Thursday, June 30, 2005

Too Busy To Blog?

Say it ain't so! I've been busy elsewhere lately, working on The Whispering Campaign in addition to my usual volunteer gig at The Brad Blog, so the blogging action here has been a bit sluggish lately. But things must settle down soon, no? And I'll be with you again as soon as possible.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

"Stress Positions"

Who do you think wrote this? And who was he talking about?
[a prisoner] was forced to remain seated on a stool in the corridor for six days in such a way that she did not lean against anything, did not sleep, did not fall off, and did not get up from it. Six days! Just try to sit that way for six hours!

Then again, as a variation, the prisoner can be forced to sit on a tall chair, of the kind used in laboratories, so that his feet do not reach the floor. They become very numb in this position. He is left sitting that way from eight to ten hours.

Or else, during the interrogation itself, when the prisoner is out in plain view, he can be forced to sit in this way: as far forward as possible on the front edge ("Move further forward! Further still!") of the chair so that he is under painful pressure during the entire interrogation. He is not allowed to stir for several hours. Is that all? Yes, that's all. Just try it yourself!
Do you recognize this passage?

If not, can you guess where it comes from?

Me? No, I won't guess. That wouldn't be fair. I read it a long time ago.

It's Solzhenitsyn, from The Gulag Archipelago.


Did somebody say "GULAG"???

Dick Cheney was offended at the mention of the word.

I wonder if he knows what it means. I also wonder if he knows that
the Gulag system has become primarily known as a place for political prisoners and as a mechanism for repressing political opposition
On the other hand, he probably does know that. And that may be exactly why he was so "offended".

Dick Durbin was offended at the policy. Guess who apologized?

Through the looking glass? Hell no. We passed that point a long time ago.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

psst! look over there!

Your lowly and nearly frozen blogger has been invited to scribble the occasional line at Booman Tribune, a group blog spun off from the madness of Daily Kos, and so far it's been fun. I have a diary there, on which I have been posting regular updates pertaining to The Whispering Campaign, and I think I will continue doing that. So if you're looking for news about The Whispering Campaign, meet me at my Booman Tribune diary.

All the other lowly and nearly frozen blogging will still happen here, of course.

Friday, June 24, 2005

No Timetables

Here's a big surprise: Bush sets no timetable for pullout of U.S. forces
U.S. President George Bush vowed American forces would stay the course in Iraq and assured the war-torn nation's Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari on Friday "there are not going to be any timetables" for their withdrawal.
I've been saying the same thing for a long time, sometimes in unexpected places. Not because of what I want, but because of what I see.

All this talk about training and how the Iraqis are going to be responsible for the security of their own country and so on ... is only smoke ... being blown up our tailpipes, so to speak.

Listen, friends: There is only one way to get all the American soldiers out of Iraq. And it has nothing whatsoever to do with the Iraqis.

The Earlobes Of Giants

from the Wikipedia
Samizdat (self-published, in Russian) was a grassroots strategy to evade officially imposed censorship in the Soviet-bloc countries wherein people clandestinely copied and distributed government-suppressed literature or other media. The idea was that copies were made a few at a time, and anyone who had a copy and access to any sort of copying equipment was encouraged to make more copies.

The term was coined in an analogy with the names of Soviet publishing houses, such as Politizdat (Politicheskoe izdatelstvo, State Publishing House of Political Literature), Detizdat (literature for children), etc.

Etymologically, the word "samizdat" is made out of "sam" ("self") and "izdat" ("publisher").

Essentially, the samizdat copies of text were passed from one person to another. The techniques used to print the forbidden literature and newspapers varied from copying the content by hand in several copies using carbon paper to printing the books on semi-professional printing presses in large quantities. Before Glasnost, the practice was dangerous, since copy machines, printing presses and even typewriters in offices were under control of the First Departments (KGB outposts): for all of them reference printouts were stored for identification purposes.

Even today there are writers who publish in samizdat, for example Jan Galka.

In Poland during the 1970s and 1980s several books (sometimes as long as 500 pages) were printed in quantities often exceeding 5000 copies.
Join us on the earlobes of giants. Let's get whispering!

Thursday, June 23, 2005

psst! keep this quiet!

The Whispering Campaign, which kicked off yesterday, is off to a roaring start, serving up more pages in last 24 hours than my humble blog had done in the past four months!

Most of our early whisperers have found us through WhatReallyHappened.Com, which linked to us on their main page [! with a permalink here], no doubt in retaliation for our use of their brilliant piece The Lie Of The Century.

It's a great start! but it's only a start, and we surely haven't whispered our last.

{UPDATE}: Listen up! We've had some good feedback and we've made many changes, hopefully for the better. Click here to see the newest from The Whispering Campaign.

Pass It On! and that's an order!!

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Knock It Off? YOU Knock It Off!!

Here's the newest on the outbreak of political assasination in Lebanon (as previously noted here), from the BBC: US urges Lebanon murder inquiry
The US has called for a full investigation into the killing of a veteran Lebanese politician, who had recently become critical of Syria.
Yes! You bet! Full investigation!! You betcha!!

I'll give you five dollars if this isn't another instance of Truth By Inversion. You know how it goes: once somebody gets a reputation for lying, you can always assume the opposite of what they say! I'm suspicious because none of the American or British stories seem to mention that the late "Lebanese politician, who had recently become critical of Syria", was even more critical of the United States. Kinda makes you wonder, doesn't it?

And as for the present tactic, it's been going on for centuries. Arthur Conan Doyle used it more than once. Whoever screams for a full investigation is always a worthwhile suspect. Innocent people usually assume that the investigation will be thorough and they ask how they can cooperate with it. It truly is an arrogant thief who shouts: "You gotta catch whoever did this!"

So ... you have to be suspicious but you can't get carried away with it, because even the most inveterate liars will sometimes turn around and look you straight in the eye and tell you the truth. Thus
White House spokesman Scott McClellan said the murder was part of a pattern of targeted political assassinations to intimidate the Lebanese people.
and it makes you wonder: How does he know that??

Well I'll tell you who does know something. Chris Floyd. Read his most recent post on the matter here: Splintered Cedars: The Real Low-Down on Lebanon and be sure to click on through for some great links. Thanks again, Chris.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said earlier on Tuesday she did not know who was behind the attack.
which probably means she does know, wouldn't you think?
But Ms Rice said that Damascus was contributing to "an atmosphere of instability" in Lebanon and should, as she put it, "knock it off".
Of course! First you throw your own books! Then you point at the kid sitting next to you and you start yelling:
Hey! He threw my books! Hey, buddy!! Why'd you throw my books? You better knock it off, kid! What are you thinking, throwing my books like that?? Don't you know it reflects on your parents when you throw somebody's books??
What can the poor kid do? He sits there and shrugs and says "Hey! it wasn't me!". Doesn't he?

Round up the usual suspects!

Aljazeera has the latest on that:

Arrests follow Beirut assassination
A number of Syrian workers have been arraigned for questioning in connection with the assassination of the former secretary-general of the Lebanese Communist Party, George Hawi.
opposition forces repeated their demand for the resignation of President Emile Lahoud, blaming him for the assassination of Hawi in his capacity as head of the security system.
Sammy Cahn said it better than I ever could.

It seems to me I've heard that song before
It's from an old familiar score
I know it well, that melody

But meanwhile, Aljazeera reports a very intriguing detail:
Many civil defence and security force officers arrived at the scene and cordoned off the area. A team of FBI investigators also went to the site, Aljazeera learned
Oh really? I never knew the FBI had jurisdiction in Lebanon!

Or maybe they're there in an unofficial capacity.
Oh, don't mind us, we're just passing through, happened to be in the area and we thought we'd stop by ... hey look over there! what's that! ...
Could be anything! But we're back to Aljazeera for a few more interesting bits:
Nasir Qandil, a former member of parliament, told Aljazeera that Hawi had an important role in organising resistance against Israel and that was the reason for his slaying.
But former Lebanese president Amin Jmayil gave Aljazeera a different view, saying Hawi paid for his involvement in protests that led Syria to withdraw its troops and intelligence services from Lebanon.
It's the former president who draws my attention as a potential disinfo-specialist. Can't put my finger on it, can you?
"Hawi's assassination also aims to cause instability in the country. It has nothing to do with the elections and their results," he added.
Oh. Yeah, right!

