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Saturday, June 02, 2007

U.S. helicopter forced to land in Iraq

Source: Associated Press
40 minutes ago

BAGHDAD - A U.S. helicopter was forced to make a precautionary
landing north of Baghdad on Saturday, but nobody was injured, a
military spokeswoman said.

The aircraft, which went down in the volatile Diyala province,
was being recovered, said Lt. Col. Josslyn Aberle, a military
spokeswoman in Baghdad. She added that the reason for the
precautionary landing was under investigation.

Aberle declined to give more specifics, citing security concerns
while the recovery operation was under way.

The incident came five days after two U.S. soldiers were killed
when the helicopter in which they were riding went down in Diyala,
which has been the scene of fierce fighting between militants and
U.S. forces in recent months. The military did not say whether
that helicopter was shot down or suffered mechanical difficulties.

Judge Halts Award Of Iraq Contract

Source: Washington Post
A federal judge yesterday ordered the military to temporarily refrain from awarding the largest security contract in Iraq. The order followed an unusual series of events set off when a U.S. Army veteran filed a protest against the government practice of hiring what he calls mercenaries, according to sources familiar with the matter.

The contract, worth about $475 million, calls for a private company to provide intelligence services to the U.S. Army and security for the Army Corps of Engineers on reconstruction work in Iraq. The case, which is being heard by the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, puts on trial one of the most controversial and least understood aspects of the Iraq war: the outsourcing of military security to an estimated 20,000 armed contractors who operate with little oversight.

Brian X. Scott, a 53-year-old Colorado man, filed the complaint in early April. He argues that the military's use of private security contractors is "against America's core values" and violates an 1893 law that prohibits the government from hiring quasi-military forces.

Scott's challenge set off a domino effect, prompting the Government Accountability Office to dismiss protests brought by two major private security contractors the Army had removed as potential bidders -- Erinys Iraq, a British firm, and Blackwater USA of North Carolina.

Explosions as US warplanes circle Baghdad-residents

Source: Reuters
BAGHDAD, June 2 (Reuters) - U.S. jets and helicopters circled over Baghdad amid the sound of explosions and heavy machinegun fire on Saturday evening, residents said.

A Reuters journalist saw at least one air-to-ground missile streak through the air before hitting the ground with a bang and a large flash.

The military activity appeared to be centred around the Shi'ite stronghold of Sadr City in northeastern Baghdad, the residents said.

Iraqiya state television said U.S. warplanes were bombarding Habibibya, an area in Sadr City.

Iraq Vet Could Lose Honorable Discharge Over Antiwar Protest

Published June 1, 2007
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- An Iraq war veteran could lose his honorable discharge status after being photographed wearing fatigues at an anti-war protest. Marine Cpl. Adam Kokesh and other veterans marked the fourth anniversary of the war in Iraq in March by wearing their uniforms -- with military insignia removed -- and roaming around Washington on a mock patrol. After Cpl. Kokesh was identified in a photo caption in a newspaper, a superior officer sent him a letter saying he might have violated a rule prohibiting troops from wearing uniforms without authorization. Cpl. Kokesh, a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War, responded with an obscenity. Now, a military panel has been scheduled to meet with Cpl. Kokesh on Monday to decide whether his discharge status should be changed from "honorable" to "other than honorable." "This is clearly a case of selective prosecution and intimidation of veterans who speak out against the war," Cpl. Kokesh said. "To suggest that while as a veteran, you don't have freedom of speech is absurd." >>>cont

General Says Bosses Knew of ’05 Killings in Iraqi Town

Published: June 2, 2007
CAMP PENDLETON, Calif., June 1 — The general who was in charge of the Marine division in Iraq when infantrymen in the division killed 24 civilians in Haditha in late 2005, said Friday that all his superiors, including Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the top commander in Iraq, knew of the event within hours.
The commander of the Second Marine Division, Maj. Gen. Richard A. Huck, also said in sworn testimony on Friday that he knew the civilians had been killed in their homes, but that he did not investigate because subordinates in the field, upon whom he relied to suggest such an inquiry, did not do so.
Testifying for the second time in three weeks in a military hearing here about the killings in Haditha, which included several women and children, General Huck repeated assertions from his previous testimony: that his superiors knew about the killings at the same time he learned of them.
But on Friday, under questioning from lawyers for a former battalion commander charged with failing to properly investigate and report the deaths, General Huck took pains to show that the generals above him were also well aware of the episode but, like him, did nothing to immediately look into it. >>>cont

