Just Foreign Policy Iraqi Death Estimator    

Saturday, December 31, 2005

Oh Yeah. Where did I leave the popcorn..??

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Abramoff ready to rat on members of Congress

Federal prosecutors and lawyers for lobbyist Jack Abramoff are putting the finishing touches on a plea deal that could be announced early next week, according to people familiar with the negotiations. The plea agreement would secure the Republican lobbyist's testimony against several members of Congress who received favors from him or his clients.


Art For Boys

The NEW America

Three Katrina evacuees dead in apparent double murder-suicide
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GRAPEVINE, Texas (AP) - A family of three Hurricane Katrina evacuees facing eviction were found dead Friday in their North Texas apartment in what police said appears to be a double murder-suicide.

The discovery was made after police were called by the apartment complex to assist in the eviction, Grapevine police Sgt. Todd Dearing said. He didn't know how long the Louisiana family had not been paying rent.

Found with gunshot wounds were a 40-year-old man, a 37-year-old woman and a 14-year-old boy. Dearing said police found a shotgun believed to be the weapon.

Dearing said the scene inside the apartment "had the appearance" of a murder-suicide, but he couldn't say for certain.

He said police were searching for a 16-year-old daughter who they believe was living away from the family. Identifications were withheld pending notification of relatives.

Dearing said a resident informed the complex Thursday that they heard what sounded like three gunshots near the victims' apartment. Grapevine police were called to the apartment but left when no one answered the door.

"There was no reason for us to make entry," Dearing said. "They said it was their usual method of not answering the phones or door because they were being evicted."

Dearing said the family was supposed to be out of the apartment Tuesday, but the complex gave the family a few extra days. The family was receiving assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Dearing said.

Apartment management could not be reached for comment.

Dearing said the victims will be taken to the Tarrant County medical examiner for autopsies.

georgie has now officially spent ONE YEAR of his presidency on VACATION

A Moment, From Niger

Holy Shittokki Pass The Popcorn...

Internal scuffle at the Times as editor, publisher refuse questions on withholding NSA story

An internal faceoff at the New York Times is set to go public in Sunday editions when the public editor accuses his bosses of 'stonewalling' him in his attempts to understand the decision to report on NSA eavesdropping after at least a year's delay, RAW STORY has learned.

In his bi-weekly column slated for Sunday's edition, Byron Calame says the paper's response has been "woefully inadequate" and reveals that he e-mailed a list of 28 questions to the executive editor and publisher who declined to answer, the first time that's happened since he became the paper's ombudsman.

Executive editor Bill Keller's only response was one line: "There is really no way to have a full discussion of the back story without talking about when and how we knew what we knew, and we can't do that."

To Calame, the "most obvious and troublesome omission" is the failure to adequately address whether the story was ready to publish before the Nov. 2, 2004 election. The few public explanations given by Keller haven't been clear about the exact timing and leaves the public editor with "uncomfortable doubts."

Many critics on the right and left have speculated that a forthcoming book, "State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration," written by James Risen, one of the article's writers, may have sparked the Times' decision to finally publish. Calame reveals that the Times' Washington bureau chief talked to the book's publisher at least twice in the last month. The book is set to hit shelves on Tuesday.

On Friday, officials anounced that the Justice Department had opened up a criminal investigation into who may have disclosed secret information to the paper for the article published two weeks ago. White House deputy press secretary Trenty Duffy denied on Friday that President Bush had any foreknowledge of the investigation. Newsweek reported that Bush summoned Keller and Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger to the Oval Office on December 6 in a "futile attempt" to get the paper to kill the story.

Excerpts from Calame's column:

At the outset, it's essential to acknowledge the far-reaching importance of the eavesdropping article's content to Times readers and to the rest of the nation. Whatever its path to publication, Sulzberger and Keller deserve credit for its eventual appearance in the face of strong White House pressure to kill it. And the basic accuracy of the account of the eavesdropping stands unchallenged -- a testament to the talent in the trenches.

But the explanation of the timing and editing of the front-page article by James Risen and Eric Lichtblau caused major concern for scores of Times readers... "After meeting with senior administration officials to hear their concerns, the newspaper delayed publication for a year to conduct additional reporting," it said. "Some information that administration officials argued could be useful to terrorists has been omitted."

If Times editors hoped the brief mention of the one-year delay and the omitted sensitive information would assure readers that great caution had been exercised in publishing the article, I think they miscalculated...

The rest of Calame's column can be read at the New York Times Website.

Sorry It Is Late Ladies... Art For Girls

Hey Rossi...

If you are reading this,...


Now get off the blog and go have some fun damnit.

Love you.

Happy New Years Everyone!!!

May they have a terrible New Year

Hell Yeah, I love it

December 31, 2005 -- In 2006, Tom DeLay will pay. And so will Bob Ney, and Mark Lay, and Ken Lay. Maybe by May, some people say.

And when they pay, let it be so. The same for Tom Noe and Texan Ted Poe. And Wally O'Dell and a Miller named Zell and Jodi Rell as well. Oh hell man, along with Ken Mehlman, it wouldn't be daft to jail Bob Taft

Let's hope none of them get off including Jack Abramoff and Michael Chertoff.

May they have a terrible New Year

And may we all turn giddy, at the conviction of Scooter Libby. And wouldn't it be zany to arrest Dick Cheney? And without bail may he be held, that would be Don Rumsfeld.

Adding to the GOP's depressions, would be scandals for Jeff and Pete Sessions. And it would not be a no no, to investigate Mary Bono. At the end of the day, they may say, "Who knew" they'd get John Sununu?

While the fundies are eating their grits, may they read about the sacking of Paul Wolfowitz. And a bastard named Hastert and the right-wing dodo, Sam Alito.

FDR used to grind away at "Martin, Barton, and Fish," the GOP scoundrels of their day. Today you'd be no meanie to attack "Foxx, Franks, and Feeney."

As for Bill O'Reilly, the lush, may his ratings tumble, ditto for Rush. And may the sun finally set on a nit named Mitt and a suit named Newt.

And how does this rub ya? The impeachment of Dubya. May his fortunes ebb along with those of Jeb. May the House of Bush collapse in debris al fresco thus joining the House of Ceausescu.

And God willing, with the trial of Jeffrey Skilling, the Bush slush fund will be exposed and swallow up Karl Rove. Right into the crap hole, along with Mike Crapo.

And may 06 be dismal for the neocon stooges, the abysmal Ahmad Chalabi, Reza Pahlavi, and George Pataki. Let them all decline, along with Mike DeWine. And there would be no affront in kicking out Roy and Matt Blunt.

In the Year of the Dog may Condi Rice be afflicted with the GOP's political lice -- the whole batch -- from Orrin Hatch to John Bolton's mustache. Even Ted Stevens. Did I mention John Ensign?

And for the sanatorium, how about Rick Santorum? And would it not be stunning to commit Jim Bunning? After a while, maybe Jon Kyl.

After a movie called Brokeback let it be curtains for a hate merchant called Brownback, and John Cornyn and B-1 Bob Dornan. And the GOP won't be merry when they finally find out about Rick Perry and not so holy over Mark Foley. The fundie criers will groan louder about David Dreier and become quite abashed about Victor Ashe.

Let California finally forsake its mistake, the Nazi prevaricator Arnold Schwarzenegger. Wouldn't it be superb, if the GOP had to bring back Mike Curb? And Maryland will grow sick of Bob Ehrlich and there will be no safe harbor for Mississippi's Haley Barbour.

In November, if we could, let's dump Virgil Goode and Ray LaHood, Rick Renzi and in two years, Mike Enzi. It would not be a mistake to toss out Jeff Flake and Errnie Istook who just might be a crook.

This time next year, let us welcome to town a brand new sound. One that is so liberal the neocons will spit meaningless drivel and quickly shrivel.

Happy 06.

Link Here

Happy New Year 2006

Peace be with you

Iraq war veteran jailed as suspect in two robberies

A Wayne City, Ill., Army Reservist who returned home recently from the war in Iraq has been arrested in connection with two armed robberies in Mount Vernon

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Poll: Australians' support for Iraq war falling

Shit Russia has to tell me two thirds of Australians are saying the war was not worthwhile, bit late to decide that I would say.

Australians' support for the government decision to invade Iraq has fallen, with two thirds now saying the war was not worthwhile, a poll indicated Saturday. ...

