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Saturday, March 18, 2006

Revolt against the Bush Agenda

Bravo, Bravo, our voices must be heard


Court Unanimously Rules Bush Admin. Violated Clean Air Act...

The Washington Post Juliet Eilperin March 18, 2006 at 12:03 PM
READ MORE: George W. Bush

A federal appeals court blocked the Bush administration's four-year effort to loosen emission rules for aging coal-fired power plants, unanimously ruling yesterday that the changes violated the Clean Air Act and that only Congress could authorize such revisions.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit sided with officials from 14 states, including New York, California and Maryland, who contended that the rule changes -- allowing older power plants, refineries and factories to upgrade their facilities without having to install the most advanced pollution controls -- were illegal and could increase the amount of health-threatening pollution in the atmosphere.


More Detainee Abuses Revealed... "If You Don't Make Them Bleed, They Can't Prosecute For It"...

Task Force 6-26

Before and After Abu Ghraib, a U.S. Unit Abused Detainees

Published: March 19, 2006

As the Iraqi insurgency intensified in early 2004, an elite Special Operations forces unit converted one of Saddam Hussein's former military bases near Baghdad into a top-secret detention center. There, American soldiers made one of the former Iraqi government's torture chambers into their own interrogation cell. They named it the Black Room.

In the windowless, jet-black garage-size room, some soldiers beat prisoners with rifle butts, yelled and spit in their faces and, in a nearby area, used detainees for target practice in a game of jailer paintball. Their intention was to extract information to help hunt down Iraq's most-wanted terrorist, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, according to Defense Department personnel who served with the unit or were briefed on its operations.

The Black Room was part of a temporary detention site at Camp Nama, the secret headquarters of a shadowy military unit known as Task Force 6-26. Located at Baghdad International Airport, the camp was the first stop for many insurgents on their way to the Abu Ghraib prison a few miles away.

Placards posted by soldiers at the detention area advised, "NO BLOOD, NO FOUL." The slogan, as one Defense Department official explained, reflected an adage adopted by Task Force 6-26: "If you don't make them bleed, they can't prosecute for it." According to Pentagon specialists who worked with the unit, prisoners at Camp Nama often disappeared into a detention black hole, barred from access to lawyers or relatives, and confined for weeks without charges. "The reality is, there were no rules there," another Pentagon official said.

The story of detainee abuse in Iraq is a familiar one. But the following account of Task Force 6-26, based on documents and interviews with more than a dozen people, offers the first detailed description of how the military's most highly trained counterterrorism unit committed serious abuses.

It adds to the picture of harsh interrogation practices at American military prisons in Afghanistan and Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, as well as at secret Central Intelligence Agency detention centers around the world.

The new account reveals the extent to which the unit members mistreated prisoners months before and after the photographs of abuse from Abu Ghraib were made public in April 2004, and it helps belie the original Pentagon assertions that abuse was confined to a small number of rogue reservists at Abu Ghraib.

The abuses at Camp Nama continued despite warnings beginning in August 2003 from an Army investigator and American intelligence and law enforcement officials in Iraq. The C.I.A. was concerned enough to bar its personnel from Camp Nama that August.
It is difficult to compare the conditions at the camp with those at Abu Ghraib because so little is known about the secret compound, which was off limits even to the Red Cross. The abuses appeared to have been unsanctioned, but some of them seemed to have been well known throughout the camp.

For an elite unit with roughly 1,000 people at any given time, Task Force 6-26 seems to have had a large number of troops punished for detainee abuse. Since 2003, 34 task force members have been disciplined in some form for mistreating prisoners, and at least 11 members have been removed from the unit, according to new figures the Special Operations Command provided in response to questions from The New York Times. Five Army Rangers in the unit were convicted three months ago for kicking and punching three detainees in September 2005.

Some of the serious accusations against Task Force 6-26 have been reported over the past 16 months by news organizations including NBC, The Washington Post and The Times. Many details emerged in hundreds of pages of documents released under a Freedom of Information Act request by the American Civil Liberties Union. But taken together for the first time, the declassified documents and interviews with more than a dozen military and civilian Defense Department and other federal personnel provide the most detailed portrait yet of the secret camp and the inner workings of the clandestine unit.

The documents and interviews also reflect a culture clash between the free-wheeling military commandos and the more cautious Pentagon civilians working with them that escalated to a tense confrontation. At one point, one of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's top aides, Stephen A. Cambone, ordered a subordinate to "get to the bottom" of any misconduct.
Most of the people interviewed for this article were midlevel civilian and military Defense Department personnel who worked with Task Force 6-26 and said they witnessed abuses, or who were briefed on its operations over the past three years.

Many were initially reluctant to discuss Task Force 6-26 because its missions are classified. But when pressed repeatedly by reporters who contacted them, they agreed to speak about their experiences and observations out of what they said was anger and disgust over the unit's treatment of detainees and the failure of task force commanders to punish misconduct more aggressively. The critics said the harsh interrogations yielded little information to help capture insurgents or save American lives.

Virtually all of those who agreed to speak are career government employees, many with previous military service, and they were granted anonymity to encourage them to speak candidly without fear of retribution from the Pentagon. Many of their complaints are supported by declassified military documents and e-mail messages from F.B.I. agents who worked regularly with the task force in Iraq.

A Demand for Intelligence >>>cont

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Oil shortage threatens military:

By Marianne Lavelle
Posted 3/15/06
Related Links
Energy Trends – U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (PDF)

A grim view of the nation's energy future, and its implications for the military, emerges in a just released report by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

"The days of inexpensive, convenient, abundant energy sources are quickly drawing to a close," says the report, titled "Energy Trends and Their Implications for U.S. Army Installations." It concludes that at the current rate of consumption and production decline, the lifetime of proven domestic oil reserves is only 3.4 years. It projects the lifetime of proven worldwide oil reserves at 41 years, but with declining availability, noting that Saudi Arabia – home to the bulk of those reserves – has not increased production in three years.

The report was completed in September but was not released publicly until a request was made earlier this week by Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, a Maryland Republican who has made several speeches in recent months warning that the world is in the grip of "peak oil" – a time of declining production and rapidly escalating prices. The theory is highly controversial, and the oil industry maintains that there are abundant untapped resources, although admittedly more expensive to develop than has historically been the case. In a speech on the House floor Tuesday night, Bartlett quoted extensively from the report.

"The Army operates in a domestic and world energy situation that is highly uncertain," the report says. Even its outlook on nuclear energy, a key component of Bush administration policy, is not positive. "Our current throwaway nuclear cycle will consume the world reserve of low-cost uranium in about 20 years," the report says.

The researchers conclude that the military needs to take major steps to increase energy efficiency, make a "massive expansion" in renewable energy purchases, and move toward a vast increase in renewable distributed generation, including photovoltaic, solar thermal, microturbines, and biomass energy sources

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Britain breaks with the US over Iran:

Britain has told the United States that it will not take part in any armed action against Iran’s nuclear sites, according to diplomatic sources in London. Already facing huge public criticism for his participation in the Iraq war, Prime Minister Tony Blair is seeking to distance himself from America’s belligerent rhetoric towards Iran.

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Saddam Was Trying to Capture Zarqawi:

Newly released documents from the captured Iraqi archives show that Saddam had put out an APB for Zarqawi and was trying to have him arrested as a danger to the Baath regime!

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Go to VotersForPeace.us >>

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A Powerful New Voting Block Emerges:

The Anti-War Movement Becoming a Political Force That Cannot Be Ignored

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Lots of death for the people of Iraq, and the US Military this weekend

24 Killed in Continuing Violence:

The bodies of 16 victims of shootings were found in different areas of the capital, police said.

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Car bomb kills 20 in Baghdad:

Twenty Iraqis were killed or injured in a car bomb blast Saturday in a Baghdad suburb.