Bush to mother: Don't sell on eBay

Originally posted: May 31, 2007
Several mothers who have lost children at war in Iraq took part in a new talk show today on National Public Radio.
One of them, Elaine Johnson, recounted a meeting that she had with President Bush in which he gave her a presidential coin and told her and five other families: "Don’t go sell it on eBay.”
An excerpt from the interview on NPR's Tell Me More can be heard here.
The president told her that the war goes on because the U.S. has "a mission'' to complete. But Johnson says she has discovered her own mission now: Fighting to bring the troops home.
Host Michael Martin asked Johnson: "What about you? Why did you decide to start speaking out? ''
"My son was killed November 2, 2003,'' Johnson said. "After they had my son’s memorial in Colorado Springs -- that’s Fort Carson -- I was interviewed by the Gazette Newspaper, and that started it all.
"They said they had a mother or a person to ever lashed out at the president, criticize the president of being insensitive,'' she said. "So a couple of days after that they called me and said that President Bush would like to meet me. And I said well okay, only at his cost because I was not spending my money to meet him.''
"So he flew about a hundred families back to Fort Carson,'' she recalled.
"And in the room that I was in it was only me and four more other families. And I asked him questions you know, on um why we were over there? He couldn’t answer that. I said, well what are we fighting for? He said to finish a mission.
"I said, why was my son and the rest of the soldiers on the Chinook helicopter, which was supposed to be only to transport cargos not humans? He said, well he didn’t know. He referred me to General Wilson, which was in the same room. General Wilson’s response was that they, you know, they was transporting them on that same helicopter and never was shot down.
"They flew over Fallujah; Fallujah was always the hot spot. Common sense would've tell them, if you fly them over Fallujah, you should have escorts that has the equipment to detect these weapons that would attack the plane.
"But you know, they so brilliant, they up there in D.C., now, that a mother with a high school diploma can sit down and day, okay, now I won’t send them over a hot spot without protection.
"President Bush, he just didn’t see that, and he told me I was kind of, seemed like I was kind of hostile. I said, ‘yes I am hostile, because you sent my son over there.’ So my thing is -- all the questions that I asked him, he didn’t know nothing then, and he definitely don’t know nothing now, because the United States is in worser shape now that it was in 2003 that my son died.''
Martin asked: "So when you left that meeting did you leave with determination to do something or did that happen over time?''
Johnson said: "When he told me -- I said what’s, what’s the mission? He couldn’t give me an answer. I says, well I’m going to tell you what: I’m on my mission now. My mission had just begun. And my mission is to fight to bring these troops home, to take care of these troops when they get home.
"Then he gave us a presidential coin,'' she said. "Now you check this out: He gave six of us a presidential coin, tell us not to tell the rest of the people that was there, and then after that he told us don’t go sell it on eBay. Now you tell me how insensitive that can be? What kind of caring person is that?''

Iraqi Bombers Thwart Efforts to Shield G.I.’s

Published: June 2, 2007
WASHINGTON, June 1 — American commanders are expressing frustration at the increasing death toll in Iraq caused by makeshift explosives, which have killed 80 percent of the Americans who died in combat over the last three months, despite the billions of dollars being spent to fight the threat.

The proportion of American deaths caused by explosives has sharply increased, even as the Pentagon has made a major effort to defend the troops with armored vehicles, to detect or disarm the weapons, and to attack the bomb-making cells and those who finance them.
The bombs are known as improvised explosive devices, or I.E.D.’s, and the Pentagon has formed a “Joint I.E.D. Defeat Organization” to combat the users. But in an interview on Friday, the director of that group said he recognized that the threat could not truly be defeated.
“It can be mitigated, minimized, made into a nuisance,” said the director, Gen. Montgomery C. Meigs, a retired Army officer who took over the project in December 2005. “This is a very tough problem.”
The total of American deaths in April and May was the highest of any two-month period since the war began, and the 80 percent ratio caused by makeshift explosives is higher than it has ever been, up from 50 percent in January.
The increase coincided with the more aggressive operations being mounted by American troops in Iraq as part of the stepped-up campaign that President Bush ordered in January. >>>cont


Friday, June 01, 2007

If The Shoe Fits...

Contributed by Tom
Thursday, 31 May 2007
Memo From: SPC Freeman, Milo;
US Army, IraqTo: Senate Democrats, Republicans, and "American Idol" viewers across the nation.
1. You. Punk. Ass. Pantywaisted. Bitches.
Iraqi police patrols found 44 bodies in execution-style in Baghdad and Diyala province, police sources of the two places said on Friday.
A suicide truck bomber in Uweidla village near Kirkuk, 250 km (155 miles) north of Baghdad, killed five people and wounded 25, police said.
Iraqi police found a mass grave northeast of Baghdad containing 15 bodies and remains believed to be of recently-buried people, police said Friday.

The Scar of Hariri's Murder Will Never Heal in Lebanon

By Robert Fisk
Not long ago, receiving Lebanese visitors in the White House - and this a 100 per cent accurate quotation from the horse's mouth, so to speak - Bush announced that he was "going to hang Bashar by the balls". The problem, of course, is that Mr Bush is in no position to do that.


Malcom Lagauche
An incredible bit of news came forth on May 31, yet few media outlets have mentioned it: U.S. commanders in Iraq have been given permission to engage in cease-fire talks with local groups. According to an Associated Press article (U.S. Commanders Talking About Cease-Fires, Other Agreements to Stop Iraqi Violence) written by Pauline Jekinek and published on May 31, 2007: U.S. military commanders are talking with Iraqi militants about cease-fires and other arrangements to stop the violence, the No. 2 American commander said Thursday … Cease-fires signed by the U.S. aren’t worth the paper they are written on. Iraqis in particluar have first-hand experience in the breaches of U.S. cease-fire agreements. There is a saying in the southeastern area of the U.S. that aptly fits this scenario: "When you’re up to your ass in alligators, don’t forget that your objective is to drain the swamp." Today, the U.S. is using a ploy of cease-fires to drain the Iraqi swamp. But, there are just too many alligators...

Republicans Recall Thompson The Senator: "He Didn't Like To Work Real Hard"

Reuters June 1, 2007 06:25 PM
"The consensus seemed to be that he didn't like to work real hard, but was good to have on your team," said a Senate Republican aide. "People said the same thing about (former President) Ronald Reagan," another one-time Hollywood star.
But Paul Light of New York University's Center for the Study of Congress, said: "The risk he faces is that people want him so much to be like Ronald Reagan that he can't possibly live up to the test. He needs...