Link Here

The Agency That Could Be Big Brother

By JAMES BAMFORDDecember 25, 2005NYT

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

Deep in a remote, fog-layered hollow near Sugar Grove, W.Va., hidden by fortress-like mountains, sits the country's largest eavesdropping bug. Located in a "radio quiet" zone, the station's large parabolic dishes secretly and silently sweep in millions of private telephone calls and e-mail messages an hour.

Run by the ultrasecret National Security Agency, the listening post intercepts all international communications entering the eastern United States. Another N.S.A. listening post, in Yakima, Wash., eavesdrops on the western half of the country.

A hundred miles or so north of Sugar Grove, in Washington, the N.S.A. has suddenly taken center stage in a political firestorm. The controversy over whether the president broke the law when he secretly ordered the N.S.A. to bypass a special court and conduct warrantless eavesdropping on American citizens has even provoked some Democrats to call for his impeachment.

According to John E. McLaughlin, who as the deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency in the fall of 2001 was among the first briefed on the program, this eavesdropping was the most secret operation in the entire intelligence network, complete with its own code word - which itself is secret.

Jokingly referred to as "No Such Agency," the N.S.A. was created in absolute secrecy in 1952 by President Harry S. Truman. Today, it is the largest intelligence agency. It is also the most important, providing far more insight on foreign countries than the C.I.A. and other spy organizations.

But the agency is still struggling to adjust to the war on terror, in which its job is not to monitor states, but individuals or small cells hidden all over the world. To accomplish this, the N.S.A. has developed ever more sophisticated technology that mines vast amounts of data. But this technology may be of limited use abroad. And at home, it increases pressure on the agency to bypass civil liberties and skirt formal legal channels of criminal investigation. Originally created to spy on foreign adversaries, the N.S.A. was never supposed to be turned inward. Thirty years ago, Senator Frank Church, the Idaho Democrat who was then chairman of the select committee on intelligence, investigated the agency and came away stunned.

"That capability at any time could be turned around on the American people," he said in 1975, "and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor everything: telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn't matter. There would be no place to hide."

He added that if a dictator ever took over, the N.S.A. "could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back."

At the time, the agency had the ability to listen to only what people said over the telephone or wrote in an occasional telegram; they had no access to private letters. But today, with people expressing their innermost thoughts in e-mail messages, exposing their medical and financial records to the Internet, and chatting constantly on cellphones, the agency virtually has the ability to get inside a person's mind.

The N.S.A.'s original target had been the Communist bloc. The agency wrapped the Soviet Union and its satellite nations in an electronic cocoon. Anytime an aircraft, ship or military unit moved, the N.S.A. would know. And from 22,300 miles in orbit, satellites with super-thin, football-field-sized antennas eavesdropped on Soviet communications and weapons signals.

Today, instead of eavesdropping on an enormous country that was always chattering and never moved, the N.S.A. is trying to find small numbers of individuals who operate in closed cells, seldom communicate electronically (and when they do, use untraceable calling cards or disposable cellphones) and are constantly traveling from country to country.

During the cold war, the agency could depend on a constant flow of American-born Russian linguists from the many universities around the country with Soviet studies programs. Now the government is forced to search ethnic communities to find people who can speak Dari, Urdu or Lingala - and also pass a security clearance that frowns on people with relatives in their, or their parents', former countries.

According to an interview last year with Gen. Michael V. Hayden, then the N.S.A.'s director, intercepting calls during the war on terrorism has become a much more complex endeavor. On Sept. 10, 2001, for example, the N.S.A. intercepted two messages. The first warned, "The match begins tomorrow," and the second said, "Tomorrow is zero hour." But even though they came from suspected Al Qaeda locations in Afghanistan, the messages were never translated until after the attack on Sept. 11, and not distributed until Sept. 12.

What made the intercepts particularly difficult, General Hayden said, was that they were not "targeted" but intercepted randomly from Afghan pay phones.

This makes identification of the caller extremely difficult and slow. "Know how many international calls are made out of Afghanistan on a given day? Thousands," General Hayden said.

Still, the N.S.A. doesn't have to go to the courts to use its electronic monitoring to snare Al Qaeda members in Afghanistan. For the agency to snoop domestically on American citizens suspected of having terrorist ties, it first must to go to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, or FISA, make a showing of probable cause that the target is linked to a terrorist group, and obtain a warrant.

The court rarely turns the government down. Since it was established in 1978, the court has granted about 19,000 warrants; it has only rejected five. And even in those cases the government has the right to appeal to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review, which in 27 years has only heard one case. And should the appeals court also reject the warrant request, the government could then appeal immediately to a closed session of the Supreme Court.

Before the Sept. 11 attacks, the N.S.A. normally eavesdropped on a small number of American citizens or resident aliens, often a dozen or less, while the F.B.I., whose low-tech wiretapping was far less intrusive, requested most of the warrants from FISA.

Despite the low odds of having a request turned down, President Bush established a secret program in which the N.S.A. would bypass the FISA court and begin eavesdropping without warrant on Americans. This decision seems to have been based on a new concept of monitoring by the agency, a way, according to the administration, to effectively handle all the data and new information.

At the time, the buzzword in national security circles was data mining: digging deep into piles of information to come up with some pattern or clue to what might happen next. Rather than monitoring a dozen or so people for months at a time, as had been the practice, the decision was made to begin secretly eavesdropping on hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people for just a few days or a week at a time in order to determine who posed potential threats.

Those deemed innocent would quickly be eliminated from the watch list, while those thought suspicious would be submitted to the FISA court for a warrant.

In essence, N.S.A. seemed to be on a classic fishing expedition, precisely the type of abuse the FISA court was put in place to stop.At a news conference, President Bush himself seemed to acknowledge this new tactic. "FISA is for long-term monitoring," he said. "There's a difference between detecting so we can prevent, and monitoring."

This eavesdropping is not the Bush administration's only attempt to expand the boundaries of what is legally permissible.

In 2002, it was revealed that the Pentagon had launched Total Information Awareness, a data mining program led by John Poindexter, a retired rear admiral who had served as national security adviser under Ronald Reagan and helped devise the plan to sell arms to Iran and illegally divert the proceeds to rebels in Nicaragua.

Total Information Awareness, known as T.I.A., was intended to search through vast data bases, promising to "increase the information coverage by an order-of-magnitude." According to a 2002 article in The New York Times, the program "would permit intelligence analysts and law enforcement officials to mount a vast dragnet through electronic transaction data ranging from credit card information to veterinary records, in the United States and internationally, to hunt for terrorists." After press reports, the Pentagon shut it down, and Mr. Poindexter eventually left the government.

But according to a 2004 General Accounting Office report, the Bush administration and the Pentagon continued to rely heavily on data-mining techniques. "Our survey of 128 federal departments and agencies on their use of data mining," the report said, "shows that 52 agencies are using or are planning to use data mining. These departments and agencies reported 199 data-mining efforts, of which 68 are planned and 131 are operational." Of these uses, the report continued, "the Department of Defense reported the largest number of efforts."

The administration says it needs this technology to effectively combat terrorism. But the effect on privacy has worried a number of politicians.

After he was briefed on President Bush's secret operation in 2003, Senator Jay Rockefeller, the Democratic vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, sent a letter to Vice President Dick Cheney.

"As I reflected on the meeting today and the future we face," he wrote, "John Poindexter's T.I.A. project sprung to mind, exacerbating my concern regarding the direction the administration is moving with regard to security, technology, and surveillance."

Senator Rockefeller sounds a lot like Senator Frank Church.
"I don't want to see this country ever go across the bridge," Senator Church said. "I know the capacity that is there to make tyranny total in America, and we must see to it that this agency and all agencies that possess this technology operate within the law and under proper supervision, so that we never cross over that abyss. That is the abyss from which there is no return."

James Bamford is the author of "Puzzle Palace" and"Body of Secrets: Anatomy of the Ultra-Secret National Security Agency."

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More Iraqi prisoner abuse uncovered, officials say

More evidence that Iraqi prisoners have been abused has been uncovered during American inspections of two jails in the war-torn country.


Posted: 09:38 AEDT

S Korea to cut Iraq troops by a third

South Korea's Parliament has approved a bill to cut by about one-third the size of its troop deployment in Iraq, the third-largest foreign contingent there.


Who Said That George is a Spy?