Listen, let me tell you something: The public assassination of a politician never has anything to do with politics in any way shape or form, not to mention elections and their results! Not in Lebanon, nowhere!

And you can trust me on that. [wink, wink. nudge, nudge.]

Here's Sammy Cahn:

It seems to me I've heard that song before
It's from an old familiar score
I know it well, that melody

It's funny how a theme
Recalls a favorite dream
A dream that brought you so close to me

I know each word, because I've heard that song before
The lyrics said: "for evermore"
For evermore's a memory

Please have them play it again
And (Then) I'll remember just when
I heard that lovely song before

Psst! The Whispering Campaign Wants You!

Some of my friends and I have been quietly working on a very quiet little be-the-media campaign.

We're ready to go. And you can help.

A great journalist can explain it better than this lowly blogger. Here's Chris Floyd:

Tired of Shouting Into the Wind? Try Whispering.

Winter Patriot has launched a brilliant new DIY activist effort: The Whispering Campaign. It's very simple. WP has set up a website with a selection of short, succinct, printer-friendly articles detailing some nugget of unexplored or underplayed truth about our times; all you have to do is print them out -- and leave them in some public place for passers-by to find and read. As WP puts it: "Ideal locations include book stores, copy shops, libraries, train stations, buses, taxis, laundromats, grocery stores, hair salons, barber shops, rest rooms, gas stations, coffee shops, truck stops... use your imagination!"

It's real grass-roots stuff -- in fact, it reaches all the way down to the individual blade, a personal form of activism either to supplement collective action or to let each person carve a particular path. It's also a good way of reaching people outside the seething blogosphere or the media/political world in general -- the vast majority of the population, in other words.

So scoot on over to the Whispering Campaign and check it out. Start moving that mountain one grain at a time.
Chris gives me too much credit, but otherwise he's spot-on, I think. It's a great idea, isn't it? It's an old one, tried and tested.

What's new is the implementation. But I can't take credit for that, either. The Whispering Campaign stands on the earlobes of giants.

Here's how you can stand with us:

Join The Whispering Campaign! Print the articles, make copies, and spread them around ...

Send quiet messages to all your friends, post silent messages on all your favorite blogs, do any quiet thing you can think of to help publicize The Whispering Campaign and help good information move along its rightful path.

It's not enough just to boycott the major media. We have to take over their job! We owe it to our fellow citizens to share good information with them. And this is an easy way for you to help make it happen.

Can we count on you? Good! Now Let's Start Whispering!!

P.S. If you're looking to corroborate the Downing Street Minutes, Chris Floyd's column of September 2004, "The Deceivers: The Known Knowns of the Bush/Blair War Crime", is more than you could ever ask for. You can help support the Whispering Campaign by reading it here.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Targeted Assassination In Beirut

Who is stirring the Lebanese pot?

From the BBC: Blast kills Lebanese politician
A veteran Lebanese politician has been killed in a bomb blast in the capital Beirut, police say.

George Hawi - former Communist Party leader and an opponent of Syria - died when his car blew up as he drove through the Wata Musaitbi district.
Prime Minister Najib Mikati expressed shock at Mr Hawi's death.

"We are stunned," he told reporters. "With every achievement by the Lebanese state, we see that there are those who want to target security and send messages of this sort."

Another senior opponent of Syria, Druze leader Walid Jumblatt, said the people would have to pay a heavy price for taking the country into their own hands.

"The life of anybody who wants a democratic Lebanon is in danger," he told BBC World TV.

From Aljazeera [with links added]: Beirut bomb kills ex-communist chief
An anti-Syrian politician has been killed after a bomb ripped through his car in Beirut, witnesses and security sources say.

They said George Hawi, former leader of the Lebanese Communist Party, died instantly in the blast on Tuesday morning in the Wata Musaitbi neighbourhood of Beirut.

Ghassan bin Jiddo, director of Aljazeera's office in Lebanon, said the car exploded in front of Hawi's house.

Witness Rami Abu Dargham told Reuters: "The car kept going and we then saw the driver screaming and he jumped out of the window. We rushed to the car and saw Hawi in the passenger seat with his guts out."

The bomb was apparently placed under the passenger seat of Hawi's Mercedes car and was detonated by remote-control, security sources said.
An opposition figure, Walid Jumblatt, said the killing of Hawi, whom he described as a nationalist leader, sent a message to all Lebanese.

"Some sides want to cause a state of instability in Lebanon by foiling the success of the elections in northern Lebanon," said Jumblatt, the leader of the Progressive Socialist Party.
It was the second killing of an anti-Syrian figure in Beirut this month.

Newspaper columnist Samir Kassir was killed on 2 June when a similar explosion destroyed his car.

Hawi's killing comes two days after the end of Lebanon's parliamentary elections which were won by an anti-Syrian alliance led by Saad al-Hariri, son of former prime minister Rafiq al-Hariri, who was also assassinated, on 14 February.
And the killings continue. Big bombs. Big attacks. The people who did this were making sure they didn't miss. It's just a hunch, no more. But to me, these assassinations look like the work of highly experienced professional killers. Terrorists of international reach, so to speak. If you get my drift.

Maybe the following is relevant; then again maybe not. It's from Chris Floyd in the Moscow Times of January 25th, and I wouldn't be a bit surprised ... Darkness Visible: The Pentagon Plan to Foment Terrorism is Now in Operation
More than two years ago, we wrote here of a secret Pentagon plan to foment terrorism: sending covert agents to infiltrate terrorist groups and goad them into action – i.e., committing acts of murder and destruction. The purpose was two-fold: first, to bring the terrorist groups into the open, where they could be counterattacked; and second, to justify U.S. military attacks on the countries where the terrorists were operating – attacks which, in the Pentagon's words, would put those nations' "sovereignty at risk." It was a plan that countenanced – indeed, encouraged – the deliberate murder of innocent people and the imposition of U.S. military rule anywhere in the world that American leaders desired.

This plan is now being activated.
There's more from Chris Floyd here. And there's more on the Lebanese political situation at Aljazeera: Al-Hariri woos vanquished rivals.

Scott Ritter: The War On Iran Has Started

Scott Ritter's most recent essay is published at Aljazeera and it's a strange one. It's about the upcoming -- or, as Ritter would say, ongoing -- attack by the USA against Iran, but first half or two thirds talk about the war in Iraq. It's tough to say exactly when that war actually started, but it's quite clear, especially in light of a recently released British memo, that the war was going long before bush started taking responsibility for it. In public, anyway.

I suppose all the preamble is necessary for those readers who won't believe we're at war with Iraq until bush tells them we are. Or until they see pictures of Tehran -- flattened. But according to Ritter,
The reality is that the US war with Iran has already begun. As we speak, American over flights of Iranian soil are taking place, using pilotless drones and other, more sophisticated, capabilities.

The violation of a sovereign nation's airspace is an act of war in and of itself. But the war with Iran has gone far beyond the intelligence-gathering phase.

President Bush has taken advantage of the sweeping powers granted to him in the aftermath of 11 September 2001, to wage a global war against terror and to initiate several covert offensive operations inside Iran.

The most visible of these is the CIA-backed actions recently undertaken by the Mujahadeen el-Khalq, or MEK, an Iranian opposition group, once run by Saddam Hussein's dreaded intelligence services, but now working exclusively for the CIA's Directorate of Operations.

It is bitter irony that the CIA is using a group still labelled as a terrorist organisation, a group trained in the art of explosive assassination by the same intelligence units of the former regime of Saddam Hussein, who are slaughtering American soldiers in Iraq today, to carry out remote bombings in Iran of the sort that the Bush administration condemns on a daily basis inside Iraq.

Perhaps the adage of "one man's freedom fighter is another man's terrorist" has finally been embraced by the White House, exposing as utter hypocrisy the entire underlying notions governing the ongoing global war on terror.