Why I am Ashamed to be a U.S. Citizen

I never cease to be amazed at how terribly ethnocentric the typical American tends to be. It is almost as if having been born in the United States confers upon one the right to think of himself as a privileged person, a contrived sense of status that no doubt lies at the very heart of everything that I will discuss in this paper.

The Secret Carnage

78,000 Iraqis Have Been Killed by Coalition Airstrikes
78,000 who are they trying to kid?

Since April, 2003, Turse reports, the U.S. has dropped at least 59,787 pounds of cluster bombs in Iraq, a type of weapon Human Rights Watch(HRW) termed "the single greatest risk civilians face with regard to a current weapon that is in use."

Pro-Troops Group Wants Sheehan?s Land

Source: Associated Press
Pro-Troops Group Wants Sheehan?s Land
Associated Press June 01, 2007
FORT WORTH, Texas - Days after Cindy Sheehan announced she was stepping down as the face of the anti-war movement, a pro-troop organization said Friday it plans to buy her protest site outside President Bush's ranch.

But Sheehan doesn't want to sell to just anyone.

"It'll be a cold day in hell before she sells it to them," her sister, Dede Miller, told The Associated Press. "She'll sell it to them for $5 million."

Move America Forward wants to place a monument to the troops on the 5-acre site in Crawford, about 100 miles south of Fort Worth.

BREAKING EXCLUSIVE: Griffin Resigned After Conyers Requested 'Vote Caging' Evidence from BBC


Rove Pick for US Attorney Resigned After Conyers Requested 'Vote Caging' Evidence from BBCHouse Judiciary Chair Tells Palast in Interview: 'We're Not Through With Griffin by Any Means'Indicates Caging Operation Could Not Have Been Done Without Knowledge of Rove, According to Palast Team...

Bush: Iran Must "Immediately And Unconditionally" Release Detained Americans

AP June 1, 2007 02:04 PM
President Bush on Friday demanded that Iran "immediately and unconditionally" release four Iranian-Americans detained for alleged espionage and provide information about a formerFBI agent missing in the country.
"I strongly condemn their detention at the hands of Iranian authorities," the president said in a written statement, stepping up pressure on Tehran over the cases.

Top Bush Adviser Bartlett Resigns

AP TERENCE HUNT June 1, 2007 09:28 AM
Dan Bartlett, one of President Bush's most trusted advisers and his longest-serving aide, said Friday he is resigning to begin a career outside of government.
The move was announced on Bartlett's 36th birthday. He has been with Bush for nearly 14 years, from Bush's first campaign as governor of Texas, through two races for the White House and more than six years of a presidency marked by costly wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and an ongoing battle against terrorism.
Quick Read

White House recognizes lesbian love child

A picture's worth a thousand controversies -- especially if it's a photograph of Dick and Lynn Cheney with their new grandson, Samuel David Cheney. According to the Bay Area Reporter, this official White House photo was identical in treatment to those commemorating the birth of the Cheneys' other two grandchildren, but that hasn't immunized it against symbolitus. As the offspring of immaculate Mary, little Samuel is the very embodiment of a culture war. Gay press have noted with annoyance that the photo has excluded Mary and her partner, Heather Poe. Some have gone so far as to claim that in not posing with her baby and partner Mama Cheney is enabling anti-gay bigots by "refusing to acknowledge her partner and in fact even failing to acknowledge her own motherhood by appearing in a real family photo."
But, of course, those anti-gay bigots see none of this pandering to their cause. They are, in fact, conspicuously ungrateful for the Cheney clan's treatment of the issue. Instead they have latched onto the deeply offensive photo caption that calls Mary Cheney and Heather Poe the "parents." Stephen Bennett, "a pro-family advocate who left the homosexual lifestyle," put it this way: "What is extremely troubling is the official White House caption that appears underneath the photo on the official White House website."
Extreme troubling? Sheesh. It's too absurd to take seriously. Then again if one imagines the right winger's worst fantasies ... the rainbow flag flying proudly over the White House ... George Bush dumping Laura to court Miss Coco Peru ... Dick Cheney holding the love child of two lesbians ... well, it does have some power. Though it can't hold a fig leaf to repealing the defense of marriage act, or other anti-gay laws.
-- Carol Lloyd
The U.S. government now outsources a vast portion of its spying operations to private firms -- with zero public accountability.
By Tim Shorrock

May Toll for US Soldiers in Iraq Climbs to 122

The US military reported three more deaths in Iraq on Thursday, taking the death toll to 122 for May, already the worst month for US forces there in more than two years. May is also the third-worst month overall in the campaign for US soldiers, behind November 2004 when 137 soldiers died, and April 2004 when 135 were killed.
By Cameron ScottThe rationale? It's not fair to agribusinesses, which buy, sell, and butcher so many cows that they couldn't possibly conduct the expensive test on all of them.
From the MoJo Blog

By Dave GilsonUnder pressure from the state department, the firm designing the U.S.'s palatial embassy in Baghdad has pulled pictures of the project from its site. But we've still got 'em.
From the MoJo Blog

Politicians Feed Terrorism

"Were it not for the blindness of the political class - with the Bush administration first in line - Islamist terrorism would have quickly been given a pounding," according to internationally-reputed criminologist Xavier Raufer.

Are the Media out to Get John Edwards?

"Give me a break about John Edwards's pricey haircut, mansion, lecture fees, and the rest," writes Jeff Cohen. "The focus on these topics tells us two things about corporate media: One we've long known - that they elevate personal stuff above issues; the other is now becoming clear - that they have a special animosity towards Edwards."