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Bombs, bullets meet Shiite pilgrims in Iraq:

The Muslim pilgrims' road to the holy city of Karbala was a highway of bullets and bombs for Shiites on Friday. Drive-by shootings and roadside and bus bombs killed or injured 19 people, ratcheting up the sectarian tensions gripping Iraq.

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Four U.S. Soldiers Die, Four Others Wounded in Explosion in Iraq: .

The explosion occurred near a checkpoint of the Iraqi police in the region. According to the information U.S. troops have closed the area and arrested ten Iraqi policemen, guarding the checkpoint.

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Soldiers killed by indirect fire :

Two U.S. Soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division were killed and another wounded in an indirect fire attack on Contingency Operating Base Speicher, northwest of Tikrit

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US soldier killed in Samarra offensive:

The US military said one US soldier was killed and about 30 people detained by the end of the second day of their assault on Samarra.

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US Marines investigated for Iraq war crimes:

About a dozen US Marines are being investigated for possible war crimes after the deaths last year of 15 Iraqi civilians caught in the crossfire during a gun battle with insurgents.

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The farcical end of the American dream

The US press is supposed to be challenging the lies of this war

By Robert Fisk

Mr Welshofer, it transpired in court, had stuffed the Iraqi General Abed Hamed Mowhoush head-first into a sleeping bag and sat on his chest, an action which - not surprisingly - caused the general to expire. The military jury ordered - reader, hold your breath - a reprimand for Mr Welshofer, the forfeiting of $6,000 of his salary and confinement to barracks for 60 days.

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What really happened to Pte Tillman?

By CHARLES LAURENCE19mar06PRIVATE Pat Tillman, 27 and all-American hero to the soles of his boots, died in a lonely ravine in Afghanistan -- killed by his own men.Like so many others, Tillman's patrol was ambushed by Taliban and al-Qaida fighters as it approached Manah village in the south of the country.

Tillman died in a hail of bullets, his family and country were told, bravely fighting their common enemy. His death galvanised America in the President Bush's so-called War Against Terror. As he had lived, so he had died -- the hero featured in news dispatches at home.

But the truth was that, in a confused and terrified state during the ambush, his men had turned their guns on him.

He was a victim of "friendly fire". Or was he murdered?

Strikingly good-looking Tillman had been a professional football player on a multi-million dollar contract. When he joined the elite Army Rangers he was hailed as an example of all that was good in American men: he had turned his back on a millionaire lifestyle to fight those responsible for the terrorist attacks on the US on September 11, 2001.

The truth of his death emerged only when Tillman's regiment, the 75th Rangers, was due to return to the US and commanders feared the real story would get out.

There have been three military inquiries into the tragedy, but last week a fourth probe was announced, this time by the army's criminal investigations division. Disturbingly, it will ask whether Tillman was murdered.

The sequence of events that led to Tillman's death on April 22, 2004, began with the breakdown of a Humvee military vehicle as the 30-strong A Company, 2nd battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, led by Lieutenant David Uthlaut, made its way towards Manah, south of Kabul.

The patrol halted and took up defensive positions while efforts were made to repair the vehicle.

When that proved impossible, headquarters ordered the patrol to split in two, with the forward unit going on in daylight and the rear -- with the broken Humvee on a truck -- following.

The rear group was about 15 minutes behind in a deep ravine, out of visual and radio contact with colleagues, when they were ambushed.

TILLMAN headed back to the scene from the front group and climbed a hill with another Ranger and an Afghan militiaman.

As he ran up the mountainside, he drew level with the rear group's position, who were about 65 yards away in the ravine. The enemy fire was coming from the other side of the ravine and the Afghan with Tillman rose from cover to shoot at their position.

But his fire drew the attention of the group under attack and -- as US soldiers are taught to do, the rear section answered that muzzle-flash with every weapon they had.

The Afghan was killed instantly. Tillman, surviving soldiers testify, waved his arms, yelled "cease fire" and let off a smoke grenade as a signal that they were "friendlies".

A soldier in the group under attack recognised them and called for his guns to cease fire. There was a lull in the firing and Tillman and his colleague stood up. But -- inexplicably -- the shooting started again. Tillman was hit in the wrist with shrapnel, and his body armour absorbed "numerous" rounds.

His colleague testified to an inquiry: "I could hear the pain in his voice as he called out: 'Cease fire, friendlies! I'm Pat f------ Tillman, dammit'. He said this repeatedly until he fell, hit by three bullets in the forehead."

The inquiry stated: "Some soldiers lost situational awareness to the point they had no idea where they were."

But, in the immediate aftermath, that wasn't the story the Pentagon told Tillman's family or the rest of the US. He had been killed by the enemy, they were told.

At a televised memorial service, President Bush declared Tillman an "inspiration" in the war on terror.

Only towards the end of May did the truth come out -- and the grief of Tillman's family turned into fury.

"If you feel you are being lied to, you can never put it to rest," his mother, Mary, explains.
"It makes you feel like you are losing your mind."

The Tillman family and a growing number of Americans believe that Tillman was ruthlessly used as a propaganda tool in an official story based on conscious lying.

Indeed, Tillman's death is a huge issue that challenges the credibility of President Bush's White House and of Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's Pentagon.

'IT has been a cover-up from the start,' says Mrs Tillman. 'The military has had every opportunity to do the right thing and they haven't.'

The family and the growing squadron of critics backing them, led by potential Republican presidential candidate Senator John McCain, see the details of how Tillman died as the secondary issue. They know he was a victim of friendly fire and have no interest in any soldier facing charges.

They want to know why the truth was concealed and by whom.

It is not the soldiers in the heat of war they want brought to justice, but the officials who covered up and who, they suspect, used a dead man to their advantage.

As an editorial in one newspaper, the conservative Palm Beach Post in Florida, put it after the latest inquiry was announced: "In the most egregious abuse, the Army already knew that Cpl Tillman (he was promoted posthumously) had died from friendly fire when it turned a nationally televised memorial service that painted him as the victim of an enemy ambush into an exercise in propaganda.

"Too much of what has happened in Afghanistan and Iraq never has been adequately explained.
Cpl Tillman's family deserve answers. So does the rest of the country."

Patrick Tillman, the soldier's father, is a lawyer in California and it was his persistence and faith in his suspicions that prompted the series of military investigations and their -- censored -- reports.

Mr Tillman says: "After it happened, all the people in positions of authority went out of their way to script this.

"They purposely interfered with the investigation. They thought they could control it and they realised that their recruiting efforts were going to hell in a handbasket if the truth about his death got out.

"They blew up their poster boy."

The third and main inquiry report last May, in response to pressure from the family and Senator McCain, concluded there had been no "official reluctance" to report the truth.

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The defining war

Three years after the Iraq invasion, the continuing war is shaping the possibilities and limits of global power for our main ally, the US. Recently returned from Iraq, national security editor Patrick Walters reports
March 18, 2006
"WE'RE an empire now, and when we act we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality - judiciously as you will - we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."

So said an unidentified White House aide to US President George W. Bush during a conversation with American journalist Ron Suskind.

Three years after the immense US-led invasion force rumbled across Iraq's desert frontiers bound for Baghdad, Washington and its allies confront an even more troubling horizon across the Middle East. The intoxicating neo-con vision of Iraq as a beacon of democracy flourishing at the heart of the Islamic world has long since dissolved into a grim, more realistic, challenge for coalition policy-makers: how to exit Iraq without leaving behind a bitterly divided and ungovernable nation with the potential to destabilise the entire region.