Who Said That George is a Spy?

Don't Blame the Messenger;"

President Bush broke the law and lied to the American people..."

More on Firstfruits.

December 30, 2005 -- More on Firstfruits. The organization partly involved in directing the National Security Agency program to collect intelligence on journalists -- Firstfruits -- is the Foreign Denial and Deception Committee (FDDC), a component of the National Intelligence Council. The last reported chairman of the inter-intelligence agency group was Dr. Larry Gershwin, the CIA's adviser on science and technology matters, a former national intelligence officer for strategic programs, and one of the primary promoters of the Iraqi disinformation con man and alcoholic who was code named "Curveball." Gershwin was also in charge of the biological weapons portfolio at the National Intelligence Council where he worked closely with John Bolton and the CIA's Alan Foley -- director of the CIA's Office of Weapons Intelligence, Nonproliferation, and Arms Control (WINPAC) -- and Frederick Fleitz -- who Foley sent from WINPAC to work in Bolton's State Department office -- in helping to cook Iraqi WMD "intelligence" on behalf of Vice President Dick Cheney and Scooter Libby. In addition to surveilling journalists who were writing about operations at NSA, Firstfruits particularly targeted State Department and CIA insiders who were leaking information about the "cooking" of pre-war WMD intelligence to particular journalists, including those at the New York Times, Washington Post, and CBS 60 Minutes.

The vice chairman of the FDDC, James B. Bruce, wrote an article inStudies in Intelligence in 2003, "This committee represents an inter­agency effort to understand how foreign adversaries learn about, then try to defeat, our secret intelligence collection activities." In a speech to the Institute of World Politics, Bruce, a CIA veteran was also quoted as saying, "We've got to do whatever it takes -- if it takes sending SWAT teams into journalists' homes -- to stop these leaks." He also urged, "stiff new penalties to crack down on leaks, including prosecutions of journalists that publish classified information." The FDDC appears to be a follow-on to the old Director of Central Intelligence's Unauthorized Disclosure Analysis Center (UDAC).
NSA eavesdropping on journalists and their sources is sending chills throughout Washington, DC and beyond.

Meanwhile, WMR's disclosures about Firstfruits have set off a crisis in the intelligence community and in various media outlets. Journalists who have contacted WMR since the revelation of the Firstfruits story are fearful that their conversations and e-mail with various intelligence sources have been totally compromised and that they have been placed under surveillance that includes the use of physical tails. Intelligence sources who are current and former intelligence agency employees also report that they suspect their communications with journalists and other parties have been surveilled by technical means.

Link Here

The G-Men Cometh: Journalists now put on notice to be prepared to testify about NSA sources.

December 30, 2005 -- BREAKING NEWS. The Alberto Gonzales Justice Department is opening up a criminal investigation of the leak of classified NSA information about President Bush's illegal wiretapping operations directed against U.S. citizens. The investigation may force journalists, including the two New York Times reporters who broke the domestic surveillance story -- James Risen and Eric Lichtblau -- to testify before a grand jury and identify their sources within the NSA and other intelligence agencies.
The G-Men Cometh: Journalists now put on notice to be prepared to testify about NSA sources.

The Justice Department investigation may lead to a full frontal assault on the First Amendment of the US Constitution. This editor goes on the record by stating that under no circumstance will he testify before any grand jury about sources regarding NSA or other intelligence agencies.

Link Here

Is Washington Planning a Military Strike?

German papers: US set to strike Iran

Airstrikes predicted in early '06; Anti-Israel rants by Pres. blamed for escalation

Bush “Surrounded By People Who Agree With Him”…

Associated Press JENNIFER LOVEN December 30, 2005 at 09:08 AM
READ MORE: George W. Bush

Loyalty and continuity have marked the Bush White House since early on. After two wars, devastating strikes by terrorists and hurricanes, a bruising re-election and countless legislative battles, President Bush's team is continuing the trend — defying history and shakeup rumors to remain almost entirely intact five years in.

"They've been there long enough to qualify for the Medicare prescription drug benefit," quipped Paul Light, a professor of organizational studies at New York University.


Bush Wins Award For “Heckuva Job” Brownie Quote…

Reuters Arthur Spiegelman December 30, 2005 at 09:34 AM
READ MORE: George W. Bush, Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane

Call it the wrong phrase at the wrong time but "Brownie, you're doing a heckuva job" was named on Thursday as U.S. President George W. Bush's most memorable phrase of 2005.

The ill-timed praise of a now disgraced agency head became a national punch line for countless jokes and pointed comments about the administration's handling of the Hurricane Katrina disaster and added to the president's reputation for verbal gaffes and clumsy turns of phrase.


Black Lawmakers Says Georgia GOP Voting Law Will Hurt Poor, Elderly And Minorities…

Associated Press ERRIN HAINES December 30, 2005 at 10:29 AM

At the end of a losing battle during the past legislative session, Georgia state Rep. Alisha Thomas Morgan burst into the civil rights anthem "Ain't Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around" to protest the passage of a law requiring voters to show a photo ID at the polls.

In the next session starting Jan. 9, the 27-year-old black Democrat says she will not be moved in her fight to get the law repealed.


Hell Yeah, Imagine it, You guys sure as hell live in a crazy crazy Country, crime certainly pays for some.

ACLU On Spy Leak Probe: "It's Pretty Stunning That, Rather Than Focus On Whether The President...Broke Federal Law, They Are Going After The Whistleblowers"...
AP Tony Locy Posted December 31, 2005 12:20 AM
READ MORE: George W. Bush, New York Times, Investigations

WASHINGTON - The Justice Department has opened another investigation into leaks of classified information, this time to determine who divulged the existence of President Bush's secret domestic spying program.

The inquiry focuses on disclosures to The New York Times about warrantless surveillance conducted by the National Security Agency since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, officials said.

Read Whole Story

WP: Abramoff Helped Russian Energy Execs Funnel $1M To Delay-Linked Organization...

The Washington Post R. Jeffrey Smith December 31, 2005 at 12:15 AM
READ MORE: Jack Abramoff, Washington Post
From the Christian Science Monitor

The U.S. Family Network, a public advocacy group that operated in the 1990s with close ties to Rep. Tom DeLay and claimed to be a nationwide grass-roots organization, was funded almost entirely by corporations linked to embattled lobbyist Jack Abramoff, according to tax records and former associates of the group.

During its five-year existence, the U.S. Family Network raised $2.5 million but kept its donor list secret. The list, obtained by The Washington Post, shows that $1 million of its revenue came in a single 1998 check from a now-defunct London law firm whose former partners will not identify the money's origins.


Abramoff Moves Closer To A Plea Deal...
AP TONI LOCY December 31, 2005 at 12:09 AM
READ MORE: Jack Abramoff

WASHINGTON - Federal prosecutors and lawyers for Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff are putting the finishing touches on a plea deal that could be announced as early as Tuesday, according to people familiar with the negotiations.

The plea agreement would secure the lobbyist's testimony against several members of Congress who received favors from him or his clients.


Chalabi Appointed Acting Head Of Oil Ministry...

How the friking Hell can Georgies Boy be in charge of the oil, when he was wiped out in the elections for Gods sake, 30 days, shit that should just give them enough time to clean out the oil profits but good.

BBC December 30, 2005 at 04:48 PM
From the BBC

Iraqi Oil Minister Ibrahim Bahr al-Uloum has been temporarily released from his post amid a dispute over the government's petrol pricing policy.

He is to be replaced for 30 days by Deputy Prime Minister Ahmed Chalabi.


Hey Guys Not Gone Yet, in six hours to be exact. .

The Crocs Naaahhhhh I dont think so,

Hey Christy Girl I certainly hope you are not getting any hate mail because of me not fair,

And the dead aborigines I might see a few of those,

And hell your always in charge,

But you can slow the darn site down tomorrow,

I will be away 7 days and darn please can you impeach a you know who and his admistration by the time I get back then it will be a hell of a good New Years.

Hey Ally those a pretty darn good pics there.

You keep the site rocking Girlfriend okay.

Illegal Pics For Ally

Ok Boys and Girls...

Rossi, AKA Kangaroo.. has gone on a MUCH deserved and dare I say, needed, vacation.

So... It is just my mean and onerey self here for the next coupla 4 days or so. As if I have to be here to get the hate mail.

