Just Foreign Policy Iraqi Death Estimator    

Saturday, January 13, 2007

"What kind of victory is it when someone is left defeated? What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans, and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty and democracy. What is a war criminal? Was not war itself a crime against God and humanity, and, therefore, were not all those who sanctioned, engineered and conducted wars, war criminals? The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong. Non-cooperation with evil is a sacred duty."

calling for the United States to accede to the International Criminal Court and bring U.S. war criminals to justice.

Container ship departs Philadelphia port with rockets and rocket launchers.

January 12, 2007 -- Rocket launchers leave Philadelphia port for East Asia -- false cargo destination declaration may be involved.

An informed source has told WMR that rockets and rocket launchers were recently loaded on board a container ship at the Penn Marine Terminals in Eddystone, Pennsylvania, near Chester and south of Philadelphia International Airport. Although the cargo destination was reported to be China, based on our previous reporting on the SS Poet -- which falsely declared in October 1980 its destination as Port Said, Egypt, but, instead, transported weapons and spare parts to Iran to fulfill October Surprise promises made by George H. W. Bush to the Iranian government, the rockets and rocket launchers may be headed for a different destination, perhaps Baluchi guerrillas in Pakistan who are being stirred up by U.S. Special Forces for an impending attack on Iran.
Container ship departs Philadelphia port with rockets and rocket launchers.

Rove dirty tricksters operating on Capitol Hill and within the Washington press corps.

January 11, 2007 -- Rove dirty tricksters operating on Capitol Hill and within the Washington press corps.

Democratic Party officials should be wary of attempts by Bush's White House "Svengali" to use political operatives to disrupt certain targeted members of Congress. Even particular members of the Washington press corps are not immune to the machinations of Rove's cadre of dirty tricksters. In fact, Rove got his start in GOP politics by conducting dirty tricks against 1972 Democratic presidential candidate George McGovern and, later, Texas Governor Mark White and Illinois Senator Alan Dixon.

It now appears that one particular operative, who this reporter will refer to as "The Stalker," because he is now under investigation by the Threat Unit of the U.S. Capitol Police, has decided to haunt the offices of House Judiciary Committee chairman John Conyers of Michigan. "Stalker" tries to convince Conyers' staffers of far-out conspiracies and even took a woman into Conyers' office who claimed she had just been raped by an assailant. The "Stalker" also posted written documents on Conyers' office door. A Conyers' office staffer believes that the Stalker, while mentally off-balance, may also be a Rove political operative who is attempting to disrupt the important work of the House Judiciary Committee as it begins to investigate the Bush administration.

The "Stalker" also harassed former Georgia Rep. Cynthia McKinney both at her Capitol Hill congressional office and on her personal telephone number in Georgia. The "Stalker's" activities against McKinney coincided with other harassment against the congresswoman, including a pre-planned "altercation" with a white Capitol policeman and the vandalism of her suburban Atlanta home by unknown individuals.
Beware the Rove "Stalkers" and dirty tricksters.

"The Stalker" also infiltrated the post-2004 election coalition that attempted to highlight the vote fraud that took place in Ohio. More recently, the "Stalker" attempted to disrupt the congressional campaign of Democratic House candidate Clint Curtis, who was a key witness to vote fraud by the GOP in 2000 and 2004 and who is claiming similar vote fraud in his 2006 race against GOP Representative Tom Feeney. The "Stalker" claimed that mysterious FBI and other agents were pursuing him.

The "Stalker" has also shadowed this reporter at the National Press Club and has claimed to press club employees that he "works with" WMR. The "Stalker" continually changes his appearance to avoid detection by the unwary.

Because the "Stalker" is under an active law enforcement investigation, this reporter will not go into further details. However, all Democratic members of Congress, as well as those Republicans who are opposed to the Bush administration, should be on guard against attempts by Rove to disrupt congressional business by the "Stalker" and others like him. Also, all Democratic presidential campaigns should be on similar guard against Rove operatives who may try and infiltrate various campaign staffs. Needless to say, this is of particular concern with the "Stalker" as he was previously active within the Florida Democratic Party.

Members of Congress and campaign officials, who suspect they have been approached by the "Stalker," are free to contact this reporter at wmreditor@waynemadsenreport.com for further details.

Wayne Madsen Report

-- Rice beats record.

After Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's performance before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee yesterday, it appears she has broken a record. During Rice's testimony, more crap passed through the gap in her teeth than passed through New York City's 14 publicly-owned sewage treatment plants in 2006.

Wayne Madsen Report

Marching to Persia: First Blows Struck in Bush's War on Iran

Friday, 12 January 2007

*Below is the post that I somehow lost yesterday.*

Hard on the heels of Bush's bellicose language against Iran in his "New Way Forward" speech comes news that American forces stormed an Iranian consulate in Iraq in a heavily armed raid – including five helicopters – with threats to kill the Iranian diplomats inside if they did not surrender.

As Glenn Greenwald notes: "Isn't it a definitive act of war for one country to storm the consulate of another, threaten to kill them if they do not surrender, and then detain six consulate officers?" Glenn – who with his usual dispatch has been all over Bush's rush to encompass Iran in the hellfire of his Middle East rampage – knows full well the answer to his rhetorical question: Yes, it is a definitive act of war.

The raid is just one more in a series of recent actions transparently designed to provoke the Iranians into some violent response that can be used as a "justification" for the Bush Regime's long-desired strike on Iran. Part of this push for a new war has to do with the old Bush-Cheney-PNAC plan of geopolitical empire, which requires the installation of a cowed and compliant government in Tehran; and part of it has to do with what appears to be the Bush Regime's self-delusion that the abominable failure of their assault on Iraq is due not to their own venality, stupidity, brutality and ignorance, but because some dastardly outsider is interfering with their operation, which otherwise would be welcomed with open arms by the grateful Iraqis.

The mindset of the Bush-Cheney faction in this regard is precisely that of a deranged rapist who insists that his victim is actually in love with him and would gladly marry him if only her friends would stop talking him down and telling her that he's no good.

There have been many criminal episodes in the history of the United States government; but I am hard-pressed to think of one that has been so egregiously stupid and self-destructive, and so riddled with pathological aberrations.

I think the Iranians – inheritors of three thousand years of statecraft – will not take the bait. Their Bush-like president – a strutting religious extremist who, left to his own devices, might indeed lash out in response to provocation – is neither the commander of the nation's armed forces nor the ultimate authority in government. But as we have seen in Iraq, in the end Bush is perfectly capable of launching an act of military aggression without any substantive pretext whatsoever. The wily forbearance of the Persians could very well go for naught in the face of this mad stampede toward a new and more horrible war.

Below are some extensive excerpts from Greenwald, but do read the entire piece, for there is much more detail there, along with all his links.

Chris Floyd

U.S. warplanes bomb Baghdad as street battles rage


U.S. troops are deploying massive air and ground fire power against heavily populated residential areas in Baghdad as a prelude to the start of the campaign to retake the city they invaded nearly four years ago. "The sky is burning," one witness refusing to be named said of the aerial bombing of mainly Sunni-dominated districts of Haifa, Sheikh Omar and Alawi. The latest military drive to retake Baghdad, home to nearly six million people, comes following the failure of many others the U.S. military has undertaken since landing here. In those offensives – and certainly in this one - the victims have been innocent Iraqis and the city’s rickety infrastructure. Witnesses say U.S. bombing has already knocked out several power lines and water mains in these areas. The residents are without electricity and running water and there is no verifiable count of casualties...

