- Signs of the Times for Fri, 17 Mar 2006 -

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Is Another 9/11 in the Works?

By Paul Craig Roberts
15 Mar 06

If you were President George W. Bush with all available US troops tied down by the Iraqi resistance, and you were unable to control Iraq or political developments in the country, would you also start a war with Iran?

Yes, you would.

Bush’s determination to spread Middle East conflict by striking at Iran does not make sense.

First of all, Bush lacks the troops to do the job. If the US military cannot successfully occupy Iraq, there is no way that the US can occupy Iran, a country approximately three times the size in area and population.

Second, Iran can respond to a conventional air attack with missiles targeted on American ships and bases, and on oil facilities located throughout the Middle East.

Third, Iran has human assets, including the Shia majority population in Iraq, that it can activate to cause chaos throughout the Middle East.

Fourth, polls of US troops in Iraq indicate that a vast majority do not believe in their mission and wish to be withdrawn. Unlike the yellow ribbon folks at home, the troops are unlikely to be enthusiastic about being trapped in an Iranian quagmire in addition to the Iraqi quagmire.

Fifth, Bush’s polls are down to 34 percent, with a majority of Americans believing that Bush’s invasion of Iraq was a mistake.

If you were being whipped in one fight, would you start a second fight with a bigger and stronger person?

That’s what Bush is doing.

Opinion polls indicate that the Bush regime has succeeded in its plan to make Americans fear Iran as the greatest threat America faces.

The Bush regime has created a major dispute with Iran over that country’s nuclear energy program and then blocked every effort to bring the dispute to a peaceful end.

In order to gain a pretext for attacking Iran, the Bush regime is using bribery and coercion in its effort to have Iran referred to the UN Security Council for sanctions.

In recent statements President Bush and Pentagon chief Donald Rumsfeld blamed Iran for the Iraqi resistance, claiming that the roadside bombs used by the resistance are being supplied by Iran.

It is obvious that Bush intends to attack Iran and that he will use every means to bring war about.

Yet, Bush has no conventional means of waging war with Iran. His bloodthirsty neoconservatives have prepared plans for nuking Iran. However, an unprovoked nuclear attack on Iran would leave the US, already regarded as a pariah nation, totally isolated.

Readers, whose thinking runs ahead of that of most of us, tell me that another 9/11 event will prepare the ground for a nuclear attack on Iran. Some readers say that Bush, or Israel as in Israel’s highly provocative attack on the Jericho jail and kidnapping of prisoners with American complicity, will provoke a second attack on the US. Others say that Bush or the neoconservatives working with some “black ops” group will orchestrate the attack.

One of the more extraordinary suggestions is that a low yield, perhaps tactical, nuclear weapon will be exploded some distance out from a US port. Death and destruction will be minimized, but fear and hysteria will be maximized. Americans will be told that the ship bearing the weapon was discovered and intercepted just in time, thanks to Bush’s illegal spying program, and that Iran is to blame. A more powerful wave of fear and outrage will again bind the American people to Bush, and the US media will not report the rest of the world’s doubts of the explanation.

Reads like a Michael Crichton plot, doesn’t it?

Fantasy? Let’s hope so.


Paul Craig Roberts [  paulcraigroberts@yahoo.com ] is the author of Alienation and the Soviet Economy and Meltdown: Inside the Soviet Economy, and is the author with Lawrence M. Stratton of The Tyranny of Good Intentions : How Prosecutors and Bureaucrats Are Trampling the Constitution in the Name of Justice. Click here for Peter Brimelow’s Forbes Magazine interview with Roberts about the recent epidemic of prosecutorial misconduct.

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Editorial: Who made this plan?

By John Kaminski
March 17, 2006

Ugly Americans, Dancing Israelis and the crown are endlessly making war on the whole world.

Americans aren't the good guys anymore. Hollow TV pitchmen still insist our boys are dying for their country, but more and more people know that those lives are being wasted on corporate profits, deliberately squandered for somebody's twisted big score scheme.

And you know who's making the money. The very pervs who are orchestrating all these wars. Repeat after me: Carlyle Group.

Maybe the most frightening thing is that so many Americans are going along with the scam. And the more I find out about American history - from George Washington butchering French traders in their sleep on Christmas Eve - maybe they always have.

How many thousands of supposedly responsible Americans are keeping their mouths shut about what really happened on 9/11, or how they knew always the reason for the Iraq war was one big lie?

Lately I've noticed people, particularly convenience store clerks, are looking at me strangely.

Maybe I don't hide so well the worried look on my face.

People want to talk about politics, candidates? I see a one-party system in the United States dominated by nongentile bankers aligned with the forces of Europe's old money, which likely in and of itself is nongentile as well, since the major controlling mechanism of human society - the Rothschild controlled banks, whose emblem is the prototype of the flag of Israel - have dominated the world financial scene since long before they pilfered from American citizens the right to control their own money way back in 1913.

But today's news is worse.

Scheduled start of World War Three was due March 20, when they tried to start up the Iranian bourse (European term for "stock exchange") trading oil in euros in Tehran.

Doesn't it give you a warm feeling when you know the sclerotic, twitching finger of Dick Cheney is fiddling with the nuclear button? Here's a man who has never been stopped, and he can produce the spilled blood to prove it.

Who knows what the latest twist will be in this stranger-then-coincidence confrontation with Iran over another pack of lies? The U.S. picks wars with whomever it wants, and because its citizenry is so drugged-out by bad schools, medicine and food, they roar their drunken approval of these atrocities.

Trouble is, the last pack of lies, implemented with the devil's own fury in the country next door, didn't do Iraq a bit of good, and it looks for all the world that the U.S./Britain/Israel military machine aims to cut a swath of control from Beirut to Baluchistan, and woe to anyone who gets in the way. The southern shore of the Persian Gulf is already firmly locked up with Zionist-financed allies in Jewish-controlled Saudi Arabia, and the 'Stans' between Iran and Russia/China seem solidly fortified with U.S. airbases.

Standing exactly in the way of the new American parking lot now being paved over central Asia is the venerable Iran, modern redaction of the Persian empire, from the whom the Western powers of history took their organizational models.

Now perhaps the world's most vibrant democracy (about the only place remaining I have been able to speak freely on TV and radio now that I have been heavily censored in the U.S.), Iran is a young thriving nation with an honorable tradition, which Israel seeks to smash because it threatens Jewish totalitarian hegemony in the region, a condition Palestinians and Iraqis have long experienced firsthand.

Israel wants to turn the entire Middle East into an unhabitable though industrially feasible dead zone from which profits can be extracted without people - especially people they consider cattle - getting in the way.

Iran has been the only country on Earth to officially challenge the insidious Jewish mindlock on the Holocaust, that meme of memory from World War Two that has been turned into a mental inoculation to prevent discussion of Jewish media ownership, the centuries-old Zionist master plan, and current and continuing Israeli atrocities, which are daily concealed by the Jewish press.

Perhaps it's an important moment in history, as these modern Persians have opened a door to public consciousness of the Jewish attempt to eradicate freedom of speech once and for all throughout the world through rigid enforcement of the Holocaust religion and burying the true facts of Auschwitz with stories about soap and burning in lakes of fire.

Ironic, isn't it, that this is where Judaism started, in the ancient Mecca called Babylon, and now the surrounding countryside is about to be nuclearized, if not vaporized? Fitting tribute to a philosophical school, eh? The Old Testament rag, whose God won't ever really be happy until he sees that mushroom cloud.

This insane worship of a Holocaust that never happened was generated by a half century's worth of public indoctrination from news networks whose message is always polluted by a product purpose. Jewish ownership of American public media dates back to the 1890s with the formation of Hollywood. The U.S. financial system was permanently expropriated by private bankers in 1913, and we have been financial slaves ever since this permanent theft of control over our own money.

Yes, this is the topic of discussion that got all those U.S. presidents assassinated. And how Piper proved the Mossad hit JFK.

But Jewish control of the money supply is concealed in myriad different political labels - Communism is Judaism, is the big one that counts. Now it is masquerading as a capitalist predator society and hiding behind a misleading patina of labels and trivialities, reinforced by psychoactive drugs, telekinetic frequencies, scheduled sedatives and carcinogens in what we consume, and a media diet to keep you pinned to the electronic rodeo and swilling the beer of your choice.

How many Americans have gone down the rabbithole morally in recent years? Yes, America has always been a cesspool of rape and plunder largely covered over by those who write the history books. There may never have been a time in history when the populace got the straight scoop from the powers that be.

It seemed, though, in the last half of the 20th century in which I spent the better part of my life, that I grew up with a degree of confidence in a system that could produce people like Edward R. Murrow and Joe McCarthy, a world that could conduct a civilized debate and arrive at a logical solution.

Perhaps I was naive. Once upon a time, I loved my country. Now I am very afraid of it.

At the outset of the 21st century, I began to see major cracks in the veneer of American history as it was presented to me by a jowled Mr. Gula in high school history class in 1962.

America's founding fathers were brigands and crooks who never quite got themselves clear of the European money supply. We're turned our Colonial Days into amusement parks and covered up the acknowledgment that the business world runs on legalized criminality. This assault on American freedom has been largely engineered by Jewish bankers, who control publishers and educators.

That's exactly what has taken us to where we are today, with a world exploding in blood for profit. And why we are all in danger of losing our lives in the immediate days ahead.

John Kaminski is a writer who lives on the Gulf Coast of Florida, whose new collection of Internet essays, "Recipe for Extinction," is available at http://www.johnkaminski.com/
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Editorial: Trust Us

by Robert C. Koehler
15 Mar 06

Something fundamental about who we are as a nation is dribbling away, it seems, without alarm or even debate. We torture prisoners - it's out in the open, a done deal. We're fighting an unnecessary war that, well, yes, was launched on a lie, but too late now; we're in, we can't get out. And our neighbor's phone is being tapped.

But the worry that trumps all others is the state of this proud, imperfect democracy. We may be surrendering our power to change the national direction or demand that government be responsive to us. My fellow Americans, our voting machines don't work, at least not all the time. The mechanism of our democracy is in chaos, and almost everyone is going along with it.

Thanks to the allegedly well-intentioned, but disastrous, Help America Vote Act, the country is shifting, county by county, to electronic voting machines, which are not only glitch-prone on a spectacular scale (e.g., 100,000 phantom votes were recorded in Tarrant County, Texas, during the state's primary last week), but work, like God, in mysterious ways, which we're not supposed to question. The results they give us are all too often unverifiable.

And here's the clincher: The process isn't even public anymore.

"The question is, how can a state essentially outsource the most public act? They've outsourced voting to private companies and (the states) have no role to play."

Meet Ion Sancho, election supervisor of Leon County, Fla., outspoken public servant and small-d democrat. He oversees the voting process in his bailiwick and is part of the national infrastructure of democracy. Those of us not in the know assume that impartial professionals like Sancho are the norm, but if they were, there'd be no reason to call him a hero - and his job wouldn't be in jeopardy.

The forces of big money and big government don't like Sancho and have ganged up against him because he speaks his mind and because he decertified the Diebold optical-scan voting machines his county had purchased after they failed a security test - a "hostile hack," as bulldog blogger Brad Friedman called it - in December.

In that test, Finnish security expert Harry Hursti, whom Sancho called in to give the machines a true challenge, was able to flip the results of a small demo election using a generic memory card, leaving no trace of tampering. He had no password, merely the sort of machine access most poll workers have. The test proved that Diebold's optical-scan machines, contrary to what the company had claimed to election officials across the country, were vulnerable to insider fraud.

Sancho voided Diebold's contract and publicized the results, which, as Friedman, who has covered national election-fraud issues relentlessly, put it, "had earthquake-like repercussions across the entire electoral system in the United States." For instance, the state of California, reacting to Sancho's warning, conducted its own test of Diebold machines and corroborated his findings. Other experts also support Sancho.

Yet Sancho is persona non grata in his own state. Not only has Diebold itself refused to do further business with Leon County as long as Sancho is election supervisor (refused, that is, either to correct the security flaws Sancho found or sell him different machines, or even return his phone calls), but the other two voting machine companies certified in Florida, ES&S and Sequoia, have also refused to do business with him.

And the state of Florida is blaming Sancho! The office of Secretary of State Sue Cobb, a Jeb Bush appointee, has demanded the county return $564,421 in HAVA money because Sancho missed a deadline "for - you guessed it - obtaining new machines," in the words of Miami Herald columnist Fred Grimm. Sancho "may be a hero in California," writes Grimm, "but messing with monied interests makes him a pariah in Florida."

Sancho told me: "The Diebold company has embarked on a program of vilification abetted by Florida officials. There's no reason why I'm blacklisted except that I won't keep my mouth shut. . . . We are being illegally blackballed by a private company and that blackballing has the potential to disenfranchise the voters in my jurisdiction."

Sancho is in the way. Too bad for him. He went with the optical-scan technology in the first place because, he said, unlike touch-screen voting, it has a paper ballot. "There's a tremendous overdependence in our industry on vendors. This technology allowed me to be independent from vendors."

The problem is, there's an anti-democratic force rampaging across the country that wants just the opposite: privately conducted, secrecy-shrouded elections. The state of Florida even has a bizarre law outlawing manual recounts of election results. This removes all chance of public scrutiny from the process.

I humbly submit that this is nuts, and that if we don't scream out at the top of our lungs we're going to lose our democracy. What we're witnessing, I fear - and what isolated watchdogs like Sancho are warning us about, but cannot prevent all by themselves - is democracy's transition to expensive charade.

As the power of the vote leaks away, the hissing sound I hear are the words "Trust us, trust us."

- - -

Robert Koehler, an award-winning, Chicago-based journalist, is an editor at Tribune Media Services and nationally syndicated writer. You can respond to this column at bkoehler@tribune.com or visit his Web site at commonwonders.com.

© 2006 Tribune Media Services, Inc.
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Editorial: The Two Americas

J. Croft

Have you ever noticed that America is schizophrenic-of two minds, two ideals, two ideologies that contradict? How much American rhetoric doesn't match up with American actions?

Notice how there are so many laws in what's sold to the world as the "land of the free?" Speaking of that slogan, it's ironic how many dictators we support as "allies", isn't it?

We protect our freedoms by letting them be taken away. We secure our country by waging war against others, and leaving our borders unguarded, selling our ports to foreigners. We let "free trade" be promoted for the richest, while letting more and more taxes and regulation, and a inflationary imbalance choke and kill the dreams of all Americans as we're priced out of competitiveness with the rest of the world. We let the government "promote the General Welfare"-as is it's charge in the U.S. Constitution-by letting it clandestinely ship in drugs with one branch, as proven by Terry Reed and Michael Levine(1), and then waging a "war on drugs" that locks otherwise peaceful citizens for possession of some pot. Degrading them and warping them into more criminals by a prison system designed to spawn more crime, more fear, more pressure for more laws and more government authority, more power... which they turn around and DON'T use when honest disasters like Hurricane Katrina hit.

We think we're free, yet we cower in the face of abusive authority that seeks more power and more people to label as "criminals so they can ticket and taser and shoot at and lock up. We think we're prosperous, yet we tremble in fear of losing our slave wage job and joining the ever-growing ranks of the damned known as the homeless. We engage in cowardly double-think to keep ourselves in line with "mainstream though"-as we lose our nation.

How can we be so warped about ourselves and our nation? How can Americans embrace such diametrically opposite concepts simultaniously? Are we as a people scizophrenic? Is Freedom scizophrenic-no, that can't be it!

It's something else, something far more insidious.

There are two Americas.

There's the America most of you reading this actually believed in-or still believe in. That America is the fabled "land of the free, home of the brave".

That America was founded on the principles of Freedom, limited authority, a free hand to make your own destiny in this life with what talent and smarts you were able or willing to bring forth from yourself, on a legal, social and economic level playing field. That America was the place where your individual beliefs were respected, was where anyone from anywhere could come and start over with the same opportunities as a person born here from a family going back ten generations.

That America was a land and people who had a limited, representative government that guarded them and their Freedom, and more importantly, was held in check by a document known as the Constitution, that enshrined an article called the Bill of Rights-which didn't deliniate individual rights so much as made boudaries beyond which the government could not trespass.

Now reading that, think; do you live in this America?

No. You, me-we all live in a different America.

This America, in reality a kind of federal empire, drapes itself in the trappings of the America we were all taught was the way this nation was as a form of ideological disguise. We were lied to. This America, the fabled "land of the free, home of the brave", uses that quote as a slogan, a sugar coating on the many poison pills of lawyer-made laws, regulations, taxes, fines, agencies, and the corrupt ruling class that wields all that power for its own good.

In this America, Freedom is a sugar coated lie to get us to accept the many political and social controls imposed upon us. This America's ideal of "freedom" is actually license-for example do you freely own and operate your automobile without government approval and permission? No? Then explain that chain of slavery known as your driver's license-you applied to a government agency for PERMISSION to drive, when nothing physically stops you from hopping into your car and driving safely anyway. Explain the vast bureaucracy that cloaks itself in "public safety" yet has the effect of taxing permission, taxing even harmless driving habits, even so far as taxing the condition of your vehicle in some areas-and I'm not talking busted headlights, I'm talking about having just a little rust-and you get fined!(Someone actually snapped and killed two cops over this-google "Carl Drega"... the state is becoming overbearing in it's arrogance and reach)

You also don't have Freedom of Assembly; go to a church and it's a 501(c)3 incorporation under IRS rules that PERMIT it to operate without paying taxes in exchange for the church's keeping quiet on the real important issues of the day. Keep going on about personal sin and pumping the myths that the America we believe in is the America we live in, and you can rake in all the tithes you want. Rail about government abuses, and the IRS will bust a audit-like what happened to a "liberal" Californian church last year when they criticized the war.

Plan a protest? State doesn't recognize your 1st Ammendment Rights: gotta get a PERMIT or you'll be labeled a riot, and have troops have a gay ol' time pepper spraying and caving your head in with their nightsticks.

Want to get together in private and work toward peaceful, positive change? One paid snitch lying under oath is all it takes, and the government will come down on you under anti-terror laws, say you're "conspiring".

Need to protect your person against the outlaw class the government's cultivated through free trade econmics and barely covert racism over the past half-century to terrify you into accepting more overt control and restrictions? Depending on where you live, who you know, you likely have to get a PERMIT...PERMISSION from the government to exercise your RIGHT. ...Depending on where you live, GETTING CAUGHT carrying a gun makes YOU a criminal too. And trust me, those government minions you come across in those types of jurisdictions are as small minded, as greedy, as ruthless and without a moral compass as the government manufactured street trash they deal with. A peacable "productive citizen" is nothing more than another bust, another conviction.

Want more examples on how your Freedom's a nice myth meant to keep you pacified? No-too bad; your Fourth Ammendment Right to protection from "unreasonable" search and seizure has been reasoned out of effective usage by a federal government that reasons it can keep taking more of our rights so long as it's non government partners in the media and big business can keep us plied in cheap Chinese goods gotten by cheap enslaving credit. Yes-the very credit you put your ass into lifetime debt slavery for, congragulations on that brand new blow up playset your materially spoiled, emotionally neglected kids will use maybe three times. So enjoy your borrowed junk before the government "reasons" an excuse to raid your home and trash the place.

( Speaking of money-it's supposed to be silver and gold specie-coinage, and notes redeemable in precious metals. Since 1913 it's been "federal reserve notes"-issued by a nongovernment organization you think is the government's central bank. It's privately owned by the inbred elites that've run this country and they've made a 1913 dollar worth FIVE CENTS as of my writing this in 2006 by overprinting dollars-that's why everything keeps going up in price!)

Same principle with the Fifth Ammendment-the one you hear those nasty criminals on the hundred TV cop shows the media puts out use to duck the righteous street cop's interrogation. Make it the province of scumbags and bullshit us with the state-lover's principle that "if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to worry about". DO YOU KNOW HOW MANY OTHERWISE INNOCENT PEOPLE THE GOVERNMENT GOES AFTER, RUINING THEIR LIVES?!

What has your encounters with the police, agents and other bureaucrats been like? Danny Glover(Lethal Weapon) pull you over just to tell you to fix that taillight that just went out before some no life having prick with too much authority and a gun ruins your day and your meager budget with a court appearance and fines?

Kim Delaney(NYPD Blue) ever conduct self-defense training courses, because the cops can't or won't come to your aid in time-like someone can't pull a trigger before you dial 911... like Mel Gibson's(Lethal Weapon, again) gonna come out of that phone speaker like Alladin out of a lamp, guns blazing?

Stephanie March(Conviction)gets your case-y'know the one where a bureaucratic busybody's seizing your house because you're on land some eco-geek's called a "wetland"-and decides to prosecute the liar who proclaimed your dry, grassland backyard instead?

Craig T. Nelson(The District)decide to stop police harrasment of people forced to live on the street-without real jobs they can live on, homes, drug detoxification, help them find a reason to go on, hope?

Michael Chiklis(The Shield)operate a table at a gun show selling privately owned firearms under the table to a nation in desperate need of the means of self-protection enshrined in the Second Ammendent?

More than likely, no.

Most people in government, they learn to live with the yoke of federal tyranny they're mandated to enforce-it's their power. Many of them are of such small minds they to love the power trip, the open display of guns in a nation that's been programmed to surrender their own right to bear arms for self-protection. The worst of them commit their own crimes-theft, drug dealing, rape, murder; they are the ones most likely to be promoted.

Promoted by criminals in three piece suits, known as career politicians.

These criminals in three piece suits unfortunately operate not a Constitutionally limited government, but a hydra-headed monster of a government that masquerades itself as many federal, state and local institutions. This monster's tentacles never stop reaching for more power, more authority, more of YOUR MONEY AND LIFE'S WORK, seizing it and stealing it from YOU! In fact, this monstrous federal government's reach into our lives is so pervasive, so overwhelming, only the largest of corporations can operate in the country with any degree of latitude.

At the pinnacles of power there is a small group of inbred elitists who regularly go back and forth from private life as CEO's and Directors in the corporate boardrooms to positions of power in government. They are greedy and corrupt beyond description, and have perpretrated literally every act of treason against us-and gotten away with it. You need a visual on this go to www.theyrule.net and you'll see this is fact!

You want power, that so-called good life? You either have to be born in the right family, or know somebody-"it's not what you know it's who you know" as a insider once told me at a chance encounter at a bar. This piece of shit with too much money and power was about 35, dressed like a frat boy, and exuded a self assurance and confidence that told of a person who's always had their way. He breezily talked about him being in this bar in this suburb in this nowhere town because he had a swearing in ceremony the next morning-after that, all he had to do was produce a signature and it would be used as a license for some kind of niggling bureaucratic license. This walking, talking elitist filth told how his family "in politics since the the Revolution" went further, stating he'd next get a congressional seat in a few years. So I asked him about getting voted out of his "destined seat" by competitors, and he said it doesn't matter, he'd get it.

"Well," I asked, "what if some Ross Perot type runs against you, with a billion dollars?"

"Doesn't matter. We'd outspend him. ...It isn't what you know, it's who you know." And then the rat bastard tells me not to be "cynical", to "have faith in 'your' leaders".

The entire political system's rigged like this folks. Get anywhere beyond a village council seat, and you gotta be accepted by "insiders" who own the game. For all practical purposes, in this country, if you don't go along with the way things are, you'll lose. And if you do win somewhow, because we have a federal, republic form of govenrment there are all kinds of checks to you doing any reform, all sorts of ways you can be corrupted and compromised... and if you still prove to be a danger, do a seance of JFK-ask him what the elites of this country do to reformers. Go to apfn.org. Go to infowars.com. Start reading up on how these "elites" really are-you'll find the truth is they're literally satanic, which explains their predatorial behavior.

So, two Americas; one's a illusory piece of propaganda genius, and we're stuck in the one with no level playing field, no limited representative government, no guarantee of Rights. It's a insider's game and conditions have been ratcheted to squeeze out as much initiative, drive, intelligence and resources out of the American People as possible.

The state-it doesn't serve We the People, it serves the Elite(2)-a pack of three piece suited hereditary criminals who have been exploiting Americans of all walks of life since the first footfall of Europeans on this continent. Africans and poor Europeans as slaves, indentured servants, wage workers in hazardous factories, soldiers to be shot to pieces in wars they set up. Those rare individuals that exhibited some talent and drive that allowed them to move upward were either regulated or taxed into oblivion, or exploited when they sold out.

And what of this Constitution that's the supreme law of the land? What of our Rights?

I'm afraid that too is a illusion, a "Hologram of Liberty" as Kenneth Royce put it as his title to his groundbreaking book. Order it from javelinpress.com or hit a gun show while you're still allowed... His premise, and our history has proven it correct is the Constitution was made in secret sessions by the very aristocratic ancestors of the pack of elitist inbreds running this country. The Constitution was engineered to have a veneer of limitied republican government while actually being a legal trojan horse of government power in service to the elites. The Bill of Rights was thrown in to appease enough people to BARELY get it passed, yet written to eventually get them nullified with technicalities and enroaching government power.

