Just Foreign Policy Iraqi Death Estimator    

Saturday, July 01, 2006



US Army Says Policy Violated in Soldiers' Deaths (lone vehicle not s.o.p.)

NYT/Reuters: US Army Says Policy Violated in Soldiers' Deaths
Published: July 1, 2006

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Three U.S. soldiers killed by insurgents south of Baghdad last month had been left alone at a checkpoint in violation of military procedure, a U.S. military spokeswoman said on Saturday.

An investigation is already under way into how the soldiers came to be on their own in an armored Humvee vehicle in an al Qaeda hotspot known as the "Triangle of Death'' as night fell.

Militants abducted and killed two of them in an attack in which the third soldier also died.

"A lone vehicle does not fit standard operating procedures and does not match published guidance,'' Lieutenant Colonel Michelle Martin-Hing told Reuters.

"The investigation will look at the circumstances surrounding this event and how it was that this vehicle was there by itself.''...

Link Here

High-level hit in Gaza

Israeli gunship fires missile at Palestinian PM’s office in Gaza City, witnesses say.



Hamas PM's office attacked

AN Israeli air raid overnight has targeted Palestinian prime minister Ismail Haniya's office in the Gaza Strip, setting it ablaze, witnesses said.

It's Not Democracy We're Spreading in Iraq, It's Radiation Disease In

In a blistering column, Tribune Media Services' Robert Koehler rips President Bush for his platitudes about democracy while Iraqis die of double -- even triple -- cancer from depleted uranium. "We weren't spreading democracy," he writes, "we were altering the human genome."

Link Here

Let us all pray-- for Justice Stevens

Make no mistake: Judicial recognition of near dictatorial powers on the part of the president-- or more accurately, as I've noted before, on the part of conservative presidents-- failed by less than the width of the "skin" of an amoeba. If John Paul Stevens, currently 86-years-old, had happened to have died or retired sometime during the preceding five years, thereby enabling Bush to appoint yet another Scalia/Thomas clone in his place, the case would have gone the other way

Link Here

High Court Has Found Bush Guilty of War Crimes

by Dave Lindorff

Largely missed in all the coverage of the Supreme Court's landmark ruling in the Hamdan v. Rumsfeld case was the establishment by the court majority that all Bush administration claims to the contrary, the Geneva Convention rules regarding captured prisoners apply to the captives taken not only in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but in the so-called War on Terror.

What has been largely missed is the clear point that the Supreme Court has thus now declared that for the past five years, Bush and his gang of war-mongers, including Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of State and former National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, former Attorney General Donald Rumsfeld and current Attorney General and former White House Chief Counsel Alberto Gonzales, and many others in the administration, have been guilty of violating the Third Convention on treatment of prisoners of war. They are also, therefore, in violation of federal law, which back in 1996 adopted that convention as part of the U.S. criminal code.

In other words, the whole top administration, from Commander in Chief George W. Bush on down, is guilty of war crimes. The punishment for committing war crimes ranges from a lengthy jail sentence to, in the event the crimes in question caused the death of any prisoners being held, to death. And there have been many deaths among those who have been held and tortured on orders of the administration--most recently the three suicides at Guantanamo, which included on man who had only three days earlier been targeted for release (but who never learned this because government's secrecy and tight security prevented his attorneys at the Center for Constitutional Rights from getting the news to him).

Interestingly, Gonzales actually cautioned Bush about this possibility. In a memo to the president, written on January 25, 2002 when he was still White House counsel, Gonzales warned prophetically that the U.S. adoption of the Third Geneva Convention as a part of the U.S. criminal code in 1996 made violation of the convention a "war crime" under U.S. law, which he said was defined as "any grave breach" of the Third Convention such as "outrages against personal dignity." He noted that this law applied whether or not a detained person qualified for POW status, and added that punishment for violation of the law "include the death penalty." But then he went on to say Bush could "substantially reduce" his risk of domestic criminal prosecution under the War Crimes Act by making a presidential determination that the Third Geneva Convention "does not apply to al Qaeda and the Taliban."

Clearly, Gonzales here was behaving like a mob lawyer, not like an honest counselor. He was telling the president not what was right and legal, but how to dodge prosecution.

In Bush's case, this crime calls for his impeachment, and for his subsequent prosecution as a war criminal. In the case of his subordinates and abettors, it calls for criminal indictments.

Naturally, we cannot expect to see indictments issue from the Attorney General's Office, particularly given Gonzales' own complicity and personal culpability on the war crimes charge. Conceivably, I suppose, some career prosecutor like Patrick Fitzgerald, who has been given wide authority in his special counsel role, could bring charges, though this seems highly unlikely. Charges could also be brought by another country whose laws permit such extraterritoriality: Germany or Spain for example.

Meanwhile, we who value America's once elevated standing in the world as a supporter and author of the Geneva Conventions, should begin a campaign to press the Congress to consider a bill of impeachment against Bush for war crimes.

There are, as Barbara Olshansky and I explain in our new book The Case for Impeachment (which includes a copy of the above Gonzales memo in an appendix), many important reasons to impeach the president. Surely, however, the deliberate policy of involving the military in the commission of war crimes--torture, kidnapping, denial of access to some process of challenge the justice of their detention--is among the worst of all of those crimes against the Constitution.

The blood of war crime victims is on Bush's hands, and the hands of his henchmen, but unless we the people act, and unless the Congress acts, to call them to account, it will ultimately be on all of our hands.


Is NJ Gov. Jon Corzine Running for President?

He's shut down the NJ government in a bold move that is bringing him national attention for demanding budget responsibility

Link Here

Hideous WSJ Editorial Board Inadvertently Proves NYT Set Up for Bushevik Red Meat Attack


As we noted in our BuzzFlash editorial on Friday, "Darkness at Noon for Democracy," the Busheviks regularly launch Soviet Style demagogic attacks on scapegoats in order to seize more power.

In the last two weeks, the Stalinesque White House has been unrelenting in alternating between contrived propaganda aimed at instilling fear in the public and outrageous, unwarranted charges of treason for leaking (when the White House does it regularly, including outing a CIA operative specializing in tracking the sales of WMDs).

Little reported in regards to the totally calculated and Goebbels-like attack on the New York Times for publishing the bank transaction tracing story is that other papers printed similar stories, including the Wall Street Journal. But the White House is only having its brown shirt echo chamber focus on the New York Times.

Why? Well, despite the fact that the news section of the NYT has generally been an enabler of the Bush Administration (although that is starting to change a bit), the paper is a convenient scapegoat as the erroneous symbol of "the liberal media" to the Stepford right wing true believers of Bushevism.

The Wall Street Journal has always been schizophrenic. It has had a credible news section, with serious journalists doing top-notch reporting, while also having an editorial board that posts mostly fictional propaganda right out of the radical Republican message points of the day. As Eric Alterman pointed out in his book on the myth of the liberal media, the Wall Street Journal will write editorials that make factual claims that are completely contradicted by news stories on the front page of its paper. The Wall Street Journal editorial writers are hardline propagandists who indulge in creating factoids that meet the needs of their extreme ideology.

So it was not unexpected, but bizarre nonetheless, that the WSJ damned the NYT for printing essentially the same story that the Journal printed on the international tracing of banking transactions.

The WSJ inadvertently provides evidence that the NYT was set up by the White House. We quote from the WSJ editorial in question:

" Some argue that the Journal should have still declined to run the antiterror story. However, at no point did Treasury officials tell us not to publish the information. And while Journal editors knew the Times was about to publish the story, Treasury officials did not tell our editors they had urged the Times not to publish. What Journal editors did know is that they had senior government officials providing news they didn't mind seeing in print. If this was a 'leak,' it was entirely authorized...."

We repeat, according to the WSJ, "If this was a 'leak,' it was entirely authorized...." Why would it be "authorized" for the Wall Street Journal, but not for the New York Times?

Because as they did with Dan Rather (and others), this was a Rovian set-up to create an issue they could demagogue on, down to having Dennis Hastert pass a House resolution condemning leaks at a time when the Wall Street Journal, the printing press for the radical right, was running the so-called "leak," with the full approval of the Bush Executive Branch, according to the WSJ Bushevik Politburo editorial board.