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Man fuel: Is it in you? "Of Savage Imperialism, Pigskin Monopolists, and Intellectual Emasculation"

Jason Miller

...Yet we choose to subsidize billionaires like Paul Allen and to immerse ourselves in NFL football, the product of an entity that embodies nearly all the reprehensible traits of predatory American Capitalism. Our unitary executive has run roughshod over our Constitution, caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocents, and blatantly violated the Nuremberg Principles. In his recent television address, the Decider informed us that he will defy the will of the American people by sacrificing more of our own and escalating the genocide against the Iraqi people. And it would not be beyond our capacity to end these horrendous crimes against humanity. Without the complicity of the masses, Bush, Cheney, et al would be rendered impotent. Yet we choose to remain transfixed by the alluring seductions of the NFL and its corporate partners. Regrettably, it appears that many of us in the United States suffer from the delusion that the rest of the world exists to provide for our comfort, pleasure, and prosperity...

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Moldovan plane that crashed in Iraq was downed - eyewitness

RIA Novosti

A Moldovan An-26 cargo plane that crashed in Iraq January 9, killing 34 people, was downed by a missile, an eyewitness said Friday. "The plane is said to have crashed due to fog, but I saw no fog," Ozcan Sahin, a brother of Hamdi Sahin, a Turkish worker killed in the crash, told Turkish NTV television. He said he was 300-400 meters from the crash site, near Balad, north of Baghdad. "The plane was downed by a missile that struck the right section of the fuselage. Employees of other companies also saw it. More than 20 F-16 fighters took off from an American base that day, and had there been fog they would have been grounded," he said. It is not the first claim that the An-26 was shot down rather than having crashed as the result of bad weather. The Islamic Army in Iraq group claimed responsibility Thursday for the downing.

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The Same Game, Only More So The Ironies of Bush and Iraq

LAITH al-SAUD, CounterPunch

January 12, 2007On a personal note I have written very little on Iraq since 2006. There is good reason-nothing has changed. The same abusers of human rights exercise power with impunity, however incompetently. The democrats took office but they seemed poised to continue to support the war. And, of course, the year went out with a bang with the execution of Saddam Hussein, which was nothing less than an exhibition of Iraqi (and American) incompetence and stupidity. I personally was left wondering if this is how the Iraqi government kills someone when the whole world is watching imagine the final moments of the countless, nameless Iraqis who are found dead on Baghdad's streets everyday. In fact, little is left to the imagination, as the hundreds upon hundreds of dead tortured bodies found each month in Iraq are found blind folded and tied we can imagine those tragic last moments. Indeed, what could be left to the imagination? We know the current regime in Iraq is corrupt, incompetent and brutal; just as we know the current regime in Washington is corrupt, incompetent and brutal. Yet, the war machine rolls on and President Bush has announced that it will roll on with greater vigor.

Tragedy often involves irony and Bush's latest ploy to send more troops to Iraq is, perhaps, the most ironic twist of this war since the elections. If you are wondering whether I mean the US or Iraqi elections-let me be clear-I mean both. The elections of 2005 were hailed as "milestones" in Middle Eastern history. Do you recall the elation, not just amongst this administration, or even commentators who supported the war, but even amongst supposed "ordinary" Iraqis who held up their ink stained fingers in pride. The fact that most Iraqis were voting the occupation out in the early election of 2005 was little mentioned in the mainstream media. As you may recall, some of the major "winners" in those elections ran on a platform to end the occupation, including Hizb'dawa, the party to which the current Prime Minster of Iraq, Nuri al-Maliki belongs. After those "elected" assumed power, they position vis-à-vis the occupation quickly changed. The Americans convinced the Iraqi government that they needed the Americans there to protect the nascent government.

Then the bombing of the Samarra Mosque in February of 2006 happened. This bombing served as a centerpiece for Bush's speech regarding sending more troops to Iraq. As Bush put it: "They blew up one of the holiest shrines in Shia Islam - the Golden Mosque of Samarra - in a calculated effort to provoke Iraq's Shia population to retaliate. Their strategy worked." The "they" that Bush is referring to is al-Qaeda and Sunni insurgents. Yet, which one is it? Is it al-Qaeda or the Sunni insurgents? If either term means anything anymore they are certainly not one and the same thing in Iraq. By Sunni insurgents does he mean those secular Ba'athists that de-emphasized sectarian differences? Or by al-Qaeda does he mean anybody who bombs anything? Well a look at the current situation in Somalia should confirm for us that, in fact, US missile tips now define who is and is not al-Qaeda-look under the rubble of any US air strike and there you will find al-Qaeda, they may look a lot like innocent women and children to you but Bush knows better. Ironically, after the Sammarra bombing, Bush convinced the Sunnis-who supposedly make up the bulk of the resistance-that they too needed American protection. The truth is sectarian violence has served as a convenient pretext for continuing American involvement in Iraq.

This war has been fraught with irony. Fareed Zakaria, whose column is a mouthpiece for American imperialism, wrote last November that Iraq's Sunnis need to realize that America is there to "protect" them. I thought America was there to liberate the Shi'a from the oppressive clutches of the Sunni? Should it matter what the "Sunni of Iraq" actually think I suggest Zakaria campaign American protectionism in Falluja and Ramadi, cities devastated by American "protection." Dexter Filkins of the New York Times commented on a radio broadcast that Sunni's have realized that "the Americans are not their real enemies but the Shi'a are." What is ironic, of course, is that the Sunni and Shi'a were not the "real enemies" of one another until the Americans showed up. This sectarian narrative directed much of Bush's speech. The idea is that sectarian violence is now the threat to Bush's "democratic" vision in the Middle East.

Bush's speech had little to do with the reality in Iraq it was just another spin at the end (I hope) of a long list of spins. How else could this president justify the continued presence of American forces in Iraq, by citing the long list of American successes? You would almost have the impression that things were moving along well in Iraq before the bombing occurred. What non-sense. Fact: Before the Samarra bombing and after $4 billions dollars Iraqis had, and continue to have, less electricity than before the invasion. Fact: Throughout much of the tenure of the CPA, Robert J. Stein Jr. was put in charge of reconstruction finances, in spite of his being convicted of felony fraud in the 1990's. Fact: Private security contractors have been guilty of committing acts of murder, fraud and negligence throughout Iraq but are immune from prosecution in Iraq. Fact: By the end of 2005, roughly only half of Iraq's supposed reconstruction projects were completed. And, finally, fact: by the end of 2005 hundreds of thousands of Iraqis were dead as a result of this war-the actual number is difficult to determine because, as General Tommy Franks so famously once said, the U.S. "don't do body counts." These statistics and facts are only those most readily available, and yet it is clear that Iraq was a huge mess before the Sammarra bombing and the sectarian violence.

There is something deeply troubling about having to point these blatant facts out time and time again in opposition to his war. President Bush is an ass and a criminal ass at that; at what point do the American people who support this war cease becoming mere asses and begin to recognize their political antipathy as criminal? The democrats who ran on a platform opposed to the war seem likely to lead America into the criminal camp. Bush's plan depends a great deal on Iraqi forces to commit to securing Baghdad's many neighborhoods, yet sadly the fact that Iraq's security forces are responsible for a great deal of the violence was touched upon by Dick Durbin-but did Durbin suggest ending the occupation? The democrats position vis-à-vis the war has been it's a bad habit but here is more money for it Mr. President. It goes without saying that this policy is analogous to condemning the addiction but giving many to the addict, an exercise in irony.

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Why Do War Attacks Suddenly Stop for Three Days Following Announcement of Every New Bush Policy on Iraq?