As of right now, as long as they can keep Rossi from a comp, we are slowing this biznitch WAYYY down.

Sooooo... If you start wondering WHY Reb suddenly is not being updated in an outright Aussie orgy of knowledge and learning....

It is because she is at some cane ranch or some...out back thing, probably wrestling crocs, or learning to speak to the dead in Aborigini.

Aborige.. Aborijin... Ahhh.. you know who I mean.

Yup, an American is in charge..

Damn, it seems kinda lonely without her here.. huh?

Friday Night Art

Friday, December 30, 2005

The silent shift is almost palpable..

Going Too Far
By William Rivers Pitt
t r u t h o u t
Thursday 29 December 2005

The bouncer at my bar is named Ty. A native of New Orleans, he speaks with the slow drawl unique to the region, and he is huge. Not outlandishly huge, not freakishly huge, but definitely one of the larger specimens of human one is likely to meet. He works the door at my joint, as well as at another bar down the street a ways. Ty is smart, funny as all get-out and a marvelous spinner of tales.

Each night Ty works he regales my friends and me with stories of mayhem and bouncer-justice, of the drunken boobs stupid enough to think they can push him around at the other establishment. My bar, one gets the sense, is too peaceful for his tastes; he has never been forced to exercise his talents while working at my joint.

Ty and I have assiduously observed the tenets of that invisible sign which hangs over the door of every drinking establishment in America: "Thou Shalt Not Discuss Religion Or Politics In This Place." The two reasons for this are straightforward: I don't particularly relish the idea of discussing work when I am in my cups; also, Ty is an ardent Bush supporter, so the first reason becomes doubly significant. If I want to get frustrated and annoyed, I can just turn on CNN and listen to the Know-Nothings ply their wares.

A funny thing happened the other night, however - something that changed the whole dynamic of our relationship. I was passing by Ty, and he grabbed me by the arm to pull me aside. He knows what I do for a living, and wanted to discuss politics in defiance of the invisible sign. "What do you think of the Patriot Act?" he asked me.

"I think it's a damned troubling thing," I said after a moment. "There are aspects of it that have been on the books for years because of the War on Drugs. There are aspects of it that are brand new to American law. Overall, I think it is tremendously invasive and not in line with how we have done things in this country. As a Republican," I said with a bit of the needle in my voice, "the issues of personal freedom and governmental interference should bother you."

"I ain't no Republican," he said. "I'm an Independent. I think they're all crooks."

"Fair enough," I said, "but you are a Bush supporter."

"Yep," he drawled. "So what parts of the Patriot Act don't you like?"

"Well," I said, "one scary part of it is Section 215, the thing people call the 'Sneak-and-Peek' provision. Section 215 says law enforcement can enter your house, search your stuff, bug your phone, bug your computer - and they never have to tell you they were there. The FBI could have 215'd their way into my house and I'd never know it. Hell, they could be there right now. All they need to do it is a warrant signed by a judge somewhere."

"That ain't right," he said after a moment's consideration. "But at least they have to talk to a judge."

"Well," I said, "have you heard about all this stuff with the National Security Agency spying on people here in America?"

"Little bit, yeah," he said.

"You know that the NSA can spy on pretty much anyone, tap their phones, do total surveillance?" I asked, and he nodded. "Well, back in 2002, Bush told the NSA to start spying on Americans. Lots of them. But he did this without going through the FISA court."

"FISA court?" he asked.

"FISA stands for the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which was passed in 1978," I said. "After Watergate and all that craziness, they wanted to make sure our intelligence services weren't being used by people in power to spy on Americans. If you want to get the NSA to spy on Americans, you have to get a warrant from what's called the FISA court. They're a few judges who hear arguments for special FISA warrants."


"Now here's one of the crazy parts with this Bush-NSA thing," I said. "To get a warrant from this FISA court, you don't need to have probable cause. You don't need to have evidence. The FISA court has handed out more than 19,000 warrants since it was set up, and has only denied four. And they do it quickly, because obviously if you go before the FISA court for a warrant, you're probably pressed for time. It's the easiest court in America to get a warrant from. Bush totally blew past them, said he didn't need warrants from the FISA court, and just had the NSA start spying away on Americans."

Ty's response to this was too profane to be printed here.

"Why the hell'd he do that?" he finally asked.

"Good question," I said. "There are two probable reasons, neither of which are very comfortable. The first reason is that he and Cheney want to expand the power of the Executive Branch. Cheney, specifically, has always felt that the Executive let go of too much power after Watergate and Vietnam, gave too much power to Congress and the press, and these guys have been trying to get it back. So they decided that since we are 'at war,' they were going to do whatever they damned well pleased."

"Seems smart," he said.

"Maybe," I said, "but that's a different debate. Ask yourself this, though. Imagine a Democrat wins the White House in 2008. These Bush guys will have left this Democrat with outrageously broad powers. His people can spy on whom they like, because Bush did it. They don't have to get warrants, because Bush did it. They can lie to the press, because Bush did it. They can bulldoze Congress, because Bush did it. That make you comfortable?"

"Hell no," he said.

"Right," I said. "Too much power is too much power, no matter who is in power. The separation of powers is there for a reason."

"So what's the other reason you think he didn't get the FISA warrants?" he asked.

"That," I said, "is actually the scarier part. Like I said, FISA has given out those 19,000 warrants and has only denied four. It's incredibly easy to get a warrant from them. The only reason they're there at all is to safeguard your privacy and mine, to make sure some crazy maniac in the White House doesn't start spying on Americans, on personal enemies, on you and me. The NSA can do that, so the FISA court is there as a firewall."

"OK," he said.

"So maybe," I said, "Bush didn't go to the FISA court because he knew they wouldn't give him the warrants. Maybe he didn't go to the FISA court because he wanted to spy on enemies like Patrick Fitzgerald, like Joe Wilson, like Cindy Sheehan, like Tom Daschle or Harry Reid, or anyone else who was messing with him. Maybe he didn't go to the FISA court because he knew the surveillance he wanted was illegal, but he was damned well going to do it anyway."

"That ain't right," said Ty, his face reddening.

"Now take this all one step further," I said, "since you asked about the Patriot Act. Think about that Section 215 and the sneak-and-peek stuff. I told you they need to see a judge first to come into your home, to search and bug your stuff. But this whole NSA deal shows that Bush and these guys don't give a hoot in hell for judges, warrants or the process of law. They're going to do what they want to do, warrant or not. We've got a situation now where Bush and his people could not only be ordering the surveillance of Americans, but could also be authorizing home invasions, and all without any kind of warrants and oversight. What does that sound like to you?"

"Fascism," he said without hesitating.

"This is the reason," I said with a smile, "why I don't talk politics at the bar. I have a way of going on and on until the paint peels. But let me ask you one last question."

"Shoot," he said.

"As a Bush supporter," I said, "how far are you willing to go to support the guy? How much individual liberty, how many laws, are you willing to give up to Bush before we lose the country? How far is too far?"

Ty didn't have anything to say at first. "This," he finally muttered, "is too damned far."

At that moment, a crowd of people came into the bar, and Ty had to check their IDs. I went back to my beer.

Drip, drip, drip.

William Rivers Pitt is a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of two books: War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know and The Greatest Sedition Is Silence.

Leaked torture documents published here

The UK Government are trying to block these documents from publication under the Official Secrets Act

These are some more documents that the UK Government are trying to suppress with the threat of prosecution under the Official Secrets Act. They detail our use of intelligence extracted by torture, and legal advice the Foreign Office received on the subject, and we need to make people aware of their existence.

Link Here

John W. Dean | Bush as Nixon: Both Wiretapped Illegally, and Impeachably

By John W. Dean

Friday 30 December 2005

Both claimed that a president may violate Congress's laws to protect national security
On Friday, December 16, the New York Times published a major scoop by James Risen and Eric Lichtblau: They reported that Bush authorized the National Security Agency (NSA) to spy on Americans without warrants, ignoring the procedures of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

It was a long story loaded with astonishing information of lawbreaking at the White House. It reported that sometime in 2002, Bush issued an executive order authorizing NSA to track and intercept international telephone and/or email exchanges coming into, or out of, the U.S. - when one party was believed to have direct or indirect ties with al Qaeda.

Initially, Bush and the White House stonewalled, neither confirming nor denying the president had ignored the law. Bush refused to discuss it in his interview with Jim Lehrer.

