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Saturday, December 03, 2005

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A Question About The Al Jazeera Memo

If it was such a joke...

WHY did Blair have to

'Talk him out of it'.....???

Oh, Yes.

Bob Greiger Is Mad As Hell.


Link Here


"So there you have it.

Morgan is clearly of the pre-Bush, Republican mindset that progressives and liberals are going to run from this kind of fight and be frightened off in the face of such a vicious opponent.

She is mistaken.

We are tired of people like her, Ann Coulter, Bill O'Reilly and the whole cabal of right-wing loudmouths, who think that by yelling the loudest, being the most obnoxious and tossing out the most lying, incendiary charges, they can scare us off. More importantly, we are ready to respond in kind and to jump right back in the faces of people whose opinions are so profoundly anti-American and, yes, downright unpatriotic.

We're also the ones who truly "support the troops" and are willing to yell equally as loud to see that they quit dying in a faraway land, versus people like Morgan who care little about how many troops we continue to lose.

I won't say "bring it on" as I don't want to mimic the mock toughness of Morgan's chickenhawk hero, the president. But I will say this: We're not backing down this time. We're angrier than you, smarter than you, tougher than you and we'll battle you for the soul of this nation any time, anywhere."

--Oh man, that was so freaking GOOD for me.--


Rossi ...will have to re-send that invite from Tech Guys graduation through snail mail. Nothing works in this country anymore.

And it looks great in here. You rock.

You NEVER miss ANYTHING ...do you...?

Oh yeah Momma.


And to everyone else...

Party on.

Art For Everyone

Reservist Faces Graft Charges on Iraq

Investigators in a widening corruption probe of reconstruction contracts in Iraq brought charges yesterday against an Army lieutenant colonel who is accused of accepting bribes in exchange for awarding lucrative contracts to a private contractor and of stealing funds earmarked for Iraq reconstruction

Go to Original

Wash. Post framed polling data to suggest public support for Republican position on Iraq withdrawal

A December 2 Washington Post article misleadingly suggested that a recent poll showed public support for Republicans' position on when to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq -- that is, only once specific conditions are met in the country. The Post contrasted the results of a November 21 RT Strategies poll* with those of an October 13 Pew Research Center poll, suggesting that the RT poll showed support for the Republican position, while the Pew poll showed opposition to it. In fact, the RT poll shows that the public is split on the issue, with the difference between those who support the Republican position and those who oppose it within the poll's margin of error.


Did Time's Viveca Novak intervene in leak case, aiding Rove, while covering story?

Recent revelations in the CIA leak investigation indicate that Time magazine Washington correspondent Viveca Novak may have injected herself in the investigation by alerting a lawyer for White House senior adviser Karl Rove in mid-2004 that her colleague, Time White House correspondent Matthew Cooper, might be forced to disclose to a grand jury what Rove had told him about then-undercover CIA operative Valerie Plame. Novak reportedly warned Rove attorney Robert Luskin that Rove could face legal scrutiny over omitting mention of the conversation with Cooper in his own grand jury testimony, thereby providing Luskin with information that might prove crucial to Rove's defense in the case. Novak never disclosed her conversation with Luskin or her knowledge of Rove's conversation with Cooper to special counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald or to Time readers, despite working on several articles about the case after her reported conversation with Luskin.


White House Press Corp. = Lily Livered Punk Ass Cowards

The al-Jazeera Dodge

By Dan Froomkin

Friday, December 2, 2005; 1:54 PM

For some reason, the White House refuses to provide a straight answer to this question: Did President Bush raise the idea of bombing the headquarters of the al-Jazeera television network in an April 2004 conversation with British Prime Minister Tony Blair -- and if so, was he serious or was he joking?

Reporters who have asked press secretary Scott McClellan to respond to the claim first published in the British Daily Mirror almost two weeks ago have gotten two crude non-denial denials.

The first one was delivered last week, in an e-mail to the Associated Press: "We are not interested in dignifying something so outlandish and inconceivable with a response," McClellan wrote.

The next day, I predicted in my column that "nothing arouses White House reporters more these days than a non-denial denial." But I apparently overestimated the mainstream press corps' baloney detectors.

Since then, McClellan has been publicly asked about the al-Jazeera story precisely once. He was asked for a comment at Wednesday's mid-day press briefing (here's the full text ). And in response, he played dumb. "Q I know you've been asked before about the so-called al-Jazeera memo, but Europeans are making quite a big deal about it. Can you assure them that even if the President did say what he was alleged to have said he was doing that in jest?

"MR. McCLELLAN: Can I assure them what?

"Q That if the President really did make those comments, he was doing so in jest?

"MR. McCLELLAN: Make what comments?

"Q About allegedly bombing al Jazeera --

"MR. McCLELLAN: Any such notion that we would engage in that kind of activity is just absurd.

"Q Well, do you know if the comments were made?

"MR. McCLELLAN: I don't know what comments you're referring to. I haven't seen any comments quoted.

"Q Somebody said that they had a memo, or that they took notes during --

"MR. McCLELLAN: Let me just repeat for you, Connie. Any such notion that America would do something like that is absurd."

The reporter then pointed out that in 2001, American bombs exploded in al-Jazeera's Kabul bureau, which the Pentagon later said was not on purpose.

"Q They bomb them in Afghanistan then -- their office.

"MR. McCLELLAN: I'm sorry? Whose offices? The terrorist offices.

"Q We bombed their office in Afghanistan, and killed their -- some of their people in --

"MR. McCLELLAN: And the military talked about that. What are you suggesting? I hope you're not suggesting that they're targeting civilians, because that's just flat-out wrong."

Butwhy won't McClellan say the same about the report of the Bush-Blair meeting, too?

And where were the follow-up questions? Nobody in the briefing room pursued the issue any further, and nobody even said one word about al-Jazeera at yesterday's briefing .

By contrast, the corps was downright dogged yesterday when it came to rooting out the details of Bush's summons to jury duty in Crawford. Now there's a big story.

The Coverage (Such as it Is)


Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball write on Newsweek's Web site: "A British government crackdown on government leaks may have backfired by calling world attention to an ultrasensitive secret memo whose alleged contents have embarrassed President George W. Bush and strained relations between London and Washington. The document allegedly recounts a threat last year by Bush to bomb the head office of the Arabic TV news channel Al-Jazeera. . . .

"Bush administration officials initially dismissed the memo's allegations about Bush's threat against Al-Jazeera as 'outlandish.' U.S. officials later suggested that if Bush did talk with Blair about bombing Al-Jazeera, the president was only joking. . . .

"But a senior official at 10 Downing Street, Blair's official residence, who insisted on anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject, recently seemed to give credence to the Al-Jazeera threat. The official told Newsweek London Bureau chief Stryker McGuire: 'I don't think Tony Blair thought it was a joke.'"

The Daily Mirror story -- and the ensuing legal action, brought Wadah Khanfar, the director general of al-Jazeera, to London looking for answers.

Richard Beeston writes in the Spectator: "The scourge of the Pentagon and the rabble-rouser of the Arab masses had just been to Downing Street to deliver a letter to the Prime Minister demanding an explanation. Had the British leader talked Bush out of bombing al-Jazeera's headquarters in the Qatari capital Doha, as a leaked transcript of their conversation stated? If it was just a bad joke, as some Whitehall official had suggested, why had the Attorney General Lord Goldsmith threatened to prosecute any further revelations under the Official Secrets Act? Why were two government insiders under investigation for leaking the document?"

Khanfar himself writes in the Guardian: "I brought many questions with me to London; it would seem that I shall return to Doha - where al-Jazeera is based - with even more misgivings. Officials in Britain have come up with nothing, and their silence is likely to reinforce suspicion and mistrust. This will not be the end of the road; we are taking legal advice and won't rest until we know the full truth. . . .

"If it is true that Bush had indeed thought of bombing the al-Jazeera headquarters in Doha, this will undoubtedly constitute a watershed in the relationship between government authorities and the free media."

Jeremy Scahill writes in the Nation: "The meeting took place on April 16, at the peak of the first US siege of Falluja, and Al Jazeera was one of the few news outlets broadcasting from inside the city. Its exclusive footage was being broadcast by every network from CNN to the BBC.