But the CIA-backed campaign of MEK terror bombings in Iran are not the only action ongoing against Iran.

To the north, in neighbouring Azerbaijan, the US military is preparing a base of operations for a massive military presence that will foretell a major land-based campaign designed to capture Tehran.

Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld's interest in Azerbaijan may have escaped the blinkered Western media, but Russia and the Caucasus nations understand only too well that the die has been cast regarding Azerbaijan's role in the upcoming war with Iran.
And there's a lot more, too. But, as I've been saying, you have to scroll quite a ways to get to it.

Talk about burying the lead! Seriously, Scott!

But on the other hand, is this a surprise?

The BBC reported last week: Iran rocked by series of blasts
Six bombs have exploded in Iran, killing at least 10 people, days before the presidential election.

Four blasts targeted public buildings in the south-western city of Ahwaz, killing at least eight people and wounding more than 70 others.

Hours later, a bomb exploded in the capital Tehran, killing two people. Three other bombs were defused.
Hmmm. Bombs exploding in Iran. I haven't heard of such a thing in a long time.
Bombings have been rare in Iran since the war with Iraq ended in 1988.
Well then ...
No group has claimed responsibility.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Another Bad Idea From The President

From MSNBC: Under fire, Bush defends policy on Iraq
“Look at all the facts. That’s all I ask people to do,” the president said at a news conference with European Union leaders.
Oh, sir. You really wouldn't want us to do that, would you? That would be very bad for National Security, wouldn't it, sir?

UPDATE: Gandhi has a good post today concerning the bush administration and its war on facts. Click here to read it. And please bookmark this page.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

A Double Glimpse Of Truth

Reading the following article closely gives us some insight into what's really going on at Guantanamo Bay, as well as some insight into what's really going on at the Pentagon:

Pummeled MP sues Pentagon: Soldier was impersonating unruly Guantanamo detainee in training
A U.S. military policeman who was beaten by fellow MPs during a botched training drill at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, prison for detainees has sued the Pentagon for $15 million, alleging that the incident violated his constitutional rights.

Spec. Sean Baker, 38, was assaulted in January 2003 after he volunteered to wear an orange jumpsuit and portray an uncooperative detainee. Baker said the MPs, who were told that he was an unruly detainee who had assaulted an American sergeant, inflicted a beating that resulted in a traumatic brain injury.
The Pentagon first said that Baker's hospitalization after the training incident was not related to the beating. Later, officials conceded that he had been treated for injuries suffered when a five-man MP "internal reaction force" choked him, slammed his head several times against a concrete floor and sprayed him with pepper gas.
You see? Somehow, somewhere, somebody convinced the Pentagon that lying about everything was the way to win the war.

But it's not true. Lying about everything is never the way to accomplish anything. And so ... not only are the Pentagon liars losing the war in Iraq, but they're losing it at home too. And it's because of incidents like this...

... and all the lies about the death of Pat Tillman

... and all the lies about the rescue of Jessica Lynch

... and all the lies about Iraq's fictional people-shredder

... and all the lies about the heroic fictional Iraqi rape-victim

... and I could go on and on ... I could even mention the lies about what happened on 9/11 ... but what would be the point? It only takes one lie to lose your credibility.

Oh yeah ... What credibility?

British Memo: "Bombing Raids Were Illegal"

The [U.K.] Times Online has another big story from Michael Smith.

British bombing raids were illegal, says Foreign Office
A sharp increase in British and American bombing raids on Iraq in the run-up to war “to put pressure on the regime” was illegal under international law, according to leaked Foreign Office legal advice.

The advice was first provided to senior ministers in March 2002. Two months later RAF and USAF jets began “spikes of activity” designed to goad Saddam Hussein into retaliating and giving the allies a pretext for war.

The Foreign Office advice shows military action to pressurise the regime was “not consistent with” UN law, despite American claims that it was.
Those at the meeting on July 23, 2002, included Blair, Geoff Hoon, then defence secretary, Jack Straw, the foreign secretary, and Sir Richard Dearlove, then chief of MI6. The minutes quote Hoon as saying that the US had begun spikes of activity to put pressure on the regime.

Ministry of Defence figures for bombs dropped by the RAF on southern Iraq, obtained by the Liberal Democrats through Commons written answers, show the RAF was as active in the bombing as the Americans and that the “spikes” began in May 2002.
The increased attacks on Iraqi installations, which senior US officers admitted were designed to “degrade” Iraqi air defences, began six months before the UN passed resolution 1441, which the allies claim authorised military action.
Is this "more damning than Downing Street"? Can it possibly be brushed off? Or will it make no impact at all? We shall see. But, in some measure at least, it's up to you.

If you're outraged to learn that the US and UK were bombing Iraq six months before the passage of the UN resolution which they claimed gave them the justification to do so, then you're probably thinking clearly. But if you don't make any noise about it, what's the point?

If we sit quietly and wallow in our outrage, the world will have nobody to listen to except the warmongers, who will say anything to shield the mass murderers who started this war. Oh yeah, and the mass murderers themselves, one of whom was up to his old lying tricks again yesterday.

If history teaches us anything, it is this: We must be especially wary of people who say things like: "We will settle for nothing less than victory." Especially if they say this while they're getting their asses kicked.

History is a wonderful teacher ... but when will we ever learn?

The Independent: US Lied To UK About Incendiary Weapons

There's serious journalism going on ... somewhere. Maybe across the ocean.

From The Independent: US lied to Britain over use of napalm in Iraq war
American officials lied to British ministers over the use of "internationally reviled" napalm-type firebombs in Iraq.

Yesterday's disclosure led to calls by MPs for a full statement to the Commons and opened ministers to allegations that they held back the facts until after the general election.

Despite persistent rumours of injuries among Iraqis consistent with the use of incendiary weapons such as napalm, Adam Ingram, the Defence minister, assured Labour MPs in January that US forces had not used a new generation of incendiary weapons, codenamed MK77, in Iraq.

But Mr Ingram admitted to the Labour MP Harry Cohen in a private letter obtained by The Independent that he had inadvertently misled Parliament because he had been misinformed by the US. "The US confirmed to my officials that they had not used MK77s in Iraq at any time and this was the basis of my response to you," he told Mr Cohen. "I regret to say that I have since discovered that this is not the case and must now correct the position."
Your lowly and nearly frozen blogger finds no big surprise in the claim that Americans used firebombs against Iraq. This had been reported a long time ago. The news is that the American officials lied to their allies about it.

Well, why not lie to your allies? What's the difference? Why not lie to everybody?? For as long as you can get away with it, anyway ...
The Iraq Analysis Group, which campaigned against the war, said the US authorities only admitted the use of the weapons after the evidence from reporters had become irrefutable.

Mike Lewis, a spokesman for the group, said: "The US has used internationally reviled weapons that the UK refuses to use, and has then apparently lied to UK officials, showing how little weight the UK carries in influencing American policy."
You got it, Mike. Nobody carries any weight in influencing American policy. It's almost as if we've fallen through the looking glass.

There's serious journalism going on here too. But most of it is being done by bloggers. For example, check out this excellent post from Freiheit und Wissen.

Deluded in Azerbaijan

From The [U.K.] Guardian: Opposition Stages Big Rally in Azerbaijan
Thousands of demonstrators chanting "Freedom" and carrying portraits of President Bush marched across Azerbaijan's capital Saturday, demanding the resignation of the government and free parliamentary elections - in the biggest protest in years.
These poor deluded people! They actually think bush wants them to have a democracy! How absurd! He doesn't even want us to have a democracy!

Oh, and guess what?
Azerbaijan, a mostly Muslim country of 8.3 million, is the starting point of the key pipeline that Washington says will reduce dependence on oil from the Middle East. The country also is a U.S. ally in the war on terrorism, with troops in Iraq.
Opposition groups in countries which are allied with the U.S. had better watch out. Washington does not have your backs! Remember Uzbekistan!

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Another Irony Overload

The BBC reports: Bush criticises Iran's election
US President George W Bush has criticised the presidential election taking place in Iran on Friday as ignoring the demands of democracy.