In 2003, the US-led coalition military swept Saddam Hussein's regime aside in a lightning offensive that began on March 20 and stunned the world. General Tommy Franks's brilliantly executed campaign saw Baghdad overrun in just three weeks as the Coalition forces displayed their awesome mastery of 21st-century conventional warfare. That short, sharp, military shockwave proved to be the only part of George W. Bush's strategy for Iraq that went exactly according to plan. So well did things go that on May 1, 2003, Bush famously landed on the deck of a US aircraft carrier to declare that the main combat operations were over in Iraq. Behind him a huge banner declared: "Mission accomplished". Having assumed they would be greeted as liberators, the Pentagon's plans called for US troop numbers to fall to just 30,000 by mid-2003 as Iraq progressed rapidly to democratisation and a new civil order.

Three years on the US still has more than 130,000 troops in Iraq and the news just seems to keep getting worse. Iraq has cost the US taxpayer nearly $US100 billion. The war drags on and the toll of coalition casualties, now standing at 2500 mainly American dead and 20,000 wounded, climbs inexorably every day.

A vicious insurgency continues to foment sectarian strife. More disturbing, Iraq has become the heartland of the global jihad, drawing adherents into the struggle from around the globe. This multi-headed hydra shows little sign of faltering in the face of intense military pressure from the coalition.

Without a national government three months after last December's general election, Iraq remains on the brink of an abyss, a slide into nationwide civil chaos. Across to the east lies another new reality for Bush. Iran, which exercises a subtle but increasingly powerful influence over Shia politics inside Iraq, is moving rapidly to acquire a nuclear capability.

The new national security strategy published this week nominates Iran as the US's top security challenge because of its suspected nuclear weapons program. The document reaffirms the notion of preventive war and Bush administration officials this week refused to rule out a pre-emptive strike against Iran's nuclear facilities in the coming months.

On Thursday, US and Iraqi forces launched Operation Swarmer - the biggest air offensive since April 2003 - against suspected al-Qa'ida strongholds near Samarra in the heart of the Sunni triangle, with more than 50 aircraft taking part. The continuing, grinding counter-insurgency inside Iraq is testing the resilience of the US military and the competence of the fledgling Iraqi security forces.

In Baghdad last week, coalition military commanders acknowledged that long-planned troop withdrawals may have to be reviewed in the wake of the new wave of sectarian strife. No one expects a big pull-out of coalition forces to occur before late 2007. The coalition's political and military leadership insist that events are still moving in the right direction in Iraq, citing that country's three elections since 2004 as an indicator of progress.

Visiting US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on Thursday there was a very good chance that Iraq would have built the foundations for a stable democratic nation during the next couple of years.

"I believe they have been remarkable in what they have achieved thus far and I really do believe that we are going to look one day at a stable and secure Iraq," she said.

US central command chief John Abizaid says the US-led coalition forces must get through the wave of sectarian strife before future force levels can be determined. "It's interesting," he says. "When I'm in Washington everyone seems to think there is a set schedule, an exact plan. It just doesn't work that way. There is a theatre of war. The commanders in the field ... react to the facts on the ground."

Abizaid and senior US commander in Iraq George Casey remain emphatic that Iraq is not on the verge of civil war.

"The sectarian tensions in the region are historic," Abizaid says. "They exist, they are a fact of life that have to be dealt with. The question for us is whether these endemic, sectarian problems come to the surface to the point where it leads to a civil war."

Coalition military commanders point to the increasing capability of the Iraqi army as another reason for cautious optimism about progress in Iraq.e They cite this week's military offensive in Samarra, spearheaded by Iraqi units, as further evidence of an indigenous force mounting sophisticated counter-insurgency operations.

However, the performance of the Iraqi police, infiltrated in some cases by militia units, remains much more problematic.

As with the creation of a new civil service, the establishment from scratch of new security forces still suffers from two crucial decisions taken by Washington in May 2003, the early days of the US-led occupation. The overnight dissolution of the Iraqi army and the ousting of Baath party members from the top echelon civilian bureaucracy fuelled the Sunni-led insurgency and undermined the formation of new governing institutions.

A new Pentagon study of Saddam's regime reveals the former Iraqi dictator never planned for a counter-insurgency campaign against the foreign occupiers. Saddam, who never expected the US to attack Iraq, did pre-position a huge stock of munitions across the country, much of which fell into the hands of Sunni insurgents in the post-war chaos.

During the past fortnight, scores of people have been shot or strangled in and around Baghdad, raising communal tensions and prompting further questions about the loyalty of the newly trained security forces.

"I believe that there are elements of extra-legal militias that are moving around doing some of this damage," Abizaid says. "There may be people with misguided loyalties in some of the security services, although less in the army than in the police."

Coalition and Iraqi leaders agree that the highest priority is the formation of a national unity government to fill the dangerous power vacuum existing inside the country.

In Baghdad this week Iraq's new parliament, elected in last December's poll, met for the first time deep inside the city's heavily guarded international zone. But the Shia-dominated 270-seat chamber remains bitterly divided and still deadlocked on the three crucial appointments of prime minister, president and parliamentary speaker.

The new parliament's oldest MP, Adnan Pachachi, 83, opened proceedings acknowledging the gravity of Iraq's political plight. "The country is going through very difficult times and it faces a big dilemma after the Samarra bombing and the attacks that followed. Sectarian tension has increased and it threatens national disaster," he warned.

One of the US's leading Middle East experts and former head of policy planning at the Department of State, Richard Haass, says it's too early to be definitive about America's adventure in Iraq. But he argues the impact up to this point is clearly negative.

"It has absorbed a tremendous amount of US military capacity, the result being that the US has far less spare capacity, not just in the active sense but to exploit in the diplomatic sense," he says. "It has therefore weakened our position against North Korea and Iran."

At home Bush has promised to stay the course, warning of more "chaos and carnage" ahead in Iraq during a speech this week at George Washington University.

Iraq has helped the President's approval ratings to plummet to the high 30s, the lowest of his five years in office. Popular support for the war also continues to decline, with two-thirds of Americans believing the US is losing ground in Iraq. Less than half of those polled by the Pew Research Centre believe that US-led forces will leave behind a stable and democratic regime in Baghdad.

"As the third anniversary of the start of the war in Iraq approaches, public support for keeping US troops in Iraq has reached its lowest point and assessments of progress there have turned significantly more negative than they were just a few months ago," the Pew Centre concludes from its latest poll.

Three years on, John Howard remains the only coalition political leader to escape the political opprobrium attached to involvement in the invasion and occupation of Iraq.

That this is so is due Australia's defence forces not suffering a single fatality in Iraq and their undoubted professionalism.

Howard has shown political dexterity in keeping our forces well away from the killing grounds of the Sunni triangle. But he has also been lucky. Even a handful of Australian casualties in Iraq could force a decisive change in public attitudes to our continued involvement in the theatre.

Australia's 700 defence personnel in Iraq have made a significant contribution to coalition operations out of all proportion to our modest numbers. But they have not been engaged in combat operations like the Americans and the British.

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Global anti-war protests

Unbelievable I have scanned all the newspapers in Australia and England for stories on Global Protests, nothing absolutely nothing not a word, just these pic in BBC mind you no story zilch. So much for the Global Protest around the world. They are not being reported at all. Out of sight out of mind as the saying goes.

Iran links Britain to shooting of 21 officials

Iran links Britain to shooting of 21 officials

Iran has accused Britain of trying to stir unrest after armed rebels ambushed a party of government officials and killed 21.

POLICE allowed 7kg of cocaine, worth more than $1 million, to be sold on Sydney streets in an undercover operation

Unfriking Believable

Police sold 7kg of cocaine

POLICE allowed 7kg of cocaine, worth more than $1m, to be sold on Sydney streets in an undercover operation - and failed to recover most of it.

Iraq Today Operation Swarmer for God sakes

Who Knew..?

