Saturday, March 17, 2007
Judge Who Sentenced Saddam to Death Seeks Asylum in the UK
Raouf Abdel-Rahman handed John Reid's department one of its most politically sensitive decisions after coming to the UK with his family on a visitors visa because he feared for his life.
Mr Abdel-Rahman, who is of Kurdish origin, is thought to have arrived with his family two weeks before Saddam was hanged on December 30 last year.
“He fears for his life and the lives of family members”, Nasser al-Badri of Al Jazeera TV said.
Judges are regularly targeted by insurgents in Iraq. The Iraqi High Tribunal saw three of Saddam's defence lawyers murdered, as well as a few of the IHT's own staff.
Mr Abdel-Rahman, who headed the Supreme Iraq Criminal Tribunal that heard the dictator’s trial for genocide, also sentenced other top aides of the former Iraqi dictator to death.
Any person claiming asylum must be able to demonstrate that he or she has a “well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion" in their country of nationality or former country of residence. >>>cont
Visitors Swapped Places With Britain’s Detainees
BAGHDAD, March 16 — Ten detainees in a British military detention center in Basra carried out an audacious escape plan over the past several days: they switched places with visitors, British authorities said Friday.
An 11th detainee was missing, but no one appeared to have been substituted for him, British authorities said. The detention center is on the outskirts of Basra on one of the British bases in the area.
The escape came to light on Thursday, when it became apparent that “one person was not who he said he was,” said the spokesman. The military began to investigate and found that nine other detainees were also substitutes. The real ones had walked out the door, apparently after swapping clothes with their willing stand-ins, British officials said.
The substitutions had been carefully plotted, and the imposters “were remarkably well prepared,” the spokesman said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“They looked the same,” he said. “They knew the stories of the people they were substituting for. It was quite a sophisticated effort, very carefully planned.”
Because none of the detainees who escaped had yet been charged with a crime, the British military would not give out any details about their cases or the facility in which they were held, including its size or the length of time that the detainees had been there.
Gates warns US plans to maintain presence in region 'for decades':
Velkomin to the United States of Foreclosure
By Mike Whitney
The stock market is about to crash. The only question is whether it will quickly drop down the elevator shaft or follow the jerky flight-path of a man pushed down a stairwell. Either way, the outcome will be the same; stocks will nose-dive, the dollar will plummet, and the bruised US economy will be splattered on the canvas like George Foreman in Rumble in the Jungle.
The Confession Backfired
The first confession released by the Bush regime’s Military Tribunals--that of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed--has discredited the entire process. Writing in Jurist, Northwestern University law professor Anthony D’Amato likens Mohammed’s confession to those that emerged in Stalin’s show trials of Bolshevik leaders in the 1930s.
A Breaking Story Observations on Iraq
By Tim Lambon
It's hard to describe the noise when a whole cabinet of crockery is emptied on to the floor. Even harder not to shout in indignation when the American soldier who intentionally tipped it forward, until the plates and dishes slid smashing to the floor, says without regret, "Whoops!" and crunches over the shards past the distraught owner. "Cordon and search" they call looking for Sunni insurgents and their arms and explosives. But at what cost to the battle for "hearts and minds"?
Military Support for GOP Is in Free Fall
Middle East Theater: In the Last Act, America Self-Destructs
Gonzales tried to avoid any responsibility in the growing scandal by using the word 'responsible' while ducking its consequences."
Glenn W. Smith writes: "With no apparent shame, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales pleaded the Ken Lay defense, also known by his own prosecutors as the 'Aw, shucks' defense or the 'deliberate ignorance' defense in his explanation of the political executions of United States attorneys by his office and the White House. Gonzales tried to avoid any responsibility in the growing scandal by using the word 'responsible' while ducking its consequences."
Christians Arrested at White House Opposing War
Will Gonzales Fall for Attorney Firings?
DAILY WAR NEWS FOR FRIDAY, March 16, 2007
Five U.S. army were killed and three others wounded in military operations in the capital Baghdad and Salah al-Din province on Thursday, coinciding with the U.S. House of Representatives' approval on a plan to withdraw soldiers by the end of 2008, the U.S. army announced on Friday. A U.S. soldier was killed by an explosion when his patrol was attacked in Salahaddin province on Thursday, the U.S. military said. Another soldier was wounded. 17 anonymous bodies were found in Baghdad. 15 bodies were found in Karkh, the western part of Baghdad in the following neighborhoods (7 bodies in hay Al Amil, 2 bodies in Dora, 2 bodies in Hurriya, 2 bodies in Yarmook, 1 body in Saidiya and 1 body in Baiya’a.) tow bodies were found in Rosafa, the eastern part of Baghdad in the nbeighborhoods of Selikh (one body ) and another body in Sader city...
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U.S. to expand Iraq prisons
The United States decided to expand its major detention centers in Iraq after military officials predicted that the ongoing security crackdown in Baghdad will add hundreds or thousands of prisoners to the 17,000 detainees already in U.S. custody, an army spokesman said. "Subsequent to the increase in the number of Iraqi prisoners detained by the U.S. occupying forces; the U.S. army based in Iraq intends to expand Camp Bucca and Camp Cropper prisons to incarcerate more Iraqis," the London-based Asharq Alawsat newspaper reported...