What more proof do we need that America is being manipulated by tyrants who seek to suppress a free press and democracy through the tactics of brown shirts?

If you want the proof, just go to the Wall Street Journal editorial page. It's all there in black and white. They are such crazed extremists, they didn't even realize how much they revealed about the Bushevik tactics to seize total control of America.

But, it's too late now to delete.

The ink has dried.


Gitmo win likely cost Navy lawyer his career

Isn't it incredible that anyone who chooses the course of Honour, under this administration is very efficiently moved from any postion of power. SHAME ON YOU AMERICA FOR ALLOWING THIS TO HAPPEN.

'Fearless' defense of detainee a stinging loss for Bush


Lt. Cmdr. Charles Swift -- the Navy lawyer who beat the president of the United States in a pivotal Supreme Court battle over trying alleged terrorists -- figures he'll probably have to find a new job.

Navy Lt. Cmdr. Charles Swift first represented Hamdan two years ago in U.S. District Court in Seattle.
Of course, it's always risky to compare your boss to King George III.

Swift made the analogy to the court, saying President Bush had overstepped his authority when he bypassed Congress and set up illegal military tribunals to try Guantanamo detainees such as Swift's alleged al-Qaida client, Salim Ahmed Hamdan.

The justices agreed, ruling 5-3 Thursday in favor of dismantling the current tribunal system.

Despite his spectacular success, with the assistance of attorneys from the Seattle firm Perkins Coie, Swift thinks his military career is coming to an end. The 44-year-old Judge Advocate General officer, who was recently named one of the 100 most influential lawyers in the country by The National Law Journal, was passed over for promotion last year as the high-profile case was making headlines around the world.

"I may be one of the most influential lawyers in America," the Seattle University Law School graduate said, "but I won't be in the military much longer. That irony did strike me."

Swift's future in the Navy now rests with another promotion board that is expected to render its decision in the next couple of weeks. Under the military's system, officers need to be promoted at regularly scheduled intervals or their service careers are essentially over.

"The way it works, the die was cast some months ago," he said. "The decision has been made. I don't know what it is yet." But he thinks his chances are slim.

Asked if he believes he was passed over for promotion last year for political reasons, Swift would not speculate.

"I don't know," he said. "I'm not going to worry about it. I didn't volunteer for this. I got nominated for it. When I got it, I just decided to do the best I could."

Swift has worked under two officers as a member of the small team of lawyers defending "enemy combatants" being held at Guantanamo Bay. Both of them spoke highly of Swift Friday and said they gave him very high ratings on his annual review, called a fitness report.

"He's doing a fantastic job," said Swift's current boss at the Office of Military Commissions (tribunals), Marine Col. Dwight Sullivan.

Sullivan spoke of the crucial importance of the case decided Thursday by the Supreme Court. "It's a fundamental constitutional question about the powers of the president," Sullivan said. Asked about Swift's aggressive legal challenge of the commander in chief, Sullivan saluted Swift's "moral courage."

"He has been absolutely fearless is pursuing his client's interests. And also he has exhibited an extraordinary level of legal skill. His legal strategy has been brilliant.

"We all take an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States and he has certainly done that, literally."

Swift spoke Friday about his "immense pride" in the military justice system. "I don't feel that because you join the military you should lose rights. If there is anyone who deserves the protection of those rights, it's the people who are willing to lay down their lives for it."

So the question is will Swift lay down his career because of his vigorous defense of a Yemeni tribesman who was Osama bin Laden's driver in Afghanistan.

Swift's first supervisor at the Office of Commissions was Col. Will Gunn, who said Friday that he gave Swift two annual fitness reports and "I gave him very high ratings overall."

Asked whether he thought politics might have played a role in Swift being bypassed for promotion, Gunn focused on Swift's atypical career as a military lawyer. "Charlie has spent a lot of time as a litigator, a trial advocate. That's really unusual in the JAG. You find that people in the more senior ranks have moved around and proved themselves in a variety of settings."

Most of Swift's career has been spent in the courtroom.

"While Charlie is a brilliant guy, a tenacious litigator, he does not have all the blocks checked like some other folks have," Gunn said. He called it a "breadth-of-experience" issue.

Swift clearly believes that his vigorous defense of Hamdan was, in a very real way, a vigorous defense of military justice and the Constitution.

"If they are calling the commissions (tribunals) military justice, it's got to live up to what military justice is. It means something. It's about the law, not what the leaders want. The greatest thing about the JAG Corps is ... I had the opportunity to work every day in a system I believe in."

Swift figures he'll hear around the second week of the month whether he's been passed over for promotion again. If so, he says, it will be time to dust off the resume.

He doesn't know what might be next, but when asked if he might move back to the Puget Sound area, he said: "I lived in Seattle for 6 1/2 years. I love Seattle."

He proceeded to reminisce fondly about sitting in the Kingdome's outfield bleachers watching the Mariners play. "And my wife is an airplane pilot. She could live anywhere."

P-I reporter Paul Shukovsky can be reached at 206-448-8072 or paulshukovsky@seattlepi.com.

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Assyrian Author Testifies Before House Committee on Condition of Assyrians in Iraq

Assyrian International News Agency

... My churches are being bombed. My elders are being killed. My young brothers are being assaulted and kidnapped. My fellow students are being harassed and beaten. My children and neighbors are being beheaded. If my sister refuses to wear a Muslim hijab, she is raped or tortured by having acid thrown in her face. And yes, the majority of these incidents have gone unreported in the western media. These atrocities are occurring right under the watchful eyes of my American government since the "liberation" of Iraq (...) Iraq's "liberation" has become the "oppression" of Assyrians. The war in Iraq is silently taking its toll on the Assyrians particularly in the Northern regions of Kirkuk, Mosul and Baghdad where the Assyrian population is concentrated. In the Nineveh Plains and its surrounding regions, under the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG), and through a dictatorship, Assyrian lands are being illegally confiscated. And yet the Assyrians don't strike back. We remain peaceful and tolerant under intolerable conditions. There is no aid or funding going to the Assyrian regions under our American watch. Basic medical need is non-existent for these Christians...

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Supreme Court rules against Bush administration’s military commissions

John Burton with Axis of Logic editorial comment

The author of this analysis, John Burton points out: "While the decision was a judicial rebuke to the Bush administration, it did not order the release of any of the more than 400 prisoners still held at the US military base. Nor did it address the Bush administration’s claim that it can hold captives there or at other US facilities around the world for the duration of "active hostilities" in the so-called "war on terror," i.e., indefinitely" Axis of Logic also asks - Why did it take years for the U.S. government and it's judiciary to find the illegality of the Bush Regime's abominable imprisonment and torture of these prisoners of war? Why now - after these men and their families have suffered so? We observe that after the damage has been done and the regime in Washington find themselves being defeated by the Resistance Forces, some of the perpetrators want to shift their position (including the Surpreme Court, the Democratic Party and the Corporate Media) - to reflect opposition to the Afghan/Iraqi wars and the treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo...

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Cindy Sheehan to provoke the Second American Revolution July 4th, 2006-Hunger Strike at White House!

Marta Rodriguez, Bellaciao

Gold Star Families for Peace will announce a historic hunger strike against the war in Iraq. At 5pm, they will sit down in front of the White House to eat their last meal and hold a press conference before beginning the fast at the same location in the morning of July 4 at 10am. "We’ve marched, held vigils, lobbied Congress, camped out at Bush’s ranch. We’ve even gone to jail. Now it’s time to do more," says peace mom Cindy Sheehan. "While others are celebrating July 4th with barbeques, we’ll be showing our patriotism by putting our bodies on the line to bring our troops home." Hundreds of celebrities, veterans, mothers, and concerned citizens across the country will participate in a rolling fast...

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Iran and 'regime change'

Lenin's Tomb

A couple of excellent articles by Yoshie Furuhashi and Justin Raimondo detailing the preparations being made for 'regime change' in Iran. The warnings signs are all there: 1) A strong bipartisan vote in favour of sanctions on Iran unless there is a change in government, with only fourteen dissenters. It took five years for a congressional vote in favour of 'regime change' in Iraq to become a military invasion. 2) A White House propaganda blitz, manufactured crises, press hysteria. 3) Dodgy exile groups disseminating false information, lobbyists (often pro-Israeli) ferociously dissembling and campaigning...