Then, on Saturday, December 17, in his radio broadcast, Bush admitted that the New York Times was correct - and thus conceded he had committed an impeachable offense.

There can be no serious question that warrantless wiretapping, in violation of the law, is impeachable. After all, Nixon was charged in Article II of his bill of impeachment with illegal wiretapping for what he, too, claimed were national security reasons.

These parallel violations underscore the continuing, disturbing parallels between this Administration and the Nixon Administration - parallels I also discussed in a prior column.

Indeed, here, Bush may have outdone Nixon: Nixon's illegal surveillance was limited; Bush's, it is developing, may be extraordinarily broad in scope. First reports indicated that NSA was only monitoring foreign calls, originating either in the USA or abroad, and that no more than 500 calls were being covered at any given time. But later reports have suggested that NSA is "data mining" literally millions of calls - and has been given access by the telecommunications companies to "switching" stations through which foreign communications traffic flows.

In sum, this is big-time, Big Brother electronic surveillance.

Given the national security implications of the story, the Times said they had been sitting on it for a year. And now that it has broken, Bush has ordered a criminal investigation into the source of the leak. He suggests that those who might have felt confidence they would not be spied on, now can have no such confidence, so they may find other methods of communicating. Other than encryption and code, it is difficult to envision how.

Such a criminal investigation is rather ironic - for the leak's effect was to reveal Bush's own offense. Having been ferreted out as a criminal, Bush now will try to ferret out the leakers who revealed him.

Nixon's Wiretapping - and the Congressional Action That Followed

Through the FBI, Nixon had wiretapped five members of his national security staff, two newsmen, and a staffer at the Department of Defense. These people were targeted because Nixon's plans for dealing with Vietnam - we were at war at the time - were ending up on the front page of the New York Times.

Nixon had a plausible national security justification for the wiretaps: To stop the leaks, which had meant that not only the public, but America's enemies, were privy to its plans. But the use of the information from the wiretaps went far beyond that justification: A few juicy tidbits were used for political purposes. Accordingly, Congress believed the wiretapping, combined with the misuse of the information it had gathered, to be an impeachable offense.

Following Nixon's resignation, Senator Frank Church chaired a committee that investigated the uses and abuses of the intelligence derived from the wiretaps. From his report on electronic surveillance, emerged the proposal to create the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). The Act both set limits on electronic surveillance, and created a secret court within the Department of Justice - the FISA Court - that could, within these limits, grant law enforcement's requests to engage in electronic surveillance.

The legislative history of FISA makes it very clear that Congress sought to create laws to govern the uses of warrantless wiretaps. Thus, Bush's authorization of wiretapping without any application to the FISA Court violated the law.

Whether to Allow Such Wiretaps Was Congress's Call to Make

No one questions the ends here. No one doubts another terror attack is coming; it is only a question of when. No one questions the preeminent importance of detecting and preventing such an attack.

What is at issue here, instead, is Bush's means of achieving his ends: his decision not only to bypass Congress, but to violate the law it had already established in this area.

Congress is Republican-controlled. Polling shows that a large majority of Americans are willing to give up their civil liberties to prevent another terror attack. The USA Patriot Act passed with overwhelming support. So why didn't the President simply ask Congress for the authority he thought he needed?

The answer seems to be, quite simply, that Vice President Dick Cheney has never recovered from being President Ford's chief of staff when Congress placed checks on the presidency. And Cheney wanted to make the point that he thought it was within a president's power to ignore Congress' laws relating to the exercise of executive power. Bush has gone along with all such Cheney plans.

No president before Bush has taken as aggressive a posture - the position that his powers as commander-in-chief, under Article II of the Constitution, license any action he may take in the name of national security - although Richard Nixon, my former boss, took a similar position.

Presidential Powers Regarding National Security: A Nixonian View

Nixon famously claimed, after resigning from office, that when the president undertook an action in the name of national security, even if he broke the law, it was not illegal.

Nixon's thinking (and he was learned in the law) relied on the precedent established by Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War. Nixon, quoting Lincoln, said in an interview, "Actions which otherwise would be unconstitutional, could become lawful if undertaken for the purpose of preserving the Constitution and the Nation."

David Frost, the interviewer, immediately countered by pointing out that the anti-war demonstrators upon whom Nixon focused illegal surveillance, were hardly the equivalent of the rebel South. Nixon responded, "This nation was torn apart in an ideological way by the war in Vietnam, as much as the Civil War tore apart the nation when Lincoln was president." It was a weak rejoinder, but the best he had.

Nixon took the same stance when he responded to interrogatories proffered by the Senate Select Committee on Government Operations To Study Intelligence Operations (best know as the "Church Committee," after its chairman Senator Frank Church). In particular, he told the committee, "In 1969, during my Administration, warrantless wiretapping, even by the government, was unlawful, but if undertaken because of a presidential determination that it was in the interest of national security was lawful. Support for the legality of such action is found, for example, in the concurring opinion of Justice White in Katz v. United States." (Katz is the opinion that established that a wiretap constitutes a "search and seizure" under the Fourth Amendment, just as surely as a search of one's living room does - and thus that the Fourth Amendment's warrant requirements apply to wiretapping.)

Nixon rather presciently anticipated - and provided a rationalization for - Bush: He wrote, "there have been - and will be in the future - circumstances in which presidents may lawfully authorize actions in the interest of security of this country, which if undertaken by other persons, even by the president under different circumstances, would be illegal."

Even if we accept Nixon's logic for purposes of argument, were the circumstances that faced Bush the kind of "circumstances" that justify warrantless wiretapping? I believe the answer is no.

Is Bush's Unauthorized Surveillance Action Justified? Not Persuasively

Had Bush issued his Executive Order on September 12, 2001, as a temporary measure - pending his seeking Congress approval - those circumstances might have supported his call.

Or, had a particularly serious threat of attack compelled Bush to authorize warrantless wiretapping in a particular investigation, before he had time to go to Congress, that too might have been justifiable.

But several years have passed since the broad 2002 Executive Order, and in all that time, Bush has refused to seek legal authority for his action. Yet he can hardly miss the fact that Congress has clearly set rules for presidents in the very situation in which he insists on defying the law.

Bush has given one legal explanation for his actions which borders on the laughable: He claims that implicit in Congress' authorization of his use of force against the Taliban in Afghanistan, following the 9/11 attack, was an exemption from FISA.

No sane member of Congress believes that the Authorization of Military Force provided such an authorization. No first year law student would mistakenly make such a claim. It is not merely a stretch; it is ludicrous.

But the core of Bush's defense is to rely on the very argument made by Nixon: that the president is merely exercising his "commander-in-chief" power under Article II of the Constitution. This, too, is a dubious argument. Its author, John Yoo, is a bright, but inexperienced and highly partisan young professor at Boalt Law School, who has been in and out of government service.

To see the holes and fallacies in Yoo's work - embodied in a recently published book - one need only consult the analysis of Georgetown University School of Law professor David Cole in the New York Review of Books. Cole has been plowing this field of the law for many years, and digs much deeper than Yoo.

Since I find Professor Yoo's legal thinking bordering on fantasy, I was delighted that Professor Cole closed his real-world analysis on a very realistic note: "Michael Ignatieff has written that 'it is the very nature of a democracy that it not only does, but should, fight with one hand tied behind its back. It is also in the nature of democracy that it prevails against its enemies precisely because it does.' Yoo persuaded the Bush administration to untie its hand and abandon the constraints of the rule of law. Perhaps that is why we are not prevailing."

To which I can only add, and recommend, the troubling report by Daniel Benjamin and Steven Simon, who are experts in terrorism and former members of President Clinton's National Security Council. They write in their new book The Next Attack: The Failure of the War on Terror and a Strategy for Getting It Right, that the Bush Administration has utterly failed to close the venerable loopholes available to terrorist to wreak havoc. The war in Iraq is not addressing terrorism; rather, it is creating terrorists, and diverting money from the protection of American interests.

Bush's unauthorized surveillance, in particular, seems very likely to be ineffective. According to experts with whom I have spoken, Bush's approach is like hunting for the proverbial needle in the haystack. As sophisticated as NSA's data mining equipment may be, it cannot, for example, crack codes it does not recognize. So the terrorist communicating in code may escape detection, even if data mining does reach him.

