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Saturday, March 10, 2007

AP: Gonzales, Mueller Admit FBI Broke Law

The nation's top two law enforcement officials acknowledged Friday the
FBI broke the law to secretly pry out personal information about Americans. They apologized and vowed to prevent further illegal intrusions.

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales left open the possibility of pursuing criminal charges against FBI agents or lawyers who improperly used the USA Patriot Act in pursuit of suspected terrorists and spies.

The FBI's transgressions were spelled out in a damning 126-page audit by Justice Department Inspector General Glenn A. Fine. He found that agents sometimes demanded personal data on people without official authorization, and in other cases improperly obtained telephone records in non-emergency circumstances.

The audit also concluded that the FBI for three years underreported to Congress how often it used national security letters to ask businesses to turn over customer data. The letters are administrative subpoenas that do not require a judge's approval. "People have to believe in what we say," Gonzales said. "And so I think this was very upsetting to me. And it's frustrating. We have some work to do to reassure members of Congress and the American people that we are serious about being responsible in the exercise of these authorities," he said.


Officials schemed to cut aid to sick nuclear weapons workers, then covered up.

Churchill Wrote Jews "Partly Responsible" For '30s Persecution

AFP March 10, 2007 08:01 PM

"It would be easy to ascribe it to the wickedness of the persecutors, but that does not fit all the facts," the article read.

"It exists even in lands, like Great Britain and the United States, where Jew and Gentile are equal in the eyes of the law and where large numbers of Jews have found not only asylum, but opportunity.


Quote of the Day

Six years into it, Time's Michael Duffy gets right to the heart of the matter: "Cheney has become the administration's enemy within, the man whose single-minded pursuit of ideological goals, creaking political instincts and love of secrecy produced an independent operation inside the White House that has done more harm than good."

-- Tim Grieve
Mr. Fitzgerald? Congress would like a word with you

The Scooter Libby trial may be over, but the Valerie Plame case continues -- and signals of a presidential pardon aren't the only thing worth watching.

Attorneys for Plame and her husband, Joseph Wilson, will be back in court in May for a hearing on their civil suit against Libby, Karl Rove, Richard Armitage and Dick Cheney.

In the meantime, House Oversight Committee Chairman Henry Waxman announced today that he will hold a hearing on March 16 to determine whether "White House officials followed appropriate procedures for safeguarding" Plame's identity. Among the witnesses he'd like to call: Patrick Fitzgerald. In a letter to Fitzgerald, Waxman invites the special counsel to meet with him and with ranking Republican member Tom Davis "to discuss the possibility of testifying before the committee and other means by which you can inform the committee about your views and the insights you obtained during the course of your investigation."

It's Honesty, Stupid

Give me a break please, and they allowed the biggest liar unhung, to be validated as President for 8 years?
Associated Press March 10, 2007 12:33 PM

A new Associated Press-Ipsos poll says 55 percent of those surveyed consider honesty, integrity and other values of character the most important qualities they look for in a presidential candidate.

Just one-third look first to candidates' stances on issues; even fewer focus foremost on leadership traits, experience or intelligence.


Victory! Fox News Nevada debate is cancelled.

Dear activists, colleagues and friends,

We have a terrific victory to enjoy today. The Fox News sponsored Democratic presidential debate in Nevada has been cancelled. Activists all over the country came together -- from the netroots to grassroots to MoveOn to bloggers to the film we at Brave New Films created -- in a stunning and powerful rejection of the myth that Fox is a news station.

For those of you who have helped spread the word by spreading our Fox Atacks: Obama video far and wide. Thanks for amazing work. If you missed it, check it out here:

We want to continue the work of calling attention to the distortions, lies and propaganda that is Fox News. Please help support our continuing efforts:

1. Donate to Fox Attacks.

2. Watch Fox News and identify local advertisers.

3. Subscribe to the News Hounds weekly newsletter. They watch Fox so you don't have to!
Enjoy this important step in making very clear we will not accept propaganda as news any more.
Robert Greenwaldand the Brave New Films team

http://bravenewfilms.org/unsubscribe.php - Brave New Films is located at 10510 Culver Blvd, Culver City, CA 90232 - info@bravenewfilms.org

Women's lives unraveling in Iraq

Mithre J. Sandrasagra, IPS

Amid the chaos and violence of U.S.-occupied Iraq, the significance of widespread gender-based violence has been largely overlooked, according to a groundbreaking report released here by MADRE, an internationally active women's human rights organization. Iraqi women are enduring unprecedented levels of assault in the public sphere, including widespread abductions, public beatings, death threats, sexual assaults, honor killings, domestic abuse, torture in detention, beheadings, shootings and public hangings, said the report titled "Promising Democracy, Imposing Theocracy: Gender-Based Violence and the U.S. War on Iraq" (...) Women have been systematically attacked by theocratic militias on both sides of the sectarian divide, but the most widespread violence has been committed by the Shi'a militias affiliated with the U.S.-backed government — the Badr Brigade and Mahdi Army, according to Susskind...

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Why I fled George Bush’s war?

Sabbah's blog

...Then something happened that haunts my dreams to this day. All the women were led back inside the house and our entire platoon was ordered to stand guard outside it. Four U.S. military men entered the house with the women. They closed the doors. We couldn’t see anything through the windows. I don’t know who the military men were, or what unit they were from, but I can only conclude that they outranked us and were at least at the level of first lieutenant or above. That’s because our own second lieutenant Joyce was there, and his presence did not deter them. Normally, when we conducted a raid, we were in and out in 30 minutes or less. You never wanted to stay in one place for too long for fear of exposing yourself to mortar attacks. But our platoon was made to stand guard outside that house for about an hour. The women started shouting and screaming. The men stayed in there with them, behind closed doors. It went on and on and on. Finally, the men came out and told us to get the hell out of there. It struck me then that we, the American soldiers, were the terrorists. We were terrorizing Iraqis. Intimidating them. Beating them. Destroying their homes. Probably raping them...


Open Letter to General Petraeus

James Petras, PEJ News

... Petraeus, your goal of 'national reconciliation’ presumes that Iraq exists as a free sovereign nation. That is a precondition for reconciliation between warring parties. But US colonization of Iraq is a blatant denial of the conditions for reconciliation. Only when Iraq frees itself of you, Commander Petraeus, and your army and the dictates of the White House can the warring parties negotiate and seek 'conciliation’. Only political groups who base themselves on Iraqi popular sovereignty can be part of that process. Otherwise what you are really writing about is the military imposition of 'reconciliation’ among warring collaborator groups with no legitimacy among the Iraqi electorate...