New legal documents raise the potential that I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby's trial could turn into a political embarrassment for the Bush administration by focusing on whether the White House manipulated intelligence to justify the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

Scooter "Every Man For Himself" Libby Trial May Be Embarrassment for BushI always suspected that bad policies, lies and deception led to the hard stuff - eating paste, running with scissors, outing covert agents and bold faced fibbing!

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Judge Delays Abramoff Sentencing So He Can Reveal More To Feds...

NN March 17, 2006 at 06:09 PM
READ MORE: Jack Abramoff, Investigations

A federal judge Friday delayed sentencing of Jack Abramoff, a move the prosecutors requested to further the former lobbyist's cooperation with their investigation.

In January, Abramoff plead guilty to conspiracy, fraud and tax evasion charges, charges in Washington.


Naval Academey Sexual-Assault Cases Rarely Go To Court...

The Washington Post Ray Rivera Posted March 17, 2006 11:34 PM
READ MORE: Washington Post

With striking regularity, sexual-assault charges at the U.S. Naval Academy are dismissed without trial and the suspects are instead expelled from school, according to an analysis of hundreds of pages of Navy documents.

Of 56 midshipmen accused of sexual assault since 1998, two have been convicted, and one of those was in a civilian court, a review by The Washington Post of Navy incident reports, case summaries and data released by the school show.

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Military Analysts Say Operation Swarmer Little More Than A Photo-Op...

Time Magazine March 17, 2006 at 11:15 PM
Four Black Hawk helicopters landed in a wheat field and dropped off a television crew, three photographers, three print reporters and three Iraqi government officials right into the middle of Operation Swarmer. Iraqi soldiers in newly painted humvees, green and red Iraqi flags stenciled on the tailgates, had just finished searching the farm populated by a half-dozen skinny cows and a woman kneading freshly risen dough and slapping it to the walls of a mud oven.

The press, flown in from Baghdad to this agricultural gridiron northeast of Samarra, huddled around the Iraqi officials and U.S. Army commanders who explained that the "largest air assault since 2003" in Iraq using over 50 helicopters to put 1500 Iraqi and U.S. troops on the ground had netted 48 suspected insurgents, 17 of which had already been cleared and released. The area, explained the officials, has long been suspected of being used as a base for insurgents operating in and around Samarra, the city north of Baghdad where the bombing of a sacred shrine recently sparked a wave of sectarian violence.


The time for accounting

The case against the Iraq war and occupation has been entirely vindicated. It must be brought to an end

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This is a must watch

Video: The 50 Billion Dollar Robbery: :

Following the Iraq war, billions of dollars of Iraq's money was directed to American companies to rebuild the country. But much of it remains unaccounted for, and the BBC's Peter Marshall has been investigating startling allegations of post war profiteering.

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Friday, March 17, 2006

Saddam Hussein turns the tables at US-run show trial:

Hussein asked, "What about those who are dying in Baghdad? Are they not innocents? Are they not Iraqis? ... Just yesterday, 80 bodies of Iraqis were discovered in Baghdad. Aren't they innocent?"

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Pink Slips Abound for Prosecutors and Therapists:

Humanity Suffers the Savagery of the American Empire’s Post 9/11 Worldview

By Jason Miller

Karl Rove, the mastermind of Bush II’s ascension to America’s seat of power, is a man of great distinction. Despite his decidedly porcine features, Mr. Rove’s Machiavellian lust for power, narcissistic lack of empathy, sycophantic devotion to the Bush crime family, deceitful nature, and conniving mind coalesce to leave the Prince looking like a pauper.

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What Did You See at the War, Jimmy?

By Michael Slenske,

We demonized the Iraqi people and we were given carte blanche to shoot first and ask questions later. I think that the truth hurts. I think when a lot of Marines read this book it's going to bring to their point of view the violations of the Geneva Conventions. Can you win a war with continued violations of the Geneva Conventions and International Law?

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Video horror captures more sectarian massacres in Iraq

Australian Broadcasting Corporation

The video images of a series of massacres in Iraq mark a new level of horror in the sectarian killing. A warning that this story contains graphic images of corpses, including some which have been mutilated.

Click to view

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5 Children Shot In Head as US raid on home killed 11 family members

By Amer Amery

A senior Iraqi police officer said autopsies on the bodies, which included five children, showed each had been shot in the head. Community leaders said they were outraged at the killings and demanded an explanation from the U.S. military.

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The Dammed: Environmentalists Watch for Opening of World's Largest Dam

The world's biggest dam is to open in May, months ahead of schedule. The Three Gorges dam is viewed by supporters with pride as a symbol of China's economic and social change, but environmentalists believe it is a catastrophe waiting to happen.


German Drug Company "Had Never Tested Its Products on Humans Before"

The German company whose drug trial has left six men fighting for their lives after it went badly wrong had never tested its products on humans before.

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On Scene: How Operation Swarmer Fizzled

Not a shot was fired, or a leader nabbed, in a major offensive that failed to live up to its advance billing By BRIAN BENNETT/AL JALLAM

Posted Friday, Mar. 17, 2006Four Black Hawk helicopters landed in a wheat field and dropped off a television crew, three photographers, three print reporters and three Iraqi government officials right into the middle of Operation Swarmer. Iraqi soldiers in newly painted humvees, green and red Iraqi flags stenciled on the tailgates, had just finished searching the farm populated by a half-dozen skinny cows and a woman kneading freshly risen dough and slapping it to the walls of a mud oven.

The press, flown in from Baghdad to this agricultural gridiron northeast of Samarra, huddled around the Iraqi officials and U.S. Army commanders who explained that the "largest air assault since 2003" in Iraq using over 50 helicopters to put 1500 Iraqi and U.S. troops on the ground had netted 48 suspected insurgents, 17 of which had already been cleared and released. The area, explained the officials, has long been suspected of being used as a base for insurgents operating in and around Samarra, the city north of Baghdad where the bombing of a sacred shrine recently sparked a wave of sectarian violence.

But contrary to what many many television networks erroneously reported, the operation was by no means the largest use of airpower since the start of the war. ("Air Assault" is a military term that refers specifically to transporting troops into an area.) In fact, there were no airstrikes and no leading insurgents were nabbed in an operation that some skeptical military analysts described as little more than a photo op. What’s more, there were no shots fired at all and the units had met no resistance, said the U.S. and Iraqi commanders.

The operation, which doubled the population of the flat farmland in one single airlift, was initiated by intelligence from Iraq security forces, says Lt Col Skip Johnson commander of the 187 Battallion, 3rd Combat Brigade of the 101st Airborne. "They have the lead," he said to reporters at the second stop of the tour. But by Friday afternoon, the major targets seemed to have slipped through their fingers. Iraqi Army General Abdul Jabar says that Samarra-based insurgent leader Hamad el Taki of Mohammad’s Army was thought to be in the area, and Iraqi intelligence officers were still working to compare known voice recordings and photographs with the prisoners in custody.

With the Interior Ministry's Samarra commando battalion, the soldiers had found some 300 individual pieces of weaponry like mortars, rockets and plastic explosives in six different locations inside the sparsely populated farming community of over 50 square miles and about 1,500 residents. The raids also uncovered high-powered cordless telephones used as detonators in homemade bombs, medical supplies and insurgent training manuals.

Before loading up into the helicopters for a return trip to Baghdad, Iraqi and American soldiers and some reporters helped themselves to the woman’s freshly baked bread, tearing bits off and chewing it as they wandered among the cows. For most of them, it was the only thing worthwhile they’d found all day.

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"This Man Will Go Down As The Worst President This Country Has Ever Had"...

NY Times CARL HULSE March 17, 2006 at 03:50 PM
READ MORE: George W. Bush

The Senate narrowly approved a $2.8 trillion election-year budget Thursday that broke spending limits only hours after it increased federal borrowing power to avert a government default....

