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Friday, April 25, 2008

"For the first time, the CIA has acknowledged that extensive records exist relating to its use of enforced disappearances and secret prisons,"

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Israelis Claim Secret Agreement With U.S.

By Glenn KesslerWashington Post Staff WriterThursday, April 24, 2008; A14
A letter that President Bush personally delivered to then-Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon four years ago has emerged as a significant obstacle to the president's efforts to forge a peace deal between the Israelis and Palestinians during his last year in office.
Ehud Olmert, the current Israeli prime minister, said this week that Bush's letter gave the Jewish state permission to expand the West Bank settlements that it hopes to retain in a final peace deal, even though Bush's peace plan officially calls for a freeze of Israeli settlements across Palestinian territories on the West Bank. In an interview this week, Sharon's chief of staff, Dov Weissglas, said Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice reaffirmed this understanding in a secret agreement reached between Israel and the United States in the spring of 2005, just before Israel withdrew from Gaza.
U.S. officials say no such agreement exists, and in recent months Rice has publicly criticized even settlement expansion on the outskirts of Jerusalem, which Israel does not officially count as settlements. But as peace negotiations have stepped up in recent months, so has the pace of settlement construction, infuriating Palestinian officials, and Washington has taken no punitive action against Israel for its settlement efforts.
Israeli officials say they have clear guidance from Bush administration officials to continue building settlements, as long as it meets carefully negotiated criteria, even though those understandings appear to contradict U.S. policy.
Many experts say new settlement construction undermines the political standing of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas -- who is to meet with Bush today at the White House -- and adds to Palestinian cynicism about the peace process. Palestinians view the settlements as an Israeli effort to claim Palestinian lands, and in a meeting yesterday with Rice, Abbas said settlement construction was "one of the greatest obstacles" to a peace deal.
U.S. and Israeli officials privately argue that Israel has greatly restricted settlement growth outside the settlements it hopes to retain in a peace deal with the Palestinians, and Olmert has said Israel has stopped building new settlements and confiscating Palestinian lands.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Obama Endorsed By Nixon's Daughter

Another White Guy Election

Hillary Clinton's release Monday of her first Osama bin Laden ad sets the stage for a general contest that Republicans could only dream about: an election fought over issues of patriotism, 1960s radicalism, liberal elites, gun control, terrorist threats, intimidation by a black preacher, and a 3AM phone call signaling enemy attack.
With the bin Laden spot, Clinton has set the stage for an election in which a crucial voting block will once again be white men, and the issues will be those that tend to push these voters to the right, towards the Republican Party, regardless of which Democrat is the nominee.
Clinton has intensified her challenge to Obama with the bin Laden commercial in Pennsylvania, directly questioning his fortitude and strength in the face of foreign aggression.
As still photos of World War II, Franklin Roosevelt, Nikita Khrushchev, Fidel Castro, gas lines of the 1970s, and, most importantly, bin Laden flash across the TV screen, the announcer declares: "It's the toughest job in the world.
"You need to be ready for anything - especially now, with two wars, oil prices skyrocketing and an economy in crisis.
"Harry Truman said it best - if you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.
"Who do you think has what it takes?
"I'm Hillary Clinton and I approve this message."

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Thieves in uniform

Gideon Levy
At about midnight, the house was surrounded by soldiers. Mohammed Abu Arkub, a barber, woke up frightened at the sound of loud knocking on the door and the shouts demanding it be opened. Abu Arkub rushed to open the door and the soldiers pulled him outside and ordered him to take all the members of the household outside immediately. His wife Lubna and his two young daughters were sleeping, along with Lubna's two younger sisters, who live with them. He woke them up and ordered them to go outside. His brother, Rami, who lives alone in the adjacent hut, was also called to go outside. The night of March 19, the village of Wadi al-Shajneh in the South Hebron Hills, south of the town of Dura. The family stood outside for about 10 minutes, half asleep in the cold night air, and then the soldiers ordered them to all go inside Rami's hut...
continua / continued

Pope Benedict, the man of "peace"

So sick, and disgusting
Eli Stephens, Left I on the News
Everyone knows Pope Benedict opposed the invasion of Iraq, although actually backing up his opinion with actions was beyond the limits of that opposition, evidently (...) Not that the Pope is really opposed to violence; he just wants it approved by the U.N. Security Council, where countries are free to sell their souls to the devil United States (or perhaps even NATO, where the U.S. carries almost total sway, would suffice for "his holiness")...

Top Bush aides pushed for Guantánamo torture

Richard Norton-Taylor, The Guardian
America's most senior general was "hoodwinked" by top Bush administration officials determined to push through aggressive interrogation techniques of terror suspects held at Guantánamo Bay, leading to the US military abandoning its age-old ban on the cruel and inhumane treatment of prisoners, the Guardian reveals today. General Richard Myers, chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff from 2001 to 2005, wrongly believed that inmates at Guantánamo and other prisons were protected by the Geneva conventions and from abuse tantamount to torture....
continua / continued

On Myths, Sectarianism and Mass Graves.