"Iran is ruled by men who suppress liberty at home and spread terror across the world," he said in a statement released by the White House.
"Power is in the hands of an unelected few who have retained power through an electoral process that ignores the basic requirements of democracy," he said.
Ka-Blam! Implosions all over the place. This would be funny were it not so tragic.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Speaking Of "Reprehensible"...

Yesterday CNN ran a story headlined White House: Durbin's remarks 'reprehensible'. Here's the meat of it:
[Dick] Durbin, the Senate's No. 2 Democrat, made the comparison during a speech on the Senate floor Tuesday after reading an FBI agent's report describing detainees at the Naval base in Guantanamo Bay as being chained to the floor without food or water in extreme temperatures.

"If I read this to you and did not tell you that it was an FBI agent describing what Americans had done to prisoners in their control, you would most certainly believe this must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime -- Pol Pot or others -- that had no concern for human beings," Durbin said.

Said McClellan: "I think the senator's remarks are reprehensible. It's a real disservice to our men and women in uniform who adhere to high standards and uphold our values and our laws."
Sorry, Scottie. You're lying again and everyone knows it. We've seen the photos, you know. Your bullshit doesn't fly anymore, unless the "high standards" include stripping people naked and smearing shit all over them. [Funny! That's kind of like what happens in White House press conferences, except that all the people are dressed -- and of course in press conferences the shit is slung rather than smeared.]

Listen, Scottie: The policy is reprehensible, not the Senator's remarks. There is no good reason to chain anyone to the floor of a cage with no food or water, regardless of the weather. And especially if the person in chains is there because he was sold into captivity.

Those who lie to protect torturers are reprehensible too. This includes you, Scottie.

But that's not news. We knew that about you already.

Aljazeera also ran a story about Senator Durbin, his comments, the flak they drew and his courageous decision to stand by his remarks. Ironically, considering that it comes from an alleged propaganda outlet, the article in Aljazeera is very similar to that which ran on CNN. Not surprisingly to those of us who have been following both sources, the Aljazeera piece is more detailed. Read it yourself if you don't believe me.

As usual, Aljazeera provides context not provided by CNN, for instance:
Since the camp was set up after the 11 September 2001 attacks on the US, 167 detainees have been freed and 67 others released to the custody of their home governments.

About 520 detainees from about 40 countries remain at Guantanamo. Only 12 have been handed over to military commissions for investigation of possible war crimes and four have been charged.
Some lawmakers want the facility closed, saying it has become a liability that inflames Muslims against the United States.

"Guantanamo is an international embarrassment to our nation, to our ideals and it remains a festering threat to our security," Senator Patrick Leahy, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, said.
A Pew Research Centre poll, taken over the weekend, indicated most Americans agree that reports of abuse at Guantanamo are isolated incidents, and 39% think the news media is paying too much attention to the issue.
Clearly the American people have not slaked their thirst for government bullshit. At least not all of them. And that's too bad. But at least there's a Senator who can still see clearly:
"This administration should apologise to the American people for abandoning the Geneva Conventions and authorising torture techniques that put our troops at risk and make Americans less secure."
Right on, Senator! This administration has a great deal to "apologise to the American people for", but "abandoning the Geneva Conventions" would be a great place to start.

Introducing ... Operation Yellow Elephant

You must read these posts from "Jesus' General". That's an order.

No, I am not going to tell you why. That would ruin all the fun.

{UPDATED 6/23}: Yellow Elephant Ad Rejected by Yellow Elephants at RNC! More details here here via The Brad Blog

Thursday, June 16, 2005

We Have Friends And They Can Help Us

As this lonely and nearly frozen voice has been saying for a long time, we still have friends in the rest of the world, and they are desperate to help us. Many months ago, I was saying "our friends would love to help us, but first we have to be seen helping ourselves, or at least trying to do so." But I didn't have a link -- or anything else -- to suppport this assertion.

It's been "a feeling thing" or a "reading between the lines thing". But it's also been very strong, and it's been reinforced periodically by my frequent excursions into the foreign news media. I've never found anything explicit; but I keep finding hints everywhere. It's in the tone of voice or the choice of words in radio broadcasts from the top of Europe to the bottom of Africa; it's between the lines of news reports and editorials and blogs from Asia to Australia. And I've been trying to grasp it, and trying to talk about it; but I have no serious sources and no way to prove that I know what I'm talking about. And in fact, this time at least, I don't know what I'm talking about. I know what I'm hearing and feeling. That's what I know.

But lately I've been reading two people who do know what they're talking about, and they're saying the same things I've been saying, only with knowledge rather than feeling, and with supporting details rather than simply intuition. Thus it has been a great pleasure for me to read Jeremy Brecher and Brendan Smith: How the World Can Help Americans Halt Bush Administration War Crimes, from which I wish to highlight several key passages:
At one level, the World Tribunal on Iraq (WTI) functions as a ledger to record U.S. crimes in Iraq. According to its mission statement, it aims to “challenge the silence around aggression against Iraq” and “record wrongs, violations, and crimes as well as suffering, resistance, and silenced voices.” Just as in 1943 when the Allied troops set up the United Nations War Crimes Commission to act as a repository for war crimes evidence and compile a list of the accused, so the WTI has heard and documented the testimony of victims in Fallujah, archived video footage of journalists, and tracked the command responsibility of Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld. This record provides an important evidence trail for the numerous court challenges both in the United States and at the ICC against the Bush administration.

At another level, the WTI plays an important role in framing the issues for the global resistance movement to U.S. aggression. By speaking of the Iraq War in terms of Geneva Conventions, human rights treaties, and other aspects of international law, the WTI addresses all those who believe that states must act within legal restraints.
A new and unexpected convergence of forces is developing in the United States around the Bush administration’s contempt for both international law and the U.S. Constitution. It includes not only peace and human rights activists but conservative constitutionalists and retired generals. The WTI offers an opportunity for people around the world to align with these new “legal allies” forming in the United States.

This movement can be traced to the law cases brought by the Center for Constitutional Rights claiming that U.S. detention of prisoners in Guantanamo without appeal to a court violated the most fundamental principles of the U.S. Constitution. The Supreme Court rejected Bush administration claims that the president as military commander-in-chief was in effect above the law and could not be restrained by Congress or the courts. This has been followed by a suit by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), a powerful organization whose members include a wide swath of the mainstream legal profession. The ACLU sued Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld on behalf of Iraqi citizens who have been brutalized and deprived of their rights by U.S. forces. Amazingly, a group of retired generals are co-counsels in the suit.
The Bush administration maintains that the president as commander-in-chief has the authority to attack other countries without Congressional approval and to torture prisoners without constraint by courts. The American people do not accept this abrogation of the Constitution and the rule of law. Nor do they accept the destruction of basic civil liberties in the name of the war against terror. In fact, 372 local governments have passed resolutions demanding that Congress bring the “Patriot Act” in line with the Constitution.

Americans tend to grant themselves and their government a presumption of innocence. While the rest of the world generally takes for granted the illegality of the U.S. attack on Iraq, the criminal brutality of the occupation, and the responsibility of top U.S. officials for torture in Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo, the American people have been shielded from that knowledge by the government and the media. The evidence of crime in high places is only gradually trickling into the consciousness of the American people. International voices can help accelerate that process.
The rest of the world can have a huge impact on American political dynamics if it can communicate simultaneously a rejection of the policies of the American government and a desire to work with the American people to build a better, safer world.
The war crimes issue also provides an opportunity for people all over the world to demand that their own countries end complicity with U.S. war crimes. The withdrawal of Spain, Poland, and other countries from the “coalition of the willing” has already undermined support for the Iraq War among Americans. Further moves, such as reversing ICC waivers, supporting national and international investigations of U.S. war crimes, diplomatic protests against abuse of nationals, and withdrawal from all forms of military cooperation, can validate Americans’ fears that Bush policies are leading to a dangerous isolation.

