, but the remark to reporters was the extent of his Venezuela references Thursday. He has been blunter in the past, however.

The senator also has been visiting Latin American countries to discuss drug and immigration questions. He met with Chavez on Wednesday and talked about Venezuelan accusations that U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents were spying on the government, and the Venezuelan government's decision to suspend cooperation with the DEA, among other things.

In the letter, Specter told Rumsfeld he had detected "a window of opportunity at this time to resolve the disagreement on drug-interdiction policies."

In fact, he said, the meeting led to an agreement between U.S. Ambassador William Brownfield and Venezuelan Interior Minister Jesse Chacon to meet next week to try to resolve the acrimony between the DEA and Venezuelan narcotics officials.

"I suggest it may be very helpful to U.S. efforts to secure Venezuela's cooperation in our joint attack on drug interdiction if the rhetoric would be reduced," Specter wrote.

Chavez was elected in 1998 largely on the votes of Venezuela's poor. He is up for re-election next year, and recent polls suggest he enjoys about 70 percent support.

Mainstream news media suffer collateral damage from Iraq war

Posted on Fri, Aug. 19, 2005

BY RON HUTCHESONKnight Ridder Newspapers

WASHINGTON - (KRT) - As the battle for Iraq's future plays out half a world away, the American news media are caught in the crossfire at home.

War supporters accuse journalists of undercutting the troops by highlighting problems and ignoring progress in Iraq. War opponents also are unhappy. They say the media failed to question the need for war and sanitize the conflict by refusing to show gruesome scenes of carnage.

Military mom Cindy Sheehan, who got extensive media coverage for her anti-war protest outside President Bush's Texas ranch this month, voiced the view from the left in a conference call with supporters Aug. 10.

"Thank God for the Internet or we wouldn't know anything and we would already be a fascist state," she said. "The mainstream media is a propaganda tool for the government."

That's not the view from the right.

"If you believe the liberal media's reporting on the American military effort in Iraq, you're almost forced to be ashamed of America," the Media Research Center, a conservative media-watchdog group, said in a recent message to potential donors.

In return for a donation, the organization will send a specially inscribed military-style dog tag to a soldier in Iraq. "Don't believe the liberal media!" the dog tag says. "I'm just one of millions of Americans who realize that powerful elements in the media are undermining the war effort."

Army Capt. Sherman Powell reinforced that view with his comments during an interview Wednesday with "Today" show host Matt Lauer in Baghdad. Lauer wondered how troop morale could be so high, given the problems in Iraq.

"If I got my news from the newspapers also, I'd be pretty depressed as well," Powell replied.

"Those of us who've actually had a chance to get out and go on patrols and meet the Iraqi army and the Iraqi police and go on patrols with them, we are very satisfied with the way things are going here."

Experts on the media and war coverage aren't surprised to find news outlets in the crosshairs. Some of the criticism directed at the media echoes complaints from the Vietnam era, when war supporters accused journalists of undermining support for the war, and, by extension, the troops.

"It's the tension about whether a reporter covering the war is supposed to be a patriot or a cheerleader, or just a reporter," said Daniel Hallin, the author of "The `Uncensored War': The Media and Vietnam," and a communication professor at the University of California, San Diego.

Hallin and other researchers who've studied media coverage of the Vietnam War dispute suggestions that negative news stories turned public opinion against the war. Clarence Wyatt, the author of "Paper Soldiers: The American Press and the Vietnam War" and a professor at Centre College in Danville, Ky., said war support declined almost in direct correlation to the number of casualties and the number of troops deployed.

"News coverage is one element among a whole solar system of elements that shapes how people react to public events," Wyatt said. "It doesn't take a news organization to tell you that your son or daughter or husband or wife has been deployed. It doesn't take a news organization to tell you that the kid who used to deliver your newspaper is now in the local cemetery."

Defining reality in a war zone is always tricky, but Iraq is particularly difficult because of the security problems. Reporters stationed in Baghdad can't venture outside the fortified Green Zone without risking their lives. Yet some parts of the country are peaceful.

"War is a complex thing, and you're going to have different realities from different perspectives," said Steven Livingston, an Army veteran and political communication professor at George Washington University in Washington. "What you see depends on where you stand."

Opinions about media coverage split along party lines. A nationwide poll by the Pew Research Center in October 2003 found that a solid majority of Republicans - 55 percent - felt that the news media were "making the situation in Iraq seem worse" than it really was. Only 28 percent of Democrats and 34 percent of self-described independent voters felt that way.

Back then, the death toll for U.S. troops was about 38 a month. It's now averaging more than 70 a month, and August is on track to be one of the deadliest months yet.

Even the war's most ardent supporters, President Bush included, acknowledge that the effort to transform Iraq into a democracy faces enormous challenges. The military insurgency shows no sign of abating. On the political front, Iraqi leaders missed their Aug. 15 deadline for a new constitution and are struggling to meet their fallback deadline Monday.