We live in the "land of the free"? That slogan's a LIE! A great deception to appease us, keep us distracted, disinformed, asleep as the elites of this nation consolidated power-slowly, just enough to not wake up a armed, self-sufficient, intelligent Free People. Get them caught up with wasteful entertainments, sell them shoddy foreign slave labor made trinkets, wave that flag in their faces...

...And keeping that flag waving they've dismantled the American nation:

*Made private entrepeneurship nearly impossible with megacorporate competion, regulations, a ever debasing currency.

*Expand federal, state and local power to take away rights to private property, travel, freedom of speech, your right to arms, a real education, a level economic field.

*Force everyone to resort to wage labor to keep up that materialistic "American Dream" that turns everyone into a corporate or state tool, then ship the jobs overseas thanks to taking down tariffs that leveled the playing field with nations with no regulations that used literally slave labor. Without jobs that sustained their lifestyles, mentally crippled by government schools and a elitist controlled media, Americans are sold on getting into lifetime debt slavery to keep up with the Joneses.

This didn't crop up in the past 20 years either! No; the seeds of our destruction were laid two centuries ago when a people who fought a Revolution against the British Empire chose to let themselves be deceived into accepting a new Constitution that laid the groundwork for the theft of Freedom. Go to javelinpress.com and order "Hologram of Liberty", but basically the people who crafted the 1787 Constitution were lawyers and bankers agents. They stood by while the real Patriots fought and died, pulling strings on both sides because it was England's war to win-and they bungled the job so completely.

History books talk of the many miracles of the American Revolution, but it was actually all to a plan; the Continental Army had it's few victories, and our Riflemen using guerilla warfare and marksmanship had the potential of winning if they played by their rules... but the generals chose set piece battles with the British Army and got asswhipped in straight up confrontations from New England to Georgia. See our enemies controlled the top ranks of both sides of that conflict; being monied interests they've ALWAYS controlled both sides surreptitiously in a grand game of problem-reaction-solution... the dialectic that's meant to artificially transform human societies-our attitudes and beliefs-through their induced inputs of money and violence.

For example, slavery could've been abolished upon independence, but the writers of the 1787 Constitution kept it in-80 years of slowly building outrage, racism, the selfish interests of the minority of plantation owners who controlled Southern politics and you have the flammable social conditions that led the the Civil War. With the conclusion of that conflict, States Rights, a bulwark against tyranny was removed, the states humbled and the Federal Government became the dominent power in America. Blacks remained a hated underclass and were the scapegoats for the beginnings of unconstitutional gun control laws. Furthermore, as they were suckered by bankers and industrialist from fleeing the raw deal of southern farms to working the factories of the north, those same blueblooded bastards were plotting to eventually move those factories overseas for "free trade"-cheaper labor with less attitude. Those Blacks were trapped in the older part of the cities, and being promoted by the elites as a hated underclass; discriminated against, subject to harsher treatement by law enforcement, denied opportunities their part of the town eventually disintegrated, decaying into the ghettos we all know and loathe today... except for clueless young wiggers who foolishly think being broke and socioeconomically doomed is a cool thing.

Everyone's been screwed over by the elite's dialectic. Everyone's been worked and molded into either good little worker drones, criminals to scare the little worker drones into going along with getting screwed, or cast aside, gulaged into prison or homelessness as a "example". Having lost their self-reliance Americans have lost their courage, and having lost their courage, they've cowered for the past century as the bankers and the blue bloods and the traitorous social engineers have had their fun with America; building a united global empire using American might abroad to bludgeon the world into surrendering... as they play a brilliant balancing act of consuming this country and it's people as they build their "world order".


As it stands as I write this, the job's about done. Everyone's a materialistic little debt slave-a nation of sheep herded to the slaughterhouse. When war breaks out with Iran and China, you can count that the final pretenses will be set aside, and America will become a fully militarized totalitarian state dedicated to total war. The Constitution-as rigged for the ruling class and flawed in it's protections as it is-will be scrapped and the full power and authority of the state will be felt by everyone.

Armored vehicles and machine toting state thugs, finally unleashed under martial law on a unsuspecting, unprepared, asleep America. They'll make a big, terrifying show and then psyching out you adult sized children, give you an "out"; obey them at all times, spy on your fellow countrymen like you were living in East Germany(remember that country?), or perish. Food will be rationed-think you'll be able to dissent and still eat-or do you know how to tend a garden, get seed? Maybe you'll luck out and catch a bullet right there and then... or more probably, you'll be shipped to a "detention camp"; concentration camps have long been a dark side of American history people! The Japanese-Americans knew of them during WWII. The Native Americans know them as "reservations", Blacks have their "inner city ghettos".

Is that what you want? Be freed of Freedom, free of being personably responsible? Are you THAT developmentally arrested that you want a mommy and daddy into your old age? You really want that America, the one our enemies have been building into our prison so long as you have your barbecue grill and NASCAR, and Christina Aguilera's new album?

Or do you still yearn for the America we were promised, the "myth" as they put it behind our backs, that keeps us docile, compliant, asleep? Do you have the courage to be responsible for yourself-Freedom does require you be independent, self-reliant, resourceful, wise... not the things Ameicans are conditioned for by the elites "popular culture" and educational institution-plus there are all those laws... still yearning to be Free? You willing to take the certain confrontation with the government to secure your Freedom-you willing to say NO to bowing before them for permission and license to practice what is your Right?

Do you have what it takes to make the America we believe in-that's currently a illusion used by the enemy to pacify us-into reality? Will you stand, even alone if you must, even pursued relentlessly by the enemy's jack booted thugs for even peaceful noncompliance?

Would you even have the guts to give a Freedom Fighter even a morsel of food you were gonna consume-getting fatter and fatter on your couch, as American Idol rots a few more of what brain you have left?

Are there ANY Americans left that value their Freedom over their borrowed comforts? That would rather live in truth than enslave themselves to lies for some false promise of "safety"?

As I write this I wonder if we ever had that America we were promised... and I pause...

...I have to say we have had that America in the past.

We've had that America when escaped slaves and indentured servants of all races moved beyond colonial authorities into the Appalachians and the Great Plains, risking their lives to have a place of their own, a place they could be Free. To keep their Freedom those brave, shining examples of Humanity picked up the rifle, learned the fine art of rifle marksmanship and fought for their freedom from both the British Crown and our own nation's native born inbred elitists.

We've had that America when Abolitionists helped escaped slaves make it out of the South, risking everything they have in disobedience to a corrupted government flush with plantation and factory owner bribes.

We've had that America when millions of women rose up, risked arrest and imprisonment and ruin to gain their Right to vote.

We've had that America when millions of Blacks rose up, and shook off the overt racism of Jim Crow.

We've had that America with the brave defenders of the Alamo-Americans and Mexicans wanting Freedom from a corrupt Mexico.

We've had that America with the brave citizens of Athens, Tennessee in 1946, who witnessed the horrors of World War Two and found they could not accept the homegrown tyranny of a pack of corrupt traitors-using the weapons from a local armory their taxes paid for these Patriots routed them after a attempt at vote fraud.

We've had that America when in 1998 at a "town hall meeting"(remember those?) in Columbus, Ohio, Madeline Albright and a couple other elitist tools were foolish enough to have a question and answer session with average Americans-trying to sell a Iraqi invasion! Left and Right, Veterans and Peace Activists got their heads together on the spot and like Real Americans made those warmongerers regret even trying to sell that war... they had to wait about four years after they blew up the World Trade Center and the Pentagon to scare us into World War III.(3)

We've had that America with every worker intitiated strike, with every government employee who tries their level best to contain their employer's destructive reach and appetites, blow the whistle when the corruption is wafting in their face, when the thugs that government likes to have get set to ruin innocent lives.

We have that America, in the hearts of those who cherish Freedom.

It's not enough to have our America in our hearts however, we must make our America a reality in our land if we are to save ourselves from the techno-feudal police state that threatens to stunt and enslave humanity for all time. We must ACT and take back authority from those who conspire with that America-the enemy of all men that oppresses and taxes at home and wages war abroad, that has promoted every evil under the sun while clothed in the image of the America we Free People love and cherish.

We MUST have Our America if we're to survive!

How? First off it's up to you. You have to want it enough to sacrifice-whatever sacrifces it takes to be Free, that's the commitment you and yours has to make, or you won't even begin.

If you do, it will amaze you what one person can do. Know your limits, as the state's more than equipped enough to handle individuals. A small group, the state's equipped to handle...

...Spawn many individuals, many groups-all independent yet all working toward a common goal and the state will be as a hapless cattle in a field full of fire ants.

But start with you. You've got to flush your head gear of the propaganda and conditioning that's damned you, cleanse your body and mind of the poisons that are killing you. Mentally and physically prepare for your struggle, because this the Devil's world and we were put here to Liberate it.

Find your destiny. What you're good at. Believe in yourself and your cause. Don't look for examples, BE the example, survive, and that will be success enough for others to join you.

First off-getting your head straight: while you still have unfettered internet access visit these sites, and LEARN:

www.rwva.org-learn how to use a rifle, because the Armed Citizen is the foundation of a Free America.

www.gold-eagle.com, www.silver-investor.com, www.thedailyreckoning.com-learn how messed up our economic policies have been, and then protect what's left of your assets by buying silver.

www.javelinpress.com-Boston T. Party is a Libertarian author I like to refer to. His Hologram of Liberty should be required reading as to the corrupt origins of this nation. Also there are links to his Free State Wyoming project-a effort to peacefully take over a Wyoming county and build a real-life working model of a Free Community. I also write about this at my freedomguide.blogspot.com, in a article titled "Message to Mr. and Mrs. America."

www.infowars.com, www.prisonplanet.com-Alex Jones has late breaking news, and has himself infiltrated elitist gatherings and taken video of the pagan ceremonies they perform. No, these people are NOT church going lovers of Jesus!

www.hermes-press.com-important source of info on the true state of America and aspects of it's darker origins.

www.theclairefiles.com-Claire Wolfe is another Libertarian, and her message board's a great place to meet other freedom-minded folks.

www.rense.com-THE motherlode of alternate information on the internet. A cyber Grand Central Station of Truth. Take a few weeks, go through the archives, read all you can-if this site doesn't wake you I don't know what will.(Warning: UFO's are among the wilder topics tackled here.) Also check out www.rumormillnews.com, www.batr.org, www.arcticbeacon.com.

indymedia.org-More leftist, and I think the Left lets themselves be ruled by their gatekeepers too much, but these people are expressing themselves and their struggles and doing a good job. Network with them, learn, teach, get together on the big issues because only united under the cause of Freedom will we stand a chance.

freedomguide.blogspot.com-I write extensively on the above subjects and I encourage you to read through my essays. I don't write for soundbytes though.

Get some education, then DO:

*Cleanse yourself. Stop eating corporate made, government approved processed foods-they're killing you! Eat organically, in fact go on a vegan no meat/dairy diet for a couple months coupled with abstaining from the TV and actually working out. I've done it myself and you'll be amazed at the difference. Stop drinking tap water and using fluoridated toothpastes, they poison your body and dull your mind, making you more suggestible and weak minded.

*Store up food, herbal medicine, candles, fuel, batteries for when the elite get done using Americans as the economic engine of their global plantation and crash this country.

*Pray to God directly. Our Father the Creator will hear all who find a quiet time, a quiet place, and quiet their minds. Our Father's voice is a quiet humble voice and not knowing how to commune with Him(thanks to all the deceptive religions meant to spiritually enslave us)... it will take time and practice and perseverance but Our Father WILL help you, believe me!

*Get a anonymous server. After you educate yourself take the essays and articles that have influence you the most and copy and paste them everywhere. Go to sports sites, fan sites, message boards of all types and post like crazy. Get the message out!

*Find out when the next gun show is. Then start shopping for a military pattern semiautomatic rifle in .308, a supply of magazines, and a case of 7.62x51NATO. DON'T GO TO DEALERS-YOU'LL HAVE TO REGISTER YOUR WEAPON WITH THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT! Look for people walking around or a table with a private seller even numbered prices. Get a FAL or a M1a/M14, or even a HK-91. Stay away from the AR-10's, they malfunction and parts are hard to come by. Get spare parts too. The effort will cost about $2,000. You can do it-sell that extra SUV, or have a yard sale-whatever it takes. If not, then find a bolt action war surplus in .308-a mauser or Indian enfield, otherwise you'll have to spring for several cases of obsolete ammo.

*TRAIN! Get some targets and the Guide from Fred's(rwva.org) and go shooting. Shoot until you can hit a 1 inch target rapid fire at 25 meters-you'll be good out to 500 meters after you figure out how big a man looks out that far, and you'll be a threat to tyranny. Get some airsoft guns and practice close in tactics. Camp for a week at a time; wean yourself of the cushy mainstream lifestyle that's enslaved you mind and body to the system. Being self sufficient and independent is the only antidote to the cultural and social poisons we've been pumped with our entire lives, and the key to being self sufficient is self sufficiency protecting yourself.

*Get activated politically! Find a cause that gets under your skin and get involved! Work with others, with their causes, be a good example of yours as yous selflessly help others and you might gain a recruit.

*Get out of debt. Stop being a slave to consumerism. Pay off the car, the house, the credit cards. Sell that house if you have to but stop being a slave to your job and to the elite bankers who enslave you with the childish materialism they've conditioned you with with their media your entire life! Find a new place to live, even renting, in the country where you will survive a staged economic collapse or a nuclear 9/11.

*This will be tough... try to talk to someone not like you. For example, if you're a relatively successful(by wage earner standards)blue or white collar guy, start a conversation with that gangbanger looking dude as you both watch the ball game at the bar. Urban folks are oppressed and are more likely to be aware. Or if you are a rural type, the next time you have to help one of those yuppie types who can't figure out how to change their own tire, take the opportunity to wake them up. If you're a good Cop next time you pull someone over you should make some blunt comments on how their vegging in front of their big screen TV's allows crooked politicians and traitorous social engineers to pass the laws he or she enforces. Part of the enemy strategy is to keep us divided along race and class lines-we are all countrymen who have sat and watched helplessly as Our America has been waved in our faces to keep us decieved, as it has been slowly killed.

*When you actually get people listening and motivated work together start preparing for the worst. America's consumer economy is run by a thin margin; that is, if the trucks stopped rolling in two weeks FAMINE would hit this country. So build up food stocks. Group by ammo by the case at gun shows. Train together. Better yet, get involved in local politics. Take over a local government and start dismantling the federal beast! I go into detail about this in my essay, "Message to Mr. and Mrs. America" at freedomguide.blogspot.com

God's put us as Americans in this time for a reason. America's being used for global domination in a process designed to destroy it in the process-because the enemy used ideals dangerous to them in creating this nation. Our Father WILL win this war against the enemy and their scheduled apocalypse, but He will have a much easier time of it if YOU will join him in Liberating this world. Besides, you're going to die sooner or later and face Him; what are you going to face Him as, a made in China flag waving couch potato "patriot"?

(1)Terry Reed, Compromised: Bush, Clinton and the CIA-this is the suppressed truth about our last three Presidents; how they commited acts of treason with their drug running. A dangerous book if you like keeping your illusions about this country's ruling class. A companion volume, more dealing with the South American side of the drug game is The Big White Lie by Michael Levine.

(2)You know that all our Presidents are related?! It's true; Burke's Peerage traces the ancestry of all the men who became President-they're all related to Charlemange. What are the odds this is coincidence? Folks on the internet talk of a "new world order"? These "royals" trace themselves back to the Roman Empire-some try to hustle us to believe they're descended from Jesus Christ! "New World Order"?!
We've been living in this rotten old world order for thousands of years!

(3)9/11 was staged. There's no way modern high strength steel skyscrapers will collapse demolition style neatly into their own property, not tipping over, after relatively lightweight aluminum and composite jetliners crash into it, and burn out their kerosene fuel-which can't begin to melt heavy construction steel! And a collapse certainly wouldn't produce all the volcanic style outgassing of vaporized concrete and steel and send steel beams weighing thousands of pounds shooting out sideways like someone detonated a really powerful bomb... not by aluminum jetliners crashing into buildings designed to withstand such a event, not by jet fuel that burnt out a hour beforehand. And where the fuck was the U.S. Air Force for two hours as four jumbo jets were lumbering across American airspace off course, with their transponders shut down? Trillions spent on air defense during the Cold War and we can't track nor intercept jetliners with our state-of-the-art mach 2+ interceptors?! Who staged this monstrous fraud? Neoconservatives in their "Project for a New American Century" called upon a "new Pearl Harbor" attack to scare the American People into transforming the U.S.A. into a empire. It's worked.

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New World Disorder

Undersea Global Strike

Joe Buff
March 13, 2006

The Pentagon has expressed the compelling need for one or more systems that achieve precision non-nuclear strike missions promptly against "time urgent targets" globally. Here precision means hitting the target with GPS-guided (or equivalent) accuracy, say a maximum miss of ten yards. Prompt means an extremely rapid cycle from receipt of intel on a target's location to munitions arriving to obliterate said target. ("Prompt" has been formally defined as one hour, so in this context it requires a weapon flight time of barely thirty minutes, even less.) Global means exactly that: the capacity to "reach out and touch someone" -- or some thing -- anywhere on Planet Earth.
For America's Submarine Force, both transformational working concepts and innovative deployed capabilities have been multiplying in recent years at a breathtaking pace. Some projects now in the pipeline -- which I'll cover in my next essay -- include firing supersonic Sidewinder anti-aircraft/anti-ship missiles from a submerged SSN's existing Tomahawk Vertical Launch System tubes, shooting clutches of conventional theater ballistic missiles out of one of a converted SSGN's (ex-SSBN's) former Trident sub-launched nuclear ballistic missile (SLBM) tubes, and launching and retrieving unmanned aerial vehicles (some armed) through the SSGN's "repurposed" seven foot inner diameter tubes. Today's discussion will focus on another timely yet controversial notion: rearming some of the latest Trident II D5 missiles with high-explosive warheads and deploying them in a few tubes on Ohio-class SSBNs -- which would continue to serve primarily in their thermonuclear deterrent roles.

An idea will be offered below which might, after further study, fix the biggest problems with fielding non-nuclear ("conventionally") armed Tridents on an SSBN thus tasked to perform such new double duty. But first, why does this subject even come up, and just what are these problems as noted by critics?

The Pentagon has expressed the compelling need for one or more systems that achieve precision non-nuclear strike missions promptly against "time urgent targets" globally. Here precision means hitting the target with GPS-guided (or equivalent) accuracy, say a maximum miss of ten yards. Prompt means an extremely rapid cycle from receipt of intel on a target's location to munitions arriving to obliterate said target. ("Prompt" has been formally defined as one hour, so in this context it requires a weapon flight time of barely thirty minutes, even less.) Global means exactly that: the capacity to "reach out and touch someone" -- or some thing -- anywhere on Planet Earth.

Achieving this Prompt Global Strike in practice is a rather tall order. But it's absolutely necessary, to meet the expanding medley of threats America faces today and tomorrow. For one example, suppose Osama Bin Laden is spotted getting a bit of fresh air outside a cave redoubt in the eastern Afghanistan mountains. He's vulnerable, but not for very long. As another illustration, imagine a ballistic missile is spotted on a North Korean launch pad, busy being fueled before launch -- and the DPRK just fired one high-explosive missile at Japan. This second missile might carry an A-bomb. American and allied forces are exhausted and out of position due to a month-long combined exercise in southern WESTPAC -- so what do you do? Or posit that an advanced diesel sub is sitting at a pier in Iran, about to unload nuclear weapon technology smuggled by the Russia mafia via a covert rendezvous with a "neutral" merchant ship in the Gulf of Oman. That surfaced, stationary sub is a target of opportunity that, in some imaginable scenarios, we'd very much want the option to blast to pieces, before its nefarious cargo could be dispersed and trucked to Iran's hardened underground bunkers. Every minute would count.

Now comes the issue of implementing Prompt Global Strike truly promptly. This isn't as easy as it sounds. A Tactical Tomahawk cruise missile is subsonic, flying as fast as a 747, and to reach its maximum range of about 1,500 nautical miles will take more than two hours -- too long. Bombers and fighter-bombers, whether land or sea based, even if supersonic, can take just as long or much longer to penetrate to their objective, even when using stand-off weapons. Prompt Global Strike thus calls for a different approach, one based on intercontinental-range ballistic missiles. Depending on their programmed flight path, these reach speeds approaching Mach 16.

Two competing solutions are being bandied about in the Pentagon, one from the Air Force and one from the Navy. What makes the debate complex is the big fundamental risk behind Prompt Global Strike, whatever form(s) the hardware takes and regardless of which armed forces branch or branches "own" it: An intercontinental-range ballistic missile launched by America against a deserving third party could be mistaken by Russia or China as the start of a nuclear strike against them, inviting immediate retaliation by ballistic missiles armed with H-bombs. When individual warheads have yields of hundreds of kilotons, and one modern ICBM or SLBM can carry several independently targeted warheads (MIRVs), it pays to not take any chances.

Both the Air Force and the Navy, no slouches, have offered solutions to this potentially fatal drawback of Prompt Global Strike. The Air Force suggests building some new ICBM silos on America's coasts, well away from the nuclear ICBM silos in the Midwest, to reduce ambiguity of intent. The hope is that anyone likely to panic and try to nuke us due to a Prompt Global Strike attack will "realize" that these coastal launch points indicate a conventional warhead is bound for some terrorist or rogue state. This idea, unfortunately, is dependent on Russia and China having precise launch-detection sensors and flawless, utterly rigorous command-and-control -- dangerous assumptions. Open inspection of the conventionally armed coastal ICBMs, and advance notice via Hot Lines to Moscow and Beijing when a Prompt Global Strike against some bad actor is slated to occur, sound great but might not make adequate allowance for Murphy's Law. And Murphy's Law rules when the ICBM trajectories would probably pass over Russia or China or both before hitting their targets.

The Navy's suggestion is to include some Trident II D5s armed with non-nuclear warheads on SSBNs when they go on patrol. This provides our Commander in Chief with the option to use a strategic deterrent nuclear sub for a second purpose: to launch a conventional Prompt Global Strike from a stealthy platform hiding underwater. There are considerable challenges with this approach, however. Reconfiguring an SSBN to be able to fire two types of missiles -- given the maze of hardware, software, safeguards, and radiation protection already required when some of the warheads are nuclear -- could lead to expense and delay. It also requires the same vessel to have two separate logistics, maintenance, and crew training tracks, further making the arrangement sound like a bundle of nasty headaches. If the SSBN is on station in its assigned alert patrol area near Russia or China, there's the same issue with SLBMs as with ICBMs -- seemingly-nuclear trajectories coming toward countries able to shoot back at America with their own missile nukes. Or, to avoid this geographic conflict, the SSBN could cruise to a better launch point. But that takes considerable time, compromising the "prompt" part. It also takes the whole sub far off station, compromising its nuclear deterrent value, and spoiling its all-important stealth once it launches a single conventional missile.

And there's another problem which I think naysayers could never be convinced to ignore: If the same SSBN carries two types of missiles, and a conventional Prompt Global Strike order ever does comes through, what stops a worst-case tragic error where the wrong type of missile gets launched? The mistake doesn't ever have to happen. The mere possibility of it might not go over well in Congressional subcommittee hearings scheduled soon. Plus, Congress has already expressed reluctance over steps that appear to make crossing the threshold to going nuclear any easier or more likely -- a mixed missile load on an SSBN might be seen by some on Capitol Hill as violating that special taboo.

Permit me to offer a possible answer to most of the difficulties involved in undersea-based Prompt Global Strike as detailed above: "Repurpose" a small number of in-commission SSBNs to serve entirely as conventionally-armed Trident II launch platforms. For some background, 18 Ohio-class Trident subs were built. The four oldest are almost done being converted to SSGNs, which because of permanent changes to all their launch tubes and other equipment are entirely unable to shoot any Tridents, regardless of the warhead involved. Discussion has been going on gradually for some time of maybe retiring or repurposing up to four more of the Trident subs still in service as SSBNs. The viewpoint supporting such a move is that, in the current and forseeable strategic environment, a fleet of 10 in-commission SSBNs is sufficient for America's needs. (A new design of SSBN to replace the Ohio-class as it ages out is currently planned to enter service around 2030.) If those four additional SSBNs did become available for repurposing, one use suggested for them (other than scrapping the lot, which in my mind would be a terrible waste), is to convert them into more commando-and-Tomahawk SSGN vessels. But in the big picture, maybe the existing four SSGNs are enough, and dedicated Undersea Prompt Global Strike is a viable, maybe essential use for any further redundant SSBNs. Consider the advantages of what purely for talking purposes I'll label an "SSCN" -- an SSBN who's Trident missiles all have conventional (non-nuclear) warheads.