"The Falluja offensive, one of the bloodiest assaults of the US occupation, was a turning point. In two weeks that April, thirty marines were killed as local guerrillas resisted US attempts to capture the city. Some 600 Iraqis died, many of them women and children. Al Jazeera broadcast from inside the besieged city, beaming images to the world. On live TV the network gave graphic documentary evidence disproving US denials that it was killing civilians. It was a public relations disaster, and the United States responded by attacking the messenger. . . .

"On April 15 Donald Rumsfeld echoed those remarks in distinctly undiplomatic terms, calling Al Jazeera's reporting 'vicious, inaccurate and inexcusable. . . . It's disgraceful what that station is doing.' It was the very next day, according to the Daily Mirror, that Bush told Blair of his plan. 'He made clear he wanted to bomb al-Jazeera in Qatar and elsewhere,' a source told the Mirror. 'There's no doubt what Bush wanted to do--and no doubt Blair didn't want him to do it.' "

The White House and the Media, Part II


The White House right now faces another media-related scandal, this one over multiple reports that the U.S. military arranged for positive stories about the war to be published in Iraqi newspapers under the guise of independent journalism.

McClellan dodged questions about that story yesterday by saying it's too early to comment.

It's interesting how quick the White House is to condemn its enemies based on whatever information is available. But when it comes to actions by the administration, the standard of proof is apparently quite high. Multiple media reports, or even an indictment, are apparently not sufficient to elicit anything even remotely like censure.

Mark Mazzetti and Borzou Daragahi broke the story in the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday.

Jonathan S. Landay had more for Knight Ridder Newspapers on Thursday.

But here's how it went in yesterday's briefing :

"Q What's the White House opinion on the military using this Lincoln Group to plant stories in Iraqi newspapers?

"MR. McCLELLAN: Well, we've seen the reports. We first learned about it when we saw the reports yesterday, I think in the Los Angeles Times was the first place that that was reported. We are very concerned about the reports. We have asked the Department of Defense for more information. General Pace has asked people to look into the matter and get the facts, and so we want to see what those facts are.

" Q Well, the military has admitted that they've been doing it. Does the White House find that acceptable, unacceptable?

"MR. McCLELLAN: Well, what the Pentagon has said is that they don't have all the facts, they want to gather the facts and then talk about it further. We want to know what those facts are, too. We are very concerned about the reports that we have seen."

"Q So this is a bit of a hypothetical, but should it be determined that, in fact, they have been doing this, would the President find that acceptable -- "

"MR. McCLELLAN: I'm not going to engage in a hypothetical. Let's find out what those facts are.

"Q Well, then what is the basis of your concern?

"MR. McCLELLAN: The reports that we've seen -- the media reports.

"Q But if you're concerned, that suggests that you would not approve of this.

It went on and on for a while.

"Q Well, would his views be similar on this particular issue?

"MR. McCLELLAN: I've expressed our views on this issue at this point."

McClellan then tried to change the subject, but the redoubtable Helen Thomas refused to let him.

"Q Who's watching the store, really? How can we spend millions of dollars to plant positive stories in Iraq and nobody around here knows --

"MR. McCLELLAN: Again, this is --

"Q -- anything about it? How is that possible?

"MR. McCLELLAN: This is based off some media reports. We want to find out what those facts are."

---Keep yapping you little bastard.

In prison you'll STILL be someones BITCH.---

British general faces war charge

Michael Smith

A BRITISH general is facing possible criminal charges over one of the most controversial incidents of the Iraq war, The Sunday Times has learnt.
Major-General Peter Wall was interviewed by the Metropolitan police over alleged attempts by senior officers to prevent an investigation into the deaths of a British tank commander and an unarmed Iraqi civilian.

The death of Sergeant Steven Roberts at al-Zubair in the early hours of March 24, 2003, led to widespread public outrage after the Ministry of Defence confirmed he had no body armour. In a taped message, recorded the evening before he died and released by his widow Samantha, Roberts described the lack of equipment as a “joke”.

It only emerged later that a civilian had died in the same incident.

Wall, who is deputy chief of joint operations, is by far the most senior officer to have been implicated in a case involving alleged wrongdoing by British troops. He was commander of 1 (UK) Armoured Division at the time of the alleged offence.

His actions were investigated after Lord Goldsmith, the attorney-general, told Geoff Hoon, the former defence secretary, that the evidence suggested “a concerted attempt by the chain of command to influence and prevent an investigation”.

Goldsmith then removed the case from the army’s control and ordered that any charges be heard by a civilian court.

As a result of the Metropolitan police investigation, two soldiers from 2nd Royal Tank Regiment face possible murder charges over the death of Zahir Zabti Zaher, the unarmed Iraqi civilian.

Another soldier from the same regiment faces a possible manslaughter charge over the death of Roberts. Wall faces possible charges relating to the alleged attempt to prevent the investigation.

The allegations against Wall, one of the army’s most senior commanders, and other serious claims made by an army whistleblower, will raise doubts over its ability to police its soldiers’ conduct in Iraq.

If Wall is charged, the army’s role as a peacekeeping force may be undermined, with soldiers under fire fearing legal scrutiny for every action they take.

The Ministry of Defence issued a statement on Wall’s behalf. In it the general said: “It is inappropriate for me to comment on the case as it is still under investigation, but I am confident I acted in accordance with the interests of justice and appropriate care for the soldiers under my command.”

The whistleblower, who first informed The Sunday Times of Wall’s alleged involvement, said the army Special Investigation Branch (SIB) team that was sent to the scene of the killings realised immediately there were grounds for a criminal investigation.

However, they were told by a senior SIB officer not to pursue the soldiers as possible suspects and to treat them simply as witnesses, a move that seriously hampered subsequent investigations into the killings.

“They went to the scene and quickly established some suspicious markers,” the source said. “From what they could gather, Sergeant Roberts had been shot by one of his own men.

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Leak Ruling Has Mystery, 8 Blank Pages

UK too promotes Iraq war propaganda?

UK too promotes Iraq war propaganda?

According to Spinwatch investigation, BBC uses reports provided by the SSVC, which make a “considerable contribution” of the armed forces, as authentic sources.

Iraq on a knife edge

While many viewed Wednesday speech by the American President George W. Bush a promise of “complete victory'' over the Iraqi resistance or, if some like to call it rebel attacks, analysts say that the President failed to dwell on the grim reality, the reality most of his administration members and Republicans don’t want to hear.

”Our job there isn’t done,” stated Mr. Bush during his speech at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. "It’s getting done as Iraqi forces are built up and develop the strength to defend their country’s efforts to form a fledgling government. And when it’s done, our forces can come home”.

Analysts viewed Bush’s “feel good” speech, which stresses improved fighting capabilities of Iraqi troops, as part of the U.S. government’s efforts to offer evidence that it has a viable plan for Iraq in the face of mounting criticism from the country’s leading Parties; the Democrats and the Republicans, that the war has been mishandled, according to The Seattle Times.

But on the other hand, some advocate a completely different strategy, favoring a continuing presence of the American occupying forces in the country; despite the surge in violence the invasion caused the country.

In his speech, Bush did nothing but repeating old rhetoric that the Americans’ losses in the country is what granting a safe future for the United States- same claims that have become difficult for the U.S. public and the world to digest anymore.

He failed to address the grim reality his administration is facing now, the difficult and unexpected situation his government is facing in Iraq.

According to the latest figures issued by the Department of Defense and other U.S. and Iraqi official, the Iraqi resistance is growing bolder and stronger than ever, and the number of total casualties inflicted on U.S. troops is once again climbing.

Anti-government and anti-occupation Iraqi rebels seem to have started switching resources from targeting Iraqi security forces to carrying out Multiple Fatality Bomb (MFB) attacks.

As an evidence that technical expertise of the rebels is steadily advancing, recent reports stated that improvised explosive devices, or roadside bombs, continue to account for more than half the total casualties inflicted on U.S. troops, accoridng to The United Press International.

With the opposition to Iraq war touching an unprecedented 60 per cent, the Republicans themselves, facing a crucial re-election battle in 2006, have started pressurizing Bush to declare an end to this quagmire and bringing the troops home, regardless of the situation in Iraq.