Despite the Media Research Center's harsh criticism of the coverage, Richard Noyes, the organization's research director, expressed uncertainty when he was asked whether it accurately reflects the situation in Iraq.

"The daily attention to the negative might obscure the big picture, or it might be the big picture. My gut tells me it is too negative," he said. Noyes said he'd like to see more stories about the successes in Iraq - new schools, signs of normal life and other positive developments - along with the stories about car bombs and death.

He also worries about the impact on public opinion from negative stories.

"What is the enemy's strategy? It's to sap the public will by nibbling away at it," he said.
Media experts note that the journalist's job is to report what's happening and why, not to rally support, and that news judgment requires assessing which facts are most important. If schools are being rebuilt, that's a news story, but if the society they're in is being blown apart by civil war, that's a bigger news story.

"If events go well, that's what you report. If things are going poorly, that's the reality," said GWU professor Livingston, who's lectured at the National War College. "If bombs blow up and bombs kill Marines and kill soldiers, that's an important story, and covering that is not bias."
U.S. journalists will always focus on lost American lives, media experts said, because that's the most direct link between Americans at home and the war overseas.

"That's the nature of journalism. And it's the nature of combat," Wyatt said. "To criticize the media for covering combat in wartime is like criticizing the sun for coming up."

Link Here

US troops accused of shooting general

August 21, 2005

AN Iraqi general who commands the country's border defence force was shot and wounded while driving in Baghdad late today and accused US troops of firing on his car, police and hospital sources said.The report could not be confirmed directly with the general; a US military spokesman said he was unaware of an incident.

Major General Ali Hamadi told doctors at Yarmouk Hospital, who treated him for a gunshot wound to the abdomen, that US forces fired on him as he was driving to a doctor's appointment.
He was later transferred to a hospital in the US-defended Green Zone government compound.
Sources at Baghdad police headquarters, which like the border security force is overseen by the interior ministry, said Hamadi is the overall commander of the Iraqi Border Police.

They too said he was shot by US troops.

spokesman for the US force in the Iraqi capital said he was unaware of the incident and would check the report.

Iraqis daily accuse American troops of opening fire on motorists, often killing them. US commanders say soldiers, who are trained to be vigilant against suicide car bombers who approach checkpoints or convoys, take care to protect civilians.

Link Here

Why Bin Laden Got Away


"You're a real piece of work, Mr. Bush. "

Friday, August 19, 2005
From Yellow Dog Blog

Bush Interrupted

Vacation For Schiavo

On March 20, 2005, George W. Bush rapidly returned to Washington from another Crawford vacation so he could intervene in the Terry Schiavo case by signing Republican legislation requiring doctors to restore Schiavo's feeding tube.

But now, he has found it too difficult to take a few minutes out of his five-week vacation to meet Cindy Sheehan, who simply wants to know the reason that her son is dead.

This alone gives us a telling glimpse of Bush, who apparently believes he owes no explanation to a mother whose son was lost to a war that it has now been shown did not need to happen. On the other hand, appeasing the Religious Right and making sure they know his priorities are with them is obviously important enough for the president to move mountains.

"Look, this is a symbolic move, for sure," said Richard Cizik, the vice president for government affairs for the National Association of Evangelicals, on Bush's disrupting his vacation to intervene in the Schiavo affair. "It's his willingness to interrupt his vacation to make a statement. And not just to make a statement, because we're not playing games here, but to make a difference, too."

Meanwhile, mothers of Iraq war dead – because there are more parents who have lost children than just Cindy Sheehan at Camp Casey – can't leapfrog over Bush's bike riding, fishing and nap-taking for even a quick meeting.

It could not possibly be easier for the president to meet face-to-face with parents who have given the most precious thing in their lives for this country. All he has to do is send some White House flunky out to fetch them and he could provide the kind of leadership one expects of a president.

But then, they're not Terry Schiavo and they don't have religious conservatives in their corner. Instead, they get to camp in a ditch outside the Bush ranch waiting for a call that will not come.

You're a real piece of work, Mr. Bush.

Sooo, Who Was Stealing $100 Million As The WTC Was Attacked..?

Moments before the World Trade Towers collapsed, $100 million in credit card transactions were sent through the computers inside the doomed buildings, transactions that should have vanished when the buildings collapsed.

But a German company was able to recover data from the hard drives pointing to WHO, armed with advance knowledge, executed this monstrous fraud. But the company doing the data recovery was bought out, the project halted, while the FBI as usual does not look where it is told not to look.

"PIRMASENS, Germany (Reuters) - German computer experts are working round the clock to unlock the truth behind an unexplained surge in financial transactions made just before two hijacked planes crashed
into New York's World Trade Center on September 11.