With Blue and Gold crews alternating at sea, the SSCNs would achieve the same ultra-high availability as current SSBNs and SSGNs. Logistics, training, and safety issues already mentioned for a mixed missile load are nicely resolved. And best of all, so is the problem of ambiguous missile type and trajectory. Borrowing a good idea from the Air Force, of repositioning the launch points, the SSCNs could be ordered into alert patrol areas that are completely out of range for the Trident II D5 against Russia or China, let alone their warheads not overflying either country. This new type of Prompt Global Strike sub could be kept at the ready in far southern latitudes, an idea already proposed by the Navy but to my knowledge only in the context of what opponents consider overly risky dual-use SSBNs -- whose expensive nuclear Tridents would mostly be of scant utility when positioned down toward Antarctica. To get to this SSCN solution, one needs first to abandon the Cold War-era image of ICBMs flinging back and forth across the North Pole. (But a thorough grounding in Cold War theory on nuclear weapons use remains essential.) In undersea-based Prompt Global Strike against terrorists and rogue states, the North Pole has nothing to do with it. And the South Pole, which gets brought up a lot in this context, has even less to do with it.

Data published by the U.S. Naval Institute indicates the maximum range of a Trident II D5 SLBM is 6,000 nautical miles. Much of the trajectory extends through outer space, cleanly resolving the problem of in-atmosphere overflight rights, and the time to target is reportedly only 24 minutes at most -- very prompt. By an extremely useful coincidence, given the size of the earth (about 24,000 miles in circumference), this means that one SSCN can hit anything within a hemisphere centered on the ship's location. This is not an exact statement, because for brevity I'm leaving out complicated issues of orbital mechanics, but it's close enough.

Consider that the most likely targets for conventional Prompt Global Strike would be terrorists and rogue states. One SSCN on station in the extreme southern Indian Ocean, far from any shipping lanes (which also solves the problem of launch debris), could hit anywhere in the "terror and piracy belt" extending from North Africa through the Middle East and all the way to the Strait of Malacca and the Indonesian Archipelago. Yet Russia and China would not feel threatened, since if they knew anything at all, they'd know that the missile was coming north from a sub near Antarctica, and it lacked the range to threaten them. All this is because of another useful coincidence: which countries are located where upon our "third rock from the Sun." (I've said this before and I'll say it again, it really does pay to just look at a globe. Maybe watching too many Powerpoint briefings on flat-screen displays makes people think too much in two dimensions?)

Don't forget that discussions would be needed with India and Pakistan as well. Although they lack missiles able to reach the U.S. homeland, a Prompt Global Strike launch might be mistaken by each as the start of a nuclear attack by the other, triggering a catastrophic regional A-bomb and H-bomb exchange. But again, the proposed SSCN's SLBM launch point and direction of flight should quickly assuage such fears. Theater ballistic missiles from India and Pakistan aimed at each other would move west-east and vice versa, not northward from thousands of miles away at sea.

As an alternative, one SSCN far southeast of New Zealand could, among other things, hold North Korea (but not Russia) at risk, and could just barely threaten a slim slice of coastal China immediately opposite Taiwan. Who could ask for more?

Rapid communication of fire-mission orders to the SSCN would not be the problem that some pundits think. No longer part of America's thermonuclear deterrent triad, an SSCN on patrol could afford to expose itself more than an SSBN to stay in perpetual touch with higher command. That exposure would be minimal anyway, since the sub can constantly trail a floating wire antenna just below the surface. This would serve as a "bell ringer," to get detailed orders by quickly coming to periscope depth and raising a low-observable high-baud-rate antenna mast for communications via satellite. No more the excruciatingly slow extremely-low-frequency (ELF) method of talking to boomers down deep. (In fact the U.S. Navy's two huge ELF transmitters, in Michigan, were dismantled as no longer needed, and to save costs.)

Since the supply of converted SLBMs is not intended to be large, any one SSCN can deploy with some of its 24 tubes filled with ballast -- and extra non-perishable food? -- and still be very effective. To satisfy applicable arms-control inspection treaties signed with Russia, Moscow's observers could examine the warhead bus of the non-nuclear Trident missiles just before they're loaded into an SSCN outbound on patrol. Ditto for Beijing, if they need reassurance.

Conventional Prompt Global Strike is vital to national defense and homeland security. Implementing it is a job that the Silent Service seems uniquely suited to help achieve, and participation by the Air Force as well may offer more fire-mission options, better tactical flexibility, and needed systems redundancy in a transformational non-nuclear dyad.

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Hotel U.S.A.- Concentration Camps

By Joseph Richey
March 14, 2006.

The government's plans for an 'immigration emergency' include relocation and detention centers -- courtesy of Kellogg, Brown and Root.

Some time between now and 2010, the U.S. government expects some uninvited guests -- a massive influx of undocumented immigrants. In preparation for their arrival, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) backed the National Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, which mandates 40,000 new beds and barracks for foreign-born refugees at four undisclosed locations over the next five years.
On Jan. 3, 2006, the Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) expanded an existing contract held by Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg, Brown and Root (KBR) and renewed it to accommodate up to 20,000 refugees from environmental and political disasters. A future expansion in 2008 calls for another 20,000 beds.

Detention of immigrants and other undesirables without charge is nothing new. After the Civil War, many states supplied troops and police to assist private armed guards to arrest and detain striking workers. In 1918, Attorney General Mitchell Palmer and a youthful 24-year-old J. Edgar Hoover launched raids to round up and deport alleged subversives. In the fall of 1934, striking textile workers were interned in camps at Fort MacPherson outside Atlanta, Ga. Congress approved the Internal Security Act of 1950, including FBI Director Hoover's "Security Portfolio," a plan to arrest and detain up to 20,000 dissidents. 1984 Director of Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) under Ronald Reagan reconstituted a readiness exercise, Operation Night Train, code-named REX 84, a potential roundup of up tens of thousands of Central Americans residing in the United States for internment in ten military detention centers.

But the difference here is that the emergency detention and removal plans for 2006-2010 are built on a new contingency support contract. Originally awarded in 1999 by the now-defunct Immigration and Naturalization Service, the contract sought logistical support for imagined immigration events. Contingency support contracts are good business for KBR, which provides insurance for calamities that don't happen.

When George Bush and Dick Cheney moved to Washington, many Texas-based companies teed up for contract extensions and new business opportunities. Among them, KBR was viewed by many in the defense contracting industry as a capable, fast and far-reaching company. KBR has been awarded the last three expanded improved detention center contracts administered by the Army Corps. The awards often come well in advance of the expiration date.

Take the latest detention center contract between DHS/ICE and KBR: The solicitation went to 26 vendors of detention and logistical support services, 11 of them based in Texas. As with most large service contracts entailing indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity and rapid response time, Halliburton's KBR submitted the only bid for the work. While this does not constitute another "cost-plus no-bid contract," which have been cited as particularly vulnerable to abuse and fraud, the contract award to a single bidder doesn't lend itself to much competitive pricing. Contracting officer Linda Eadie of the U.S. Army Corps' Fort Worth, Texas, district, who administrated the DHS/ICE deal with KBR disagreed: "This is a cost-plus contract, but it is not a no-bid. The procurement was competitively negotiated."

During the contract negotiations, Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast. USACE learned the hard way about the limitations of the 2001-2005 contract. The existing contract responded to an "immigration emergency," not a "migration emergency." Hurricane Katrina involved "evacuees" from within the United States, and not "refugees" or immigrants from abroad. Under the contract, no task orders could be issued, with the exception of a requirement to perform readiness exercises on a moment's notice. Under that provision, DHS ordered KBR to provide temporary shelter for DHS and ICE officials in New Orleans for $7 million.

In the "recompete" solicitation for the detention and relocation centers, USACE modified the terms. Under the new contract, the detention and relocation centers will be able to hold both immigrant refugees from U.S.-born natural disasters and foreign-born natural disasters. This new program expands the DHS Contingency Support Project and ICE's Detention and Removal Program. In the event of another Katrina-like flood, ICE, with KBR's logistical support, will perform a large-scale migrant catch and release program.

DHS and ICE determine what constitutes an immigration emergency. But no one from ICE or DHS has responded to queries about specific scenarios that would order KBR to act on the contract. A KBR press release from Jan. 24 quotes Bruce Stanski, executive vice president, KBR Government and Infrastructure, who "looks forward to supporting the development of new programs."

Could an immigration emergency be declared tomorrow in Arizona, Texas or California at the urging of conservative political leaders from those regions? Is this program the foundation of internment camps on U.S. soil again? Evacuee resettlement facilities can be converted into detention centers at-the-quick. An Army Corps procurement analyst told me, "Mobile watchtowers are easily wheeled onto the corners of barbed-wired tent camps."

The stated intentions of the contract and acquisition plan do not include those features. Linda Eadie explained that KBR's work could prevent a humanitarian catastrophe in the event of natural disasters such as floods, plagues, tidal waves, hurricanes, earthquakes or a political crisis abroad, like "the fall of a current or future government." USACE maintains it's money well spent on a de facto insurance plan against a humanitarian disaster, offering public shelter for evacuees from a variety of storms, natural disasters, human-induced events.

Immigration lawyers and migrant advocates warn that the government plans to detain and remove more people, including asylum seekers. Attorney Ahilan Arulanantham with the ACLU of Southern California told AlterNet, "Obviously, if the government's intentions are to care for refugees displaced by a natural disaster, we have no problem with that. But with the numbers of detentions, which have exploded since 1996 and more so after Sept. 11 -- and remember after 9/11, the government detained over 1,000 people in New York City, none of whom were linked to terrorist activity -- based on stories like these, we fear that their program could victimize people fleeing persecution or calamity, the very people that the program is designed to help."

The most recent award to KBR announced on Jan. 3, 2006, extends and expands the existing contract, as part of the DHS Contingency Support Project and ICE's Detention and Removal Program. Kellogg, Brown and Root will get $481,212 per year to maintain readiness.

"Rapid response capability is expensive," writes Debra Pulling, one of the U.S. Fort Worth district Army Corps contracting officers, in a memorandum. If called into duty, KBR would have access to a maximum amount of $385 million per deployment. Given the increased frequency and intensity of Gulf Coast hurricanes alone, five deployments would cost more than $1.9 billion over five years.

Each of the four detention centers would accommodate a single male population consisting of 40 percent of the total detainees, 10 percent single female, 40 percent families with children, and 10 percent criminal and sick. Each location will have three different checkpoints: a temporary staging facility where up to 5,000 can be housed and fed for up to 72 hours, and 1,800 can be processed a day; a transfer point holding up to 600 migrants for up to three months before relocation; and to accommodate longer stays for criminal and sick detainees, a temporary detention center where potential terrorist threats can be processed for "rendition" to a site outside the continental United States. Notable among the specifications for KBR is the Department of Defense security requirement for "secret" classification of assigned personnel.

Relating to potential task orders, a Corps memorandum states: "Although this contract will be executed inside the United States, it is likely to be used only during periods of significant political unrest affecting countries near to the United States. Such unrest, quite apart from its impact in creating a large number of refugees, may constitute a serious threat to the United States, which could result in the deployment of military forces. This contract requires an immediate stand up of facilities that will receive a large influx of refugees. It is anticipated that the refugees will not speak the language, and the circumstances may involve a hostile environment within the camp. Consequently, a potential for violence will exist in the camps. While there may or may not be a deployment of U.S. troops, there certainly will be a deployment of border patrol and other law enforcement agents, in a quasi-military manner."

The flexibility redrawn into the contract for these relocation and detention centers has alarmed human rights supporters both inside and outside the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. [AU: WHY?] One anonymous source within USACE warned, "Don't wait until they're putting people behind barbed wire. Don't wait until the cattle cars pull up. Nip this in the bud."

A representative from the New Jersey Civil Rights Defense Committee remarked, "To offer help at gunpoint, where people are not free to accept or reject it, is not really help."

An ICE spokesman told the New York Times on Feb. 4, 2006 that if a migration emergency does not happen, the detention centers may never need to be built. In fact, KBR is not planning to build anything. Existing structures, be they a local stadium, warehouse or airplane hangar, will be leased for a given period of time.

The prospective demand and requirements for this expanded emergency response activity is in the hands of government agencies. They'll be the ones to decide what constitutes an emergency, be it Category 4 hurricanes in the Gulf Coast, coup d'etats in Haiti, African killer bee-induced evacuations of Northern Mexico or, less dramatically, the mass influx of immigrants that crosses the U.S. border after the Christmas holidays. Whatever the emergency is, and whatever poor folks will be rounded up, one thing is certain: They will not be free to leave, and their hosts for the next five years will be Kellogg, Brown and Root.

Joe Richey is a freelance journalist and translator. Research support for this article was provided by the Investigative Fund of The Nation Institute.

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Flashback: Bush's Mysterious 'New Programs' - Concentration Camps

By Nat Parry
Consortium News
February 23, 2006.

Is the Pentagon building U.S.-based prison camps for Muslim immigrants? Evidence points to the possibility.
Not that George W. Bush needs much encouragement, but Sen. Lindsey Graham suggested to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales a new target for the administration's domestic operations -- Fifth Columnists, supposedly disloyal Americans who sympathize and collaborate with the enemy.

"The administration has not only the right, but the duty, in my opinion, to pursue Fifth Column movements," Graham, R-S.C., told Gonzales during Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on Feb. 6.

"I stand by this president's ability, inherent to being commander in chief, to find out about Fifth Column movements, and I don't think you need a warrant to do that," Graham added, volunteering to work with the administration to draft guidelines for how best to neutralize this alleged threat.

"Senator," a smiling Gonzales responded, "the president already said we'd be happy to listen to your ideas."

In less paranoid times, Graham's comments might be viewed by many Americans as a Republican trying to have it both ways -- ingratiating himself to an administration of his own party while seeking some credit from Washington centrists for suggesting Congress should have at least a tiny say in how Bush runs the War on Terror.

But recent developments suggest that the Bush administration may already be contemplating what to do with Americans who are deemed insufficiently loyal or who disseminate information that may be considered helpful to the enemy. Top U.S. officials have cited the need to challenge news that undercuts Bush's actions as a key front in defeating the terrorists, who are aided by "news informers," in the words of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

Detention centers

Plus, there was that curious development in January when the Army Corps of Engineers awarded Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root a $385 million contract to construct detention centers somewhere in the United States, to deal with "an emergency influx of immigrants into the U.S., or to support the rapid development of new programs," KBR said.

Later, the New York Times reported that "KBR would build the centers for the Homeland Security Department for an unexpected influx of immigrants, to house people in the event of a natural disaster or for new programs that require additional detention space."

Like most news stories on the KBR contract, the Times focused on concerns about Halliburton's reputation for bilking U.S. taxpayers by overcharging for sub-par services. "It's hard to believe that the administration has decided to entrust Halliburton with even more taxpayer dollars," remarked Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif.

Less attention centered on the phrase "rapid development of new programs" and what kind of programs would require a major expansion of detention centers, each capable of holding 5,000 people. Jamie Zuieback, a spokeswoman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, declined to elaborate on what these "new programs" might be.

Only a few independent journalists, such as Peter Dale Scott and Maureen Farrell, have pursued what the Bush administration might actually be thinking.

Scott speculated that the "detention centers could be used to detain American citizens if the Bush administration were to declare martial law." He recalled that during the Reagan administration, National Security Council aide Oliver North organized Rex-84 "readiness exercise," which contemplated the Federal Emergency Management Agency rounding up and detaining 400,000 "refugees," in the event of "uncontrolled population movements" over the Mexican border into the United States.

Farrell pointed out that because "another terror attack is all but certain, it seems far more likely that the centers would be used for post-911-type detentions of immigrants rather than a sudden deluge" of immigrants flooding across the border.

Vietnam-era whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg said, "Almost certainly this is preparation for a roundup after the next 9/11 for Mid-Easterners, Muslims and possibly dissenters. They've already done this on a smaller scale, with the 'special registration' detentions of immigrant men from Muslim countries, and with Guantanamo."

Labor camps

There also was another little-noticed item posted at the U.S. Army website, about the Pentagon's Civilian Inmate Labor Program. This program "provides Army policy and guidance for establishing civilian inmate labor programs and civilian prison camps on Army installations."

The Army document, first drafted in 1997, underwent a "rapid action revision" on Jan. 14, 2005. The revision provides a "template for developing agreements" between the Army and corrections facilities for the use of civilian inmate labor on Army installations.

On its face, the Army's labor program refers to inmates housed in federal, state and local jails. The Army also cites various federal laws that govern the use of civilian labor and provide for the establishment of prison camps in the United States, including a federal statute that authorizes the attorney general to "establish, equip, and maintain camps upon sites selected by him" and "make available … the services of United States prisoners" to various government departments, including the Department of Defense.

Though the timing of the document's posting -- within the past few weeks -- may just be a coincidence, the reference to a "rapid action revision" and the KBR contract's contemplation of "rapid development of new programs" has raised eyebrows about why this sudden need for urgency.

These developments also are drawing more attention now because of earlier Bush administration policies to involve the Pentagon in "counter-terrorism" operations inside the United States.

Pentagon surveillance

Despite the Posse Comitatus Act's prohibitions against U.S. military personnel engaging in domestic law enforcement, the Pentagon has expanded its operations beyond previous boundaries, such as its role in domestic surveillance activities.

The Washington Post has reported that since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, the Defense Department has been creating new agencies that gather and analyze intelligence within the United States.

The White House also is moving to expand the power of the Pentagon's Counterintelligence Field Activity (CIFA), created three years ago to consolidate counterintelligence operations. The White House proposal would transform CIFA into an office that has authority to investigate crimes such as treason, terrorist sabotage or economic espionage.

The Pentagon also has pushed legislation in Congress that would create an intelligence exception to the Privacy Act, allowing the FBI and others to share information about U.S. citizens with the Pentagon, CIA and other intelligence agencies. But some in the Pentagon don't seem to think that new laws are even necessary.

In a 2001 Defense Department memo that surfaced in January 2005, the U.S. Army's top intelligence officer wrote, "Contrary to popular belief, there is no absolute ban on [military] intelligence components collecting U.S. person information."

Drawing a distinction between "collecting" information and "receiving" information on U.S. citizens, the memo argued that "MI [military intelligence] may receive information from anyone, anytime."

This receipt of information presumably would include data from the National Security Agency, which has been engaging in surveillance of U.S. citizens without court-approved warrants in apparent violation of the Foreign Intelligence Security Act. Bush approved the program of warrantless wiretaps shortly after 9/11.

There also may be an even more extensive surveillance program. Former NSA employee Russell D. Tice told a congressional committee on Feb. 14 that such a top-secret surveillance program existed, but he said he couldn't discuss the details without breaking classification laws.

Tice added that the "special access" surveillance program may be violating the constitutional rights of millions of Americans. With this expanded surveillance, the government's list of terrorist suspects is rapidly swelling.

The Washington Post reported on Feb. 15 that the National Counterterrorism Center's central repository now holds the names of 325,000 terrorist suspects, a fourfold increase since the fall of 2003. Asked whether the names in the repository were collected through the NSA's domestic surveillance program, an NCTC official told the Post, "Our database includes names of known and suspected international terrorists provided by all intelligence community organizations, including NSA."

Homeland defense

As the administration scoops up more and more names, members of Congress also have questioned the elasticity of Bush's definitions for words like terrorist "affiliates," used to justify wiretapping Americans allegedly in contact with such people or entities.

During the Senate Judiciary Committee's hearing on the wiretap program, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., complained that the House and Senate Intelligence committees "have not been briefed on the scope and nature of the program."

Feinstein added that, therefore, the committees "have not been able to explore what is a link or an affiliate to al-Qaida or what minimization procedures (for purging the names of innocent people) are in place."

The combination of the Bush administration's expansive reading of its own power and its insistence on extraordinary secrecy has raised the alarm of civil libertarians when contemplating how far the Pentagon might go in involving itself in domestic matters.

A Defense Department document, entitled the "Strategy for Homeland Defense and Civil Support," has set out a military strategy against terrorism that envisions an "active, layered defense" both inside and outside U.S. territory. In the document, the Pentagon pledges to "transform U.S. military forces to execute homeland defense missions in the … U.S. homeland."

The Pentagon strategy paper calls for increased military reconnaissance and surveillance to "defeat potential challengers before they threaten the United States." The plan "maximizes threat awareness and seizes the initiative from those who would harm us."

But there are concerns over how the Pentagon judges "threats" and who falls under the category "those who would harm us." A Pentagon official said the Counterintelligence Field Activity's TALON program has amassed files on antiwar protesters.

In December 2005, NBC News revealed the existence of a secret 400-page Pentagon document listing 1,500 "suspicious incidents" over a 10-month period, including dozens of small antiwar demonstrations that were classified as a "threat."

The Defense Department also might be moving toward legitimizing the use of propaganda domestically, as part of its overall war strategy.

A secret Pentagon "Information Operations Roadmap," approved by Rumsfeld in October 2003, calls for "full spectrum" information operations and notes that "information intended for foreign audiences, including public diplomacy and PSYOP, increasingly is consumed by our domestic audience and vice versa."

"PSYOPS messages will often be replayed by the news media for much larger audiences, including the American public," the document states. The Pentagon argues, however, that "the distinction between foreign and domestic audiences becomes more a question of USG [U.S. government] intent rather than information dissemination practices."

It calls for "boundaries" between information operations abroad and the news media at home, but does not outline any corresponding limits on PSYOP campaigns.

Similar to the distinction the Pentagon draws between "collecting" and "receiving" intelligence on U.S. citizens, the Information Operations Roadmap argues that as long as the American public is not intentionally "targeted," any PSYOP propaganda consumed by the American public is acceptable.

The Pentagon plan also includes a strategy for taking over the internet and controlling the flow of information, viewing the web as a potential military adversary. The "roadmap" speaks of "fighting the net," and implies that the internet is the equivalent of "an enemy weapons system."

In a speech on Feb. 17 to the Council on Foreign Relations, Rumsfeld elaborated on the administration's perception that the battle over information would be a crucial front in the War on Terror, or as Rumsfeld calls it, the Long War.

"Let there be no doubt, the longer it takes to put a strategic communication framework into place, the more we can be certain that the vacuum will be filled by the enemy and by news informers that most assuredly will not paint an accurate picture of what is actually taking place," Rumsfeld said.

The Department of Homeland Security also has demonstrated a tendency to deploy military operatives to deal with domestic crises.

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the department dispatched "heavily armed paramilitary mercenaries from the Blackwater private security firm, infamous for its work in Iraq, (and had them) openly patrolling the streets of New Orleans," reported journalists Jeremy Scahill and Daniela Crespo on Sept. 10, 2005.

Noting the reputation of the Blackwater mercenaries as "some of the most feared professional killers in the world," Scahill and Crespo said Blackwater's presence in New Orleans "raises alarming questions about why the government would allow men trained to kill with impunity in places like Iraq and Afghanistan to operate here."

U.S. battlefield

In the view of some civil libertarians, a form of martial law already exists in the United States and has been in place since shortly after the 9/11 attacks when Bush issued Military Order No. 1 which empowered him to detain any noncitizen as an international terrorist or enemy combatant.

"The president decided that he was no longer running the country as a civilian president," wrote civil rights attorney Michael Ratner in the book "Guantanamo: What the World Should Know." "He issued a military order giving himself the power to run the country as a general."

For any American citizen suspected of collaborating with terrorists, Bush also revealed what's in store. In May 2002, the FBI arrested U.S. citizen Jose Padilla in Chicago on suspicion that he might be an al-Qaida operative planning an attack.

Rather than bring criminal charges, Bush designated Padilla an "enemy combatant" and had him imprisoned indefinitely without benefit of due process. After three years, the administration finally brought charges against Padilla, in order to avoid a Supreme Court showdown the White House might have lost.

But since the court was not able to rule on the Padilla case, the administration's arguments have not been formally repudiated. Indeed, despite filing charges against Padilla, the White House still asserts the right to detain U.S. citizens without charges as enemy combatants.

This claimed authority is based on the assertion that the United States is at war and the American homeland is part of the battlefield.

"In the war against terrorists of global reach, as the nation learned all too well on Sept. 11, 2001, the territory of the United States is part of the battlefield," Bush's lawyers argued in briefs to the federal courts.

Given Bush's now open assertions that he is using his "plenary" -- or unlimited -- powers as commander in chief for the duration of the indefinite War on Terror, Americans can no longer trust that their constitutional rights protect them from government actions.

As former Vice President Al Gore asked after recounting a litany of sweeping powers that Bush has asserted to fight the War on Terror, "Can it be true that any president really has such powers under our Constitution? If the answer is 'yes,' then under the theory by which these acts are committed, are there any acts that can on their face be prohibited?"

In such extraordinary circumstances, the American people might legitimately ask exactly what the Bush administration means by the "rapid development of new programs," which might require the construction of a new network of detention camps.

Comment: Not only Muslims, just as the camps in Nazi Germany were not used exclusively for Jews. Dissidents formed a large segment of the population...

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Russia warns US on Caspian buildup

16 Mar 06

Moscow, March 14 - Russia cautioned the United States on Tuesday against raising its military presence in the strategic Caspian sea region bordering Iran, saying buildup of forces from "outside" would destabilize the region, Itar-Tass news agency said.

Russia "is opposed to the presence of third-party military forces on the Caspian," Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said at the start of a meeting among representatives of the five countries that border the sea: Russia, Iran, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan.
His comments were seen as directed at the United States, which has stationed military advisors in Azerbaijan and is helping that country upgrade its naval forces and two powerful radar stations.