Republican and Democratic Reps now feel the heat of Iraq flames with the ranks of those fallen in the war constantly swelling, the Khaleej Times stated today.

The timing of Bush’s speech is meant to counter the mounting criticism at home and the continuous sliding in his approval ratings. It also serves the need to head off two potentially greater risks: “a loss of public and congressional”.

Americans now wonder how long will Bush go on like this in Iraq, blundering from one disaster to another.


Israeli and U.S. hands in Lebanon and Jordan turmoil?

Israeli and U.S. hands in Lebanon and Jordan turmoil?

Vladimir Akhmedov, a Middle East expert, asserts the U.S. was behind Al Hariri's assassination- "Syria has nothing to do with the crime".

Staying the course till when?

Staying the course till when?

Although WW II ended 60 years ago, there are still American troops stationed in Japan and Germany- Are we facing a similar situation in Iraq?

“Kidnappings are the direct result of the illegal occupation”

“Kidnappings are the direct result of the illegal occupation”

12/3/2005 10:50:00 PM “What has happened to our teammates is the result of the actions of the U.S. and UK governments, due to the illegal attack on Iraq".

The timing of Iraq war was cunningly manipulated

Many analysts repeatedly stated that the U.S.-occupation in Iraq didn’t begin on 20 March 2003, and that the U.S. and UK had been waging an undeclared war against the country for twelve years, ever since the end of the Gulf Slaughter in 1991, with the aim of destroying the Iraqi society, enabling the American and the British governments control Iraq's oil wealth.

This policy by the U.S. and Britain has truly been genocidal, and no amount of hypocritical moral posturing on the part of George W. Bush and Tony Blair can disguise this.

Friday October 11 2002 was marked as a “victory for the white house.” The Senate early voted for attacking Iraq in case Saddam Hussein refuses to get rid of weapons of mass destruction as required by UN resolutions.

What do senators who voted for the war on Iraq three years ago think about it now? If they went back in time, would they vote for the same option or would they have a better understanding for the Bush tactics?

Three years ago the Congress voted for a military action against Iraq, and since then the American troops killed thousands of Iraqis whom they call “terrorists”, they have also succeeded in capturing Saddam Hussein and putting him in jail. Saddam’s last trial took place two days ago.

Tom Daschle, the former Democratic Senator from South Dakota, said on LATimes.com that when Bush asked the Senators to vote for invading Iraq he suggested that they should postpone the vote “until after the impending midterm election,” however his proposal was immediately rejected by Bush.

Daschle asked for postponing the vote as it was “in the height of the election campaign in which Republicans were systematically portraying Democrats as weak on national security,” according to LATimes.com.

In history, Bush’s father, President George H.W. Bush went through the same experience at the time of the Persian Gulf War, however he didn’t ask for a vote until the midterm elections were over.

At the time of voting for war on Iraq, the Congress didn’t have enough information about the situation there. The reasons proposed by Bush to justify invading Iraq were very broad.

Congressmen avoid tackling this issue. They don’t even comment on what Daschle said concerning the vote and the great controversy that occurred at the time of the vote. However, it is said that the voting process was backed up by the information the intelligence provided at that time, LATimes.com stated.

Daschle argues that Bush used the time element to motivate and push senators to vote for the war, however his argument is opposed by White House Counselor Dan Bartlett who stated that the time element was a way of pressuring Saddam not democrats.

On the other hand, Jim Jordan, ex- executive director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said that the situation was on fire at this time and it is hard to guess what the democrats would have voted for if the voting came after the 2002 elections.

During the voting process, Democrats not in the ballot were divided into, “19 supporting the war and 17 opposing it. Among those facing the voters, 10 voted for the resolution while only four opposed,” it only one among the four was “n a seriously competitive race”.

The Senate voted 77-23 for Iraq war, and the house 296-133. Today, nearly three years since the merciless illegal occupation began, what difference did the military action add? The situation in Iraq is getting worse. Civilians are killed everyday, ethnic tensions have increased, economic conditions are devastating.

Iraq and Afghanistan wars are the initial events in a scenario which will eventually develop into a third world war. What we see in the actions of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Perle, Wolfowitz and others is the same sort of greed and madness that drove the Nazis to attack Austria and Czechoslovakia, and later Poland, France and other countries during World War II.

Like the Nazi drive for world domination, which resulted in the utter destruction of Germany despite its military might, the American campaign with the aim of dominating the world will result in the utter destruction of the United States and a place in history for it as disgraceful as that now held by Nazi Germany.

Link Here

D-Day Museum Reopens in New Orleans

N.C. Military Town Mourns Fallen Marines

Associated Press Writer

December 3, 2005, 4:27 PM EST

JACKSONVILLE, N.C. -- The grim news that a roadside bomb killed 10 Marines in Iraq arrived at Camp Lejeune just days after President Bush outlined his strategy for victory, a speech delivered in the face of increasing calls to bring the troops home.

But even after learning about Thursday's ambush -- the deadliest against American troops in four months -- this city's embrace of its Marines, their base and their job remains resolute.

"Even when people differ in opinions, you're still respectful to the Marine mission," said Pat McLane, a retired master gunnery sergeant from Jacksonville whose Army officer son was expected to begin his first deployment in Iraq on Saturday. "We're still going to take care of our Marines."

The 10 Marines assigned to the Lejeune-based 2nd Marine Division were on foot patrol outside Fallujah, a former insurgent stronghold, when a bomb fashioned from four large artillery shells exploded.

They attached to the unit once in Iraq; all those who died -- with hometowns stretching from Tomah, Wis. to Surprise, Ariz. -- were from 1st Marine Division, based at Twentynine Palms, Calif.

"The loss of any Marine life is always tragic. ... it makes for a somewhat somber mood," said 1st Lt. Christy Kercheval, a spokeswoman for the Twentynine Palms base. "But at the same time, just as the president said in his recent speech, the best way to honor the loss is to carry out the mission that they defended."

That the 10 Marines never spent time at Camp Lejeune, a sprawling base of 25,000 service members and the Corps' largest on the Atlantic coast, didn't matter in Jacksonville. They were Marines.

"We are one community and one family here," said Reid Flinchum, 65, who has lived in and around Jacksonville for more than 40 years.

It's a place familiar with mourning so many, so quickly. On March 23, 2003, during the earliest days of the ground war, nine Marines from Camp Lejeune died during an ambush as their company crossed a bridge at Nasiriyah.

And most of the 241 Marines and sailors who died in the Oct. 22, 1983, barracks attacks in Beirut were based at Lejeune and the adjoining Marine Corps Air Station New River.

Bush came to Camp Lejeune within two weeks of the Nasiriyah attacks, cheered on by 20,000 Marines, their families and locals.

When Bush spoke Friday from the White House Rose Garden about the economy, he didn't mention the Marines' deaths, though White House press secretary Scott McClellan said the president had been briefed twice about the incident. Typically, Bush does not comment on specific losses in Iraq.

Support for the president and his Iraq policy remains high.

"We all have our opinions, but the best capacity of a Marine is a mission accomplished," said Sgt. Paul Mancuso, 22, who returned two weeks ago from nine months in Iraq as a combat videographer. A tattoo artist drew the outline of a knife with "USMC" inside on his left forearm Friday night.

The feelings in Jacksonville stand in contrast to those of some families who lost loved ones when 14 Ohio-based Marine reservists died in August, killed in a roadside explosion similar to the one that took the lives of the 10 Marines on Thursday.

Paul Schroeder and Rosemary Palmer founded a group called Families of the Fallen for Change. The group wants a bipartisan plan that includes benchmarks to draw down troops in Iraq as soon as is reasonably possible.

"We do not believe that if you speak against the war, you are not supporting the troops," Schroeder said. "You can support troops and yet speak against the policies that put them in that predicament."

Other relatives of the slain Ohio-based Marines have continued to speak in favor of the war. And in Jacksonville, where late-night barber shops and tattoo parlors interspersed with faded yellow ribbons tied around trees line the main drag leading to Lejeune, loud dissent is a rarity. No one wants to suggest any lack of appreciation for Lejeune and its Marines.

"It's a shame that we lost 10 people, but these people all volunteered to serve our country," said Bryce Emerson, a member of a local Veterans of Foreign Wars post in Jacksonville. "We should give them all the support that we can by ensuring that since they paid the ultimate price, we should never dishonor them by saying 'Oh my God' and running home."