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Spy Agency Sought U.S. Call Records Before 9/11, Lawyers Say

June 30 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. National Security Agency asked AT&T Inc. to help it set up a domestic call monitoring site seven months before the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, lawyers claimed June 23 in court papers filed in New York federal court.

The allegation is part of a court filing adding AT&T, the nation's largest telephone company, as a defendant in a breach of privacy case filed earlier this month on behalf of Verizon Communications Inc. and BellSouth Corp. customers. The suit alleges that the three carriers, the NSA and President George W. Bush violated the Telecommunications Act of 1934 and the U.S. Constitution, and seeks money damages.

``The Bush Administration asserted this became necessary after 9/11,'' plaintiff's lawyer Carl Mayer said in a telephone interview. ``This undermines that assertion.''

The lawsuit is related to an alleged NSA program to record and store data on calls placed by subscribers. More than 30 suits have been filed over claims that the carriers, the three biggest U.S. telephone companies, violated the privacy rights of their customers by cooperating with the NSA in an effort to track alleged terrorists.

``The U.S. Department of Justice has stated that AT&T may neither confirm nor deny AT&T's participation in the alleged NSA program because doing so would cause `exceptionally grave harm to national security' and would violate both civil and criminal statutes,'' AT&T spokesman Dave Pacholczyk said in an e-mail.

U.S. Department of Justice spokesman Charles Miller and NSA spokesman Don Weber declined to comment.

Pioneer Groundbreaker

The NSA initiative, code-named ``Pioneer Groundbreaker,'' asked AT&T unit AT&T Solutions to build exclusively for NSA use a network operations center which duplicated AT&T's Bedminster, New Jersey facility, the court papers claimed. That plan was abandoned in favor of the NSA acquiring the monitoring technology itself, plaintiffs' lawyers Bruce Afran said.

The NSA says on its Web site that in June 2000, the agency was seeking bids for a project to ``modernize and improve its information technology infrastructure.'' The plan, which included the privatization of its ``non-mission related'' systems support, was said to be part of Project Groundbreaker.

Mayer said the Pioneer project is ``a different component'' of that initiative.

Mayer and Afran said an unnamed former employee of the AT&T unit provided them with evidence that the NSA approached the carrier with the proposed plan. Afran said he has seen the worker's log book and independently confirmed the source's participation in the project. He declined to identify the employee.

Stop Suit

On June 9, U.S. District Court Judge P. Kevin Castel in New York stopped the lawsuit from moving forward while the Federal Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation in Washington rules on a U.S. request to assign all related telephone records lawsuits to a single judge.

Robert Varettoni, a spokesman for Verizon, said he was unaware of the allegations against AT&T and declined to comment.

Earlier this week, he issued a statement on behalf of the company that Verizon had not been asked by the NSA to provide customer phone records from either its hard-wired or wireless networks. Verizon also said that it couldn't confirm or deny ``whether it has any relationship to the classified NSA program.''

Mayer's lawsuit was filed following a May 11 USA Today report that the U.S. government was using the NSA to monitor domestic telephone calls. Earlier today, USA Today said it couldn't confirm its contention that BellSouth or Verizon had contracts with the NSA to provide a database of domestic customer phone call records.

Jeff Battcher, a spokesman for Atlanta-based BellSouth, said that vindicated the company.

``We never turned over any records to the NSA,'' he said in a telephone interview. ``We've been clear all along that they've never contacted us. Nobody in our company has ever had any contact with the NSA.''

The case is McMurray v. Verizon Communications Inc., 06cv3650, in the Southern District of New York.

To contact the reporter on this story:
Andrew Harris in Chicago at aharris16@bloomberg.net

Link Here

Iraq, where opportunities for fame and fortune are plenty

Truth About Iraqis

Iraq, where opportunities for those looking to get ahead, make names for themselves or earn a few bucks are ripe. In the past three years, we have seen numerous Iraqis propelled to fame and notoriety. First and foremost among them, of course, is Muqtada Sadr (known as Pudgie by his Iranian mentors) who was virtually a nobody until the US illegally invaded Iraq (...) But military careers are also built in Iraq. Take, for example, the case of Staff Sergeant Frank Wuterich, who has been nominated and is eligible for promotion. Ordinarily, there would be no problem here, except that one word sticks out like a sore thumb fermented in the dungeouns of Abu Ghraib and My Lai - Haditha...

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Rape and murder in Mahmudiya

Eli Stephens, Left I on the News

I heard a commentator on TV talking about the latest reported American atrocity in Iraq, an incident of rape and murder in Mahmudiya. He noted that "these things happen in war" (...) But the main point I wanted to make about this incident is actually hidden in the fine print: <>The killing of the family was originally reported by the military as due to "insurgent activity," American officials said. The same, of course, was true in the Haditha massacre of 24 Iraqis, who were also originally reported as being killed by "insurgent activity" (i.e., IED). So the next time you see statistics, also reported by the American military, about the percentage of the deaths in Iraq which are caused by "insurgent activity," keep these incidents in mind. Statistics only have validity when the underlying data is valid. When the underlying data is provided by the U.S. military, forget about it...

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GIs May Have Planned Iraq Rape, Slayings

Jul 1, 6:54 AM (ET)By RYAN LENZ

BEIJI, Iraq (AP) - Investigators believe a group of U.S. soldiers suspected of raping an Iraqi woman, then killing her and three members of her family plotted the attack for nearly a week, a U.S. military official said Saturday.

Up to five soldiers are being investigated in the March killings, the fifth pending case involving alleged slayings of Iraqi civilians by U.S. troops.

The Americans entered the Sunni Arab's family home, separated three males from the woman, raped her and burned her body using a flammable liquid in a cover-up attempt, a military official close to the investigation said. The three males were also slain.

The soldiers had studied their victims for about a week and the attack was "totally premeditated," the official said on condition of anonymity because the investigation was ongoing.

The family had just moved into the home in the insurgent-riddled area around Mahmoudiya, 20 miles south of Baghdad.

The U.S. military issued a terse statement about the killings Friday, saying only that Maj. Gen. James D. Thurman, commander of the 4th Infantry Division, ordered a criminal investigation into the alleged slaying of a family of four in Mahmoudiya.

U.S. officials said they knew of the deaths but thought the victims were killed in sectarian violence. But Mahmoudiya police Capt. Ihsan Abdul-Rahman said Iraqi officials received a report on March 13 alleging that American soldiers had killed the family in the Khasir Abyad area, about 6 miles north of Mahmoudiya.

There were some discrepancies over how many soldiers were being investigated. The U.S. military official said it was at least four. Two other U.S. officials said Friday that five were under investigation but one already had been discharged for unspecified charges unrelated to the killings and was believed to be in the United States.

The four still in the Army have had their weapons taken away and were confined to a U.S. base near Mahmoudiya, officials said. If convicted of premeditated murder, the soldiers could receive a death sentence under U.S. military law.

The suspects were from the 502nd Infantry Regiment and belonged to the same platoon as two soldiers kidnapped and killed south of Baghdad this month, another official close to the investigation said Friday. The soldiers' mutilated bodies were found June 19, three days after they were abducted by insurgents near Youssifiyah southwest of Baghdad.

The military has said one and possibly both of the slain soldiers were tortured and beheaded.

The official said the mutilation of the slain soldiers stirred feelings of guilt and led at least one member of the platoon to reveal the rape-slaying on June 22.

One soldier was arrested after admitting his role in the alleged attack on the family, the official said on condition of anonymity because the case was under way. The official said the rape and killings appeared to have been a "crime of opportunity," noting that the soldiers had not been attacked by insurgents but had noticed the woman on previous patrols.

One of the family members they allegedly killed was a child, said a senior Army official who also requested anonymity because the investigation is ongoing. The senior official said the alleged incident was first revealed by a soldier during a routine counseling-type session. The official said that soldier did not witness the incident but heard about it.

A second soldier, who also was not involved, said he overhead soldiers conspiring to commit the crimes and then later saw bloodstains on their clothes, the official said.

