Sunday, July 29, 2007

Tom Toles: August Vacation

Pop Quiz For Terror Suspects -- Oops! You Fail!!

Suppose while living and working in a foreign country, you were arrested on "terror" charges that turned out to be groundless.

Suppose while you were detained, your work visa was revoked.

Suppose the "case" against you collapsed quickly and you were released.

What would you do?

[1] Go back to your native country, see your wife and the rest of your family, find another job, and resume your life as quickly as possible ...

[2] Stay in the country where you had been arrested even though you couldn't work there ... or ...

[3] Wait a while and see what happens.

Be careful! One of the above may raise suspicions!
An Indian doctor detained in Australia over failed car bombings in Britain has only raised suspicions by heading home so soon after being cleared, Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews said Sunday.

Gold Coast doctor Mohamed Haneef spent more than three weeks in detention on one count of "reckless" support for a terrorist group, but the case against him collapsed Friday for lack of evidence, and the charge was dropped.

Haneef quickly arranged a flight out of Brisbane, and was due in the southern Indian city of Bangalore at 9:30 pm (1600 GMT), where he was to reunite with his wife and meet his one-month-old daughter for the first time.

Andrews said the rapid departure only made the 27-year-old Muslim medic look more suspicious.

"If anything, that actually heightens rather than lessens my suspicion," he told commercial television.

What would they be saying if he hadn't left?
Well you know his family is overseas, and he has no job here, and he can't get a job here, so why is he hanging around? Do you not find that suspicious? Do you think he might be planning something?
You heard it here first: These guys are absolutely shameless.

My Australian friend Gandhi has been blogging the Haneef story at Howard Out.

Click here for all the details.

Gone Campin'

We've packed up the tent and the sleeping bags, the car is full of little boys, and we're off for a few days of rest and relaxation.

I have no posts lined up for the interim, and would have no way to detonate them even if I did. But between this and a new open thread, you will probably be able to manage.

You won't hear from me again until Wednesday, but I'll be thinking of you!

In the meantime, please explore...

chris floyd: Empire Burlesque | Mark Morford | mike golby: Y Blog Za | gandhi: Howard Out & Riding The Juggernaut | luke ryland: Monosyllabic Fish | former ambassador Craig Murray | jonathan schwarz: A Tiny Revolution | larisa alexandrovna: At-Largely | bluebear2: Lair Of The Blue Bear | sean o'neil: Liquified Viscera | fred baumgarten: Grimblebee | bob koehler: Common Wonders | william blum: Killing Hope | kurt nimmo: Another Day In The Empire | william bowles: Investigating 'New' Imperialism | bob parry: Consortium News | ken silverstein: Washington Babylon | Ranger Against War | handy fuse: Simply Appalling | as'ad abu khalil: The Angry Arab | john caruso: The Distant Ocean | dana blankenhorn and the War Against Oil | tom engelhardt: TomDispatch | Dick Destiny

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Red Mosque Closed Indefinitely Amid Tight Security

Lal Masjid, the Red Mosque in Islamabad, has been sealed indefinitely following yesterday's violence, and the Hindustan Times has the story:
The Pakistani government on Saturday sealed the troubled Lal Masjid in Islamabad, a day after a suicide attack killed 15 people during clashes between Islamic extremists and security forces following its reopening.

Hundreds of policemen set up new checkpoints and cordoned off the area around the compound with barbed wire. "The mosque will now remain closed for an indefinite period," Interior Ministry spokesman Javid Cheema said.

Security in Islamabad was also strengthened to thwart possible attacks by Islamist radicals.

Police were deployed at all entry and exit points of the capital and the nearby city of Rawalpindi, where security forces were put on high alert.

The authorities had carried out reconstructive surgery of the head of the suspected suicide attacker to make his face recognisable, while other parts of his body were sent to the laboratory for DNA testing.

The bombing targeted a group of policemen deployed near the Red Mosque to quell an irate mob of some 2,000 Islamic theology students who occupied the compound for several hours after it reopened for Friday prayers.

The police used tear gas to disperse the crowd and arrested around 100 rioters as it regained the control of the mosque compound.
The Mosque was central to the CIA / NSA effort to radicalize an Islamic insurgency against the Soviets in Afghanistan. This effort began in 1979 under President Carter and his National Security Advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinsky, and grew much larger during Ronald Reagan's presidency. The mosque itself has been a source of pride and the recipient of much official support. By some accounts it served as a launching pad for the Taliban, who with the help of Pakistan's army and its intelligence service (the ISI), wound up evicting the Red Army and controlling Afghanistan.

But the relationship between the Pakistani government and the Taliban changed drastically shortly after September 11, 2001, when Pakistan -- which many intelligence analysts see as one of the world's primary sources of terrorism -- reputedly became America's top Asian ally in the so-called Global War On Terror.

So -- if we believe the official tale on this point -- Pakistan has been, in effect, charged by the Americans with the responsibility of fighting a movement that it -- and the USA -- once supported. And Uncle Sam has been giving Pakistan at least $100 million a month for its "expenses" in fighting the GWOT, but the Pakistani Army has become increasingly reluctant to attack its former friends, and a "peace settlement" between the two was arranged last summer. But lately the Americans have begun to get a bit picky about this, and threatening to tie future aid to anti-terrorism "performance".

All this background to the siege and eventual storming of the mosque complex is quite often overlooked in the rush to tell the story of the day.

And in recent days -- while we've been talking about other things -- Pakistani forces have been skirmishing with "militant extremists" in the mountainous northwest of the country, apparently carrying out attacks but also being ambushed from time to time, and nobody knows whether or not this has anything to do with the Americans talking of making the aid conditional, or whether it has anything to do with thinly veiled threats of military intervention coming from the State Department. But this is certainly a moot point to the families and friends of the people who have been killed.

In the opinions of many, including your frozen scribbler, what we're seeing here is intimately connected, not only with the largely secret history of American-sponsored Islamic terrorism, but also with the future of global terror, as well as the future of the GWOT -- and these, unfortunately, are two very different things.

I have argued many times here that the GWOT is "bogus", and many aspects of it certainly are that, but on the other hand there really are people who are willing to blow themselves to smithereens in order to kill 15 or 20 others.

In Pakistan last year there were more than 650 terrorist attacks, in which more than 900 people were killed, and this year so far it's been worse. Much of the most serious damage has been caused by suicide bombers. So this wave of suicide bombings -- horrific as it is -- is nothing new for Pakistan, and as you can see there's no trace of surprise or emotion in the reports of "reconstructive surgery of the head" of the suspected attacker, "to make his face recognisable" ... after he killed 15 people and injured another 70 in the heart of the national capital!

Can you imagine what would happen if a suicide bomber had killed 15 people in Washington, after the government had attacked a church-school complex, which until relatively recently had been politically "connected" ... and Americans think we know what it's like to live under the constant threat of terrorism!

What we know is what it's like to live under a constant barrage of propaganda. And an investigation into yesterday's bombing has begun. And the Red Mosque is closed indefinitely. But the Taliban will not be shut down so easily.

CAUTION! Headlines From Afghanistan May Be Misleading -- Again!

The headline in Thursday's Washington Post told you all you needed to know ... maybe!

60 Taliban Killed in Afghan Battles

The article by Fisnik Abrashi of the Associated Press reports on two battles in Afghanistan and even though the headline left no doubt about what happened, the story was not exactly definitive:
KABUL, Afghanistan -- U.S.-led coalition forces and Afghan troops fought two separate battles with militants in southern Afghanistan, killing more than 60 suspected Taliban insurgents, officials said Thursday.
You'll notice that the "Taliban killed" from the headline are now "suspected Taliban insurgents" ... but only for a little while!
Coalition forces and Afghan troops attacked a cluster of buildings in Helmand province that militants have been using to launch attacks. More than 50 Taliban were killed and several others were wounded in the 12-hour gunbattle that ended early Thursday.