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U.S.-Occupied Iraq: Women suffer untold violence
The radio news magazine "Between The Lines" interviewed Yifat Susskind, communications director with MADRE, an an international women’s human rights organisation based in New York City. Yifat is also author of a report on violence against Iraqi women titled, "Promising Democracy, Imposing Theocracy: Gender-Based Violence and the US War on Iraq." The report, made public on March 6 at a meeting of the Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations, exposes what it calls "the incidence, causes, and legalization of gender-based violence in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion." (...) Women, who under Saddam Hussein’s secular regime had a lot of freedom, access to education and a wide range of jobs, are saying across the board that their lives are much, much worse now than they were under the previous regime. For example, in much of Iraq so-called punishment committees of Islamist militias are patrolling the streets and attacking women who don’t dress to their liking. In a lot of places, they kill women who wear pants or appear in public without a head scarf. Most Iraqi women are virtually confined to their homes now, because of the likelihood of being beaten or raped or abducted in the streets...
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Palestinian refugees flee Baghdad after Iraqi forces raid
An Iraqi security forces raid on a Palestinian area in Baghdad on Wednesday left one Palestinian dead and forced several dozen to flee the capital, the U.N. refugee agency said on Friday. The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees office said it is "deeply disturbed" by the action, said to be part of the new Baghdad security plan. The victim was a guard at a Baghdad mosque and was apparently shot in the head. Violence apparently flared when Palestinians tried to resist the raid. A U.N. news release said nine Palestinians are being held, 51 were released and at least 41 fled to the Iraq-Syria border, where 850 Palestinians have been stranded for 10 months...
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How Sadr and the US helped each other kill Iraqis ...
I have read with utter disgust some of the reports on so-called anti-war websites which have pronounced that Muqtada Sadr is the true face of Iraqi resistance (...) Muqtada the face of the resistance who was wanted by the US military but received acclaim and applause when his legions stormed into Parliament in what some may call democratic elections? Muqtada, resistance? When it was his people who burned down mosques with worshippers inside? When it was his people who pulled three girls from their homes and set them on fire? This is the face of your resistance? Muqtada who massacres patriotic and nationalistic Shia tribesmen because Iran told him to do it...
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Iraq's growing refugee crisis
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Reuters: Australian PM meets Iraq's Maliki in Baghdad
BAGHDAD, March 17 (Reuters) - Australian Prime Minister John Howard
met Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki in Baghdad on Saturday.
Australia has about 1,500 troops in Iraq, of whom about 520 are in the
south, training Iraqi troops and providing security.
Howard has been one of U.S. President George W. Bush's most loyal allies
and has vowed to keep forces in Iraq "until the job is done" despite
growing public opposition to the war at home.
Howard in mid-air scare
March 17, 2007 - 10:45PM
An RAAF Hercules carrying Prime Minister John Howard was forced to
make an emergency landing in southern Iraq last night after its cabin
filled with smoke.
All aboard were told to don oxygen masks.
The emergency came just minutes after the aircraft had taken off
from the Australian base in Tallil an area known for its insurgents
loyal to Shiite leader Moqtada al-Sadr.
Mr Howard had slipped secretly into Iraq yesterday to meet Australian
troops and talk strategy with senior US generals.
Thousands march to Pentagon to protest Iraq war
The march, on a cold and cloudy St. Patrick's Day, comes just before the fourth anniversary of the start of the Iraq war on Tuesday and 40 years after a similar protest at the Pentagon over the Vietnam Var.
The march began near the Vietnam War Memorial, just a few blocks from the White House, and proceeded across the Potomac River toward the Pentagon. One sign near the front read, "The worst tyrants ever: Napoleon, Hitler and Bush."
Frustration over the Iraq war cost President George W. Bush's Republicans control of Congress in elections last year and is the main reason his poll numbers are stuck near 30 percent, the lowest of his presidency.
WP: Additional Support Troops Join Buildup in Iraq: Tens of thousands more to come?
7,200 Now Slated To Aid Expansion Of Combat Forces
By Ann Scott Tyson and Josh White
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, March 17, 2007; Page A14
An aviation brigade will be deployed to Iraq earlier than scheduled at Gen. David H. Petraeus's request. (Pool Photo By Ali Abbas)
Thousands of additional U.S. military support troops are flowing into Iraq to bolster the increase of 21,500 combat troops ordered by President Bush in January, bringing the total to about 28,700.
The Army announced yesterday that it will accelerate by 45 days the deployment to Iraq of an aviation brigade with more than 2,600 troops. The unit will provide attack aircraft, as well as medical-evacuation and transport helicopters, to assist ground troops.
The latest request brings the total increase in support troops, to accompany the buildup in Iraq, to 7,200 -- including 2,200 military police to strengthen detention operations and 2,400 others, such as medics and troops specializing in military intelligence and logistics....
Democrats took the news of the additional troop request as confirmation of their expectations. The Congressional Budget Office had predicted that the 21,500 combat troops that made up Bush's initial troop increase would require tens of thousands more support personnel....With troop increases now approaching 30,000, Democratic leaders may be bolstered as they seek the 218 votes they need to pass war funding legislation that would set a timeline for a withdrawal of U.S. forces. A showdown on the bill is expected on Thursday....