That's not to say the deaths -- more than 2,000 America troops have died fighting the war -- don't give pause.

"It has an overall effect on the troops' morale," said Marine Pfc. Josh Coughlin, 19, of Albany, N.Y., who may deploy to Iraq in February. "While I'm confident in our leader, it reinforces the fact that there needs to be some kind of reform on how we're handling the situation."

Coughlin was at the Jacksonville Mall on Friday night with his friend, Pfc. Quintin Garza, an 18-year-old from Brownsville, Texas. Like the others who live and work at and around the base, he said there's only one solution now in Iraq.

"We've got a job to do. And if we don't do it, then nobody's going to do it."

* __

Associated Press writer Natalie Gott contributed to this article from Raleigh, N.C.

Link here

U.S. Stands Alone in U.N. Budget Demand, at Odds With Europe and Developing World

Report Finds Cover-Up in an F.B.I. Terror Case

Face swap woman's dog a hero

Face swap woman's dog a hero

03 December 2005 VALENCIENNES, France: The Frenchwoman who received the world's first partial face transplant was disfigured when her dog tried to wake her during a suicide attempt.

Death penalty losing ground

Death penalty losing ground

03 December 2005 DESPITE three officially sanctioned killings on Friday, in the United States, Singapore and Saudi Arabia, the popularity of the death penalty is waning worldwide.

Poll shows mistrust of US

From correspondents in Washington
December 03, 2005
PEOPLE in Arab nations believe the Iraq war has brought less peace, more terrorism and contrary to Washington's claims, will result in less democracy, according to a new poll.

The survey, in six Arab countries, also found that a plurality of respondents got their news from the Al-Jazeera satellite television network, currently at the centre of a storm over an alleged US idea to bomb its headquarters.

When asked which country was the biggest threat to them, most chose Israel or the United States, while France was nominated as the country most respondents would like to be a superpower.

The University of Maryland/Zogby International poll was conducted in Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in October.

Eighty-one per cent of respondents said the Iraq war had brought "less peace" to the Middle East, while only six per cent believed it had enhanced peace.

Seventy-eight per cent of people questioned believed that the Iraq war had resulted in more terrorism than before, while 58 per cent it had brought less democracy, with only nine per cent believing it enhanced democratic development.

While the administration of President George W. Bush frequently argues that it has liberated Iraqis from Saddam Hussein, only six per cent of those surveyed believed that the Iraqi people were better off after the war. Seventy-seven per cent thought they were worse off.

Only six per cent thought spreading democracy was an objective in the war in Iraq, while seventy six per cent thought control of oil fields was important, and 68 per cent believed support for Israel was key motivating factor.

The survey makes unwelcome reading for US foreign policy officials, who have repeatedly tried to improve the US standing in the Middle East. Under Secretary of Public Diplomacy Karen Hughes saw some of that hostility during a trip to the Middle East in September.

Pollsters also asked, in a world with one superpower, which nation respondents would like to fulfil that role.

Twenty-one per cent said France, 13 per cent said China and 10 per cent said Pakistan. Only six per cent voted for the United States, which came in just behind Britain, at seven per cent.

Forty-five per cent of those surveyed said they watch Al Jazeera most for international news, followed by 11 per cent for Dubai-based MBC.

Britain's Daily Mirror newspaper reported the existence of a memo which summarised a conversation between President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair in which the US president was reported to have wanted to bomb the channel's headquarters.

Link Here


From fedgrants.gov

The United States Agency for International Development is seeking applications for an Assistance Agreement from qualified sources to design and implement a social and economic stabilization program impacting ten Strategic Cities, identified by the United States Government as critical to the defeat of the Insurgency in Iraq. The number of Strategic Cities may expand or contract over time. USAID plans to provide approximately $1,020,000,000 over two years to meet the objectives of the Program. An additional option year may be considered amounting to $300 million at the discretion of USAID. Funds are not yet available for this program.

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Impact ... The moment a bomb explodes near a US convoy / AP

“Pacified” Fallujah

Lies cost lives in Iraq.

Remember the reasons given by the US military and puppet interim Iraqi
government for Operation Phantom Fury against Fallujah? Just prior to
the November, 2004 assault on that city, the primary reasons given for
the massacre in Fallujah were: to provide “security and stability” for
the upcoming January 30 “elections” and to rid Fallujah of Abu Musab

Let us judge the success or failure of this massacre by their own yardstick.

The “security and stability” generated for the elections on January 30,
2005 by the siege of Fallujah looked like roughly 40 dead Iraqi bodies
and 200 wounded, on that day alone.

As for Zarqawi, since not one resident of Fallujah has seen or reported
evidence of this individual in their city before, during or after said
siege, his existence at all in Iraq remains in question…aside from
living large in US military propaganda which is happily trumpeted by
corporate media outlets in the US.

Yesterday morning on NPR (National Pentagon Radio) their reporter in
Baghdad was asked if he felt what Mr. Bush said in a recent speech was
true-was the US military strategy in Iraq working? He replied that he
felt what Mr. Bush said was true in some cases, like in Fallujah. The
NPR reporter referred to Fallujah as “pacified.”

“Pacified” Fallujah looks like a dead six year-old child in that city,
shot by a US sniper in the Al-Dubbat neighborhood on December 1st,
according to Al-Sharqiyah.

“Pacified” Fallujah looks like “two US soldiers were killed by sniper
fire on Wednesday [30 November] in the city of Al-Fallujah, [60
kilometers] west of Baghdad, according to eyewitnesses. A tense
atmosphere prevailed in the city after the US forces besieged some of
its quarters and blocked the main street, while National Guard forces
closed shops and asked the residents to stay in their homes.” Again
according to Al-Sharqiyah.

“Pacified” Fallujah looks like 10 Marines killed and 11 wounded by a
roadside bomb while on a “foot patrol near Fallujah” on Thursday
December 1st, which was the deadliest attack on American troops in
nearly four months.

So if you want to keep thinking there is peace in Fallujah, you’d better
ignore the facts on the ground and keep listening to NPR “presstitutes”
talking on the radio from their hotel rooms in Baghdad.

Surprised to hear this about NPR? Don’t be.

According to Robert McChesney, president of Free Press, a national,
non-profit, media reform group in the US which works to support a
diverse and independent media, our public broadcasting outlets are
already infiltrated by Bush Administration ideologues.

“White House loyalists inside the Corporation for Public Broadcasting
have launched a crusade to remake PBS, NPR and other public media into
official mouthpieces. Kenneth Tomlinson’s tenure at the CPB was
characterized by targeting journalists like Bill Moyers who dared to air
dissenting voices or prepare investigative reports on the
administration,” writes McChesney, “Tomlinson’s goal was clearly to fire
a shot across the bow of all public stations so managers would shy away
from the sort of investigative journalism that might expose Bush
administration malfeasance. Tomlinson resigned in disgrace but left
behind a cast of cronies to carry out his partisan crusade. And we still
don’t know the extent to which Karl Rove and others at the White House
orchestrated his efforts.”

Free Press <http://www.freepress.net/> also accuses the Bush
Administration of bribing journalists, lying about the Iraq War,
eliminating dissent in the mainstream media, gutting the Freedom of
Information Act, consolidating media control, and manufacturing fake news.

We’ve recently had a nice example
of a bright and shining lie with regards to manufacturing fake news in
Iraq. A secret military campaign to plant paid propoganda in the Iraqi
news media has been uncovered. Exposed is Washington-based Lincoln
Group, which has contracts with the military to “provide media and
public relations services.”

Meanwhile, failed US propoganda campaigns are not hiding the fact that
military planners in Iraq estimate that there are as many as 100
resistance groups now fighting against the Anglo-American occupiers of
their country.

Nor have the propogandists managed to hide the fact that two more
members of the so-called Coalition of the Willing, Bulgaria and Ukraine,
have announced they will begin withdrawing their combined 1,250 troops
by the middle of this month.

Most likely, Bulgaria and Ukraine want to get their folks out of Iraq
before more of the country becomes “pacified” like Fallujah.