The allegations of rape could generate a particularly strong backlash in Iraq, a conservative, strongly religious society in which many women will not even shake hands with men who are not close relatives.

The case is among the most serious against U.S. soldiers allegedly involved in the deaths of Iraqi civilians. At least 14 U.S. troops have been convicted.

Last week, seven Marines and one Navy medic were charged with premeditated murder in the shooting death of an Iraqi man near Fallujah west of Baghdad.

U.S. officials are also investigating allegations that U.S. Marines killed two dozen unarmed Iraqi civilians Nov. 19 in the western town of Haditha in a revenge attack after a fellow Marine died in a roadside bombing.

Other cases involve the deaths of three male detainees in Salahuddin province in May, the shooting death of an unarmed Iraqi man near Ramadi in February and the death of an Iraqi soldier after an interrogation at a detention camp in Qaim in 2003.
AP correspondent Ryan Lenz is embedded with the 101st Airborne Division in Beiji, Iraq. He was previously embedded with the 502nd Infantry Regiment in Mahmoudiya. AP correspondent Lolita C. Baldor in Washington contributed to this report.

Link Here

GUEST MEDIA ALERT: KIDNAPPED BY ISRAELThe British Media And The Invasion Of Gaza

Jonathan Cook, Media Lens

Few readers of a British newspaper would have noticed the story. In the Observer of 25 June, it merited a mere paragraph hidden in the "World in brief" section, revealing that the previous day a team of Israeli commandos had entered the Gaza Strip to "detain" two Palestinians Israel claims are members of Hamas. The significance of the mission was alluded to in a final phrase describing this as "the first arrest raid in the territory since Israel pulled out of the area a year ago". More precisely, it was the first time the Israeli army had re-entered the Gaza Strip, directly violating Palestinian control of the territory, since it supposedly left in August last year...

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Right-wing pundits in Internet ratings freefall

The Myth Of The Liberal Media

RAW STORYPublished: Friday June 30, 2006

Many well-known right-wing media figures -- including Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter and Bill O'Reilly -- are losing their Internet audiences, according to an analysis of Web site ratings by IPD Group and U.S. Politics Today.

On the other hand, traffic for Moveon.org has risen.

On Thursday, Shakespeare's Sister checked other sites from the right and left at the same tracking service, Alexa.com, used in the analysis.

According to the blogger, Free Republic, Hugh Hewitt, World Net Daily, and Pajamas Media have all suffered at least a 19 percent decline, while the traffic at Raw Story, Crooks and Liars, and Think Progress has risen.

A release issued by IPD Group reads:
An odd thing seems to have happened to mighty right-wing talking head media juggernaut. They are still talking, but fewer people seem to be listening -- at least on the Internet.

Alexa.com -- http://alexa.com -- which is owned and operated by Amazon.com, tracks online usage for all Web sites, large and small. At Alexa.com, you can check a site's activity up to the minute, or follow its trail back for many years.

At U.S. Politics Today, we thought it might be interesting to see how the right-wing media machine was doing. Not well, it turns out.

During the past three months, for instance, http://rushlimbaugh.com traffic ranking has declined 18 percent. He still huffs and puffs away daily on radio, but advertisers might want to double check the size of his audience. If the bottom has dropped out on him online, it likely has had a similar trend line with his radio show.

Even Fox News, that gold standard of right-wing media, is down 13 percent. Here are the numbers: http://www.alexa.com/data/details/traffic_details?q=&url=www.foxnews.com
Ann Coulter is coining money by attacking widows and orphans -- a new game for her since she's run out of Democrats, living and dead, to defame and verbally pillage. You would think with all of the attention the promotion of her new book has given her would raise visitor numbers at her Web site, http://anncoulter.com. Nope. Traffic there is down 10 percent.

The audience chart reversal seems to be common across the entire right-wing side of the Internet viewing board. Billoreilly.com -- http://billoreilly.com -- has dropped 40 percent in the past three months. Townhall.com -- http://townhall.com -- that once popular center for right-wing news and commentary, has fallen by 24 percent. The Washington Times Web site is down by 27 percent. And Matt Drudge, once the hottest right-wing name in Internet sites? Alexa.com says http://drudgereport.com is down 21 percent.

Could it be that Internet users are getting tired of political sites in general? Maybe so. But http://moveon.org is up 13 percent in the same period.

President Bush's fall from grace has been well documented by poll-after-poll. The unpopularity of Congress may not be at historic lows, but those 20-something level of support numbers can't be comforting to those who manage things on Capitol Hill.

It seems logical that with enthusiasm draining from the right- wing movement that put the president and the current Congress in place, the media chorus that has lavished praise on them all these many years would be affected by the change in fortune.

And so it seems, looking at the Alexa.com numbers -- if they are to be believed. Those graph lines may not directly parallel the decline in GOP poll numbers, but they are all heading in the same direction -- down.

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Freddie Oakley on Voting Machine Sleepovers

"If e-voting systems can't be secured, perhaps they ought not be used at all. Period." Registrar Freddie Oakley speaks out on the Busby/Bilbray controversy and the crisis concerning deployment of hackable electronic voting systems.

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Locke/Berkeley | Will the Berkeley Impeachment Resolution Catch On?

"Many people may scoff at the decision earlier this week by the Berkeley City Council to put a resolution on the November 7 ballot calling for President Bush and Vice President Cheney to be impeached ... But Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates thinks his city is simply ahead of its time," writes Laura A. Locke/Berkeley for Time Magazine.

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Dean Baquet and Bill Keller | When Do We Publish a Secret?

Dean Baquet, editor at the Los Angeles Times and Bill Keller, executive editor for the New York Times discuss their respective newspapers' decision last week to disclose a secret Bush administration program to monitor international banking transactions, which has received condemnation from many Republicans in Congress.

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The '06 Stakes Just Got Raised Bush will get to fill at least one more Supreme Court vacancy."

FOCUS Robert Parry:

"The narrow margin of the US Supreme Court's rebuke to George W. Bush on military tribunals highlights the stakes on the table for the November 2006 Congressional elections," writes Robert Parry. "It is a strong possibility that if the Republicans retain control of the US Congress in the November 2006 elections, Bush will get to fill at least one more Supreme Court vacancy."

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Va. Senate Candidate Jim Webb: Neither Bush Nor GOP Congress Can Fix Iraq...

Associated Press BOB LEWIS July 1, 2006 at 12:08 PM
READ MORE: George W. Bush, Iraq

Neither President Bush nor the Republican-led Congress can extract the United States from a bloody quagmire of their own making in Iraq, said a former Republican who is seeking a Senate seat in Virginia.

Democrat Jim Webb, who was President Reagan's Navy secretary in 1987-88, said he knows from his own past as one of the Vietnam War's most decorated Marines how to "bring the Iraq War to an early and honorable end."


Jeb Bush Used Nonprofit Foundation To Pay Pollster, Fmr. Campaign Aides...

Palm Beach Post Dara Kam July 1, 2006 at 01:16 PM
READ MORE: George W. Bush

Gov. Jeb Bush has used his recently revived nonprofit foundation to pay a former campaign finance director and two former campaign aides.

Although Bush has said his Foundation for Florida's Future is not a way of keeping his political machine intact after he leaves office early next year, recent disclosures on the foundation's Web site show that it paid:


Schwarzenegger's Counter-Terror Office Tracked Antiwar and Political Rallies....

How dare this creep, put his dogs out tracking anyone , they should be out tracking him the sleeze bag.

LA Times Peter Nicholas July 1, 2006 at 09:44 AM
READ MORE: Iraq, Homeland Security, Arnold Schwarzenegger

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's office in charge of protecting California against terrorism has tracked demonstrations staged by political and antiwar groups, a practice that senior law enforcement officials say is an abuse of civil liberties.

The Times obtained reports prepared for the state Office of Homeland Security in recent months that contain details on the whereabouts and purpose of a number of political demonstrations throughout California.

The source of the information is listed in some cases as federal law enforcement agencies, including the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, an investigative arm of the U.S. Homeland Security department.

Political activities cited in the reports include:

• An animal rights rally outside a Canadian consulate office in San Francisco to protest the hunting of seals.

• A demonstration in Walnut Creek at which U.S. Rep. George Miller (D-Martinez) and other officials spoke against the war in Iraq.