Hassan El-Najjar, Aljazeerah.info

For the third consecutive day, the main corporate media units in the US-EU have not published news about the US war in Iraq, no attacks on US forces, no so-called Shi'i-Sunni sectarian violence or civil war. Readers can check the main media units of the Zionist Empire (AP, Reuters, CNN, Fox, BBC, etc.) to see that they are abiding by this total absence of war coverage. What's going on? In fact, it has become a pattern for observers to record and analyze. Everytime President Bush announces a new policy or plan in Iraq, news coverage of the war would not include any attacks for two or three days following the announcement. Al-Jazeerah has documented that before in red headlines, attracting readers' attention to this fact. I propose the following two explanations for this strange phenomenon...

First, the war could be still going on, in its two directions, Iraqi resistance attacks on US and US-Led Iraqi forces and US-Led forces counter attacks on the resistance and its supportive population. However, the news control headquarters of the Zionist Empire withholds war news coverage in order to control the minds of people in the US-EU to think about nothing except the new Bush Iraq policy thrown into them. The objective is planting the new policy in the minds of people, so they accept it, or at least be quiet for another year or two until a new policy is invented, and so on and so forth.

Second, the war attacks could have stopped completely, which means that there's no news to cover. This means that the main corporate media units are innocent and they have no role to play in controlling the minds of people in the US-EU in favor of the US-led invasion of the Arab and Muslim worlds.

But a more serious question arises: Why would all war attacks stop suddenly whenever President Bush announces a major policy or a plan for the US war in Iraq?

Is it possible that leaders of the Iraqi resistance take a break to study the new policy, and during the period of study they order a halt in attacks?

Unlikely! Simply because the Iraqi resistance factions are not united and don't have a chain of command and control leading to one person on top issuing the order of a halt in attacks.

Is it possible that most of the halted attacks are those perpetrated by the Iraqi Ministry of Interior's death squads, and the death squads of the militias affiliated with the Maliki government?

Most likely! Simply because it's a matter of command and control issue, which is a characteristic of governments, including the US-backed Iraqi government.

Are we then looking at a war, which is totally controlled by Washington, i.e. "Controlled Chaos"?



Is war a goal in itself?


It benefits the oil industry, the military-industrial complex, and most important it benefits Israel by destroying Arab and Muslim states one after another.

Anything positive at all from this phenomenon?

Yes. I think we need a lot of these plans, how about two plans every week, if they lead to a halt in attacks.

Maybe this way, innocent Iraqi civilians be saved from the original blood bath plan, the neo-con Zionist dream of permanent war, or permanent "creative destruction." Continued

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Cry Iraq

Mustapha Marrouchi, Countercurrents.org

the voice-with-a-smile of democracy
announces night and day
"all poor little peoples that want to be free
just trust in the u.s.a."

e. e. cummings, "thanksgiving," 12

...The great achievements of Mesopotamian civilization were pressed into the service of the Ba’athist regime, which labored hard to protect the cradle of human civilization (MacGregor, "In the Shadow of Babylon," 2005: 2). The looting of the Baghdad Museum after the fall of Baghdad in April 2003 made headlines around the world. Images of priceless objects from the very roots of our civilization being carted away in the chaos that followed the collapse of the regime caused unprecedented outrage in the West and the Rest. But what is not known is that the treasures of Iraq have been plundered over many years, and on a massive, organized scale. Archaeologists, historians, and UN officials are appalled but seemingly helpless to stop the flow of artifacts out of Iraq and into the hands of museums and collectors in the antiquity-hungry West. Was the emptying of the Baghdad Museum simply random looting in the confusion following the war? Probably not. There is now strong evidence that some of it was a pre-planned professional operation aimed at feeding the huge Western appetite for Iraq’s incredible heritage (...) As the horror and shame of the present time continue, what can we do to denounce an illegal war and a cultural genocide of the worst kind that still go on in Iraq as I write?...


Thousands of crosses stand on a hillside memorial in honor of U.S. troops killed in the Iraq war, in Lafayette, California, January 12, 2007.

Turk PM asserts right to intervene in Iraq, raps US

ANKARA, Jan 12 (Reuters) - Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan on Friday reaffirmed Turkey's right to send troops into Iraq to crush Kurdish rebels there and chided U.S. officials for questioning it.

"The Turkish Republic will do whatever is necessary to combat the terrorists when the time comes, but it will not announce its plans in advance," Erdogan told a news conference after a meeting of his ruling AK Party.

"We say we are ready to take concrete steps with the Iraqi government and we also say these steps must be taken now."

In sharp language underscoring Turkish anxiety about the chaos in Iraq, Erdogan said it was wrong for Washington -- "our supposed strategic ally" -- to tell Turkey, with its historic and cultural ties in the region, to stay out of Iraq.

"We have a 350 km border with Iraq. We have historic relations ... the United States is 10,000 km away from Iraq, and yet is it not intervening in Iraq's internal affairs?" he said.

Turkish media say Erdogan has been irked by comments attributed to Washington's envoy to Baghdad, Zalmay Khalilzad, warning third countries not to interfere in Iraqi affairs.

Ankara has long complained that the United States and Iraqi government have failed to crack down on Kurdish rebels, and periodically asserts its right under international law to conduct cross-border operations against the guerrillas.

With both presidential and parliamentary elections looming in 2007, analysts say Erdogan is under increased pressure to show he is tough on security issues.

More than 30,000 people have been killed since the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), branded a "terrorist organisation" by the EU and the U.S. as well as Ankara, launched an armed struggle for an ethnic homeland in southeast Turkey in 1984.

The PKK began a unilateral ceasefire on Oct. 1 at the request of its jailed leader Abdullah Ocalan, but Turkey dismissed the move as a public relations ploy and clashes have continued, though at a lower intensity than before.

Up to 5,000 militants are believed to be hiding in the mountains of northern Iraq from where they have staged attacks on military and civilian targets inside Turkey.

Washington has appointed a special envoy to coordinate measures with Turkey aimed at tackling the PKK, but analysts say it will not apply military force against the group, given the scale of the problems it faces in the rest of Iraq.

"We don't want to waste time with abstract statements, we want concrete results," said Erdogan, who has said the Iraq situation is now a bigger foreign policy priority for Turkey even than its bid to join the European Union.

Ankara's biggest nightmare is a violent breakup of Iraq and the emergence of a Kurdish state in the north that could in turn foment separatism among Turkey's own Kurds.


A Cure For Yellow Ribbon Patriotism

The rally cry, "support our troops," was born of a sincere desire to separate our feelings for the soldiers from our feelings for the war. It was meant as a mea culpa to the Vietnam veteran and a promise that we would never again make our soldiers the scapegoats for the machinations of the power elite. As a statement of concern for the wellbeing of the individual soldier, "support our troops" is unassailable.

But like the word hero, the vitality of the sentiment expressed by "support our troops" has been sapped by mindless iteration and the Machiavellian genius of warmongers. It has become little more than a patriotic platitude on par with, "God Bless America," and a euphemism for "support our war." As a balm to the national conscience for once again consigning our troops to the killing field, it is the battle cry that leads and sustains our country in an unjust war.


The Real Friends of Terror

Video Documentary

"What is the difference between the horror and the violence created by suicide bombers and the horror and the violence created by bombs dropped from 30,000 feet by airplanes?"


Baghdad Crackdown

By Mike Whitney

The crackdown in Baghdad and the anticipated bombing of Iran will have no significant affect on the war’s outcome. America has lost its ability to influence events positively or to arbitrarily assert its will. We’re now facing "death by a thousand cuts" and the steady erosion of US power.


The Plan for Economic Strangulation of Iran

By Dr. Abbas Bakhtiar

The current US strategy is to starve the Iranian oil and gas industries of new investments, thereby reducing the Iranian government’s revenues which are hoped will in turn reduce Iran’s ability to maintain not only its armed forces, but also the government’s social obligations to its people (subsidies, salaries, etc.).