Examples are already cropping up all over the world. A parliamentary investigation in Sweden recently concluded that CIA operatives violated Swedish law by subjecting prisoners seized there to “degrading and inhuman treatment;” they can and should be prosecuted in Swedish courts. And U.S. threats to cut $10 million in military aid if Kenya refuses to sign an ICC waiver are meeting stiff resistance.
Such actions, multiplied world wide and communicated to the American people through every possible channel, can provide powerful support for those in the United States struggling to investigate and halt U.S. war crimes. The goal of such action should not be to express hatred for Americans (something the Bush administration can easily utilize for its own purposes) but to convey disapproval of the actions of the U.S. government. The purpose is not to harm the American people, but rather to help them overcome an incipient autocratic regime and hold their government accountable to the rule of law.
Ahhh, what to say? It's a shade more tangible than the tone of voice in a radio broadcast; that's for sure. It's more hopeful than most of what I've been reading lately. And it's more constructive than most of what I've been writing!

Please read the whole essay. Please point your friends in its direction, especially -- if you're American -- your foreign friends. This is so important:
The goal of such action should not be to express hatred for Americans (something the Bush administration can easily utilize for its own purposes) but to convey disapproval of the actions of the U.S. government.
Thanks to Jeremy Brecher and Brendan Smith. Thanks to Foreign Policy In Focus. And thanks to all our friends, wherever they may be.

It's in their best interests to help us. It's in our best interests to help them. As long as we continue to struggle against our criminal government, we will continue to have friends in the rest of the world.

If you'd like more, start here:

Reclaiming the Prophetic Voice By John Humphries (April 2005)

An “Affirmative Measure” to Help Prevent the Commission of War Crimes by the Bush Administration By Jeremy Brecher (December 2004)

Terminating the Bush Juggernaut By Jeremy Brecher (May 2003)

The New Global Peace Movement vs. the Bush Juggernaut By Jeremy Brecher (May 28, 2003)

A Moment Is Before Us

Cheers to William Rivers Pitt for his excellent essay, "Nail It to the White House Door", available online at I hope you'll read it all, but I can't resist giving you a few paragraphs in advance.
The decision to make war at all costs, the decision to lie about the reasons for going to war, the massive trans-Atlantic effort to make an illegal act appear legal, and the astounding fact that more effort went into manufacturing a political pretext for invasion than went into planning for the invasion and aftermath, all of this led us into the horror-show that is this occupation.

The American military has all but conceded the fact that this war is lost. "I think the more accurate way to approach this right now is to concede that this insurgency is not going to be settled, the terrorists and the terrorism in Iraq is not going to be settled, through military options or military operations," Brig. Gen. Donald Alston, chief American military spokesman in Iraq, said last week. "It's going to be settled in the political process." There are no more viable military options. The war is lost. It is going to be settled in the political process.
So ... all this bloodshed, all this heartache ... has been for nothing! The politican process was available before the war. It was never used. And now that's all we have left. If we even have that...

Here's what we do have:
Several weeks ago, Rep. Conyers published a letter demanding answers from the Bush administration regarding the Minutes. That letter has been signed by more than one hundred Congresspeople, and by nearly a million American citizens. Rep. Conyers will personally deliver this letter and all those signatures to the White House on Thursday.

Jawaharlal Nehru, who with Mahatma Gandhi successfully freed India from British colonial rule, once said, "A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the sound of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance."

Thursday, June 16th, may see such a moment come to pass. It has been a long time coming, and so much remains to be done if the terrible damage of these last years is to be repaired. But a moment is before us. Let us see where this moment takes us.
Yes, let us see indeed. Who can imagine what might happen next? All we can do now is wait and see.

Personally, I am tired of waiting. I want this nightmare to end now! I know it won't, but that doesn't change what I want.

And so, like all the rest of humanity, I wait...

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Uzbekistan: Getting Away With Mass Murder

Last month's massacre in Uzbekistan has raised no substantial outcry from the USA or Britain. Thoughtful people might be asking: "Why not?" Your lowly and nearly frozen blogger may have a few clues.

From a piece by Savanna Reid, published last Friday on GNN: Under the Radar: How did Uzbekistan get away with shooting hundreds of civilians?
Uzbekistan’s status as a U.S. ally in the “war on terror” appeared to be in jeopardy when reports that Uzbek sodliers massacred hundreds of unarmed protesters emerged just over three weeks ago. But since then, major news outlets from the Guardian to the Washington Post have repeated government claims that an Islamist uprising provoked the government’s use of extreme violence. Not everyone is buying that theory.

According to Acacia Shields of Human Rights Watch, Uzbek security forces regularly use torture to elicit false confessions tying dissidents to a supposed Islamic revolutionary movement to take over Uzbekistan. She thinks it “unlikely” that the protestors killed in Andijan were mobilizing for a religious cause at all. Shields told GNN that “economics was one of the main motivators” for the tragic march.
And so on ... We discussed this in a previous post. We even quoted Human Rights Watch as saying:
"Interviews with numerous people present at the demonstrations consistently revealed that the protesters spoke about economic conditions in Andijan, government repression, and unfair trials - and not the creation of an Islamic state. People were shouting 'Ozodliq!' ['Freedom'] and not 'Allahu Akbar' ['God is Great']," HRW said.
There's no question that we've been lied to about the underlying causes of dissent in Uzbekistan. The question is: "Why?"

Fortunately the GNN article offers some clues:
Ignoring evidence compiled by Human Rights Watch, officials in Washington, Moscow and Beijing have been eager to dish out shaky theories about Taliban, Chechen or Uighur involvement in the so-called ‘uprising’ at Andijan, to support the empty justifications that dictator Islam Karimov offers for the slaughter of Uzbek civilians. Follow the money (read: oil) to see why.
For those who would follow the money (read: oil), the remainder of the article makes compelling reading. For instance, when discussing why Washington wants us to believe lies about this tragedy, Savanna Reid offers this analysis:
The Bush administration’s reasons are probably split between attachment to our rent-free Uzbek airbase and the CIA’s habit of outsourcing suspects to Uzbek torture chambers.
There's a lot more here and I think you should read it.

Now for another point of view. This comes from R. Jeffrey Smith and Glenn Kessler, and was published in Tuesday's Washington Post: U.S. Opposed Calls at NATO for Probe of Uzbek Killings: Officials Feared Losing Air Base Access
Defense officials from Russia and the United States last week helped block a new demand for an international probe into the Uzbekistan government's shooting of hundreds of protesters last month, according to U.S. and diplomatic officials.

British and other European officials had pushed to include language calling for an independent investigation in a communique issued by defense ministers of NATO countries and Russia after a daylong meeting in Brussels on Thursday. But the joint communique merely stated that "issues of security and stability in Central Asia, including Uzbekistan," had been discussed.

The outcome obscured an internal U.S. dispute over whether NATO ministers should raise the May 13 shootings in Andijan at the risk of provoking Uzbekistan to cut off U.S. access to a military air base on its territory.
The U.S. military considers the base a vital logistics hub in its anti-terrorism efforts.
Well yes, of course it does. The U.S. military considers every foreign base vital, does it not?

Meanwhile ... see if you can detect any spin in the following paragraphs:
a senior diplomat in Washington said that "there's clearly inter-agency tension over Uzbekistan ... The State Department certainly seems to be extremely cool on Karimov," while the Pentagon wants to avoid upsetting the Uzbekistan government.

A senior State Department official, who called The Washington Post at the Defense Department's request, denied any "split of views." But other government officials depicted this week's spat over the communique as a continuation of frictions that erupted last summer, when then-Secretary of State Colin L. Powell would not certify that Uzbekistan had met its human rights obligations. The decision led to a cutoff of $18 million for U.S. training for Uzbekistan's military forces.

Weeks later, Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, visited Tashkent, the Uzbek capital, and criticized that decision as "very shortsighted"; he also announced that the United States would give $21 million for another purpose -- bioterrorism defense.
Did you catch that one? It was easy, wasn't it? I want to know why the Washington Post prints obvious bullshit from unnamed sources. Didn't they learn anything from the Newsweak debacle? I would be wary of anonymous sources. Especially sources within the administration. And most especially when the source calls the reporter. You can smell the disinformation all the way from here. And the funny thing is, the disinformation smells exactly like the stuff local farmers have been spreading on their fields. Isn't that interesting?