• A Women's International League for Peace and Freedom gathering at a courthouse in Santa Barbara in support of an antiwar protester -- a 56-year-old Salinas woman -- facing federal trespassing charges.

California Atty. Gen. Bill Lockyer's office learned of the monitoring activity more than two months ago. On Friday, a spokesman condemned the actions, saying they violated the groups' constitutional right of free speech.

Read the whole story here.

The Promotion After Haditha

As two investigations of the alleged massacre in Iraq drag on, questions are raised over the promotion of a Marine who is a focus of the probe

Three officers have already been removed from their posts in the wake of the allegations that U.S. Marines killed 24 civilians in the Iraqi town of Haditha. But while top-level officials in the Marine Corps await the report from Army Maj. General Eldon Bargewell, who is investigating the actions of the Marines and the chain of command after the incident, the promotion of one of the Marines who is the focus of the criminal investigation is drawing new scrutiny. Staff Sergeant Frank Wuterich, the Marine who was the unit leader on the ground that day in Haditha, was put on the Marine Corps list for promotion from sergeant to staff sergeant in October 2005. Being put on the list, however, does not ensure promotion; the Marine's commander must okay it first, and the Marine Corps routinely holds up nominations or promotions if there is any reason to question the actions of a Marine. Even a charge of "driving while intoxicated," for example, can delay or derail a step up...

continua / continued

A statement made by the Patriotic, National and Islamic Front' spokesman concerning the US ambassador's initiative announced by its stooge, Maliki.*

Al Moharer.net

Nuri al Maliki, the president of the Occupation appointed government has announced an (initiative for dialogue and national reconciliation) designed by Iraq governor the US ambassador (Zalmay Zad) in a new miserable and desperate attempt to quell the intensification and the widening of the activities and the capabilities of the heroic and Patriotic Iraqi Resistance (...) This 'initiative' indicates the overwhelming failure of the so called political process and the collapse of the US project in Iraq.. Moreover! This is an implicit recognition that the Iraqi Patriot Resistance has triumphed and that this initiative is the enemy last attempt to save whatever he can save before the Occupation forces cut and run, from the soil of Iraq...

continua / continued

Gaza and the treason of the international community

Ahmed Amr

Take a good look at Gaza and become a witness to what amounts to collective punishment administered to a small people by the rest of the planet. Israel’s sadistic army is not alone in laying siege to the densely populated strip of land that has become a virtual penitentiary for a million and a half souls. While Olmert’s thugs blow up bridges and power plants, the American government hands them more rope to hang the Palestinians. In the same spirit, the Europeans pitch in to starve the destitute inhabitants while the Arabs lounge around serenely watching the slaughter of their 'brothers.’ It doesn’t take an international law degree to recognize that the deliberate destruction of essential infrastructure is a war crime...

continua / continued

GI Special 4G1: Confession And Arrest - July 1, 2006

Thomas F. Barton

U.S. Troops Rape, Butcher Iraqi Family:

Later, Iraqis Behead Two From Same Platoon;

U.S. Soldier Confesses And Under Arrest

The official told the AP the accused soldiers were from the same platoon as the two slain soldiers. The military has said one and possibly both of the slain soldiers were tortured and beheaded.

The official said the mutilation of the slain soldiers stirred feelings of guilt and led at least one of them to reveal the rape-slaying on June 22.

continua / continued

Gaza power plant hit by Israeli airstrike is insured by US agency:

By Farah Stockman, Globe Staff June 29, 2006

WASHINGTON -- The Palestinian power plant bombed by Israeli forces Tuesday is insured by a US government agency, and US officials say they expect American funds to be used to pay for the damage.

The destruction of the 140-megawatt reactor, the only one in the Gaza Strip, threatens to create a humanitarian disaster because the plant supplies electricity to two-thirds of Gaza's 1.3 million residents and operates pumps that provide water supplies.

But paying a claim on the plant, which was insured for $48 million, could prove problematic for the United States, which cut off funding for all infrastructure projects in the Palestinian territories after the militant group Hamas won legislative elections in January.

Administration officials said the restrictions on working with a Hamas-led government could further complicate the repair of the electric facility, which could take weeks, if not months, to fix because of the escalating violence in Gaza.

The bombing of the plant could become a lasting problem for the Bush administration, which is appealing for an end to the showdown between Israelis and Palestinians in Gaza.

Israeli warplanes hit the power plant two days after Palestinian militants attacked an Israeli Army unit, killing two soldiers and taking another one hostage. Israeli forces responded yesterday by entering the Gaza Strip for the first time since Israel's historic pullout from the territory nine months ago, bombing the plant and three bridges.

The power plant cost about $150 million and took more than five years to build.

Plans for it began in 1999, when two private investors -- the now-defunct Enron Corp. and a Palestinian-born construction mogul, Said Khoury -- laid down the blueprint for making the Palestinian territories less reliant on buying electricity from Israel.

The project faltered when violence broke out in Gaza in 2000 and when Enron collapsed into bankruptcy, but Khoury continued to push forward. His construction company's US subsidiary, Connecticut-based Morganti Group, bought out Enron's stake in the plant.

In 2002, the plant began operating, becoming the first such facility regulated by the Palestinian Energy Authority. In 2004, it reached full commercial capacity and its owners were able to purchase $48 million in ``political risk" insurance from the Overseas Private Investment Corporation , an arm of the US government that provides American businesses with financing abroad and promotes US interests in emerging markets.

The US Investment Corporation -- set up in 1971 with US taxpayer funds -- had been supportive of the project from the beginning, arranging the first meeting between investors for the plant, according to the Bloomberg news service.

Few commercial insurance companies insure such projects against political violence, but the US Investment Corporation does so to encourage development in emerging markets, according to Lawrence Spinelli, a spokesman for the Investment Corporation.

The insurance that Morganti purchased covers ``political violence," which includes ``wars, acts of terrorism, things like that," Spinelli said. To be paid for the damage, the company must file a claim, and the Investment Corporation must determine whether the claim is covered by the policy, Spinelli said.

The corporation raises its reserve funds through insurance premiums and other charges to its clients, but its funds are kept in the US Treasury and are controlled by Congress.

That could be a problem for those who want to see the power plant swiftly rebuilt.

After the election of Hamas in January, a host of congressmen introduced bills designed to freeze US assistance to the Palestinian territories to prevent any financial benefit from reaching Hamas, designated as a terrorist organization. In April, the State Department announced it would cut off all planned funding for infrastructure in Gaza and the West Bank.

But advocates for Palestinians say that the plant must be repaired, even if the US government is forced to pay for it.

``If you take out two-thirds of the power in a place like Gaza, and if this is the source of electricity that powers pumps for water, you may have a major crisis on your hand in short order," said Ed Abington , a former consultant to the Palestinian Authority.

© Copyright 2006 Globe Newspaper Company.

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Ravening Wolves in Sheep's Clothing :

Jason Miller:

Israel has engaged in a long-term, multi-faceted effort to ensure the extinction of the Palestinians. Its patron and benefactor, the United States, shares equal culpability for their egregious crimes against humanity

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Rabbi Michael Lerner:

When Will They Ever Learn?:

Those who care about the Jewish people, want to preserve it and protect it, want to see a safe and secure Israel and a safe and secure Jewish people all around the world, have to shout out now in very clear words: "Stop what you are doing, Israel, not just at the moment, but in the essence of your policies.

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Israel strips J'lem residency from Hamas deputies:

Israel on Friday revoked the Jerusalem residency of four Hamas legislators, including one cabinet minister, in an unprecedented punishment that takes away their right to live in the holy city and travel freely in Israel, officials said.

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UN Schedules Emergency Debate On Israeli Gaza Attacks:

The U.N. Security Council scheduled an emergency debate Friday afternoon on the Israeli offensive in Gaza and the Palestinians said they will press for adoption of a resolution condemning Israel's aggression and demanding a halt to all military operations.

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Irish MP: Israel an "abhorrent and despicable" regime:

Questioning the Minister for Foreign Affairs Dermot Ahern in the Dáil today he said the kidnap by Israel of some 25 democratically elected Palestinian representatives demonstrates "the true nature of Israel's commitment to not so democratic principles."