"Coalition air support dropped two bombs on the compounds with the greatest concentration of insurgents," a coalition statement said. "Both compounds produced significant secondary explosions immediately suggesting a large quantity of explosive material was present in each."
You see? We're back to "more than 50 Taliban were killed", and the article helpfully provides some context. Secondary explosions. Ya-hoo!
The clash happened near the village of Musa Qala, where a peace deal struck last year with local elders effectively ceded control of the area to Taliban fighters. The agreement between the elders and the Helmand government prevents NATO and Taliban forces from entering the town, but militants still use the area as a staging ground for raids against Afghan and foreign troops.
That's some "peace deal": an agreement that prevents NATO and Taliban forces from entering the town but doesn't prevent militants from using the area, nor apparently does it prevent "coalition air support" from bombing the buildings in the area. I suppose it all hinges on what you mean by "enter".

Here's a map from the BBC showing Helmand province, where the battle took place, and a bit more context from Fisnik Abrashi:
Militants recently attacked a coalition patrol with heavy machine guns and rocket-propelled grenade launchers, prompting the assault on the compound. A coalition soldier broke his hand during the fight, the coalition said.

"They are using Musa Qala as a base of support and it is believed that they will stay and defend the area rather than use their normal hit-and-run tactics," the coalition said.
So there's the story. Retribution and self-defense in some combination, and of course the targets were "the compounds with the greatest concentration of insurgents". It almost kind of makes sense, doesn't it?

Nice and clean, all motives accounted for, no friendly or civilian fatalities, and everything is rosy in jolly old Helmand. The second battle took place in the adjacent province of Kandahar, where
Afghan troops clashed with the Taliban for three hours leaving 10 suspected militants and one policemen dead, said Sayed Afghan Saqib, Kandahar provincial police chief.
So there you have it; 10 suspected militants dead in Kandahar province, another 50 Taliban killed in Helmand: so that's 60 Taliban Killed, right?

Well, maybe not...

The Los Angeles Times ran a very similar article, credited to the Associated Press though not to Fisnik Abrashi personally, which included the following very important detail:
A NATO soldier was also killed today following a clash with militants in southern Afghanistan, the alliance said in a statement. The soldier's nationality and the exact location of the clash were not revealed.
It's no wonder, then, that the Times chose a different headline:

NATO soldier, 60 Taliban killed in battles in southern Afghanistan

There! That's better! Not that there's anything better about losing a soldier, especially if you are a friend or relative of that soldier. But now the story makes more sense, as we all know that nobody can kill radical militants by the score without suffering at least some casualties -- even if the killing is done mostly by bombing buildings from the air.

It seems amazing that we can bomb buildings from airplanes without killing civilians, doesn't it?

Prepare to be less amazed, because the real story of those bombardments -- which the Pentagon would certainly call "enemy propaganda" -- comes to us via Reuters, from the people who live there.

As published at Canada dot Com, the Reuters report says:

Dozens of Afghan civilians die in air raids: residents
One of the raids by NATO hit houses in the Girishk district of Helmand province on Thursday evening, killing up to 50 civilians, a group of some 20 residents reported to journalists in Kandahar, the main city in the south.

Wali Jan Sabri, a parliamentarian from Helmand, said he had credible information that between 50 to 60 civilians had been killed in a battle between the Taliban and NATO forces in Girishk.

He said most of the victims were killed in air strikes.

"Yes, there was a battle ... and most of those killed were from NATO bombardment," he told Reuters.
A second source reliable source in the area has confirmed the civilian deaths, and said the civilians were killed while trying to run away.
The district chief of Girishk, Manaf Khan, said more than 20 civilians were killed in NATO bombing when they were trying to flee the battle.

"The fighting was fierce between Taliban and NATO," he told Reuters. "Civilians began to flee and 27 or 28 of them were killed while fleeing NATO bombing. I do not have information about the wounded," he said.

He later phoned Reuters to say said that 50 Taliban were also killed in the bombing and battle. The Taliban could not be reached for comment.
Much to no one's surprise, the British are denying everything:
A spokesman for British forces in Helmand said there was an ongoing operation in the province, but denied there had been any civilian casualties around Girishk.

"We have no reports of any such incidents in Girishk yesterday at all. There have been no people taken to the hospital ... in relation to anything around Girishk," said Lieutenant-Colonel Charlie Mayo.
But in the midst of his denial, Lt.-Col. Mayo adds a very revealing comment:
"Because the Taliban don't wear uniforms like us, as soon as they are killed, they are called civilians, the key is are they male or female and if they are male, what age are they?"
Even if you're like me -- a little bit numb, a little bit cold -- you may notice the inversion-of-truth spin technique used here. We've been reading about battles in which only Taliban insurgents -- not civilians -- were said to have been killed. Since the bulk of the killing was apparently done by airstrike, it seems natural to ask: How come there haven't been any civilian casualties?

But to hear it from the British, we've got it the wrong way 'round: Taliban fighters, "as soon as they are killed, they are called civilians"! It's a remarkable upside-down world, is it not?

The second point worth highlighting is Lt.-Col. Mayo's "classification" system:
the key is are they male or female and if they are male, what age are they?
which states quite clearly -- between the lines -- that all dead adult males are Taliban militants.

In other words, when they say "60 Taliban killed" they really mean "60 adult men killed".

An AP report, available via WCSH6 in Portland, contains two assertions that more than 40 civilians were killed, despite its headline:

Report: 28 Afghans Killed In Airstrikes
Malim Mirwali, a member of Parliament for Gereshk, said that more than 40 civilians were killed in the airstrikes - a figure that one local resident also cited.

"The war planes came and bombed these villagers - more than 40 civilians killed, including women and children," said villager Nimatullah Khan.
So who is spinning whom?

The civilian death toll continues to rise quickly, mostly because of "coalition airstrikes", in episodes not unlike this one, in which initial reports of spotless military victory turn out to have hidden some very gruesome details, and which will surely fuel the growing violence against the occupying foreigners.

Thus we will see more gunfights and ambushes, followed by massive airstrikes, ever more violence in which the majority of the damage is borne not by Taliban fighters or even Islamic militant wannabes, but by the innocent people of Afghanistan: people who are more like ourselves than we care to admit; people who are mostly concerned about taking care of themselves so they can help their children and/or their parents; people who have no truck with either side; people who mostly want the war to go away and leave them alone.

If it seems to you that raining death from the sky on these people is a moral outrage, you will find scant agreement in the "national discourse", in which it has only recently been acknowledged that civilian casualties make for bad PR, especially if cast against the question of "success" or "failure" in Afghanistan.

Carlotta Gall reported about "excessive" civilian casualties in Afghanistan for months, and nobody paid very much attention to her articles, which ran in the New York Times and nowhere else.

But then the Afghan parliament started tallking about passing a resolution condemning airstrikes on civilians and the European "coalition" partners suddenly became concerned about what they see as an "image problem", and back in May Carlotta Gall began to write about civilian casualties as "undermining" the war effort.

And strange things began to happen: Other newspapers began to carry her articles, more bloggers began to mention civilian casualties in Afghanistan, and a little more of the reality of Afghanistan began to seep into the national discourse.

Is this topic of interest now? We shall see. But in the meantime, as far as the civilians are concerned:

If they can't run fast enough to get away from the bombing, that's their problem.
"When you are on top of the enemy you look, shoot and it's, 'You die, you die, you die'," Lt Denton said. "The odds are on our side. I really enjoy it. I told my wife, if I could come home every night then this would be the perfect job."