Words in a Time of War

The Dirtied Face of Power
Taking the measure of the first rhetoric-major president.
[Note: This commencement address was given to graduates of the Department of Rhetoric at Zellerbach Hall, University of California, Berkeley, on May 10, 2007]

Mark Danner writes: "The image remains, will always remain, with us; for truly the weapon that day was not box cutters in the hands of 19 young men, nor airliners at their command. The weapon that day was the television set."
I give you my favorite quotation from the Bush administration, put forward by the proverbial "unnamed Administration official" and published in the New York Times Magazine by the fine journalist Ron Suskind in October 2004. Here, in Suskind's recounting, is what that "unnamed Administration official" told him:
"The aide said that guys like me were 'in what we call the reality-based community,' which he defined as people who 'believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.' I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. 'That's not the way the world really works anymore,' he continued. 'We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality - judiciously, as you will - we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors.... and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.'"
I must admit to you that I love that quotation; indeed, with your permission, I would like hereby to nominate it for inscription over the door of the Rhetoric Department, akin to Dante's welcome above the gates of Hell, "Abandon hope, all ye who enter here."

Iraq War Veteran's March Draws Hundreds of Supporters

An Iraq war veteran dressed in desert fatigues has been marching around the California State Capitol in Sacramento, 24 hours a day, since 8:00 AM on Memorial Day, to remember the US troops killed in Iraq and the futility of the war itself, spurring hundreds of supporters to walk with him and offer him support.
The veteran became opposed to the war when he was stationed as a medic in Iraq in March 2003, after having been in Kuwait and Afghanistan.
One incident stands out most clearly in his mind. He and two other soldiers were dispatched to retrieve the body of a fallen soldier. When they arrived, however, the Iraqis had already buried the soldier's body to prevent the dogs from feeding on it.
"We didn't bring any shovels with us, and we tried to dig up the body with our hands - and we found one of his finger bones," he said. "Our first class petty officer then ordered us to abandon the body."
"This was a really significant moment in my military career," he noted. "We had a chance to get the body back to the states and yet we were told to abandon our fellow soldier's body."

Going on a mock patrol can get you in real trouble with the United States Marine Corps. In a case that raises questions about free speech, the Marines have launched investigations of three inactive reservists for wearing their uniforms during anti-war protests and allegedly making statements characterized as "disrespectful" or "disloyal."

Lebanese Military Moves Against Fatah Militants

AP BASSEM MROUE June 1, 2007 01:35 PM
Under the cover of artillery, the Lebanese army on Friday moved against Islamic militants barricaded inside a Palestinian refugee camp, claiming tanks and armored carriers had "tightened the ring" around the group and urging surrender.
Artillery barrages began in the morning, targeting the Nahr el-Bared camp whereFatah Islam militants have holed up for 13 days among narrow, winding streets and apartment buildings. The army later called on the militants to surrender and urged Palestinians not to provide them a safe...

Reverend Haggard's Alleged Lover Writes Tell-All Book

Colorado Confidential Cara DeGette June 1, 2007 10:26 AM
"Mike Jones tells his story with such simplicity, unguarded openness and vulnerability that you feel like you know him and would like to know him better," says actress Judith Light, in an advance promo testimonial.
OK so far. Let's open up the book. Whoa! Talk about cutting right to the chase! We're immediately introduced to the guy who calls himself "Art from Kansas City."
Quick Read

RNC Fires All 65 Phone Solicitors As Grass Roots Donors Revolt

The Washington Times May 31, 2007 09:32 PM
The Republican National Committee, hit by a grass-roots donors' rebellion over President Bush's immigration policy, has fired all 65 of its telephone solicitors, Ralph Z. Hallow will report Friday in The Washington Times.
Faced with an estimated 40 percent fall-off in small-donor contributions and aging phone-bank equipment that the RNC said would cost too much to update, Anne Hathaway, the committee's chief of staff, summoned the solicitations staff last week and told them they were out of work, effective...
Quick Read

Thomas B. Edsall: Conservative Catholics Rally To Sink Rudy

The Huffington Post Thomas B Edsall May 31, 2007 10:24 PM
The early success of Rudy Giuliani's presidential bid has provoked a groundswell of opposition from disparate forces including conservative Catholics, remnants of Pat Buchanan's presidential campaigns and regional political operatives seeking to break into the Republican firmament.
The opposition is united in its determination to block Giuliani, a supporter of abortion rights and gay rights, from becoming the GOP's standard bearer. But lurking just beneath the surface is another motive for these anti-Giuliani conservatives: cash. The groups hope to benefit...
Quick Read

White House Fights To Keep Visitor Logs Secret

AP PETE YOST June 1, 2007 01:15 PM
A newly disclosed effort to keep Vice President Dick Cheney's visitor records secret is the latest White House push to make sure the public doesn't learn who has been meeting with top officials in the Bush administration.
Over the past year, lawyers for President Bush and Cheney have directed the Secret Service to maintain the confidentiality of visitor entry and exit logs, declaring them to be presidential records, exempt from a law requiring their disclosure to whoever asks to see them.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Terrorism Defined :

Probably no word better defines or underscores the Bush presidency than "terrorism" even though his administration wasn't the first to exploit this highly charged term. We use to explain what "they do to us" to justify what we "do to them,"

Scott Horton Interviews Warren Richey About the Jose Padilla "Trial" : MP3 Audio:

The Christian Science Monitor's Warren Richey covers the trial of Jose Padilla and his fellow accused.