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US troops kill Iraqi father, two daughters

Middle East Online

US forces opened fire on an unarmed Iraqi family's car and killed a father and his two young daughters, the man's wife said on Saturday. A statement from the US military confirmed that three Iraqis were killed and three more wounded in Friday's shooting in east Baghdad, after the car's driver ignored or missed signals for him to stop. "They just opened fire randomly on us," said Akhlas Abduljabbar, a Sunni housewife from Zafaraniyah, south of Baghdad, whose family was travelling through the war-torn city. "They killed my husband and two daughters and my three-year-old boy was wounded in the head. The Americans' translator told me 'Flee, don't stay, they're going to kill you'," she added. Abduljabbar identified her dead husband as Rifat Abduljabbar and the daughters as Fatima, 11, and Hafsat, 12...

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US forces opened fire on an unarmed Iraqi family's car and killed a father and his two young daughters, the man's wife said on Saturday. A statement from the US military confirmed that three Iraqis were killed and three more wounded in Friday's shooting in east Baghdad, after the car's driver ignored or missed signals for him to stop. "They just opened fire randomly on us," said Akhlas Abduljabbar, a Sunni housewife from Zafaraniyah, south of Baghdad, whose family was travelling through the war-torn city. "They killed my husband and two daughters and my three-year-old boy was wounded in the head. The Americans' translator told me 'Flee, don't stay, they're going to kill you'," she added. Abduljabbar identified her dead husband as Rifat Abduljabbar and the daughters as Fatima, 11, and Hafsat, 12...

Man pleads guilty in Walter Reed scheme

GREENBELT, Md. --A man has pleaded guilty in federal court to participating in a kickback scheme involving contracts at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Leon Krachyna Jr., 39, pleaded guilty Friday to conspiracy to bribe a public official and defraud the Army, U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein said.

According to the plea agreement, from June 1999 to March 2002, Krachyna and an unnamed accomplice conspired to give kickbacks to a civilian contract specialist employed by the Army Medical Command. The unnamed official was responsible for procurement for the medical center.

The official helped Krachyna and his business partner secure government contracts worth as much as $1.4 million in exchange for a 10 percent cut, according to the plea agreement. Krachyna admitted paying the public official $10,000 to $30,000, according to the document.


WP: Privatized Walter Reed Workforce Gets Scrutiny; Contractor tied to Bush administration, KBR

Privatized Walter Reed Workforce Gets Scrutiny
Army Facility Lost Dozens Of Maintenance Workers
By Steve Vogel and Renae Merle
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, March 10, 2007; Page A03

The scandal over treatment of outpatients at Walter Reed Army Medical Center has focused attention on the Army's decision to privatize the facilities support workforce at the hospital, a move commanders say left the building maintenance staff undermanned.

Some Democratic lawmakers have questioned the decision to hire IAP Worldwide Services, a contractor with connections to the Bush administration and to KBR, a Halliburton subsidiary.

Last year, IAP won a $120 million contract to maintain and operate Walter Reed facilities. The decision reversed a 2004 finding by the Army that it would be more cost-effective to keep the work in-house. After IAP protested, Army auditors ruled that the cost estimates offered by in-house federal workers were too low. They had to submit a new bid, which added 23 employees and $16 million to their cost, according to the Army.

Yesterday, the American Federation of Government Employees, the largest federal workers union, blamed pressure on the Army from the White House's Office of Management and Budget for the decision to privatize its civilian workforce.

"Left to its own devices, the Army would likely have suspended this privatization effort," John Gage, president of the organization, said in a statement. "However, the political pressure from OMB left Army officials with no choice but to go forward, even if that resulted in unsatisfactory care to the nation's veterans."...


Friday, March 09, 2007

Iranian general 'hands over vital documents after defecting to US'

Anne Penketh, Independent

An Iranian general appears to have defected to the West with vital documents, despite Iranian claims that he was snatched last month from a Turkish hotel by US or Israeli agents. A former Iranian deputy defence minister, Ali Rez Asgari has documents and maps detailing the relationship between the elite Revolutionary Guards and Islamist groups such as Hizbollah and Islamic Jihad, the London-based Asharq Alawsat newspaper said. The newspaper said the general was also briefing Western intelligence on Iran's links to groups in Iraq. These include the Mehdi Army of the radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and the Badr organisation...

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Global Realignment and the Decline of the Superpower


The United States has been defeated in Iraq. That doesn’t mean that there’ll be a troop withdrawal anytime soon, but it does mean that there’s no chance of achieving the mission’s political objectives. Iraq will not be a democracy, reconstruction will be minimal, and the security situation will continue to deteriorate into the foreseeable future. The real goals of the invasion are equally unachievable. While the US has established a number of military bases at the heart of the world’s energy-center; oil output has dwindled to 1.6 million barrels per day, nearly half of post-war production. More importantly, the administration has no clear strategy for protecting pipelines, oil tankers and major facilities. Oil production will be spotty for years to come even if security improves...

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Carolyn Baker

This week the Senate Banking Committee has begun an investigation of credit card companies and that industry’s lending practices of which Chairman, Carl Levin of Michigan said, "Millions of families…are kept in debt and are in over their heads not just because of their own purchases…but because of the abusive practices and excesses of the credit card companies." Simultaneously, MSN’s Money Markets Editor, Jim Jubak, published an enlightening piece "Debt Pyramid Threatens To Topple Markets" in which he analyzes the gargantuan February 27 sell-off in world markets and its continuing reverberations throughout the global economy. Whether personal or planetary, a tornado of foreclosures, bankruptcies, missing money—now arriving on the world stage as a housing bubble, soon devolving into a credit bubble—is ripping through the United States economy and world markets and will ultimately shatter, splinter, and shred, not only the fiscal fabric of America but is likely to catapult the global economy itself into massive meltdown...

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The Cost of War $2.5 TRILLION – Accrual Cost of Bush War on Women & Children

Gideon Polya, MWC NEWS

A recent article in the highly respected humanitarian UK journal The New Statesman quoted an estimate of the accrual cost (i.e. the long-term committed cost) of the Bush War on Terror at $2.5 TRILLION – and the estimate came from 2001 Economics Nobel Laureate US Professor Stiglitz (Columbia) and Professor Linda Bilmes (Harvard). A major long-term cost is due to the death and injury of US soldiers. Thus the article states that "for every soldier dying in Iraq or Afghanistan today, 16 are being wounded"; that "611,729 veterans from the first Gulf war are now receiving disability benefits; a large proportion are suffering from psychiatric illnesses, including post-traumatic stress disorder and depression"; and that "Bilmes and Stiglitz estimate the additional cost to the economy of the death of a young soldier - typically 25 years old - to be $6.5m". A horrifying aspect of the New Statesman story was Veteran’s Administration (VA) reactions after Professor Bilmes went public: thus "the number of wounded listed on the VA website dropped from 50,508 to 21,649". The Bush Administration has also evidently made VA economics expert Professor Bilmes persona non grata..

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A Documentary Film By Danny Schechter,

The Emmy-winning former ABC News and CNN producer's new hard-hitting documentary investigates why so many Americans are being strangled by debt. It is a journalistic confrontation with what former Reagan advisor Kevin Phillips calls "Financialization"--the "powerful emergence of a debt-and-credit industrial complex."