Itar-Tass also quoted Lavrov however as saying that Russia was not calling for withdrawal of all military forces from the Caspian sea region, which is known to hold vast oil and gaz resources.

"Demilitarization of the Caspian does not correspond to the realities of today," Lavrov said, adding that such a goal would lead to "the disarmament of Caspian states that are confronting new threats."

"Not creating threats from the outside due to the presence of military forces from third countries is the guarantee that there will no longer be any pretext for conflicts in the region," Lavrov said.

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The Changing Face of Terror

By Mike Whitney
Information Clearing House
15 Mar 06

Ever since the attacks on 9-11 we have heard one slogan reiterated more frequently than any other, "Everything changed on September 11".

The phrase has become the motto for transforming America according to the policy objectives of the men in power. In fact, the criminal conduct of government officials and their wars of aggression have all been causally brushed aside by invoking their keynote defense, "Everything changed"!

September 11 has been the most abused and manipulated public relations scam in history. It is trotted out in every presidential speech, every executive press conference, and every appearance by an administration official. It is routinely used to undermine the rule of law and to vindicate the despotic powers of the president.
"Everything changed"; "The gloves came off"; "We must accept the new realities of the post 9-11 world".

September 11 has become the defining moment in human history; the seminal event that provides the meager justification for butchery and repression.

The United States is now gripped by a form of low-grade state terror; the twin-axels of fear and deception keep the imperial bandwagon gliding along its path. America has been subsumed in a swamp of paranoia and lies; clearing the way for future hostilities and greater brutality.

Everything changed.

We know now that every breach of the law, every assault on tradition, every illegal war was perfectly timed to coincide with the "galvanizing moment"; a "Pearl Harbor-type event" that would rally the public behind their war president and begin the long, descent into iniquity.

The Patriot Act was prepared and ready for approval well before 9-11, just as the NSA program of blanket-spying on the American people began shortly after. Rumsfeld was already looking for excuses to attack Iraq just hours after the Towers fell, and in a matter of months, White House attorneys would be building a legal defense for the cruel and inhuman treatment of prisoners.

Was this merely coincidence or was the Bush administration already prepared for the transition to dictatorship?

Treaties were shredded, civil liberties were savaged, and every obstacle to presidential authority was removed. Now, the only principle the Bush administration adheres to is the fundamental belief that it is above the law.

In Iraq we see a mirror-image of the radical ideology that energizes domestic policy. The daily slaughter of innocent people is papered-over by a slick public relations campaign disparaging terror and touting liberation. Again, we see the twin-axels of fear and deception rotating simultaneously.

The promises of reconstruction, democracy, and security have disappeared behind the daily onslaught of cluster-bombs, death squads, malnutrition, poisoned water, unemployment, and despair.

New Orleans is only different by a matter of degrees. America's "Jewel of the South" has been transformed into a garrison city, replete with armored vehicles, fully-armed military personnel, and contingents of corporate paramilitaries.

If riots had broken out, we would have seen a reenactment of Falluja-type justice dispensed by Army regulars and Cheney's mercenaries.

In the 6 months since Hurricane Katrina, the administration has not provided funds for the reconstruction of even one home in the region. Bush's abhorrence to "nation building" has been faithfully honored in New Orleans as well as Baghdad. The American public has been dumbstruck by the extent of the governments' callousness. This country has never seen capitalism stripped of its adornments; a predatory, mean-spirited system that discards its own people when profit is not involved.

In Iraq, fear and deception are the driving forces behind the policy. The MSM has played a major role by providing bogus information that is designed to mislead the public.

Can we believe the media when they refer to "suicide bombers" or "sectarian violence" without evidence? Isn't the moniker "suicide bomber" loaded with political bias; suggesting crazed, Muslim fanatics who have no regard for their own lives or the lives of others? Where's the proof? Couldn't it be a device that the media purposely uses to reinforce racial stereotypes and, thus, support the war-effort?

The same rule applies to sectarian violence. The phrase "sectarian violence" is meant to imply that this is not America's war at all, but that we are simply innocent bystanders keeping the warring parties from killing each other.

What rubbish.

The term "sectarian violence" suggests that the media knows who is detonating the bombs, provoking ethnic tensions, and producing the mountains of carnage.

But do they? Most of them are locked up in the Palestine Hotel all day, polishing up the narrative they are provided by the Pentagon.

The media reports what they are told to report and most of it is nothing more than the verbatim statements from administration and military officials.

Who could read the papers or listen to the news and not draw that very same conclusion?

Perhaps, there is a far more sinister force behind the seemingly random bombings that alternate between Shiite and Sunni communities. Perhaps, they are being ignited by people who want to see Iraq broken up into mini-statelets that are less threatening to the occupying army? Perhaps, they are part of a massive covert operation intended to weaken resistance and spread anarchy throughout the region?

Perhaps, Iraq, like America, is being controlled by men who believe that terror is the most effective way to govern.

At least that would explain why "everything has changed".

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The elite effort to subvert democracy

Napa Valley Register
March 14, 2006

Elite control to subvert democracy is quite explicit when one sees the great rift between public policy and public opinion. A Pew Research Center poll showed that Americans believed the U.S. should mind its own business internationally. Three of four American troops serving in Iraq agreed, saying they should withdraw and end the war in Iraq, according to a Zogby-Le Moyne College poll surveyed by face-to-face interviews with soldiers. Unfortunately, public opinion does not guide domestic or foreign policy and we won't be leaving Iraq anytime soon. The vice president said that the "War on Terror" is a "war which will not end in our lifetimes."
The Program on International Policy Attitudes polled Americans' attitudes toward the last federal budget. Where spending is going up (military, Iraq, Afghanistan), Americans wanted it to go down. Areas where the budget was decreasing -- social spending, education, renewable energy, support for the United Nations -- people wanted it to go up. The 2007 federal budget is more of the same. A huge majority wanted to reverse the tax cuts for the wealthy. "Democracy" is a term we hear ad nauseum by the president's speechwriters and apparatchiks, but the word does not approximate our reality. The fantasies propagated about our government and economy start in our schools, which according to the Trilateral Commission are responsible for the "indoctrination of the young."

The unthinking public continues to be deluded by massive state-corporate propaganda campaigns on all fronts. The deception justifying the illegal invasion of Iraq will surely go down in history as one of the greatest achievements of American propaganda. The anti-Iran propaganda is working, as more than half of Americans think Iran is a threat to their existence. The driving motive of the invasion is to retain American global hegemony by controlling the last remaining significant energy reserves left on the planet. What this means is U.S. planners will attempt to rule the world and destroy the social contract here at home to pay for future imperial wars.

Petroleum geologists are not popular and their warnings of Peak Oil are underreported by the "liberal media." A 2004 meeting of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas in Berlin included representatives from BP, ExxonMobil and the International Energy Agency. A U.K. observer at the ASPO stated "for the record, Ghawar's (the world's largest oil reservoir, located in Saudi Arabia) ultimate recoverable reserves in 1975 were estimated at 60 billion barrels -- by ExxonMobil, Texaco, and Chevron. It had produced 55 billion barrels up to the end of 2003 and is still producing at 1.8 billion per annum. That shows you how close it might be to the end. When Ghawar dies, the world is officially in decline."

Matthew Simmons, CEO of Simmons and Co. International, the world's largest private energy investment bank, believes the Saudis are "out of capacity." Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham concludes, "America faces a major energy supply crisis over the next two decades. The failure to meet this challenge will threaten our nation's economic prosperity, compromise our national security and literally alter the way we lead our lives."

Richard Heinberg's book, "The Party's Over: Oil, War and the Fate of Industrial Societies," presents what will be the most significant event in human history -- the imminent decline of cheap oil -- and what we can do about it.

The current administration was inaugurated by stealing two elections, placed war criminals in key government positions, was complicit in facilitating 9/11 attacks, lied to the American people for the illegal invasion of a sovereign nation, contravened international law, used and still uses "weapons of mass destruction" in Iraq and Afghanistan, and has subverted the Constitution. We live in a criminal state. The planet is facing an ecological crisis that will be irreversible if we continue with our system of waste, fraud, pollution and voracious resource depletion. Humanity was in "a race between education and catastrophe," according to H.G. Wells. Implementing a "power-down" strategy involves reducing "resource usage in wealthy countries, developing alternative energy sources, distributing resources more equitably, and reducing the human population humanely but systematically over time. It could save us, but will require tremendous effort and economic sacrifice." The inevitable confrontation with Mother Nature -- to rid itself of the human parasite and preside over the collapse of our unsustainable economic system -- is imminent. The question is whether a democratic global economy will evolve sooner or later. If later, we will sink to a level of barbarism never seen before. If sooner, we can work forging communities based on solidarity, mutual aid, tolerance and sustainability that will improve the quality of life and mitigate the damage done to the planet's fragile ecosystem that we are so dependent on.

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Flashback: Nazis of the Nineties

By Abid Ullah Jan
5 Jan 98

In his book "The Road to Serfdom," Friedrich Hayek warned Americans in 1944 that despite their military war against Nazis, they were travelling the philosophical and economic road to that the Nazis were travelling. The Americans ignored that warning. Now along the Americans we are left with the consequences that are coming home to roost in the nineties: a government of omnipotent size and power using its power to kill innocent, peaceful citizens at home and abroad. Today, the number of its victims is in the millions. But at the end of this road lie the deadly bombing and concentration camps for the multitudes.
The name of the new game to be played in the last year of the twentieth century is "catastrophic terrorism" and it has been made frightening, not because it conceivably could really happen but because of what people who choose to dwell on the possibility, however remote, want to do about it. The anti-biological and anti-weapons of mass destruction American propaganda and actions are already duplicating Hitler's prior to World War-II tactics.

Any further terrorism from now onwards would be justified in the name of combating "catastrophic terrorism," which is defined as going far beyond what the US Secretary of Defence William Cohen calls "the conventional type of terrorism." That is the work of "cowards," he says, who "rejoice in the agony of their victims." They then "retreat to villages where they hide behind the skirts of women and the laughter of children and dare you to strike back - and strike back we will."

"We have to depend upon intervention" he declared on December 8, 1998 and the same views have been expressed by Ashton Carter, John Deusch and Philip Zelikow, two former high-level Defence Department Officials, and a former staff member of National Security Council, in the Foreign Affairs magazine. This propaganda would justify the US armed attack in any part of the world as "prevention" of the sensed danger. Afghanistan and Sudan were probably the first victims of an undeclared Nazi agenda for dominating the world.

The word "Nazi" might offend some Americans but a thorough research can pale Nazi atrocities by comparison with what the US has done and is doing in the name of national interest. CIA, with the help of CNN, BBC and ABC etc., is waging a major propaganda war against the Muslim world in particular, with the help of capitalist media elite and some powerful politicians. Their lies were once totally disregarded by most people, but today, the majority of the people seem to believe the anti "rouge states" propaganda.

We still have to many people, who do not believe that the present American attempts are leading to a US world order and total domination of those nations, which are considered anti-American. They, like the unbelievers in 1939, will not take the time to research the American intentions and wrong doings. If they did, they would see that these warnings are indeed accurate and timely. What the world fails or refuses to recognise is that the concentration camps were simply the logical extension of the Nazi agenda and mind-set. It doesn't matter if there were six million killed - or six hundred - or six - or even one.

The evil is the belief that the US government should have the power to sacrifice even one individual for the good of the American "nation" and "interest." Once this basic philosophical premise and political power are conceded, innocent people, beginning with few and inevitable ending in multitudes, will be killed, because "the good of the nation" always ends up requiring it. The UN and rest of the world seem to have conceded this authority to the US so that it freely exercise its Nazi practices.

On the one hand we have the anti-Islam movement, whose main propaganda themes seem to be that (1) the so-called Islamic fundamentalism is the root of all evil, (2) weapons of mass destruction should be kept away from the Islamic and unfriendly states, and (3) that the US and its allies are the only hope against the spreading plague of fundamentalism. In Mein Kampf, Hitler's main propaganda themes seem to be that (1) Jews and Jewry are the root of all evil, and (2) that Germany was World's best hope against the spreading communist revolution.

On the other hand, political killings of innocent people could never happened in the US. But it is happening in American, today. And like the German people of the 1930s, Americans either refuse to see it happening, or they rationalise what is happening so that they do not have to deal with it. For instance, the Branch Davidians at Waco, Texas: More than eighty peaceful, religious Americans, including children were gassed and burned. The government officials, just like the Nazi counterparts, think they did "the right thing." The judge who presided over the trial of the Waco survivors declared that he would not permit the government to be "put on trial," and then slapped forty-year sentences on the survivors.

Or take Randy Weaver, his wife and son of Idaho. First they were set up on an idiotic gun charge. Then, they sent Weaver a notice of a wrong trial date. And finally they surrounded his house and attacked, shooting his son in the back and killing his wife. Then, at the trial the government fabricated the evidence and committed perjury. Weaver was acquitted. But no criminal charges have been brought against the government agents. Well, did the Nazi government even bring charges against the SS? Did Nazi judges ever punish Nazi officials for killing the Jews?

From killing of millionaire Donald Scott of California, to nuclear radiation experiments on soldiers, to drug experiments on the citizens, to the thousands of arrests and confiscation worth millions of dollars, the Americans have rationalised what is happening by saying, "The Feds gotta do it for us." No longer the government needs to depend only on taxes for its revenue - its agents just go grab the money and property directly and keep it regardless of the guilt or innocence of the victims. And it doesn't end with killings and confiscation. It is also terror - the terror of IRS agents barging into people's homes, "visiting" them at work and levying liens on bank accounts and real estate with notice, hearing or other semblance of due process.

On international level, we observe that Hitler's words have been put to practice in the form of CNN and BBC. According to Hitler, "the task of propaganda lies not in a scientific training of the individual, but rather in directing the masses towards certain facts, events, necessities, etc., the purpose being to move their importance into the masses' field of vision." We can see this at CNN and BBC, as they also stick to a few main points and repeat them over and over. How many times do they draw out attention to the "Saddam's weapons of mass destruction," threat of the "Islamic fundamentalists" and "international terrorism"? Rather than use many different issues as examples of their propaganda, they concentrate on a handful of well-known incidents.

Hitler believed that propaganda had to be very simple, so the average person, with very short attention span, could understand it. The thesis is: "If any terrorism conceivably could happen, we must assume that it will, and do something about it now, before it is too late." This is itself the very essence of psychological terrorism that the world community is constantly ignoring. The world leaders and members of the Security Council didn't take any notice of the remarks made by former chief UN weapon inspector Scott Ritter. Mr. Ritter said that US officials "prodded inspection teams to return to Iraq to provoke a crisis to justify bombing."

So the US conducted its mission of mass destruction without any effective condemnation or solid resistance from any nation. Justification for the action was the same that Iraq "could conceivably be a threat some day." Policy of the Nazis of the nineties is now being established in such a manner that any nation capable of posing a threat to US interests at any time in the future is a legitimate target for American attacks. It is the intention of the Nazis in Washington to so bring the nations into such despair that they will gladly give themselves over to the new despotism. They are prepared to give up their hopes and dreams, their religions and economies for the brief promise of rest from the turmoils placed before them.

The Nazi regime of the thirties set out to gain control by focusing on three main areas: regulatory, persuasive and intimidatory. Regulation is being done through different UN resolution and their selective enforcement; persuasion is being done through electronic and print media and intimidation through missile strikes from the pirate ships. Resolutions passed by the Security Council in the early nineties have been the catalyst to the transformation of US to a nazified, and the world as a whole to be its centralised state.

In late thirties, the history was transformed to emphasise the superiority of German civilisation, with German heroes coming to the forefront. German failures were either left out of the unit or blamed on the Jews. The same is happening in the late nineties with the American heroes giving details of their ruthless bombings on the CNN with pride in militarism. Like Nazis, the US administration wants to create a static world society whereby nations act unquestionably, and do little thinking for themselves.

Look again at the battle for the New World Order. Are we taking time to study the issue individually before reaching a conclusion? No, rather we see images on BBC and CNN of the dead bodies in Nairobi and in the streets of Israel. We see victims in pain and we see next of kin crying over lost loved ones. We allow our emotions to take over, and base our opinion on these emotions, rather than sober consideration. CNN has become the most effective brainwashing tool, showing no victims of the 400 cruise missiles they way they show Israeli victims of a single Hizbollah rocket. None of us try to wait and reach to the root causes of the issue before making a pro-American mind after seeing these images.

They say "might is right" but this saying cannot be proven in actual history. "Might" just falls harder when it is "not right." The US actions may not have surpassed the Nazi atrocities. But that's today. Desert Fox operation is today. Tomorrow it might be Operation von Manteufeel against Iran. Operation von Rundstedt against Pakistan. And what would happen at home in the US during such crisis. Suppose the operations are not over in a few weeks, but instead drag on into months and years, with higher taxes, more controls and...conscription. What happens if Americans, who are already being taxed 50 per cent of their incomes, now find taxes at 70 or 80 per cent? What happens if hundreds of American students refuse to be drafted by the president who refused to be drafted?

Will the American government simply agree to lose "international face" or its federal agencies will turn their massive powers against the leaders of the revolt and teach the draft-dodging cowards a lesson in concentration camps. As the whole world will be facing a catastrophic Third World War, the American people will learn what the German people learned at a lesser cost: that the omnipotent state that loves the poor and the needy will remove its velvet glove and use its iron fist to smash those who interfere with the "good of the nation."

© 2002 Independnet Centre for Strategic Studies and Analysis (ICSSA).

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Flashback: Machiavellian Realism and U.S. Foreign Policy: Means and Ends

By Howard Zinn, 1991
from the Zinn Reader

While teaching courses in political theory at Boston University, and fascinated by the figure of Machiavelli, I came across the remarkable volume by Ralph Roeder, The Man of the Rennaisance, with its brilliant portraits of the dissident Savonarola and the toady Machiavelli. At the same time I noted the respect with which Machiavelli was treated by people on all parts of the political spectrum. The Vietnam War led many people, including myself, to look more closely at the history of United States foreign policy, and to me there was a distinct Machiavellian thread running through that history. This essay appeared in my book Declarations of Independence (HarperCollins,1991).
Interests: The Prince and the Citizen

About 500 years ago modern political thinking began. Its enticing surface was the idea of "realism." Its ruthless center was the idea that with a worthwhile end one could justify any means. Its spokesman was Nicolo Machiavelli.

In the year 1498 Machiavelli became adviser on foreign and military affairs to the government of Florence, one of the great Italian cities of that time. After fourteen years of service, a change of government led to his dismissal, and he spent the rest of his life in exile in the countryside outside of Florence. During that time he wrote, among other things, a little book called The Prince, which became the world's most famous hand book of political wisdom for governments and their advisers.

Four weeks before Machiavelli took office, something happened in Florence that made a profound impression on him. It was a public hanging. The victim was a monk named Savonarola, who preached that people could be guided by their "natural reason." This threatened to diminish the importance of the Church fathers, who then showed their importance by having Savonarola arrested. His hands were bound behind his back and he was taken through the streets in the night, the crowds swinging lanterns near his face, peering for the signs of his dangerousness.
Savonarola was interrogated and tortured for ten days. They wanted to extract a confession, but he was stubborn. The Pope, who kept in touch with the torturers, complained that they were not getting results quickly enough. Finally the right words came, and Savonarola was sentenced to death. As his body swung in the air, boys from the neighbor hood stoned it. The corpse was set afire, and when the fire had done its work, the ashes were strewn in the river Arno.

In The Prince, Machiavelli refers to Savonarola and says, "Thus it comes about that all armed prophets have conquered and unarmed ones failed."

Political ideas are centered on the issue of ends (What kind of society do we want?) and means (How will we get it?). In that one sentence about unarmed prophets Machiavelli settled for modern governments the question of ends: conquest. And the question of means: force.
Machiavelli refused to be deflected by utopian dreams or romantic hopes and by questions of right and wrong or good and bad. He is the father of modern political realism, or what has been called realpolilik. "It appears to me more proper to go to the truth of the matter than to its imagination...for how we live is so far removed from how we ought to live, that he who abandons what is done for what ought to be done, will rather learn to bring about his own ruin than his preservation."

It is one of the most seductive ideas of our time. We hear on all sides the cry of "be realistic...you're living in the real world," from political platforms, in the press, and at home. The insistence on building more nuclear weapons, when we already possess more than enough to destroy the world, is based on "realism." The Wall Street Journal, approving a Washington, D.C., ordinance allowing the police to arrest any person on the street refusing to move on when ordered, wrote, "D.C.'s action is born of living in the real world." And consider how often a parent (usually a father) has said to a son or daughter: "It's good to have idealistic visions of a better world, but you're living in the real world, so act accordingly."
How many times have the dreams of young people-the desire to help others; to devote their lives to the sick or the poor; or to poetry, music, or drama-been demeaned as foolish romanticism, impractical in a world where one must "make a living"? Indeed, the economic system reinforces the same idea by rewarding those who spend their lives on "practical" pursuits-while making life difficult for the artist, poets, nurses, teachers, and social workers.

Realism is seductive because once you have accepted the reasonable notion that you should base your actions on reality, you are too often led to accept, without much questioning, someone else's version of what that reality is. It is a crucial act of independent thinking to be skeptical of someone else's description of reality.

When Machiavelli claims to "go to the truth of the matter," he is making the frequent claim of important people (writers, political leaders) who press their ideas on others: that their account is "the truth," that they are being "objective."

But his reality may not be our reality; his truth may not be our truth. The real world is infinitely complex. Any description of it must be a partial description, so a choice is made about what part of reality to describe, and behind that choice is often a definite interest, in the sense of something useful for a particular individual or group. Behind the claim of someone giving us an objective picture of the real world is the assumption that we all have the same interests, and so we can trust the one who describes the world for us, because that person has our interests at heart.

It is very important to know if our interests are the same, because a description is never simply neutral and innocent; it has consequences. No description is merely that. Every description is in some way a prescription. If you describe human nature as Machiavelli does, as basically immoral, it suggests that it is realistic, indeed only human, that you should behave that way too.

The notion that all our interests are the same (the political leaders and the citizens, the millionaire and the homeless person) deceives us. It is a deception useful to those who run modern societies, where the sup port of the population is necessary for the smooth operation of the machinery of everyday life and the perpetuation of the present arrangements of wealth and power.

When the Founding Fathers of the United States wrote the Preamble to the Constitution, their first words were, "We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice..." The Constitution thus looked as if it were written by all the people, representing their interests.
In fact, the Constitution was drawn up by fifty-five men, all white and mostly rich, who represented a certain elite group in the new nation. The document itself accepted slavery as legitimate, and at that time about one of every five persons in the population was a black slave. The conflicts between rich and poor and black and white, the dozens of riots and rebellions in the century before the Revolution, and a major uprising in western Massachusetts just before the convening of the Constitutional Convention (Shays' Rebellion) were all covered over by the phrase "We the people."

Machiavelli did not pretend to a common interest. He talked about what "is necessary for a prince." He dedicated The Prince to the rich and powerful Lorenzo di Medici, whose family ruled Florence and included popes and monarchs. ( The Columbia Encyclopedia has this intriguing description of the Medici: "The genealogy of the family is complicated by the numerous illegitimate offspring and by the tendency of some of the members to dispose of each other by assassination.")

In exile, writing his handbook of advice for the Medici, Machiavelli ached to be called back to the city to take his place in the inner circle. He wanted nothing more than to serve the prince.

In our time we find greater hypocrisy. Our Machiavellis, our presidential advisers, our assistants for national security, and our secretaries of state insist they serve "the national interest," "national security," and "national defense." These phrases put everyone in the country under one enormous blanket, camouflaging the differences between the interest of those who run the government and the interest of the average citizen.
The American Declaration of Independence, however, clearly understood that difference of interest between government and citizen. It says that the purpose of government is to secure certain rights for its citizens-life, liberty, equality, and the pursuit of happiness. But governments may not fulfill these purposes and so "whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government." The end of Machiavelli's The Prince is clearly different. It is not the welfare of the citizenry, but national power, conquest, and control. All is done in order "to maintain the state."

In the United States today, the Declaration of Independence hangs on schoolroom walls, but foreign policy follows Machiavelli. Our language is more deceptive than his; the purpose of foreign policy, our leaders say, is to serve the "national interest," fulfill our "world responsibility." In 1986 General William Westmoreland said that during World War II the United States "inherited the mantle of leadership of the free world" and "became the international champions of liberty." This, from the man who, as chief of military operations in the Vietnam War, con ducted a brutal campaign that resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese noncombatants. Sometimes, the language is more direct, as when President Lyndon Johnson, speaking to the nation during the Vietnam War, talked of the United States as being "number one." Or, when he said, "Make no mistake about it, we will prevail."

Even more blunt was a 1980 article in the influential Foreign Affairs by John Hopkins political scientist Robert W. Tucker; in regard to Central America, he wrote, "we have regularly played a determining role in making and in unmaking governments, and we have defined what we have considered to be the acceptable behavior of governments. "Tucker urged "a policy of a resurgent America to prevent the coming to power of radical regimes in Central America" and asked, "Would a return to a policy of the past work in Central America?... There is no persuasive reason for believing it would not....Right-wing governments will have to be given steady outside support, even, if necessary, by sending in American forces.