Report: Shin Bet, police severly tortured Palestinian suspects:

In a harsh report released yesterday, the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel accuses the Shin Bet security service and police of severely torturing Palestinian security suspects.?

Iran says dead rebels had U.S.-made arms:

Rebels killed in clashes with Iranian forces this week had recently infiltrated border areas of the Islamic Republic carrying U.S.-made arms, an Iranian commander was quoted as saying on Thursday.

Words from the front-lines:

"I'd like to punch him [Rumsfeld] in the gut. He treats us like we're not human. He acts like he's not destroying families." - NCO, 4-24 Infantry Battalion, 172nd Stryker Brigade, Baghdad, Iraq.

The Appropriate Disillusionment of Andrew Bacevich and Cindy Sheehan

"It's the Way Our System Works"
By Gary Leupp

If there is a positive aspect to this despair, it is this very realization: the system is the problem. It has not so much "failed" us as we have failed to understand what Sheehan and Bacevich are concluding: it isn't designed to work for us but for them.


Judith Matloff reports on foreign correspondents and sexual abuse: "Women have risen to the top of war and foreign reportage. They run bureaus in dodgy places and do jobs that are just as dangerous as those that men do. But there is one area where they differ from the boys - sexual harassment and rape.... Yet the compulsion to be part of the macho club is so fierce that women often don’t tell their bosses."

Judge Will Release Letters in Libby Case

A federal judge said Thursday he will release more than 150 letters he received regarding next week's sentencing of former White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby. The letters are expected to show that, despite his conviction in March of perjury and obstruction in the CIA leak case, the former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney retains support from current and former government officials.

How the Super Rich Avoided Taxes; Despite Making Millions

Source: ABC News
Four current and former partners at Ernst & Young, one of the world's largest accounting firms, were indicted Wednesday for allegedly orchestrating a scheme to create illegal tax shelters for the firm's richest clients.

The scam catered to clients who earned more than $10 million to $20 million a year, finding them ways to reduce their taxes, according to an indictment handed up in the federal court for New York's Southern District.

Ernst & Young took in more than $115.7 million in fees for setting up these shelters, charging clients between 1.25 percent and 2 percent for every dollar of tax deductions created, according to the indictment. The firm assisted more than 400 wealthy clients in reducing their taxes through such shelters.

According to ABC News' calculations, that could mean that Ernst & Young helped its clients create more than $7.56 billion in tax deductions.

One of these complicated tax shelters involved converting clients' ordinary income into capital gains.

Tonight's the Night: Iraq's Leader Had Told Reporters U.S. Could Start Pullout By June 1

Source: Editor & Publisher
Last November 30, as the Iraq Study Group was about to release its report -- and talk of a U.S. escalation still a few weeks off -- the press gave a lot of weight to the words of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki when he vowed that his country's forces would be able to assume security command by June 2007, which could allow the United States to start withdrawing its troops.

"I cannot answer on behalf of the U.S. administration but I can tell you that from our side our forces will be ready by June 2007," Maliki told ABC television after meeting President Bush in Amman, Jordan.

Maliki had replied to a question about whether U.S. troops could start withdrawing at that time.

As his promised deadline approached this month, the handover was as far from reality as ever and the U.S. suffered its highest rate of casualties in years.

GALLUP: What Americans Would Like to Tell Bush About Iraq

Uncle Joe
How many suggested he seek counseling? n/t
Source: Editor & Publisher
A unique survey question posed by the Gallup organization reveals just how far the president and Congress -- and most newspaper editorial pages -- appear to stand from the wishes of the American public on getting out of Iraq.

Gallup, in a report today, said it posed the question: If you had 15 minutes with President Bush in the Oval Office what would you tell him to do about Iraq?

The majority (56%) said they would urgently urge him to focus on getting out of Iraq, with the highest number (nearly 4 in 10) agreeing with the wish to simply "pull the troops out/end it" and others backing other exit ideas.

Another 6% would tell him to admit his mistakes in Iraq and apologize. About 7% would advise the president to work with study groups or the United Nations to figure out a solution. Only one in four would tell the president to stay the course or be more aggressive in Iraq.

CBS: Iraqi PM doesn't trust his military, says coup possible

Source: Raw Story
Iraqi PM al-Maliki told Lara Logan of CBS Evening News in an exclusive interview on Wednesday that he has a real fear of a coup by the Iraqi army.

Al-Maliki said that some of the officer corps have been creating problems and even violating the security of military operations. He stated, "I'm not afraid, but I have to watch the army, because those still loyal to the previous regime may start planning coups. Those people don't believe in democracy, and for that reason we are monitoring the status of the army very closely."

Al-Maliki also insisted that his government is not ordered around by the Americans, saying, "The Americans don't order us to do this or not to do that. On the contrary, we're the ones who tell them to do this and don't do that."

As relations with Russia worsen, Bush asks Putin to family retreat

Source: Washington Post
As relations with Russia worsen, Bush asks Putin to family retreat
Peter Baker, Peter Finn, Washington Post
Thursday, May 31, 2007

04:00 PDT Washington -- President Bush opened a high-stakes campaign to repair the dramatically deteriorating U.S. relationship with Russia on Wednesday by inviting President Vladimir Putin to visit the Bush family compound in Kennebunkport, after weeks of rhetoric reminiscent of the Cold War.

The White House has grown increasingly alarmed at the harsh tone coming out of Moscow and its hardening positions on issues that include Iran's nuclear program, Kosovo statehood and missile defense. Bush administration officials said privately that the situation has reached a crisis stage and needs to be reversed before it gets worse.