Interesting or not, it's only a sidebar to the real story, as is this:
There are stirrings of dissent on Capitol Hill about placing access to the air base at the center of U.S. policy, however. Six senators warned Rumsfeld and Rice in a letter last week that "in the aftermath of the Andijan massacre, America's relationship with Uzbekistan cannot remain unchanged."

The senators -- Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), Mike DeWine (R-Ohio), John McCain (R-Ariz.), John E. Sununu (R-N.H.), Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.) and Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) -- added that "we believe that the United States must be careful about being too closely associated with a government that has killed hundreds of demonstrators and refused international calls for a transparent investigation." They suggested that the administration explore alternative basing arrangements "in Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and elsewhere in the region" to give Washington more flexibility.

The European parliament, in a statement Thursday, went further, calling on Washington to halt negotiations with Uzbekistan over long-term access to the base and urging Uzbek authorities "to bring those responsible for the massacre in Andijan to trial."
In the long run, none of this matters, of course. Uzbeks had better watch out, and Islam Karimov can keep on boiling dissidents alive [or sending American-trained soldiers to gun them down] because the United States cares more about bases than people. Also because the so-called "War On Terror", phony though it is, consumes everything in its path.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

NBC News: British Memos "Verified"

They can't wiggle out of it anymore. The evidence is too big, too clear. And at last the media are reporting. Here's another example: More British memos on pre-Iraq war concerns
WASHINGTON — It started during British Prime Minister Tony Blair's re-election campaign last month, when details leaked about a top-secret memo, written in July 2002 — eight months before the Iraq war. In the memo, British officials just back from Washington reported that prewar "intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy" to invade Iraq.

Just last week, President Bush and Blair vigorously denied that war was inevitable.

“No, the facts were not being fixed, in any shape or form at all,” said Blair at a White House news conference with the president on June 7.

But now, war critics have come up with seven more memos, verified by NBC News.
[That's my emphasis.] Wow! NBC says this?? Incredible!!

As usual, the article gives the administration side of the story, but -- as has happened all too rarely -- it doesn't give the administration the last word. See here:
Vice President Dick Cheney also told a National Press Club luncheon Monday, “Any suggestion that we did not exhaust all alternatives before we got to that point, I think, is inaccurate.”

In fact, current and former diplomats tell NBC News they understood from the beginning the Bush policy to be that Saddam had to be removed — one way or the other. The only question was when and how.
Beautiful. We could use a few more reports like this one. "bush mouthpiece says blah blah blah ... but in fact woof woof woof!"

And once again we see big dick cheney practicing a little Truth By Inversion, because in fact:

Any suggestion that they exhausted all alternatives before waging war is inaccurate.

Any suggestion that they tried to make it appear as though they had exhausted all alternatives before waging war is accurate.

Those of us who were paying attention saw it coming a long way down the road and we knew what they were doing. We were saying the same thing then that we're saying now. The only difference, in my view, is that now some of the so-called major media are agreeing with us.

Maybe we're not so crazy after all!

Lexington Herald-Leader: "Bush Ridiculed"

Here's the Lexington Herald-Leader, reporting with apparent relish: Mother of dead soldier vilifies Bush over war: President Ridiculed at Interfaith Rally
Sheehan ridiculed Bush for saying that it's "hard work" comforting the widow of a soldier who's been killed in Iraq.

"Hard work is seeing your son's murder on CNN one Sunday evening while you're enjoying the last supper you'll ever truly enjoy again. Hard work is having three military officers come to your house a few hours later to confirm the aforementioned murder of your son, your first-born, your kind and gentle sweet baby. Hard work is burying your child 46 days before his 25th birthday. Hard work is holding your other three children as they lower the body of their big (brother) into the ground. Hard work is not jumping in the grave with him and having the earth cover you both," she said.
And more here.

Thanks to the Lexington Herald-Leader. Can it be that more and more people all over the country are starting to understand what we've been saying all along? Sure looks like it to me.

Thanks once again to The Raw Story for the link.

Melinda Barton: We Don't Have What It Takes

I've been absorbed in some compelling reading courtesy of The Raw Story. Melinda Barton says we don't have the right stuff to be a global empire. Fortunately or otherwise, as the case may be. Well worth a read. American Empire: Fallen before it ever came to be:
The American Empire. Pax Americana. The fervent dream of the ruling party. The nightmare of its opponents. Today’s political discourse is rife with tales of this mythical beast rising from the back rooms of Washington to wreak havoc on the unsuspecting citizens of the world.

Fortunately (or perhaps unfortunately,) we just don’t have what it takes to become the latest empire. In the meantime, as we pursue the right wing’s pipe dream, American hegemony, the more benevolent albeit weaker younger brother of empire, is spiraling to its destruction. The American Empire is falling before it has even truly risen.
And more here.

Civil War As An Exit Strategy?

I think the Asia Times might have it mostly right here: Exit strategy: Civil war
"In reality, the electoral process was designed to legitimize the occupation, rather than ridding the country of the occupation ... Anyone who sees himself capable of bringing about political reform should go ahead and try, but my belief is that the occupiers won't allow him."
-- Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr
As Shi'ites and Kurds fought for three months to come up with an Iraqi cabinet, it is emerging from Baghdad that soon a broad front will emerge on the political scene composed of politicians, religious leaders, clan and tribal sheikhs - basically Sunni but with Shi'ite participation - with a single-minded agenda: the end of the US-led occupation.

This front will include, among others, what we have termed the Sinn Fein component of the resistance, the powerful Sunni Association of Muslim Scholars (AMS) and the Sadrists. It will refuse any kind of dialogue with new Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari and his government unless there's a definite timetable for the complete withdrawal of the occupation forces. Even the top Marine in Iraq, Major General Stephen Johnson, has admitted, "There will be no progress as long as the insurgents are not implicated in a political process."

But the proliferation of what many moderate Sunnis and Shi'ites suspect as being Pentagon-organized black ops is putting the emergence of this front in jeopardy. This is obvious when we see Harith al-Dhari - the AMS leader - blaming the Badr Brigades (the armed wing of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution - SCIRI - in Iraq, a major partner in the government) for the killing of Sunni Arab clerics.
Several Iranian websites have widely reported a plan to break up Iraq into three Shi'ite southern mini-states, two Kurdish mini-states and one Sunni mini-state - with Baghdad as the seat of a federal government. Each mini-state would be in charge of law and order and the economy within its own borders, with Baghdad in charge of foreign policy and military coordination. The plan was allegedly conceived by David Philip, a former White House adviser working for the American Foreign Policy Council (AFPC). The AFPC is financed by the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, which has also funded both the ultra-hawkish Project for a New American Century and American Enterprise Institute.

The plan would be "sold" under the admission that the recently elected, Shi'ite-dominated Jaafari government is incapable of controlling Iraq and bringing the Sunni Arab guerrillas to the negotiating table. More significantly, the plan is an exact replica of an extreme right-wing Israeli plan to balkanize Iraq - an essential part of the balkanization of the whole Middle East. Curiously, Henry Kissinger was selling the same idea even before the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
Curiously? Very curiously indeed, and there's more here.

I don't think 'exit' is part of any 'strategy' but we'll see. I see 'civil war' as part of a strategy to make the war go on forever. And it seems to be working. Even opponents of the war are buying the idea that we have to stay until we stabilize the country, when seems quite clear that the civil war is state-sponsored. In other words, our presence is a major destabilizing factor and the longer we stay, the less chance Iraq has of ever being stable again. Many opponents of the war do not realize this. And that is very curious, don't you think?

Bolivia: The 'Blame Game' Rages On

According to the BBC, US behind Bolivia crisis - Chavez
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has blamed Washington's brand of capitalism for the recent troubles in Bolivia.

Speaking on his weekly TV programme, he said US open market policies in Latin America had led to "exclusion, misery and destabilisation".

He called President George W Bush's proposal for a regional free trade agreement a "medicine of death".

Bolivia was brought to a virtual standstill by protesters calling for economic and constitutional reforms.