'Hate Of The Worst Order': 'Liberal Activists Step Up Campaign Against FOX News'

Liberal activists are stepping up their campaign against Fox News Channel by pressuring advertisers not to patronize the network.
according to a report from the AP, which continues:, the Campaign for America's Future and liberal blogs like are asking thousands of supporters to monitor who is advertising on the network, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp.

Once a database is gathered, an organized phone-calling campaign will begin, said Jim Gilliam, vice president of media strategy for Brave New Films, a company that has made anti-Fox videos.
They're going to try to dissuade small businesses from advertising on their local FOX stations.

The groups seem particularly angry at Fox's Bill O'Reilly, who has done critical reports on left-wing bloggers. On July 16, O'Reilly said the Web site is "hate of the worst order," and sent a reporter to question JetBlue Airways Corp. CEO Dave Barger about the airline's sponsorship of a gathering run by DailyKos.

He'll never ride on JetBlue again, O'Reilly said.

Fox said JetBlue has since asked that its name be removed from the Web site.
It's an interesting idea: a centralized campaign against widely dispersed targets. That's the sort of thing you get from the military more often than from "liberal activists".

So I'll be curious to see what comes of it. And there's more here, courtesy of ... FOX News!

Friday, July 27, 2007

Pakistan's Battered Red Mosque Reopens In Peace And Peach, But Not For Long

A suicide bomber has killed 13 people and injured more than 70 others near Islamabad's Lal Masjid (Red Mosque). Another 50 people have been arrested; for more details, see below. I will post more information there if and when possible.

The current post originally began as follows:


Early Friday afternoon Dawn was talking about the reopening of Lal Masjid, the formerly Red Mosque, like so:

Lal Masjid, now peach, opens for prayers
ISLAMABAD, July 27 (AFP) Islamabad's Lal Masjid opened for prayers on Friday with a new coat of peach-coloured paint, three weeks after an operation against militants there left scores dead.

Workers have plastered over bullet holes in the walls and repaired craters in the minarets. New carpets have been laid to replace the rubble-strewn prayer mats besides the replacement of the twisted fans, broken bulbs and fluorescent tubes, officials said.

Security was tight ahead of Friday prayers. “We have made special security arrangements. There will be scanning with electronic gadgets,” Islamabad's top administration official Khalid Pervez said.
But now -- less than four hours later -- the song is quite different:

Hundreds retake Lal Masjid, paint walls red
ISLAMABAD, July 27 (AFP) Hundreds occupied Islamabad's Lal Masjid Friday, painting the walls in their original colour and wrecking the official reopening of the complex after an army assault on militants.

Protesters chased out a government-appointed religious elder who was meant to lead the first Friday prayers at the mosque since the military operation there earlier this month that left more than 100 people dead.

The unarmed demonstrators, most of them former students of the mosque, flew flags from the minarets and pelted police vehicles with stones, an AFP reporter witnessed.

Five or six people carrying buckets daubed red paint over the outer walls, which had been changed to a peach colour during government renovations, while dozens more unfurled flags and banners on the roof.

“It is true that rowdy students have overtaken the mosque, they are not letting the prayers be held,” a senior security official told AFP requesting anonymity.

Despite tight security, the students stopped prayer leader Imam Mohammad Ashfaq taking up his position at the mosque and used the microphone to deliver their own furious speeches against the government raid.

“I was told everything would be peaceful. I was never interested in taking up this job and after today I will never do it,” Ashfaq told AFP as he left with a police escort.

The students demanded the return of the mosque's chief cleric, Abdul Aziz, who is now in jail awaiting trial on terror charges, Ashfaq said.

They chanted anti-government slogans adding that the blood of the mosque's leader Abdul Rashid Ghazi, who died in the assault, would “bring an Islamic revolution.” They also threw shoes at cameramen and reporters covering the event.

“It is an unfortunate situation,” interior ministry spokesman Brigadier Javed Cheema told AFP. “We worked day and night to open the mosque for people to offer prayers but some people, mainly former students, are trying to create mischief,” he said. “We are monitoring the situation and will take appropriate measures to restore order. Security forces have not gone inside,” he added.

The death toll now stands at 13 with another 71 injured after today's blast in Islamabad. Here's Dawn again:

Blast kills 13, wounds 71 inside Islamabad hotel after riot near Lal Masjid
ISLAMABAD, July 27 (AP) A suspected suicide bombing killed at least 13 people and wounded 71 others Friday at a hotel near Islamabad's Lal Masjid, after madrassa students occupied the mosque and demanded the return of its cleric Abdul Aziz.

The explosion occurred soon after police fired tear gas to disperse hundreds of protesters who for several hours took control of the mosque which the government reopened to the public Friday.

A witness said the blast went off inside the Muzaffar Hotel, located in a crowded market area about a half-kilometre from the mosque. He said he saw blood, body parts, and shreds of Punjab police uniform inside the hotel.

Neighbouring shops and food stalls were also hit by the blast. "I heard the blast and I came running. A policeman got blown into the air and landed away from the blast site," said another witness.

Khalid Pervez, Islamabad's top administrator, said 13 people were killed, including seven police, and 71 were wounded. Kamal Shah, another top ministry official, said initial reports suggested it was a suicide attack targeting police.

Explosive experts collect[ed] parts from the torso of a man's mutilated body that they suspect was the bomber's, a senior police officer said requesting anonymity.

After the bombing, police retook control of the mosque, said Zafar Iqbal, the city police chief. Some protesters resisted and about 50 people were arrested.


The death toll from Friday's bombing now stands at 15, and Pakistani authorities are "tightening security", according to the latest report from Dawn.

New Details Support Old Story: Pat Tillman Was Murdered!

A new report from the AP's Martha Mendoza confirms what has been obvious all along: Pat Tillman was not the victim of accidental "friendly fire".

With three bullet holes in his forehead, with his diary and uniform burned, with his opinion of the war ("so fucking illegal") well-established, with his access to mainstream American media absolutely guaranteed, there was never any reason to accept the Army's changing story of Pat Tillman's not-so-accidental death.

Quite simply, the former Arizona State and NFL star could not be allowed to return home to tell what he had seen. He couldn't even be allowed to talk to Noam Chomsky on the telephone.

According to "news" reports which have mostly tried to paint her as crazy, Pat Tillman's mother has felt all along that her son was killed deliberately -- by people who should have been on his side. I have felt the same thing ever since I heard he was dead, and especially once the details of the tragedy began to emerge.

The Army has told lie after lie after lie about this, and the media have gobbled them up, as in the following stenography by Julian E. Barnes, who disgraces the Los Angeles Times:
Tillman, the NFL player who gave up a multimillion dollar contract to enlist in the Army, was mistakenly killed in Afghanistan by another member of his platoon. The Army initially announced that Tillman died in combat and not from friendly fire. Although officers knew the truth soon after the shooting, the military waited a month before telling Tillman's family he was not killed by Afghan militants.
With "reporting" such as this "leading the way", the media have managed to contain the discussion to questions like "Did the Army lie?" and "Who in the Army lied?"

They've stayed away from more dangerous questions, like "Why did the Army lie?" and the even more explosive "Why was Pat Tillman killed?", even though the answers to these questions are entirely obvious.

One can hope -- faintly, perhaps -- that the following article will change all that ... extended excerpts from Martha Mendoza of the AP, via the Washington Post:

AP: New Details on Tillman's Death
SAN FRANCISCO -- Army medical examiners were suspicious about the close proximity of the three bullet holes in Pat Tillman's forehead and tried without success to get authorities to investigate whether the former NFL player's death amounted to a crime, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.

"The medical evidence did not match up with the, with the scenario as described," a doctor who examined Tillman's body after he was killed on the battlefield in Afghanistan in 2004 told investigators.

The doctors -- whose names were blacked out -- said that the bullet holes were so close together that it appeared the Army Ranger was cut down by an M-16 fired from a mere 10 yards or so away.