Although the president's aides do not expect to resolve the stickiest issues dividing the two countries during the July 1-2 visit to the family retreat on the rocky Maine coast, they hope the relaxed setting will restore a constructive footing to U.S.-Russian relations. During more than six years in office, Bush has never asked a foreign leader to join him at his parents' seaside home until now, and aides hope Putin will be impressed with the show of intimacy.

Dead Guantanamo Prisoner Had US Military Training

Reuters Jane Sutton May 31, 2007 08:27 PM
The Guantanamo prisoner who died in his cell this week was a Saudi army veteran who trained with U.S. soldiers before going to fight for the Taliban in Afghanistan, military records show.
The man, described by the U.S. military on Thursday as a mid-level al Qaeda operative, apparently committed suicide on Wednesday at the prison camp for foreign terrorism suspects at the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Border Patrol Agent Ignored Warning On Tuberculosis Patient

AP MATT APUZZO May 31, 2007 07:49 PM
A globe-trotting Atlanta lawyer with a dangerous strain of tuberculosis was allowed back into the U.S. by a border inspector who disregarded a computer warning to stop him and don protective gear, officials said Thursday. The inspector has been removed from border duty.
The unidentified inspector explained that he was no doctor but that the infected man seemed perfectly healthy and that he thought the warning was merely "discretionary," officials briefed on the case told The Associated Press. They spoke on...

Libby Looking To Escape Jail Time In CIA Leak Case

AP MATT APUZZO May 31, 2007 08:05 PM
Former White House and State Department officials and military commanders are supporting former vice presidential aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby as he asks a federal judge to spare him prison time in the CIA leak case.
Prosecutors want Libby to serve up to three years in prison for lying about his conversations with reporters regarding CIA operative Valerie Plame, whose 2003 outing touched off a leak investigation.
Quick Read

Security Breach: Detailed Plans Of US Baghdad Embassy Appear Online

MATTHEW LEE May 31, 2007 06:26 PM
Detailed plans for the new U.S. Embassy under construction in Baghdad appeared online Thursday in a breach of the tight security surrounding the sensitive project.
Computer-generated projections of the soon-to-be completed, heavily fortified compound were posted on the Web site of the Kansas City, Mo.-based architectural firm that was contracted to design the massive facility in the Iraqi capital.

Bush thumping his chest: “I am the President!”

By: John Amato @ 12:35 PM - PDT
But by all reports, President Bush is more convinced than ever of his righteousness.
Friends of his from Texas were shocked recently to find him nearly wild-eyed, thumping himself on the chest three times while he repeated “I am the president!” He also made it clear he was setting Iraq up so his successor could not get out of “our country’s destiny.”
He's losing it ladies and gentlmen and the South Korean/50 year plan makes it clear that we're not leaving Iraq for decades.
We all know he makes his friends call him Mr. President and can we forget his most famous "I'm the Decider" rant about Don Rumsfeld?

Bush: …I have strong confidence in Don Rumsfeld. I hear the voices and I read the front page and I know the speculation but I’m the decider and I decide what is best and what’s best is for Don Rumsfeld to remain as the Secretary of defense.
(Read the rest of this story…)

Repudiation, Not Impeachment

Scott Ritter writes: "Any effort to impeach Bush and any of his administration found to be engaged in activities classifiable as 'high crimes and misdemeanors' would fail to rein in the unitary executive core of any successor. The Founding Fathers deliberately designed the executive branch to be strong and independent, but also made sure, through an elaborate system of checks and balances, that it operated merely as one of three separate but equal branches of government."

Injustice 5, Justice 4

The editors of The New York Times write: "The Supreme Court struck a blow for discrimination this week by stripping a key civil rights law of much of its potency. The majority opinion, by Justice Samuel Alito, forced an unreasonable reading on the law, and tossed aside long-standing precedents to rule in favor of an Alabama employer that had underpaid a female employee for years. The ruling is the latest indication that a court which once proudly stood up for the disadvantaged is increasingly protective of the powerful."

The damage the president has done to our country's reputation can be rebuilt -- by those who uphold our Founding Fathers' ideals.
By Sidney Blumenthal

Last throes? Ft. Lewis Stops Individual Memorial Services

By: Nicole Belle @ 11:02 AM - PDT
This might be the single saddest commentary on just how we honor the sacrifice of our troops.
AttyTood: (h/t miss kitty)

It was exactly two years ago today that Dick Cheney told us that the insurgency in Iraq is in its last throes.
I heard that earlier today, and it came to me again as I read this story:
Fort Lewis, which this month has suffered its worst losses of the war, will no longer conduct individual memorial ceremonies for soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Instead, the post will hold one ceremony for all soldiers killed each month, the Fort Lewis acting commanding general, Brig. Gen. William Troy, wrote in a memo to commanders and staff last week.
"As much as we would like to think otherwise, I am afraid that with the number of soldiers we now have in harm's way, our losses will preclude us from continuing to do individual memorial ceremonies," Troy wrote in the memo, according to a copy obtained by United for Peace Pierce County and posted on the group's Web site. A post spokesman confirmed the policy change Tuesday. It will start in June.

He's the Decider, did'nt you know

World Bank, May 30 IPS Global Economy Director Sarah Anderson explores Robert Zoellick's hardball tactics, which ought to have made President Bush pick someone else to most likely become the next World Bank president in this Foreign Policy In Focus commentary. Also in Common Dreams, AlterNet and TomPaine.com.
May 19 "...Reason #6: He made the difficult concept of corruption real to ordinary people." - IPS Director John Cavanagh serves up the Top 10 Reasons Why Paul Wolfowitz Was a Great World Bank President in AlterNet.