....The increase in the debt limit brought the total increase during the Bush administration to $3 trillion. Democrats said the rising debt was the consequence of what they described as a reckless Republican fiscal policy centered on tax cuts for the affluent.

Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratic leader, said Thursday that given Mr. Bush's record, "I really do believe this man will go down as the worst president this country has ever had."

Read entire article here.


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Bush's Secret Service Agents Posed As Fox News Reporters...

Sun Herald KAREN NELSON March 17, 2006 at 05:15 PM
READ MORE: George W. Bush, Fox News

There was a whirlwind of activity in the days prior to President Bush's arrival at a home on the beach in Gautier last week, with government officials and Secret Service scouting a location and checking the neighborhood where Bush would stop.

The reason for all the fuss was kept a secret even from the family that received Bush. They didn't know it was prelude to a presidential visit until the day Bush arrived.


Missouri House Bans Contraception for Poor Women

The Missouri House voted yesterday to ban contraceptive funding for low-income women, and to prohibit state-funded programs from referring those women to other programs. The sponsor of the proposal, Rep. Susan Phillips, declared contraceptive services an "inappropriate use of tax dollars."

According to the Kansas City Star, the proposal does not save Missouri any money. Rather, it restricts how state agencies can spend $9.23 million set aside for public health programs for people with low incomes who do not qualify for Medicaid.

Phillips says that both Missouri Right to Life and the Missouri Catholic Conference supports her proposal. Opponents repeatedly pointed out that eliminating contraception paves the way for increased abortions, but Republicans and a couple of Democrats voted for passage.

Posted by Diane E. Dees

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Military Uniform-Making Exposed

Companies that make uniforms for the US military pay poverty-level wages, often fail to provide health care and have unsafe working conditions for employees, according to a union report released yesterday.

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NOW | Government Secrecy

How far can and will the government go to keep its secrets? On Friday, March 17, 2006, at 8:30 p.m. on PBS, meet some ordinary people showing extraordinary courage in fighting government stealth and secrecy.

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Jason Leopold | Obstruction Trial May Jog Libby's Memory

When I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby trial begins in 2007, Libby's claim of forgetfulness is expected to be contradicted by his former colleagues who worked closely with him on foreign policy issues. These officials have told Fitzgerald over the past year that Libby continued his campaign against Wilson long after Libby and other White House officials allegedly unmasked Plame Wilson's identity to reporters in late June and early July 2003.

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Kurds Destroy Shrine in Rage at Leadership

For nearly two decades, Kurds have gathered peacefully in this mountainous corner of northern Iraq to commemorate one of the blackest days in their history. So it came as a shock when hundreds of stone-throwing protesters took to the streets here Thursday on that anniversary. The violence was the most serious popular challenge to the political parties that have ruled Iraqi Kurdistan for the past 15 years.

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William Rivers Pitt | Deranged, Disconnected, and Dangerous

The man is deranged, disconnected, and dangerous. It appears, finally, that a significant portion of the country now sees this clearly. Only 33% of Americans, according to the latest Pew poll, approve of Mr. Bush and the job he is doing. Hey, it only took five years, writes William Rivers Pitt.

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(Operation) Swarmer finds 'few' rebels

Swarmer finds 'few' rebels

UNDER the watchful eye of drone spy planes, joint US-Iraqi patrols have surrounded and entered hamlets near Samarra on the second day of a major operation to find insurgents.

Around 50 suspects were detained during the first 24 hours of "Operation Swarmer" which kicked off Thursday morning in Al-Jalam, a large flat area of farmland and desert north of Samarra, but a third of those arrested were later released.
US officials also admitted that of the six weapons caches found, none were substantial.

"The individual caches are not huge," said Major John Callahan of the 101st Airborne Division.

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Students Spend Break Rebuilding Gulf Coast

College Students Ditch Booze, Beaches and Debauchery to Spend Spring Break Rebuilding Gulf Coast
Students Spend Break Rebuilding Gulf Coast


NEW ORLEANS Mar 17, 2006 (AP)— Some of the college students flocking to New Orleans and the Gulf Coast for spring break are not coming for the beaches, the booze or the all-night debauchery. But they are getting hot and sweaty nonetheless.

Instead of stripping down to bathing suits and sunglasses, thousands of young people from across the country are putting on coveralls and goggles and gutting hurricane-blighted houses, repairing roofs and hauling away storm debris.

"I figured this is one of the rare times I'll get to do something like this, to really help somebody," said Danielle VanEaton, a freshman at the University of Iowa who spent the first day of her first college spring break gutting a flooded home in New Orleans' hard-hit Ninth Ward.

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Father who took up Iraq machine gun to avenge dead son is ready to go home

Father who took up Iraq machine gun to avenge dead son is ready to go home

AL-ASAD, Iraq It's been six months since a grieving Georgia father headed to Iraq to avenge his soldier son's death. And Joe Johnson is ready to come home.

Johnson went to Iraq after his 22-year-old son was killed in a roadside bombing. He says there were a lot of reasons for getting back in the military -- a sense of duty among them. Johnson admits he does not "really have love for Muslim people." And he says he'd be lying if didn't admit wanting some revenge for his son, Justin.

Now, after spending time manning a Humvee's gun, Johnson says he "shouldn't even have come." Johnson says he doesn't want to kill innocent people and won't be upset if he returns to Georgia without any blood on his hands.

Johnson's batallion is due to return home in mid-May.

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Katrina funds blown on empty rooms & ice


In the aftermath of Katrina, the feds spent $10 million to renovate and furnish 240 rooms in Alabama that housed just six hurricane survivors, congressional investigators found.
Authorities also spent $3 million on 4,000 beds that were never slept in and blew a fortune on ice that was not needed.

"Previous reports of waste in the aftermath of Katrina have been bad, but this one is worse," said Rep. Henry Waxman of California, the top Democrat on the House Government Reform Committee.

The Government Accountability Office's review of 13 major contracts revealed that poor planning by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and miscommunication resulted in widespread waste. The renovated rooms in Alabama, for example, were in military barracks at the Army's Fort McClellan.

"The government's response to hurricanes Katrina and Rita depended heavily on contractors to deliver ice, water and food supplies; patch rooftops; and provide housing to displaced residents," the report stated. "FEMA did not adequately anticipate needs."

Nor did FEMA look very hard to find the contractors.

Of more than 700 contracts worth $500,000 and up, more than half were doled out without seeking lowest bids. Many went to firms like Bechtel and Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg, Brown & Root, which have close ties to the Bush administration and the Republican Party.

The GAO report did not address the validity of no-bid contracts, which are being vetted now by the Department of Homeland Security and other agencies.

FEMA spokeswoman Nicole Andrews said the agency is revamping the way it awards emergency contracts as it prepares for this year's hurricane season. "However, in the event of a disaster when minutes count, we have the authority to do what it takes to move quickly," she said.

Originally published on March 17, 2006

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'Rendition flights' landed in UK

Six US planes linked by campaigners to "extraordinary rendition" used UK airports 73 times since 2001, Transport Secretary Alistair Darling has said.

Campaigners claim to have details of planes used by the CIA to transfer terror suspects to countries where they could be tortured.

Mr Darling confirmed the serial numbers of planes that had landed in the UK matched those on the campaigners' list.

But he said he had no evidence they were involved in rendition.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has denied the US uses torture, but insisted the practice of extraordinary rendition was not unlawful, adding: "Renditions take terrorists out of action, and save lives."

The British government says it has told Washington it expects it to seek permission for any rendition flights taking detainees via UK territory and airspace.

'Not aware'

But Foreign Secretary Jack Straw told MPs earlier this year the government was only aware of two cases of the US requesting and being granted permission to transfer detainees via the UK, both in 1998.