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Blast kills 66 in Baghdad Shiite district

Residents gather at the scene of a car bomb attack at a market, which killed 60
57 minutes ago
Residents gather at the scene of a car bomb attack at a market, which killed 60 people and wounded 80 others, in Baghdad's Sadr City district July 1, 2006. (Kareem Raheem/Reuters)

A man attends to his son, who was among those injured in a market car bomb
57 minutes ago
A man attends to his son, who was among those injured in a market car bomb attack, in a hospital in Baghdad's Sadr city July 1, 2006. The attack in the poor Shi'ite district killed 62 people and wounded 114 others, in the bloodiest attack in Iraq for three months, police and Interior Ministry sources said. (Thaier al-Sudani/Reuters)

A man, injured in a market car bomb attack, lies in a hospital in Baghdad's Sadr
57 minutes ago
A man, injured in a market car bomb attack, lies in a hospital in Baghdad's Sadr city July 1, 2006. The attack in the poor Shi'ite district killed 62 people and wounded 114 others, in the bloodiest attack in Iraq for three months, police and Interior Ministry sources said. (Thaier al-Sudani/Reuters)

The Hero of Guantanamo:

Navy Lt. Cmdr. Charles Swift, attorney for Yemeni Salim Ahmed Hamdan who worked as a bodyguard and driver for Osama bin Laden, speaks outside the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington June 29, 2006. The Supreme Court on Thursday struck down as unlawful the military tribunal system set up to try Guantanamo prisoners. REUTERS/Micah Walter (UNITED STATES)

"We can't be scared out of who we are."

That statement by Lt. Cmdr. Charles Swift, the military appointed defense attorney for Salim Ahmed Hamdan, is the real victory to build upon in the aftermath of the Supreme Court decision rejecting President Bush's handling of detainees.

Speaking to reporters, Swift said the ruling marked a "high water point" in American history. "It's a return to our fundamental values."

Among those values, I assume Swift meant, is an unwillingness to let terrorists -- or weapons of mass destruction for that matter -- so frighten us that we suspend our principles and laws.

For almost five years now, we have been rewarding terrorists and conferring upon them far greater importance than they deserve through panicked and secret programs that ignore the rule of law, from the handling of detainees to the adoption of a national policy of preemption.

Special interest groups may hail the Supreme Court's rejection of the military tribunals as a rebuke of the President's "abuse of power" and celebrate a partisan victory. But we should all reflect upon the implication's of Swift's statement -- that we can fight terrorism without invoking the mindset of mortal threat and at the same time preserve who we are as Americans.

The Supreme Court yesterday rejected the Bush administration's plan to put Guantanamo detainees on trial before military commissions, ruling that the commissions were unauthorized by federal and international law. It additionally said that the Geneva Conventions apply to all detainees -- including the Geneva provision prohibiting trials except by "a regularly constituted court affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized people."

President Bush doggedly responded that he planned to work with Congress to "find a way forward" in crafting legislation that would authorize new, revamped tribunals. Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), chairman of the Judiciary Committee, has already introduced a bill "fixing" the military commissions to make them constitutionally compliant.

Commissions, in other words, will most certainly return in another guise and with new stationary.

The case the Court ruled on was an appeal brought on behalf of Salim Ahmed Hamdan, a Yemeni national (and civilian) who was captured in Afghanistan in November, 2001 and brought to Guantanamo Bay in June, 2002. The government has identified Hamdan as a driver and bodyguard for Osama bin Laden.

In July, 2003, Hamdan was to be one of the first to face trial by military commission. In November, 2003, Lt. Cmdr. Swift, a Navy judge advocate general, was assigned as Hamdan's military appointed attorney. A superior officer ordered Swift to secure a plea bargain. But Swift instead decided to argue that Hamdan should be accorded the rights and protections of the Geneva Convention and that the military commissions at Guantanamo were themselves invalid.

According to reporting in The Los Angeles Times, Swift was fearful of the dangerous precedent that could be set by denying international standards of justice even to terrorists.

"I feel like we all won, that the rule of law won, and that is essentially what we are all about," Swift told the Times.

Swift also told the Associated Press yesterday that he had informed his client about the ruling by telephone. "I think he was awe-struck that the court would rule for him, and give a little man like him an equal chance," Swift said. "Where he's from, that is not true."

Here is a man in uniform who could have done a perfunctory job, who could have seen Hamdan as an assignment, or as an evil and not a human being; who could have saluted and followed orders; who risked promotion and now faces certain retirement without it. He is the hero of Guantanamo, and his action and behavior should be a stiff slap in the face for those Beltway generals and admirals who whimper about Rumsfeld when they are safely out of uniform.

But most important, it should be a message for the American people that we need to reject the terrorist nightmare and the power it holds over us.

The Swift doctrine: We can't be scared out of who we are.

By William M. Arkin June 30, 2006; 8:30 AM ET

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Hamdan: Not Over Yet:

The Supreme Court did the nation a favor yesterday: It confirmed a basic-but contested-cornerstone of the Republic: that we have a government of laws, not of the president or the vice president's whims.

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Guardian finds Afghan witnesses US couldn't :

Declan Walsh in Gardez
Friday June 30, 2006
The Guardian

Haji Muhammad Hasan, father of Guantánamo Bay prisoner Abdullah Mujahid. Photograph: Declan Walsh

The US government said it could not find the men that Guantánamo detainee Abdullah Mujahid believes could help set him free. The Guardian found them in three days.
Two years ago the US military invited Mr Mujahid, a former Afghan police commander accused of plotting against the United States, to prove his innocence before a special military tribunal. As was his right, Mr Mujahid called four witnesses from Afghanistan.

But months later the tribunal president returned with bad news: the witnesses could not be found. Mr Mujahid's hopes sank and he was returned to the wire-mesh cell where he remains today.

The Guardian searched for Mr Mujahid's witnesses and found them within three days. One was working for President Hamid Karzai. Another was teaching at a leading American college. The third was living in Kabul. The fourth, it turned out, was dead. Each witness said he had never been approached by the Americans to testify in Mr Mujahid's hearing.

The case illustrates the egregious flaws that have discredited Guantánamo-style justice and which led the US supreme court to declare such trials illegal on Thursday in a major rebuke to the Bush administration. Mr Mujahid is one of 380 Guantánamo detainees whose cases were reviewed at "combatant-status review tribunals" in 2004 and 2005. The tribunals were hastily set up following a court ruling that the prisoners, having been denied all normal legal rights, should be allowed to prove their innocence. Ten of the hearings proceeded to full trials, including that of Osama bin Laden's aide, Salim Ahmed Hamdan, who brought the successful supreme court appeal.

But by the time the review tribunals ended last year the US government had located just a handful of the requested witnesses. None was brought from overseas to testify. The military lawyers simply said they were "non-contactable".

That was not entirely true.

Abdullah Mujahid was originally identified by Washington-based reporters from the Boston Globe after trawling through thousands of pages of testimony from the controversial military trials. US forces arrested Mr Mujahid in the southern Afghan city of Gardez in mid-2003, claiming he had been fired as police chief due to suspicion of "collusion with anti-government forces", according to official documents. Later, they alleged, he attacked US forces in retaliation.

In the military tribunal Mr Mujahid protested his innocence. He enjoyed good relations with American soldiers and had been promoted, not fired, he said. The three living witnesses he requested were easily located with a telephone, an internet connection and a few days work.

Shahzada Massoud was at the presidential palace, where he advises Mr Karzai on tribal affairs. Gul Haider, a former defence ministry official, was found through the local government in Gardez.

The interior ministry gave an email address for the former minister, Ahmed Ali Jalali, although he could as easily been found on the internet - he teaches at the National Defence University in Washington DC.

The witnesses largely corroborated Mr Mujahid's story, with some qualifications. Mr Jalali, the former interior minister, said Mr Mujahid had been fired over allegations of corruption and bullying - not for attacking the government. Mr Haider, the former defence official, said Mr Mujahid had contributed 30 soldiers to a major operation against al-Qaida in March 2002. "He is completely innocent," he said.

Other Afghans agreed. General Ali Shah Paktiawal, Interpol director of the Afghan national police, said: "Some people have given false information about him and that's why this problem has come up."