“Black Tuesday”; Après le deluge

By Mike Whitney

Last week the stock market bull plopped down on an I.E.D. and wound up in intensive-care sucking food from a straw and drifting in and out of consciousness. That put Paulson on the road to South Korea, Japan and China where he’ll meet up with his foreign counterparts to strategize on the deteriorating state of world markets. It’s a daunting task.


A Predator Becomes More Dangerous When Wounded

By Noam Chomsky

It's widely reported when Ahmadinejad says Israel shouldn't exist - but there is silence when Khamenei says that Iran supports the Arab League position on Israel-Palestine, calling for normalisation of relations with Israel if it accepts the international consensus of a two-state settlement.


Turn Off the Life Support: America is Dead

Friday, 09 March 2007

Turn off the life support. Disconnect the IVs. Bring in the priest for last rites. The US of A is brain dead with no chance for revival.


CBC: Give Bush 'gold medal for hypocrisy,' Chavez says

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said he would award "the gold medal for hypocrisy" to U.S. President George W. Bush, who is in Latin America trying to repair his reputation in the face of anti-U.S. sentiment.

Chavez mocked Bush for expressing concern about poverty in Latin America — economic hardships the leftist Venezuelan leader largely blames on the United States.

"You've got to give the U.S. president the gold medal for hypocrisy, because he's said now he's worried about poverty in Latin America," Chavez told reporters during a one-day visit to Buenos Aires, where he will lead a leftist rally on Friday.

"Now he's discovering … after so many years that there's poverty in Latin America, precisely when the U.S. empire is the principal culprit," Chavez said.


Chavez tells Bush: 'Gringo go home'

Associated Press March 9, 2007 06:58 PM

-- The nation's top two law enforcement officials acknowledged Friday the FBI broke the law to secretly pry out personal information about Americans. They apologized and vowed to prevent further illegal intrusions.

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales left open the possibility of pursuing criminal charges against FBI agents or lawyers who improperly used the USA Patriot Act in pursuit of suspected terrorists and spies.


Judge who sentenced Saddam flees Iraq

BAGHDAD, March 9 (UPI) -- The Iraqi judge who pronounced the death sentence on Saddam Hussein has asked for asylum in Britain, al-Jazeera reported Friday.

Raouf Abdel-Rahman, a member of Iraq's Kurdish minority, has fled the country, al-Jazeera said. He headed the Supreme Iraq Criminal Tribunal that convicted Saddam of ordering the death of Shiite men and boys in Dujail in 1982.

British sources told the Arab-language news agency Abdel-Rahman has applied for political asylum with his family.

Abdel-Rahman also pronounced sentence on Saddam co-defendants Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikriti, the dictator's half-brother, and Awad Hamed al-Bandar, who headed the Iraqi Revolutionary Court.

Saddam's trial was marked by violence, including the assassination of several defense lawyers.

He was on trial for the Anfal campaign against the Kurds when he was hanged.



Fox News Chief Jokes About Obama As A Terrorist

Video: Fox News' Repeated Attempts To Discredit Obama

The Huffington Post Melinda Henneberger Posted March 9, 2007 05:32 PMContact/tips: melinda@huffingtonpost.com
READ MORE: Nevada, Harry Reid

The Huffington Post can confirm that the Nevada Democratic Party has decided to back out of a Fox News-sponsored presidential debate in August following Fox President Roger Ailes's recent remarks comparing Democratic Senator Barack Obama to al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden.
Adam Green, a spokesman for MoveOn.org, said the Nevada Democratic Party had informed them of the decision: "Earlier today, a representative of the Nevada party called us and said that Fox was being dropped and that they were in the process of notifying their allies and Fox."
Neither Fox News nor a spokeswoman for the Nevada Democratic Party returned calls seeking comment.

David Rhodes, vice president of Fox News, said that he had received no such notification: "We have not received official word from the Nevada State Democratic Party disclosing a change in debate plans," he said in a statement posted on the Drudge Report.

Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards had already announced that he would not participate in the Fox debate. His party has faced pressure from the more than 265,000 people who signed a petition calling Fox "a mouthpiece for the Republican Party, not a legitimate news channel" and urging Nevada officials to cancel.

Danny Coyle, a MoveOn.org member who serves on the Executive Board of the Carson City Democratic Central Committee, yesterday offered a resolution calling on the state party to drop Fox, and it passed overwhelmingly among the grassroots Democrats in attendance.

"I am glad and relieved that the Nevada Democratic leadership has come to its senses," Coyle said. "Any kind of relationship with Fox is bad for the party."

At first, Senator Reid defended the decision to work with Fox, reasoning that it might help Democratic candidates reach out to right-leaning Fox viewers. But party activists argued from the start that any connection with Fox was a mistake.

Robert Greenwald, director of the movie Outfoxed, called the final decision a "victory for truth and journalism." Some 280,000 people have viewed Greenwald's new YouTube film "Fox Attacks: Obama" - located with the petition at http://www.foxattacks.com/. "By standing up to Fox's right-wing smears," Greenwald said, "the patriotic grassroots, Netroots, Senator Reid, Senator Edwards, and the Nevada Democrats have all worked together to protect one of the most important elements of a free society - the press."

And Eli Pariser, Executive Director of MoveOn.org Civic Action, said he hoped the decision would "set a precedent within the party that Fox should be treated as a right-wing mis-information network, not legitimized as a neutral source of news."


Robert Greenwald: Fox Is Not News

Lavish Going Away For Army Sec. Disgraced In Walter Reed Scandal

Think Progress March 9, 2007 05:57 PM

Army Secretary Francis Harvey resigned last week after the neglect and squalor at Walter Reed military hospital was exposed by the Washington Post.

Harvey not only oversaw these conditions, but chose to place Lt. Gen. Kevin Kiley -- who had been personally aware for years about the problems and apparently done nothing -- back in control of the hospital. That decision was reversed days later by Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

Protests rock Bush goodwill tour

US President George W. Bush has denied US policy has turned its back on Latin America, after demonstrations and violent protests rocked the start of his tour.

Lula urges Bush to respect sovereignty

Mar 9, 2007, 20:19 GMT

Sao Paulo - Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva called upon his US counterpart George W Bush on Friday in Sao Paulo to cooperate in Latin America's social development while respecting the 'political decisions of each state.'

Without directly mentioning Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, Lula said relations between Brazil and the US will be stronger insofar as they 'respect each other, each respects the sovereign political decisions of each state and they can build projects that may help third countries to get out of poverty.'

The meeting took place amidst street protests against Bush that brought demonstrators within 20 metres of the US delegation - a surge that police and military had to hustle to keep at bay.

The Brazilian president further defended the integration of South American countries, and stressed that that process 'is taking place among independent nations.'