Ultimately, the Pentagon did conduct a criminal investigation, and asked Tillman's comrades whether he was disliked by his men and whether they had any reason to believe he was deliberately killed. The Pentagon eventually ruled that Tillman's death at the hands of his comrades was a friendly-fire accident.

The medical examiners' suspicions were outlined in 2,300 pages of testimony released to the AP this week by the Defense Department in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.

Among other information contained in the documents:

* In his last words moments before he was killed, Tillman snapped at a panicky comrade under fire to shut up and stop "sniveling."

* Army attorneys sent each other congratulatory e-mails for keeping criminal investigators at bay as the Army conducted an internal friendly-fire investigation that resulted in administrative, or non-criminal, punishments.

* The three-star general who kept the truth about Tillman's death from his family and the public told investigators some 70 times that he had a bad memory and couldn't recall details of his actions.

* No evidence at all of enemy fire was found at the scene -- no one was hit by enemy fire, nor was any government equipment struck.

The Pentagon and the Bush administration have been criticized in recent months for lying about the circumstances of Tillman's death. The military initially told the public and the Tillman family that he had been killed by enemy fire. Only weeks later did the Pentagon acknowledge he was gunned down by fellow Rangers.

The documents show that a doctor who autopsied Tillman's body was suspicious of the three gunshot wounds to the forehead. The doctor said he took the unusual step of calling the Army's Human Resources Command and was rebuffed. He then asked an official at the Army's Criminal Investigation Division if the CID would consider opening a criminal case.

"He said he talked to his higher headquarters and they had said no," the doctor testified.

Also according to the documents, investigators pressed officers and soldiers on a question Mrs. Tillman has been asking all along.

"Have you, at any time since this incident occurred back on April 22, 2004, have you ever received any information even rumor that Cpl. Tillman was killed by anybody within his own unit intentionally?" an investigator asked then-Capt. Richard Scott.

Investigators also asked soldiers and commanders whether Tillman was disliked, whether anyone was jealous of his celebrity, or if he was considered arrogant. They said Tillman was respected, admired and well-liked.

Tom Toles: That's Why!

Tom Toles returns to a familiar theme.

On The Importance Of Being Important

Here are the three most important news stories of yesterday, according to Larisa Alexandrovna:

FBI Director's testimony contradicts Alberto Gonzales.
FBI Director Robert Mueller told Congress Thursday that the confrontation between then-White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales and then-Attorney General John Ashcroft in Ashcroft's hospital room in 2004 concerned a controversial surveillance program -- an apparent contradiction of Senate testimony given Tuesday by Gonzales.

Mueller said he spoke with Ashcroft soon after Gonzales left the hospital and was told the meeting dealt with "an NSA [National Security Agency] program that has been much discussed, yes."

Mueller made the comment as he testified before the House Judiciary Committee.

In testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, Gonzales, now attorney general, said he had visited the ailing Ashcroft in the hospital to discuss "other intelligence activities," not the surveillance program.
and more from CNN.

Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats ask for special prosecutor to investigate Alberto Gonzales for perjury.
At a news conference this afternoon, four members of the Senate Judiciary Committee called for the appointment of a special counsel to investigate Alberto Gonzales on perjury charges.

Sens. Charles Schumer, Dianne Feinstein, Russ Feingold, and Sheldon Whitehouse explained in a letter to Solicitor General Paul Clement that “it has become apparent that the Attorney General has provided at a minimum half-truths and misleading statements” to the Judiciary Committee. They wrote:
We ask that you immediately appoint an independent special counsel from outside the Department of Justice to determine whether Attorney General Gonzales may have misled Congress or perjured himself in testimony before Congress.
Yesterday, the AP revealed documentary evidence that contradicted Gonzales’ sworn testimony regarding the NSA warrantless wiretapping program. Gonzales had said a White House intelligence briefing in 2004 were in regards to “other intelligence activities.” Then-National Intelligence Director John Negroponte confirmed in a May 2006 memorandum that the meeting was in fact about the NSA program.
and more from Think Progress.

Senate Judiciary Committee subpoenas Karl Rove.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) Thursday issued a subpoena for top White House adviser Karl Rove to compel him to testify about the firing of several U.S. attorneys.

“The evidence shows that senior White House political operatives were focused on the political impact of federal prosecutions and whether federal prosecutors were doing enough to bring partisan voter fraud and corruption cases,” Leahy said. “It is obvious that the reasons given for the firings of these prosecutors were contrived as part of a cover-up and that the stonewalling by the White House is part and parcel of that same effort.”

Leahy issued the subpoenas, one to Rove and one to White House aide Scott Jennings, after consulting with Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), the committee’s ranking member.

“The Bush-Cheney White House continues to place great strains on our constitutional system of checks and balances,” Leahy added. “Not since the darkest days of the Nixon administration have we seen efforts to corrupt federal law enforcement for partisan political gain and such efforts to avoid accountability.”

The move is a further escalation of the constitutional battle between Congress and the White House over whether Bush administration officials must provide testimony and documents to legislative branch investigators.
and more from The Hill.

According to Larisa, these are the
stories that EVERYONE should be talking about, thinking about, debating, etc.
You may imagine my joy at seeing this comment, implicitly relegating my hard day's blogging -- eight posts on such irrelevancies as the arrest of Korey Rowe, the conviction of Awaab Iqbal, prayers at Lal Masjid, and the Iraq Oil Law -- to the dustbin.

But in fact there's no need to imagine any such thing. I am only kidding, the imagined slight was clearly unintended, and in any case Larisa gave me a chance to wiggle off the hook when she mentioned
the 50 or so stories about Iraq, coming from Iraq, and so forth in which numerous Iraqi deaths, US military deaths, contract rigging scams, and so forth were discussed.
On the theory that one could "squeeze" the Iraq Oil Law into the category of "contract rigging scams" -- and how else could one classify the "greatest" heist in "legal" history? -- I see a chance to slip the hook and scramble to my frozen feet, but not without mentioning the three most important stories of the day, which as Larisa correctly points out
have to do with the state of our nation, as it affects ALL of us.
So here we go:

[1] Of course Alberto Gonzales lied! Did you think Robert Mueller was going to perjure himself to protect Gonzales? I didn't.

Anybody else? Ok.

Now: What's the probability that anything will come of this? Slim to none, maybe a shade less. Anyone disagree?

[2] A Special Counsel to investigate the Attorney General for perjury? Because four Senate Democrats say that's what we need to do? Good one! Next!!

[3] Does anyone seriously think Karl Rove is ever going to testify under oath anywhere?

The Commander Guy has already Decided that his conversations with eminent legal scholar Harriet Miers are protected by executive privilege. Do you seriously think he would Decide anything different for his political tactician?

Thus, in brief, run my thoughts on these stories that EVERYONE should be talking about.

In even briefer: This administration has shown brazen contempt for the Rule of Law and the prerogatives of Congress (which Congress has not tried very hard to protect, or exercise) -- and it has done so repeatedly, consistently, and very proudly.

These thugs have made no secret of their legal "philosophy": Law protects the weak from the strong, and we are the strong, so the law is our enemy. And they're not kidding; they've cheered the invasion of Iraq as a "victory" over international law, as you may recall.

And now -- with the stench of rotting blood unmistakable, with the bodies piling up everywhere, with phrases like "acts of treason" and "crimes against humanity" on the lips of everyone who's been paying attention, and with all the power of the "unitary executive" in their ruthless hands -- what makes you think they'll show any respect for the Rule of Law now?

Here's a clue from White House spokesman Tony Fratto:
"Every day this Congress gets a little more out of control — a new call for a special prosecutor, a new investigation launched, a new subpoena issued, an unprecedented contempt vote and an old score somehow settled ..."
Never mind that the contempt is unprecedented; never mind that this is not about any old scores, never mind that nothing is settled; are we really supposed to believe that it's the Congress that's out of control?