Military officials voiced concern yesterday that although they had anticipated the need for more support troops when the increase in combat forces was proposed, that assessment was not made public. "It was all part of the plan initially, but it didn't get explained well," said the military official in Baghdad....
Gonzales's Ex-Aide Sampson Denies Withholding Info
Gonzales has acknowledged that his department mishandled the dismissals of the U.S. attorneys and did not tell Congress the whole story about the firings. The attorney general, who is under pressure to resign, has said he ultimately is to blame for the mistakes, but stands behind the firings, which Democrats allege were politically motivated.
Kyle Sampson, who quit last week as Gonzales' chief of staff, said in a statement from his lawyer that he did not step down "because he had misled anyone at the Justice Department or withheld information concerning the replacement of the U.S. attorneys.
"He resigned because, as chief of staff, he felt he had let the attorney general down in failing to appreciate the need for and organize a more effective response to the unfounded accusations that the replacements were improper," according to the statement from attorney Brad Berenson.
Washington At An Impasse Over Fate Of Gonzales
Congressional Democrats and the Bush administration hit an impasse Friday in the probe into the firing of eight U.S. attorneys, with White House officials delaying decisions to turn over documents or allow officials to testify and the House Judiciary Committee threatening subpoenas to force them to comply.
As speculation mounted that Atty. Gen. Alberto R. Gonzales' job was in jeopardy, another Republican suggested it would be best if he stepped down. "It is ultimately the president's decision, but perhaps it would benefit this administration if the attorney general was replaced with someone with a more professional focus rather than personal loyalty," said Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Huntington Beach). He also said there had been "a pattern of arrogance in this administration."
Helen Thomas Reclaims Front Row White House Seat
Woo-hoo! It's a happy St. Patrick's Day indeed for Helen Thomas, who was just officially re-awarded her front row seat in the White House Briefing Room after it had been rudely snatched away last month, owing to the combination of less seats in the newly-refurbished briefing room (7 seats in the front row instead of the previous 8) and the fact that both Fox and CNN had been agitating for a front-row seat. Instead of picking between them, Thomas was booted.
But now booted no more! Today the White House Correspondent's Association decided that Thomas' pride of place in the front row -- 46 years and counting -- would be appropriately honored:
READ FULL STORY
Hundreds Arrested At White House Christian Anti-War Protest
About 100 people crossed the street from Lafayette Park -- where thousands of protesters were gathered -- to demonstrate on the White House sidewalk late Friday. Police began cuffing them and putting them on buses to be taken for processing.
Fear said 222 people had been arrested by Saturday morning. The first 100 were charged with disobeying a lawful order, and the others with crossing a police line. All of them were fined $100.
READ FULL STORY
Bush To Spend Iraq War Anniversary With Gators Football Team
The White House, repeatedly asked if President Bush is planning anything to mark the fourth anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq on Monday, has suggested that the president is going about business as usual. On Monday, that business includes playing host to the 2006 NCAA football champions, the University of Florida "Gators'' -- who play, remember, in a field called The Swamp.
But the presdent has his eyes fixed on another date: The House's upcoming debate and vote on a war spending bill that includes timelines for withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq which he White House pledges to veto -- as well as "porkbarrel'' spending which the White House is criticizing, such as $74 million for peanut storage. In his weekly radio address today, the president argues that "the consequences of imposing such an artificial timetable would be disastrous,'' and issues this challenge: "Many in Congress say they support the troops, and I believe them. Now they have a chance to show that support in deed, as well as in word.''
READ FULL STORY
More than 200 names to be removed from Iraq memorial in Lafayette
But one angry Tracy man who found his step-son's name on a white wooden cross last week said he and others still plan to protest at the site.
The names of all but about a dozen soldiers will be removed on Sunday, unless a soldier's family gives permission for it to remain. About 300 names of troops from California now grace the 3,188 white wooden crosses that make up the hillside memorial. The decision comes as anti-war activists prepare for a candlelight vigil on Monday to commemorate the fourth anniversary of the war.
"We didn't intend to cause any grief to the families of soldiers that died," said organizer Jeff Heaton. "So when we saw how agitated they were, we (decided) we don't want to turn the memorial into a battleground."
A SOLUTION -- They could either replace the names those that they don't have permission with the numerical death order. Or use the numerical death order and maybe even death date.
WP: Pentagon Issues Dire Look At End of '06 in Iraq
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, March 15, 2007; Page A15
The Pentagon yesterday released its bleakest assessment of Iraq yet, reporting record levels of violence and hardening sectarian divisions in the last quarter of 2006 as rival Sunni and Shiite militias waged campaigns of "sectarian cleansing" that forced as many as 9,000 civilians to flee the country each month.
Weekly attacks in Iraq rose to more than 1,000 during the period and average daily casualties increased to more than 140, with Iraqi civilians bearing the brunt of the violence -- nearly 100 killed or wounded a day, according to statistics in the Pentagon's latest congressionally required quarterly report on security in Iraq.
Those figures may represent as little as half of the true casualties because they include only violence observed by or reported to the U.S.-led military coalition, the report acknowledged. It cited a United Nations estimate, based on hospital reports, that more than 6,000 Iraqi civilians were killed or wounded in December alone.
Shiite militias and Sunni insurgents vying to establish strongholds are driving the strife, especially in Baghdad, where they forcibly displaced residents and fueled a record 45 attacks a day, the report said. Unlike previous reports, the one released yesterday depicted some aspects of the Iraq conflict as a civil war.