Stryker brigade to skip test run (ran out of troops - untrained recruits being sent to Iraq)

There aren't enough trained troops for the escalation/surge,so Bush is sending in recruits before they finish training,
Stryker brigade to skip test run
Training here, not at Fort Irwin
The News Tribune
Published: January 12th, 2007 01:00 AM
A Fort Lewis Stryker brigade will leave for Iraq in April instead of May as part of the “surge” of U.S. forces aimed at reversing sectarian and insurgent violence in Baghdad.
The 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division will skip a previously scheduled trip to the Army’s National Training Center in Southern California and instead conduct its last pre-deployment rehearsals at Fort Lewis, a brigade official said Thursday.
The unit of some 4,000 soldiers will be the fifth Stryker brigade to go to Iraq, but the first without the benefit of a test run “in the box” at either Fort Irwin in the Mojave Desert or the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, La.Maj. Jim Brown, the brigade’s executive officer, acknowledged Fort Irwin offers “a great benefit” to units getting ready to deploy.

NGOs to sue US over WMD claims

From correspondents in Niamey
January 14, 2007

SOME 30 non-governmental organisations in Niger said overnight they are going to sue the United States for nearly two billion dollars for "unfairly accusing" Niger of selling uranium to the late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.
"Our lawyers are about to file a lawsuit against the US calling for damages of about 1000 billion CFA francs ($2.42 billion dollars) for the harm suffered" by the country, Moustapha Kadi, president of the Collective of organisations in Niger defending the right to energy (CODDAE).

The lawsuit by the collective will be filed at either French or Belgian courts, Kadi added.

In January 2003, US President George W. Bush accused Saddam of having bought uranium from Niger to make weapons of mass destruction.

The Niger collective said in a statement that investigations by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), world media and US officials, all concluded that it was a "false accusation" against Niger.

That false information was used by Bush "to invade Iraq," said the collective's statement, which also called for support from Niger's President Mamadou Tandja, who back in 2003 said the US allegations were "harming Niger's image".

Niger is the world's third-largest producer of uranium with about nine percent of the global market, according to 2003 figures.

The country's two uranium deposits have been mined for 40 years by the French group Areva, number one in civil nuclear energy


Bush authorized Iranians' arrests

Sec. of State says raids in Iraq approved by order Bush issued 'months ago.'

Insurgents Using Google Earth For Iraq Attacks…

The Daily Telegraph Thomas Harding January 13, 2007 11:46 AM

Terrorists attacking British bases in Basra are using aerial footage displayed by the Google Earth internet tool to pinpoint their attacks, say Army intelligence sources.

Documents seized during raids on the homes of insurgents last week uncovered print-outs from photographs taken from Google.


Official Attacks Top Law Firms Over Detainees

Published: January 13, 2007

WASHINGTON, Jan. 12 — The senior Pentagon official in charge of military detainees suspected of terrorism said in an interview this week that he was dismayed that lawyers at many of the nation’s top firms were representing prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and that the firms’ corporate clients should consider ending their business ties.

The comments by Charles D. Stimson, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for detainee affairs, produced an instant torrent of anger from lawyers, legal ethics specialists and bar association officials, who said Friday that his comments were repellent and displayed an ignorance of the duties of lawyers to represent people in legal trouble.

“This is prejudicial to the administration of justice,” said Stephen Gillers, a law professor at New York University and an authority on legal ethics. “It’s possible that lawyers willing to undertake what has been long viewed as an admirable chore will decline to do so for fear of antagonizing important clients.

“We have a senior government official suggesting that representing these people somehow compromises American interests, and he even names the firms, giving a target to corporate America.”

Mr. Stimson made his remarks in an interview on Thursday with Federal News Radio, a local Washington-based station that is aimed at an audience of government employees.

The same point appeared Friday on the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal, where Robert L. Pollock, a member of the newspaper’s editorial board, cited the list of law firms and quoted an unnamed “senior U.S. official” as saying, “Corporate C.E.O.’s seeing this should ask firms to choose between lucrative retainers and representing terrorists.”

Keith Olbermann: Bush's Legacy: The President Who Cried Wolf

Keith Olbermann writes: "Only this president - only in this time, only with this dangerous, even messianic certitude - could answer a country demanding an exit strategy from Iraq, by offering an entrance strategy for Iran. Only this president could look out over a vista of 3,008 dead and 22,834 wounded in Iraq, and finally say, 'Where mistakes have been made, the responsibility rests with me' - only to follow that by proposing to repeat the identical mistake ... in Iran."


Friday, January 12, 2007

Iraqi Children "Play" Civil War

my occupied territory

I'm not a big fan of the Wall Street Journal, especially with regards to Iraq-related stories. But one article in today's paper caught my attention, and it "touched me" in a very sad kind of way. It's the story of a 5-year old boy living in a Shiite dominated town, finding pleasure in tagging along with the Mahdi Army, retelling stories of Shiite militias defending his neighborhood, and proudly calling his Sunni neighbors "terrorists." Who taught him this? Why should his favorite toy be a fake AK-47? Why should he want to beat up any kid he thinks isn't Shiite? Maybe I should repeat this. A five year old...shouldn't he be learning the alphabet in his kindergarten class? The debate is over. This is how you know it's civil war...

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Pentagon memo predicts 10,000 or more American soldiers could die in Iraq by 2008

Capitol Hill Blue

Pentagon planners this week warned President George W. Bush that his "troop surge" plan could double U.S. casualties in Iraq in the coming year and result in 10,000 or more American deaths by the end of 2008. In a classified assessment memo, military experts predicted violence against U.S. troops will increase "at a sustained pace" and concluded that increasing the use of soldiers for house to house searches in Baghdad will "dramatically alter" the "ratio of casualties to actions" in that civil-war torn city, says a military source familiar with the memo...

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Why the US Is Not Leaving Iraq: The booming business of war profiteers

Prof. Ismael Hossein-zadeh, Globalresearch.ca

Neither the Iraq Study Group nor other establishment critics of the Iraq war are calling for the withdrawal of US troops from that country. To the extent that the Study Group or the new Congress purport to inject some "realism" into the Iraq policy, such projected modifications do not seem to amount to more than changing the drivers of the US war machine without changing its destination, or objectives: control of Iraq’s political and economic policies. In light of the fact that by now almost all of the factions of the ruling circles, including the White House and the neoconservative war-mongerers, acknowledge the failure of the Iraq war, why, then, do they balk at the idea of pulling the troops out of that country?...

For example, in the same month (October 2006) that the US forces lost a record number of soldiers in Iraq, and the Iraqi citizens lost many more, Halliburton announced that its third quarter revenue had risen by 19 percent to $5.8 billion. This prompted Dave Lesar, the company’s chairman, president and CEO, to declare, "This was an exceptional quarter for Halliburton."

Jeff Tilley, an analyst who does research for Halliburton, likewise pointed out, "Iraq was better than expected. . . . Overall, there is nothing really to question or be skeptical about. I think the results are very good."

This led many critics to point out scornfully that when around the same time Vice President Dick Cheney told Rush Limbaugh that "if you look at the overall situation [in Iraq] they're doing remarkably well," he must have been talking about Halliburton.[6]

continua / continued

Free Range Thought's hosts Adam Roufberg and Robert Johnstreet interview Saddam Hussein's US Attorney, Dr. Curtis Doebbler

Free Range Thought

January 12, 2007

Free Range Thought's hosts Adam Roufberg and Robert Johnstreet interview Saddam Hussein's US Attorney, Dr. Curtis Doebbler, on the trial and execution of the late President of Iraq.Dr. Curtis F.J. Doebbler was born in 1961 in Buffalo, NY, USA. He has Dutch and American nationality, although he travels only on an American passport. He speaks and understands Dutch and English and has studied Italian, German, Arabic, Serbo-Croatian, Spanish, Russian, and French. His professional interests are in international human rights law, public international law, and comparative constitutional law.