With administration spokesmen making such statements, what makes you think they'll show any respect for the Rule of Law ever?

I think there's a better chance they'll invade Pakistan!


And I thought this story was even more important, at least in the sense that it has the potential to affect some very passionate Americans who don't usually get involved in politics.

But surely the media will bury the Pat Tillman stories as deep as they've buried the subpoena for Karl Rove.

Speaking of which: the supposedly liberal New York Times gave the "Rove Subpoenaed" story only a cursory mention, buried deep within David Stout's story on Robert Mueller's testimony ...

... which counts as a feather in the cold blogger's cap, in my opinion. I may have neglected the "Rove Subpoenaed" story somewhat, and I may have pooh-poohed it a bit too, but even though I say so myself, I'm doing a lot better on this one than the New York Times ...

... and that tells you more than you could ever want to know about how much trouble we're in.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Pakistani Opposition Leader: Make Peace With The Militants Or Face The Americans

Americans may have been somewhat puzzled by last week's statements from Richard Boucher regarding the "necessity" of military action in Pakistan, since we've been told for the past six years that Pakistan is our number one Asian ally in the Global War On Terror. More likely they haven't heard anything at all about the most recent State Department-sanctioned saber-rattling.

So many of them may have been confused by the op/ed piece in Tuesday's New York Times by Daniel Benjamin and Steven Simon who say this is a war the Pentagon can't win, and that therefore the CIA should be given the job.

But you can bet people haven't missed the implications in Pakistan, where opposition leader Maulana Fazlur Rehman, speaking at a press conference in Quetta on Wednesday, called for a reinstatement of the peace deal in Northern Waziristan -- which militants declared 'ended' after the Pakistani military stormed the Lal Masjid (Red Mosque) complex.

The mosque has been restored and reopened [photo below], and Maulana Fazlur Rehman says the peace agreement should be restored as well, since it's a "hurdle in the way of American conspiracies", and if it breaks down, "America and other enemies would get a chance to intervene" in Pakistan.

"American conspiracies"! Can you imagine??

Gas Blasts In Russia And Texas: Terrifying But 'Not Terrorism'

Blast hits Russian gas pipeline
A huge explosion and fire have hit a gas pipeline outside the Russian city of St Petersburg.

There were no reports of deaths or injuries and officials said they did not suspect an act of terrorism.

The main pipeline for Russian gas lies well to the south of the blast, but a pipe supplying Finland is nearby.

Witnesses said the massive explosion, at just after midnight on Wednesday (2000 GMT) in St Petersburg's northern suburbs, shook buildings several kilometres away.
How do they know whether or not to suspect an act of terrorism?

Does it depend on how much they want to frighten us?

Rocky Mountain News:
Faulty connector triggers Dallas explosions
A series of explosions at a gas facility sent flaming debris raining onto highways and buildings near downtown today, injuring at least three people.

Authorities evacuated a half-mile area surrounding the Southwest Industrial Gases Inc. facility and shut down parts of nearby Interstates 30 and 35 as the explosions continued for more than half an hour. Video footage showed numerous small fires burning in the area as stacks of gas cylinders exploded.

Three hours after the explosions started, fire crews were hosing down the charred metal wreckage. About a dozen cars in a parking lot and a grassy highway median were damaged.

Fire Department Lt. Joel Lavender said the explosions started around 9:30 a.m. because of a malfunctioning connector used to join acetylene tanks during the filling process.
And how do we know that faulty connector wasn't Islamic?

The Iraq Oil Law: Crime Of The New American Century

Allen Carstensen's guest column in the Ithaca Journal the other day was a good one. I've quoted it in full below, and added emphasis as well as a few comments.

Hydrocarbon law: the crime of the century
Our government is planning the biggest theft in the history of the world. Both Republicans and Democrats are to blame, and the media are not covering it.

The Bush administration has crafted an Iraqi hydrocarbon law and is pressuring the Iraqi Parliament to pass it as one of the benchmarks necessary for continued U.S. support of their government. This document pays lip service to the fair and even distribution of profit among the various sects, but a careful look reveals that it allows huge multinational oil companies to take 80 percent of Iraq's oil wealth.
It's 87.5% as I read it, but still a bad case of "spoils" to the "victor", in this unprovoked war of choice.
Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, invoked a rarely used House rule of personal privilege to gain an hour of time on the floor of the House on May 23 to lay out the details of this travesty. “This administration has led Congress into thinking that this bill is about fair distribution of oil revenues,” Kucinich said. “In fact ... except for three scant lines, the entire 33-page hydrocarbon law creates a structure to facilitate the privatization of Iraq oil. The war in Iraq is a stain on American history. Let us not further besmirch our nation by participating in an outrageous exploitation of a nation which is in shambles due to the U.S. intervention.”

Despite the objections from Kucinich, the Congress passed the Iraq Supplemental Bill, including language requiring the privatization of Iraq's oil resources as a benchmark for U.S. support of the corrupt Iraqi government. Bush signed it into law on May 25. Bush will have to ask Congress for another appropriations bill in September. If our representatives felt enough pressure from the people, they could draft the new bill with language that made it clear that the U.S. and the multinational oil companies have no right to control what Iraq does with its oil. If not, then we have proof beyond any doubt remaining in our minds that this war is about oil.
Our representatives clearly have no intention of drafting any such law and we have already had more than enough proof of what this war is about in my humble view. But then I am one of the fringe lunatics and Allen Carstensen's reputation is not as fully besmirched -- at least not on this frozen page.

I've been saying all along that there was 9/11 was a breakpoint with reality -- a black op designed to shut us up, which worked! -- and while we were stupefied they got all this horror rolling ... very seldom have they told the truth or shown any glimpse of their real agenda or motives, but every now and then true words have in fact been spoken:
Vice President Cheney said to Tim Russert on Sept. 13, 2003, “Iraq sits on top of 10 percent of the world's oil reserves — a very significant reserve, second only to Saudi Arabia. The fact is, there are significant resources here to work with.” Most of the oil producing countries in the world have nationalized their oil production. Iraq nationalized its in 1972. It's very clear that the intention of our government from the beginning was to privatize those resources. The Center for Global Energy Studies estimates that Iraq could produce 300 billion barrels of oil. At $70 per barrel, that comes to about $21 trillion — nearly twice the gross national product of our entire country. No wonder Bush defaulted on his electioneering promise that he was against regime change and lied to us about reasons for invading Iraq.
No wonder indeed. I've been making the same point as often as possible here, consistent of course with the desire to keep all four or five of my loyal readers awake. But this is the reality-based wing of the lunatic blogosphere, where people are actually expected to defend what they write, and we have rarely seen such frankness from the print media, who are not normally burdened with such expectations. So hooray for the Ithaca Journal. Allen Carstensen continues:
Here is what Hassan Jum'a Awwad, head of the Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions, has to say about the hydrocarbon law: “Everyone knows that the oil law does not serve the Iraqi people, and that it serves the administration, its supporters, and the foreign oil companies at the expense of the Iraqi people, who have been wronged and deprived of their right to their oil, despite enduring all difficulties.
Everyone in Iraq may know this, but the US population is much less informed on this point. Clearly, and most unfortunately, this is only crucial point on which the US people are poorly informed.
Vice President Cheney called together his Oil and Energy working group four times between December 2002 and April 2003. The transcripts have not been released, and Cheney will not even tell us who was there. Cheney recently visited Iraq to urge passage of the Hydrocarbon Act.
The passing of the Hydrocarbon Act has been the most significant benchmark ever since the concept of benchmarks came to the fore.