The National Air Traffic Service has previously said there were 200 flights through British airspace in the past five years by the CIA planes associated by campaigners with rendition.

Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman Michael Moore asked Mr Darling for details of landings by six jets with the registration numbers N2189M, N8183J, N970SJ, N129QS, N368CE and N85VM.

In a written Parliamentary answer, Mr Darling confirmed the planes had landed respectively 10, 12, two, five, 20 and 24 times at UK airports since January 1 2001.

But he added: "None of the information held by my department provides evidence that these flights were involved in rendition.

"The British government is not aware of any cases of rendition through the UK since May 1997, apart from the two cases in 1998 about which the foreign secretary has informed Parliament."

The flights revealed by Mr Darling included one stopover on the way between the Afghan capital Kabul and Washington and others stopping on their way to destinations in the Middle East such as Amman in Jordan and Riyadh in Saudi Arabia.

We have a right to expect both the British and American governments to come clean

Michael Moore, Lib Dem MP

Earlier this week, Mr Straw said claims the US has secretly flown terror suspects through the UK would eventually "fall away" due to lack of evidence.

But Mr Moore said the disclosures raised "serious questions" about the number and purpose of CIA flights through the UK.

"Coming after the Council of Europe found major holes in the oversight of foreign security agencies, this compounds the case for a review of air traffic controls and a full inquiry into international rendition," he said.

"A fundamental question remains unanswered. Has the UK government actually asked the United States how many individuals have been rendered through Britain? If this hasn't been asked, then why on earth not?

"Given the seriousness of the allegations, we have a right to expect both the British and American governments to come clean."

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Murder kills more reporters than war in Iraq: CPJ

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Murder has overtaken war as the leading killer of journalists in Iraq, the Committee to Protect Journalists said on Friday, in a study compiled for the third anniversary of the war.

Cross-fire and other acts of war previously had been considered the leading cause of death of journalists and media support workers in Iraq, but the dangers have shifted, the CPJ said.

In the past 10 days alone, suspected insurgents have murdered three Iraqi journalists and one media support worker, the CPJ said, raising the death toll to 67 journalists and 24 media support workers killed since the war began on March 20, 2003.

The New York-based CPJ called the Iraq war the deadliest conflict for the media in recent history, while the international Reporters Without Borders puts the death toll at 83 and says the war in Iraq has killed more than the Vietnam War.

Both groups consider the protection of journalists crucial to informing the public about the conflict.

"The killings offer a chilling snapshot into recent trends. Iraqis constitute nearly 80 percent of journalists and support staffers killed for their work in Iraq," CPJ said in a statement. "Overall, 60 percent of the journalists and support workers killed in Iraq were targeted for assassination."

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Judge Dread: Violence, Silence and the Threat to Democracy

To late to be whining now, you put the Goons into power, now you deal with the after effects of that power, like the people of America and the free world have to deal with it.

Thursday, 16 March 2006

It turns out that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg presaged the recent comments by former Justice Sandra Day O'Connor about the growing threat of right-wing violence against the judiciary – and the concominant threat to American democracy. (What's left of it.) Both women emphasize the point that this "fringe" threat is being fed and exacerbated by the bellicose and undemocratic rhetoric of so-called mainstream Republicans, like felonious Tom DeLay, odious Bush bootlicker Tom Feeney of Florida, and Imamess Anne Coulter, with her fatwa calling for the death of Justice John Paul Stevens.

What is remarkable is seeing these bastions of the American Establishment echoing the insights of such "leftist" (to borrow the always ignorantly employed terminology of the Right and the media) commentators as Dave Neiwert, who for years has been tracking the deadly symbiosis between "mainstream" Republican rhetoric and the violently minded fringe. The two have entered into a sinister dynamic: as the former grows more virulent, the latter become more emboldened, stepping out of the shadows, ready to pursue what Bush once called – in his "National Security Strategy" enshrining aggressive war as a core principle of the United States – the "path of action." With this exaltation of violence being trumpeted from the highest reaches of American society, is it any wonder that the thugs are slithering out from the bottom?

There is of course another remarkable aspect to the story of the judges' outcry: the fact that it has meet with almost total silence in the mainstream press. What should be a major scandal – the nation's top judicial figures saying plainly that the lives of judges, and the life of our Republic, is under direct threat from violence openly abetted by the rhetoric of the nation's ruling party – is simply ignored, or treated as a minor brief to be buried in the back pages somewhere. But oh, the crocodile tears we will see pouring from the editorial pages of the New York Times and Washington Post, the earnest, furrowed-brow tut-tutting we will see from Tim Russert and Bob Schieffer, when at last the fringe succeeds in Coulter's dream of assassinating a Supreme Court judge. How, they will cry, did this happen in the land of the free and the home of the brave?

Excerpt from Supreme Court Justice Reveals Death Threats (AP):

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Bone Thugs: Bush Puts America on Death Row

Thursday, 16 March 2006

Hardened cynics often accuse President George W. Bush of ruthlessly exploiting the tragedy of 9/11 to advance his pre-set agenda of killing a whole heap of foreigners. This is, of course, a calumnious slander against the Dear Leader's noble ambitions. For as he clearly demonstrated last week, Bush is also exploiting the tragedy of 9/11 to advance his pre-set agenda to kill a whole heap of Americans as well.

In yet another of those momentous degradations of public morality that go unremarked by the ever-vigilant watchdogs of the national media, Bush slipped a measure into the revamped "Patriot (sic) Act" he signed last week that will allow him to expedite the death penalty process across the land, the Austin American-Statesman reports.

Prisoners just aren't being killed fast enough for ole George, you see. They hang on for years and years, using all them lawyer tricks and court procedures and what all, that DNA hocus-pocus and habeas corpus junk, or even new testimony showing that they're innocent – as if that mattered. No, you got to strap 'em down and shoot 'em up with that poison juice lickety-split, churn those convict corpses out like so much prime pork sausage – the way ole George did it when he was head honcho down in Texas.

This remarkably vindictive and bloodthirsty measure – which has absolutely nothing to do with the "war on terrorism" or "homeland security," the ostensible subjects of the Patriot Act – strips the judiciary of its supervision over state-devised "fast track" procedures to speed up the execution process. The history of the move actually goes back to that remarkably vindictive and bloodthirsty precursor to the Bush Regime known as the Reagan Administration. During that glorious "morning in America," it became all the rage to "cut the red tape" that kept prisoners alive until the appeals process had run its course and determined there were no egregious errors in their cases before the government killed them. The tape-cutting crusade was led by then-Chief Justice William Rehnquist, who once ruled that even new proof of innocence was no bar to killing a prisoner if state courts had earlier upheld his conviction, the Washington Times reports. Urged on by Rehnquist – who was executed by God last year – several states went the fast-track route, limiting the time that prisoners have to file petitions and narrowing the range of factors that judges can consider in death-row appeals.

Unfortunately, America's courts were not yet fully packed with hard-right cadres, and even the vulturous Rehnquist couldn't keep them all in line. Fast-track options in state after state were struck down by federal judges – because the fast-trackers' overall death penalty systems were such a shambles, riddled with literally fatal incompetence. One glaring example could be found in – where else? – Texas, where Guv Dub was mowing them down on his way to becoming the greatest mass killer in modern American history, with 152 notches on his belt
Bush had set up a veritable execution assembly line in his fiefdom, aided by his trusty legal aide, Alberto Gonzales. Knowing just what the boss wanted, Al would prepare dumbed-down capsules of death penalty cases, stripping away pesky details like "ineffective counsel, conflict of interest, mitigating evidence and even actual evidence of innocence," as Alan Berlow reported in the Atlantic Monthly. Bush would "sometimes" bother to look at the reports, sometimes not, Gonzales said. In his six years as governor, Bush spared only one condemned prisoner from execution: the serial killer Henry Lee Lucas. All the rest – including women, juvenile offenders, even the mentally retarded – got the spike. Yet one in every eight death row inmates have been exonerated since America resumed the death penalty in 1976, the Washington Times reports – an astonishing percentage of false imprisonment in capital cases. It is virtually impossible that Bush did not kill some innocent people with his relentless 152-1 execution ratio.