In short, Bush is hoping to get lucky. Such a gamble seems a slim pretext for acting in such blatant violation of Congress' law. In acting here without Congressional approval, Bush has underlined that his Presidency is unchecked - in his and his attorneys' view, utterly beyond the law. Now that he has turned the truly awesome powers of the NSA on Americans, what asserted powers will Bush use next? And when - if ever - will we - and Congress - discover that he is using them?


John W. Dean, a FindLaw columnist, is a former counsel to the president.

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White House denies calling for probe

This from our State paper
And yeah, you think we believe that, just because they say so, a bunch of lying war criminals. In you dreams

From correspondents in Crawford
THE White House said overnight it had no role in the Justice Department's decision to investigate the leaking of classified information indicating that President George W. Bush authorised a secret government wiretap program.

"The Justice Department undertook this action on its own, which is the way it should be," White House spokesman Trent Duffy said in Crawford, Texas, where the President was enjoying a year-end vacation on his ranch.

But he added: "The White House was informed of the decision, as was the president."

Mr Duffy stressed that "the leaking of classified information is a serious issue." And he defended the use of wiretaps, warning that "Al-Qaeda's playbook is not printed on page one, and when America's is, it has serious ramifications."

The probe was opened after Mr Bush earlier this month urged a "full investigation" into who leaked information about the secret government wiretap program. It is unknown who was behind the leak revealing the secret program, although media reports have suggested that some agents were concerned about the program's legality.

The president's call for a probe came after US media reported that Mr Bush had authorised the National Security Agency (NSA) to engage in an operation to monitor massive volumes of telephone and Internet communications.

Domestic spying is a sensitive issue for many Americans who are proud of their civil liberties. Similar revelations about domestic spying led to legislation in the 1970s that allows wiretapping but requires government agencies to obtain a special court warrant for it.

The President's order enabled the NSA to monitor, without a warrant, international telephone calls and electronic mail of US citizens with suspected ties to Al-Qaeda.

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Congress Is Asked to Raise Debt Limit

Justice Dept. Probing Who Revealed Bush’s Eavesdropping Operation

They are investigating the leak, not the criminals who committed the crime.

Reuters December 30, 2005 at 10:56 AM
READ MORE: George W. Bush, Investigations
AP/Susan Walsh

The U.S. Justice Department has launched an investigation to determine who disclosed a secret NSA eavesdropping operation approved by President George W. Bush after the September 11 attacks, officials said on Friday.

"We are opening an investigation into the unauthorized disclosure of classified materials related to the NSA," one official said.


Reports: UK Intel Officers Involved In Rendition And Torture Of Terror Suspects…

NY Times Alan Cowell December 30, 2005 at 12:53 PM

A British opposition politician called on Thursday for an inquiry into allegations that British intelligence officers took part in the interrogation of Pakistani terror suspects, said to have been abducted and tortured in Greece after the London bombings in July.

Jack Straw, the British foreign secretary, has called the accusations "complete nonsense" and the government has issued a gag order known as a D- notice to prevent British media from identifying a purported British agent named in Greek press reports.


Shut Down Of Iraq’s Largest Refinery Creates Long Gas Lines In Baghdad…

Associated Press SINAN SALAHEDDIN December 30, 2005 at 11:19 AM

Long lines formed at gas stations in Baghdad on Friday as word spread that
Iraq's largest oil refinery had shut down in the face of threats against truck drivers, and fears grew of a gas shortage.

Also in the capital, a suicide car bomber and a mortar killed six people and injured 23 people in separate attacks Friday, police said. The car bomber blew himself up next to a police patrol in a commercial area, killing three Iraqi civilians, and the mortar landed in a market, killing three Iraqi civilians and injuring 21. The market was closed because of the Friday holiday.


Death threats close Iraqi oil refinery

Posted: 12:20 AEDT

Authorities in Iraq have admitted that they have been forced to close the country's biggest oil refinery after tanker drivers stopped work because of death threats.


Mike Whitney: 'Doomsday for the greenback'

Mike Whitney

A preemptive attack on Iran would "provoke other industrial nations to strategically abandon the dollar en masse"... "in an effort to thwart the neoconservatives from pursuing their desperate strategy of dominating the world's hydrocarbon energy supply." William R. Clark "Petrodollar Warfare; Dollars, Euros and the upcoming Iranian Oil Bourse"

The Federal Reserve is the financial headquarters for the cartel of multinational banking establishments. The confederation of banks in the Fed underwrites the exploitative activities of the world's main industries and sets rates in a manner that best serves their objectives. This is how the bankers perpetuate the system of economic hegemony and apply the shackle of debt and dependence to the planet's most destitute countries. The Federal Reserve is every bit as critical to the maintenance of the empire as its political counterparts in Washington or its blood-brothers in the US Military. It is the largest of the empire's three gears; economic, political and military, which mobilize the mighty wheel of state terror.

If we look carefully at the Iraq war, the main financial institutions stood squarely behind the hostilities and did their best to create a hospitable economic environment for aggression. The Federal Reserve dropped the prime rate to a paltry 1.5% just 6 months before the Iraq invasion to keep the American economy purring along while Bush dragged the nation to war. The bloody footprints for Iraq lead straight to the oak-panel doors of America's primary lenders even before they trail off to the bastions of America's energy giants.

There's a reason for this. The main impetus for the war was not petroleum, but greenbacks and the future of a currency that is underwritten by $8 trillion of debt. The only way to safeguard its dominance is to back up the listing dollar with boatloads of oil. And, that is exactly the plan.

The Capital of Empire

America's capital is not in Washington DC. In fact, it is not geographic location at all. It is the greenback, the epicenter of the global rule. The dollar is the cornerstone upon which the mighty pillars of empire rest.

At the same time, the greenback is the greatest swindle in human history; a worthless scrap of paper buried beneath a mountain of debt. It is only through the skillful mix of politics, diplomacy, and brute force that the grand deception is maintained. As America's fortunes grow more tenuous, the probability of attacks on the dollar will increase exponentially. Even now, nations are conspiring to knock the dollar from its towering summit and introduce a more equitable system.

At present, the greenback serves as the world's reserve currency, the main medium of exchange. This allows the US to pile up enormous debt while avoiding the pitfalls of skyrocketing interest rates or hyper-inflation. The $2 billion of borrowed wealth that props up the faltering empire every day comes primarily from the exporting powerhouses Japan and China. This means that America's profligate spending is financed by the labor of some of the most poorly paid workers in the world.

Ironically, sweatshop workers in Kwantung Province are now bankrolling the criminal occupation of Iraq by facilitating America's massive trade deficits.

Every greenback carries with it the accumulated weight of two centuries of war, slavery, and ethnic cleansing of Native Americans. It is the flaccid script that has fueled 50 years of covert activities, coup d'etats, and third-world death-squads. It churns through the arteries of the empire to the furthest most extremities where torture and abuse are carried out beneath the tri-colored standard. It is strewn across the empire like the myriad gulags that now speckle the planet. It is the heart of the beast; a venom-pumping organ with arteries strung across the globe like the concertina-wire that surrounds Falluja, Samarra and Tal Afar.

Eventually the stately images of Lincoln and Washington will be stripped from the currency; replaced with the looming specter of Guantanamo's gun towers or the iconic figure of an Abu Ghraib prisoner, hooded in sackcloth, arms outstretched in Christ-like submission, wires draped from his hands and feet. These are the freshly minted symbols of the new realm, the republic of terror.

As the empire extends its withering grip to the world's last resource-centers, the dollar is coming under increasing scrutiny. It is the dollar that facilitates the perennial war and the vast expansion of military force; just as it is the dollar that binds together the constellation of American colonies that function exclusively in the interests of their Washington overlords. The asymmetrical warfare that is approaching will put the greenback squarely in the crosshairs; the weal-link in America's coat of mail.

Hugo Chavez knows this, as did Saddam; that's why he switched to the euro 6 months before "Shock and Awe". Now, Putin is trading oil in euros and Iran will open an oil bourse in petro-euros in March. For Iran, its actions are tantamount to a declaration of war. Already, America's proxy Israel has threatened to attack in March. Is it merely coincidence that Iran's oil bourse is scheduled to open at the same time?

No, it's not.

The empire requires a steady diet of petrodollars to maintain its gluttonous appetite for debt. If the oil-producing nations switch to euros, the dollar would freefall like a wingless gull and America would be trapped in a bottomless vat of red ink.