Tucker's suggestion became the Central America policy of the Reagan administration, as it came into office in early 1981. His "sending in American forces" was too drastic a step for an American public that clearly opposed another Vietnam (unless done on a small scale, like Reagan's invasion of Grenada, and Bush's invasion of Panama). But for the following eight years, the aims of the United States were clear; to over throw the left-wing government of Nicaragua and to keep in place the right-wing government of El Salvador.

Two Americans who visited El Salvador in 1983 for the New York City Bar Association described for the New York Times a massacre of eighteen peasants by local troops in Sonsonate province:

Ten military advisers are attached to the Sonsonate armed forces... The episode contains all the unchanging elements of the Salvadoran tragedy- uncontrolled military violence against civilians, the apparent ability of the wealthy to procure official violence...and the presence of United States military advisers, working with the Salvadoran military responsible for these monstrous practices... after 30,000 unpunished murders by security and military forces and over 10,000 "disappearances" of civilians in custody, the root causes of the killings remain in place, and the killing goes on.

The purpose of its policy in Central America, said the U.S. government, was to protect the country from the Soviet threat: a Soviet base in Nicaragua and a possible Soviet base in El Salvador. This was not quite believable. Was the Soviet Union prepared to launch an invasion of the United States from Central America? Was a nation that could not win a war on its borders with Afghanistan going to send an army across the Atlantic Ocean to Nicaragua? And what then? Would that army then march up through Honduras into Guatemala, then through all of Mexico, into Texas, and then...?

It was as absurd as the domino theory of the Vietnam War, in which the falling dominos of Southeast Asia would have had to swim the Pacific to get to San Francisco. Did the Soviet Union, with intercontinental ballistic missiles, with submarines off the coast of Long Island, need Central America as a base for attacking the United States?

Nevertheless, the Kissinger Commission, set up by President Reagan to advise him on Central American policy, warned in its report that our "southern flank" was in danger-a biological reference designed to make all of us nervous.

Even a brief look at history was enough to make one skeptical. How could we explain our frequent interventions in Central America before 1917, before the Bolshevik Revolution? How could we explain our taking control of Cuba and Puerto Rico in 1898; our seizure of the Canal Zone in 1903; our dispatch of marines to Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, and Guatemala in the early 1900s; our bombardment of a Mexican town in 1914; and our long military occupation of Haiti and the Dominican Republic starting in 1915 and 1916? All this before the Soviet Union existed.
There was another official reason given for U.S. intervention in Central America in the 1980s: to "restore democracy." This, too, was hardly believable. Throughout the period after World War II our government had supported undemocratic governments, indeed vicious military dictatorships; in Batista's Cuba, Somoza's Nicaragua, Armas's Guatemala, Pinoche's Chile, and Duvalier's Haiti as well as in El Salvador and other countries of Latin America.

The actual purpose of U.S. policy in Central America was expressed by Tucker in the most clear Machiavellian terms: "The great object of American foreign policy ought to be the restoration of a more normal political world, a world in which those states possessing the elements of great power once again play the role their power entitles them to play."

Undoubtedly, there are Americans who respond favorably to this idea, that the United States should be a "great power" in the world, should dominate other countries, should be number one. Perhaps the assumption is that our domination is benign and that our power is used for kindly purposes. The history of our relations with Latin America does not suggest this. Besides~ it really in keeping with the American ideal of equality of all peoples to insist that we have the right to control the affairs of other countries? Are we the only country entitled to a Declaration of Independence?

Means:The Lion and the Fox

There should be clues to the rightness of the ends we pursue by examining the means we use to achieve those ends. I am assuming there is always some connection between ends and means. All means become ends in the sense that they have immediate consequences apart from the ends they are supposed to achieve. And all ends are themselves means to other ends. Was there not a link, for Machiavelli, between his crass end- power for the prince-and the various means he found acceptable?

For a year Machiavelli was ambassador to Cesare Borgia, conqueror of Rome. He describes one event that "is worthy of note and of imitation by others." Rome had been disorderly, and Cesare Borgia decided he needed to make the people "peaceful and obedient to his rule." Therefore, "he appointed Messer Remirro de Orco, a cruel and able man, to whom he gave the fullest authority" and who, in a short time, made Rome "orderly and united." But Cesare Borgia knew his policies had aroused hatred, so, in order to purge the minds of the people and to win them over completely, he resolved to show that if any cruelty had taken place it was not by his orders, but through the harsh disposition of his minister. And having found the opportunity he had him cut in half and placed one morning in the public square at Cesena with a piece of wood and blood-stained knife by his side.

In recent American history, we have become familiar with the technique of rulers letting subordinates do the dirty work, which they can later disclaim. As a result of the Watergate scandals in the Nixon administration (a series of crimes committed by underlings in his behalf), a number of his people (former CIA agents, White House aides, and even the attorney-general) were sent to prison. But Nixon himself, although he was forced to resign his office, escaped criminal prosecution, arranging to be pardoned when his vice-president, Gerald Ford, became president. Nixon retired in prosperity and, in a few years, became a kind of elder statesman, a Godfather of politics, looked to for sage advice.
Perhaps as a way of calming the public in that heated time of disillusionment with the government because of Vietnam and Watergate, a Senate committee in 1974-1975 conducted an investigation of the intelligence agencies. It discovered that the CIA and the FBI had violated the law countless times (opening mail, breaking into homes and offices, etc.). In the course of that investigation, it was also revealed that the CIA, going back to the Kennedy administration, had plotted the assassination of a number of foreign rulers, including Cuba's Fidel Castro. But the president himself, who clearly was in favor of such actions, was not to be directly involved, so that he could deny knowledge of it. This was given the term plausible denial.

As the committee reported:

Non-attribution to the United States for covert operations was the original and principal purpose of the so-called doctrine of "plausible denial." Evidence before the Committee clearly demonstrates that this concept, designed to protect the United States and its operatives from the consequences of disclosures, has been expanded to mask decisions of the president and his senior staff members.

In 1988, a story in a Beirut magazine led to information that Ronald Reagan's administration had been secretly selling arms to Iran, the declared enemy of the United States, and using the proceeds to give military aid to counterrevolutionaries ( the "contras" ) in Nicaragua, thus violating an act passed by Congress. Reagan and Vice President Bush denied involvement, although the evidence pointed very strongly to their participation. Instead of impeaching them, however, congress put their emissaries on the witness stand, and later several of them were indicted. One of them (Robert McFarland) tried to commit suicide. Another, Colonel Oliver North, stood trial for Iying to Congress, was found guilty, but was not sentenced to prison. Reagan was not compelled to testify about what he had done. He retired in peace and Bush became the next president of the United States, both beneficiaries of plausible denial. Machiavelli would have admired the operation.

A prince, Machiavelli suggested, should emulate both the lion and the fox. The lion uses force. "The character of peoples varies, and it is easy to persuade them of a thing, but difficult to keep them in that persuasion. And so it is necessary to order things so that when they no longer believe, they can be made to believe by force.... Fortune is a woman, and it is necessary, if you wish to master her, to conquer her by force." The fox uses deception.

If all men were good, this would not be good advice, but since they are dishonest and do not keep faith with you, you, in return, need not keep faith with them; and no prince was ever at a loss for plausible reasons to cloak a breach of faith.... The experience of our times shows those princes to have done great things who have had little regard for good faith, and have been able by astuteness to confuse men's brains.
This advice for the prince has been followed in our time by all sorts of dictators and generalissimos. Hitler kept a copy of The Prince at his bedside, it is said. (Who says? How do they know?) Mussolini used Machiavelli for his doctoral dissertation. Lenin and Stalin are also sup posed to have read Machiavelli. Certainly the Italian Communist Gramsci wrote favorably about Machiavelli, claiming that Machiavelli was not really giving advice to princes, who knew all that already, but to "those who do not know," thus educating "those who must recognize certain necessary means, even if those of tyrants, because they want certain ends."

The prime ministers and presidents of modern democratic states, despite their pretensions, have also admired and followed Machiavelli. Max Lerner, a prominent liberal commentator on the post-World War II period, in his introduction to Machiavelli's writings, says of him: "The common meaning he has for democrats and dictators alike is that, what ever your ends, you must be clear-eyed and unsentimental in pursuit of them." Lerner finds in Machiavelli's Discourses that one of his important ideas is "the need in the conduct even of a democratic state for the will to survive and therefore for ruthless instead of half-hearted measures."

Thus the democratic state, behaving like the lion, uses force when 7 persuasion does not work. It uses it against its own citizens when they cannot be persuaded to obey the laws. It uses it against other peoples in the act of war, not always in self-defense, but often when it cannot persuade other nations to do its bidding.

For example, at the start of the twentieth century, although Colombia was willing to sell the rights to the Panama Canal to the United States, it wanted more money than the United States was willing to pay. So the warships were sent on their way, a little revolution was instigated in Panama, and soon the Canal Zone was in the hands of the United States. As one U.S. Senator described the operation, ''We stole it fair and square.

The modern liberal state, like a fox, often uses deception to gain its ends-not so much deception of the foreign enemy (which, after all, has little faith in its adversaries), but of its own citizens, who have been taught to trust their leaders.

One of the important biographies of President Franklin D. Roosevelt is titled Roosevelt: The Lion and the Fox. Roosevelt deceived the American public at the start of World War II, in September and October 1941, misstating the facts about two instances involving German sub marines and American destroyers (claiming the destroyer Greer, which was attacked by a German submarine, was on an innocent mission when in fact it was tracking the sub for the British Navy). A historian sympathetic to him wrote, "Franklin Roosevelt repeatedly deceived the American people during the period before Pearl Harbor... He was like the physician who must tell the patient lies for the patient's own good."
Then there were the lies of President John Kennedy and Secretary of State Dean Rusk when they told the public the United States was not responsible for the 1961 invasion of Cuba, although in fact the invasion had been organized by the CIA.

The escalation of the war in Vietnam started with a set of lies- in August 1964-about incidents in the Gulf of Tonkin. The United States announced two "unprovoked" attacks on U.S. destroyers by North Vietnamese boats. One of them almost certainly did not take place. The other was undoubtedly provoked by the proximity (ten miles) of the destroyer to the Vietnamese coast and by a series of CIA-organized raids on the coast.
The lies then multiplied. One of them was President Johnson's statement that the U.S. Air Force was only bombing "military targets." Another was a deception by President Richard Nixon; he concealed from the American public the 1969-1970 massive bombing of Cambodia, a country with which we were supposed to be at peace.

The Advisers
Advisers and assistants to presidents, however committed they are in their rhetoric to the values of modern liberalism, have again and again participated in acts of deception that would have brought praise from Machiavelli. His goal was to serve the prince and national power. So was theirs. Because they were advisers to a liberal democratic state, they assumed that advancing the power of such a state was a moral end, which then justified both force and deception. But cannot a liberal state carry out immoral policies? Then the adviser (deceiving himself this time) would consider that his closeness to the highest circles of power put him in a position to affect, even reverse, such policies.
It was a contemporary of Machiavelli, Thomas More, who warned intellectuals about being trapped into service to the state and about the self-deception in which the adviser believes he will be a good influence in the higher councils of the government. In More's book Utopia, spokesperson Raphael is offered the advice commonly given today to young people who want to be social critics, prodding the government from outside, like Martin Luther King or Ralph Nader. The advice is to get on the inside. Raphael is told, "I still think that if you could overcome the aversion you have to the courts of princes, you might do a great deal of good to mankind by the advice that you would give." Raphael replies, "If I were at the court of some king and proposed wise laws to him and tried to root out of him the dangerous seeds of evil, do you not think I would either be thrown out of his court or held in scorn?"

He goes on,Imagine me at the court of the King of France. Suppose I were sitting in his council with the King himself presiding, and that the wisest men were earnestly discussing by what methods and intrigues the King might keep Milan, recover Naples so often lost, then overthrow the Venetians and sub due all Italy, and add Flanders, Brabant, and even all Burgundy to his realm, besides some other nations he had planned to invade. Now in all this great ferment, with so many brilliant men planning together how to carry on war, imagine so modest a man as myself standing up and urging them to change all their plans.

More might have been describing the historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., adviser to President Kennedy, who thought it was "a terrible idea" to go ahead with the CIA Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in 1961, two years after the revolution there. But he did not raise his voice in protest, because, as he later admitted, he was intimidated by the presence of "such august figures as the Secretaries of State and Defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff." He wrote, "In the months after the Bay of Pigs I bitterly reproached myself for having kept so silent during those crucial discussions in the Cabinet room."

But-the intimidation of Schlesinger-as-adviser went beyond silencing him in the cabinet room-it led him to produce a nine-page memorandum to President Kennedy, written shortly before the invasion of Cuba, in which he is as blunt as Machiavelli himself in urging deception of the public to conceal the U.S. role in the invasion. This would be necessary because "a great many people simply do not at this moment see that Cuba presents so grave and compelling a threat to our national security as to justify a course of action which much of the world will interpret as calculated aggression against a small nation."

The memorandum goes on, "The character and repute of President Kennedy constitute one of our greatest national resources. Nothing should be done to jeopardize this invaluable asset. When lies must be told, they should be told by subordinate officials." It goes on to suggest "that someone other than the President make the final decision and do so in his absence-someone whose head can later be placed on the block if things go terribly wrong." (Cesare Borgia again, only lacking the bloodstained knife.)

Schlesinger included in his memo sample questions and Iying answers in case the issue of the invasion came up in a press conference:

Q. Mr. President, is CIA involved in this affair?

A. I can assure you that the United States has no intention of using force to overthrow the Castro regime.

The scenario was followed. Four days before the invasion President Kennedy told a press conference, "There will not be, under any conditions, any intervention in Cuba by U.S. armed forces."

Schlesinger was just one of dozens of presidential advisers who behaved like little Machiavellis in the years when revolutions in Vietnam and Latin America brought hysterical responses on the part of the U.S. government. These intellectuals could see no better role for themselves than to serve national power.

Kissinger, secretary of state to Nixon, did not even have the mild qualms of Schlesinger. He surrendered himself with ease to the princes of war and destruction. In private discussions with old colleagues from Harvard who thought the Vietnam War immoral, he presented himself as someone trying to bring it to an end, but in his official capacity he was the willing intellectual tool of a policy that involved the massive killing of civilians in Vietnam.

Kissinger approved the bombing and invasion of Cambodia, an act so disruptive of the delicate Cambodian society that it can be considered an important factor in the rise of the murderous Pol Pot regime in that country. After he and the representatives of North Vietnam had negotiated a peace agreement to end the war in late 1972, he approved the breaking off of the talks and the brutal bombardment of residential districts in Hanoi by the most ferocious bombing plane of the time, the B52.

Kissinger's biographers describe his role "If he had disapproved of Nixon's policy, he could have argued against the Cambodia attack. But there is no sign that he ever mustered his considerable influence to persuade the president to hold his fire. Or that he ever considered resigning in protest. Quite the contrary, Kissinger supported the policy."

During the Christmas 1972 bombings New York Times columnist James Reston wrote:

It may be and probably is true, that Mr. Kissinger as well as Secretary of State Rogers and most of the senior officers in the State Department are opposed to the President's bombing offensive in North Vietnam.... But Mr. Kissinger is too much a scholar, with too good a sense of humor and history, to put his own thoughts ahead of the president's.

It seems that journalists too, can be Machiavellian.

Serving National Powers
Machiavelli never questioned that national power and the position of the prince were proper ends: "And it must be understood that a prince...cannot observe all those things which are considered good in men, being often obliged, in order to maintain the state, to act against faith, against charity, against humanity, and against religion."

The end of national power may be beneficial to the prince, and even to the prince's advisers, an ambitious lot. But why should it be assumed as a good end for the average citizen? Why should the citizen tie his or her fate to the nation-state, which is perfectly willing to sacrifice the lives and liberties of its own citizens for the power, the profit, and the glory of politicians or corporate executives or generals?

For a prince, a dictator, or a tyrant national power is an end unquestioned. A democratic state, however, substituting an elected president for a prince, must present national power as benign, serving the interests of liberty, justice, and humanity. If such a state, which is surrounded with the rhetoric of democracy and liberty and, in truth, has some measure of both, engages in a war that is clearly against a vicious and demonstrably evil enemy, then the end seems so clean and clear that any means to defeat that enemy may seem justified.

Such a state was the United States and such an enemy was fascism, represented by Germany, Italy, and Japan. Therefore, when the atomic bomb appeared to be the means for a quicker victory, there was little hesitation to use it.

Very few of us can imagine ourselves as presidential advisers, having to deal with their moral dilemmas (if, indeed, they retain enough integrity to consider them dilemmas). It is much easier, I think, for aver age citizens to see themselves in the position of the scientists who were secretly assembled in New Mexico during World War II to make the atomic bomb. We may be able to imagine our own trade or profession, our particular skills, called on to serve the policies of the nation. The scientists who served Hitler, like the rocket expert Werner von Braun, could be as cool as Machiavelli in their subservience; they would serve national power without asking questions. They were professionals, totally consumed with doing "a good job" and they would do that job for whoever happened to be in power. So, when Hitler was defeated and von Braun was brought by military intelligence agents to the United States, he cheer fully went ahead and worked on rockets for the United States, as he had done for Hitler.
As one satirical songwriter put it:

Once the rockets are Up, Who cares where they come down? That's not our department, Says Werner von Braun.

The scientists who worked on the Manhattan Project were not like that. One cannot imagine them turning to Hitler and working for him if he were victorious. They were conscious, in varying degrees, that this was a war against fascism and that it was invested with a powerful moral cause. Therefore, to build this incredibly powerful weapon was to use a terrible means, but for a noble end.

And yet there was one element these scientists had in common with Werner von Braun: the sheer pleasure of doing a job well, of professional competence, and of scientific discovery, all of which could make one forget, or at least put in the background, the question of human con sequences. After the war, when the making of a thermonuclear bomb was proposed, a bomb a thousand times more destructive that the one dropped on Hiroshima, J. Robert Oppenheimer, personally horrified by the idea, was still moved to pronounce the scheme of Edward Teller and Stanislaw Ulam for producing it as "technically sweet." Teller, defending the project against scientists who saw it as genocidal, said, "The important thing in any science is to do the things that can be done." And, what ever Enrico Fermi's moral scruples were (he was one of the top scientists in the Manhattan Project), he pronounced the plan for making the bombs "superb physics."

Robert Jungk, a German researcher who interviewed many of the scientists involved in the making of the bomb, tried to understand their lack of resistance to dropping the bomb on Hiroshima. "They felt them selves caught in a vast machinery and they certainly were inadequately informed as to the true political and strategic situation." But he does not excuse their inaction. "If at any time they had had the moral strength to protest on purely humane grounds against the dropping of the bomb, their attitude would no doubt have deeply impressed the president, the Cabinet and the generals."

Using the atomic bombs on populated cities was justified in moral terms by American political leaders. Henry Stimson, whose Interim Committee had the job of deciding whether or not to use the atomic bomb, said later it was done "to end the war in victory with the least possible cost in the lives of the men in the armies." This was based on the assumption that without atomic bombs, an invasion of Japan would be necessary, which would cost many American lives.

It was a morality limited by nationalism, perhaps even racism. The saving of American lives was considered far more important than the saving of Japanese lives. Numbers were wildly thrown into the air (for example, Secretary of State James Byrnes talked of "a million casualties" resulting from an invasion), but there was no attempt to seriously estimate American casualties and weigh that against the consequences for Japanese men and women, old people and babies. (The closest to such an attempt was a military estimate that an invasion of the southernmost island of Japan would cause 30,000 American dead and wounded.)

The evidence today is overwhelming that an invasion of Japan was not necessary to bring the war to an end. Japan was defeated, in disarray, and ready to surrender. The U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey, which interviewed 700 Japanese military and political officials after the war, came to this conclusion:

Based on a detailed investigation of all the facts and supported by the testimony of the surviving Japanese leaders involved, it is the Survey s opinion that certainly prior to 31 December 1945, and in all probability prior to 1 November 1945, Japan would have surrendered even if the atomic bombs had not been dropped, even if Russia had not entered the war, and even if no invasion had been planned or contemplated.
After the war American scholar Robert Butow went through the papers of the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the records of the International Military Tribunal of the Far East (which tried Japanese leaders as war criminals), and the interrogation files of the U.S. Army. He also interviewed many of the Japanese principals and came to this conclusion: "Had the Allies given the Prince (Prince Konoye, special emissary to Moscow, who was working on Russian intercession for peace) a week of grace in which to obtain his Government's support for the acceptance of the proposals, the war might have ended toward the latter part of July or the very beginning of the month of August, without the atomic bomb and without Soviet participation in the conflict."

On July 13, 1945, three days before the successful explosion of the first atomic bomb in New Mexico, the United States intercepted Japanese Foreign Minister Togo's secret cable to Ambassador Sato in Moscow, asking that he get the Soviets to intercede and indicating that Japan was ready to end the war, so long as it was not unconditional surrender.

On August 2, the Japanese foreign office sent a message to the Japanese ambassador in Moscow, "There are only a few days left in which to make arrangements to end the war.... As for the definite terms... it is our intention to make the Potsdam Three-Power Declaration [which called for unconditional surrender] the basis of the study regarding these terms."

Barton Bernstein, a Stanford historian who has studied the official documents closely, wrote:

This message, like earlier ones, was probably intercepted by American intelligence and decoded. It had no effect on American policy. There is not evidence that the message was sent to Truman and Byrnes [secretary of state], nor any evidence that they followed the intercepted messages during the Potsdam conference. They were unwilling to take risks in order to save Japanese lives.

In his detailed and eloquent history of the making of the bomb, Richard Rhodes says, "The bombs were authorized not because the Japanese refused to surrender but because they refused to surrender unconditionally. "

The one condition necessary for Japan to end the war was an agreement to maintain the sanctity of the Japanese emperor, who was a holy figure to the Japanese people. Former ambassador to Japan Joseph Grew, based on his knowledge of Japanese culture, had been trying to persuade the U.S. government of the importance of allowing the emperor to remain in place.

Herbert Feis, who had unique access to State Department files and the records on the Manhattan Project, noted that in the end the United States did give the assurances the Japanese wanted on the emperor. He writes, "The curious mind lingers over the reasons why the American government waited so long before offering the Japanese those various assurances which it did extend later." Why was the United States in a rush to drop the bomb, if the reason of saving lives turns out to be empty, if the probability was that the Japanese would have surrendered even without an invasion? Historian Gar Alperovitz, after going through the papers of the American officials closest to Truman and most influential in the final decision, and especially the diaries of Henry Stimson, concludes that the atomic bombs were dropped to impress the Soviet Union, as a first act in establishing American power in the postwar world. He points out that the Soviet Union had promised to enter the war against Japan on August 8. The bomb was dropped on August 6.

The scientist Leo Szilard had met with Truman's main policy adviser in May 1945 and reported later: "Byrnes did not argue that it was necessary to use the bomb against the cities of Japan in order to win the war.... Mr. Byrnes' view was that our possessing and demonstrating the bomb would make Russia more manageable."

The end of dropping the bomb seems, from the evidence, to have been not winning the war, which was already assured, not saving lives, for it was highly probably no American invasion would be necessary, but the aggrandizement of American national power at the moment and in the postwar period. For this end, the means were among the most awful yet devised by human beings-burning people alive, maiming them horribly and leaving them with radiation sickness, which would kill them slowly and with great pain.

I remember my junior-high-school social studies teacher telling the class that the difference between a democracy like the United States and the "totalitarian states" was the "they believe that the end justifies any means, and we do not." But this was before Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
To make a proper moral judgment, we would have to put into the balancing the testimony of the victims. Here are the words of three survivors, which would have to be multiplied by tens of thousands to give a fuller picture.

A thirty-five-year-old man: "A woman with her jaw missing and her tongue hanging out of her mouth was wandering around the area of Shinsho-machi in the heavy, black rain. She was heading toward the north crying for help."

A seventeen-year-old girl: "I walked past Hiroshima Station...and saw people with their bowels and brains coming out.... I saw an old lady carrying a suckling infant in her arms...I saw many children...with dead mothers...I just cannot put into words the horror I felt."

A fifth-grade girl: "Everybody in the shelter was crying out loud. Those voices...they aren't cries, they are moans that penetrate to the mar row of your bones and make your hair stand on end... I do not know how many times I called begging that they would cut off my burned arms and legs." In the summer of 1966, my wife and I were invited to an international gathering in Hiroshima to commemorate the dropping of the bomb and to dedicate ourselves to a world free of warfare. On the morn ing of August G, tens of thousands of people gathered in a park in Hiroshima and stood in total, almost unbearable, silence, awaiting the exact moment-8:1G A.M.-when on August 6, 1945, the bomb had been dropped. When the moment came, the silence was broken by a sudden roaring sound in the air, eerie and frightening until we realized it was the sound of the beating of wings of thousands of doves, which had been released at that moment to declare the aim of a peaceful world.