Richardson Bows out of Fox News Debate in Nevada

Breaking on Kos:

"Bill Richardson just called to say that he will not be doing the Fox News debate in Nevada.

Richardson had been the sole Democrat to confirm his appearance at the debate, which is on life support at this point.


Forbes hails 'the richest year in human history

The number of people entitled to call themselves billionaires has skyrocketed over the past year, concentrating a staggering $3.5 trillion (£1.8trillion) of wealth into the hands of 946 men and (occasionally) women.

According to Forbes magazine, for years the official arbiter of the fortunes of the super-rich, a heady cocktail of global economic growth and soaring asset prices has created 178 new billionaires in just 12 months.

"This is the richest year in human history," declared the magazine's founder, Steve Forbes. "The best way to create wealth is to have free markets and free people, and more and more of the world is realising it."



DR. FALEH H.M. AL-KHAYAT, Albasrah.net

The draft of Iraq 's long awaited Oil and Gas Law, approved by the cabinet on February 26, opens up the country's prized upstream sector to private, local and foreign investors for the first time since the nationalization of the industry more than three decades ago. The Author has obtained the final draft in Arabic, dated February 15, that was approved by the Council of Ministers along with critical annexes classifying the oil fields and the blocks that will be opened up. It also includes the covering letter by the cabinet submitting the draft to the Iraqi Council of Representatives. The approved draft, which was amended after intense discussions between central government and the Kurdish authorities in the north, differs in two key areas from a previous widely circulated draft dated January 15...

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Poor attendance at Parliament possibly linked to Secret arrest program


March 8, 2007

A reporter for Al-Quds al-Arabi tried to track down details of the list of persons, including parliamentarians, named in arrest warrants either issued or to be issued. He says what is circulating among politicians is the idea that the list includes names of enemies of SCIRI among the Shiites, and names of persons in the Iraqi Accord Front, adding:

But a member of the Muslim Scholars Association Bashar al-Fayadi said from Amman there is also an arrest warrant naming him and a number of other members of that association, adding that a total of over 50 arrest warrants have recently been issued in Baghdad against politicians and tribal figures, and he urged the government to announce these publicly. [Others say the number is much less, for instance] a member of parliament by the name of Haydar Abadi said there are a number of parliamentarians and politicians with arrest warrants against them pursuant to the law on fighting terrorism, but the security and justice agencies are in possession of confessions respecting their involvement in supporting terrorism, and in any event the number of politicians involved is no more than ten.

Rumors abound. Some think recent raids on two members of parliament, one UIA and one Iraqi Accord Front, indicated they were targets, but a security source told the reporter this is merely cases of running down information obtained from the confessions of persons involved in terror, who have given information about involvement of politicians that needs to be verified. The reporter adds that parliamentary president Mashhadani, currently on a tour of London, Rome, Syria and Jordan, has nothing to say about the whole affair, and doesn't indicate he even knows anything about it.

The reporter concludes with this:

According to security sources, it is the American forces that are in control of the relevant documents, and of the raids and the arrests, maybe even without the knowledge of Prime Minister Maliki. And this perhaps explains recent statements issued by the office of parliamentary deputy Khalaf Alayan (Iraqi Accord Front), which said members of the IAF parliamentary delegation are thinking seriously about leaving Iraq or joining the Iraqi resistance, having become convinced that the Iraqi government is determined to drive all Sunni citizens out of Baghdad. And this is something being seriously considered by parliamentary leaders currently outside of Iraq, possibly not returning to Iraq in these circumstances.

But the American forces continue to not publish the names of the wanted persons, and this could well lead to the collapse of parliament, because of the secrecy and the fostering of doubts [about the scope and details of the program of arrests].

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FBI Patriot abuses perhaps 'limitless'

Conyers warns 'potential for abuse' of act's authority 'almost without limit.'


Wanna Bet? Wanker

This ... is CNN

Apparently, Tom DeLay's criminal indictment, his resignation from the House, and his multiple admonishments from the House Ethics Committee, weren't enough to keep CNN from putting him on the payroll.


UNFRIKINGBELIEVABLE that they were even considered, in the first place

Developing: Dems May Drop Fox-Sponsored Pres. Debate...
Fox News Chief Jokes About Obama As A Terrorist
MY DD Matt Stoller March 9, 2007 01:28 PM

This is a rather extraordinary speech that Roger Ailes gave last night. He's clearly very frustrated with the organizing against Fox News. But let's start out with his jokes.

03.09.2007 Taylor Marsh

Why would any Democratic presidential candidate who is subjected to scurrilous comparisons to Osama bin Laden respect Fox "News"?

Guantánamo Is Not a Prison

Bush and Chavez on Rival Tours in Bid to Win Latin American Hearts and Minds

By Jude Webber in Buenos Aires and Andrew Buncombe in Washington
Published: 09 March 2007

As George Bush arrives in Uruguay tonight as part of a five-nation Latin America tour, his verbal sparring partner, Hugo Chavez, is scheduled to hold a rally 30 miles away across the River Plate in Argentina. The George and Hugo show is poised to start again.

It is unlikely that either will have anything particularly pleasant to say about the other. Despite their symbiotic relationship based on fossil fuel - Venezuela is the fourth largest supplier of oil to the US - Mr Bush and Mr Chavez are engaged in a battle for influence in Latin America. For once it is the US that is running second, with a predominance of countries in the region headed by left-wing leaders.

For decades Washington wielded influence through bodies such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and through direct or indirect military intervention when it saw fit. But in recent years the power of the IMF in the region has waned. In that vacuum, Mr Chavez, bolstered by soaring oil incomes, has stepped in and offered countries an alternative source of funding and credit.

Mr Bush's trip, which started in Brazil and which, in addition to Uruguay, will include stops in Mexico, Guatemala and Colombia, is part of an effort to wrest back some degree of initiative in a region the US has long considered its backyard, but where its actions have often had deadly consequences. >>>cont


President seeks to improve relations with Latin America on weeklong trip

General With Combat Experience to Become Walter Reed Deputy

By Josh White and Ann Scott Tyson
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, March 9, 2007; A13

A combat-arms brigadier general from Fort Knox will take over as deputy commanding general of Walter Reed Army Medical Center, a move that Army officials said yesterday will allow medical commanders to focus on health care while battle-hardened field officers work to regain the trust of wounded soldiers.

Gen. Richard A. Cody, the Army's vice chief of staff, announced that Brig. Gen. Michael S. Tucker will come to Washington as part of a leadership restructuring at Walter Reed that will include the creation of a brigade focused on helping wounded outpatients navigate a treacherous bureaucracy. Cody, speaking to reporters at Walter Reed, said the changes are designed to attack problems and lapses exposed in a series of Washington Post articles and to ensure that veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan receive the care and respect they deserve.

Cody said he believes that new leadership is key to fixing problems that let outpatient soldiers fall through the cracks.