BREAKING: Waxman Demands WH Explanation for Lack of Investigation into CIA Leak Case!
BREAKING: Waxman Demands White House Explanation for Lack of Investigation into CIA Leak Case
Letter to Josh Bolton Follows Earlier Congressional Testimony from WH Security Director That No Investigation Was Ever Conducted Into Disclosure of the Identity of Covert Operative Valerie Plame-Wilson...
Just in from Waxman's office after this morning's stunning revelation that the White House never conducted an investigation into the outing of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame-Wilson, despite a number of promises from Bush to do exactly that and an executive order signed in early 2003 which requires such an investigation in the wake of such a disclosure.
In a statement sent to The BRAD BLOG, Waxman's office explains that a letter just sent to White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten, asks for an explanation as to why the White House "did not follow the investigative steps prescribed by Executive Order 12958," as signed in March 2003. The order requires the White House to "'take appropriate and prompt corrective action' whenever there is a release of classified information," according to the statement....
FULL REPORT, DETAILS & LETTER FROM WAXMAN TO WHITE HOUSE:
AP: GI Guilty in Iraqi Detainees' Deaths
By KRISTIN M. HALL
Associated Press Writer
FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. (AP) - A military panel found a 101st Airborne
soldier guilty of three counts of negligent homicide but not guilty
of premeditated murder in the deaths of three Iraqi detainees.
Staff Sgt. Ray Girouard, 24, smiled as he hugged his defense lawyer
and family members after the verdict was read. He faced up to life
in prison had he been found guilty of premeditated murder.
The panel, which deliberated for four hours, also found Girouard
guilty of obstruction of justice for lying to investigators, of
conspiracy for trying to conceal the crime and of failure to obey
a general order.
Girouard was accused of telling his soldiers to release detainees
they captured during the May 9 raid near Samarra, Iraq, and then
shoot them as they fled. He is the last and most senior soldier
from the 101st Airborne Division to face trial in the killings.
Breaking: Gonzales Apologizes To Prosecutors
WASHINGTON - Attorney General Alberto Gonzales apologized to the nation's 93 U.S. attorneys in a conference call Friday as he tried to hold on to his job amid the scandal over the firings of eight federal prosecutors.
In another move to repair his credibility, Gonzales named a respected U.S. attorney from Virginia, Chuck Rosenberg, as his interim chief of staff to replace Kyle Sampson, who stepped down because of his involvement in the controversy.
Gonzales apologized to the prosecutors not for the firings but for their execution, including for inaccurate public statements about poor job performance, according to people familiar with the afternoon conference call.
"It shouldn't have happened," Gonzales said, according to one lawyer familiar with the conversation. The lawyer, who asked not to be identified because of the sensitive nature of the matter, said Gonzales acknowledged that he'd seemed too detached during his news conference earlier this week. He told the prosecutors that he "should have known" about the dismissal planning by his former chief of staff.
White House Delays Action in Inquiry on Attorneys
By SHERYL GAY STOLBERG
Published: March 17, 2007
WASHINGTON, March 16 — The White House has delayed until next week a decision on whether to release additional documents and to permit top aides to President Bush, including Karl Rove, the chief political adviser, to testify in a Congressional inquiry into the dismissal of federal prosecutors.
Fred F. Fielding, the chief White House counsel, spent Friday evaluating the request and conferred with President Bush about it before Mr. Bush left for Camp David, a White House official said.
Mr. Fielding had initially told Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee that he hoped to have an answer by Friday, but he now expects to report back to the panel after the weekend....
Democrats expressed disappointment with the delay, and Representative John Conyers Jr., Democrat of Michigan, the committee chairman, said he would move forward with subpoenas for Mr. Rove and other top officials, including Harriet E. Miers, the former White House counsel, and Scott Jennings, a deputy to Mr. Rove.
Still, Mr. Conyers and Senator Charles E. Schumer, the New York Democrat who is spearheading the inquiry in the Senate, seemed inclined to give the administration a few more days. Separately, the committees expect to receive additional documents from the Justice Department on Monday....
Iraq war protesters to converge at White House
Thousands of people are expected to converge at the White House Friday in the first of several demonstrations marking the fourth anniversary of the increasingly unpopular Iraq war, organizers said.
Christian Peace Witness for Iraq has organized a worship for Friday night at Washington's National Cathedral to be attended by 4,000 people who will then hold a candlelight procession to the White House, the anti-war group said.
A vigil will take place in front of US President George W. Bush's official residence and 700 people have indicated their readiness to be arrested in an act of civil disobedience, the group said.
The group has billed the event as the biggest Christian peace demonstration since the March 20, 2003, US-led invasion of Iraq, but rain and possible snow forecast for Washington could dampen attendance.
Anti-war activists have heavily mobilized since Democrats took control of Congress from Bush's Republicans in November elections marked by voter anger at the war.
Truck bombers using chlorine kill 8 in Iraq
The first attack was at the entrance of Amiriyat Falluja, a large housing complex south of Falluja, that killed six people including policemen and making 79 ill, including 27 children.
The second bomber targeted a tribal leader opposed to al Qaeda nearby when he blew up his tanker outside the man's home, killing two people and making six ill because of exposure to the chemical.