America's prodigious dept has made the war for the world's remaining resources an existential struggle. A retreat from Iraq is no longer possible. If America's debt is not propped up with oil reserves the anemic dollar will crumble with the economy following right behind.

In William R. Clark's "Petrodollar Warfare; Dollars, Euros and the upcoming Iranian Oil Bourse", Clark outlines the problems the dollar faces if Iran proceeds with its plan to use a euro-based oil trading exchange. The new Iranian bourse would compete head-on with the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) and London's International Petroleum Exchange IPE) giving international buyers an option of "buying a barrel of oil $60 on the NYMEX or IPE or 45 to 50 euros via the Iranian bourse." Clark calls this the Federal Reserves "biggest nightmare" as it would precipitate a face-off between the dollar and the euro and would fundamentally change the dynamics in the world's largest market.

"In essence, the US will no longer be able to effortlessly expand credit via US Treasury Bills, and the dollars demand-liquidity will quickly fall." This will "challenge the hegemony currently enjoyed by the financial centers in both London and New York."

In other words; doomsday for the greenback.

Clark also notes that "both Russia and China significantly increased their central bank holdings of the euro, which appears to be a coordinated move to facilitate the anticipated ascendance of the euro as a second world reserve currency." This would effectively end the petrodollars hegemony as the "monopoly oil currency".

The world is preparing for a seismic shift in the global power-structure, but Washington believes it can forestall that change through military force.

The prospect of a competing Iranian oil-exchange greatly increases the likelihood of a unilateral attack by the US. Clark anticipates that this may "provoke other industrial nations to strategically abandon the dollar en masse"..."While central bankers throughout the world community would be extremely reluctant to 'dump the dollar'"... "They would likely move in tandem on the currency exchange markets in an effort to thwart the neoconservatives from pursuing their desperate strategy of dominating the world's hydrocarbon energy supply."

A strategy to "dump the dollar"?

Some variant of Clark's scenario will undoubtedly transpire pending an American attack on Iran. The world will not confront the empire militarily, but neither will they stand idly by while vital oil resources are put at risk. A coordinated assault on the dollar is an extreme, but probable consequence.

The vulnerability of the dollar, skittering atop an ocean of red ink, has become the Achilles heel of the empire. Washington may believe that its weakness is well-concealed behind a wall of high-tech weaponry and media propaganda, but potential adversaries will certainly know where to strike if they are forced to respond.

America's future has grown increasingly uncertain due to the reckless militarism of its leaders. An attack on Iran is sure to incite an asymmetrical war that will target the greenback; dislodging it from its lofty perch.

When the dollar collapses, the baling-wire of economic coercion that keeps the empire sewn together will quickly unravel.

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Ex-envoy to Uzbekistan goes public on torture

Anne Penketh, Diplomatic Editor
Published: 30 December 2005

Britain's former ambassador to Uzbekistan, Craig Murray, has defied the Foreign Office by publishing on the internet documents providing evidence that the British Government knowingly received information extracted by torture in the "war on terror".

Mr Murray, who publicly raised the issue of the usefulness of information obtained under torture before he was forced to leave his job last year, submitted his forthcoming book, Murder in Samarkand, to the Foreign Office for clearance. But the Foreign Office demanded that he remove references to two sensitive government documents, which undermine official denials, to show that Britain had been aware it was receiving information obtained by the Uzbek authorities through torture. Rather than submit to the gagging order Mr Murray decided to publish the material on the internet.

The first document published by Mr Murray contains the text of several telegrams that he sent to London from 2002 to 2004, warning that the information being passed on by the Uzbek security services was torture-tainted, and challenging MI6 claims that the information was nonetheless "useful". The second document is the text of a Foreign Office legal opinion which argues that the use by intelligence services of information extracted through torture is not a violation of the UN Convention Against Torture.

Britain's former ambassador to Uzbekistan, Craig Murray, has defied the Foreign Office by publishing on the internet documents providing evidence that the British Government knowingly received information extracted by torture in the "war on terror".

Mr Murray, who publicly raised the issue of the usefulness of information obtained under torture before he was forced to leave his job last year, submitted his forthcoming book, Murder in Samarkand, to the Foreign Office for clearance. But the Foreign Office demanded that he remove references to two sensitive government documents, which undermine official denials, to show that Britain had been aware it was receiving information obtained by the Uzbek authorities through torture. Rather than submit to the gagging order Mr Murray decided to publish the material on the internet.

The first document published by Mr Murray contains the text of several telegrams that he sent to London from 2002 to 2004, warning that the information being passed on by the Uzbek security services was torture-tainted, and challenging MI6 claims that the information was nonetheless "useful". The second document is the text of a Foreign Office legal opinion which argues that the use by intelligence services of information extracted through torture is not a violation of the UN Convention Against Torture.

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Gulf War syndrome persists in US troops after 10 years: study

Thu Dec 29,11:29 PM ET

CHICAGO (AFP) - ' Gulf War syndrome', a debilitating multi-symptom affliction identified in many soldiers after the 1991 conflict in Kuwait, is likely to strike US troops fighting in Iraq, a new study shows.

The syndrome, which proved hard to diagnose because it manifested itself in many different afflictions, remained widespread among US troops 10 years after the Gulf War ended, according to the study, lead-authored by Melvin Blanchard, assistant professor of medicine at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri.

Blanchard's study will be published in January in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

A comprehensive medical evaluation of some 2,189 Gulf War veterans between 1999 and 2001 found that 28.9 percent of those deployed suffered from the affliction a decade after the war.

The rate for soldiers not deployed to the Gulf War was slightly more than half that, and usually not as severe.

The study's results suggest that soldiers fighting in Iraq today -- many of whose tours of duty are much longer than those in the previous war -- are likely to experience Gulf War syndrome as well.

"It's not unique to the Gulf," Blanchard told AFP. "It probably means there is a baseline in the (deployed) population, and the non-deployed reflect what happens in the general population."

"The military is trying to take better care of the soldiers' mental health in the field and that may have some bearing on the outcome, but I still expect to see CMI in those soldiers who are in Iraq now when they return," Blanchard said.

The long-term impacts could be severe, the study said, because those suffering from the syndrome were twice as likely to experience heart attacks, diabetes and liver disease.

Gulf War syndrome is the popular name for chronic multisymptom illness complex, or CMI. It was first identified by the Centers for Disease Control in 1994 after thousands of returning troops complained of numerous unexplained symptoms.

It is defined as having symptoms that fall into two of the three following groupings for more than six months: fatigue, mood and cognitive symptoms and musculoskeletal pain.

Blanchard said that a likely explanation for the illness is that the stress of combat released hormones that caused physiological changes.

Other high-stress situations such as divorce, job pressure or a death in the family could spark the syndrome, he said.

Earlier studies of Gulf War syndrome have examined the possibility of wartime stress, oil well fires and depleted uranium from US munitions, and a drug given to US soldiers to protect against nerve gas as the cause.

Some 100,000 of the 700,000 US soldiers who took part in the campaign to oust Iraq from Kuwait in 1991 have complained of experiencing at least one of the symptoms. British, French and Canadian troops were also affected.

In November, a British tribunal recognized for the first time that a former soldier was suffering from Gulf War Syndrome and should receive an invalid's pension.

Blanchard's study is the most comprehensive study of Gulf War syndrome to date. Comprehensive examinations including medical and psychiatric histories, general physicals, and neurological, pulmonary, nerve conduction, neuropsychological and clinical lab tests were performed on 1,061 deployed and 1,128 non-deployed veterans in the study.

While there was no evidence of an association of the syndrome with kidney, liver or lung disease, thyroid problems, blood abnormalities or neuropathy, the authors found that veterans with the syndrome were two times as likely to have metabolic syndrome.

Metabolic syndrome is a group of health risks that increase the likelihood of developing heart attacks, diabetes and liver disease. They include high blood pressure, cholesterol, triglycerides, glucose and weight levels.

The study did show that CMI can dissipate over time in some people. Earlier studies detected the syndrome in about 45 percent of returning Gulf War troops. But by ten years after the war, the level was down to just below 30 percent.

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Navy secretary resigns, to be Rumsfeld's deputy


WASHINGTON -- Navy Secretary Gordon England -- who has also been serving as the acting deputy defense secretary -- gave up his Navy post Thursday, clearing the way for a new naval leader.