"He understands soldiers. He understands leading in combat. He understands how to run large organizations," Cody said of Tucker. "He's going to be the guy that we look to to be the soldiers' and families' advocate as they go through inpatient and outpatient, but also he's going to be the bureaucratic buster . . . and take on this bureaucracy that at times frustrates our soldiers."


The Iran-Qaeda Scandal

Wednesday, March 07, 2007
Vicious: Dick Cheney's Covert Global War, Michael Carmichael

The New Yorker’s ace investigative reporter, Seymour Hersh, had done it again with his latest earth-shattering exposé. Hersh revealed Dick Cheney and his henchmen had deliberately set about inciting chain reactions of sectarian violence and civil wars across the Middle East via a massive covert operation disguised as a shift of geopolitical strategy. It was therefore entirely appropriate that the earth itself opened up in Bagram and came close to swallowing up the main perpetrator of this seemingly unstoppable nightmare - namely US Vice President Dick Cheney. Now, instead of launching a war against Iran, Cheney with Bush’s complicity, has pulled the trigger on a covert war of global proportions pitting Sunnis against Shias.

According to Hersh, Cheney’s covert plan involves massive US financial backing for militant Sunni groups that are known to be inimical to the Shia militias of the Badr Brigades, the Mahdi Army, Hamas and Hezbollah all of whom support the revolutionary government of Iran. The US-backed Sunnis include the Muslim Brotherhood, a vast and powerful multinational organization, who are definitely on friendly terms with Al-Qaeda and its allies, including the Taliban. The government of Saudi Arabia is Sunni, although they are deeply despised by the Muslim Brotherhood, the Taliban and Al-Qaeda because of their subservience to their masters in big oil and George Bush’s America.

The Israeli right and a rogue faction of the royal family of Saud who are loyal to Prince Bandar bin Sultan are backing Cheney’s covert plan. The ultimate objective of Cheney’s redirection of US strategy in the region is to redraw the national boundaries of the Middle East and to give an explosive multiple birth to a sprawling litter of new cantons, colonies, domains, enclaves, protectorates, statelets and territories all pledged to American and Israeli dominance of the region and its precious oil, gas and energy reserves.

For starters, Lebanon is to be dismembered so as to form a chain of new semi-autonomous and religiously segregated cantons: one Sunni, one Christian, one Alawi and one Shia. Iraq will suffer the worst and most disfiguring surgery. Baghdad will become a City State poised perilously on the border between the new Arabic Sunni and Arabic Shia states. The southern borders of the Arabic Shia State will straddle Kuwait and extend down south to include the oil-fields of southern Iran on the east and an oil-rich strip of Saudi Arabia on the west. A new state of Free Kurdistan will be separated from the Sunni and Shia enclaves of Iraq. A Greater Jordan will be carved out of Saudi Arabia to provide more space for the relocation of Palestinians, and a Free Baluchistan that will include Helmand province and Kandahar will be severed from Afghanistan. Perhaps, most controversially, an Islamic Sacred State that will include the holy cities of Mecca and Medina in the Hejaz will be surgically separated from the rest of Saudi Arabia. (see map)

Coincidentally, at the same time that Cheney is fomenting religious conflicts and civil wars between the Sunnis and the Shias, the US-backed government in Iraq is poised to hand over control of Iraqi oil production to the western oil companies. In this plan, the government of Iraq will retain their ownership of the oil reserves, but they are irrevocably awarding the right to extract the oil reserves exclusively to big oil. Given this sequence of events, Dick Cheney might argue for the Jungian principle of synchronicity – an unexplainable consequence of simultaneity sometimes as pleasant as serendipity but sometimes as painful as catastrophe – but few would believe him. Cheney might implore, “Why not redistribute the oil wealth of Iraq to big oil at the same time the US shifts its strategy to trigger a wave of religious confrontations designed to dismember, dissect and carve up the entire region while masking the expropriation of the Iraqi people’s oil rights?” The reply could be, “Because this crude tactic is blatantly immoral, unethical and illegal.” But, those trivialities have never stopped Cheney before, nor are they likely to stop him now.


"Why do they hate America so much?"

March 7, 2007 -- From inside the halls of Congress to the offices of Democratic politicians around the country there is increasing criticism of the stranglehold the America Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and its political allies have on the Democratic Party's agenda and political message. WMR has spoken to a number of Democrats off-the-record and the story is much the same: Democratic leaders, from House Democratic Caucus Chairman Rahm Emmanuel to Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Dianne Feinstein -- pursuant to dictates from pro-Israeli political interests -- are curbing debate on the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, impeachment, and generally, any strong or effective reaction by the Democrats to the Bush administration's and the neo-cons' disastrous war in Iraq. In various congressional districts, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) is bypassing progressive Democratic candidates and replacing them with "centrist" and less anti-war candidates for the 2008 election.

Criticism within the Democratic Party of AIPAC is carried out very quietly. The consequence for any Democratic politician who is identified as speaking ill of the powerful lobby group is a political death sentence. However, from Washington DC to California, the message is much the same -- AIPAC and its allies are wearing down the patience of a number of Democrats who see the organization as a Republican and neo-con Trojan Horse within the Democratic Party. Next week, AIPAC will be holding its annual convention at the Washington, DC Convention Center. The gathering is bound to create more angst among Democrats -- with both Democratic presidential frontrunners, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, tripping over themselves in seeking AIPAC campaign support.

The schism within the Democratic Party appeared when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi refused to allow ranking member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Jane Harman of California to become chairman. Pelosi was backed by powerful House Defense Appropriations Committee chairman John Murtha. That set off a battle for the House Majority Leader position between Murtha and Steny Hoyer of Maryland. Hoyer handily won the election while Pelosi supported Murtha. Hoyer's sister, Bernice Manocherian, has served as an executive president of AIPAC.

The controversy about Harman arose after she attempted to interfere in the Justice Department's investigation of AIPAC for espionage. Harman's links to AIPAC sank her chances of becoming HPSCI chair. Harman reportedly agreed to work with Republican chairman Peter Hoekstra to avoid an investigation of the cooked up pre-war intelligence on Iraq in return for the Bush administration going easy on the investigation of AIPAC officials Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman, both later indicted for receiving highly classified documents from Israeli Pentagon spy Larry Franklin. After the Libby trial, the next major bombshells are expected to come from the Rosen and Weissman trial, set for June 4. The AIPAC conference next week will undoubtedly be readying for public relations spin for June's "perfect storm" -- sentencing for Libby is scheduled for June 5, the day after the Rosen and Weismann trial commences.