Were criminals responsible for the sharp rise in credit card
transactions that moved through some computer systems at the WTC
shortly before the planes hit the twin towers?

Or was it coincidence that unusually large sums of money, perhaps
more than $100 million, were rushed through the computers as the
disaster unfolded?

A world leader in retrieving data, German-based firm Convar is trying
to answer those questions and help credit card companies,
telecommunications firms and accountants in New York recover their
records from computer hard drives that have been partially damaged by
fire, water or fine dust... – here

The CONVAR data salvage has made it completely clear that more than $100 million in insider credit card transactions took place in the hours and minutes before the twin towers collapsed. The mainframe computers in the towers processed these transactions; and the credit card data would have been lost forever had it not been for the successful data reconstruction of the CONVAR specialists.

A German company, CONVAR of Pirmasens near the French border, was given more than 400 computer hard drives from the wreckage of the World Trade Center. These are extremely sensitive computer components that went through the collapse of the World Trade Center. Using blue laser technology, CONVAR succeeded in reconstructing all the data from the computer debris. This includes diverse financial data and telecommunication protocols up to a few seconds before the collapse of each tower. (Source: e-mail from CONVAR Germany on October 16, 2003.) The U.S. government’s blatant lie about the allegedly missing black boxes is outright made ludicrous by this fact.

The reconstructed data was given by CONVAR to the FBI. The FBI was held by law to investigate, based on the reconstructed data, who placed the inside transactions.

The FBI is doing no such thing.– here

GFP would like to inform, that in June 2002, Ontrack/Convar was aquired by Kroll Inc. (Kroll O'gara Eisenhardt), which has strong with the US Government. One of their former employees, Jerome Hauer, organised a security job for ex-FBI anti-terror chief John O'Neill in the Twin Towers, where he died on Sep11th.

Kroll O’ Gara Eisenhardt is one of the oldest security companies in the United States and, some say, responsible for every U.S. President since the end of WW2. What does an upstanding, powerful company like Kroll do in its spare time? Why it trains local forces in Saudi Arabia, of course!

One partner of Kroll, Cable & Wireless provides training in Counter-Terrorism and Urban Warfare in Saudi Arabia. In August 2001, former Kroll employee, Jerome Hauer, arranged a security job in the Twin Towers for FBI Agent John O’Neill. At the time, O’Neill had been investigating ENRON’s business deals with the Taliban and was subsequently pulled from that investigation. Neither Kroll nor Hauer was asked to testify about this coincidence. – here Jerry Hauer has been around a bit – Batelle, Dyncorp, SAIC (note DAVID KAY’S (of Iraq WMD fame) MENTION of him) ...

Link Here

Reason # 7,392 Why I Am Grateful To Be American

Link Here


The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a challenge to the legality of religious courts after an Islamic tribunal ordered a Muslim rape victim to move in with the suspected rapist, her father-in-law, The Hindustan Times reported. It said that the court has asked the federal and state governments and three Muslim organizations to file briefs on whether religious courts, primarily Islamic ones, should be allowed to play any role in a secular democracy. Under the Constitution, Islamic courts are permitted to rule on such matters as marriage and divorce. A council in a Muslim village in northern India used that power in June to order the woman to move in with her father-in-law although he was accused of raping her. She was also ordered to treat her husband as her son, effectively becoming the father-in-law's wife. She refused, and the father-in-law was arrested after rights groups protested. The case has pitted conservative Muslims against Hindu nationalists and women's groups. The petition challenging the legality of religious courts was filed by a Hindu lawyer. (AP)

--EEEGHHAADDD!!! And God Bless America!--

AmericaBlog says It Best..

Rumsfeld in South

America: What Gall
by Michael in New York -
8/20/2005 11:08:00 AM
Link Here

Now this is rich: incompetent Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld traveled through South America warning about "the menace Cuba and Venezuela pose to the region." Now putting aside the stupidity of lecturing leftist governments to avoid other leftist governments (is Rumsfeld tone deaf?), the Bush Administration has a LOT of nerve claiming the democratically elected leader of oil-rich Venezuela is a threat to democracy. Bush of course gave a thumbs up to a military coup in that country just because he didn't like that nation's popular leader. How can Bush even pretend he wants to promote democracy when he's never apologized for saying a military coup was fine by him? How can Bush claim he loves democracy when two of his closest allies in the war on terror are Saudi Arabia (the world's biggest financial supporter of terrorism and religious extremism) and Pakistan (the world's biggest seller of WMD material and know-how to terrorists and rogue states)?

What gall.


Art For The New Age


Trouble Brewwing In Utah As SLC Mayor Calls For Anti-Bush Protest

Rocky's call to

protest Bush makes

vets see red
Mayor's e-mail: 'Nothing radical,' supporters say
By Glen Warchol
The Salt Lake Tribune

Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson called for "the biggest demonstration this state has ever seen" to protest President Bush's appearance Monday before a national veterans convention.