And speaking of Dick Cheney, Who planned the crime of the century? Who else along with Dick Cheney, that is? The Washington Post has had planted a hint or two about this very question, if my memory fails me ... aaah yes, here it is, from Michael Abramowitz and Steven Mufson, July 18, 2007:
At 10 a.m. on April 4, 2001, representatives of 13 environmental groups were brought into the Old Executive Office Building for a long-anticipated meeting. Since late January, a task force headed by Vice President Cheney had been busy drawing up a new national energy policy, and the groups were getting their one chance to be heard.

Cheney was not there, but so many environmentalists were in the room that introductions took up "about half the meeting," recalled Erich Pica of Friends of the Earth. Anna Aurilio of the U.S. Public Interest Group said, "It was clear to us that they were just being nice to us."

A confidential list prepared by the Bush administration shows that Cheney and his aides had already held at least 40 meetings with interest groups, most of them from energy-producing industries. By the time of the meeting with environmental groups, according to a former White House official who provided the list to The Washington Post, the initial draft of the task force was substantially complete and President Bush had been briefed on its progress.

In all, about 300 groups and individuals met with staff members of the energy task force, including a handful who saw Cheney himself, according to the list, which was compiled in the summer of 2001. For six years, those names have been a closely guarded secret, thanks to a fierce legal battle waged by the White House. Some names have leaked out over the years, but most have remained hidden because of a 2004 Supreme Court ruling that agreed that the administration's internal deliberations ought to be shielded from outside scrutiny.

One of the first visitors, on Feb. 14, was James J. Rouse, then vice president of Exxon Mobil and a major donor to the Bush inauguration; a week later, longtime Bush supporter Kenneth L. Lay, then head of Enron Corp., came by for the first of two meetings. On March 5, some of the country's biggest electric utilities, including Duke Energy and Constellation Energy Group, had an audience with the task force staff.

British Petroleum representatives dropped by on March 22, one of about 20 oil and drilling companies to get meetings. The National Mining Association, the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America and the American Petroleum Institute were among three dozen trade associations that met with Cheney's staff, the document shows.
The WaPo has more for those who are interested, but as you can see from the introduction, they don't really have any significant beans to spill. So we're back with Allen Carstensen again, and he says:
Some people might think that it makes sense to use Iraq's oil wealth to pay for the war. I would point out to those misguided souls that this hydrocarbon law is not designed to benefit the American taxpayer who is paying for this war. It is designed to benefit Exxon/Mobil, Chevron, Shell and British Petroleum.
Absolutely true. But who is really paying for this war? Not the American taxpayer, but the people of Iraq!

They're the ones doing most of the dying, they're the ones doing the vast majority of the suffering, they're the ones whose country has been ruined before their very eyes and they're the ones who are going to be left living in the wreckage. Iraqis can't "rotate home", although many have been "rotated out". But even though their homes have been destroyed, and even if they have someplace else to go, they can't get away from the carnage, nor will they ever get away from the depleted uranium ...

So please let's not focus too much on the relatively slight portion of the cost that is being borne by the American taxpayer. Tragic though it is for America, this war is infinitely worse for Iraq. And perhaps the worst part of it is this so-called "reconciling" legislation:
This hydrocarbon law was made a part of the Iraq Supplemental Bill by a Congress under the control of the Democratic Party. This is a sad reflection on the nature of both parties. I hope it is not a reflection on the American people.

I hope we are better than that. I hope that Americans would not want to use military force to steal the resources of another country. I hope that Americans would not want to trade blood for oil. If you agree perhaps you should call your congressmen and senators.
I agree with every principle Allen Carstensen has espoused here, although clearly he is a shade or two more hopeful -- and more trusting -- than I am at this point. Nonetheless, I urge you to take some action while you still can. Maybe Allen Carstensen is right. We'll never know until we try.

Elephants Kill Eight In India; Sri Lankans Bomb Tamil Tigers; Bears Regroup In Kashmir

Maybe I've been covering the bogus GWOT for too long without enough sleep, but all these stories seem to share a common -- if symbolic -- thread.

From India, via Javno:

Rogue Elephants Shot After Killing Eight In India
Two elephants were shot dead after they went on the rampage killing eight people in northeast India, forest officials said on Thursday.

The elephants, used for moving logs in the timber industry, ran amok on Wednesday in Cachar district in Assam state, stampeding through villages and destroying dozens of bamboo and straw houses before police shot them.

Eight villagers were killed and nine injured.

"The elephants destroyed whatever came in their way. They trampled human beings, or flung them away," said Gautum Das, a local villager.

Elephants are a protected and endangered species in India, which has nearly half of the world's 60,000 Asian elephants.

Conservationists say elephant populations have fallen rapidly in recent years because of loss of habitat as a result of human encroachment into forest areas.
From Sri Lanka, via the International Herald Tribune:

Sri Lankan warplanes bomb Tamil rebel positions in north, says military
Sri Lankan fighter jets pounded Tamil Tiger rebel positions in the northern part of the country Thursday afternoon, the military said.

Air force planes launched two airstrikes on two separate targets in the rebel-held Mullaitivu district, said an officer at the Defense Ministry's media center.

The officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the media, said details of casualties and damage were not immediately available.

A spokesman for the Tigers was not immediately available to comment.

Earlier this month, the government celebrated the recapture of the east from the rebels. The Tamil rebels still control a virtual state in the north.

Tamil rebels have waged a separatist war against the state since 1983 to create an independent homeland for the country's ethnic minority Tamils who have suffered decades of discrimination from majority Sinhalese-controlled governments.

More than 70,000 people have died in the more than two decades of fighting.

The violence has worsened in the last 20 months, despite a 2002 Norway-brokered cease-fire.
And from Kashmir, Reuters via Gulf News dot com:

Bears regroup amid Kashmir insurgency
The number of endangered Asiatic black bears in Kashmir has increasedbetween 30 and 60 per cent ever since the violent separatist movement took effect in 1989, wildlife officials said.

An increased security presence in the Himalayan forests to root out the militants, as well as a ban on hunting, has helped curb poaching and allowed the population of bears to rebound significantly from between 800 to 900 in 1990.

Officials say poachers - who hunt the mammals for their fur, their paws (used as food) and gall bladder (used in traditional Oriental medicine) - have stayed away from the pine and conifer forests for fear of the insurgency.

"For fear of being caught by the security forces, the militants or in an exchange of fire between the two, no one dares to go deep into the forests since the militancy started," said Abdul Rauf Zargar, the state's wildlife warden.

Leopards - also an endangered species in India - have similarly increased, said officials, but did not give details.

Tom Toles: Shhh!

I love the line at the bottom: "Shhh! I never said which September".

I just can't say enough good things about Tom Toles -- I've been reading him for years and years and years and he keeps getting better and better and better.

Even though we complain about the depths to which the Washington Post has slunk, we have to give them some credit for luring Toles away from The Buffalo News. His work is political cartooning at its best, in my opinion, and I am humble to bring it to you here on my nearly frozen blog.

'Loose Change' Producer Arrested; Wingnuts Celebrate

Korey Rowe, producer of 'Loose Change', was arrested Monday night in Oneonta, NY, and handed over by police to military officials intent on taking him to Kentucky, according to a report by Alex Jones and Paul Joseph Watson at Prison Planet dot com.

Rowe, a veteran of both Afghanistan and Iraq and the producer of the widely viewed video 'Loose Change' -- which posits an alternate explanation for the events of 9/11 -- has had no hearing, according to the report, nor any opportunity to post bail.

Neocon websites Newsbusters and Hot Air are making approving noises, according to a separate piece from Paul Watson. But here's the gist of the main item:

Political Prisoner: Loose Change Producer Korey Rowe Arrested
Iraq, Afghanistan veteran handed over to military officials by police under charges of "deserting the Army"

Loose Change producer and Iraq and Afghanistan veteran Korey Rowe has been arrested and handed over to military officials without bail for allegedly "deserting the Army".