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-- EXCLUSIVE -- Intelligence "cooking" and retaliation also plagues IMINT (Imagery intelligence) community but with a healthy dose of contract fraud

December 3, 2005 -- EXCLUSIVE -- Intelligence "cooking" and retaliation also plagues IMINT (Imagery intelligence) community but with a healthy dose of contract fraud. WMR has already reported on tainted intelligence being created on the orders of the Bush administration in the SIGINT (signals intelligence) and HUMINT (human intelligence) communities. Largely ignored has been the effect of this policy in the IMINT (imagery intelligence) community. IMINT analysts carefully scan spy satellite and air reconnaissance photos taken of foreign airfields, weapons labs, shipyards, government office complexes, and other strategic and tactical sites.>>>cont

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9/11 Panel Gives Gov't Poor Marks on Reform

By LARA JAKES JORDAN, Associated Press Writer
Fri Dec 2,11:25 PM ET

WASHINGTON - More than four years after the Sept. 11 attacks, U.S. intelligence agencies still are failing to share information while Congress battles over security funding, a panel that investigated the terrorist hijackings will conclude in a new report.

In interviews Friday, members of the former Sept. 11 commission said the government should receive a dismal grade for its lack of urgency in enacting strong security measures to prevent terror attacks.

The 10-member, bipartisan commission disbanded after issuing 41 recommendations to bolster the nation's security in July 2004. The members have reconstituted themselves, using private funds, as the 9/11 Public Discourse Project and will release a new report Monday assessing the extent their directives have been followed.

Overall, the government has performed "not very well," said former commission chairman Thomas Kean, former Republican governor of New Jersey.

"Before 9-11, both the Clinton and Bush administrations said they had identified Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida as problems that have to be dealt with, and were working on it," Kean said. "But they just were not very high on their priority list. And again it seems that the safety of the American people is not very high on Washington's priority list."

A spokesman at the Homeland Security Department declined to comment until the report is issued Monday. Rep. Pete King, R-N.Y., chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, acknowledged that some areas continue to be vulnerable but have not been addressed due to disagreements with the Senate.

Congress established the commission in 2002 to investigate government missteps that led to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. It found that the United States could not protect its citizens from the attacks because it underestimated al-Qaida. Since June, the former commissioners have held hearings to examine what they described as the government's unfinished agenda to secure the country.

Among the main concerns, which former Democratic commissioner Timothy Roemer said would receive the "worst grades":

_The United States is not doing enough to ensure that foreign nations are upgrading security measures to stop proliferation of nuclear, biological and chemical materials. Such materials could be used in weapons of mass destruction, and over 100 research reactors around the world have enough highly enriched uranium present to make a nuclear device.

"We've seen that Osama bin Laden likes to do spectacular things," said Roemer, a former Indiana congressman. "Is a dirty bomb next? ... We're not doing enough, and we're not doing it urgently enough."

_Police, firefighters, medics and other first responders still lack interconnected radio systems letting them communicate with each other during emergencies. Responders from different agencies at the World Trade Center were unable to coordinate rescues — or receive information that could have saved their own lives — on 9/11.

Congress last year approved spending nearly $1 billion on interoperable systems, but King said the matter is "a very difficult issue."

_Both the Bush administration and Congress have continued to distribute security funding to states without aiming most money at high-risk communities. The Homeland Security Department gave $2.5 billion in grants to states and 50 high-risk cities last year, but some rural states, like Wyoming, received more money per resident than terror targets like New York.

The House and Senate have been unable this year to agree on a funding formula that distributes money based solely on risk, threats and vulnerability. King said the Senate's proposal "is still living with a pork-barrel formula." But Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairwoman Susan Collins said in statement that her bipartisan plan "provides a meaningful baseline of funds to each state so that the nation as a whole can achieve essential levels of preparedness."

Kean said information-sharing gaps among turf-conscious federal intelligence agencies continue to exist. He also chastised the Transportation Security Administration for failing to consolidate multiple databases of passenger information into a single "terror watch list" that would make it easier for airlines to screen for suspicious travelers.

Moreover, expanded governmental powers to seek out terror-related intelligence have not been adequately balanced by civil liberties protections or oversight, said former Democratic commissioner Richard Ben-Veniste. He said President Bush was "tardy in naming a civil liberties protection board, whose funding is anemic and which has not yet been met to get underway."

A bright spot in the government's performance is the creation of a national intelligence director to help coordinate all government terror information, Roemer said.

"Generally, the grades range all the way from A to F," Kean said.

Still, "No parent would be happy with this report card," said former Democratic commissioner Jamie Gorelick.

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TIME: 60% want president 'totally different' from Bush in 08...

Early release to RAW STORY.

TIME Poll: Doubts About Iraq Bring Doubts About Bush -- President’s 41% Approval Undercut by Iraq / In 2008, 60% Would Like the Next President to be ‘Completely Different’ from Bush / Rice’s 53% Rating Is Highest for Administration / Only 27% Approve of Bush’s Handling of Immigration

New York -- President Bush’s counter-offensive against his critics shows little sign of reversing his flagging job approval ratings. His rating on the new TIME Poll -- 41% approve - 53% disapprove – is little changed from September following Hurricane Katrina (42%-52%).

The public is split on whether Bush can recover lost ground with half (46%) saying he is likely to recover and half (49%) saying he is unlikely to recover. Three-quarters (76%) of those who disapprove of the job Bush is doing say they are “unlikely to change their mind.” 2008

ELECTION: Looking forward to the 2008 election, three-in-five (60%) surveyed by TIME say they would like the next President to be “completely different” from George W. Bush (36% would like someone similar). If the presidential election were being held today between Bush and John Kerry, it would be a dead heat again (47% Bush, 48% Kerry). Red state residents are split on whether they will be more likely to vote for a Republican (42%) or Democratic (42%) candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives in their districts next year. Blue states are more in favor of the Democratic candidate (55% Democratic vs. 30% Republican).

RICE UNSCATHED: Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice has emerged most unscathed from recent negative events. The TIME Poll shows her approval rating is the highest in the Administration (53% approve, 21% disapprove, v. Vice President Dick Cheney 45%-32%, and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld 42%-35%).

IRAQ: Forty-five percent said Bush’s policies in Iraq and high energy prices had a “very negative” impact on his approval rating. Sixty percent disapprove of his handling of Iraq (38% approve). Half (50%) still think the U.S. was wrong to go to war. Americans are split on whether the President was truthful and honest (45%) or deliberately misled Americans (48%) to build the case for war.

The TIME Poll also finds little change in other key indicators: Ћ 3-in-5 Americans (60%) still see the country going down the wrong track; Ћ Negative ratings for his handling of illegal immigration (57% - 27%) and the economy (55% - 40%). Ћ “Red” states (responsible for Bush’s 2004 re-election) approval rating only 47% approve – 45% disapprove.

Also depressing Bush’s approval ratings: Ћ the federal budget deficit (39% say “very negative” impact), Ћ cronyism charges (39%), Ћ his handling of hurricane recovery in the Gulf coast (37%), Ћ his handling of the economy (35%), Ћ the failure of his social security initiative (32%), Ћ the indictment of senior White House aide Lewis “Scooter” Libby (26% say “very negative” impact).

IMMIGRATION: Only 27% approve Bush’s handling of illegal immigration, which the President has addressed this week with his proposed “guest worker” program. Almost two-thirds (64%) say that illegal immigration is a very serious problem. The issue plays better with Bush’s base, with Republicans believing it is a more serious issue than Democrats (70% - 59%).

A majority believe the U.S. is not doing enough to secure its borders (74%) and that illegal immigrants hurt the U.S. economy (64%). Most (72%) favor a guest worker program for illegal immigrants, with a quarter (24%) opposing. The public is split though on whether illegal immigrants should be eligible to register for the program in the U.S. (50%) or have to return to their own countries to apply (45%).

METHODOLOGY:The TIME Poll was conducted by telephone between November 29 - December 1, 2005 among a national random sample of 1,004 adults, age 18 and older throughout America. The margin of error for the entire sample is approximately +/- 3 percentage points. The margin of error is higher for subgroups. Schulman, Ronca, & Bucuvalas (SRBI) Public Affairs designed the survey and conducted all interviewing. The full Time questionnaire and trend data may be found Mon., Dec. 5 at: www.srbi.com.