"This administration has been disastrous to the country," Anderson said Friday. "If people could organize and speak out in an effective manner from the reddest state in the country, that would garner a lot of attention."

In an e-mail Wednesday to about 10 activist leaders, the maverick mayor of Utah's capital called for a diverse demonstration to greet Bush when he speaks to the Veterans of Foreign Wars at the Salt Palace Convention Center. The mayor plans to join the protesters.

"There should be a collaboration of health-care-provision advocates, seniors, the [gay, lesbian and bisexual and transsexual] community, anti-Patriot Act advocates and other civil libertarians, anti-war folks, pro-Social Security advocates, environmental advocates, anti-nuclear-testing advocates, and anti-nuclear-waste-shipment-and-storage advocates," the mayor wrote in the e-mail.

The mayor's message drew a howl of outrage from Mike Parkin, senior vice commander of Veterans of Foreign Wars Atomic Post 4355 in Salt Lake City.

''Excuse my French, but - that son of a bitch!'' he said. "It makes the mayor look very, very unpatriotic. It makes him look despicable."

Parkin said such demonstrations, particularly against the Iraq war, give comfort to America's enemies and will be particularly offensive to the 13,000 to 14,000 veterans gathering at the convention.

"I voted for the son of a bitch and I'll never vote for him again," said the Vietnam War veteran.

Anderson disagrees with that measure of patriotism.

"Patriotism," the mayor said, "demands that people speak out when we see our government officials acting in such anti-democratic and deceitful ways to the people of our country."

He also said: "I don't understand people simply blindly going along with the sort of deceit and utter cruelty of this administration. It's not just we have the right to speak out, but we have the obligation to speak out when we see misconduct on the part of the government. The most patriotic thing we can do is stand up against the misuse of governmental power."
Craig Axford, co-chairman of the Utah Democratic Progressive Caucus, said Anderson's encouragement of demonstrations is appropriate.

"I don't think there's anything untoward or radical about that," said Axford, an organizer of a peace rally planned for Pioneer Park, three blocks from the convention center. "For people who appreciate the mayor and appreciate his politics, obviously it will boost our event."

But Joe Cannon, chairman of the Utah Republican Party, said Anderson's encouragement of protests against the president was improper, though typical of the mayor.

"What do you expect? It's Rocky. Clearly it's intended to smack the president. As the mayor of the host city, it's at best untoward."

Cannon thinks the e-mail will only help the Utah Republican Party.
"It's not the worst thing that can happen to remind the people of Utah the kind of things Democrats nationally stand for."

Salt Lake City Councilman Dave Buhler, a Republican, also said the mayor's action was in poor taste.

''I'm disappointed he would do this and use his office to promote his political views, which do not involve the city directly.''

Other city officials can do little, Buhler said, except "apologize for him again, as we are getting pretty good at doing."

Anderson, who is scheduled to make welcoming remarks to the conventioneers, says veterans will understand. "The veterans of foreign wars are heroes in my view. To stand up against government misconduct is in no way expressing a lack of support for those who defend our country."

Even though Utah gave Bush his largest margin of victory of any state in the 2000 and 2004 elections, Anderson, a Democrat, wrote in this e-mail: "Don't let him come to Utah and not see huge opposition, even in the reddest state! This would send such an important message."

"A tepid response will just send a message of apathy and resignation. Let the Bush administration - and the world - hear from Salt Lake City!"

Meanwhile, peace activists already were gearing up for the president's visit. Erin Davis, a veteran who opposes the war in Iraq, predicted at least 1,000 anti-war activists would begin gathering in Pioneer Park early Monday. The demonstration will be joined by a national group of military families who oppose the war.

Anderson plans to participate at Pioneer Park demonstration against the war and is scheduled to speak.

Axford described the rally at Pioneer Park, from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., as a "pro-peace rally." It isn't being held near the Salt Palace, where the president will speak, because organizers didn't want to make the convention attendees feel unwelcome, the mayor said.

"We didn't want to invite any kind of confrontation. We wanted to focus on our positive message."

That message, Axford says, is: "We'd just like [the president] to explain and justify this war in light of the fact so much of what we were told we were fighting for clearly we weren't fighting for."

Reporter Heather May contributed to this story.

Bush Goes On Defensive

Associated Press Writer
Link Here

With anti-war protesters continuing their vigil outside President Bush's ranch, the commander in chief began a five-day push Saturday to tell Americans why he thinks U.S. troops must continue the fight in Iraq.

In his weekly radio address, Bush argued that the war in Iraq will keep Americans safe for generations to come. He'll try to drive the point home with speeches in upcoming days in Utah and Idaho.

"Our troops know that they're fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere to protect their fellow Americans from a savage enemy," the president said in the recorded broadcast.