According to a report in the New York Daily Star, Rowe was arrested on Monday night at a county Route 47 residence in Oneonta.
Rowe was arrested on a "military warrant" that Devlin said was brought to the attention of deputies by the Oneonta Police Department, who received information from a source outside of that department.

Rowe was living at the Route 47 home, Devlin said.

City police officials who were able to comment on the case were unavailable Tuesday night.

After deputies received the information from Oneonta police, they reached out to the Army, and officials from Fort Knox faxed a copy of the warrant, deputies said.
Arrests and court martials for deserters are incredibly rare and this appears to be an obvious case of political persecution as the Loose Change crew prepare the cinematic release of the final version of their popular documentary.
Alex Jones and Paul Joseph Watson again (slightly edited):
This will inevitably backfire on the authorities, but only if we put intense pressure on them to release Korey. Relevant phone numbers [...] below, please be polite and ask for information on Korey Rowe and demand his release.

Fort Campbell, Kentucky (where Rowe is apparently now being transfered to)
phone 270-798-7112, or 270-798-6572 / 4303

Department of Defense (DoD) Public Affairs at 703-697-5131 or

Otsego County Jail Sheriff's Office: (where Korey was taken after arrest)
172 County Highway 33W, Cooperstown, NY 13326
phone: 607-547-4271; fax: 607-547-6413

Jail Administrator: Lt. Donald R. Lincourt; phone 607-547-1611

Jail Clerk: Sallie Harrington; phone 607-547-4270
For more details and a video interview Alex did with Korey last year, in which Korey explains how the US plants weapons on dead civilians to make them look like dead militants, click here.

Convicted For Having An Altered 9/11 Poster In His Room

You'd better be careful what you do with Photoshop: The obviously faked graphic at right is apparently legit because it puts the approved bad-guys -- or a reasonable caricature thereof -- at the scene of the crime. But you wouldn't want to mess with it too much.

Awaab Iqbal, 20, of Bradford, England, was convicted under Section 57 of Britain's Terrorism Act, found guilty of "having articles for terrorism", and has been sentenced to three years' detention, after police found a poster on which he had "swapped his face and those of friends for the faces of the 9/11 terrorists".

I can answer your immediate questions right away.

No, you can't make this stuff up, or at least I can't.

Yes, this is the world's most bogus terror conviction to date, at least that I know of.

And Yes, I got it from a reliable source: the Scotsman.

Student guilty of terrorism charge for altered 9/11 poster
A FIFTH student was found guilty yesterday of a terrorism offence. Awaab Iqbal, 20, of Bradford, had swapped his face and those of friends for the faces of the 9/11 terrorists on a poster.

He was found guilty under Section 57 of the Terrorism Act of having articles for terrorism.

The charge related to material found on his computer and in his room after an investigation was launched when 17-year-old Mohammed Irfan Raja ran away from home to be a martyr.

Iqbal had admitted editing the 9/11 picture to include himself, two other defendants and friends.
Welcome to the GWOT, where the unbelievable is commonplace.

Guns and Ammo, Shalom and Hateful Lies: All Good For Business

Meet Bill Maniaci, Owner of Maccabee Arms Ltd:

Shalom from Maccabee Arms
Maccabee Arms specializes in the "Made In Israel" line of fine weapons produced by Israel Weapons Industries (IWI) (formerly Israel Military Industries, IMI) and in use by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). These include the world renown Desert Eagle, Jericho (Baby Eagle) and the Barak (SP-21).

We also sell firearms made by the other top manufacturers in the industry. In addition to new pistols, rifles, and shotguns, we carry a selection of pre-owned firearms that meet our highest standards. If the firearm that you want is available, we will find it and offer it to you at the best possible price.

Maccabee Arms Ltd. is a stocking firearms business and internet firearms dealer who strives to sell quality, name brand firearms at reasonable and affordable prices.

If the firearm that you want is out there, we will find it for you. If it is not in stock, we will locate it, new or used and make it available to you as long as it is lawful for you to purchase and possess it in your City, State, or Community. (It is the buyers’ responsibility to know what he or she may or may not purchase.)
Washington Report on Middle East Affairs:

CAIR-MI Annual Fund-raising Banquet a Remarkable Success

MORE THAN 1,200 people -- Muslims and non-Muslims alike -- flocked to the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Dearborn, MI for the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) of Michigan’s annual fund-raising banquet, dubbed “One Nation Under God.” This year’s event featured critically acclaimed British author and journalist Robert Fisk as a keynote speaker, and Bill Gallagher, an Emmy Award-winning news reporter with Fox 2 Detroit News.

Fisk, a resident of Beirut, Lebanon for nearly 30 years and the Middle East correspondent for the UK’s The Independent, delivered a powerful and sometimes humorous address on the Middle East crisis, the injustices committed daily, and media bias. After discussing Iraq, Iran, and the divisions between Muslims, he turned to the U.S. and British administrations, Western interference and conspiracies in the Middle East.

“I tried to calculate for an article just how many Western soldiers were in the Islamic world today compared to the 12th century Crusades,” said Fisk. “There are 22 times more Western soldiers in the Islamic world today than Crusaders had in 1187,” he noted.

“I have said this equation before in Detroit: ‘the Americans must leave Iraq and the Americans will leave Iraq, and the Americans can’t leave Iraq.’ That is the equation that turns sand into blood,” Fisk warned.

As he recounted numerous astounding reports by such journalists as Thomas Friedman, Daniel Pipes and David Brooks, the crowd tried to stifle their laughter and gasps.

Fisk lampooned USA Today writer Ralph Peters, a retired U.S. Army officer, who wrote about why he supported the invasion: “I supported the removal of Saddam Hussain. I believed that Arabs deserved a chance to build a rule-of-law democracy in the Middle East. Based upon firsthand experience, I was convinced that the Middle East was so politically, socially, morally and intellectually stagnant that we had to risk intervention—or face generations of terrorism and tumult. I still believe that our removal of Hussain was a noble act.

“I only wish the administration had done it competently.”

“You see?” Fisk asked. “You see the white man’s burden that we are going to rescue all these guys…forget about regime change, weapons of mass destruction, or al-Qaeda.”

Fisk continued skewering Peters by quoting the writer, who first declared ”Only a military coup—which might come in the next few years—could hold the artificial country together.” Peters went on to say, “Yet, for all our errors, we did give the Iraqis a unique chance to build a rule-of-law democracy. They preferred to indulge in old hatreds, confessional violence, ethnic bigotry and a culture of corruption. It appears that the cynics were right: Arab societies can’t support democracy as we know it. And people get the government they deserve.”

Shaking his head, Fisk said, “Yes, Yes...we are witnessing the collapse of a civilization, but it’s OK folks…we can frighten some more people with our failures in Iraq. Do you see what is happening?”

In his compelling conclusion, to thundering applause and a standing ovation, Fisk stated: “Ladies and gentlemen, you know, I was struck when I listened to Barack Obama (D-IL) when he told his supporters that America’s primary concern in the Middle East is the security of Israel. He was wrong!” exclaimed Fisk. “America’s primary concern in the Middle East must be the security of all who live there, including the Israelis; Muslims, and Christians, as well as Jews, Arabs as well as Israelis.

Ladies and gentlemen,” Fisk concluded, “democracy cannot be built on the sand of the desert. It can be built only if it is built upon justice; justice for all people of the Middle East.”
Bill Maniaci, Owner of Maccabee Arms Ltd, replied:

Date: Thu, 26 Jul 2007 04:26:01 +0200
From: Maccabee Arms Ltd.
Organization: Maccabee Arms Ltd. Reno, Nevada, U.S.