The audio is already available at:


George W. Bush: A Symptom of Disease

Charles Sullivan

Sometimes you look around and wonder how things could have gone so wrong so quickly. America has become the antithesis of everything she purports to be. We are the greatest purveyors of violence the world has ever known; the largest weapons dealers on earth; and death and misery are our principal exports. Everything is for sale here, even men’s tormented souls—at least, those who still possess them. Our imperial leader, an impish little man with clear sociopathic symptoms, is incapable of empathy for the struggles of the common people, as those born into wealth and privilege often are. The man with his finger on the nuclear detonator is mentally ill, incapable of remorse—a fact that should terrify every world citizen. I do not say this out of malice or to demean the president; it is simply a statement of fact based upon quantifiable evidence that any student of psychology would easily recognize...

continua / continued

Marching to Persia: First Blows Struck in Bush's War on Iran

Friday, 12 January 2007
*Below is the post that I somehow lost yesterday.

*Hard on the heels of Bush's bellicose language against Iran in his "New Way Forward" speech comes news that American forces stormed an Iranian consulate in Iraq in a heavily armed raid – including five helicopters – with threats to kill the Iranian diplomats inside if they did not surrender.

As Glenn Greenwald notes: "Isn't it a definitive act of war for one country to storm the consulate of another, threaten to kill them if they do not surrender, and then detain six consulate officers?" Glenn – who with his usual dispatch has been all over Bush's rush to encompass Iran in the hellfire of his Middle East rampage – knows full well the answer to his rhetorical question: Yes, it is a definitive act of war.

The raid is just one more in a series of recent actions transparently designed to provoke the Iranians into some violent response that can be used as a "justification" for the Bush Regime's long-desired strike on Iran. Part of this push for a new war has to do with the old Bush-Cheney-PNAC plan of geopolitical empire, which requires the installation of a cowed and compliant government in Tehran; and part of it has to do with what appears to be the Bush Regime's self-delusion that the abominable failure of their assault on Iraq is due not to their own venality, stupidity, brutality and ignorance, but because some dastardly outsider is interfering with their operation, which otherwise would be welcomed with open arms by the grateful Iraqis.

The mindset of the Bush-Cheney faction in this regard is precisely that of a deranged rapist who insists that his victim is actually in love with him and would gladly marry him if only her friends would stop talking him down and telling her that he's no good.

There have been many criminal episodes in the history of the United States government; but I am hard-pressed to think of one that has been so egregiously stupid and self-destructive, and so riddled with pathological aberrations.

I think the Iranians – inheritors of three thousand years of statecraft – will not take the bait. Their Bush-like president – a strutting religious extremist who, left to his own devices, might indeed lash out in response to provocation – is neither the commander of the nation's armed forces nor the ultimate authority in government. But as we have seen in Iraq, in the end Bush is perfectly capable of launching an act of military aggression without any substantive pretext whatsoever. The wily forbearance of the Persians could very well go for naught in the face of this mad stampede toward a new and more horrible war.

Below are some extensive excerpts from Greenwald, but do read the entire piece, for there is much more detail there, along with all his links.

Chris Floyd

Blood Meridian: Bush's High Crimes of Torture and War

Wednesday, 10 January 2007

If you want to see the depravity and filth that festers in the core of the Bush Administration made plain, read the story below. The regimen of torture and suffering being inflicted on captives in Bush's War of Terror is not some sort of aberrant overreaction to concerns about national security and public safety: these specifically designed, deliberately induced tortures are the expression of the President's deepest desires and clearly stated wishes. Just as the war of aggression in Iraq is his war, these crimes against humanity are his crimes. They are happening because he wants them to.

The only possible response of a sane society to the depredations of this man is his impeachment and removal from power. There is no other course of action for any responsible, patriotic member of Congress to take. Unfortunately, the American Establishment has clearly gone insane -- so deranged from decades of bloated power and privilege that it can no longer act even to save itself from the general ruin that Bush is bringing upon the country. Unfortunately, there are very, very few responsible, patriotic members of Congress.

Witness the empty bluster behind the latest Democratic "opposition": in the face of Bush's imminent escalation of the war -- with a "surge" that cannot possibly succeed in doing anything but increasing the bloodshed and hatred in the other nation he has ruined -- they are offering a "series of symbolic votes" that "would do nothing in practical terms" to stop or even hinder this insane course, as the NY Times reports. The ever-hapless hairpiece hero, Joe Biden, believes this witless flapping of arms will "demonstrate to the president that he's on his own" -- a realization that will somehow "spark real change."

But Bush already believes he is on his own -- and he likes that way. He has already asserted that he will continue his course in Iraq even if he is deserted by everyone but his wife and dog. And his little mouthpiece, Tony Snow, has just announced that the President is an autocrat who cannot be restrained by any action of Congress whatsoever: "The President has the ability to exercise his own authority if he thinks Congress has voted the wrong way." (Via Cenk Uygur by way of Steve Gilliard.)"

Symbolic votes" won't stop Bush. Even substantive actions -- such as cutting off funding -- will not stop him. He will clearly provoke a constitutional crisis and continue the war (and the tortures in his gulag) by any means necessary. He is probably willing to attempt to overthrow the government altogether with a military coup if he feels he is being thwarted in his "sacred duty as Commander-in-Chief to protect the nation," which, in his mind, means waging aggressive war, torturing people, spying on us all and looting the treasury on behalf of his cronies. The only possible way to derail his destructive and criminal course is impeachment.

But how will that happen with the weak reeds and blathering hairpieces now in charge of Congress? What will it take to light a fire under them and force them to do what they are legally and morally bound to do -- uphold the Constitution? Will they really let Bush go on and on, in slaughter and torture, escalating the war crime in Iraq and very likely launching a new war against Iran?

If the past five years is any indication, the answer is yes, they will. Consider that most leading Democrats are even more hawkish in their saber-rattling at Iran than the Bush Administration, which is even now methodically preparing for war with Tehran, either via a direct U.S. strike or else in reaction to the inevitable Iranian response to an attack by Israel. How can the bellicose Democrats object when Bush puts blood and iron to their rhetoric? A strike on Iran would be the perfect way to "restore bipartisan unity on the Hill."

Yet we live in hope and die in despair, as Brother Edsel always says. So keep pounding the drum: impeach, impeach, impeach. Make it so loud that one day it might even pierce the hairpiece of Joe Biden, and convince the cowardly lions of Congress to do their duty. The alternative is too ghastly to contemplate -- although that grim reality may well be thrust upon us. But for God's sake, let's not go down without a fight.

Guantánamo's Lost Souls (Guardian). By American lawyer George Brent Mickum.Excerpts: The day after tomorrow marks the confluence of two ignominious anniversaries. The first is the five-year anniversary of the opening of the notorious prison camps run by the US at the Guantánamo naval air station in Cuba. In the five years since the US started shipping prisoners from around the world to Guantánamo, approximately 99% have never been charged with any transgression, much less a crime. Approximately 400 prisoners, characterised by the Bush administration as "the worst of the worst", have been released without charge, many directly to their families. That any prisoners have been released is due almost entirely to the outrage of the civilised world.

Thursday is also the start of my clients' fifth year of captivity around the world: Bisher al-Rawi and Jamil el-Banna...Bisher and Jamil have withstood various forms of physical torture during their five years as prisoners. Both have suffered numerous beatings (Bisher suffered broken ribs and perhaps a broken foot because of beatings by guards, though both injuries went untreated - despite Bisher's requests for medical assistance), stress positions, temperature extremes, extreme sleep deprivation, death threats, threats to family and, at various times, starvation and being denied water that was fit to drink.