Sarah Anderson asks: "Is a tone-deaf, name-calling, steely opportunist a good choice to lead the World Bank? The Bank's official mission, after all, is to fight global poverty, not promote US corporate interests. And after the Wolfowitz uproar, one might have expected the Bush administration to pick a more genteel and broad-minded successor to lead this global institution."

Human Trafficking

May 21 On forced labor, "There's nowhere in the U.S. that it doesn't happen" says Break The Chain Campaign's Managing Attorney Melanie Orhant in this ABC News segment.

A Soldier in Iraq Asks in Despair: Why Are We Here?

After seeing his roommate fatally wounded in a roadside bombing, an Army private wonders why the lives of good men are being lost when the Iraqis pose no threat to us and don't want us there.

Wow now that's my neighbourhood, that is some kind of damage, will you look at that car

Ideas Cannot be Killed

By Fidel Castro
I am not the first person whose death George Bush has anticipated, nor will I be the last.

Iraqi and U.S. forces press search in and around Sadr City for 5 abducted British citizens

Dozens of U.S. Humvees and Bradley fighting vehicles took up positions around Sadr City at nightfall Wednesday, as American forces pressed the search for five Britons kidnapped in a mock police raid that Iraqi officials said was carried out by the Mahdi Army Shiite militia. A top Interior Ministry official, who refused to be named because he was not authorized to speak to the media, said suspicion immediately fell on the Mahdi Army because it was in control of the area around the data processing center and would have blocked such a massive operation by another group...

Israel's house of horrors

Ali Abunimah writing from Chicago, USA, Live from Palestine
Reading an account of an Israeli cabinet meeting in Ha'aretz is like a trip through a House of Horrors. Here are some choice excerpts: "Ministers Meir Sheetrit and Rafi Eitan proposed Wednesday that Israel produce its own version of the Qassam rocket to be fired at targets inside the Gaza Strip in response to Palestinian rocket fire on its southern communities." "Minister of Industry, Trade and Labor Eli Yishai of Shas proposed that Israel use air strikes to destroy Palestinian towns and villages in response to the rocket fire, after giving local residents advance notice allowing them to evacuate their homes."...
continua / continued

Iraq: Two reporters killed as search for abducted Britons continues

Al Bawaba
Gunmen shot and killed two Iraqi journalists, including one who was killed in his home near Fallujah along with seven family members, police and medical officials reported Wednesday. Abdul-Rahman al-Essawi died Monday when gunmen broke into his home about 10 miles west of Fallujah, the AP reported. Al-Essawi was shot dead along with his wife, son, parents and three other relatives, said Dr. Anas al-Rawi of Fallujah General Hospital. In Amarah, 200 miles southeast of Baghdad, gunmen killed Nazar Abdul-Wahid as he stood on a city street Wednesday, according to a police official in the city. Abdul-Wahid worked as a reporter for several Iraqi newspapers and the Voices of Iraq Internet news agency...

The End of Liberty

Craig Murray, Atlantic Free Press
I am in general opposed to violence, except as a last resort. And I know that the police are not all fascists. Many policemen don't like the drive against civil liberties any more than I do. But, even granted that they are only doing their job, I can promise you this. The first policeman who stops me as I am peacefully going about my lawful business, and demands to know who I am and where I am going, will get punched on the nose. As the government whittles away our basic freedoms, there comes a point where you either resist, physically, or we all lose our liberty. I think Reid and Blair's new proposal for a police power to "Stop and question" takes us to that point. Of course, having skin of a regulation Scottish blue colour, I am not likely to be stopped. Jean Charles De Menezes was killed for having a slightly olive complexion and dark hair, and it is people of his hue and darker who will in fact be stopped and questioned...

PHOTOS: The $592 Million U.S. Embassy In Iraq

Think Progress

Construction of the U.S. embassy in Iraq, set to open in September, is projected to cost $592 million, with a staff of 1,000 people and operating costs totaling $1.2 billion a year. It will be a 104-acre complex, which is the size of approximately 80 football fields. The architectural firm designing the embassy, Berger Define Yaeger, has posted the designs for the colossus on its website....

Helicopter shot down in Afghanistan; 7 soldiers killed

The Associated Press
Five Americans and two other soldiers died when a Chinook helicopter was apparently shot down Wednesday evening in Afghanistan's most volatile province, a U.S. military official said. NATO's International Security Assistance Force said other troops rushing to the scene in Helmand province were ambushed and had to call in air support to drive off their attackers. The Taliban claimed responsibility. Initial reports suggested the helicopter was hit with a rocket-propelled grenade, said one U.S. official. NATO said there were no survivors...
The U.S. helicopter that crashed and killed two soldiers in Diyala province Monday was shot down by enemy fire, a senior U.S. military official said Wednesday. Brig. Gen. Perry Wiggins, deputy director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, described the crash as part of a ``complex'' attack by enemy forces who first shot down the helicopter, then used roadside bombs to kill troops rushing to the site...

My Shrine...