In 1996, the courts put a crimp in Bush's carnival of death, ruling that Texas failed to meet "minimum competency standards" for the fast-track system. He had to make do with the old-fashioned appeals process, which slowed but never stopped his killing spree: he averaged almost two executions a month during the course of his term. But he never forgot – or forgave – the judicial interference with his dominion over life and death. How it must have rankled, to think that this judicial brake on wholesale state-sponsored slaughter still existed in the Homeland, when he – the great Commander, breaker of nations – could now order the "extra-judicial killing" of anyone on earth whom he arbitrarily deemed a "terrorist" and send mighty armies to grind tens of thousands of people into bloody mulch. Who would dare put fetters on the god-like sway of the "unitary executive"?

So now he has taken his revenge. The backdoor measure in the Patriot Act decrees that responsibility for awarding fast-track death-penalty status to the states will now be the sole prerogative of the U.S. Attorney General – one Alberto Gonzales. Yes, the fawning minion whose perversions of law on behalf of his boss have abetted murderous war, systematic torture, mass corruption, assassination, abduction, rendition, dictatorship – and the slipshod Texas death machinery – will now decide if states are legally scrupulous enough to resume lickety-split executions. You can hear those sausage grinders gearing up all over America.

God only knows what festering psychic wounds drive these spiritual cripples and their obsession with death. But for them, power isn't real unless it's written on the body of another human being – a prisoner, guilty or not; an "enemy," real or imagined; or the multitude of slaughtered innocents whose only crime was living in a land that the cripples wanted to conquer.

Chris Floyd/This is an expanded version of the column appearing in the March 17 edition of The Moscow Times.

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Witness tampering cited in Moussaoui case

Associated Press

WASHINGTON - Lawyers for two airlines being sued for damages by 9/11 victims prompted
a federal lawyer to coach witnesses in the trial of al-Qaida conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui
so the government's death penalty case would not undercut their defense, victims' lawyers allege.

The victims' lawyers, Robert Clifford and Gregory Joseph, claim that one of the airline lawyers
forwarded a transcript from the first day of the Moussaoui trial to Transportation Security
Administration lawyer Carla J. Martin.

In violation of an order by Moussaoui trial judge Leonie Brinkema, Martin forwarded that day's
transcript to seven federal aviation officials scheduled to testify later in the sentencing trial
of the 37-year-old Frenchman.

The contacts between lawyers for United and American Airlines and Martin were detailed in a legal brief filed on Moussaoui's behalf Thursday. That brief contained a March 15 letter from Clifford and Joseph complaining about Martin's actions to U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein, who is presiding over the civil damage case in New York.

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Air America To Remain On WLIB

Air America To Remain On WLIB
March 16, 2006

Despite rampant rumors to the contrary, Inner City Broadcasting’s WLIB New York will continue to be the flagship station for New York-based liberal talk network Air America Radio. The companies are in the process of finalizing a new agreement.

“We are happy to reiterate that our New York listeners will be able to continue to hear our programming,” Air America CEO Danny Goldberg said in a release.

“Inner City has always had faith in the mission of Air America,” ICBC vice chairman Skip Finley added.

As previously reported, the New York Daily News, the New York Post and other media outlets had recently predicted the demise of the deal between the two companies.

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Scalia Rails Against the 'Judge-Moralist'

BOSTON - Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia railed against the era of the "judge-moralist," saying judges are no better qualified than "Joe Sixpack" to decide moral questions such as abortion and gay marriage.

"Anyone who thinks the country's most prominent lawyers reflect the views of the people needs a reality check," he said during a speech to New England School of Law students and faculty at a Law Day banquet on Wednesday night.

The 70-year-old justice said the public, through elected legislatures — not the courts — should decide watershed questions such as the legality of abortion.

Scalia decried his own court's recent overturning of a state anti-sodomy law, joking that he personally believes "sexual orgies eliminate tension and ought to be encouraged," but said a panel of judges is not inherently qualified to determine the morality of such behavior.

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GOP irritation at Bush brewing for long time

The Washington Post
March 16, 2006

President Bush's troubles with congressional Republicans, which erupted during the backlash to the Dubai seaport deal, are rooted in policy frustrations and personal resentments that GOP lawmakers say stretch back to the opening days of the administration.

Congressional scholar Norman J. Ornstein has written that the recently vented anger, after being suppressed for years out of loyalty or fear, might be seen in psychological terms. He called the condition "battered-Congress syndrome."

The blowup over the Dubai deal illustrated the new environment. Bush infuriated members by threatening to veto any congressional effort to prevent an Arab company from taking control of terminals at six U.S. seaports. Instead of falling in line, they felled the deal by joining with Democrats for a 62 to 2 committee vote against Bush.

It was the breaking point for many members. Afterward, Rep. Thomas M. Davis III (R-Va.) was quoted in The Washington Post as saying, "This is probably the worst administration ever in getting Congress's opinion on anything."

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Analysts: Harris' campaign in 'complete disarray'

Naples Daily NewsAnalysts:
Harris' campaign in 'complete disarray'March 17, 2006

WASHINGTON — For weeks, Katherine Harris has been acting like the Michelle Kwan of politics, political observers say.

The congresswoman with aspirations of being a U.S. senator has been viewed as damaged goods, even by members of her own political party — much like the ice skater who went to the winter Olympics with a groin injury, observers say.

The difference is, Kwan eventually bowed out.Harris, R-Longboat Key, is still in the race, but has been running a Senate campaign that even Republicans admit is in “complete disarray.”

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Funeral procession of Mahdi army militiamen seen reflected in photograph of Muqtada al-Sadr

Erbil, 16 March (AKI) - A Kurdish source in Baghdad has told a Kurdish national daily that the Mahdi Army, the militia of radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, " has set up a shadow government in Sadr City in the centre of Baghdad". The source told the Aso daily: "this group was tasked with carrying out the affairs of the city in the place of the Iraqi government and institutions." The source explained that the Mahdi Army, accused of kidnappings and sectarian killings, has transformed the rundown Sadr city into an independent district with its security forces and its own courts which do not only judge local residents but also Shiites from other areas of the capital.

The source alleged that "the health and transport ministers, which both are headed by minsiters from the Sadr faction, have been completely monopolised by followers of this movement" adding that "in Sadr City the police forces, for example the local police, take their orders from Moqtada al-Sadr and not from the interior ministry."

The Cultural Network of Iraq, an internet site which publishes news on the Shiite community, has said that "the peoples courts in Sadr City have condemned to death terrorists who carried out massacres in the city."

The former government of Iyad Allawi and the movement of al-Sadr,. who has headed two lengthly revolts against the US-led coalition forces, clashed over these courts, which have special police forces and prisons. When the authorities in Baghdad tried to close them down and disband the militias they failed.

The power of Sadr's militia and his huge constituency of loyal Shiite voters have made him a growing force in Iraq.

Gunmen wearing the old Mahdi Army uniform of black pants and black shirts - abandoned for civilian gear in recent days - are blamed for some of the worst retaliatory raids and killings in Baghdad following the bombing of a Shiite shrine in Samarra on 22 February.

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Iraqis say US raid on home killed 11 family members

Randy Rhodes Today

Iraqi Police: U.S. gunned down innocent family, including 5 small children…ages starting at 6 months.

- Photos (not for the faint of heart)

So how many terrorists did Bush create with this single move?