Militants have used chlorine as a weapon in the past. At least two bombings involving chlorine killed eight people in February.
CNN: Plame: Leak severely hurt U.S. intelligence; networks of agents jeopardized, destroyed
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Valerie Plame told Congress Friday the leak of her identity as a CIA covert operative "has jeopardized and even destroyed entire networks of foreign agents."
For the first time since the 2003 leak, the central figure of the resulting scandal revealed her side of events that led to the conviction this month of a former vice presidential aide....
Novak's column destroyed her position and classified status, she told the committee.
The disclosure also damaged U.S. intelligence efforts, she said. "If our government cannot even protect my identity, future foreign agents who might consider working with the Central Intelligence Agency in providing needed intelligence would think twice."
Plame testified her work involved gathering intelligence on weapons of mass destruction....
Making sense of the war in Iraq
HUNDREDS of anti-war protesters brought traffic to a standstill today as marchers demanded the end to the conflict in Iraq and David Hicks's return to Australia.
Friday, March 16, 2007
U.S.-backed imam gets cool reception in India
The chaplain, Imam Yahya Hendi, was in India for three days late last week to debunk myths about the status and treatment of Muslims in America, much as he has done in State Department-sponsored trips to the Middle East, Africa and Europe.
The visit, arranged by Karen Hughes' two-year-old public diplomacy office at the State Department, did produce successes. Imam Hendi was welcomed at a few schools and mosques, and led a mass prayer attended by 15,000 worshippers at a Calcutta mosque.
But several Muslim leaders contacted in advance by U.S. diplomats refused to have anything to do with the visit.
"At our mosque the imam wanted to lead a mass prayer and interact with the people," said Hyder Ali, a spokesman for the Baitul Aman Mosque, the largest in West Bengal. "But we turned down the request ... because he was acting on behalf of a government which for long years has been responsible for killings and sufferings of innocent Muslims in many countries including Iraq, Palestine and Afghanistan. We did not want to betray our brothers and sisters in those countries by extending him hospitality in our mosque." >>>cont
Why should I waste my beautiful mind on Body Bags?
Breaking her silence
Breaking her silence ... ex-CIA spy Valerie Plame has said that she felt betrayed after her cover was blown, and accused the White House of destroying her career for political reasons / Reuters More
Former US Attorney: Why I Was Fired
Iraqi Women Silenced
Andrea Buffa writes: "Remember how the US invasion of Iraq was supposed to liberate the women?... Rapes, bombings, death sentences and a discriminatory legal system; it is one of the unspoken facts of militarism that women often become the spoils of war. The Iraq war has been a disaster in many ways, but none so extreme as what it's done to Iraqi women."
The Wall That Now Divides Us
Friday 16 March 2007
Twenty years after my first visit, I visited The Wall as a combat veteran. The Wall took on an entirely new significance to me during that visit. The Iraq War is in many ways similar to the Vietnam War. Both wars were controversial at home, causing the veterans to feel betrayed or abandoned by government or the population at large. In both wars, the mission was often unclear to "the grunts on the ground." Much-needed equipment and material goods were denied to the forces in the field by Washington bureaucrats, and in both wars, the care of veterans has not been a true priority. The treatment of veterans has led many veterans of both wars to feel cut off from the nation they love and honorably served. On that and subsequent visits, The Wall felt like a sanctuary from the political storm that has surrounded "my war." The memorial is a place where I can mourn the dead not only of the Vietnam War, but of all wars, including mine. As a warrior, I carry the loss of life and the loss of innocence tightly within my heart. On every visit to The Wall since returning from Iraq, I have met people who disagree with me about the Iraq War. Yet, there is no politics around the wall; we mourn in silence or share our grief aloud not as liberals or conservatives, not as hawks or doves, not as Republicans or Democrats, but as human beings united by our suffering.
I was saddened to learn recently that for the first time since the beginning of the Iraq War, the sanctity of The Wall will be challenged by protest. On March 17, a coalition of citizens concerned about the war gathers for a protest march originating at Constitution Park across the street form The Wall. A group of counter-demonstrators, calling themselves The Gathering of Eagles, will gather around and presumably in the memorial while spreading their pro-war, pro-Bush/Cheney message. The "eagles" claim that their intention is to "defend" The Wall from attack by the anti-war demonstrators. Yet, through four years of anti-war protest, there have been few incidents of vandalism and no war memorial has been damaged in the past. Further, hundreds of veterans and military families, including those who have had loved ones die in this war, are at the forefront of today's anti-movement. None of us who have sacrificed in this war would tolerate, much less condone, such behavior.
While the mission statement of the "eagles" states, "... we are adamantly opposed to the use of violence, vandalism, physical or verbal assaults on our veterans, and the destruction or desecration of our memorials ... we defend and honor those whose blood gave all of us the right to speak as freely as our minds think." Yet, a cursory look at the comments section at the bottom of the page tells a different story. One commentator said, "I hope one of these Muslim commies cross the line so we can teach them a valuable lesson. I will be there with my brothers and will be victorious over these Dimicrat scum. This will teach them not to look at us with seditious eyes." Another expressed similar sentiments: "We need to show these anti-war turkeys we are all business that the sacrifice and honor of the men and women of this Memorial will not be defaced by the likes of them." Organizers for the veterans' contingent of the anti-war march have also received death threats from "eagle" supporters. It seems that the real intent of the Gathering of Eagles is to intimidate those who do not agree with their position on the war.