A few days later, some of us were invited to a house in Hiroshima that had been established as a center for victims of the bomb to spend time with one another and discuss common problems. We were asked to speak to the group. When my turn came, I stood up and felt I must get something off my conscience. I wanted to say that I had been an air force bombardier in Europe, that I had dropped bombs that killed and maimed people, and that until this moment I had not seen the human results of such bombs, and that I was ashamed of what I had done and wanted to help make sure things like that never happened again.

I never got the words out, because as I started to speak I looked out at the Japanese men and women sitting on the floor in front of me, without arms, or without legs, but all quietly waiting for me to speak. I choked on my words, could not say anything for a moment, fighting for control, finally managed to thank them for inviting me and sat down.

For the idea that any means-mass murder, the misuse of science, the corruption of professionalism-are acceptable to achieve the end of national power, the ultimate example of our time is Hiroshima. For us, as citizens, the experience of Hiroshima and Nagasaki suggests that we reject Machiavelli, that we do not accept subservience, whether to princes or presidents, and that we examine for ourselves the ends of public policy to determine whose interests they really serve. We must examine the means used to achieve those ends to decide if they are compatible with equal justice for all human beings on earth.

The Anti-Machiavellians

There have always been people who did things for themselves, against the dominant ideology, and when there were enough of them history had its splendid moments: a war was called to a halt, a tyrant was overthrown, an enslaved people won its freedom, the poor won a small victory. Even some people close to the circles of power, in the fade of overwhelming pressure to conform have summoned the moral strength to dissent, ignoring the Machiavellian advice to leave the end unquestioned and the means unexamined.

Not all the atomic scientists rushed into the excitement of building the bomb. When Oppenheimer was recruiting for the project, as he later told the Atomic Energy Commission, most people accepted. "This sense of excitement, of devotion and of patriotism in the end prevailed." However, the physicist I. I. Rabi, asked by Oppenheimer to be his associate director at Los Alamos, refused to join. He was heavily involved in developing radar, which he thought important for the war, but he found it abhorrent, as Oppenheimer reported, that "the culmination of three centuries of physics" should be a weapon of mass destruction.

Just before the bomb was tested and used, Rabi worried about the role of scientists in war:

If we take the stand that our object is merely to see that the next war is bigger and better, we will ultimately lose the respect of the public.... We will become the unpaid servants of the munitions makers and mere technicians rather than the self-sacrificing public-spirited citizens which we feel ourselves to be.

Nobel Prize-winning physical chemist James Franck, working with the University of Chicago metallurgical laboratory on problems of building the bomb, headed a committee on social and political implications of the new weapon. In June 1945, the Franck Committee wrote a report advising against a surprise atomic bombing of Japan: "If we consider international agreement on total prevention of nuclear warfare as a paramount objective...this kind of introduction of atomic weapons to the world may easily destroy all our chances of success." Dropping the bomb "will mean a flying start toward an unlimited armaments race," the report said.

The committee went to Washington to deliver the report person ally to Henry Stimson, but were told, falsely, that he was out of the city. Neither Stimson nor the scientific panel advising him was in a mood to accept the argument of the Franck Report.

Scientist Leo Szilard, who had been responsible for the letter from Albert Einstein to Franklin Roosevelt suggesting a project to develop an atomic bomb, also fought a hard but futile battle against the bomb being dropped on a Japanese city. The same month that the bomb was success fully tested in New Mexico, July 1945, Szilard circulated a petition among the scientists, protesting in advance against the dropping of the bomb, arguing that "a nation which sets the precedent of using these newly liberated forces of nature for purposes of destruction may have to bear the responsibility of opening the door to an era of devastation on an unimaginable scale." Determined to do what he could to stop the momentum toward using the bomb, Szilard asked his friend Einstein to give him a letter of introduction to President Roosevelt. But just as the meeting was being arranged, an announcement came over the radio that Roosevelt was dead.

Would Einstein's great prestige have swayed the decision? It is doubtful. Einstein, known to be sympathetic to socialism and pacifism, was excluded from the Manhattan Project and did not know about the momentous decisions being made to drop the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. One adviser to Harry Truman took a strong position against the atomic bombing of Japan: Undersecretary of the Navy Ralph Bard. As a member of Stimson's Interim Committee, at first he agreed with the decision to use the bomb on a Japanese city, but then changed his mind. He wrote a memorandum to the committee talking about the reputation of the United States "as a great humanitarian nation" and suggesting the Japanese be warned and that some assurance about the treatment of the emperor might induce the Japanese to surrender. It had no effect. A few military men of high rank also opposed the decision. General Dwight Eisenhower, fresh from leading the Allied armies to victory in Europe, met with Stimson just after the successful test of the bomb in Los Alamos. He told Stimson he opposed use of the bomb because the Japanese were ready to surrender. Eisenhower later recalled, "I hated to see our country be the first to use such a weapon." General Hap Arnold, head of the army air force, believed Japan could be brought to surrender without the bomb. The fact that important military leaders saw no need for the bomb lends weight to the idea that the reasons for bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki were political.

In the operations of U.S. foreign policy after World War II, there were a few bold people who rejected Machiavellian subservience and refused to accept the going orthodoxies. Senator William Fulbright of Arkansas was at the crucial meeting of advisers when President Kennedy was deciding whether to proceed with plans to invade Cuba. Arthur Schlesinger, who was there, wrote later that "Fulbright, speaking in an emphatic and incredulous way, denounced the whole idea." During the Vietnam War, advisers from MIT and Harvard were among the fiercest advocates of ruthless bombing, but a few rebelled. One of the earliest was James Thomson, a Far East expert in the State Department who resigned his post and wrote an eloquent article in the Atlantic Monthly criticizing the U.S. presence in Vietnam.

While Henry Kissinger was playing Machiavelli to Nixon's prince, at least three of his aides objected to his support for an invasion of Cambodia in 1970. William Watts, asked to coordinate the White House announcement on the invasion of Cambodia, declined and wrote a letter of resignation. He was confronted by Kissinger aide General Al Haig, who told him, "You have an order from your Commander in Chief." He, therefore, could not resign, Haig said, Watts replied, "Oh yes I can-and I have!" Roger Morris and Anthony Lake, asked to write the speech for President Nixon justifying the invasion, refused and instead wrote a joint letter of resignation.

The most dramatic action of dissent during the war in Vietnam came from Daniel Ellsberg, a Ph.D. in economics from Harvard who had served in the Marines and held important posts in the Department of Defense, the Department of State, and the embassy in Saigon. He had been a special assistant to Henry Kissinger and then worked for the Rand Corporation a private "think tank" of brainy people who contracted to do top-secret research for the U.S. government. When the Rand Corporation was asked to assemble a history of the Vietnam War, based on secret documents, Ellsberg was appointed as one of the leaders of the project. But he had already begun to feel pangs of conscience about the brutality of the war being waged by his government. He had been out in the field with the military, and what he saw persuaded him that the United States did not belong in Vietnam. Then, reading the documents and helping to put together the history, he saw how many lies had been told to the public and was reinforced in his feelings.

With the help of a former Rand employee he had met in Vietnam, Anthony Russo, Ellsberg secretly photocopied the entire 7,000 page history-the "Pentagon Papers" as they came to be called-and distributed them to certain members of Congress as well as to the New York Times. When the Times, in a journalistic sensation, began printing this "top-secret" document, Ellsberg was arrested and put on trial. The counts against him could have brought a prison sentence of 130 years. But while the jury deliberated the judge learned, through the Watergate scandal, that Nixon's "plumbers" had tried to break into Ellsberg's psychiatrist's office to find damaging material and he declared the case tainted and called off the trial.

Ellsberg's was only one of a series of resignations from government that took place during and after the Vietnam War. A number of operatives of the CIA quit their jobs in the late sixties and early seventies and began to write and speak about the secret activities of the agency- for example, Victor Marchetti, Philip Agee, John Stockwell, Frank Snepp, and Ralph McGehee.
For the United States, as for others countries, Machiavellianism dominates foreign policy, but the courage of a small number of dissenters suggests the possibility that some day the larger public will no longer accept that kind of "realism." Machiavelli himself might have smiled imperiously at this suggestion, and said, "You're wasting your time. Nothing will change. It's human nature."
That claim is worth exploring.

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U.S. may veto bid for UN condemnation of Israeli jail siege

By Haaretz Service and agencies
15 Mar 06

The threat of a U.S. veto hovers over planned closed-door deliberations Wednesday over Qatar's bid for a UN Security Council to condemn Israel's Jericho jail siege and its capture of the killers of former cabinet minister Rehavam Ze'evi.

A draft statement by Qatari Ambassador Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, representing Arab nations, would have condemned "Israel's violent incursion" in besieging the Jericho jail, and would have demanded that Israel return the prisoners it seized "and to return the situation to that which existed prior to the Israeli military attack."

Security forces went on high alert Tuesday fearing Palestinian reprisal attacks after Israel Defense Forces troops laid siege to the Jericho prison and arrested six wanted inmates.
A tense, gunfire-punctuated nine-hour IDF siege of a Jericho prison complex ended after dark on Tuesday with the abrupt surrender of Ahmed Sa'adat and five other Palestinian militants.

Sa'adat, leader of the Popular Front for Liberation of Palestine, is believed to have ordered the assassination of cabinet minister Rehavam Ze'evi in a Jerusalem hotel in 2001.

One of the other militants was Fuad Shobaki, the alleged mastermind of an illegal mass weapons shipment to the Palestinian Authority in 2002.

The six arrested wanted militants are to be held in prison in Israel, officials said.

The PFLP threatened
that "Israel will pay a heavy price for the operation."

Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert spoke with Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz and IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz and asked them to keep military forces on high alert.

In New York, council diplomats said the 15-nation council would discuss the draft behind closed doors on Wednesday after Al-Nasser revised it overnight in response to council members' initial comments, diplomats said.

Palestinian UN Observer Riyad Mansour called on the council to "uphold international law" by supporting the Qatari measure. He said the Israeli raid grew out of "a desire to negate the Palestinian elections" won by Hamas.

But the text would almost certainly face a veto from the United States, Israel's closest ally, if brought to a vote in
its current form, the diplomats said.

The drama began early in the day, when American and British monitors supervising the detention of the six left the prison. The monitors had been stationed there as part of a compromise reached between Israel and the PA, which had guaranteed Israel that it would keep Ze'evi's killers behind bars.

The monitors were withdrawn in response to a statement last week by PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, who said that he was prepared to free Sa'adat, drawing an angry response from Israel. Abbas said Tuesday that the British and American monitors bore "full responsibility" for the raid.

One of the five PFLP members had vowed earlier on Tuesday that the group would not surrender.

"Our prison is surrounded on all sides by Israelis. They are asking us over loudspeaker to come out," Ahed Abu Ghoulmi, one of the targeted prisoners. "We will not come out under any circumstances."

"We are not going to surrender. We are going to face our destiny with courage," Sa'adat later told the Arab satellite channel Al-Jazeera.

Security Council issues milder statement
As a result of the dispute over the wording of the UN resolution, the council issued a milder statement Tuesday afternoon. It expressed concern about an upsurge in violence, urged all sides to exercise restraint, and called for the release of foreigners who were kidnapped in retaliation.

Representing Arab nations on the council and backed by the Palestinian
government, Qatar distributed a draft presidential statement that would call on Israel to end its "continued onslaught" against the Palestinian-run prison.

A second, milder resolution is expected to be introduced on Wednesday.

Mofaz: No politics in timing of operation
Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz of Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's Kadima party Wednesday dismissed criticism of the Jericho siege as politically motivated.

The timing of the siege was tied entirely to decisions by the Palestinians, and had nothing to do with the fact that elctions are two weeks away.

Asked if there was such a link, Mofaz told Army Radio:

"Certainly not. About a week before, we knew that it could happen any day, after the [British] sent a clear letter that the Palestinians were violating the agreement, but did someone plan the timing of this??

"We didn't know that Ahmed Sa'adat would be freed. That was the decision of [Hamas leader and PA prime minister-designate] Ismail Haniyeh. We didn't decide that the British and American monitors would leave, in fear for their safety, in view of the fact that a Hamas government was about to arise.

Asked if the IDF would have acted in any case, had the monitors remained in place, Mofaz said "If the monitors had remained in place and watched over what was happening there, apparently not. I say apparently, because we don?t know how things would have unfolded in the future.?

The evening surrender that came at 6:45 P.M. followed heavy gunfire directed at the prison complex. Large numbers of soldiers surrounded the prison, where six Palestinian militants were jailed.

Three Palestinians were reportedly killed in exchanges of fire with IDF soldiers. GOC Central Command Yair Naveh expressed regret at their deaths, noting the operation was not aimed at the PA security forces, but rather at arresting the six wanted inmates.

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America can't block UN's new human rights body

By Mark Coultan Herald Correspondent in New York
March 17, 2006

AGAINST strong American opposition the United Nations has overwhelmingly voted to establish a new body to promote human rights around the world.

In an unusual split with the US, Australia was one of the 170 countries that supported a new body to replace the discredited Human Rights Commission.
The Human Rights Council will have upgraded status, will be a standing body which meets regularly - the old commission met for just a few weeks each year - and hold special sessions to deal with a crisis.

The new council is one of the more important UN changes which the Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, has been calling for, and which came out of the summit of world leaders last September.

Mr Annan had condemned the Human Rights Commission, saying it had been discredited by human rights abusers who joined to protect themselves from criticism, or to criticise another country.

Countries such as Sudan and Burma could be elected because of a system of bloc or regional voting. The new body will be elected by the entire General Assembly.

The US was one of just four countries to oppose the new body, and demanded that each country's vote be recorded. Israel, the Marshall Islands and Palau also voted against it.

John Bolton, the US ambassador to the UN, said the council was not a sufficient improvement from the old commission. He railed against compromises which had been agreed to in order to get majority support for the council.

But the president of the General Assembly, Sweden's Jan Eliasson, refused to reopen negotiations. Russia, Cuba, Pakistan and some Arab countries were among those reported to have been ready to try to impose their own ideas on the council if it had been reopened for negotiation.

Mr Bolton said the US objected to dropping the requirement that two-thirds of the countries in the General Assembly had to support a candidate state for it to be elected to the council. Instead, members will be elected by a simple majority.

Mr Bolton also said that countries which were subject to sanctions for human rights abuses or for supporting terrorism should also be barred.

Australia, in a joint statement with New Zealand and Canada, said it would have liked a two-thirds requirement for membership, and tougher provisions for preventing abusers of human rights being elected, but voted in favour anyway.

But they said they would not vote for any country that abused human rights. The first vote for the council will be in May.

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No Longer the "Lone" Superpower - Coming to Terms with China

By Chalmers Johnson
15 Mar 06

I recall forty years ago, when I was a new professor working in the field of Chinese and Japanese international relations, that Edwin O. Reischauer once commented, "The great payoff from our victory of 1945 was a permanently disarmed Japan." Born in Japan and a Japanese historian at Harvard, Reischauer served as American ambassador to Tokyo in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. Strange to say, since the end of the Cold War in 1991 and particularly under the administration of George W. Bush, the United States has been doing everything in its power to encourage and even accelerate Japanese rearmament.
Such a development promotes hostility between China and Japan, the two superpowers of East Asia, sabotages possible peaceful solutions in those two problem areas, Taiwan and North Korea, left over from the Chinese and Korean civil wars, and lays the foundation for a possible future Sino-American conflict that the United States would almost surely lose. It is unclear whether the ideologues and war lovers of Washington understand what they are unleashing -- a possible confrontation between the world's fastest growing industrial economy, China, and the world's second most productive, albeit declining, economy, Japan; a confrontation which the United States would have both caused and in which it might well be consumed.

Let me make clear that in East Asia we are not talking about a little regime-change war of the sort that Bush and Cheney advocate. After all, the most salient characteristic of international relations during the last century was the inability of the rich, established powers -- Great Britain and the United States -- to adjust peacefully to the emergence of new centers of power in Germany, Japan, and Russia. The result was two exceedingly bloody world wars, a forty-five-year-long Cold War between Russia and the "West," and innumerable wars of national liberation (such as the quarter-century long one in Vietnam) against the arrogance and racism of European, American, and Japanese imperialism and colonialism.

The major question for the twenty-first century is whether this fateful inability to adjust to changes in the global power-structure can be overcome. Thus far the signs are negative. Can the United States and Japan, today's versions of rich, established powers, adjust to the reemergence of China -- the world's oldest, continuously extant civilization -- this time as a modern superpower? Or is China's ascendancy to be marked by yet another world war, when the pretensions of European civilization in its U.S. and Japanese projections are finally put to rest? That is what is at stake.

Alice-in-Wonderland Policies and the Mother of All Financial Crises

China, Japan, and the United States are the three most productive economies on Earth, but China is the fastest growing (at an average rate of 9.5% per annum for over two decades), whereas both the U.S. and Japan are saddled with huge and mounting debts and, in the case of Japan, stagnant growth rates. China is today the world's sixth most productive economy (the U.S. and Japan being first and second) and our third largest trading partner after Canada and Mexico. According to CIA statisticians in their Factbook 2003, China is actually already the second-largest economy on Earth measured on a purchasing power parity basis -- that is, in terms of what China actually produces rather than prices and exchange rates. The CIA calculates the United States' gross domestic product (GDP) -- the total value of all goods and services produced within a country -- for 2003 as $10.4 trillion and China's $5.7 trillion. This gives China's 1.3 billion people a per capita GDP of $5,000.

Between 1992 and 2003, Japan was China's largest trading partner, but in 2004 Japan fell to third place, behind the European Union (EU) and the United States. China's trade volume for 2004 was $1.2 trillion, third in the world after the U.S. and Germany, and well ahead of Japan's $1.07 trillion. China's trade with the U.S. grew some 34% in 2004 and has turned Los Angeles, Long Beach, and Oakland into the three busiest seaports in America.

The truly significant trade development of 2004 was the EU's emergence as China's biggest economic partner, suggesting the possibility of a Sino-European cooperative bloc confronting a less vital Japanese-American one. As Britain's Financial Times observed, "Three years after its entry into the World Trade Organization [in 2001], China's influence in global commerce is no longer merely significant. It is crucial." For example, most Dell Computers sold in the U.S. are made in China, as are the DVD players of Japan's Funai Electric Company. Funai annually exports some 10 million DVD players and television sets from China to the United States, where they are sold primarily in Wal-Mart stores. China's trade with Europe in 2004 was worth $177.2 billion, with the United States $169.6 billion, and with Japan $167.8 billion.

China's growing economic weight in the world is widely recognized and applauded, but it is China's growth rates and their effect on the future global balance of power that the U.S. and Japan, rightly or wrongly, fear. The CIA's National Intelligence Council forecasts that China's GDP will equal Britain's in 2005, Germany's in 2009, Japan's in 2017, and the U.S.'s in 2042. But Shahid Javed Burki, former vice president of the World Bank's China Department and a former finance minister of Pakistan, predicts that by 2025 China will probably have a GDP of $25 trillion in terms of purchasing power parity and will have become the world's largest economy followed by the United States at $20 trillion and India at about $13 trillion -- and Burki's analysis is based on a conservative prediction of a 6% Chinese growth rate sustained over the next two decades. He foresees Japan's inevitable decline because its population will begin to shrink drastically after about 2010. Japan's Ministry of Internal Affairs reports that the number of men in Japan already declined by 0.01% in 2004; and some demographers, it notes, anticipate that by the end of the century the country's population could shrink by nearly two-thirds, from 127.7 million today to 45 million, the same population it had in 1910.

By contrast China's population is showing signs of stabilizing at approximately 1.4 billion people, and is heavily weighted toward males. (The government-imposed one-child-per-family policy and the availability of sonograms have resulted in a ratio of 129 boys born for every 100 girls; 147 boys for every 100 girls for couples seeking second or third children.) Chinese domestic economic growth is expected to continue for decades, reflecting the pent-up demand of its huge population, relatively low levels of personal debt, and a dynamic underground economy not recorded in official statistics. Most important, China's external debt is relatively small and easily covered by its reserves; whereas both the U.S. and Japan are approximately $7 trillion in the red, which is worse for Japan with less than half the U.S. population and economic clout.

Ironically, part of Japan's debt is a product of its efforts to help prop up America's global imperial stance. For example, in the period since the end of the Cold War, Japan has subsidized America's military bases in Japan to the staggering tune of approximately $70 billion. Refusing to pay for its profligate consumption patterns and military expenditures through taxes on its own citizens, the United States is financing these outlays by going into debt to Japan, China, Taiwan, South Korea, Hong Kong, and India. This situation has become increasingly unstable as the U.S. requires capital imports of at least $2 billion per day to pay for its governmental expenditures. Any decision by East Asian central banks to move significant parts of their foreign exchange reserves out of the dollar and into the euro or other currencies in order to protect themselves from dollar depreciation would produce the mother of all financial crises.

Japan still possesses the world's largest foreign exchange reserves, which at the end of January 2005 stood at around $841 billion. But China sits on a $609.9 billion pile of dollars (as of the end of 2004), earned from its trade surpluses with us. Meanwhile, the American government and Japanese followers of George W. Bush insult China in every way they can, particularly over the status of China's breakaway province, the island of Taiwan. The distinguished economic analyst William Greider recently noted, "Any profligate debtor who insults his banker is unwise, to put it mildly. . . . American leadership has . . . become increasingly delusional -- I mean that literally -- and blind to the adverse balance of power accumulating against it."

The Bush administration is unwisely threatening China by urging Japan to rearm and by promising Taiwan that, should China use force to prevent a Taiwanese declaration of independence, the U.S. will go to war on its behalf. It is hard to imagine more shortsighted, irresponsible policies, but in light of the Bush administration's Alice-in-Wonderland war in Iraq, the acute anti-Americanism it has generated globally, and the politicization of America's intelligence services, it seems possible that the U.S. and Japan might actually precipitate a war with China over Taiwan.

Japan Rearms

Since the end of World War II, and particularly since gaining its independence in 1952, Japan has subscribed to a pacifist foreign policy. It has resolutely refused to maintain offensive military forces or to become part of America's global military system. Japan did not, for example, participate in the 1991 war against Iraq, nor has it joined collective security agreements in which it would have to match the military contributions of its partners. Since the signing in 1952 of the Japan-United States Security Treaty, the country has officially been defended from so-called external threats by U.S. forces located on some 91 bases on the Japanese mainland and the island of Okinawa. The U.S. Seventh Fleet even has its home port at the old Japanese naval base of Yokosuka. Japan not only subsidizes these bases but subscribes to the public fiction that the American forces are present only for its defense. In fact, Japan has no control over how and where the U.S. employs its land, sea, and air forces based on Japanese territory, and the Japanese and American governments have until quite recently finessed the issue simply by never discussing it.

Since the end of the Cold War in 1991, the United States has repeatedly pressured Japan to revise article nine of its Constitution (renouncing the use of force except as a matter of self-defense) and become what American officials call a "normal nation." For example, on August 13, 2004, Secretary of State Colin Powell stated baldly in Tokyo that if Japan ever hoped to become a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council it would first have to get rid of its pacifist Constitution. Japan's claim to a Security Council seat is based on the fact that, although its share of global GDP is only 14%, it pays 20% of the total U.N. budget. Powell's remark was blatant interference in Japan's internal affairs, but it merely echoed many messages delivered by former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, the leader of a reactionary clique in Washington that has worked for years to remilitarize Japan and so enlarge a major new market for American arms. Its members include Torkel Patterson, Robin Sakoda, David Asher, and James Kelly at State; Michael Green on the National Security Council's staff; and numerous uniformed military officers at the Pentagon and at the headquarters of the Pacific Command at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

America's intention is to turn Japan into what Washington neo-conservatives like to call the "Britain of the Far East" -- and then use it as a proxy in checkmating North Korea and balancing China. On October 11, 2000, Michael Green, then a member of Armitage Associates, wrote, "We see the special relationship between the United States and Great Britain as a model for the [U.S.-Japan] alliance." Japan has so far not resisted this American pressure since it complements a renewed nationalism among Japanese voters and a fear that a burgeoning capitalist China threatens Japan's established position as the leading economic power in East Asia. Japanese officials also claim that the country feels threatened by North Korea's developing nuclear and missile programs, although they know that the North Korean stand-off could be resolved virtually overnight -- if the Bush administration would cease trying to overthrow the Pyongyang regime and instead deliver on American trade promises (in return for North Korea's agreement to give up its nuclear weapons program). Instead, on February 25, 2005, the State Department announced that "the U.S. will refuse North Korean leader Kim Jong-il's demand for a guarantee of 'no hostile intent' to get Pyongyang back into negotiations over its nuclear weapons programs." And on March 7, Bush nominated John Bolton to be American ambassador to the United Nations even though North Korea has refused to negotiate with him because of his insulting remarks about the country.