It pains me to report that, at the start of his fifth year in prison, the once healthy and extremely articulate Bisher is failing. He is no longer able to withstand the most insidious form of torture being used by the US military: prolonged isolation combined with environmental manipulation that includes constant exposure to temperature extremes and sleep deprivation...

What the British government knows and the British public needs to know is that Bisher's treatment is designed to achieve a single objective: causing an individual to lose his psychological balance and, ultimately, his mind. Every aspect of Bisher's prison environment is controlled and manipulated to create constant mental instability. The damage to Bisher's psyche is not unexpected. The ravages of extended isolation and sensory deprivation leave no marks, but they destroy the mind...

Chris Floyd

Claiming the Prize: Bush Surge Aimed at Securing Iraqi Oil


I. The Twin Engines of Bush's WarThe reason that George W. Bush insists that "victory" is achievable in Iraq is not because he is deluded or isolated or ignorant or detached from reality or ill-advised. No, it's that his definition of "victory" is different from those bruited about in his own rhetoric and in the ever-earnest disquisitions of the chattering classes in print and on-line. For Bush, victory is indeed at hand. It could come at any moment now, could already have been achieved by the time you read this. And the driving force behind his planned "surge" of American troops is the need to preserve those fruits of victory that are now ripening in his hand.

At any time within the next few days, the Iraqi Council of Ministers is expected to approve a new "hydrocarbon law" essentially drawn up by the Bush Administration and its UK lackey, the Independent on Sunday reports. The new bill will "radically redraw the Iraqi oil industry and throw open the doors to the third-largest oil reserves in the world," say the paper, whose reporters have seen a draft of the new law. "It would allow the first large-scale operation of foreign oil companies in the country since the industry was nationalized in 1972." If the government's parliamentary majority prevails, the law should take effect in March.

As the paper notes, the law will give Exxon, BP, Shell and other carbon cronies of the White House unprecedented sweetheart deals, allowing them to pump gargantuan profits from Iraq's nominally state-owned oilfields for decades to come. This law has been in the works since the very beginning of the invasion – indeed, since months before the invasion, when the Bush Administration brought in Phillip Carroll, former CEO of both Shell and Fluor, the politically-wired oil servicing firm, to devise "contingency plans" for divvying up Iraq's oil after the attack. Once the deed was done, Carroll was made head of the American "advisory committee" overseeing the oil industry of the conquered land, as Joshua Holland of Alternet.com has chronicled in two remarkable reports on the backroom maneuvering over Iraq's oil: Bush's Petro-Cartel Almost Has Iraq's Oil and The U.S. Takeover of Iraqi Oil.

[Update: Bush will make explicit the connection between the "surge" and the oil law when he reveals his "New Way Forward" on Wednesday, the New York Times reports. According to senior Bush minions talking up the plan for what is not a surge but a long-term escalation of urban warfare that the U.S. ground commander in Iraq says will likely last for years, Bush's new "stratergery" includes "benchmarks" that the natives must meet to keep in favor with their colonial master. One of the most prominent of these is the demand that Iraq "finalize a long-delayed measure on the distribution of oil revenue." As we can see by the Independent stories quoted here, that benchmark should be done and dusted within weeks.]

From those earliest days until now, throughout all the twists and turns, the blood and chaos of the occupation, the Bush Administration has kept its eye on this prize. The new law offers the barrelling buccaneers of the West a juicy set of production-sharing agreements (PSAs) that will maintain a fig leaf of Iraqi ownership of the nation's oil industry – while letting Bush's Big Oil buddies rake off up to 75 percent of all oil profits for an indefinite period up front, until they decide that their "infrastructure investments" have been repaid. Even then, the agreements will give the Western oil majors an unheard-of 20 percent of Iraq's oil profits – more than twice the average of standard PSAs, the Independent notes.

Of course, at the moment, the "security situation" – i.e., the living hell of death and suffering that Bush's "war of choice" has wrought in Iraq – prevents the Oil Barons from setting up shop in the looted fields. Hence Bush's overwhelming urge to "surge" despite the fierce opposition to his plans from Congress, the Pentagon and some members of his own party. Bush and his inner circle, including his chief adviser, old oilman Dick Cheney, believe that a bigger dose of blood and iron in Iraq will produce a sufficient level of stability to allow the oil majors to cash in the PSA chips that more than 3,000 American soldiers have purchased for them with their lives.

The American "surge" will be blended into the new draconian effort announced over the weekend by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki: an all-out war by the government's Shiite militia-riddled "security forces" on Sunni enclaves in Baghdad, as the Washington Post reports. American troops will "support" the "pacification effort" with what Maliki says calls "house-to-house" sweeps of Sunni areas. There is of course another phrase for this kind of operation: "ethnic cleansing."

The "surged" troops – mostly long-serving, overstrained units dragooned into extended duty – are to be thrown into this maelstrom of urban warfare and ethnic murder, temporarily taking sides with one faction in Iraq's hydra-headed, multi-sided civil war. As the conflict goes on – and it will go on and on – the Bush Administration will continue to side with whatever faction promises uphold the "hydrocarbon law" and those profitable PSAs. If "Al Qaeda in Iraq" vowed to open the nation's oil spigots for Exxon, Fluor and Halliburton, they would suddenly find themselves transformed from "terrorists" into "moderates" – as indeed has Maliki and his violent, sectarian Dawa Party, which once killed Americans in terrorist actions but are now hailed as freedom's champions.

So Bush will surge with Maliki and his ethnic cleansing for now. If the effort flames out in a disastrous crash that makes the situation worse – as it almost certainly will – Bush will simply back another horse. What he seeks in Iraq is not freedom or democracy but "stability" – a government of any shape or form that will deliver the goods. As the Independent wryly noted in its Sunday story, Dick Cheney himself revealed the true goal of the war back in 1999, in a speech he gave when he was still CEO of Halliburton. "Where is the oil going to come from" to slake the world's ever-growing thirst, asked Cheney, then answered his own question. "The Middle East, with two-thirds of the world's oil and the lowest cost, is still where the prize ultimately lies."

And therein lies another hidden layer of the war. For Iraq not only has the world's second largest oil reserves; it also has the world's most easily retrievable oil. As the Independent succinctly notes: "The cost-per-barrel of extracting oil in Iraq is among the lowest in the world because the reserves are relatively close to the surface. This contrasts starkly with the expensive and risky lengths to which the oil industry must go to find new reserves elsewhere - witness the super-deep offshore drilling and cost-intensive techniques needed to extract oil form Canada's tar sands."

This is precisely what Cheney was getting at in his 1999 talk to the Institute of Petroleum. In a world of dwindling petroleum resources, those who control large reserves of cheaply-produced oil will reap unimaginable profits – and command the heights of the global economy. It's not just about profit, of course; control of such resources would offer tremendous strategic advantages to anyone who was interested in "full spectrum domination" of world affairs, which the Bush-Cheney faction and their outriders among the neocons and the "national greatness" fanatics have openly sought for years. With its twin engines of corporate greed and military empire, the war in Iraq is a marriage made in Valhalla.


US Attacks Somalia, Taking Sides With Former Enemy Warlords

Tuesday, 09 January 2007

UPDATED VERSIONThe United States has committed an act of war against Somalia (as Buzzflash noted), launching a gunship attack in pursuit of "suspected al Qaeda operatives." Several people were killed when US planes "strafed the village of Hayo near the Kenyan border" and possibly the village of Ras Kamboni, the Guardian reports. It is highly unlikely that whole villages can be strafed without killing some innocent civilians. But then again, George W. Bush clearly operates on the principle of statecraft laid down by Josef Stalin: "When wood is chopped, chips fly."