"They know that if we do not confront these evil men abroad, we will have to face them one day in our own cities and streets, and they know that the safety and security of every American is at stake in this war, and they know we will prevail."

Bush is making a sell to a skeptical public. According to recent polls, a majority of Americans do not approve of his handling of the war.

"We need a strategy to win in Iraq or an exit strategy to leave," former Sen. Max Cleland of Georgia said in the Democratic radio address. "The present course will lead us to disaster. More of the same just means more precious blood spilled in the desert."

Cleland, who noted that he lost three limbs serving in Vietnam, ticked off numbers indicating this war's toll — nearly 2,000 service members killed, more than 15,000 wounded and some soldiers returning for their third tour in Iraq. "Iraq is still not secure and we don't have the forces there to make it secure," he said.

Dozens of the disillusioned remain outside his ranch as their inspiration, grieved mother Cindy Sheehan, left to tend to her hospitalized mother in her home state of California. Sheehan started the protests by traveling to Crawford to ask Bush why her soldier son, Casey, had to die in what she calls a senseless war.

Although he didn't mention him specifically, Bush spoke of the soldiers who have died. "We offer their families our heartfelt condolences and prayers," he said.

"Now we must finish the task that our troops have given their lives for and honor their sacrifice by completing their mission," he said. "We can be confident in the ultimate triumph of our cause, because we know that freedom is the future of every nation and that the side of freedom is the side of victory."

The protesters at "Camp Casey" can claim some victory for forcing Bush to talk so extensively about the military deaths when he'd rather focus on indictors of progress in Iraq. The campers' call to bring the troops home now dominated news coverage out of Crawford this week while Bush stayed on his ranch with no public events.

Next week, the president will regain some of the spotlight with scheduled speeches to the Veterans of Foreign Wars on Monday and a National Guard group on Wednesday.

As he has before when he has been challenged, Bush invoked the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in his radio address.

"On that day, we learned that vast oceans and friendly neighbors no longer protect us from those who wish to harm our people," he said. "And since that day, we have taken the fight to the enemy."

In the Democratic address, Cleland also brought up the Sept. 11 attacks — to remind Americans that al-Qaida terror group leader Osama bin Laden has yet to be captured.

The president has been able to rally Americans behind him before by reminding them of the horror of Sept. 11, most pivotally in last year's close election.

He used the radio address to make the case again that Iraq is a critical part of the war against terrorists.

"We're spreading the hope of freedom across the broader Middle East," Bush said. "By advancing the cause of liberty in a troubled region, we are bringing security to our own citizens and laying the foundations of peace for our children and grandchildren."

--Is it just me, or does anyone else feel like you are watching a train wreck in slow motion...?--

G'Day Mate Kangaroo Down Under

Duck Soup: From Quagmire to Nightmare

Originally published in the Aug. 19 edition of The Moscow Times.

Now is the summer of discontent for President George W. Bush, a man beset on every side -- by a failing war and falling popularity, by scandal, suspicion and rising hostility, even in the red-state heartlands. With each passing day of his long vacation in the Texas wastes, his presidency is shrinking palpably before our eyes, his wildly inflated public image shrivelling like a punctured balloon.

The fountainhead of his trouble, of course, is the murderous quagmire he has created in Iraq. Some say he has no exit strategy, no way to escape the corrosive effects of this gargantuan disaster, which is draining his support and destroying the aura of the all-conquering "war leader" that he has used to impose his radical right-wing agenda on the country. The tide has turned against him at last, some say; he's a lame duck crashing to the ground.

But those writing Bush's political obituary have "misunderestimated" him once again. For it's becoming increasingly clear that Bush does have an exit strategy from Iraq -- and it runs through Iran.

For months, the Bush Faction has been conducting a low-key PR campaign to put Iran in the crosshairs for a military strike. Last week, Bush himself upped the wattage with a public declaration that "all options are on the table" for slapping down Tehran, Agence France Presse reports. He even alluded to the invasion of Iraq as an example of the kind of action he has in mind. Bush scarcely bothered to hide his disdain for peaceful solutions to the row with Iran. After mouthing the usual pious lies about "working feverishly on the diplomatic route," he immediately dismissed such efforts with a sneer: "As you know, I'm skeptical.

"The chief angle of Bush's warmongering campaign has been Iran's nuclear energy program. Although Iran is allowed by international treaty to develop nuclear energy resources and has been proceeding under international supervision, there are concerns that Tehran might follow the example of U.S. allies such as Israel, India and Pakistan and use the technology to develop a secret nuclear weapons program. This has been the cue for a reprise of those "smoking gun/mushroom cloud" tropes that the Bushists used to such great fear-rousing effect in fomenting their aggression against Iraq.