Japan's remilitarization worries a segment of the Japanese public and is opposed throughout East Asia by all the nations Japan victimized during World War II, including China, both Koreas, and even Australia. As a result, the Japanese government has launched a stealth program of incremental rearmament. Since 1992, it has enacted 21 major pieces of security-related legislation, 9 in 2004 alone. These began with the International Peace Cooperation Law of 1992, which for the first time authorized Japan to send troops to participate in U.N. peacekeeping operations.

Remilitarization has since taken many forms, including expanding military budgets, legitimizing and legalizing the sending of military forces abroad, a commitment to join the American missile defense ("Star Wars") program -- something the Canadians refused to do in February 2005 -- and a growing acceptance of military solutions to international problems. This gradual process was greatly accelerated in 2001 by the simultaneous coming to power of President George Bush and Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi. Koizumi made his first visit to the United States in July of that year and, in May of 2003, received the ultimate imprimatur, an invitation to Bush's "ranch" in Crawford, Texas. Shortly thereafter, Koizumi agreed to send a contingent of 550 troops to Iraq for a year, extended their stay for another year in 2004, and on October 14, 2004, personally endorsed George Bush's reelection.

A New Nuclear Giant in the Making?

Koizumi has appointed to his various cabinets hard-line anti-Chinese, pro-Taiwanese politicians. Phil Deans, director of the Contemporary China Institute in the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, observes, "There has been a remarkable growth of pro-Taiwan sentiment in Japan. There is not one pro-China figure in the Koizumi Cabinet." Members of the latest Koizumi Cabinet include the Defense Agency chief Yoshinori Ono, and the foreign minister Nobutaka Machimura, both ardent militarists; while Foreign Minister Machimura is a member of the right-wing faction of former Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori, which supports an independent Taiwan and maintains extensive covert ties with Taiwanese leaders and businessmen.

Taiwan, it should be remembered, was a Japanese colony from 1895 to 1945. Unlike the harsh Japanese military rule over Korea from 1910 to 1945, it experienced relatively benign governance by a civilian Japanese administration. The island, while bombed by the Allies, was not a battleground during World War II although it was harshly occupied by the Chinese Nationalists (Chiang Kai-shek's Guomindang) immediately after the war. Today, as a result, many Taiwanese speak Japanese and have a favorable view of Japan. Taiwan is virtually the only place in East Asia where Japanese are fully welcomed and liked.

Bush and Koizumi have developed elaborate plans for military cooperation between their two countries. Crucial to such plans is the scrapping of the Japanese Constitution of 1947. If nothing gets in the way, Koizumi's ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) intends to introduce a new constitution on the occasion of the party's fiftieth anniversary in November 2005. This has been deemed appropriate because the LDP's founding charter of 1955 set as a basic party goal the "establishment of Japan's own Constitution" -- a reference to the fact that General Douglas MacArthur's post-World War II occupation headquarters actually drafted the current Constitution. The original LDP policy statement also called for "the eventual removal of U.S. troops from Japanese territory," which may be one of the hidden purposes behind Japan's urge to rearm.

A major goal of the Americans is to gain Japan's active participation in their massively expensive missile defense program. The Bush administration is seeking, among other things, an end to Japan's ban on the export of military technology, since it wants Japanese engineers to help solve some of the technical problems of its so far failing Star Wars system. The United States has also been actively negotiating with Japan to relocate the Army's 1st Corps from Fort Lewis, Washington, to Camp Zama, southwest of Tokyo in the densely populated prefecture of Kanagawa, whose capital is Yokohama. These U.S. forces in Japan would then be placed under the command of a four-star general, who would be on a par with regional commanders like Centcom commander John Abizaid, who lords it over Iraq and South Asia. The new command would be in charge of all Army "force projection" operations beyond East Asia and would inevitably implicate Japan in the daily military operations of the American empire. Garrisoning even a small headquarters, much less the whole 1st Corps made up of an estimated 40,000 soldiers, in a sophisticated and centrally located prefecture like Kanagawa is also guaranteed to generate intense public opposition as well as rapes, fights, car accidents and other incidents similar to the ones that occur daily in Okinawa.

Meanwhile, Japan intends to upgrade its Defense Agency (Boeicho) into a ministry and possibly develop its own nuclear weapons capability. Goading the Japanese government to assert itself militarily may well cause the country to go nuclear in order to "deter" China and North Korea, while freeing Japan from its dependency on the American "nuclear umbrella." The military analyst Richard Tanter notes that Japan already has "the undoubted capacity to satisfy all three core requirements for a usable nuclear weapon: a military nuclear device, a sufficiently accurate targeting system, and at least one adequate delivery system." Japan's combination of fully functioning fission and breeder reactors plus nuclear fuel reprocessing facilities gives it the ability to build advanced thermonuclear weapons; its H-II and H-IIA rockets, in-flight refueling capacity for fighter bombers, and military-grade surveillance satellites assure that it could deliver its weapons accurately to regional targets. What it currently lacks are the platforms (such as submarines) for a secure retaliatory force in order to dissuade a nuclear adversary from launching a pre-emptive first-strike.

The Taiwanese Knot

Japan may talk a lot about the dangers of North Korea, but the real objective of its rearmament is China. This has become clear from the ways in which Japan has recently injected itself into the single most delicate and dangerous issue of East Asian international relations -- the problem of Taiwan. Japan invaded China in 1931 and was its wartime tormentor thereafter as well as Taiwan's colonial overlord. Even then, however, Taiwan was viewed as a part of China, as the United States has long recognized. What remains to be resolved are the terms and timing of Taiwan's reintegration with the Chinese mainland. This process was deeply complicated by the fact that in 1987 Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalists, who had retreated to Taiwan in 1949 at the end of the Chinese civil war (and were protected there by the American Seventh Fleet ever after), finally ended martial law on the island. Taiwan has since matured into a vibrant democracy and the Taiwanese are now starting to display their own mixed opinions about their future.

In 2000, the Taiwanese people ended a long monopoly of power by the Nationalists and gave the Democratic Progressive Party, headed by President Chen Shui-bian, an electoral victory. A native Taiwanese (as distinct from the large contingent of mainlanders who came to Taiwan in the baggage train of Chiang's defeated armies), Chen stands for an independent Taiwan, as does his party. By contrast, the Nationalists, together with a powerful mainlander splinter party, the People First Party headed by James Soong (Song Chuyu), hope to see an eventual peaceful unification of Taiwan with China. On March 7, 2005, the Bush administration complicated these delicate relations by nominating John Bolton to be the American ambassador to the United Nations. He is an avowed advocate of Taiwanese independence and was once a paid consultant to the Taiwanese government.

In May 2004, in a very close and contested election, Chen Shui-bian was reelected, and on May 20, the notorious right-wing Japanese politician Shintaro Ishihara attended his inauguration in Taipei. (Ishihara believes that Japan's 1937 Rape of Nanking was "a lie made up by the Chinese.") Though Chen won with only 50.1% of the vote, this was still a sizeable increase over his 33.9% in 2000, when the opposition was divided. The Taiwan Ministry of Foreign Affairs immediately appointed Koh Se-kai as its informal ambassador to Japan. Koh has lived in Japan for some 33 years and maintains extensive ties to senior political and academic figures there. China responded that it would "completely annihilate" any moves toward Taiwanese independence -- even if it meant scuttling the 2008 Beijing Olympics and good relations with the United States.

Contrary to the machinations of American neo-cons and Japanese rightists, however, the Taiwanese people have revealed themselves to be open to negotiating with China over the timing and terms of reintegration. On August 23, 2004, the Legislative Yuan (Taiwan's parliament) enacted changes in its voting rules to prevent Chen from amending the Constitution to favor independence, as he had promised to do in his reelection campaign. This action drastically lowered the risk of conflict with China. Probably influencing the Legislative Yuan was the warning issued on August 22 by Singapore's new prime minister, Lee Hsien-loong: "If Taiwan goes for independence, Singapore will not recognize it. In fact, no Asian country will recognize it. China will fight. Win or lose, Taiwan will be devastated."

The next important development was parliamentary elections on December 11, 2004. President Chen called his campaign a referendum on his pro-independence policy and asked for a mandate to carry out his reforms. Instead he lost decisively. The opposition Nationalists and the People First Party won 114 seats in the 225-seat parliament, while Chen's DPP and its allies took only 101. (Ten seats went to independents.) The Nationalist leader, Lien Chan, whose party won 79 seats to the DPP's 89, said, "Today we saw extremely clearly that all the people want stability in this country."

Chen's failure to capture control of parliament also meant that a proposed purchase of $19.6 billion worth of arms from the United States was doomed. The deal included guided-missile destroyers, P-3 anti-submarine aircraft, diesel submarines, and advanced Patriot PAC-3 anti-missile systems. The Nationalists and James Soong's supporters regard the price as too high and mostly a financial sop to the Bush administration, which has been pushing the sale since 2001. They also believe the weapons would not improve Taiwan's security.

On December 27, 2004, mainland China issued its fifth Defense White Paper on the goals of the country's national defense efforts. As one long-time observer, Robert Bedeski, notes, "At first glance, the Defense White Paper is a hard-line statement on territorial sovereignty and emphasizes China's determination not to tolerate any moves at secession, independence, or separation. However, the next paragraph . . . indicates a willingness to reduce tensions in the Taiwan Strait: so long as the Taiwan authorities accept the one China principle and stop their separatist activities aimed at 'Taiwan independence,' cross-strait talks can be held at any time on officially ending the state of hostility between the two sides."

It appears that this is also the way the Taiwanese read the message. On February 24, 2005, President Chen Shui-bian met for the first time since October 2000 with Chairman James Soong of the People First Party. The two leaders, holding diametrically opposed views on relations with the mainland, nonetheless signed a joint statement outlining ten points of consensus. They pledged to try to open full transport and commercial links across the Taiwan Strait, increase trade, and ease the ban on investments in China by many Taiwanese business sectors. The mainland reacted favorably at once. Astonishingly, this led Chen Shui-bian to say that he "would not rule out Taiwan's eventual reunion with China, provided Taiwan's 23 million people accepted it."

If the United States and Japan left China and Taiwan to their own devices, it seems possible that they would work out a modus vivendi. Taiwan has already invested some $150 billion in the mainland, and the two economies are becoming more closely integrated every day. There also seems to be a growing recognition in Taiwan that it would be very difficult to live as an independent Chinese-speaking nation alongside a country with 1.3 billion people, 3.7 million square miles of territory, a rapidly growing $1.4 trillion economy, and aspirations to regional leadership in East Asia. Rather than declaring its independence, Taiwan may try to seek a status somewhat like that of French Canada -- a kind of looser version of a Chinese Quebec under nominal central government control but maintaining separate institutions, laws, and customs.

The mainland would be so relieved by this solution it would probably accept it, particularly if it could be achieved before the 2008 Beijing Olympics. China fears that Taiwanese radicals want to declare independence a month or two before those Olympics, betting that China would not attack then because of its huge investment in the forthcoming games. Most observers believe, however, that China would have no choice but to go to war because failure to do so would invite a domestic revolution against the Chinese Communist Party for violating the national integrity of China.

Sino-American and Sino-Japanese Relations Spiral Downward

It has long been an article of neo-con faith that the U.S. must do everything in its power to prevent the development of rival power centers, whether friendly or hostile. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, this meant they turned their attention to China as one of our probable next enemies. In 2001, having come to power, the neo-conservatives shifted much of our nuclear targeting from Russia to China. They also began regular high-level military talks with Taiwan over defense of the island, ordered a shift of Army personnel and supplies to the Asia-Pacific region, and worked strenuously to promote the remilitarization of Japan.

On April 1, 2001, a U.S. navy EP-3E Aries II electronic spy plane collided with a Chinese jet fighter off the south China coast. The American aircraft was on a mission to provoke Chinese radar defenses and then record the transmissions and procedures the Chinese used in sending up interceptors. The Chinese jet went down and the pilot lost his life, while the American plane landed safely on Hainan Island and its crew of twenty-four spies was well treated by the Chinese authorities.

It soon became clear that China was not interested in a confrontation, since many of its most important investors have their headquarters in the United States. But it could not instantly return the crew of the spy plane without risking powerful domestic criticism for obsequiousness in the face of provocation. It therefore delayed eleven days until it received a pro forma American apology for causing the death of a Chinese pilot on the edge of the country's territorial air space and for making an unauthorized landing at a Chinese military airfield. Meanwhile, our media had labeled the crew as "hostages," encouraged their relatives to tie yellow ribbons around neighborhood trees, hailed the President for doing "a first-rate job" to free them, and endlessly criticized China for its "state-controlled media." They carefully avoided mentioning that the United States enforces around our country a 200-mile aircraft-intercept zone that stretches far beyond territorial waters.

On April 25, 2001, during an interview on national television, President Bush was asked whether he would ever use "the full force of the American military" against China for the sake of Taiwan. He responded, "Whatever it takes to help Taiwan defend herself." This was American policy until 9/11, when China enthusiastically joined the "war on terrorism" and the President and his neo-cons became preoccupied with their "axis of evil" and making war on Iraq. The United States and China were also enjoying extremely close economic relations, which the big- business wing of the Republican Party did not want to jeopardize.

The Middle East thus trumped the neo-cons' Asia policy. While the Americans were distracted, China went about its economic business for almost four years, emerging as a powerhouse of Asia and a potential organizing node for Asian economies. Rapidly industrializing China also developed a voracious appetite for petroleum and other raw materials, which brought it into direct competition with the world's largest importers, the U.S. and Japan.

By the summer of 2004, Bush strategists, distracted as they were by Iraq, again became alarmed over China's growing power and its potential to challenge American hegemony in East Asia. The Republican Party platform unveiled at its convention in New York in August proclaimed that "America will help Taiwan defend itself." During that summer, the Navy also carried out exercises it dubbed "Operation Summer Pulse '04," which involved the simultaneous deployment at sea of seven of our twelve carrier strike groups. An American carrier strike group includes an aircraft carrier (usually with 9 or 10 squadrons of planes, a total of about 85 aircraft in all), a guided missile cruiser, two guided missile destroyers, an attack submarine, and a combination ammunition-oiler-supply ship. Deploying seven such armadas at the same time was unprecedented -- and very expensive. Even though only three of the carrier strike groups were sent to the Pacific and no more than one was patrolling off Taiwan at a time, the Chinese became deeply alarmed that this marked the beginning of an attempted rerun of 19th century gunboat diplomacy aimed at them.

This American show of force and Chen Shui-bian's polemics preceding the December elections also seemed to overstimulate the Taiwanese. On October 26 in Beijing, Secretary of State Colin Powell tried to calm things down by declaring to the press, "Taiwan is not independent. It does not enjoy sovereignty as a nation, and that remains our policy, our firm policy… We want to see both sides not take unilateral action that would prejudice an eventual outcome, a reunification that all parties are seeking."

Powell's statement seemed unequivocal enough, but significant doubts persisted about whether he had much influence within the Bush administration or whether he could speak for Vice President Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Early in 2005, Porter Goss, the new director of the CIA, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, and Admiral Lowell Jacoby, head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, all told Congress that China's military modernization was going ahead much faster than previously believed. They warned that the 2005 Quadrennial Defense Review, the every four-year formal assessment of U.S. military policy, would take a much harsher view of the threat posed by China than the 2001 overview.

In this context, the Bush administration, perhaps influenced by the election of November 2 and the transition from Colin Powell's to Condi Rice's State Department, played its most dangerous card. On February 19, 2005 in Washington, it signed a new military agreement with Japan. For the first time, Japan joined the administration in identifying security in the Taiwan Strait as a "common strategic objective." Nothing could have been more alarming to China's leaders than the revelation that Japan had decisively ended six decades of official pacifism by claiming a right to intervene in the Taiwan Strait.

It is possible that, in the years to come, Taiwan itself may recede in importance to be replaced by even more direct Sino-Japanese confrontations. This would be an ominous development indeed, one that the United States would be responsible for having abetted but would certainly be unable to control. The kindling for a Sino-Japanese explosion has long been in place. After all, during World War II the Japanese killed approximately 23 million Chinese throughout East Asia -- higher casualties than the staggering ones suffered by Russia at the hands of the Nazis -- and yet Japan refuses to atone for or even acknowledge its historical war crimes. Quite the opposite, it continues to rewrite history, portraying itself as the liberator of Asia and a victim of European and American imperialism.

In -- for the Chinese -- a painful act of symbolism, after becoming Japanese prime minister in 2001, Junichiro Koizumi made his first official visit to Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, a practice that he has repeated every year since. Koizumi likes to say to foreigners that he is merely honoring Japan's war dead. Yasukuni, however, is anything but a military cemetery or a war memorial. It was established in 1869 by Emperor Meiji as a Shinto shrine (though with its torii archways made of steel rather than the traditional red-painted wood) to commemorate the lives lost in campaigns to return direct imperial rule to Japan. During World War II, Japanese militarists took over the shrine and used it to promote patriotic and nationalistic sentiments. Today, Yasukuni is said to be dedicated to the spirits of approximately 2.4 million Japanese who have died in the country's wars, both civil and foreign, since 1853.

In 1978, for reasons that have never been made clear, General Hideki Tojo and six other wartime leaders who had been hanged by the Allied Powers as war criminals were collectively enshrined at Yasukuni. The current chief priest of the shrine denies that they were war criminals, saying, "The winner passed judgment on the loser." In a museum on the shrine's grounds, there is a fully restored Mitsubishi Zero Type 52 fighter aircraft that a placard says made its combat debut in 1940 over Chongqing, then the wartime capital of the Republic of China. It was undoubtedly not an accident that, in Chongqing during the 2004 Asian Cup soccer finals, Chinese spectators booed the playing of the Japanese national anthem. Yasukuni's leaders have always claimed close ties to the imperial household, but the late Emperor Hirohito last visited the shrine in 1975 and Emperor Akihito has never been there.

The Chinese regard Yasukuni visits by the Japanese prime minister as insulting, somewhat comparable perhaps to Britain's Prince Harry dressing up as a Nazi for a costume party. Nonetheless, Beijing has tried in recent years to appease Tokyo. Chinese President Hu Jintao rolled out the red carpet for Yohei Kono, speaker of the Japanese Diet's House of Representatives, when he visited China in September 2004; he appointed Wang Yi, a senior moderate in the Chinese foreign service, as ambassador to Japan; and he proposed joint Sino-Japanese exploration of possible oil resources in the offshore seas that both sides claim. All such gestures were ignored by Koizumi who insists that he intends to go on visiting Yasukuni.

Matters came to a head in November 2004 at two important summit meetings: an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) gathering in Santiago, Chile, followed immediately by an Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) meeting with the leaders of China, Japan, and South Korea that took place in Vientiane, Laos. In Santiago, Hu Jintao directly asked Koizumi to cease his Yasukuni visits for the sake of Sino-Japanese friendship. Seemingly as a reply, Koizumi went out of his way to insult Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao in Vientiane. He said to Premier Wen, "It's about time for [China's] graduation [as a recipient of Japanese foreign aid payments]," implying that Japan intended unilaterally to end its 25-year-old financial aid program. The word "graduation" also conveyed the insulting implication that Japan saw itself as a teacher guiding China, the student.

Koizumi next gave a little speech about the history of Japanese efforts to normalize relations with China, to which Premier Wen replied, "Do you know how many Chinese people died in the Sino-Japanese war?" Wen went on to suggest that China had always regarded Japan's foreign aid, which he said China did not need, as payments in lieu of compensation for damage done by Japan in China during the war. He pointed out that China had never asked for reparations from Japan and that Japan's payments amounted to about $30 billion over 25 years, a fraction of the $80 billion Germany has paid to the victims of Nazi atrocities even though Japan is the more populous and richer country.

On November 10, 2004, the Japanese Navy discovered a Chinese nuclear submarine in Japanese territorial waters near Okinawa. Although the Chinese apologized and called the sub's intrusion a "mistake," Defense Agency Director Ono gave it wide publicity, further inflaming Japanese public opinion against China. From that point on, relations between Beijing and Tokyo have gone steadily downhill, culminating in the Japanese-American announcement that Taiwan was of special military concern to both of them, which China denounced as an "abomination."

Over time this downward spiral in relations will probably prove damaging to the interests of both the United States and Japan, but particularly to those of Japan. China is unlikely to retaliate directly but is even less likely to forget what has happened -- and it has a great deal of leverage over Japan. After all, Japanese prosperity increasingly depends on its ties to China. The reverse is not true. Contrary to what one might expect, Japanese exports to China jumped 70% between 2001 and 2004, providing the main impetus for a sputtering Japanese economic recovery. Some 18,000 Japanese companies have operations in China. In 2003, Japan passed the United States as the top destination for Chinese students going abroad for a university education. Nearly 70,000 Chinese students now study at Japanese universities compared to 65,000 at American academic institutions. These close and lucrative relations are at risk if the U.S. and Japan pursue their militarization of the region.

A Multipolar World

Tony Karon of Time magazine has observed, "All over the world, new bonds of trade and strategic cooperation are being forged around the U.S. China has not only begun to displace the U.S. as the dominant player in the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation organization (APEC), it is fast emerging as the major trading partner to some of Latin America's largest economies. . . . French foreign policy think tanks have long promoted the goal of 'multipolarity' in a post-Cold War world, i.e., the preference for many different, competing power centers rather than the 'unipolarity' of the U.S. as a single hyper-power. Multipolarity is no longer simply a strategic goal. It is an emerging reality."

Evidence is easily found of multipolarity and China's prominent role in promoting it. Just note China's expanding relations with Iran, the European Union, Latin America, and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Iran is the second largest OPEC oil producer after Saudi Arabia and has long had friendly relations with Japan, which is its leading trading partner. (Ninety-eight percent of Japan's imports from Iran are oil.) On February 18, 2004, a consortium of Japanese companies and the Iranian government signed a memorandum of agreement to develop jointly Iran's Azadegan oil field, one of the world's largest, in a project worth $2.8 billion. The U.S. has opposed Japan's support for Iran, causing Congressman Brad Sherman (D-CA) to charge that Bush had been bribed into accepting the Japanese-Iranian deal by Koizumi's dispatch of 550 Japanese troops to Iraq, adding a veneer of international support for the American war there.

But the long-standing Iranian-Japanese alignment began to change in late 2004. On October 28, China's oil major, the Sinopec Group, signed an agreement with Iran worth between $70 and $100 billion to develop the giant Yadavaran natural gas field. China agreed to buy 250 million tons of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Iran over 25 years. It is the largest deal Iran has signed with a foreign country since 1996 and will include several other benefits, including China's assistance in building numerous ships to deliver the LNG to Chinese ports. Iran also committed itself to exporting 150,000 barrels of crude oil per day to China for 25 years at market prices.

Iran's oil minister, Bijan Zanganeh, on a visit to Beijing noted that Iran is China's biggest foreign oil supplier and said that his country wants to be China's long-term business partner. He told China Business Weekly that Tehran would like to replace Japan with China as the biggest customer for its oil and gas. The reason is obvious: American pressure on Iran to give up its nuclear power development program and the Bush administration's declared intention to take Iran to the U.N. Security Council for the imposition of sanctions (which a Chinese vote could veto). On November 6, 2004, Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing paid a rare visit to Tehran. In meetings with Iranian President Mohammad Khatami, Li said that Beijing would indeed consider vetoing any American effort to sanction Iran at the Security Council. The U.S. has also charged China with selling nuclear and missile technology to Iran.

China and Iran already did a record $4 billion worth of two-way business in 2003. Projects included China's building of the first stage of Tehran's Metro and a contract to build a second link worth $836 million. China will be the top contender to build four other planned lines, including a 19 mile track to the airport. In February 2003, Chery Automobile Company, the eighth largest automaker in China, opened its first overseas production plant in Iran. Today, it manufactures 30,000 Chery cars annually in northeastern Iran. Beijing is also negotiating to construct a 240 mile pipeline from Iran to the northern Caspian Sea to connect with the long-distance Kazakhstan to Xinjiang pipeline that it began building in October 2004. The Kazakh pipeline has a capacity to deliver 10 million tons of oil to China per year. Despite American bluster and belligerence, Iran is anything but isolated in today's world.

The EU is China's largest trading partner and China is the EU's second largest trading partner (after the United States). Back in 1989, to protest the suppression of pro-democracy demonstrators in Beijing's Tiananmen Square, the EU imposed a ban on military sales to China. The only other countries so treated are true international pariahs like Burma, Sudan, and Zimbabwe. Even North Korea is not subject to a formal European arms embargo. Given that the Chinese leadership has changed several times since 1989 and as a gesture of goodwill, the EU has announced its intention to lift the embargo. Jacques Chirac, the French president, is one of the strongest proponents of the idea of replacing American hegemony with a "multipolar world." On a visit to Beijing in October 2004, he said that China and France share "a common vision of the world" and that lifting the embargo will "mark a significant milestone: a moment when Europe had to make a choice between the strategic interests of America and China -- and chose China."