Military Admits Planting US-Written Articles In Iraqi Newspapers…

New York Times ERIC SCHMITT December 3, 2005 at 08:09 AM

WASHINGTON, Dec. 2 - The military acknowledged Friday in a briefing for a ranking Senate Republican that news articles written by American troops had been placed as paid advertisements in the Iraqi news media and not always properly identified.

Senator John W. Warner of Virginia, who heads the Senate Armed Services Committee, told reporters after receiving a 25-minute briefing from officials at the Pentagon that senior commanders in Iraq were trying to get to the bottom of a program that apparently also paid monthly stipends to friendly Iraqi journalists.


Nonpartisan Report Shows EPA Fixed Study To Favor Bush’s “Clear Skies”…

Washington Post Juliet Eilperin December 3, 2005 at 08:10 AM
READ MORE: George W. Bush

The Bush administration skewed its analysis of pending legislation on air pollution to favor its bill over two competing proposals, according to a new report by the Congressional Research Service.

The Environmental Protection Agency's Oct. 27 analysis of its plan -- along with those of Sens. Thomas R. Carper (D-Del.) and James M. Jeffords (I-Vt.) -- exaggerated the costs and underestimated the benefits of imposing more stringent pollution curbs, the independent, nonpartisan congressional researchers wrote in a Nov. 23 report. The EPA issued its analysis -- which Carper had demanded this spring, threatening to hold up the nomination of EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson -- in part to revive its proposal, which is stalled in the Senate.


GOP Considers Permanently Replacing DeLay Over Widening Corruption Scandals…

Washington Post Jonathan Weisman December 3, 2005 at 08:36 AM
READ MORE: Jack Abramoff, Investigations, George W. Bush, Tom DeLay

Widening corruption scandals in Washington are heightening Republican sentiments for a GOP leadership shake-up early next year that would permanently replace former majority leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.), according to House members and GOP leadership sources.

Many Republicans say they are troubled that DeLay's political money-laundering trial in Texas could drag on for months, leaving the question of leadership in limbo. And they are increasingly anxious that DeLay may be implicated in the bribery and corruption investigations of Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff and former representative Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-Calif.). But with few members willing to publicly challenge DeLay's return, leadership aides still give the lawmaker a strong shot at a comeback, provided a Texas court exonerates him of charges that he illegally funneled corporate campaign contributions to state legislative candidates. Much will depend on whether DeLay can get the case thrown out or win acquittal by the time Congress convenes Jan. 30 for President Bush's State of the Union address, some GOP lawmakers and aides say.



Roadside Bomb Kills 11 Iraqi Soldiers…

Associated Press ROBERT H. REID December 3, 2005 at 09:41 AM

BAGHDAD, Iraq - A roadside bomb killed 11 Iraqi soldiers and two wounded others Saturday, following the deaths of 10 U.S. Marines in the deadliest attack against American forces in four months.

Elsewhere, a U.S. base at Mosul's airport came under mortar or rocket fire Saturday, wounding two American soldiers, the U.S. military said. Several detonations shook the installation — Forward Operating Base Courage — about 6:50 a.m. the command said.


Justice Dept. Officials Approved Indicted Rep. DeLay’s Texas Redistricting Plan Despite Warnings It Would Dilute Minority Voting Strength…

Associated Press SUZANNE GAMBOA December 2, 2005 at 04:44 PM

Justice Department lawyers objected to a Texas redistricting plan orchestrated by former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, but top agency officials brushed aside concerns about diluting minority voting strength and approved the plan anyway, according to an agency memo released Friday.

The plan, designed to boost election chances of Republican candidates for the U.S. House, was approved by the Justice Department and the new districts were used in the 2002 elections.


Sen. Warner: US Paying For Iraq Propaganda Is A "Really Serious Problem"...

The Washington Post December 2, 2005 at 06:30 PM

WARNER: Good afternoon.

I'm primarily here at your request and share with you what facts I do have on this really serious problem.

I had strong comments on this the other day when I came out and said that I was gravely concerned, and I remain gravely concerned about this situation. And I promptly contacted Secretary Rumsfeld's office, and he has been 100 percent cooperative in trying to inform me as to what he knows at this point and the steps that he and his colleagues in the department are now taking.


9/11 Commission: Gov't Failing To Make Changes To Secure Nation..

Associated Press LARA JAKES JORDAN December 2, 2005 at 06:40 PM

The government is still failing to enact many swift and strong security changes to prevent terror attacks, the former Sept. 11 Commission has concluded.

More than four years after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the government has not done enough to stop nuclear proliferation, give emergency first responders adequate communications systems and ensure that homeland security grants are going to the most high-risk communities, former commissioners said Friday.


Blair Faces Allegations of Complicity in Torture

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By Colin Brown and Andrew Buncombe
The Independent UK

Friday 02 December 2005

Pressure is mounting on the White House to answer claims that the CIA is using UK airports to fly terrorist suspects for torture in secret prisons in Europe. Elizabeth Wilmshurst, the former Foreign Office lawyer who resigned over the Iraq war, warned Tony Blair last night that he cannot duck the questions crowding in about the flights which could mean Britain has been complicit in torture.

In The Independent, Ms Wilmshurst, now a fellow of Chatham House, said the Prime Minister could not justify breaking the international convention against torture by saying the "rules of the game have changed" because of the war on terrorism.

Britain's European partners stepped up the pressure for details to be disclosed about hundreds of secret flights by CIA-operated jets.

Sarah Ludford, a British member of the European Parliament's civil liberties committee, said: "I am not at all reassured that there is sufficient determination by [member states] to establish the truth," she said. "The allegations are now beyond speculation. We now have sufficient evidence involving CIA flights. We need to know who was on those flights, where they went."

EU leaders are ready to follow up their request to Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, to challenge the White House. On Tuesday he wrote to Condoleezza Rice, the US Secretary of State, calling for details of the secret flights to be revealed. Mr Straw said yesterday he had raised the issue with Ms Rice. She is likely to face direct challenges about flights when she visits Brussels next week.

This month, prisoners were reported held in two eastern European countries, believed to be Romania and Poland, brought there on flights the CIA calls "extraordinary rendition". Michael Ratner, director of the New York-based Centre for Constitutional Rights, said: "It's a secret. No one knows what happens in the rendition process or in the gulag of secret CIA hellholes."

But journalists and campaigners have tracked some of what is happening by monitoring the flight records of planes known to be used by the CIA. Plane-spotters have helped compile information on the aircraft - including one Gulfstream originally identified as N379P but now renumbered N44982 - and their movements.

Twenty-six planes apparently used by the CIA have made 307 flights in Europe since 9/11. Of these, 94 had stops in Germany and 76 in Britain, at Luton Glasgow, Prestwick and Northolt. The UK government has denied prisoners are being held on a US-operated base on British-owned Diego Garcia.

John Sifton, a researcher for Human Rights Watch, which has released a list of 26 "ghost detainees" held by the US without access to lawyers, said probably only a few of the 307 flights involved moving prisoners. Most, he said, were likely transferring CIA personnel. "It's impossible to know for sure how many are innocent," he said.

There is a debate in the US about whether torture should be permitted for extracting information. A Bill tabled by Senator John McCain to outlaw torture passed the Senate but is being opposed by Vice President Dick Cheney, who wants special exemption for CIA agents.

Increasingly, politicians in Britain and Europe are showing a determination to find out whether the US has "black sites" in eastern Europe where harsh treatment of suspected terrorists would raise fewer questions. Alexander Alvaro, a German Liberal MEP and member of the European civil liberties committee, said Angela Merkel, the Chancellor, would raise the issue in talks with George Bush. "I think our Chancellor will point out that Germany would not tolerate secret camps in Europe."

There are growing calls at Westminster for Mr Blair to block the CIA flights. The Labour MP Harry Cohen said: "It is not for the UK Government to connive in and facilitate people disappearance. The Government's blind-eye approach to enforcing the law is not acceptable."

An all-party group to challenge the UK and US Governments over the transport of suspected terrorists, was launched yesterday at Westminster. It will be chaired by Conservative MP Andrew Tyrie, former Labour foreign affairs minister, Chris Mullin, and Sir Menzies Campbell, the deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats.