The last straw for some Democrats is quiet but firm backing from AIPAC-allied politicians and special interests for a presidential pardon for convicted former Vice President Chief of Staff Irving Lewis "Scooter" Libby. Even as Libby was being found guilty, the Libby Legal Defense Fund announced a new member had joined its advisory committee. He is Charles Heimbold, Jr., former Chairman and CEO of Bristol-Myers Squibb Company and a former U.S. ambassador to Sweden. Advisory Committee Chairman Mel Sembler, the former U.S. ambassador to Italy whose fingerprints are found on the transmittal of the bogus Niger documents from Italian hands to the Bush administration -- one of the incidents that led to CIA Leakgate -- said the following about the conviction of Libby: "Scooter is a good man and a distinguished public servant who has been wrongly accused."

Other Libby Defense Fund advisory committee members who continue to support the convicted felon include Mary Matalin, former aide to Dick Cheney and wife of Democratic Party insider and Hillary Clinton supporter James Carville; former Education Secretary William Bennett; former HUD Secretary Jack Kemp; former Attorney General Edwin Meese III; former Senator Don Nickles; former Rep. Bill Paxon; former Clinton Middle East envoy Dennis Ross; former Senator Alan Simpson; Hollywood straphanger and former Senator Fred Thompson; and former CIA Director James Woolsey. The one question that can be asked of all these and other Libby Advisory Committee members is: "Why do they hate America so much?"
Libby Defense Find features this photo of Libby with Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai. Libby once penned a novel titled "The Apprentice," which featured pedophilia, bestiality, and rape. Karzai is rumored by our Afghanistan sources to be an aficionado of "boy dancers," underage male strip dancers that are popular with Karzai's fellow Pashtun warlords. One reason the Taliban banned music and dancing was to eliminate the attendant sexual exploitation of boys by the Pashtun elite.

Wayne Madsen Report

Not suitable for commenting on national security cases or wrapping fish.

March 8, 2007 -- Yesterday, The Washington Post, in an editorial reminiscent of the yellow journalism of William Randolph Hearst, launched a tirade against Ambassador Joseph Wilson; his wife, former CIA covert agent Valerie Plame Wilson; and special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald. While WMR has been critical of Fitzgerald and his softball tactics, the Post does not have the right to criticize anyone involved in the prosecution of CIA Leakgate since the Post, itself, was complicit in the underlying crime of being involved in a major leak of classified information.

Incredulously, this is what the Post had to say about Libby's conviction: "The fall of this skilled and long-respected public servant is particularly sobering because it arose from a Washington scandal remarkable for its lack of substance." It would be interesting if the Post actually believes that the compromise of a sensitive U.S. intelligence operation aimed at interdicting weapons of mass destruction lacks substance. Make no mistake about it, the CIA Damage Assessment Report on the leak -- one of the hottest documents in Washington, DC, if any copies remain intact and not destroyed on orders from the Bush White House, will show that CIA non-official cover agents and assets -- some working for the Brewster Jennings and Associates CIA front company and others working for foreign intelligence agencies and other firms involved in WMD proliferation -- were identified, quickly extricated, tortured, imprisoned, or executed as a result of the leak.
Not suitable for commenting on national security cases or wrapping fish.

The Post refers to a "bipartisan" Senate intelligence committee report that concluded that Wilson was not truthful. The Post fails to mention that those "conclusions" were in the majority Republican report lorded over by Kansas right-wing cipher Pat Roberts, not the minority, Democratic, view. So why does the Post erroneously use the word "bipartisan?" It is because the Post cannot and will not report accurate news. Its true editorial masters will not allow it.

The Post also falsely states, "The trial has provided convincing evidence that there was no conspiracy to punish Mr. Wilson by leaking Ms. Plame's identity -- and no evidence that she was, in fact, covert." That is just a flat out lie and the Post is trying to protect its reporters who were identified in prosecution evidence as being tagged by the Bush White House as willing reporters to spread the disinformation about Wilson and his wife and engage in the underlying crime of leaking classified information. Dick Cheney's general counsel, David Addington, listed the Post's main water carriers for the White House: Walter Pincus (who continues to cover the intelligence beat, including the CIA), Mike Allen (now with Texas Republican Joe Albritton's Politico.com), and Glenn Kessler, whose name is all over the AIPAC-Larry Franklin espionage story. With the Post complicit in two major espionage stories involving neo-con and Israeli intelligence asset moles within the Bush administration, it is ill-suited to comment objectively on either the Plame matter or the AIPAC spy story. Some Post journalists will whisper very quietly that their paper's editorial policy is directly dictated by the Israeli Lobby in Washington, New York, and elsewhere.

The Post then resorts to the type of name-calling one might expect from a North Korea daily propaganda sheet: "The former ambassador [Wilson] will be remembered as a blowhard . . . Mr. Fitzgerald has shown again why handing a Washington political case to a federal special prosecutor is a prescription for excess."

It is such histrionics on behalf of a corrupt Washington elite that has earned The Washington Post the nickname, "Pravda on the Potomac."

Wayne Madsen Report

The Politics of Naming: Genocide, Civil War, Insurgency

Mahmood Mamdani, London Review of Books

The similarities between Iraq and Darfur are remarkable. The estimate of the number of civilians killed over the past three years is roughly similar. The killers are mostly paramilitaries, closely linked to the official military, which is said to be their main source of arms. The victims too are by and large identified as members of groups, rather than targeted as individuals. But the violence in the two places is named differently. In Iraq, it is said to be a cycle of insurgency and counter-insurgency; in Darfur, it is called genocide. Why the difference? Who does the naming? Who is being named? What difference does it make? The most powerful mobilisation in New York City is in relation to Darfur, not Iraq. One would expect the reverse, for no other reason than that most New Yorkers are American citizens and so should feel directly responsible for the violence in occupied Iraq. But Iraq is a messy place in the American imagination, a place with messy politics...

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British Army used under-18-year-old soldiers in Iraq occupation

Simon Whelan, WSWS

A recent written answer to a parliamentary question from the Liberal Democrats revealed that the British Army sent 15 soldiers under the age of 18 to fight in Iraq, contravening a United Nation’s protocol on children’s rights. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, Article 38, (1989) insists: "State parties shall take all feasible measures to ensure that persons who have not attained the age of 15 years do not take a direct part in hostilities." The optional protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict to the Convention that came into force in 2002 stipulates that its state parties "shall take all feasible measures to ensure that persons below the age of 18 do not take a direct part in hostilities and that they are not compulsorily recruited into their armed forces."..

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Dreams of bombs, bad guys haunt Baghdad's children

Aseel Kami and Ahmed Rasheed, Reuters

Iraqi children are haunted by dreams of bad guys wielding knives or kidnapping relatives. For some, like 13-year-old Zaman, the nightmares become reality. She was abducted, beaten and threatened with rape. "Zaman suffers from shaking, nervousness, a stutter and sleep disorder," said Haider Abdul-Muhsin, a psychiatrist at Baghdad's Ibn Rushd hospital who treats children suffering the consequences of war, four years after the U.S. invasion. Abdul-Muhsin said Zaman was abducted in Baghdad last month on her way home from school. Zaman was not at the hospital when Reuters visited, but Abdul-Muhsin said few children he had treated recently had affected him as much (...) Nearly every family with children has stories of nightmares or changed behavior. "My 6-year-old grandson told me the other day he dreamt that he was walking with his mother near his house when they saw me heading toward them," said Najat al-Azzawi, 55, a retired engineer. "But a masked man came and snatched me."...