Layla Anwar, An Arab Woman Blues - Reflections in a sealed bottle...
...As a matter of fact, I remember all my departed ones, members of my family, my great grand parents, my ancestors...Everyone I have ever heard of, even those remotely related to me. Remembering them gives me a sense of continuity...A sense of belonging. And now that Iraq is in pieces, their rememberance is even more of a priority for me (...) Another thing that reminds me a lot of my departed ones is Sheikh al Gaylani(Gilani) mosque and shrine in downtown Baghdad. Sheikh AbdelKader Al Gilani was a sufi and a good number of my family followed his teachings. Some even say that we are related to him and can trace our roots right back to 13th century Baghdad through the Gaylani school. So when I heard that Al Gaylani mosque and shrine was bombed, something in me snapped.I felt it physically, something around my heart... What have you done? Not only have you smashed my country into tiny pieces. Not only have you slaughtered my people. Not only have you snatched my loved ones, my family, my friends, away from me. Not only have you destroyed our homes. Not only have you exiled thousands of us. But you have also managed to shatter my memories, pull them out from their roots, like some unwanted weed... continua / continued

Marine on Haditha: 'They got the message'

Sick Murderous Bastards, Georgies little thugs and murderers, who are the criminals, in this illegal war and occupation?
Robert Dreyfuss
So it seems some Marines think that some good can come out of massacring civilians. Testifying about the 2005 slaughter in Haditha, when U.S. troops killed dozens of unarmed people, including children, a Marine officer said yesterday in the trial of those accused that Haditha residents behaved better afterwards. Reports the NY Times: One of the officers, First Lt. Alexander Martin, suggested that one of the consequences of the Marine unit’s killing of civilians — which followed a roadside bomb blast that killed one marine and wounded two others — was that Haditha residents became noticeably more helpful, if not quite friendly, to the Americans. "After 19 November," Lieutenant Martin said in videotaped testimony, referring to the day the civilians were killed in 2005, "I had people coming up to me to tell me where the I.E.D.’s were." Other Marines suggested that it was a helpful warning to the people of Haditha...
continua / continued

Another neocon at The World Bank

Michael J.W. Stickings
President Bush has tapped Robert Zoellick, Goldman Sachs executive and former deputy secretary of state, to head The World Bank. And because Bush says so, it's a go (...) Zoellick may be presenting himself as an internationalist, and he may be receiving a warm welcome because he's not Wolfowitz, but, like Wolfowitz, he's a committed neoconservative. He was, for example, one of the signatories to a now-infamous 1998 letter from the Project for the New American Century to President Clinton calling for "the removal of Saddam Hussein’s regime from power". The other signatories amounted to a who's-who of the neocon movement and Bush foreign policy team, including Bill Kristol, Donald Rumsfeld, John Bolton, Richard Perle, and, yes, Paul Wolfowitz...

Gore: Special interests have gotten 'out of control'

David Edwards and Muriel KanePublished: Thursday May 31, 2007
In an interview on CBS's Early Show on Thursday, former Vice-President Al Gore was asked about pressure from coal interests to have the US government not only pay for the building of coal liquification plants but order 25 years worth of fuel in advance. "That would be a horrible mistake," Gore responded, insisting that we need to shift away from fossil fuels and towards renewables.
"In a democracy, we have always had power exerted by special interests -- but it's out of control now," Gore said. "The special interests almost every time now outweigh the public interests, and that's dangerous for our democracy."
Asked further, "Don't you have a greater obligation to make your views more public," Gore laughed at length and replied, "Well, I haven't been a shrinking violet. I haven't been shying away from making my views known. ... I don't hold back, and don't intend to."
The following video is from CBS's Early Show.

Army Talking With Iraqi Militants About Cease-Fire

AP PAULINE JELINEK May 31, 2007 12:21 PM
U.S. military commanders are talking with Iraqi militants about cease-fires and other arrangements to try to stop the violence, the No. 2 American commander said Thursday.
And he suggested he might not be able to strictly meet the September deadline for telling Congress whether President Bush's military build up in Iraq is working.
Quick Read

Economy Stalls:Worst Growth Since 2002

AP JEANNINE AVERSA May 31, 2007 08:42 AM
The economy nearly stalled in the first quarter with growth slowing to a pace of just 0.6 percent. That was the worst three-month showing in over four years.
The new reading on the gross domestic product, released by theCommerce Department Thursday, showed that economic growth in the January-to-April quarter was much weaker. Government statisticians slashed by more than half their first estimate of a 1.3 percent growth rate for the quarter.
The main culprits for the downgrade: the bloated trade deficit...
Quick Read

Top General defends US fatalities 'underestimation'

Michael RostonPublished: Thursday May 31, 2007
VoteVets chairman criticizes Pentagon's explanation
After the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff appeared to significantly underestimate the number of US armed service members killed in the Iraq War on Memorial Day, a spokesman for his office defended his remarks in an interview with RAW STORY. General Peter Pace meant in his Memorial Day media appearance to distinguish between US troops killed in action and the hundreds who who have died from 'non-hostile' causes in the Iraqi theater of combat.
"You only have a few minutes when you're doing short interviews on morning shows, and General Pace was trying to be very precise," Lieutenant Colonel Gary Tallman from the Public Affairs Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said Wednesday. "He was referring to American service members killed in action as of May 25, which at that date was 2815, and there additionally have been 619 non-hostile deaths, and that puts you over 3,400."
Pace had appeared to say that fewer than 3,000 US soldiers died since the US invaded Iraq in 2003.
"When you take a look at the life of a nation and all that's required to keep us free, we had more than 3,000 Americans murdered on 11 September, 2001. The number who have died, sacrificed themselves since that time is approaching that number," he said in the CBS News performance on Monday morning, which RAW STORY reported later in the day.
The remark was criticized by one Iraqi veterans group.
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