Their testimonies do not necessarily exonerate Mr Mujahid but at the very least raise serious questions about the case against him. An Afghan government delegation that recently visited Guantánamo estimated that half of the 94 Afghan detainees were not guilty of serious crimes and should be released. They did not release any names.

In Gardez, Haji Muhammad Hasan, 65, keeps a stack of Red Cross letters as the only proof of his son's whereabouts. "I feel completely helpless," he said in despair. Beside him the detainee's shy sons - aged three, four and five - waited for news of a father they could hardly recall.

Lies and old rivalries had sent many innocent Afghans to Guantánamo, said Taj Muhammad Wardak, a former governor of Paktiya. "You can investigate these people here. There is no need to send them to Guantánamo," he said. "It is a great sadness between our countries that will last for many years."

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Israel warns: free soldier or PM dies

Middle East correspondent Martin Chulov
July 01, 2006

ISRAEL last night threatened to assassinate Palestinian Prime Minister Ismael Haniyeh if Hamas militants did not release a captured Israeli soldier unharmed.

The unprecedented warning was delivered to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in a letter as Israel debated a deal offered by Hamas to free Corporal Gilad Shalit.

It came as Israeli military officials readied a second invasion force for a huge offensive into Gaza.
Hamas's Gaza-based political leaders, including Mr Haniyeh, had already gone into hiding.

But last night's direct threat to kill Mr Haniyeh, a democratically elected head of state, sharply raised the stakes.

The bid to free Corporal Shalit was brokered by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who last night warned Hamas it faced severe consequences if it did not curb its "extreme stance" and described the growing conflict as a lightning rod for Palestinian vengeance.

Jerusalem has made no official comment, but Egyptian state media said Israel had found the offer unacceptable. Israel has not spelt out the terms demanded by Hamas, but earlier this week it refused to buy into talk of a prisoner swap.

Thousands of Hamas supporters protested in Gaza City late on Thursday over the arrest by Israeli forces of up to 32 Hamas MPs on the West Bank that day.

A Hamas spokesman said the group would never recognise Israel, in spite of a deal its leaders signed this week offering implicit recognition of the Jewish state in return for easing an economic blockade.

Israeli fighter jets bombed 20 targets in Gaza, including the Interior Ministry, which it said had been used by militants to stage meetings, while artillery hit the northern strip with 500 shells in the 24 hours until yesterday morning.

Jewish settler Eliyahu Asheri, who was murdered by militants this week, was buried on Thursday as leaders of the Popular Resistance Committees pledged to seize more hostages in the West Bank. No further word has emerged about another suspected Jewish hostage, Noach Moskowitz, who Israeli police said was found dead hours after Mr Asheri's remains were found.

Much of Gaza, including two main hospitals, was without power and running water as a UN aid chief warned that the 1.4 million residents of the strip were three days away from a humanitarian crisis.

"They are heading for the abyss unless they get electricity and fuel restored," said emergency relief co-ordinator Jan Egeland, who urged militants to free Corporal Shalit and stop firing rockets into Israel.

Residents complain that sonic booms caused by Israeli jets traumatise children and that shelling confines families to their homes.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has vowed the military will do all it can to avoid civilian deaths if a full-scale assault is launched.

Mr Olmert said the decision to invade northern Gaza had already been delayed to allow Mr Mubarak's negotiations to continue.

The arrested Hamas legislators have been sent to security prisons and many will stand trial on terrorism offences. The detentions have hurt Hamas's already limited ability to govern and are likely to force a regime change.

Israel claims it has intelligence about the area where Corporal Shalit is held, but has been unable to pinpoint the exact location. Mr Olmert said the military would leave the strip if he was unconditionally and safely returned.

Egypt and the neighbouring Arab states of Jordan and Lebanon fear a war between Israel and the Palestinians could lead to uprisings within their own borders, which house many Palestinian refugees.

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Guantanamo's Legal And Medical Challenges

By César Chelala and Alejandro Garro

In 2004, Dr. Robert Jay Lifton reported "increasing evidence that doctors, nurses and medics have been compliant in torture and other illegal procedures in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantánamo Bay." The ICRC charged that US interrogators engaged the participation of medical personnel in what the committee called "a flagrant violation of medical ethics."

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The Israeli government is losing its reason

By Haaretz Editorial

06/30/06 "Haaretz" -- -- Bombing bridges that can be circumvented both by car and on foot; seizing an airport that has been in ruins for years; destroying a power station, plunging large parts of the Gaza Strip into darkness; distributing flyers suggesting that people be concerned about their fate; a menacing flight over Bashar Assad's palace; and arresting elected Hamas officials: The government wishes to convince us that all these actions are intended only to release the soldier Gilad Shalit.

But the greater the government's creativity in inventing tactics, the more it seems to reflect a loss of direction rather than an overall conception based on reason and common sense. On the face of it, Israel wishes to exert increasing pressure both on Hamas' political leadership and on the Palestinian public, in order to induce it to pressure its leadership to release the soldier. At the same time, the government claims that Syria - or at least Khaled Meshal, who is living in Syria - holds the key. If so, what is the point of pressuring the local Palestinian leadership, which did not know of the planned attack and which, when it found out, demanded that the kidnappers take good care of their victim and return him?

The tactic of pressuring civilians has been tried before, and more than once. The Lebanese, for example, are very familiar with the Israeli tactic of destroying power stations and infrastructure. Entire villages in south Lebanon have been terrorized, with the inhabitants fleeing in their thousands for Beirut. But what also happens under such extreme stress is that local divisions evaporate and a strong, united leadership is forged.

In the end, Israel was forced both to negotiate with Hezbollah and to withdraw from Lebanon. Now, the government appears to be airing out its Lebanon catalogue of tactics and implementing it, as though nothing has been learned since then. One may assume that the results will be similar this time around as well.

Israel also kidnapped people from Lebanon to serve as bargaining chips in dealings with the kidnappers of Israeli soldiers. Now, it is trying out this tactic on Hamas politicians. As the prime minister said in a closed meeting: "They want prisoners released? We'll release these detainees in exchange for Shalit." By "these detainees," he was referring to elected Hamas officials.

The prime minister is a graduate of a movement whose leaders were once exiled, only to return with their heads held high and in a stronger position than when they were deported. But he believes that with the Palestinians, things work differently.

As one who knows that all the Hamas activists deported by Yitzhak Rabin returned to leadership and command positions in the organization, Olmert should know that arresting leaders only strengthens them and their supporters. But this is not merely faulty reasoning; arresting people to use as bargaining chips is the act of a gang, not of a state.

The government was caught up too quickly in a whirlwind of prestige mixed with fatigue. It must return to its senses at once, be satisfied with the threats it has made, free the detained Hamas politicians and open negotiations. The issue is a soldier who must be brought home, not changing the face of the Middle East.

© Copyright 2006 Haaretz. All rights reserved

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FBI and Western Union helped Israel With Targeted Assassinations

By Shmuel Rosner, Haaretz Correspondent

American intelligence agents and company officials cooperated in tracking the data trail and in monitoring security cameras installed in Western Union branches in order to see who was picking up the funds.

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The War in Iraq Costs

Is this the beginning of "Transfer" in Gaza?

By Mike Whitney

"It is the duty of Israeli leaders to explain to public opinion, clearly and courageously, a certain number of facts that are forgotten with time. The first of these is that there is no Zionism, colonialization, or Jewish State without the eviction of the Arabs and the expropriation of their lands." -- Ariel Sharon, Agence France Presse, November 15, 1998.

"What's driving the conflict is the radical inequality between the Jewish minority, that rules all of the territory between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, and the disenfranchised Palestinian majority, who are paying the price for the luxury that Israel lives in...But what pays for that normality for Israelis is the total dispossession of the majority population. And Israel believes that it can hide them behind walls, in ghettos, as was done to Jews in Europe in the 1930s and '40s". Ali Abunimah "Electronic Intifada"

06/30/06 "Information Clearing House" -- The Palestine Chronicle conducted an informal internet poll on Wednesday which showed that nearly 75% of the people questioned believe that the "reinvasion of Gaza was preplanned". This tells us that most people, who follow developments in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, know that Israel's actions are not simply a spontaneous reaction to the kidnapping of one of its soldiers, but are part of a broader strategy for achieving their political objectives. The abduction of Gilad Shalit is simply being used as a pretext for more ethnic cleansing and land expropriation. These are the means by which Israel traditionally achieves its territorial goals.