I took an oath to defend the Constitution and honorably served ten years in uniform. I still hold my oath no less sacred than the "eagles" claim to. One of the ways to honor that oath is speak freely and from the heart. I sacrificed everything I had and everything I was when I went to Iraq. I lost my marriage, a job I loved, and the very way I viewed the world. It is a shame these "eagles" who claim to love and support me so much not only want to silence my voice, but they have chosen to put a wall between me and the one place in America I where I can truly let my guard down and grieve.
Charles E. Anderson served in Iraq with the Marine Corps' Second Tank Battalion during the invasion of Iraq. During his nine-year career, he served in infantry, armor, and medical units. He lives in Hampton, Virginia, where he is a World Studies student at Thomas Nelson Community College. He can be contacted through his website at http://www.charleseanderson.com.
Why KSM's Confession Rings
Unstable Foundations: Letter From New Orleans
Bush's Shadow Army
The Long Arm of Karl Rove
US MILITARY TROOPS AND BASES AROUND THE WORLD
By Diane E. Dees
Though federal law requires the Department of Labor to safeguard whistle-blowers from reprisal, the department has been ignoring the law with regard to those who have complained about environmental and nuclear safety problems.
Politicians make no difference.
We have bought into the Military Industrial Complex (MIC). If you would like to read this happens please see:
Through a combination of public apathy and threats by the MIC we have let the SYSTEM get too large. It is now a SYSTEMIC problem and the SYSTEM is out of control. Government and industry are merging and that is very dangerous.
There is no conspiracy. The SYSTEM has gotten so big that those who make it up and run it day to day in industry and government simply are perpetuating their existance.
The politicians rely on them for details and recommendations because they cannot possibly grasp the nuances of the environment and the BIG SYSTEM.
So, the system has to go bust and then be re-scaled, fixed and re-designed to run efficiently and prudently, just like any other big machine that runs poorly or becomes obsolete or dangerous.
This situation will right itself through trauma. I see a government ENRON on the horizon, with an associated house cleaning.
The next president will come and go along with his appointees and politicos. The event to watch is the collapse of the MIC.
For more details see: LINK TO VANITY FAIR EXPOSE' ON SAIC
WASHINGTON'S $8B SHADOW:
Watch the Iraq Veterans Memorial
UPDATED: Plame Testifies Before Congress, Confirms She Was 'Covert' -- Calls Outing a 'Travesty'
A desperate Army is scraping the bottom
An Army already stretched painfully thin is now being asked to find the additional 25,000-plus troops to man President Bush's escalation in Iraq and, it's now obvious, prepare for additional combat rotations next year. All the easy sweeping up of manpower already has been done. All the obvious moves to rob Peter to pay Paul have been carried out just to keep this unending war going. Now comes the hardest part: Units that are completing their second or third yearlong combat tours are being extended for another four or six months. Other units, now home for their promised 12 months with their families, are being told they will go back to combat sooner than that...
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U.N. seeks $1.7M to feed Iraqi refugees
The World Food Program has launched an appeal for $1.7 million to help feed tens of thousands of Iraqi refugees who are continue to arrive in Syria and increasingly without the resources to sustain themselves. Worsening violence in Iraq has forced many more Iraqis into neighboring countries, the U.N. body said, and many leave before they have time to make financial arrangements. "Up to mid-2006, many Iraqi refugees entering Syria had adequate resources to cover their needs," the agency said in a statement Tuesday asking for donations. "As targeted violence continues in Iraq, the number of those fleeing and arriving unable to sustain themselves is rapidly increasing."...
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Video Poison DUst
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Was it Justified? You Decide
So what gives? ‘We come not as conquerors or enemies, but as liberators.’
[We come not as] conquerors or enemies, but as liberators.’ — Lieutenant General Sir Stanley Maude, Commander in Chief of British forces in Iraq, after entering Baghdad in March 1917.According to the best estimates, the dozen years of sanctions following Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait led to something like one million deaths in Iraq, including 500,000 children and since the invasion in 2003 a further 650,000 have died as a result of the illegal occupation. It’s a staggering number of slaughtered people, all done in the name of 'democracy building’ but it doesn’t stop here, we need to add the slaughtered of the former Yugoslavia and who knows how many massacred in Afghanistan as nobody’s bothering to count. But lest we forget, the invasion and occupation of Vietnam resulted in the slaughter of at least three million Vietnamese and the effects of Agent Orange and the other toxic chemicals dumped on Vietnam is still killing and maiming people to this day...
continua / continued
50-shot hail of bullets felled Sean Bell; Court decision sealed until Monday.
Capitol Hill Hooked As Glam Spy Breaks Silence
WASHINGTON - It's hard to remember the last time a live blonde got this much attention, and even the Republicans on the House oversight committee that heard from Valerie Plame Wilson today seemed in awe of the glam spy outed by the Bush administration.
"If I seem a little nervous," drawled Georgia Republican Lynn Westmoreland, "I've never questioned a spy before." Why, baseball players on steroids hadn't rated this kind of coverage, he noted.
That's because, in the nearly four years since 20 different administration officials had leaked Wilson's name to various reporters -- and columnist Bob Novak finally took the bait and revealed it -- she had maintained public silence.