[Update: Civilians have indeed been killed, as the Guardian reports tonight:

Another air strike killed up to 31 people this morning near the town of Afmadow, 220 miles southwest of the capital, Mogadishu, according to local witnesses and officials...The Associated Press cited witnesses as saying 31 civilians, including two newlyweds, had been killed in the strike, by two US helicopter gunships. Reuters cited a local witness as saying between 22 and 27 people had been killed.]

In launching the airstrike, Bush has now openly aligned the United States with the warlords once responsible for the infamous "Black Hawk Down" incident, in which an American helicopter was shot down in Mogadishu (in response, as is rarely said, to a massive, indiscriminate U.S. assault in the city that left scores of Somalians dead). The attack also openly allies the United States with repressive dictatorship of Ethiopia, whose troops – trained and supplied by the Americans already – invaded Somalia to join with the local warlords in ousting the Islamic movement that had taken control of the country after more than 15 years of violent anarchy.

In other words, Bush has intervened in yet another loing-running, multi-sided civil war, aiding yet another bunch of unsavory characters, who need only promise fealty to the Bush Faction's geopolitical ambitions in order to receive armed American support (and bags of American taxpayer cash.) Evidently, the internal conflict in Somalia is yet another of the series of bloodlettings that Bush promised us back in 2002, when he proclaimed: "There's no telling how many wars it will take to secure freedom in the Homeland."

Feeling secure yet?

Chris Floyd

Explosions hit southern Iran

Israeli drone crashes in Gaza

TEL AVIV, Israel, Jan. 11 (UPI) -- An Israeli drone Thursday crashed in the northern Gaza Strip and Hamas' military wing claimed it had downed the unmanned aircraft.

Hamas' al-Qassam Brigades said in a statement they were responsible for shooting down the drone. However, an Israeli military spokeswoman said it fell because of a technical failure.

Israel has been making extensive use of such aircraft, capable of hovering for hours over enemy territory and relaying pictures. According to foreign reports that Israel never confirmed or denied, some of its drones are capable of firing at targets.

The Israeli military spokeswoman would not disclose the drone's type.

The Palestinian Ramatan news agency noted Hamas has been trying to obtain drones. It had tried to assemble one in 2004, importing some components from Israeli weapon smugglers. But booby-trapped materials exploded and killed six senior Hamas fighters.

Now Hamas could use the aircraft as a model for their own production, the news agency suggested.


Original Post: New U.N. leader wants Guantanamo prison shut down

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - New U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon believes the U.S. prison at Cuba's Guantanamo Bay should be shut down, he said on Thursday.

"Like my predecessor, I believe that the prison at Guantanamo should be closed," Ban told a news conference. U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who stepped down on December 31, had also called for the facility to be closed.

U.S. President George W. Bush has himself said he would like to close the facility, Ban reminded journalists. But the U.S. leader has yet to do so.

Thursday marked the fifth anniversary of the camp's opening.

The first detainees were flown to the heavily guarded camp five years ago, soon after the U.S.-led war on Afghanistan was launched in response to the September 11 attacks.

More than 770 captives have been held there since then, of whom only 10 have been charged with crimes.

Rights groups around the world have planned vigils -- in countries including Australia, Israel, Italy, the United States, Japan, Paraguay, Spain, Tunisia and Britain -- to mark the anniversary and urge the prison's closure.


Soldiers Banned From Talking To Press After Lunch With Bush...

Washington Post Peter Baker January 11, 2007 10:18 PM

The pictures were just what the White House wanted: A teary-eyed President Bush presenting the Medal of Honor posthumously to a slain war hero in the East Room, then flying here to join the chow line with camouflage-clad soldiers as some of them prepare to return to Iraq.

There are few places the president could go for an unreservedly enthusiastic reception the day after unveiling his decision to order 21,500 more troops to Iraq. A military base has usually been a reliable backdrop for the White House, and so Bush aides chose this venerable Army installation in western Georgia to promote his revised strategy to the nation while his Cabinet secretaries tried to sell it on Capitol Hill.


School Board Restricts “Controversial” Inconvenient Truth: “Condoms Don't Belong In School, And Neither Does Al Gore”...

Seattle Post-Intelligencer ROBERT McCLURE AND LISA STIFFLER January 12, 2007 04:21 PM

This week in Federal Way schools, it got a lot more inconvenient to show one of the top-grossing documentaries in U.S. history, the global-warming alert "An Inconvenient Truth."

After a parent who supports the teaching of creationism and opposes sex education complained about the film, the Federal Way School Board on Tuesday placed what it labeled a moratorium on showing the film. The movie consists largely of a computer presentation by former Vice President Al Gore recounting scientists' findings.



CNN Xuan Thai January 12, 2007 06:18 PM

After the House passed a bill to meant to lower prescription drug prices for Medicare recipients, House Democrats still have 74 hours and 26 minutes remaining on the "100 hour" legislative clock. So far, the House has passed four bills.


Bush Plan Has No Timetable To Track Progress In Iraq...

BBC News January 12, 2007 07:46 PM

The US defence secretary has said there is no timetable for Iraq to prove it has fulfilled commitments required by the US in President Bush's new plan.

But Robert Gates said the US would have a "good idea" of the Iraqi government's success before many new troops went in.


CIA Leak Prosecutor Fitzgerald Suggested To Scooter Libby During Grand Jury That Libby Engaged In Cover-Up To Protect Cheney...

National Journal Murray Waas January 12, 2007 07:31 PM

In a subsequent grand jury appearance, a skeptical prosecutor indicated that he found it hard to believe that Cheney would have written the notations he did in the margins of former Ambassador Wilson's July 6, 2003 New York Times op-ed only after Robert Novak's July 14, 2003 column appeared saying that Valerie Plame was a CIA "operative."

"OK," the prosecutor said, before asking, "And can you tell us why it would be that the Vice President read the Novak column and had questions, some of which apparently seem to be answered by the Novak column, would go back and pull out an original July 6th op-ed piece and write on that?"

Read the entire article here.

The Highwaymen

News: Why you could soon be paying Wall Street investors, Australian bankers, and Spanish builders for the privilege of driving on American roads.
By Daniel Schulman with James Ridgeway
January/February 2007 Issue

"the road is one succession of dust, ruts, pits, and holes." So wrote Dwight D. Eisenhower, then a young lieutenant colonel, in November 1919, after heading out on a cross-country trip with a convoy of Army vehicles in order to test the viability of the nation's highways in case of a military emergency. To this description of one major road across the west, Eisenhower added reports of impassable mud, unstable sand, and wooden bridges that cracked beneath the weight of the trucks. In Illinois, the convoy "started on dirt roads, and practically no more pavement was encountered until reaching California."

It took 62 days for the trucks to make the trip from Washington, D.C., to San Francisco, and another 37 years for Ike to complete a quest, inspired by this youthful journey and by his World War II observations of Germany's autobahns, to build a national road system for the United States. In 1956, President Eisenhower signed the Federal-Aid Highway Act, which called for the federal and state governments to build 41,000 miles of high-quality roads across the nation, over rivers and gorges, swamps and deserts, over and through vast mountain ranges, in what would later be called the "greatest public works project in human history." So vital to the public interest did Eisenhower, an old-style fiscal conservative, consider the interstate highway system, he even authorized the federal government to assume 90 percent of the massive cost.