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Blair Faces Allegations of Complicity in Torture

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Pressure is mounting on the White House to answer claims that the CIA is using UK airports to fly terrorist suspects to secret prisons in Europe for torture.

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How Bush Created a Theocracy in Iraq

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By Juan Cole

Friday 02 December 2005

The Bush administration naively believed that Iraq was a blank slate on which it could inscribe its vision for a remake of the Arab world. Iraq, however, was a witches' brew of dynamic social and religious movements, a veritable pressure cooker. When George W. Bush invaded, he blew off the lid.

Shiite religious leaders and parties, in particular, have crucially shaped the new Iraq in each of its three political phases. The first was during the period of direct American rule, largely by Paul Bremer. The second comprised the months of interim government, when Iyad Allawi was prime minister. The third stretches from the formation of an elected government, with Ibrahim Jaafari as prime minister, to today.

In the first phase, expatriate Shiite parties returned to the country to emerge as major players, to the consternation of a confused and clueless "Coalition Provisional Authority."

The oldest of these was the Dawa Party, founded in the late 1950s as a Shiite answer to mass parties such as the Communist Party of Iraq and the Arab nationalist Baath Party. Dawa means the call, as in the imperative to spread the faith. Dawa Party leaders in the 1960s and 1970s dreamed of a Shiite paradise to rival the workers' paradise of the Marxists, with a state ruled by Islamic law, where a "consultative council" somehow selected by the community would make further regulations in accordance with the Koran. The Dawa Party organized covert cells throughout the Shiite south. In 1980, in the wake of the Khomeini revolution in Iran, Saddam Hussein and the Baath Party cracked down hard on Dawa, executing many of its leaders, attacking its party workers and making membership in the party a crime punishable by death. The upper echelons of the Baath were dominated by Sunni Arabs who disliked religious Shiites, considering them backward and Iran-oriented rather than progressive and Arab. In the same year, 1980, Saddam invaded Iran, beginning a bloody eight-year-long war with his Shiite neighbor.

In the early 1980s, Iran came to be viewed in Washington as public enemy Number 2, right after the Soviet Union. In the Cold War, the United States had viewed Iran as a key asset, and in 1953 the CIA overthrew the populist government of elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh, which had broken with the country's monarch. The US put the autocratic Mohammad Reza Shah back on his throne, building him up as an absolute monarch with a well-trained secret police and jails overflowing with prisoners of conscience. The shah's obsequiousness toward the US, and his secularism, provoked the ire of many religious Shiites in Iran. Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, exiled as a troublemaker in 1963, had lived from 1964 to 1978 in Iraq, where he developed a new doctrine that clerics should rule. In 1978 he was expelled from Iraq to Paris and helped lead the revolution of 1978-79 that overthrew the shah and brought Khomeini to power as theocrat in chief.

Khomeini's rise coincided with that of Saddam, a secular Sunni. Thousands of activist Shiites from Iraq fled to Iran, and the leadership congregated in Tehran. In 1982, with the support of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Iraqi Shiite exiles formed a militant umbrella group, the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI). Dawa was also active there. Among its leaders was a physician from the Shiite holy city of Karbala named Ibrahim Jaafari. In 1984, the cleric Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim became the head of SCIRI. From Iran, both Dawa and SCIRI mounted commando attacks on Baathist facilities and officials, attempting to overthrow the Baath government. In 1989 Jaafari and other lay leaders of the Dawa Party relocated to London, seeking greater freedom of action than they could attain under the watchful eyes of the ayatollahs in Tehran.

During the Gulf War of 1990-91, when the US and its allies pushed Saddam Hussein's forces back out of Kuwait, President George H.W. Bush called on Iraqis to rise up against the dictator. The Shiites took him at his word, launching a popular revolution in the spring of 1991 in which they took control of the southern provinces. Bush, fearful of a Shiite Islamic republic, then allowed the Baath to crush the revolution, killing tens of thousands. In the aftermath, two clerical leaders emerged: Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, originally from Iran but resident in Najaf since late 1951, took a cautious and quietist course, teaching religion but staying out of politics. His rival, Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr, increasingly defied Saddam, organizing poor Shiites into a puritanical form of religion. In 1999 the Baath secret police killed al-Sadr and his two older sons. His middle son, Muqtada, went underground. The religious Shiite parties established their credibility with the Shiite public by their dissident activities.

In the run-up to the March 2003 US invasion of Iraq, both the London branch of the Dawa Party and the Tehran-based Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq engaged in consultations with Washington. Both had been involved in extensive meetings with secular Shiite politician Ahmed Chalabi, who organized the Iraqi National Congress as an expatriate party aimed at overthrowing the Baath. When Saddam fell, leaders of both Shiite organizations established themselves in Iraq. Ibrahim Jaafari came from London with his colleagues and sought to organize the Dawa Party as a populist political force in the Shiite south. Ayatollah Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq made a triumphal journey overland from Tehran to Iraq. SCIRI immediately launched membership drives in the villages and small cities of the Shiite south and garnered thousands, perhaps millions, of new members over the next year and a half.

In April and May of 2003, after the fall of Saddam, the Sadr movement emerged into the spotlight. Muqtada al-Sadr, just 30 years old, did not have the scholarly credentials to be a great clerical leader, but the fanatic devotion of the slum-dwelling Shiite masses to his father ensured that he, too, would be met with acclaim when he came out of hiding. He organized the takeover by his followers of most major mosques in the ghetto of East Baghdad, which was promptly renamed Sadr City in honor of Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr. He immediately launched regular demonstrations against what he characterized as the US occupation of Iraq, demanding that American troops depart immediately. In the summer of 2003, he began organizing his militia, the Mahdi Army. He desires a theocratic government similar to that in Iran.

The US State Department, fearful that the Pentagon might install corrupt expatriate politician Chalabi in power in Iraq, convinced President George W. Bush instead to send in Paul Bremer, who had been a career foreign service officer. Bremer intended initially to rule Iraq single-handedly. As the Sunni Arab guerrilla movement gained momentum in May and June, it became clear to him that he could not hope to rule Iraq by himself, and he appointed a governing council of 25 members. Ibrahim Jaafari of Dawa and Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim of SCIRI were appointed, as were several prominent figures with backgrounds in the Iraqi Dawa Party, along with Sunni Arabs and members of minorities.

Bremer's plan to have the constitution written by a committee appointed by himself foundered when it met strong objections from Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani. In a fatwa, or legal ruling, Sistani insisted that an Iraqi constitution must be drafted by delegates to a constituent assembly elected by the Iraqi people. Bremer initially discounted this criticism. He is alleged to have asked one of his aides, "Can't we get a fatwa from some other mullah?" It gradually became apparent that Sistani's authority was such that he could overrule the US proconsul on this issue.

By October of 2003, as the guerrilla war grew, it became clear that Bremer could not in fact hope to rule Iraq by fiat, and that the US would have to hand sovereignty back to the Iraqis. Bremer's initial plan was to hold circumscribed elections for a parliament. Most voters would be members of the provincial councils (each with 16 to 40 members) that the US and Britain had somehow massaged into existence.

Again, Sistani objected, insisting that only open, one-person, one-vote elections could guarantee a government that reflected the will of the Iraqi people. It was almost as though Sistani were quoting French political philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau to the Americans. He also insisted on a prominent role for the United Nations as midwife to the new Iraq. When it seemed as though the Bush administration might ignore him, Sistani brought 40,000 demonstrators into the streets in Basra and 100,000 in Baghdad in mid-January of 2004. The Bush administration immediately acquiesced. US special envoy Ibrahim Lakhdar came for extensive consultations, and elections were set for January 2005. In the meantime, the US would hand sovereignty to an appointed government for six months, with a supporting United Nations resolution.

The weakness of the US in Iraq encouraged the proliferation of party paramilitaries. The Dawa Party began having men patrol in some cities. SCIRI expanded its Badr Corps militia, originally trained by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. These militias avoided conflict with the US because their parties had a marriage of convenience with the Bush administration, and because they agreed not to carry heavy weaponry. It is alleged that the Supreme Council continues to receive substantial help from Iran, and that the clerics in Tehran still pay the salaries of some of the Badr Corps fighters. The likelihood is that the Iranians give at least a little money and support to a wide range of Shiite politicians in Iraq, including some secularists, so that whoever comes out on top is beholden to them. The mullahs in Iraq probably support the Supreme Council more warmly than any other political party, however.