Debating the issues revolving around the Islamo-Nazi war against Western Civilization with you would be a waste of time. However, I want you to know this;


-- Maccabee Arms Ltd. Bill Maniaci, Owner
Shalom to you too, Bill. That means "Peace", right?

And by the way, there's a difference between "liable" and "libel" ... but it doesn't matter, really ... because we're not all buffoons, and your credibility would be shot even if you could spell.

So Shalom and good riddance to you, Bill Maniaci, Vietnam vet and Israeli weapons dealer ... oops! I almost forgot -- Peace is Bad for Business when you're an arms dealer, isn't it? Well then let's scratch the "Shalom" and stick with the "Good Riddance"!

Still, it's no wonder Robert Fisk says he despises the internet.

It's an ignorant and offensive thing to say, and it shows that he doesn't read the right stuff, but I can still understand why he would say it.

Could the connection between hateful lies and good business acumen be any clearer?

They just keep telling all these vicious. murderous lies ... because it's good for business!.

Get your guns and ammo here. Get some Shalom too.

It's good for business.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Ray McGovern Says 'John Conyers Is No MLK' And Gets No Argument Here

In the whirlwind days of November and December 2004, with the taste of an obviously stolen presidential election fresh on many tongues, Congressman John Conyers looked like a Hero of Democracy, with his drive to find out What Went Wrong In Ohio, his support for the slowly emerging pro-democracy movement, and his seemingly determined quest to make impeachment happen.

Since the midterm election of 2006, followed quickly by his announcement that "impeachment is off the table", I have been trying to forget all that, and trying especially hard to forget how I temporarily turned my blog into a billboard for the John Conyers Dog and Pony Show.

Since then I haven't said much about him, and that's been mostly a matter of respect, I suppose. In other words, I couldn't debase myself far enough to say what I really think about someone who suddenly forgot everything he seemed to stand for, and betrayed everyone who stood behind him.

Ray McGovern, who was arrested in Conyers' office along with Cindy Sheehan and many others on Monday, has solved a similar problem by showing the congressman more respect than he deserves:
I’ll give this to President Bush. He makes no pretence when he disses. He would not meet with Sheehan to define for her the “noble cause” for which her son Casey died or tell her why he had said it was “worth it.”

[John] Conyers, on the other hand, was dripping with pretence as he met with [Cindy] Sheehan, Rev. Lennox Yearwood and me Monday in his office in the Rayburn building. I have seldom been so disappointed with someone I had previously held in high esteem. And before leaving, I told him so.

Throwing salt in our wounds, he had us, and some 50 others in his anteroom arrested and taken out of action as the Capitol Police “processed” us for the next six hours.
I still can't lower myself to say what I really think, but you can read more from Ray McGovern at Bob Parry's Consortium News.

Water In The Streets Of Oxford; Blood In The Streets Of Baghdad

Bad news from England, and Reuters has the story:
The River Thames burst its banks on Wednesday, forcing the evacuation of hundreds of homes in the university city of Oxford in Britain's worst floods for 60 years.

About 350,000 people faced two weeks without running water and insurance companies said the bill could soar to 3 billion pounds ($6.2 billion).

Farmers say harvests have been badly hit and that farm animals in flood-hit areas could die unless water supplies are restored soon.

Visiting the worst-hit area in Gloucestershire, western England, Prime Minister Gordon Brown pledged more cash for stricken areas and more tankers and bottled water to ensure supplies.
Oxford became the new frontline when rivers feeding into the Thames spilled over into its streets, forcing police to evacuate 250 homes. Aerial pictures showed flood waters not far from some of the city's historic college buildings.

Heavy rain is expected overnight and Environment Agency officials warned that the river had not yet peaked.

As the flooding spread along the river, officials said Queen Elizabeth's residence at Windsor Castle was not threatened and no property flooding was expected in London -- although heavy storms could always cause flash flooding.

"There are six severe flood warnings in place. It looks as if we are going to get up to 20 millimeters (0.8 inch) of rain across the board tomorrow," an Environment Agency spokesman said.
Milk shortages hit some areas with flooded roads making collections from dairy farms impossible. The rain brought harvesting of barley and rapeseed to a halt in many regions.

One power substation in Oxford was closed as a precaution, after it was partially flooded at the weekend, but customers have not been cut off because supplies were re-routed. Sandbags were piled up to protect other substations in the area.

Economists say the floods will trim back economic growth and are likely to trigger a short-term spike in food prices, but the overall economy is likely to weather the storm in the long run.

One beneficiary of the bad weather was the airline industry. British Airways said seat bookings for long flights were up as holidaymakers escaped the British summer.

"We need to invest more in preventing floods," Brown told parliament. Less than a month into the job as Britain's new premier, he said everything had to be looked at from infrastructure and drainage to where utilities were located.

In a stark reference to how 21st century weather had changed, finance minister Alistair Darling said: "Climate change is not a passing trend.

"It is a reality we must factor into everything we do. If we do not, threats to our everyday life -- like the floods this week -- risk becoming common."
I usually try not to get too personal here, and maybe that makes it a bit impersonal sometimes ... but ...

We have a friend in Oxford and I certainly hope he and his family and their neighbors are all right ... but I suspect they're not.

Our friend writes often about the wanton and deliberate destruction of the infrastructure of Iraq; events such as this put it into a stark perspective which many Americans prefer to avoid. In my view, damage wrought by nature is horrifying enough, especially if the natural forces are exacerbated by human abuse. Whether humanity actually contributes to climate changes and natural disasters is still in dispute -- amazingly, in my view. (Even more amazingly, to me: among those who write about false flag terror even more than I do, many of the most influential -- Alex Jones, Mike Rivero, and Kurt Nimmo, to name just three -- disagree with me about this.)

But there can be no dispute about whether humans have caused the destruction of Iraq, which is so much worse than these heartbreaking photos from Oxford (thanks to Reuters) ...

Earlier today the multi-ethnic Iraqi national soccer team beat South Korea in a dramatic shootout and qualified for the final of the Asia Cup -- after which suicide bombers attacked the dancing crowds in the streets of Baghdad, killing at least 50.

But we didn't see the dead and wounded in the streets. We never do.

All we see are the crazies, celebrating with their flags and their AK-47s.

So here's my question:

If photo essays on the devastation of Iraq covered the front pages of every major daily, every day, how much longer do you think the war would go on?


The flooding in Pakistan is far far worse, and as usual this has been ignored or at least under-reported in the West.

From the Pakistan Times:

More Sindh Villages Submerge in Flood Water

KARACHI: Six more villages have submerged due to increase in water level in tehsil Juhi of district Dadu while the land communication of Jhal Magsi and Ganda Wah could not be restored even after one month.

An engineer of the Irrigation Department, Habib Alal Kabro said that the 30-feet breach in tehsil Khairpur Nathan Shah has been repaired by the staff of the department within two days. However, five villages -- Goth Qanb, Goth Allan Laghari, Goth Haji Khan Babbar, Goth Gharo and Shahi Laghari -- are still underwater due to this breach.

Relief operation continues in the flood-affected areas of Turbat and Kharan while according to the health department of Turbat, three of the gastro patients brought from the flood-affected areas to Civil Hospital Karachi have died.

Sindh Relief Commissioner Anwar Ahmed said that the Sindh Relief Commission with the collaboration of the Pak Army distributed 60,000 bags of food and 30,000 tents in the flood-affected areas.

Chief Minister Balochistan Jam Mohammad Yousuf has declared the province a calamity-hit area and announced to waive the provincial taxes due to heavy damages caused by rains and flood in Balochistan.

Chief Minister Jam Mohammad Yousuf said that he demanded from President Pervez Musharraf to direct the federal government also to waive its taxes for all over Balochistan.

The chief minister Balochistan appealed to all friend countries for providing aid to the flood-affected people of the province.