But the latest investigation by the International Atomic Energy Agency found that Iran is not developing a nuclear weapons program, The Independent reports. And Bush's own intelligence services say that even if Iran did start a weapons program, it would take at least 10 years to produce a bomb -- plenty of time for "feverish diplomacy" to work, you would think. So while "Iranian Nuke Threat" is still a good scare phrase for a cable news crawl, it might not be enough to sway an increasingly war-weary public to leap into another military adventure.

That's why the Bushists are throwing new tropes into the mix. In his chest-thumping bluster last week, Bush said pointedly that he would be willing to use military force to "provide the opportunity for people to live in free societies." That's a blank check for hitting Iran (and many other countries) any time he feels like it.

But such noble gasbaggery might still prove too vague to close the deal. So now they've waving the bloody shirt: "Iran is killing American soldiers in Iraq." That's the charge currently percolating through the corporate media -- NBC, Time magazine, etc. -- from the usual anonymous "senior officials" and the never-anonymous but always mendacious Pentagon warlord Don Rumsfeld. "It's true that weapons clearly, unambiguously, from Iran have been found in Iraq," he announced last week, with same clinched-sphincter certainty he once displayed in declaring that he knew where Iraq's WMD were hidden: "They're in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad, and east, west, south and north somewhat."

Left unexplained is why Shiite Iran would want to help Sunni insurgents overthrow a Shiite-dominated Iraqi government led by Tehran proteges (and employees) who are busy aligning the country with, er, Tehran. That's the kind of self-defeating stupidity one might expect from the Bush poltroons, who have spent $300 billion and almost 1,900 American lives to establish an unstable, terrorist-ridden, fundamentalist Islamic state in the center of the Middle East. But it's unlikely that the subtle Persians, with 3,000 years of statecraft behind them, would be foolish enough to kill the golden goose that Bush has handed them by destroying Saddam and installing their allies in power.

Still, a lack of sense and credibility in a casus belli has never hindered the Bush Faction before. And it won't now. The plain fact is that Bush doesn't want "diplomacy to work" against Iran. He wants the situation to reach a crisis point that will "justify" military action. It's the only form of politics he knows: You foment (or invent) a crisis, then use deceit, fear and brute force to impose your radical agenda. And the takedown of Iran is a long-held ambition of the corporate militarists behind the Bush Faction's relentless quest for "full spectrum dominance" over world affairs.

The "high" Bush got from his Iraq assault is now wearing off, politically and personally. He needs another hit of blood and destruction. And don't think he's worried about the prospect of a much wider conflagration arising from a bombing strike against Iran. After all, chaos and instability only mean more money for his war-profiteering family and cronies -- and greater authority for "war leaders" seeking to "secure the Homeland."

More war is the only way for the Bush Faction to maintain its power and keep advancing its rapacious agenda. So there will be more war.

Link Here

U.S. Reveals Iraq Mess Tent Attack Details

Friday August 19, 2005 9:01 PM
Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) - A member of the Iraqi insurgent group Ansar al-Sunnah was wearing an Iraqi security forces uniform when he sneaked into a mess tent at a U.S. base near Mosul last December and blew himself up, leaving 22 people dead, a U.S. general said Friday.

Maj. Gen. David Rodriguez, who commands U.S. troops in northern Iraq, told reporters that the bomber was not a worker at the base, as some had suspected, and didn't appear to have gotten inside the base by entering through a gate.

The bomber's nationality is unknown, Rodriguez said, speaking to reporters at the Pentagon via video teleconference. It is also not known whether he was a member of the Iraqi security forces or was wearing a stolen or counterfeit uniform.

``It's a large perimeter (on the base), and we think that he was somehow able to infiltrate through the perimeter, not going through an official gate,'' Rodriguez said, citing a U.S. military investigation into the attack. The results of the investigation had not previously been made public.

The bombing, at Forward Operating Base Marez, was the deadliest single attack since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003.

On Dec. 21, the bomber entered a crowded mess tent during lunch and blew up. Fourteen U.S. military personnel, four American civilians and three Iraqi soldiers were among the dead. The 22nd person was identified only as a non-U.S. person; officials have never said whether they believe he was the suicide bomber.

Another 75 were wounded. Ansar al-Sunnah, a homegrown Iraqi militant Islamic group, took responsibility for the attack.

The group identified the bomber as Abu Omar of Mosul, a nom de guerre that suggests he was an Iraqi. The group claimed that the bomber slipped into the base through a hole in the fence during a guard change.

An Arab news outlet last January said the bomber was 20-year-old Ahmed Said Ahmed al-Ghamdi, a Saudi medical student.

Rodriguez said that most suicide bombers in Iraq are from outside the country.

He also said U.S. and Iraqi forces have captured several Ansar al-Sunnah leaders in recent months.

``It is a lethal insurgency force that has been trying to tear down the future of Iraq,'' he said.