Layla Anwar, An Arab Woman Blues
...Simply put, the sectarian/ethnic agenda the US came with consisted of the following myths. - Iraq is majority Shiite. And the lie adds --this latter group has been repressed by the previous government, hence this group did not have any adequate political and social representation in Iraqi society. So any liberation must take into account this "sect’s struggle and aspirations" - The Kurds are a separate ethnicity from the Arabs. They too have been repressed by the previous government, hence any "liberation" must take into account their "ethnic struggle and aspirations." The above two myths were the principal premises on which America has operated until now. Anyone with a modicum of insight can already spot the sectarian and ethnic division that America had in mind in the above claims. In order to understand the conspiracy one first has to debunk these myths. And this is what I am intent on doing. So : 1) Under the previous regime, there was NO NOTION of SECT or ETHNICITY embedded in the prevailing political and social culture. Us as Iraqis never and I repeat NEVER thought or acted on that basis. It was simply NOT part of our culture. 2) The proof is that the rate of intermarriage between let’s say Shia, Sunnis and Kurds was the highest in the Arab World. Education can be used as another sociological barometer where ALL IRAQIS had access to education regardless of their sect and ethnicity. The same applies to Health services, Employment, etc...
Afghans to probe whether U.S. used depleted uranium
Source: ReutersKABUL, April 19 (Reuters) - The Afghan government plans to investigate whether the United States used depleted uranium during its invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 and if it might be linked to malformed babies born afterwards.Parts of Afghanistan, particularly the mountainous region of Tora Bora in the east -- the suspected hideout of al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden -- came under heavy U.S. bombing in late 2001 when the Taliban regime was ousted.Depleted uranium is a heavy metal used in some weapons that can pierce armour. It has small levels of radioactivity associated with it.Cases of malformed babies delivered in the heavily bombed Afghan areas have come to light, Faizullah Kakar, Afghan deputy public health minister for technical affairs said on Saturday, citing an unnamed U.S. expert.Kakar told Reuters the Afghan government planned to investigate the matter.

Obama poised for success ahead of crucial primary

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Behind Military Analysts, the Pentagon’s Hidden Hand

A PENTAGON CAMPAIGN Retired officers have been used to shape terrorism coverage from inside the TV and radio networks.
Published: April 20, 2008
In the summer of 2005, the Bush administration confronted a fresh wave of criticism over Guantánamo Bay. The detention center had just been branded “the gulag of our times” by Amnesty International, there were new allegations of abuse from United Nations human rights experts and calls were mounting for its closure.
The administration’s communications experts responded swiftly. Early one Friday morning, they put a group of retired military officers on one of the jets normally used by Vice President Dick Cheney and flew them to Cuba for a carefully orchestrated tour of Guantánamo.
To the public, these men are members of a familiar fraternity, presented tens of thousands of times on television and radio as “military analysts” whose long service has equipped them to give authoritative and unfettered judgments about the most pressing issues of the post-Sept. 11 world.
Hidden behind that appearance of objectivity, though, is a Pentagon information apparatus that has used those analysts in a campaign to generate favorable news coverage of the administration’s wartime performance, an examination by The New York Times has found.
The effort, which began with the buildup to the Iraq war and continues to this day, has sought to exploit ideological and military allegiances, and also a powerful financial dynamic: Most of the analysts have ties to military contractors vested in the very war policies they are asked to assess on air.
Those business relationships are hardly ever disclosed to the viewers, and sometimes not even to the networks themselves. But collectively, the men on the plane and several dozen other military analysts represent more than 150 military contractors either as lobbyists, senior executives, board members or consultants. The companies include defense heavyweights, but also scores of smaller companies, all part of a vast assemblage of contractors scrambling for hundreds of billions in military business generated by the administration’s war on terror. It is a furious competition, one in which inside information and easy access to senior officials are highly prized.
Records and interviews show how the Bush administration has used its control over access and information in an effort to transform the analysts into a kind of media Trojan horse — an instrument intended to shape terrorism coverage from inside the major TV and radio networks.
Analysts have been wooed in hundreds of private briefings with senior military leaders, including officials with significant influence over contracting and budget matters, records show. They have been taken on tours of Iraq and given access to classified intelligence. They have been briefed by officials from the White House, State Department and Justice Department, including Mr. Cheney, Alberto R. Gonzales and Stephen J. Hadley.
In turn, members of this group have echoed administration talking points, sometimes even when they suspected the information was false or inflated. Some analysts acknowledge they suppressed doubts because they feared jeopardizing their access.
A few expressed regret for participating in what they regarded as an effort to dupe the American public with propaganda dressed as independent military analysis.
“It was them saying, ‘We need to stick our hands up your back and move your mouth for you,’ ” Robert S. Bevelacqua, a retired Green Beret and former Fox News analyst, said.
Kenneth Allard, a former NBC military analyst who has taught information warfare at the National Defense University, said the campaign amounted to a sophisticated information operation. “This was a coherent, active policy,” he said.
As conditions in Iraq deteriorated, Mr. Allard recalled, he saw a yawning gap between what analysts were told in private briefings and what subsequent inquiries and books later revealed.
“Night and day,” Mr. Allard said, “I felt we’d been hosed.”
The Pentagon defended its relationship with military analysts, saying they had been given only factual information about the war. “The intent and purpose of this is nothing other than an earnest attempt to inform the American people,” Bryan Whitman, a Pentagon spokesman, said.
It was, Mr. Whitman added, “a bit incredible” to think retired military officers could be “wound up” and turned into “puppets of the Defense Department.”
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