"Look at Bolivia. Fortunately the Bolivians opened the door toward a peaceful path, but they were on the verge of a civil war," said Mr Chavez.
The Venezuelan leader, who is an outspoken critic of Mr Bush's foreign policy, was responding to suggestions by some US officials that he was stirring up the Bolivian protests.

US assistant secretary of state Roger Noriega said President Chavez's support for the Bolivian indigenous leader Evo Morales might be partly to blame for the mass protests there.

But a report in the Argentinian newspaper Clarin quoted unnamed diplomatic sources as saying that Mr Chavez may have played a key part in achieving a solution to Bolivia's crisis.

The report said that a frenetic exchange of phone calls with Caracas encouraged Mr Morales to accept the constitutional outcome.
During his programme on Sunday, which lasted more than seven hours, Mr Chavez said Latin American countries were moving towards socialist economic models instead of US-style capitalism.

He said Mr Bush's idea for a hemisphere-wide free trade zone, mooted last week at a meeting of the Organisation of American States in Florida, would lead to more poverty and protests in the region.

"We say no Mr Bush, no sir... I'm sorry for you," he said. "The people of Latin America are saying 'no' to you, Mr Danger, they are saying no to your medicine.

"Capitalism is the road to destabilisation, violence and war between brothers."
You can find much more Winter Patriot coverage of the Boliviam situation; here is a good starting point.

Well Then ... Let's Call Them 'French Freedom Fries'

I'm quoting from Aljazeera's Freedom fries senator in Iraq U-turn [and the emphasis is mine]
A lawmaker who prompted cafeterias in the US Congress to change the name of their French fries to freedom fries in anger over France's opposition to the Iraq war, has turned against the conflict demanding a schedule on the withdrawal of US troops.

Walter Jones, a North Carolina Republican, has written more than 1300 letters of condolence to the families of soldiers killed in Iraq and will introduce legislation this week calling for a firm timetable on the withdrawal of US troops, ABC's This Week said on Sunday.
President George Bush's administration has refused to set a timetable on withdrawing its forces from the war-torn country.
Of course not. They want to stay in Iraq forever.

There's more to Aljazeera's story and it's here.


Your lowly and nearly frozen blogger continues to struggle. After-effects from a series of Irony Overloads have left him shaken but not blurred. Fortunately, the de-spinnerizer is still de-spinning...

Howard Dean calls the republicans a white Christian party and gets flak for it ... some of this flak comes from his own party ... even some of those who attack Dean seem to admit that what he said was true ... and therefore [!] Dean is called a racist ... Ka-blam!

Dean criticizes proposed police state legislation supported by F. James Sensenbrenner among others. Dean says:
"(T)hey are attacking immigrants: Two Republican congressmen, Jim Sensenbrenner and Tom Tancredo, have incredible anti-immigrant legislation."
It's not just anti-immigrant, of course. It's thoroughly unconstitutional and virulently un-American. I wasn't supposed to mention that, was I? Howard Dean wasn't supposed to mention that either, was he?

Sensenbrenner counter-attacked, writing a public letter to Dean and saying, among other things:
In recent days, your delusional outbursts have forced senior members of your own party to distance themselves from your comments. While I agree with your acknowledgment that you're "not very dignified," I sincerely hope you refrain from further personal attacks. These attacks are contrary to the passionate - but respectful - political debate the public deserves.
It's not at all ironic that a paragraph which urges one to refrain from personal attacks should start off with a phrase like "your delusional outbursts", is it? Ka-Blam!! But wait. It gets better!

Two days later, Sensenbrenner shuts down hearings on abuses of the so-called 'Patriot Act'. Ka-blam! Now we can't even talk about the abuses of the legislation we're not supposed to talk about. Don't ask yourself whether this is in the tradition of American governance because LOOKOUT! Ka-Blam!! Ka-Blam!!

Did you recognize that sound? It's Spontaneous Human Implosion! Fragments everywhere... and they're still coming in!

Meanwhile, more British memos have been leaking out and one of them accuses the US of doing a poor job of planning -- before the war -- for the aftermath of the war. That such a document should be dated eight months before the so-called president allegedly decided to wage war seems like a fairly serious indictment to me ... but what do I know? ... White House spokesman disputes the claim ... no, not the claims that the US was determined to go to war, the claim that there was a lack of planning! ... Everything else is left hanging, not denied, not acknowledged. The elephant in the room that nobody wants to mention.

Elephant? Did I say elephant?? Ka-blam!!

Now all these memos are floating around ... Can the media possibly ignore it all forever? Maybe not!

Certainly not The Raw Story! There is a lot of good material there at the moment, including a timeline showing our 'progress' on the road to war.

The Raw Story also has all these memos:Fortunately, none of this matters very much, because Michael Jackson has been found not guilty! Ka-Blam!!

I've been saying the US policy toward so-called 'detainees' is "absurd". I meant this in the usual sense of the word, the same thing bush means when he says that Amnesty International's charges are "absurd"; the same thing wolfowitz means when he says it's "absurd" to deny the link between terrorism and Saddam. In other words, the policy strikes me as:
Ridiculously incongruous or unreasonable... foolish, silly, fatuous, preposterous, ridiculous, ludicrous
But I've recently learned that "absurd" has another meaning.
Of, relating to, or manifesting the view that there is no order or value in human life or in the universe.
Is this beautiful or what? The entire bush administration in a nutshell!
"there is no value in human life or in the universe"
"Culture of Life"? Ka-blam! Ka-Blam!! KA-BLAM!!!

Lookout!! Multiple Fragments Incoming!!

Global rates of Spontaneous Human Implosion have never been higher.

Pentagon Offers No Excuse For Abuse

Pentagon gives no excuses for suspect treatment; senators aghast
WASHINGTON (AFP) - The US military offered no excuses for interrogation techniques used on a Saudi terror suspect at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, saying his questioning followed a "detailed plan" and that prevention of new attacks justified the means.
Your lowly and nearly frozen blogger suggests that if prevention of new attacks is the motive then might it not be prudent to try to identify the perpetrators of the previous attacks?

Some People Will Say Anything

Guantánamo detainees are 'bad people', says Cheney
People need to understand that detainees at Guantánamo Bay are "bad people", the US vice president, Dick Cheney, will say in an interview to be broadcast tonight as pressure grows for the detention centre to close.
Is that right? I've heard some of them are so bad that we had to buy them. But let's ask another question: Who is this big dick and why does he get to decide which people are bad?

Monday, June 13, 2005

Hot Topics

A quick apology to regular readers who may have stopped by expecting something new. There's a great deal of news but I haven't had time to blog about it recently. Hopefully this will change soon.

In the meantime I thought you might like to know that search engines have been bringing visitors to the following pages:

March: The Capture That Wasn't

April: 'Operation FALCON' Raises Disturbing Questions

May: Beware the Wolf Brigade

June: Bush: "Detainees Trained To Disassemble"

The truth is seeping out, slowly...

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Bush, Gonzales Lying Again: WaPo has the story

And the story is all over the net.

According to the Washington Post, U.S. produces fewer terror convictions than officials claim
On Thursday, President Bush stepped to a lectern at the Ohio State Highway Patrol Academy in Columbus to urge renewal of the USA Patriot Act and to boast of the government's success in prosecuting terrorists.
Flanked by Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, Bush said that "federal terrorism investigations have resulted in charges against more than 400 suspects, and more than half of those charged have been convicted."

Those statistics have been used repeatedly by Bush and other administration officials, including Gonzales and his predecessor, John D. Ashcroft, to characterize the government's efforts against terrorism.

But the numbers are misleading at best.
Misleading? At best?
An analysis of the Justice Department's own list of terrorism prosecutions by The Washington Post shows that 39 people — not 200, as officials have implied — were convicted of crimes related to terrorism or national security.

Most of the others were convicted of relatively minor crimes such as making false statements and violating immigration law — and had nothing to do with terrorism, the analysis shows.
Read the rest of U.S. produces fewer terror convictions than officials claim. Watch how various officials spin and back-pedal. They all know they're working for an administration that rewards loyalty above all else. One could even say it rewards loyalty but nothing else.

And so we get stuff like this.
It's perfect, in an ironic kind of way.
Perfect because it illustrates a well-known fact:
Once they start lying, they can never stop.