The Gaza invasion is better understood in terms of the statement made by Ariel Sharon at the beginning of this essay. Sharon's comments are far from original. In fact, similar statements have been made by every Israeli prime minister since the founding of the state in 1948. David Ben Gurion put it this way in 1937, "We must expel Arabs and take their places". Ben Gurion's blunt declaration is no different from Sharon's or any of his successors. It merely summarizes the prevailing sentiment of the Israeli leadership for the last 60 years.

Golda Meir elaborated on Ben Gurion's comments by denying the existence of the indigenous people altogether, saying, "There's no such thing as a Palestinian people. It is not as if we came and threw them out and took their country. They didn't exist".

Meir's denials may be foolish but they are consistent with the stated beliefs of every Israeli prime minister who has served since she left office in 1970.

Yitzak Rabin's assertions are nearly identical to those of Meir and Ben Gurion. He said,

"[Israel will] create in the course of the next 10 or 20 years conditions which would attract natural and voluntary migration of the refugees from the Gaza Strip and the west Bank to Jordan." >>>cont

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More NASA Officials Say Tomorrow's Shuttle Launch Is Not Safe...

Local6 June 30, 2006 at 05:03 PM

Key NASA officials who oversee the agency said they don't believe the shuttle is safe for launch, according to a Local 6 News report.

E-mails sent to NASA's administrator from the agency's inspector general's office obtained by the Orlando Sentinel said they didn't believe shuttle Discovery should launch without more work to prevent foam insulation from breaking off the external fuel tank.


“The Administration Does Not Have The Power It Says It Has”...

Associated Press Pete Yost June 30, 2006 at 07:48 PM
READ MORE: George W. Bush, Supreme Court

A Supreme Court ruling striking down military commissions seriously weakens the foundation of the Bush administration's domestic surveillance program, critics said Friday.

A congressional resolution President Bush relied on in creating commissions is a key rationale for the National Security Agency to listen in on phone calls without first obtaining a judge's permission.


Friday, June 30, 2006

Pink- Dear Mr President - Live

Republican administration threatening it with legal action over the publication of so- called "classified information"

about the faux "global war on terror

June 30, 2006 -- This editor attended a dinner last evening at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, DC that marked the 35th anniversary of the release of the Pentagon Papers by Senator Mike Gravel (D-AK) during a Senate subcommittee hearing. Gravel, who is the first Democrat who has filed for the presidency in 2008, and Daniel Ellsberg, were present at the dinner and reminisced about the series of incidents that led to a dramatic showdown with the Nixon administration 35 years ago. In June 1971, the Pentagon Papers were submitted for inclusion in the Congressional Record by Gravel after the Nixon administration managed to get a restraining order that enjoined the New York Times from publishing further classified Pentagon Papers extracts that showed the Pentagon had deceived the American people about the Vietnam War. Gravel personally loaded two heavy carrying cases containing copies of the Pentagon Papers into the trunk of his car that -- parked in front of the Mayflower Hotel on Connecticut Avenue, just four blocks from the White House. The papers had been transported by plane from Los Angeles by a Washington Post editor who had received them from Ellsberg. The White House was trying every method to prevent the publication of the papers. Gravel, knowing this, kept the two carrying cases under his bed until he took them to the Senate for public release.

Ironically, the anniversary dinner was held during a time when the New York Times is once again dealing with a Republican administration threatening it with legal action over the publication of so- called "classified information" about the faux "global war on terror." A number of speakers saw one big difference between 1971 and 2006: the press was vehemently opposed to the Nixon administration's attempt to stifle the press. Now, the corporate-controlled media rolls over every time the White House makes a demand. Journalists put their jobs and status ahead of their professional duty to inform the public. Ed. note: As long as this situation continues, WMR will continue to inform the public, regardless of the bellicose threats against the press from the Bush administration.

More on Gravel and Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers at Gravel 08 campaign web site.


One-sided history in the Middle East

Eli Stephens, Left I on the News

Here's the New York Times' take on why Israel has decided to move against Hamas, arresting dozens of its leaders: The Israelis cited Hamas's firing of Qassam rockets beginning this month, its public declaration that the cease-fire with Israel was over and its open involvement in the raid into Israeli territory early Sunday that resulted in the deaths of two Israeli soldiers and the capture of a wounded corporal, Gilad Shalit, 19. Any hint as to why Hamas declared an end to its 16-month self-imposed ceasefire, any mention of the Israeli firing of missiles and the murder of dozens of Palestinian civilians in the last few weeks, any hint about the thousands of Israeli shells fired into Gaza during the period which preceded the capture of Shalit, is totally, utterly, 100% missing from the New York Times account. Not a word...

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Looking for an excuse


From Haaretz.com (Mazuz is the Israeli Attorney General; my emphasis in red): "The detention of Hamas parliamentarians in the early hours of Thursday morning had been planned several weeks ago and received approval from Mazuz on Wednesday.

The same day, Shin Bet Director Yuval Diskin presented Prime Minister Ehud Olmert with the list of Hamas officials slated for detention." In other words, Israel used the Palestinian attack on the Israeli military post as an excuse to do what it was looking for an excuse to do, arrest a democratically elected government and destroy Palestinian access to electricity. And the world sits back and lets it happen...

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Court and Spark: Gitmo Stonewall and Supreme Swift-Boating

Chris Floyd

Pentagon on Supreme Court's Gitmo Ruling: "Who cares?" From the NYT: "If they rule against the government, I don't see how that is going to affect us," the commander, Rear Adm. Harry B. Harris, said Tuesday evening as he sat in a conference room in his headquarters. "From my perspective, I think the direct impact will be negligible." The Defense Department repeated that view on Thursday, asserting that the court's sweeping ruling against the tribunals did not undermine the government's argument that it can hold foreign suspects indefinitely and without charge, as "enemy combatants" in its declared war on terror. So that's OK, then. Naturally, a ruling "against the government," doesn't affect the Pentagon – because Rumsfeld's Castle is a government unto itself, unbound by the petty chains of law that simpering civilians try to put around the lusty sinews of war-fightin' he-men...

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GI Special 4F26: Terry Lisk - June 30, 2006

Thomas F. Barton

RAMADI, Iraq: A soldier was dead, and it was time for him to go home.The doors to the little morgue swung open, and six other soldiers stepped outside carrying a long black bag zippered at the top.About 60 soldiers were waiting to say goodbye. They had gathered in the sand outside this morgue at Camp Ramadi, an army base in Anbar Province, now the most lethal of Iraqi places.Inside the bag was Sergeant Terry Michael Lisk, 26, of Zion, Illinois, killed a few hours before.

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Iraq Sunnis Reject Maliki's Plan

IslamOnline.net & News Agencies

The highest Sunni religious authority in Iraq rejected on Friday, June 30, Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki's reconciliation plan, denouncing it as incomplete and a part of a public relations campaign. "This initiative is a campaign of public relations for the government," Muthenna Hareth Al-Dari, spokesman for the Association of Muslim Scholars, told Agence France-Presse (AFP) on Friday. "What Maliki said is confirming that the initiative is meaningless because he has excluded everyone," he said referring to Maliki's statement that those who have killed occupation troops and Iraqis will not be eligible for amnesty under the peace plan...

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Insanity Defense: Power, Paranoia and Presidential Tyranny

Chris Floyd

That the United States, once touted as the "world's greatest democracy," is now ruled by a presidential dictatorship is a fact beyond any serious dispute. Indeed, except for a bare majority on the Supreme Court -- which will disappear with the retirement or demise of the aging Justice John Paul Stevens, who wrote the Court's stinging rejection of Bush's kangaroo military tribunals -- the nation's political establishment seems to have accepted this revolutionary system with remarkable docility, even as its lineaments are further exposed week by week. The Bush Administration no longer bothers to hide the novel theory of government that undergirds its coup, but declares it openly, in court, in Congress, everywhere.

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