She'd said nothing about the campaign of retribution that came after her husband corrected the president's story about Saddam's Iraq trying to buy uranium for a nuclear bomb in Africa.
She'd made no comment on the abrupt end of her career as an undercover CIA operative, and none, either, on the cost to her colleagues of a security breach orchestrated by her own government.
Because life rarely imitates art quite so attractively -- in Washington, at any rate -- it was hard not to be distracted by the aesthetics of Wilson's debut in a speaking role: Wow, great colorist.
What a well-made jacket. Sharon Stone or Laura Linney? In the movie, of course.
Yet when she did spill today, with the cool and control that must have gotten her the job in the first place, even those panel members who normally like asking questions better than they do listening to the answers were attentive.
During committee chairman Henry Waxman's opening statement, Wilson heightened the sense of expectation with just a nod here and there: At the time Novak disclosed her identity to the world, "Ms. Wilson's CIA employment status was covert." (Emphatic nod.) "She took on serious risk on behalf of our country." (Slight nod.) Compared to the American heroes mistreated at Walter Reed, "she faces much more favorable circumstances now than some of the soldiers we met last week." (Nod, nod, nod.) "But she, too, had been one of those anonymous people fighting to preserve our freedom." Until, of course, she wasn't.
Waxman took pains to explain that the CIA had cleared every word he spoke, and confirmed every word of this statement: "Ms. Wilson was undercover...Ms. Wilson's employment status was covert...Ms. Wilson worked on some of the most sensitive and highly secretive matters handled by the CIA...Ms. Wilson served at various times overseas for the CIA...It is accurate to say that she worked on the prevention of the development and use of Weapons of Mass Destruction against the United States."
Clearly, the central purpose of the hearing was to knock down persistent Republican claims that she was not undercover, and had never been placed in any danger. And when at last she spoke for herself, she could not have been clearer:
"In the run-up to the war with Iraq, I worked in the counter-proliferation division of the CIA, still as a covert official, whose affiliation with the CIA was classified." She developed "solid intelligence for senior policy makers on Iraq's presumed WMD programs. I also traveled to foreign countries on secret missions to find vital intelligence. I loved my career because I loved my country."
"It was not common knowledge on the Georgetown cocktail circuit that everyone knew where I worked," she said, refuting that particular claim with a rather remarkable absence of attitude.
"But all of my efforts on behalf of our national security, all of my training, all of my years of service were abruptly ended when my name and identity were exposed irresponsibly."
Though even now she cannot provide details, she said, "the harm that is done is grave...lives are literally at stake. We in the CIA always know that we might be exposed and threatened by foreign enemies. It was a terrible irony that administration officials were the ones who destroyed my cover."
And contrary to the story put out by the White House, Wilson said, it was not she who had suggested her husband go to Niger to investigate the claim that the Iraqis had tried to purchase uranium there.
After a colleague proposed his name, "I'll be honest, I was somewhat ambivalent; at the time, we had two-year-old twins at home." All she could think of, she said, was what bedtime would be like with Daddy in Africa.
White House Under Fire:
The White House on Friday backed off its earlier contention that then-White House Counsel Harriet Miers first raised the idea of firing U.S. attorneys -- an act that led to a firestorm of criticism of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.
"It has been described as her idea but ... I don't want to try to vouch for origination," said White House press secretary Tony Snow, who previously had asserted Miers was the person who came up with the idea. "At this juncture, people have hazy memories."
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Levin calls for inquiry on terrorist's(K.S.M.'s)torture claim(issues a joint statement w/ Graham)
WASHINGTON -- Accusations made by the chief planner of the September 11 terrorist attacks that he was tortured while in U.S. custody should be fully investigated, U.S. Sen. Carl Levin said today, six days after he and a Republican colleague witnessed the detainee making the statements during a dramatic hearing.
Levin, D-Mich., and Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-S.C., watched by video from a nearby room during the hearing on the status of Khaled Sheikh Muhammad, an al Qaida operative. Muhammad admitted during the hearing that he led planning and training for the 9-11 attacks and other terrorist acts against the United States.
The senators' presence at the hearing, held at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, was first reported on Friday by The Washington Post. Neither the lawmakers nor the military had disclosed their presence at the hearing, which was closed to the media and other observers.
In a joint statement, Levin and Graham said Muhammad presented a written statement alleging he was mistreated in U.S. custody before arriving at Guantanamo Bay, a statement the senators said was made part of the classified record of the hearing. "Allegations of prisoner mistreatment must be taken seriously and properly investigated. To do otherwise would reflect poorly on our nation," Levin and Graham said in their statement.
Limo company involved in Cunningham scandal sees appeal quietly nixed.
White House backs off on Miers scenario
"It has been described as her idea but ... I don't want to try to vouch for origination," said White House press secretary Tony Snow, who previously had asserted Miers was the person who came up with the idea. "At this juncture, people have hazy memories."
Snow's comments came as e-mails surfaced Thursday night pulling the White House further into the intensifying probe over the firings of eight federal prosecutors. The e-mails raised new questions about top political adviser Karl Rove's role in the dismissals, and came amid eroding GOP support for Gonzales that put his job at risk.
Snow said it was not immediately clear who first floated the more dramatic idea of firing all 93 U.S. attorneys shortly after President Bush was re-elected to a second term.