How many more of these moves are happening today?

War = dead babies. Unneeded, unnecessary, illegal war =

CHOOSING to create dead babies.

Meanwhile, the bombs are falling again as Bush launches the largest air assault since 2003.

As we’re about to begin our 4th year in Iraq, we take a look back of how the media ALLOWED this travesty to happen.

Gen. Peter Pace is again forced to contradict the Bush/Rummy lies…this time about Iran.

And an Iraqi pharmacist visits the U.S. to tell a tale of two Baghdad’s…pre- and post-Bush.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Probe: IDF Soldier likely killed by friendly fire:

An initial IDF probe into the killing of an IDF soldier in Jenin on Thursday morning has ruled that Staff Sergeant Ido Shapira, 20, was killed by friendly fire

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Afghan Taliban chief vows "unimaginable" violence:

Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar vowed a ferocious offensive against U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan, saying on Thursday they would soon face unimaginable violence.

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Why Journalists Are Being Murdered In Iraq:

One of those killed was Yasser Salihee. He was shot dead as he approached a US checkpoint on June 24 last year. In the previous weeks, Salihee had documented, for the Knight-Ridder news agency, dozens of cases of men being dumped at morgues after having been detained by the Wolf Brigade, the most notorious unit among the Special Police Commandos, and under the direct command of a US officer.

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5 minute video: How Many Dead Children Will It Take To Free Iraq?

Where is the outrage?

Warning - Video contains images depicting the reality and horror of the U.S. invasion of Iraq

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Terrorists or Resistance Fighters: America’s Dilemma in Iraq :

When your homeland is occupied by foreign troops, extraordinary courage seems to come naturally

Link here

Attorneys React to Shocking Guantánamo Suicide Letter Just Declassified and Released by The U.S.

First Guantánamo Suicide Letter Declassified by U.S. Government Confirms Prior Accounts From Detainee: “Imprisoned, Tortured and Deprived” for “No Reason or Crime Committed”

Click Here to Read Jumaa's Suicide Letter In Full


In New York, onMarch 15, 2006, attorneys representing Guantánamo detainees at the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) reacted to the first detainee suicide letter ever declassified by the U.S. Government, blasting the Bush Administration for driving detainees to suicide through indefinite detentions, mistreatment and torture at the base. The shocking letter by Jumah Al Dossari, a Bahraini national whose attorney found him hanging by his neck in a suicide attempt at Guantánamo in October 2005, describes how the horrific conditions of Jumah’s confinement and indefinite detention drove him to try to take his own life. In his letter, Jumah seeks to make his “voice heard by the world from the depths of the detention centers” and implores the “fair people of America to look again at the situation and try to have a moment of truth…”

"This disturbing new letter reveals a man brought to the brink of self-destruction because of the government's inhumane policies of indefinite detention and mistreatment - affecting hundreds of people who have not been accused of a crime or even afforded the most basic due process in court," said CCR Deputy Legal Director Barbara Olshansky.

"Jumah's letter is a haunting reminder of the meeting I had with him just before he slashed and hung himself. Jumah had repeatedly begged us to get him out of isolation. Because our request to the court for this relief was denied on technical grounds, we implored the military to hold Jumah under more humane conditions, and we continue to do so. Our grave fear is that if the military persists in denying our requests, Jumah, who by the military's own count has tried to kill himself ten times in U.S. custody, will not survive Guantanamo," said Joshua Colangelo-Bryan of Dorsey & Whitney LLP, co-counsel with the Center for Constitutional Rights for Jumah.

On March 22, 2006, the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia will hear oral argument relating to the government's motion to dismiss Jumah's case and those of all other Guantanamo detainees.

Posted 03/16/06

Hiroshima - Where Denial Meets Reality

The Lies - The Deaths - The Future?

Must watch flash presentation

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Is Another 9/11 in the Works?

By Paul Craig Roberts

If you were President George W. Bush with all available US troops tied down by the Iraqi resistance, and you were unable to control Iraq or political developments in the country, would you also start a war with Iran? Yes, you would.

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Red state women speak: How abortion restrictions affect them, their daughters

Melissa McEwanPublished: Thursday March 16, 2006

With South Dakota having passed legislation banning abortion that provides saving the life of the mother as the only exception, and at least 10 other states considering legislation seeking to ban abortion or limit abortion access, many progressives are beginning to consider a challenge to Roe v. Wade inevitable. While some feel secure in the notion that Roe will be upheld, others worry that abortion rights will be slowly chipped away by state restrictions until Roe is rendered effectively impotent.

At least one feminist blogger has already made available information on performing abortions in anticipation of the procedure being criminalized.

Pro-choice women in red states are particularly concerned— some for their own futures, and some for the futures of their daughters. These are their thoughts on the future, as told to RAW STORY. >>>cont

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Senate Votes to Raise Debt Limit

Senate Votes to Lift the Federal Debt Limit to Almost $9 Trillion

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Report: E. J'lem hospital held newborn triplet as 'deposit'

By Yuval Yoaz and Yoav Stern, Haaretz Correspondents

Moqassed Hospital in East Jerusalem allegedly refused to release a baby to its mother for two months until she paid her hospital bill.

After the Justice Ministry's legal aid department intervened last week upon the mother's request, the Health Ministry ordered the baby released to her. The ministry now is looking into whether the hospital can be prosecuted for false imprisonment, and whether it should assist the mother in suing the hospital for damages.

The woman gave birth prematurely to triplets at Moqassed two months ago, and the babies needed extensive hospitalization. But due to the hospital's concern that the National Insurance Institute (NII) would not cover the costs, since the babies' father is a resident of the Palestinian Authority, the hospital allegedly decided to release only two of the babies, keeping the third as a "guarantee."

The mother left with the two babies, and a week ago she and her father approached the Justice Ministry. "We looked into the matter with the hospital," the Justice Ministry's head of legal aid, Eyal Globus, said. "And it turned out that things were exactly as the mother said they were; the third baby was being held there." It was also determined that there was no medical need to keep the baby hospitalized.

Globus sent an urgent letter to the Health Ministry's legal adviser in which he wrote that the hospital director told him this was normal procedure to ensure debt payment. "We must see that the debt is covered from some source," Globus wrote. The Health Ministry subsequently ordered the immediate release of the baby, and the hospital complied.

The Justice Ministry's legal aid department is now working to arrange NII payment of the hospital charges. A lawsuit and criminal charges against the hospital are also being considered.

The babies' grandfather, Mustafa, lashed out at the NII. "Everything begins and ends there. They should have given my daughter a certificate that she is a resident of Israel, and then covered the medical costs," he said. "The treatment by the doctors and nurses at Moqassed was excellent," he added. Mustafa has been employed for 21 years at an Akim halfway house in Jerusalem, and he says he pays taxes.

Although married to a resident of the PA, his daughter has continued to live in the Shuafat refugee camp. He said that she wanted to give birth at Shaare Zedek Medical Center or at Hadassah University Hospital, Ein Karem, however, both demanded a NIS 338,000 check beforehand. "Moqassed is not to blame, Mustafa said. "It treated us better than other hospitals." He said the third baby had been kept in the hospital for continued care.

Mustafa also said the NII has delayed payment of a birth grant of more than NIS 10,000, and his NIS 4,000 monthly income represents the family's sole support. He said that in the meantime, the third baby has been admitted to Hadassah Hospital, Mount Scopus. "Where will we get the money," he asked. "In a country of law, things like this should not happen," he added.
Yuval Azoulay adds: The Health Ministry said yesterday that the claims regarding Moqassed Hospital would be checked. Ministry spokeswoman Inbal Yakobs said no complaint had been filed, but that in principle, a newborn must always be released with its mother, and the hospital must collect its debts only via acceptable means.

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