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Petraeus sees no solution from military alone


Military force alone is not sufficient to end the violence in Iraq and political talks eventually must include some militant groups now opposing the U.S.-backed government, the new commander of U.S. forces in Iraq said yesterday. "This is critical," Gen. David Petraeus said in his first press conference since taking over command last month. He noted that such political negotiations "will determine, in the long run, the success of this effort."...

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Through the Looking Glass in Iraq

This Can't Be Happening!

What’s going on in Baghdad? Wasn’t that "surge" and security crackdown supposed to be reducing the violence? Certainly that was the argument Bush made when he announced his latest new "strategy" of adding 21,500 troops to the occupying force in Iraq. He said that the so-called "surge" was needed to "reduce the cycle of violence," but so far, the violence has only increased, with more bombings, more killings, more Iraqis—both Shias and Sunnis—dying--albeit spread around in the areas outside of the central city--and more American troops being killed. This is progress? I guess maybe it is in the Through the Looking Glass world inhabited by the president and by the vice president, who recently declared that the decision by Britain to cut and run from Basra was a sign of "progress" in the Iraq War. Maybe President Cheney (a man who, after all, has a hard time distinguishing a quail from a hunting companion), really believes that the increasing violence in Baghdad is some kind of death spasm of the resistance to US occupation and to the fratricidal conflict that the US War on Iraq has ignited...

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GI Special 5C8: "We Were The Terrorists" - March 8, 2007

Thomas F. Barton

...But our platoon was made to stand guard outside that house for about an hour. The women started shouting and screaming. The men stayed in there with them, behind closed doors. It went on and on and on. Finally, the men came out and told us to get the hell out of there. It struck me then that we, the American soldiers, were the terrorists. We were terrorizing Iraqis. Intimidating them. Beating them. Destroying their homes. Probably raping them. The ones we didn't kill had all the reasons in the world to become terrorists themselves. Given what we were doing to them, who could blame them for wanting to kill us, and all Americans? A sick realization lodged like a cancer in my gut. It grew and festered, and troubled me more with every passing day. We, the Americans, had become the terrorists in Iraq...

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A woman's week of Independence...

Layla Anwar, An Arab Woman Blues

...Dissent is not allowed in our new democracy...Maliki, Al Hakim and Muqtada Sadr style...a very sophisticated democracy imposed by Teheran and Washington D.C. And if per chance you are caught fighting for your so called rights and gathering in public places, you shall be taken like your Iranian neighbors and imprisonned and preferably flagellated. Am I clear now?Do as I tell you and stop this frown and grimacing in my face, it brings bad luck. Cheer up you are liberated...Good boy. Now sing and dance for me and celebrate your manhood in the new Iraq. It is your day after all. Yalla do it now. I only have a few days left before the week is over. And please hurry up, before a "sophisticated" Iranian Fatwa bearing an Iraqi stamp - with Sistani's, Hakim's and chubby Muqtada's face (and his drill boys) - on it , lands on my head... Or what do you think, should I seriously consider seeking political asylum in Siberia? Do come and visit me there, same time next year and we can celebrate together, my womanhood in exile...on International women's day...

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Double-Digit Violent Crime Rise Across US

The New York Times KATE ZERNIKE March 8, 2007 10:16 PM

Violent crime rose by double-digit percentages in cities across the country over the last two years, reversing the declines of the mid-to-late 1990s, according to a new report by a prominent national law enforcement association.

While overall crime has been declining nationwide, police officials have been warning of a rise in murder, robbery and gun assaults since late 2005, particularly in midsize cities and the Midwest. Now, they say, two years of data indicates that the spike is more than an aberration.


Firefighters Slam Giuliani


Rudy Giuliani never fails to cast firefighters as his heroes, but the nation's largest firefighters union all but declared war on him yesterday after he backed out of a forum for presidential hopefuls.

His withdrawal from the International Association of Fire Fighters forum exposed simmering tensions between the former mayor and city fire unions over his decision in November 2001 to limit FDNY personnel at Ground Zero.


Mayan Priests To Purify Site Of "Bad Spirits" After Bush Visit

AP JUAN CARLOS LLORCA March 9, 2007 09:11 AM

Mayan priests will purify a sacred archaeological site to eliminate "bad spirits" afterPresident Bush visits next week, an official with close ties to the group said Thursday.

"That a person like (Bush), with the persecution of our migrant brothers in the United States, with the wars he has provoked, is going to walk in our sacred lands, is an offense for the Mayan people and their culture," Juan Tiney, the director of a Mayan nongovernmental organization with close ties to Mayan religious and political leaders, said Thursday.


Thursday, March 08, 2007

Pro-Iran agency may take over Iraq's intelligence

Michael Ware, CNN

Far from the daily warfare in the streets of the Iraqi capital, another, quieter struggle is being waged -- that for control of Iraq's intelligence agencies. It's a battle with high stakes for the United States. The Iraqi National Intelligence Service, or INIS, is funded completely by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, according to military and intelligence sources. Since the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime, the CIA has placed more than 500 officers in Iraq, according to U.S. intelligence sources, making the station the CIA's largest in the world -- larger, even, than the CIA presence in Saigon during the Vietnam War. The INIS head, the secretive Mohammed Abdullah Shahwani, was appointed three years ago by the United States. But now, the future of the U.S.-controlled agency appears to be in jeopardy. A document from Iraq's National Security Council lays out a blueprint for Iraq's new intelligence community. Under that plan, all intelligence gathering would be consolidated under Iraq's Iranian-friendly central government...

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Good One Moron

RAW STORYPublished: Thursday March 8, 2007
dpa German Press Agency

Cairo - Corruption in Iraq is now worse than it was during Saddam Hussein's regime, the Chairman of Iraq's Commission on Public Integrity (CPI), Radhi Hamza al-Radhi, said in an interview published Thursday in the Arabic-language Asharq Alawsat newspaper.

'There are eight ministers and 40 general directors against whom corruption charges have been brought and they had all fled abroad,' he said.

According to Al-Radhi, the commission was currently investigating the embezzlement of public funds to the tune of eight billion US dollars.

Independent observers in Baghdad report that it is very difficult to find an official who will discharge a public service without a bribe.

Al-Radhi conceded that the authority itself has been found guilty of corruption on several occasions.

However, he said,the problems which the commision had experienced were not of the magnitude that its critics had claimed.

The CPI was established in January 2003 by the now disbanded Iraqi Interim Governing Council to curb bribery, embezzlement, and the misuse of power and public funds.

In the latest corruption index of the Organization Transparency International, Iraq was found to be the fourth most corrupt country in the world.