In contrast, the Mahdi Army of Muqtada al-Sadr was viewed by the Americans as a threat, even though the Sadrists seldom came into violent conflict with US troops. As the handover of sovereignty approached, the Americans in Iraq suddenly announced that they wanted to kill or capture Muqtada al-Sadr, and they arrested several of his key aides in early April 2004. He responded by launching a massive revolt, which initially succeeded in taking control of East Baghdad and several southern cities. Through hard fighting, the US military gradually defeated the Mahdi Army, reaching a truce in early June. In August, fighting broke out again between the Sadrists and the Marines in the holy city of Najaf. This crisis was resolved when Sistani returned from London after a heart procedure there to call for all Iraqis to march on Najaf. The flooding of the city by civilians made further fighting impossible, and Muqtada al-Sadr slipped away. Thereafter Muqtada fell quiet for many months. When he reemerged, it was as a political broker rather than simply a warlord.

The Americans had had to give up their hopes of ruling Iraq directly, both because of the Sunni Arab guerrilla war and the challenge of the Shiites. Although he was more peaceful about it, Sistani opposed key American initiatives as much as the young firebrand Muqtada al-Sadr did. The Mahdi Army uprising was the nail in the coffin of direct American rule of Iraq. Next, the US completely lost control of the political process.

In fall 2004, Sistani intervened to shape the upcoming elections. He insisted that all the major Shiite parties run on a single list, to avoid splitting the Shiite vote. Since Shiites comprise about 62% of Iraqis, a united Shiite list could hope to win a majority in parliament. The coalition of Dawa, SCIRI and smaller Shiite parties won the election on Jan. 30, as Sistani had foreseen. The US had attempted to build up the old CIA asset and secular ex-Baathist, Iyad Allawi, as the natural leader of Iraq. It signally failed. His list received only about 14% of seats in parliament.

The real winners of the January 2005 elections were the Shiite religious parties. This was bad news for Bush. In partnership with the Kurdish Alliance, they formed a government that brought Ibrahim Jaafari of Dawa to power as prime minister and gave Dawa and SCIRI several important posts in the executive. Sunni Arabs from the rival branch of Islam were largely excluded from the new government, insofar as they had either boycotted the election or had been unable to vote for security reasons. The new Jaafari government quickly established warm relations with Iran, receiving a pledge of $1 billion in aid, the use of Iranian port facilities and help with refining Iraqi petroleum.

At the provincial level, the Shiite parties swept to power throughout the south. SCIRI dominated nine of 11 provinces that had a significant Shiite population, including Baghdad province. The Sadrists took Maysan province and Basra province. Shiite militias proliferated and established themselves.

The dominance of the central legislature and the executive by religious Shiites gave Sistani great moral authority over the drafting of the permanent constitution, the main task of the new parliament. The Shiites inserted a provision that no legislation could be passed by parliament that contravened the established laws of Islam, and made provisions for Muslim clerics to be appointed to the judiciary. Some important elements of the old Dawa Party vision of a government in accordance with Islam was therefore achieved, though it was leavened by modern, secular human rights ideals. When Dawa and SCIRI were based in Tehran in the 1980s, plotting to overthrow Saddam and come to power, they could not have imagined that their dream would be realized 20 years later with American help. Jaafari, the elected prime minister, employed his position to strengthen the Shiite fundamentalist Dawa Party that he headed. Abdul Aziz al-Hakim had lived to see his Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq rule half the provinces of Iraq, including the capital, as well as play a central role in the parliament and the cabinet. Both parties drew Baghdad closer to Tehran, seeking warm relations with the clerical rulers of Iran. Shiite power now dominated the eastern stretches of the Middle East. The Bush administration trumpeted its bestowal of democracy in the region, but most Middle Eastern observers saw only the installation of a new Shiite power.

The hawks in the Bush administration had initially hoped that a conquered Iraq would form the launching pad for a further American war on Iran. The Shiites of Iraq foiled that plan. Sistani forced the Americans into direct, one-person, one-vote elections. Those elections in turn ensured that the religious Shiites would come to power, since they had the greatest street credibility, given their long struggle against Saddam and their nationalist credentials in the face of American occupation.

An Iraq dominated by religious Shiites who had often lived in exile in Iran for decades is inevitably an Iraq with warm relations with Tehran. The US, bogged down in a military quagmire in the Sunni Arab regions, cannot afford to provoke massive demonstrations and uprisings in the Shiite areas of Iraq by attacking Iran. Bush has inadvertently strengthened Iran, giving it a new, religious Shiite ally in the Gulf region. The traditional Sunni powers in the region, such as the kings of Saudi Arabia and Jordan, are alarmed and annoyed that Bush has created a new "Shiite crescent." Far from weakening or overthrowing the ayatollahs, Bush has ensconced and strengthened them. Indeed, by chasing after imaginary weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, he may have lost any real opportunity to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon should it decide to do so.

The real winners of the Iraq war are the Shiites.

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Venezuela Touts Cheap Fuel to US as Bush Takes Heat

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By Matthew Robinson

Thursday 01 December 2005

New York - Venezuela on Thursday launched an ad campaign touting its cheap heating oil program for the US poor as Washington faces criticism for doing little to protect consumers from high fuel prices.

The full page ad in some of the nation's top newspapers could irk the administration of US President George W. Bush, which has frequently clashed with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez over economic and foreign policies.

Under the banner: "How Venezuela is keeping the home fires burning in Massachusetts," the ad talks up a program to supply poor residents of the state with low-cost fuel from Citgo, the US branch of the OPEC nation's state oil firm PDVSA.

"The advertisements are intended to inform about this humanitarian effort," Dave McCollum, a Citgo spokesman, told Reuters.

"This effort came in response to the impact that hurricanes Rita and Katrina had on energy prices. It is being handled as a pilot program," he added.

Launched in Massachusetts last month, the program will also provide low-cost fuel to New York City.

The advertisement, which appeared in The New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today and the Houston Chronicle, came out as executives from US firms including Chevron, ConocoPhillips and Exxon Mobil appeared at a hearing in Wisconsin on Thursday to defend record profits.

The hearings follow a similar face-off in the US Senate in early November, which critics say failed to get a sufficient explanation about how the companies have made unprecedented profits at a time of national crisis.

US fuel prices soared after hurricanes damaged US oil infrastructure in the Gulf Coast last summer. The high costs have become a political liability for Bush, who has suffered from lower approval ratings in recent months in part due to fuel prices.

Analysts said left-winger Chavez, who has given preferential energy supply deals to Venezuela's South American and Caribbean neighbors to strengthen regional ties, has seized upon expected high heating bills this winter to curry favor among the US population.

"It's a publicity stunt, really. But it does give them some support among US regional politicians. It's not a stupid thing to do," said one energy analyst who asked not to be named.

But proponents of the heating oil program say the former army officer only wants to ease the sting of US winter heating bills in the Northeast, which accounts for 80 percent of all the nation's heating oil demand.

"Chavez expressed his interest in helping the (poor) people," Larry Chretien of Mass Energy, which is helping to distribute the cheap fuel, said.

Oil-reliant Venezuela, the world's fifth largest crude exporter, is already a top US energy supplier.

But relations between Washington and Caracas have degenerated since Chavez first won office in 1998, promising to fight poverty through his "revolutionary" social programs and increasing ties with anti-US states such as Cuba and Iran.

He claims the Bush government has plotted to topple him. Washington denies the charge but says Chavez is a threat to regional stability.

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Friday, December 02, 2005

Administration "saddened" by losses in Fallujah bombing

George W Bush!!!!!!!!!!! AWOL


Administration "saddened" by losses in Fallujah bombing

WHITE HOUSE The Bush administration says it's "saddened" to hear of the deadly roadside bombing that killed ten Marines in Iraq.

Press Secretary Scott McClellan says a loss like this represents a "tough day" for the U-S cause -- the kind that President Bush has warned about.

But the spokesman says the soldiers sacrificed "for an important cause," and America will be forever grateful.

Pentagon officials say the Marines were patrolling on foot near Fallujah (fuh-LOO'-juh) yesterday when the bomb went off.

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