The move will allow Donald Winter to be sworn in as Navy secretary next week.

Congressional roadblocks have prevented Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld from filling key leadership positions in his department for months. But legal maneuvering by the White House, which formally designated acting deputy England as Rumsfeld's second in command last week, allowed England to relinquish the Navy job.

Two senators have blocked England's confirmation as deputy defense secretary, the Pentagon's second-highest position, creating a logjam in the department's hierarchy.

But senators indicated last month that Bush will bypass the Senate and install England as deputy secretary within the next few months, using what is known as a recess appointment. Last week, Bush issued an order outlining a new Defense Department line of succession.

Meanwhile, Winter, the former corporate vice president of Northrop Grumman Mission Systems, has been in an unusual limbo. He was confirmed as Navy secretary by the Senate last month, but not sworn in.

Now that England has stepped down, that ceremony will take place Tuesday.

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Just one U.S. valor medal given in 4 years

Hell, there wern't any around for the Military, he has handed them out to all his corrupt cronies

Big News Network.com Thursday 29th December, 2005 (UPI)

U.S. military personnel have been bestowed only one Medal of Honor for valor in four years of fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The Army's second top honor, the Distinguished Service Cross, has been awarded twice to soldiers fighting in Iraq. Third-ranked is the Silver Star, of which 174 have been issued. The Navy has awarded three Navy Crosses and 30 Silver Stars since Sept. 11, 2001.

"The situations today are less likely to warrant the Medal of Honor than in past conflicts," said Nicholas Kehoe, president of the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation. "That doesn't mean our troops aren't acting courageously or even heroically."

The most recent Medal of Honor was awarded posthumously to Sgt. Paul Smith, USA Today said. On April 4, 2003, Smith and dozens of fellow soldiers were about to be overrun at their position near the Baghdad airport. Under fire, Smith climbed onto a damaged armored vehicle and attacked the enemy with a .50-caliber machine gun. He killed as many as 50 enemy soldiers and helped save the lives of 100 U.S. troops.

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Huge new oil discovery in Brazil

Brazil's state-owned oil company, Petrobras, says it has discovered a huge new offshore oil field off the coast of Rio de Janeiro state.

The Papa-Terra field was found in the Campos Basin, which is already Brazil's most important oil-producing region.

Petrobras estimates it contains at least 700 million barrels of crude - about 10% of Brazil's current reserves.

The field, which is jointly operated with the US company Chevron, should start producing oil by the end of 2011.

Petrobras said the oil from the Papa-Terra field was heavier than the sweet light crude favoured by international markets, but the firm was investing $2bn in adapting its refineries to process heavy oil.

New advances

The new field is expected to help Petrobras achieve its goal of making Brazil self-sufficient in oil. Since 2003, the company has been meeting 91% of the country's needs.

The Campos Basin region already contains 40 other offshore oil fields producing more than 1.1 million barrels a day, amounting to more than 60% of Brazil's production.

Last month, Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva inaugurated the country's largest oil platform, named P-50, which is due to begin production in the basin's Albacoara Leste field early next year.

According to industry analysts, 75% of Brazil's oil reserves are under at least 400m of water.

As a result, Petrobras has built up expertise in deep-water drilling and operates the largest number of floating platforms in the world.

Chevron's local subsidiary will hold a 37.5% stake in the Papa-Terra field.

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US to spend £30million on Iraq prisons to hold insurgents

By Francis Harris in Washington(Filed: 30/12/2005)

American forces in Iraq have launched a £30 million programme to expand military prisons after the number of suspected insurgents in custody doubled to 15,000.

The programme forms part of a two-pronged scheme which aims to ensure there is space to keep captured gunmen locked up and to hand over the task to the Iraqis.

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Hackers Rebel Against Spy Cams

By Ann Harrison Also by this reporter

BERLIN -- When the Austrian government passed a law this year allowing police to install closed-circuit surveillance cameras in public spaces without a court order, the Austrian civil liberties group Quintessenz vowed to watch the watchers.

Members of the organization worked out a way to intercept the camera images with an inexpensive, 1-GHz satellite receiver. The signal could then be descrambled using hardware designed to enhance copy-protected video as it's transferred from DVD to VHS tape.
The Quintessenz activists then began figuring out how to blind the cameras with balloons, lasers and infrared devices.

And, just for fun, the group created an anonymous surveillance system that uses face-recognition software to place a black stripe over the eyes of people whose images are recorded.
Quintessenz members Adrian Dabrowski and Martin Slunksy presented their video-surveillance research at the 22nd annual Chaos Communication Congress here this week. Five hundred hackers jammed into a meeting room for a presentation that fit nicely into CCC's 2005 theme of "private investigations."

Slunksy pointed out that searching for special strings in Google, such as axis-cgi/, will return links that access internet-connected cameras around the world. Quintessenz developers entered these Google results into a database, analyzed the IP addresses and set up a website that gives users the ability to search by country or topic -- and then rate the cameras.

"You can use this to see if you are being watched in your daily life," said Dabrowski.

The conference, hosted by Germany's Chaos Computer Club, featured many discussions on data interception and pushing back the unprecedented onslaught of surveillance technologies.

Even the Dutch, once known as hacker-friendly, politically progressive Europeans, are now fearful and demanding more cameras on their streets, said Rop Gonggrijp, founder of Dutch ISP Xs4All.

Gonggrijp says the Dutch chief of police has announced the intention to store large amounts of surveillance data and mine it to determine who to pressure and question. "People are screaming for more control," said Gonggrijp.

Dutch journalist Brenno de Winter warned that the European Parliament's support for data retention doesn't ensure security, and makes citizens vulnerable to automated traffic analysis of who communicates with whom through phone calls and internet connections. "What we have seen is a system that fails because we miss out on too much information, and even if we have all that information, it doesn't give us the right information and it is easy to circumvent," said de Winter.

CCC member and security researcher Frank Rieger said hackers should provide secure communications for political and social movements and encourage the widespread use of anonymity technologies. He said people on the other side of the camera need to be laughed at and shamed.

"It must not be cool anymore to have access to this data," said Rieger, who argued that Western societies are becoming democratically legitimized police states ruled by an unaccountable elite.

"We have enough technical knowledge to turn this around; let's expose them in public, publish everything we know about them and let them know how it feels to be under surveillance."

The four-day Chaos Computer Congress is meeting near Alexanderplatz in the former East Berlin, where more than a half-million people rallied for political reform five days before the fall of the Berlin Wall.In his keynote address, Joichi Ito, general manager of international operations for Technorati, warned that the internet could itself become a walled-in network controlled by the International Telecommunication Union, Microsoft and telecommunications companies.

Ito said these restrictions would stifle free speech and the ability to question authority without retribution. "An open network is more important for democracy than the right to bear arms and the right to vote," said Ito. "Voice is more important than votes."

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Bosnia lab to test Katrina bodies

A Bosnian laboratory which pioneered new techniques to identify victims of the Balkan wars is to help identify the unknown dead of Hurricane Katrina.
The Sarajevo-based International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) will seek to extract DNA profiles from 350 samples provided by US authorities.

Katrina killed more than 1,200 people when it hit in August, and four months on, many bodies remain unidentified.

The southern state of Louisiana, which requested the help, was hardest hit.

Asian tsunami

The ICMP was set up by the international community in 1996, in the aftermath of the Bosnian conflict, to identify about 30,000 people missing from the wars in the former Yugoslavia.

Hurricane Katrina put the lives of many people in extreme danger

It developed specialist large-scale DNA extraction techniques and has helped name 6,000 of the 12,500 Bosnian war dead who have been identified.

It has also worked with the Thai authorities to help identify people killed in the Asian tsunami, as well as those investigating the attacks on the World Trade Center and people missing in Iraq.

ICMP chair, James Kimsey, said the organisation was hopeful of a high success rate in naming unidentified Hurricane Katrina victims.

"Hurricane Katrina is a relatively recent disaster and in this case the quantity of DNA is much higher than in older bones," he said.

Many of the bodies retrieved from the aftermath of Katrina were so decomposed that standard identification was impossible.

Dental records, often used in such cases, had been washed away in the storm, making DNA analysis the only viable option.

After a DNA profile is extracted from the bone samples provided, the ICMP will return the information to the US where it will be matched with the DNA profiles of family members.

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