© 2007 - dpa German Press Agency
Webcaster drops out of Fox's 'unfair, unbalanced' debate

Rove Narrowly Escaped Libby's Fate By Changing His Grand Jury Testimony

What God, not my God you've broken all his commandments with impunity.
Isn't it amazing, the diviate thinks that if he says he believes in God, he can committ murder, to his hearts content, this slime bag.

Salon Sidney Blumenthal March 8, 2007 11:32 AM

As witnesses were trooping to the stand in the federal courthouse in Washington to testify in the case of United States v. I. Lewis Libby, and the Washington Post was publishing its series on the squalid conditions that wounded Iraq war veterans suffer at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center while thousands more soldiers were surging into Baghdad, President Bush held one of his private book club sessions that Karl Rove organizes for him at the White House. Rove picks the book, invites the author and a few neoconservative intellectual luminaries, and conducts the discussions. For this Bush book club meeting, the guest was Andrew Roberts, an English conservative historian and columnist and the author of "The Churchillians" and, most recently, "A History of the English-Speaking People Since 1900."

The subject of Winston Churchill inspired Bush's self-reflection. The president confided to Roberts that he believes he has an advantage over Churchill, a reliable source with access to the conversation told me. He has faith in God, Bush explained, but Churchill, an agnostic, did not. Because he believes in God, it is easier for him to make decisions and stick to them than it was for Churchill. Bush said he doesn't worry, or feel alone, or care if he is unpopular. He has God.


Bush Admin Bars Climate Scientists From Discussing Polar Bears In Public

Reuters Deborah Zabarenko March 8, 2007 06:03 PM

Polar bears, sea ice and global warming are taboo subjects, at least in public, for some U.S. scientists attending meetings abroad, environmental groups and a top federal wildlife official said on Thursday.

Environmental activists called this scientific censorship, which they said was in line with the Bush administration's history of muzzling dissent over global climate change.


Valerie Plame To Testify

AP LAURIE KELLMAN March 8, 2007 05:03 PM

Valerie Plame, the CIA operative exposed after her husband criticized President Bush's march to war, will testify next week before lawmakers probing how the White House dealt with her identity, the chairman of the panel said Thursday.

Also invited to testify March 16 before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is Patrick Fitzgerald, who this week won conviction of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby of obstruction and perjury in the case, said Chairman Henry Waxman (news, bio, voting record), D-Calif.


Iraq's Other War: Violence Against Women Under US Occupation

March 8, 2007
by Yifat Susskind

Last week, Houzan Mahmoud, the international representative of the Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq (a partner organization of MADRE), opened her e-mail and found a message from Ansar al-Islam, a notoriously brutal Sunni jihadist group. The message read simply, "we will kill you by the middle of March." Houzan is an outspoken Iraqi feminist. The 34-year-old journalist and women's rights activist believes that hope for Iraq's future depends on building a society based on secular democracy and human rights. For this, she has been condemned to death.

Houzan is hardly alone in this regard. Since the US invaded Iraq, women there have endured a wave of death threats, assassinations, abductions, public beatings, targeted sexual assaults, and public hangings. Much of this violence is systematic – directed by both Sunni and Shi'ite Islamist militias that mushroomed across Iraq after the US toppled the mostly secular Ba'ath regime. We've heard about the brutality of the Sunni-based groups, but much less about the Shi'ite militias that are the armed wings of the political parties that the US boosted into power. Their aim is to establish an Islamist theocracy and their social vision requires the subjugation of women and the elimination of anyone with a competing vision for Iraq's future.

The "misery gangs" of these Shi'ite militias now patrol the streets of Iraq's major cities, attacking women who don't dress or behave to their liking. In many places, they kill women who wear pants or appear in public without a headscarf. In much of Iraq, women are virtually confined to their homes because of the likelihood of being beaten, raped, or abducted in the streets. As the occupying power, the US was obligated by the Hague and Geneva Conventions to provide security to Iraqi civilians, including protection from violence against women. But the US military, preoccupied with battling the Iraqi insurgency, simply ignored the reign of terror that Islamist militias were imposing on women. In fact, the US enabled these attacks: in 2005, the Pentagon began providing the Shi'ite Badr Brigade and Mahdi Army with weapons, money, and military training in the hope that these groups would help combat the Sunni-based insurgency.

Today, we are told that the Shi'ite militias are a threat, that they have used Iraq's police and security forces to wage a sectarian civil war against Sunnis, and that new formations of radical Shi'ite groups are attacking US soldiers. Bush's new Baghdad security plan is aimed in part at reigning in the Mahdi Army in particular, though the group has been systematically torturing and killing women for more than three years.

So, has the Bush Administration finally realized that we shouldn't be supporting people who assassinate human rights workers and feminists? Hardly. A new covert White House policy exposed last week by journalist Seymour Hersh is funneling money to Sunni jihadist groups like the one that is threatening Houzan Mahmoud. The idea is to use these groups to combat militant Shi'ite forces allied with Iran and active in Iraq and Lebanon. It's the same old disastrous logic: support your enemy's enemy – even if they have ties to al-Qaeda.

Houzan Mahmoud is not surprised by this newest twist in Bush's "war on terror." She has seen first-hand that for all its talk of bringing democracy to Iraq, the Bush Administration has traded the rights of more than half of the population – Iraq's women – for cooperation from the Shi'ite extremists whom it wagered could deliver stability. With those hopes dashed, the Administration is now backing a different horse – one that is just as woman hating and anti-democratic. As Houzan said, "Perhaps Bush's speeches about bringing democracy to Iraq made people in the US feel better about the war. But the US has only replaced Saddam's secular tyranny with an Islamist tyranny. Iraqi women are paying the heaviest price for this and genuine democracy is still a distant dream."

The next two weeks are bracketed by International Women's Day and the fourth anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq. Dedicate this period to listening to Iraqi women like Houzan and you will hear a re-telling of the Iraq war – one that amplifies the truth that women's human rights and democratic rights go hand-in-hand and that the Bush Administration – for all its talk – has only contempt for both.


WPost's Editorial Fantasyland

Robert Parry, Consortiumnews.com

Fred Hiatt’s Washington Post editorial page and George W. Bush’s presidency have a lot in common – most notably an arrogance of power so extreme that they believe their very words can alter reality. With Bush, that record has been well established, from asserting that Saddam Hussein never let the U.N. inspectors in to hyping progress in the Iraq War. But editorial page editor Hiatt – in league with Post publisher Donald Graham – is not far behind. After the conviction of former White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby for lying about and covering up the Bush administration's outing of covert CIA officer Valerie Plame, the Post’s lead editorial continues to manufacture a false history of the case, again slamming Plame’s husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson...

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What A Long Strange Trip Its Been...

Epi-prologue ;)
"We're all going back to our day jobs." - Patrick J. Fitzgerald - March 6, 2007
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