Link Here

Air Force employee charged with criminal mischief after anti-Bush vandalism

posted by: Paola Farer Web Producer

DENVER (AP) - An Air Force Reserve lieutenant colonel faces eight counts of criminal mischief for allegedly vandalizing cars at Denver International Airport with anti-President Bush messages over the last eight months, the Denver district attorney said Thursday

Alexis Fecteau, 42, was charged with seven misdemeanors and a felony for allegedly damaging eight cars in the airport's parking lot by painting and scratching them, the DA's office said in a statement.

Police Capt. John Kostigan has said Fecteau spray-painted over pro-Bush stickers and often added his own message to the sides of the vehicles, including a vulgarity, between December and July.

An arrest affidavit said the manager at the National Security Space Institute in Colorado Springs told detectives he started vandalizing vehicles at DIA during the 2004 election campaign.

Authorities said he was caught on a surveillance video vandalizing an undercover police car with Bush stickers.

A message left for Fecteau by The Associated Press was not immediately returned.

Fecteau was charged in Denver County Court on Aug. 9

. He was arrested on Aug. 5 and released on a $5,000 bond.

He is scheduled to be advised of the charges on Aug. 23. If convicted on the felony charge, he could face up to 6 years in prison

Link Here

Exclusive: Citizens Request Recount in San Diego Mayoral Race

Miriam Raftery

"Enron by the Sea" shows strange electoral anomalies - a 4 percent shift - ODDS OF SUCH A DISCREPANCY OCCURRING BY CHANCE ALONE ARE LESS THAN 7/100 OF 1%, STATISTICIANS REVEAL.

San Diego Democratic mayoral candidate, Donna Frye, may have been robbed of her mayoral seat in the July 26 local election as citizens' audit parallel election vote shows shift of 4 percent, Raw Story has learned.

Frye, who served three years as a council woman in San Diego, California, previously ran as a write-in candidate in November 2004, but was deprived of San Diego's top seat due to the city's Registrar of Voters, Sally McPherson, blocking the count of 5,547 ballots on which voters had written Frye's name, yet failed to also fill in bubbles. The disputed ballots would have given Frye a victory by 3,439 votes.>>>>continued

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Harry Reid suffers minor stroke

Press secretary: "Senator Reid feels fine;" Taking summertime off.

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Lawyer: Ohio gov knew about coins

8/19/2005, 2:40 p.m. ET
The Associated Press

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A prominent Republican fundraiser who invested state money in rare coins discussed the arrangement with Gov. Bob Taft in May 2001, contradicting the governor's assertion that he didn't learn of it until this year, the fundraiser's lawyer said.

Taft has claimed that until he read newspaper reports in April, he was unaware of Tom Noe's $50 million investment for the state insurance fund for injured workers.

"Tom Noe and Bob Taft had a face-to-face meeting in May 2001 in Toledo, at which time Mr. Noe described for Gov. Taft his operation of Coin Fund One for the (Ohio) Bureau of Workers' Compensation," Noe's lawyer, William Wilkinson, told The Columbus Dispatch for a story Friday.

Noe and Taft golfed together on May 13, 2001, in Toledo, records show. Noe received $25 million for the investment in 1998 and another $25 million two months after the golf outing.

Asked for a response to Wilkinson's comments, Taft spokesman Mark Rickel reiterated the governor's previous assertion that he didn't know about the coin investments until this year.

"He's said all along he was not made aware of the contract until April," Rickel said Friday.

Taft was convicted Thursday of four misdemeanors for failing to report gifts worth nearly $6,000, ethics charges that surfaced amid the scandal over losses from the state's investments in rare coins and other funds.

The governor said Noe "made a great effort to conceal" that he managed the coin investments and the two did not discuss them on the golf course.

He said Noe, a coin dealer from suburban Toledo, did not disclose his investment on applications to the governor's office for appointments to boards and commissions.

Wilkinson told The (Toledo) Blade that Taft's statement that Noe tried to hide his role as investment manager was absurd, pointing out Noe went through a public process to become a bureau fund manager.

Wilkinson said Taft "either knew or didn't want to know."

Noe reported the investment on his annual financial-disclosure forms filed with the Ohio Ethics Commission, Wilkinson said.

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Ex-Halliburton Subsidiary Worker Guilty

By JAN DENNISAssociated Press
WriterAugust 19, 2005, 8:32 PM EDT

PEORIA, Ill. -- A former employee of a Halliburton Co. subsidiary pleaded guilty Friday to accepting more than $100,000 in kickbacks from an Iraqi company in exchange for securing it a U.S. military construction contract, prosecutors said. Glenn Allen Powell, 40, of Cedar Park, Texas, will be sentenced Nov. 18 in federal court for major fraud against the United States and violating the anti-kickback act.

He faces 10 years in prison on each count and up to $1.25 million in fines.

"He's very sorry about what he did. He made a mistake and he wants to make it right," said Powell's attorney, Samuel Bassett.