Bolivia: All Clear ... For The Moment

Blockades in Bolivia city removed
The last blockades remaining around Bolivia's main city, La Paz, have been lifted, allowing fuel into the city for the first time in weeks.

The move follows a truce from indigenous Indian protesters ahead of a meeting on Sunday with the new President, Eduardo Rodriguez.
There's more to the article, of course. I think you should read it. But the bottom line, as written by the BBC, looks like this:
Residents of the slum city of El Alto adjoining the capital were the last to end their protests.

They say their main demands for the nationalisation of Bolivia's rich gas reserves and constitutional reform have yet to be met.

And they warn that without progress on these issues, their truce will only be temporary.

Other protest groups - including Indian peasant farmers and miners - have been more conciliatory.

Roadblocks across much of Bolivia were lifted on Friday.

And so long as President Rodriguez calls new elections promptly, most protesters - for now at least - will be satisfied.
Meanwhile, the New York Times is reporting:

Bolivia Installs New Leader With Very Long 'To Do' List
LA PAZ, Bolivia, June 10 - Bolivia's new president, Eduardo Rodríguez, began his first day in office on Friday pledging to convene early elections while working with Congress to address the demands of angry citizens for the nationalization of the energy sector and the drafting of a new constitution to give the Indian majority more rights.
Mr. Rodríguez, whose appointment was so sudden that he was not presented with the traditional tricolor presidential sash during his swearing in, stressed that new elections must be held, not only for president but for members of Congress. The political class in Bolivia is reviled by the opposition as corrupt and beholden to special interests.
"One of my attributions, a capacity I have, is to convene an electoral process that would transform and renew citizen representation so this Congress can become more democratic, more just and more fair," Mr. Rodríguez said near midnight on Thursday, shortly after being sworn in.
He means "attributes", of course, and not "attributions". But I am not going to jump on him for the mistake. Why was I unwilling to cut george bush the same slack when he said "disassemble" rather than "dissemble"? Could it be because bush was [1] lying and [2] speaking his native language?
"He's an honest man, but he has a task you wouldn't wish on your enemies," said Eduardo A. Gamarra, the Bolivian-born head of Latin American studies at Florida International University in Miami. "He's a worker, and his character is more of someone wanting to do things for the long term, while his task here is very short term."
"That is a big challenge, to achieve accords with Congress for what would basically be the self-dissolution of the Congress," said Álvaro García, a political analyst in La Paz. The new president will also be under pressure to convene a citizen assembly leading to the drafting of a new constitution and a referendum that would give Bolivia's far-flung regions more autonomy. And he also faces the task of placating Bolivians who want the state to squeeze foreign energy companies, even to the point of expropriating installations.

Mr. Rodríguez stressed that many of the changes Bolivians want most must be fashioned with Congress. Political analysts question whether the lawmakers will cooperate.

"He's a temporary president and a prisoner of the forces of Parliament," Mr. García said. "He does not even have political experience, the capacity to influence Parliament or the enthusiasm of the social movements."
Thus quoth the New York Times. We shall see.

It says here that the Times has run four related articles in the past three months. One of those is still available for free and that's here.

By contrast, your lowly and nearly frozen blogger will continue to keep a close eye on Bolivia. Previous Winter Patriot posts concerning this remarkable series of protests are here and here and here and here and here and here. All free. All still available.

Did I Die And Go To Heaven? Or Somewhere Else??

Can this possibly be true?
G-8 agreement wipes out $40-billion owed by 14 African and four Latin countries. Nine more impoverished states may soon be eligible for help.
I'm quoting the L.A. Times now and the Times is saying:

18 Poor Nations Relieved of Debt
The decision fulfilled a decades-old dream of anti-poverty activists, who have argued that payments on old loans drains the limited resources of the world's poorest nations, most of which are in Africa, keeping millions of people mired in poverty.
No kidding!
British Chancellor Gordon Brown, the major force in putting together the debt-relief package, announced that the poor nations' debt to the World Bank, the African Development Bank and the International Monetary Fund would be wiped out. Richer countries have agreed to replenish the reserves of the funding organizations as necessary.
Is this a hoax? It seems too good to be true! What strings are attached? Do they all have to bow to the Queen and say "jolly good ole chap!" all day long?

Just kidding there, of course. And I would never want to offend against the Queen, as one of my four or five regular readers appears to be English! But I digress. Back to the L.A. Times:

blah blah blah
woof woof woof
all this totally expected stuff
...and then, a few hints which are not entirely unexpected either, whether you read between the lines or not:
Blair pushed President Bush for action in a meeting in Washington last week. British officials reported on Friday that the White House made a significant concession
hmm... only three days after the master prevaricator bailed the blubbering half-wit's ass out of a huge jam, or at least held back the tide for the moment...
The 18 countries that would qualify immediately for debt relief have already been approved for relief under the World Bank's Heavily Indebted Poor Country Initiative, in which they commit to good governance, adhering to an IMF-endorsed financial plan and rooting out corruption.
How rich! Now I get to use the words bush and blair and the phrases good governance and rooting out corruption in the same sentence. Bloody delightful, eh what?

No, really. It's beautiful. A glib mendacious brit and blubbering american moron who happen to represent the biggest crooks in the world -- professional mass murders for hire to the highest corporate bidder -- send their money-men to the poorest countries in the world with IOUs worth billions in their hands, and their spiel goes
"Here's a debt worth several billion dollars. What would one of the world's poorest countries give to be free of such a debt?

Cool! Sold!"
Which gives me a whole new take on this quote:
"I know it is the intention of world leaders to forge a new and better relationship -- a new deal -- between the rich and poor countries of the world and, I believe that the advances that we have made can be built upon ... in the next few weeks," Brown said. "This is not a time for timidity, but a time for boldness, and not a time for settling for second-best, but aiming high."
Yeah, right. What kinds of cooperation would Brits and Americans require that called for "boldness", "not settling for second-best", "aiming high"? Is it just me or do these sound like the words of somebody who's trying to win a war?

Ah, right! They are trying to win a war. And if they can't win it in Iraq then they're going to try to win it in the hearts and minds of people like you and me.

Aren't they?

Friday, June 10, 2005

Dahr Jamail: "Civil War" in Iraq is "State-Sponsored"

Dahr Jamail hasn't posted much at Iraq Dispatches lately, but the stories he's getting ...

Regular readers of this space [all four or five of them] will remember that we've heard from Dahr Jamail once or twice or maybe even three times recently. His latest is called "State Sponsored Civil War" and it starts like this:
Yesterday at a conference in Baghdad, Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, a prominent Shia leader who is also the head of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq announced, "In gratitude to the efforts, sacrifices and heroic positions of our brothers and brave sons from the Badr Organization."

"We must give them the priority in bearing administrative and government responsibilities especially in the security field," he added, while the "President" of Iraq, Jalal Talabani, listened on.

The Badr Organization (formerly known as the Badr Brigade) was formed by al-Hakim’s brother in the ‘80’s to fight Saddam Hussein. It has long since received funding and other "support" from Iran.

While civilians in Fallujah, Mosul, Ramadi, Baquba, Baghdad, Haditha and other cities in Iraq continue to complain of being beaten, looted and humiliated by the members of the Iraqi Army who are members of both the Badr Organization and Kurdish Peshmerga, these militias now have the overt backing of the interim Iraqi government."
"You and your (Kurdish) brothers are the heroes of liberating Iraq," added Talabani at the aforementioned conference.

So we have the US-backed Iraqi "government" overtly [...] pitting Shia and Kurdish militias against the primarily Sunni resistance. State sponsored/propagated civil war -- although most Iraqis continue to fear and loath the idea, and so many Iraqi political and religious organizations continue to work tirelessly to avert the worsening of this now low-grade civil war.
Dahr Jamail continues to receive interesting e-mail.
One man who is a security contractor writes, "Many nationalities from the planet, many cowboys. I feel like Tonto. Some of these boys are psycho. Been there done that on the international radar."
There's more. Read State Sponsored Civil War by Dahr Jamail. Bookmark Iraq Dispatches.