CBS: Strategist Says Gonzales Is "Finished" (Rohrbacher (R) says Gonzales should go)
(CBS/AP) Pressure mounted on the White House Thursday to fire Attorney General Alberto Gonzales for the abrupt dismissal of U.S. attorneys. More Republicans called for his ouster, and one Republican strategist close to the White House told CBS News that Gonzales is "finished."
Congressman Dana Rohrbacher became the latest Republican to say Gonzales should go, reports CBS News White House correspondent Jim Axelrod.
"Even for Republicans this is a warning sign … saying there needs to be a change," said Rohrbacher. "Maybe the president should have an attorney general who is less a personal friend and more professional in his approach."
Bush Hit-Woman Behind Prosecutor Firings Has Long History of Purges to Protect Bush
Harriet Miers fired investigator in 1997 to cover Bush draft-dodge
by Greg Palast
from the original reports for BBC Television and the Guardian (UK)
The Mister Big behind the scandal of George Bush's firing of US Attorneys is not a 'mister' at all. The House Judiciary Committee has released White House emails indicating that the political operative who ordered the hit on prosecutors too honest for their own good was Harriet Miers, one-time legal counsel to the President.
But this is not the first time that Miers has fired investigators to protect Mr. Bush.
In 1999, while investigating Governor George Bush of Texas for the Guardian papers of Britain, I obtained an extraordinary, and extraordinarily confidential, memo to the US Attorney's office in Austin. It disclosed that, in 1997, Governor Bush secretly suggested to the chairwoman of the Texas Lottery Commission that she grant a contract to the client of a Bush ally.
The Governor's back-door demand to the Lottery chairwoman was not so easy. Bush wanted the Lottery to grant a multi-billion dollar contract to GTech Corporation. But GTech hadn't even bid on the contract - and a winner was already announced.
There was only way for the Chairwoman to carry out the fix: fire the director of the Lottery who had discouraged GTech from bidding because of its history of corruption.
The Chairwoman, Harriet Miers, did the deed: fired the Lottery director; Miers then ignored the winning bid -- and gave Bush's favored company the contract, no bidding, in perpetuity.
Miers and the Draft
Neither Miers nor President Bush have ever denied the contents of the memo [I've posted it here]despite repeated requests from the Guardian and BBC Television.
Bush's attempt to appoint Hit-woman Harriet to the US Supreme Court in 2005 surprised many. Not me. Miers, personal and governmental lawyer for George Bush, had quite a file on her boss, and he must have been grateful for her discretion.
Most crucially, she knew why Bush so desperately needed to give GTech the lottery contract. The heart of the matter was the then-successful cover-up of the Bush family's using its influence to get young George Bush into the Texas Air National Guard and out of the Vietnam war draft.
The memo to the US Attorney reads:
"Governor Bush thru [name withheld] made a deal with Ben Barnes not to rebid because Barnes could confirm that Bush had lied during the '94 campaign [for governor of Texas]. Bush was asked if his father … had helped him get in the National Guard. Bush said no he had not, but the fact is his dad call then-Lt. Gov. [Ben] Barnes …."
Lt. Governor Barnes, through a cut-out, called the Texas Air Guard commander and got Bush into the 'top gun' seat and out of the war.
You may recall that in 2004, years after we reported this story in Britain, Barnes confessed to the draft-dodge fix on 60 Minutes. [That was the report that brought down Dan Rather; but the Barnes confession was never challenged.]
What 60 Minutes missed is the creepy Miers involvement. Barnes, after he left the post of Lt. Governor, became a lobbyist -- for GTech, the lottery company. By using his influence to get and keep the lottery contract for GTech, Barnes picked up quite a nice fee: over $23 million. With those millions in his pocket, Barnes kept a happy and lucrative silence about his saving little George Bush from the draft.
According to the memo from the US Attorney's office, Barnes met with Bush about GTech and the lottery. Then,
"The Governor talked to the chair of the lottery [Miers] two days later and she then agreed to support letting GTech keep the contract without a bid."
Note something else here: this information was sitting in the hands of the US Attorney. Yet, no action was taken in 1997 though we now know that, from Barnes' confession in 2004, the accusation about his putting in the fix for young George Bush is true.
An insider told BBC TV that the US Attorney's office and Justice Department, though under Democratic control, never acted because they discovered that Barnes, a Democrat, had not only manipulated the system to get George Bush into the Texas Air Guard, Barnes did the same for the sons of Democratic big wigs including Congressman (later Senator) Lloyd Bentsen and Governor John Connolly.
In other words, control over a US Attorney and what is called their "prosecutorial discretion" is worth its weight in gold to politicians. They can provide protection for cronies and exact punishment on enemies. And no one knows that better than "Justice" Harriet Miers and her boss, fighter pilot George W. Bush.
This report is adapted from Greg Palast's New York Times bestselling book, ARMED MADHOUSE: From Baghdad to New Orleans -- Sordid Secrets and Strange Tales of a White House Gone Wild.
New edition to be released April 24.For more information on Miers and clips of the BBC Television reports, go to www.GregPalast.com
Check out our YouTube Channel to see the reports.
AIPAC's three-day summit included fiery evangelical oratory, adoration for Dick Cheney -- and new plans for going after Iran.By Gregory Levey