Fifty years to the day after Ike put his pen to the Highway Act, another Republican signed off on another historic highway project. On June 29, 2006, Mitch Daniels, the former Bush administration official turned governor of Indiana, was greeted with a round of applause as he stepped into a conference room packed with reporters and state lawmakers. The last of eight wire transfers had landed in the state's account, making it official: Indiana had received $3.8 billion from a foreign consortium made up of the Spanish construction firm Cintra and the Macquarie Infrastructure Group (mig) of Australia, and in exchange the state would hand over operation of the 157-mile Indiana Toll Road for the next 75 years. The arrangement would yield hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks for the consortium, which also received immunity from most local and state taxes in its contract with Indiana. And, of course, the consortium would collect all the tolls, which it was allowed to raise to levels far beyond what Hoosiers had been used to. By one calculation, the Toll Road would generate more than $11 billion over the 75-year life of the contract, a nice return on mig-Cintra's $3.8 billion investment.

The deal to privatize the Toll Road had been almost a year in the making. Proponents celebrated it as a no-pain, all-gain way to off-load maintenance expenses and mobilize new highway-building funds without raising taxes. Opponents lambasted it as a major turn toward handing the nation's common property over to private firms, and at fire-sale prices to boot.

The one thing everyone agreed on was that the Indiana deal was just a prelude to a host of such efforts to come. Across the nation, there is now talk of privatizing everything from the New York Thruway to the Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey turnpikes, as well as of inviting the private sector to build and operate highways and bridges from Alabama to Alaska. More than 20 states have enacted legislation allowing public-private partnerships, or P3s, to run highways. Robert Poole, the founder of the libertarian Reason Foundation and a longtime privatization advocate, estimates that some $25 billion in public-private highway deals are in the works—a remarkable figure given that as of 1991, the total cost of the interstate highway system was estimated at $128.9 billion.

On the same day the Indiana Toll Road deal closed, another Australian toll road operator, Transurban, paid more than half a billion dollars for a 99-year lease on Virginia's Pocahontas Parkway, and the Texas Transportation Commission green-lighted a $1.3 billion bid by Cintra and construction behemoth Zachry Construction to build and operate a 40-mile toll road out of Austin. Many similar deals are now on the horizon, and mig and Cintra are often part of them. So is Goldman Sachs, the huge Wall Street firm that has played a remarkable role advising states on how to structure privatization deals—even while positioning itself to invest in the toll road market.

Goldman Sachs' role has not been lost on skeptics, who accuse the firm of playing both sides of the fence. "In essence, they're double-dipping," says Todd Spencer, executive vice president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, a truckers' group that opposes toll road privatization. "They're basically in the middle, playing one side against the other, and it's really, really lucrative."

Despite such concerns, the privatization model has the full backing of the Bush administration. Tyler Duvall, the U.S. Department of Transportation's assistant secretary for transportation policy, says dot has raised the idea with "almost every state" government and is working on sample legislation that states can use for such projects. "This is a ground battle in the United States right now," he says. "States just need to be convinced that this is basically something they should be considering."

The financial stakes are potentially huge. "You're buying the infrastructure of the economy, and it's enormously valuable," says John Schmidt, who served as associate attorney general in the Clinton administration and as counsel to the city of Chicago on the $1.8 billion privatization of the Chicago Skyway, the 7.8-mile freeway that connects the Dan Ryan Expressway in the west to the Indiana Toll Road in the east. "[Private road operators] haven't been able to get in here previously. There's been a demand, and it's been bottled up because we just haven't had privatized infrastructure in this country, so they've been buying toll roads in Chile and in France. Now, they suddenly have the opportunity to come into this country."

Next Page Page 1 of 3

That editorial

It's real, and it's spectacular:

If that sounds familiar, it's how another Texan acted in another war. President Lyndon B. Johnson refused to be the president who "walked away from the table." Johnson became so obsessed that he scrapped his entire "Great Society" in his ultimate failed gamble in Vietnam. It took the nation too long to realize that LBJ was on the wrong path.

At this critical juncture, America must realize that this is our last chance to keep President Bush from making Iraq into our new Vietnam.

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy has a simple idea to keep this president in check: Make him ask for congressional approval for an escalation of the war.

The last Congress rubber-stamped this war, writing a blank check with very little discussion and zero oversight.

This Congress must do better.

Light posting today, as we are working a different schedule. We will be back at some point with a special message about "the situation down in New Orleans."


Just say 'no': On George H.W. Bush and the National Constitution Center

We've been around to see lots of Washington scandals, big and small. Nixon's Watergate was a real threat to the republic, although the particulars hung on burglary and dirty tricks. Bill Clinton's misdeed, while real, was neither a threat to democracy or worthy of impeachment, while the book on the high crimes and misdemeanors of George W. Bush is still being written as we speak.

But if you had to pick one modern scandal that was a clear-cut case of the leaders of this nation deliberately trying to subvert the U.S. Constitution, it would have to be the Iran-contra affair. In December 1982, Congress passed the Boland Amendment, which barred the U.S. government from funding the anti-government force, or contras, in Nicaragua. Rather than obey the law as enacted by Congress, the Reagan administration set up an elaborate operation to fund the contras anyway by trading arms to Iran -- also an apparent violation of a law, the Arms Export Control Act -- in return for winning the freedom of hostage in the Middle East.

When this sordid plan came out in late 1986, President Reagan falsely told the nation there had been no arms sales, and while he backtracked somewhat, his underlings continued in a campaign to lie to Congress and the American people what had happened. More than a half-dozen administration officials and co-conspirators were indicted and, at least initially, convicted of crimes (more on this later).

Right in the middle of the orgy of law-breaking and Constitution-subverting was the then-Vice President, George H.W. Bush:

Vice President Bush had his fingerprints all over both sides of the Iran-contra affair, both the Iran side and the side funneling military supplies to the contra rebels in Nicaragua.

Key personnel from his office, including former CIA officer Donald Gregg who had become Bush’s national security adviser, placed Cuban-American operative Felix Rodriguez in Central America. Rodriguez soon was running the day-to-day operations re-supplying the contras and coordinating with national security aide Oliver L. North.

A flow chart that emerged during later investigations indicated that Bush’s office managed the contra network after Congress passed laws in 1983-84 first limiting and then barring U.S. military assistance to the contras. Authority for the secret re-supply operation later passed to North, according to the flow chart.

So why does this all matter today? It matters because today, the National Constitution Center here on Philadelphia announced that it has selected George H.W. Bush as its chairman of the board. Officials with the center on Independence Mall said the 41st president will come to Philly frequently for board meetings and will consult regularly on its day-to-day operations with president Joe Torsella.

Here's what Torsella said today in a statement (via Phawker):

President Bush occupies a special and beloved place in American life that reflects many of this institution’s core values, especially the ethic of citizenship and service. Continued


Governors Lose in Power Struggle Over National Guard

To the dismay of the nation's governors, the White House now will be empowered to go over a governor's head and call up National Guard troops to aid a state in time of natural disasters or other public emergencies.


Bush's Legacy: The President Who Cried Wolf

Keith Olbermann writes: "Only this president - only in this time, only with this dangerous, even messianic certitude - could answer a country demanding an exit strategy from Iraq, by offering an entrance strategy for Iran. Only this president could look out over a vista of 3,008 dead and 22,834 wounded in Iraq, and finally say, 'Where mistakes have been made, the responsibility rests with me' - only to follow that by proposing to repeat the identical mistake ... in Iran."


Iraqi Media Under Growing Siege

by Dahr Jamail

BAGHDAD - The U.S. administration continues to tout Iraq as a shining example of democracy in the Middle East, but press freedom in Iraq has plummeted since the beginning of the occupation.

Repression of free speech in Iraq was already extreme under the regime of Saddam Hussein.

The 2002 Press Freedom Index of the watchdog group Reporters Without Borders ranked Iraq a dismal 130th. The 2006 index pushes Iraq down to the 154th position out of a total of 168 listed countries, though still ahead of Pakistan, Nepal, Saudi Arabia, China and Iran. North Korea is at the bottom of the table. Continued

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