Powell, who was fired after an internal investigation, has repaid part of the money to Halliburton and plans to repay the rest, Bassett said.

Prosecutors say Powell was a subcontracts administrator for Halliburton subsidiary KBR Inc., which provides engineering and other project management services for the military.

In exchange for $110,300 in kickbacks, Powell recommended the Iraqi company for a $609,000 subcontract to renovate four buildings into office and warehouse space, prosecutors say. Prosecutors declined to name the company.

"A government contract is not a license to steal," U.S. Attorney Jan Paul Miller said in a statement. "The public should be able to trust that the individuals who implement government contracts do so honestly."

Halliburton has removed the Iraqi company from its list of subcontractors and given the military a credit for the amount of the kickback, spokeswoman Melissa Norcross said.

Vice President Dick Cheney headed Halliburton from 1995 to 2000, and Democratic members of Congress have repeatedly questioned whether Halliburton and its subsidiaries received favorable treatment because of its connections. Cheney and other administration officials have denied Cheney had any role in Halliburton's government contract work.

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Australian ban on mate wins few friends

Staff at Australia's national parliament in Canberra told not to use the greeting 'G'day mate' in case they caused offence. Special report: Australia

Rocket strike targets US in Jordan

Group linked to al-Qaida claim responsibility for rocket attacks that targeted US warships in the Red Sea. Special report: al-Qaida

Sheehan plans to return 'very soon'

4 crashes cost $180 million

LONDON, England (Reuters) -- Four crashes this month have already made August the worst month for aircraft losses in more than three years, according to a major insurance broker.
The string of crashes has caused the loss of aircraft with a total insured hull value of over $170 million, said Aon Corp, the world's second-largest insurance broker. The latest loss estimate is $182 million, an industry source said.

The most expensive loss was the Air France Airbus A340-300, which crashed and burst in flames after landing at Toronto's Pearson International Airport on August 3, although all crew and passengers survived. The aircraft was insured for $136 million, according to an industry source.

Also this month, a Helios Airways Boeing Co. 737 plane crashed into a mountain near Athens, a West Caribbean Airways MD-82 airliner crashed in Venezuela near its border with Colombia and a Tuninter ATR regional plane crashed off the coast of Sicily.

These crashes have made August the highest loss month since May 2002, when an Air China Boeing 747 crashed into the sea off Taiwan, killing 206 people, said Aon. >>>>continued

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'Bin Laden assassination debated'

Newly declassified U.S. State Department documents reveal secret meetings were held in 1998 between Washington and top Taliban officials, which discussed the possibility of assassinating Osama bin Laden.


California prison locked down after fatal riot erupts in exercise yard

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - Inmates at the state prison in Calipatria, Calif. remained locked in their cells Friday as authorities investigated a deadly riot that erupted in an exercise yard and spread to two buildings.

One inmate was killed during the uprising Thursday afternoon at the prison east of San Diego, and 25 inmates and 25 guards were injured.

Authorities said the fight began when a correctional officer was attacked by a member of the Southern Hispanic prison gang as he tried to search the inmate. About 20 other gang members piled on, slashing the guard five times in the head. >>>continued

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Victims' relatives demand answers about Venezuela plane crash that killed 160

Jordanians find rocket launcher used in Aqaba, Eilat attacks

AQABA, Jordan (AP) - Jordanian authorities have found the launcher that fired three Katyusha rockets from a hilltop warehouse, including one that narrowly missed a U.S. naval ship docked at this Red Sea resort, Jordan's Interior Minister Awni Yirfas announced on Saturday. Full Story

Defiant alligator draws LA crowds

Residents of Los Angeles have been hailing a new hero, a fugitive alligator basking in a city lake, which has outwitted captors for over a week.

Dozens of local residents have been gathering daily at the lakeside in a city park, hoping for a glimpse of the elusive seven-foot reptile.

Officials have decided to suspend their search, hoping their prey will relax and become easier to snare.

They say they are still confident of capturing the animal.

No-one knows its origins, though authorities in the US city suspect it is an abandoned pet.
Alligators are not native to the state of California.

'Gator therapy'

Jay Young, an alligator wrangler, has made several unsuccessful attempts to capture the creature, nicknamed Carlito and Harbor Park Harry, since it first made an appearance in the lake on 12 August.

Now chasers have decided to take a break, hoping to get the reptile to lower its guard.
"The gator is stressed, and we don't want him scared or sick," Mr Young said.

"We're going to get him back to kind of relaxing and laying on the lily pads and having a good time again, so we're doing therapy for the gator," Harbor Area parks superintendent Ron Berkowitz told local TV.

Visitors have been tempting the alligator with food such as tortillas, French bread and doughnuts, but to no avail. It has not been seen since Wednesday.

T-shirts are on sale with alligator logos.

If captured, the animal will be taken to Los Angeles Zoo.

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