In his trip to Western Europe in February 2005, Bush repeatedly said, "There is deep concern in our country that a transfer of weapons would be a transfer of technology to China, which would change the balance of relations between China and Taiwan." In early February, the House of Representatives voted 411 to 3 in favor of a resolution condemning the potential EU move. The Europeans and Chinese contend that the Bush administration has vastly overstated its case, that no weapons capable of changing the balance of power are involved, and that the EU is not aiming to win massive new defense contracts from China but to strengthen mutual economic relations in general. Immediately following Bush's tour of Europe, the EU Trade Commissioner, Peter Mandelson, arrived in Beijing for his first official visit. The purpose of his trip, he said, was to stress the need to create a new strategic partnership between China and Europe.

Washington has buttressed its hard-line stance with the release of many new intelligence estimates depicting China as a formidable military threat. Whether this intelligence is politicized or not, it argues that China's military modernization is aimed precisely at countering the Navy's carrier strike groups, which would assumedly be used in the Taiwan Strait in case of war. China is certainly building a large fleet of nuclear submarines and is an active participant in the EU's Galileo Project to produce a satellite navigation system not controlled by the American military. The Defense Department worries that Beijing might adapt the Galileo technology to anti-satellite purposes. American military analysts are also impressed by China's launch, on October 15, 2003, of a spacecraft containing a single astronaut who was successfully returned to Earth the following day. Only the former USSR and the United States had previously sent humans into outer space.

China already has 500 to 550 short-range ballistic missiles deployed opposite Taiwan and has 24 CSS-4 ICBMs with a range of 13,000 km to deter an American missile attack on the Chinese mainland. According to Richard Fisher, a researcher at the U.S.-based Center for Security Policy, "The forces that China is putting in place right now will probably be more than sufficient to deal with a single American aircraft carrier battle group." Arthur Lauder, a professor of international relations at the University of Pennsylvania, concurs. He says that the Chinese military "is the only one being developed anywhere in the world today that is specifically configured to fight the United States of America."

The U.S. obviously cannot wish away this capability, but it has no evidence that China is doing anything more than countering the threats coming from the Bush administration. It seeks to avoid war with Taiwan and the U.S. by deterring them from separating Taiwan from China. For this reason, in March 2005, China's pro-forma legislature, the National People's Congress, passed a law making secession from China illegal and authorizing the use of force in case a territory tried to leave the country.

The Japanese government, of course, backs the American position that China constitutes a military threat to the entire region. Interestingly enough, however, the Australian government of John Howard, a loyal American ally when it comes to Iraq, has decided to defy Bush on the issue of lifting the European arms embargo. Australia places a high premium on good relations with China and is hoping to negotiate a free trade agreement between the two countries. Canberra has therefore decided to support the EU in lifting the 15-year-old embargo. Chirac and German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder both say, "It will happen."

The United States has long proclaimed that Latin America is part of its "sphere of influence," and because of that most foreign countries have tread carefully in doing business there. However, in the search for fuel and minerals for its booming economy, China is openly courting many Latin American countries regardless of what Washington thinks. On November 15, 2004, President Hu Jintao ended a five day visit to Brazil during which he signed more than a dozen accords aimed at expanding Brazil's sales to China and Chinese investment in Brazil. Under one agreement Brazil will export to China as much as $800 million annually in beef and poultry. In turn, China agreed with Brazil's state-controlled oil company to finance a $1.3 billion gas pipeline between Rio de Janeiro and Bahia once technical studies are completed. China and Brazil also entered into a "strategic partnership" with the objective of raising the value of bilateral trade from $10 billion in 2004 to $20 billion by 2007. President Hu said that this partnership symbolized "a new international political order that favored developing countries."

In the weeks that followed, China signed important investment and trade agreements with Argentina, Venezuela, Bolivia, Chile, and Cuba. Of particular interest, in December 2004, President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela visited China and agreed to give it wide-ranging access to his country's oil reserves. Venezuela is the world's fifth largest oil exporter and normally sells about 60% of its output to the United States, but under the new agreements China will be allowed to operate 15 mature oil fields in eastern Venezuela. China will invest around $350 million to extract oil and another $60 million in natural gas wells.

China is also working to integrate East Asia's smaller countries into some form of new economic and political community. Such an alignment, if it comes into being, will certainly erode American and Japanese influence in the area. In November 2004, the ten nations that make up ASEAN or the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Brunei, Burma, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam), met in the Laotian capital of Vientiane, joined by the leaders of China, Japan, and South Korea. The United States was not invited and the Japanese officials seemed uncomfortable being there. The purpose was to plan for an East Asian summit meeting to be held in November 2005 to begin creating an "East Asia Community." In December 2004, the ASEAN countries and China also agreed to create a free-trade zone among themselves by 2010.

According to Edward Cody of the Washington Post, "Trade between China and the 10 ASEAN countries has increased about 20% a year since 1990, and the pace has picked up in the last several years." This trade hit $78.2 billion in 2003 and was reported to be about $100 billion by the end of 2004. As the senior Japanese political commentator Yoichi Funabashi observes, "The ratio of intra-regional trade [in East Asia] to worldwide trade was nearly 52% in 2002. Though this figure is lower than the 62% in the EU, it tops the 46% of NAFTA [the North American Free Trade Agreement]. East Asia is thus becoming less dependent on the U.S. in terms of trade."

China is the primary moving force behind these efforts. According to Funabashi China's leadership plans to use the country's explosive economic growth and its ever more powerful links to regional trading partners to marginalize the United States and isolate Japan in East Asia. He argues that the United States underestimated how deeply distrusted it had become in the region thanks to its narrow-minded and ideological response to the East Asian financial crisis of 1997, which it largely caused. On November 30, 2004, Michael Reiss, the director of policy planning in the State Department, said in Tokyo, "The U.S., as a power in the Western Pacific, has an interest in East Asia. We would be unhappy about any plans to exclude the U.S. from the framework of dialogue and cooperation in this region." But it is probably already too late for the Bush administration to do much more than delay the arrival of a China-dominated East Asian community, particularly because of declining American economic and financial strength.

For Japan, the choices are more difficult still. Sino-Japanese enmity has had a long history in East Asia, always with disastrous outcomes. Before World War II, one of Japan's most influential writers on Chinese affairs, Hotsumi Ozaki, prophetically warned that Japan, by refusing to adjust to the Chinese revolution and instead making war on it, would only radicalize the Chinese people and contribute to the coming to power of the Chinese Communist Party. He spent his life working on the question "Why should the success of the Chinese revolution be to Japan's disadvantage?" In 1944, the Japanese government hanged Ozaki as a traitor, but his question remains as relevant today as it was in the late 1930s.

Why should China's emergence as a rich, successful country be to the disadvantage of either Japan or the United States? History teaches us that the least intelligent response to this development would be to try to stop it through military force. As a Hong Kong wisecrack has it, China has just had a couple of bad centuries and now it's back. The world needs to adjust peacefully to its legitimate claims -- one of which is for other nations to stop militarizing the Taiwan problem -- while checking unreasonable Chinese efforts to impose its will on the region. Unfortunately, the trend of events in East Asia suggests we may yet see a repetition of the last Sino-Japanese conflict, only this time the U.S. is unlikely to be on the winning side.

Source citations and other references for this Tomgram are available on the web site of the Japan Policy Research Institute.

Chalmers Johnson is president of the Japan Policy Research Institute. The first two books in his Blowback Trilogy -- Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire, and The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic -- are now available in paperback. The third volume is being written.

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US Want Full Access to Bulgarian Military Bases

Sofia News Agency
14 March 2006

...major disagreements arise around the conditions of access to the bases. While Bulgaria wants guarantees that these facilities would not be used without its consent, the US demand full access. They also want to apply their own jurisdiction and laws when an American violates the law on Bulgarian territory. Bulgarians do not agree on that point and this has stalled the negotiations for a while, the MP added.
The United States demand that Bulgaria grants them unlimited access to Bulgaria's military bases and equipment, and Bulgaria does not agree.

Negotiations concerning US military bases here still haven't been concluded, Angel Naydenov, head of the Parliamentary Defence Committee explained for private Nova television. Three negotiation stages have been so far completed since October 2005, and Bulgaria is currently very close to the finish, he said.

However, major disagreements arise around the conditions of access to the bases. While Bulgaria wants guarantees that these facilities would not be used without its consent, the US demand full access. They also want to apply their own jurisdiction and laws when an American violates the law on Bulgarian territory. Bulgarians do not agree on that point and this has stalled the negotiations for a while, the MP added.

Should both sides reach an agreement, the US would pay for the use and maintenance of the facilities and invest in military infrastructure, but all bases will be under a Bulgarian flag. There is no guarantee that such an agreement would be reached at all, Naydenov warned, and added that no specific deadlines have been set for concluding the negotiations.

There is a bog difference between Bulgaria and Romania's negotiations with the US, Naydenov said. While Romania has met all the demands put forth by the Americans, Bulgaria is trying to protect its national interests.

The US has asked to be given access to a third military base in central Bulgaria, though negotiations have been so far focused on two sites alone - Bezmer airfield and Novo Selo shooting range. An airfield at Graf Ignatievo, near the second largest Bulgarian city of Plovdiv, is said to match all of the Pentagon's requirements.

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The I-racket

Ordinary Iraqi families getting ready to fight - They're stockpiling weapons, food and fuel

Charles Levinson, Chronicle Foreign Service
March 15, 2006

In the past week, President Bush has tried to assure Americans that Iraq has stepped back from the brink of civil war. "Iraqis have shown the world they want a future of freedom and peace," he told the Foundation for Defense of Democracies on Monday.

Few Iraqis, however, share Bush's view that the crisis has been averted. They are readying themselves for the worst, fleeing likely flash points, stockpiling weapons and basic foodstuffs, barricading their neighborhoods, and drawing lines in the sand delineating Sunni and Shiite territory.

Baghdad -- Om Hussein, wrapped in her black abaya, lists the contents of the family's walk-in storage closet: three 175-pound cases of rice, two 33-pound cases of cooking fat, six cases of canned tomatoes, three crates of assorted legumes, a one-month supply of drinking water, frozen chicken livers in the freezer. And in the garage, jerry cans filled with fuel are piled floor to ceiling.

Om Hussein, who was reluctant to give her full name, and her Shiite family are preparing for war. They've stocked up on food. They bought a Kalashnikov rifle and a second car -- so that there is space for all 13 members of their extended family should they need to flee in a hurry.

"We are afraid of what will happen in the coming days," she says. "Maybe there will be a monthlong curfew, or maybe fighting in the streets will force my family to stay in the house for days at a time."

In the past week, President Bush has tried to assure Americans that Iraq has stepped back from the brink of civil war. "Iraqis have shown the world they want a future of freedom and peace," he told the Foundation for Defense of Democracies on Monday.

Few Iraqis, however, share Bush's view that the crisis has been averted. They are readying themselves for the worst, fleeing likely flash points, stockpiling weapons and basic foodstuffs, barricading their neighborhoods, and drawing lines in the sand delineating Sunni and Shiite territory.

Since the golden dome of a revered Shiite shrine in Samarra was reduced to rubble last month, the country's long-simmering sectarian feud has flared into the open with unprecedented brutality.

In the wake of that attack, a series of sectarian reprisals has left hundreds of ordinary Iraqis dead and dozens of mosques ransacked. Daily execution-style killings and car bombings continue. On Sunday, multiple car bombs killed scores. The bodies of scores more, many bound and garroted, have been discovered around Baghdad since Monday. The capital's hospitals overflow with the wounded. Meanwhile, the country's politicians remain deadlocked in negotiations to form a government based on the outcome of elections more than three months ago.

A recent AP-Ipsos Poll found that an overwhelming majority of Americans think a civil war is likely in Iraq. Iraqis by and large share that assessment. The dozen Iraqis interviewed for this article, Sunnis and Shiites, have bleak expectations. Many are afraid and increasingly reluctant to see their names or their pictures in print.

"There is no security right now, and I don't expect things to get better," says Tahrir Aboud Karim, 25, an abstract painter who has laid down his brushes and taken up arms to defend his largely Sunni neighborhood against roving Shiite militias. "I'm an artist, so I have a sense of what people need. When things were peaceful in Iraq, the people were lacking beauty, so I painted. Now the people need security, so I have become a soldier."

Every evening, after sunset, Karim joins some 50 young men at checkpoints around the perimeter of the Al Jihad district in southwest Baghdad. Makeshift barricades of palm trunks, scavenged razor wire and rubble have turned this 1,500-home neighborhood into a quasi-fortress.

Karim and his band of armed neighborhood watchdogs have maintained an uneasy calm. Elsewhere, Shiites and Sunnis have become refugees in their own country, as they flee neighborhoods and outlying villages where they have found themselves members of a suddenly unwelcome minority.

On the other side of Baghdad, more than 50 Shiite families from nearby villages have turned the classrooms of the Al-Shahid Al-Jazairi elementary school in the Shiite neighborhood of Shoala into a refugee camp. They sleep on the school's cracked tile floors, atop dust-colored mattresses donated by neighbors, and cook with kerosene camping stoves.

Mohammed Hussein, a 32-year-old Shiite shopkeeper from the Sunni-dominated suburb of Abu Ghraib, near the infamous prison, has taken shelter here. The day after the bombing of the Shiite shrine in Samarra, he says, he found a notice pasted to the door of his women's clothing store in the Abu Ghraib market.

"We have information that you are engaged in suspicious activities and have cooperated with suspicious people," the notice read. "You have 48 hours to leave." It was signed by a group calling itself the Mujahedeen Brigades. Hussein collected his family and fled that same day.

"Now I don't have anything," he says. "I had to leave all the goods in the store, and all my furniture in my home. It's not safe to go back to get them."

At least 10 other Shiite families fled Abu Ghraib that same day, he says. Hussein, once content to live among Sunnis, is now vowing to fight his erstwhile neighbors. "I don't have the money to buy guns, but if they try to attack me again, I will fight even if I have to use stones," he says.

Such stories can be found on both sides of the Shiite-Sunni divide, as the respective sects consolidate their territory and expel potential enemies. Until last week, Abu Abdallah lived in Diwaniya, a largely Shiite provincial capital south of Baghdad. Abdallah, a Sunni, fled when Shiite militias loyal to anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr began attacking the city's Sunni residents.

"They raided our mosque, and killed or kidnapped many of the worshipers and guards," he says. "They started to raid our homes and kidnapped whole families at random."

The 36-year-old father of two fled Diwaniya with his family and the clothes on their backs. They moved in with relatives in the west Baghdad neighborhood of Baya. Once a mixed neighborhood, Baya is increasingly a Sunni-only domain.

"Anyone who says this war has a solution is wrong," says Abdallah, his family's recent ordeal etched in sunken, blood shot eyes. "This is truly a civil war now. There is only hatred, envy and a blood-thirst for revenge."

The migration to safer neighborhoods and provinces has upended property values across Iraq. Real estate prices in Baghdad have plummeted, while rents in onetime backwaters such as Nasiriya have skyrocketed. For many Shiites, that relatively calm southern city has become a sought-after haven from the sectarian bloodshed roiling Baghdad and central Iraq.

"You could buy a house in Nasiriya for $1,500 before the war," says Hussein Ali, a real estate broker in Baghdad. "That same house today is worth between $50,000 and $60,000 because now, especially after the Samarra bombings, people are desperate to live someplace safe."

Meanwhile, Iraqis are stockpiling arms, preparing to defend themselves in the event of a full-scale civil war. Arms dealers say that the supplies of guns for sale -- once as common as date trees and kebab stands -- have largely dried up.

"After the Samarra bombings, the demand for guns went way up, and the supply became very low," says a gun dealer in Baya, speaking anonymously out of fear for his safety.

Weapons prices have skyrocketed. A used Kalashnikov that sold for $100 before the Samarra bombing now sells for $150. The price for a 9mm Browning handgun has gone up from $800 to $1,200.

The hobbling arms dealer stands behind the counter of his gun repair shop polishing the barrel of a Russian-made Makarov pistol. His succinct appraisal of the Iraqi weapons market suggests what may lie ahead:

"This is not the time to sell guns, only to buy guns."

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Iraqis escape ruined country

By Firas Al-Atraqchi
16 March 2006

With the cold Mosul winter winds lashing against his reddened face, Kathim Raad* embraced his wife and promised they would meet again once he resettled in Jordan.

He took one last look at the family home where he had been brought up, his two sons shyly clutching to their mother's robes.

As the taxi drove southward to the border with Jordan, the civil engineer who wanted to pursue a musical career finally allowed himself to weep.

The US military was weeks away from launching Operation Iraqi Freedom, but Raad was not convinced that a post-invasion Iraq would herald an era of civil liberties and economic prosperity.

"I knew the whole country would descend into chaos," he said as we sipped traditional Iraqi tea in his Amman apartment last September.

"I refused to raise my family, my two sons, in the despair most of us knew was coming."
In the Jordanian capital, Raad, 38, played Beatles covers and jazz music in bars, hotels and at special functions to raise enough money to get his family out of Iraq.

A few weeks after Baghdad fell, his wife and two sons joined him in Amman and the family has since applied for refugee status in the US.

Youth leaving

Three years after the US-led invasion of Iraq, stories like Raad's are becoming increasingly common.

Tens of thousands of mostly young Iraqi professionals, artisans, musicians, college professors and doctors have left in search of security and stability abroad.

Zeyad Alwan*, 30, a medical professional in Baghdad, says the carnage in the city has convinced him he must leave by any means possible.

"I simply don't want to get killed by an illiterate, black-clad slum dweller, or a militiaman dressed in police uniform, or a young confused soldier from Texas, or a bearded fundamentalist from Yemen or Saudi Arabia," he said.

Alwan had wanted to leave before the 2003 invasion, citing a thirst for personal freedoms which he could not achieve under the government of Saddam Hussein and its suppression of political dissent.

"I have seen enough people kidnapped, shot at, and blown to pieces; and I have witnessed many friends, colleagues and family leaving the country. It's not the same country I used to live in. I don't know it anymore."

UN attack

For Omar Farouq, it was the attack on the United Nations compound in late August 2003 that spelled the end to his hopes of staying in Iraq.

A communications officer for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Baghdad, Farouq and his wife had planned to take a vacation in Lebanon for a few weeks before resuming work in the newly liberated country.

However, following the attack on the UN, violence escalated dramatically in Iraq and the international body pulled its foreign staff from the country.

"Things in Baghdad started to get more and more destructive. Prolonging our stay in Beirut ... we came to the decision that starting life over again in another country would be best for us," he said.

He finally settled in London.

Although the decision to leave Iraq has haunted him, he has no regrets, pointing to the declining state of leadership and management in the country.

Mismanagement, corruption

"Unfortunately because of the sectarian division ... the country is now in absolute chaos. I also don't believe that the country can be prosperous even with the reconstruction efforts of the local Iraqis because of the corruption and mismanagement of the country's funds."

Berlin-based Transparency International (TI), founded in 1993 to curb corruption in international transactions, warned in early 2005 that Iraqi reconstruction efforts were failing due to extensive corruption.

"If urgent steps are not taken, Iraq will not become the shining beacon of democracy envisioned by the Bush administration, it will become the biggest corruption scandal in history," the Global Corruption report of the non-profit, independent organisation found.

Farouq said he felt that Iraq was being "sucked dry" of its natural resources.

Trying to return

Then there are others who have bucked the trend and tried to enter Iraq rather than leave.

But for Leila Zaid*, a medical nuclear engineer, her hope of putting her expertise to good use in the war-torn country did not materialise.

"I design, repair and develop medical machines for treating and curing cancer patients," she told Aljazeera.net, explaining that her skills are very much in need in Iraq.

From her home in the Netherlands, where she has lived since the mid-1990s, she contacted officials at the Iraqi health ministry, hoping to contribute to the reconstruction effort.

After weeks of silence, she offered her services for free but was rebuffed.

After 18 months of trying to get Iraqi officials to listen to her, she says, she gave up and decided returning to Iraq would be too dangerous anyway.

She may have made the right choice.

Professionals targeted

The BRussells Tribunal, a committee of intellectuals and artists established in the tradition of the 1967 Vietnam War crimes Russell Tribunal, says hundreds of Iraqi professionals have been killed in Iraq since 2003.

"With thousands fleeing the country in fear for their lives, not only is Iraq undergoing a major brain drain, the secular middle class - which has refused to be co-opted by the US occupation - is being decimated, with far-reaching consequences for the future of Iraq," the tribunal says.

The tribunal's website has published the names and vocations of at least 130 scientists, doctors and academics killed in the past three years.

The Iraqi Association of University Lecturers says 300 Iraqi academics have been killed since 2003.

An education ministry tally says 100 academics have left the country since the beginning of the war.

Imad Khadduri, a former Iraqi nuclear scientist and physics professor residing in Canada, believes the brain drain has sealed the future of the country's education system.

"With no one left to train Iraqis to teach and instruct a new generation, any hope of reconstruction in the country is lost.

"This is a great, great danger to Iraq's future," he said.

Put on hold

Alwan believes efforts to rebuild the country may have to be put on hold for the time being.

"Some of us might have more to offer to Iraq in a safer environment. We are not meant to prosper in war zones. Perhaps there will be a time when we can all return and help heal Iraq's wounds. Now is not that time."

Farouq has a more pessimistic outlook, saying he and his wife miss Baghdad as well as the family and friends left behind, but he would never consider returning.

"I lived through the Iraq-Iran war along with the two Gulf wars. I witnessed 13 years of crushing economic sanctions affecting everyone around me. But what's happening in Iraq now has, by far, surpassed that."

* Some of those interviewed requested their real names not be published for fear of reprisals against family members in Iraq

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Electricity Hits Three-Year Low in Iraq

Associated Press Writers
15 Mar 06

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Electricity output has dipped to its lowest point in three years in Iraq, where the desert sun is rising toward another broiling summer and U.S. engineers are winding down their rebuilding of the crippled power grid.

The Iraqis, in fact, may have to turn to neighboring Iran to help bail them out of their energy crisis - if not this summer, then in years to come.
The overstressed network is producing less than half the electricity needed to meet Iraq's exploding demand. American experts are working hard to shore up the system's weaknesses as 100-degree-plus temperatures approach beginning as early as May, driving up usage of air conditioning, electric fans and refrigeration.

If the summer is unusually hot, however, ''all bets are off,'' said Lt. Col. Otto Busher, an engineer with the U.S. Army's 4th Infantry Division.

''We're living miserably,'' said housewife Su'ad Hassan, a mother of four and one of millions in Baghdad who have endured three years of mostly powerless days under U.S. occupation. Her family usually goes without hot water and machine washing, she said, and ''often my children have to do their homework in the dim light of oil lamps.''

Despite such hardships, Army Corps of Engineers officers regard their Restore Iraq Electricity project as one of the great feats in corps history, along with the building of the Panama Canal a century ago.

Their efforts and related programs, at a three-year cost of more than $4 billion and tens of thousands of man-hours, built or rehabilitated electric-generating capacity totaling just over 2,000 megawatts - equaling the output of America's Hoover Dam.

''It's not a disappointment, not in my opinion. We've added megawatts to the grid,'' said Kathye Johnson, reconstruction chief for the joint U.S. military-civilian project office in Baghdad.

For one thing, deprived areas outside the Iraqi capital are doing better, with a nationwide average of 10 to 11 hours of electricity daily, compared with three to five hours in Baghdad. That represents a reshuffling of priorities from prewar days, when the Baathist government diverted flows from northern and southern power plants to this central metropolis.

Although the U.S. effort helped boost Iraq's potential generating capacity to more than 7,000 megawatts, available capacity has never topped 5,400, held down by plant breakdowns and shutdowns for maintenance, fuel shortages and transmission disruptions caused by insurgent attacks, inefficient production, sabotage by extortionists, and other factors.

In the first week of February, a busy maintenance period, output dropped to 3,750 megawatts, reports the joint U.S. agency, the Gulf Region Division-Project Contracting Office. That's a new low since the period immediately after the 2003 U.S. invasion.

Now the U.S. reconstruction money is running out, the last generating project is undergoing startup testing in southern Iraq, and the Americans view 2006 as a year of transition to full Iraqi responsibility, aided by a U.S. budget for ''sustainability,'' including training and advisory services.

Even that long-term support may fall short, however. The reconstruction agency allotted $460 million for this purpose, but in a report to Congress on Jan. 30 the special inspector-general for Iraq reconstruction estimated $720 million would be needed.

The decline of Iraq's electrical system can be traced back at least to the 1991 Gulf War, when U.S. warplanes targeted the grid. The government rebuilt the system to produce 4,400 megawatts, still short of demand. But damage from the 2003 invasion - and particularly from looting that followed - knocked production down to 3,200 megawatts and wrecked transmission lines.

The Army engineers who rolled into Iraq in 2003 found power plants barely operating, lacking spare parts and suffering from years of neglect brought on by U.N. trade sanctions. They brought in contractors to upgrade installations, but the looting and sabotage went on. Insurgents attacked fuel pipelines. Other Iraqis toppled transmission towers to keep power in their own cities and away from Baghdad.

To battle the insurgency, U.S. authorities shifted more than $1 billion from power projects to security spending. Having planned to add or rehabilitate 3,400 megawatts' worth of power production, they settled instead for 2,000. The lack of security also slowed work: Fewer than half the 350 local power-distribution projects planned by the Americans had begun as of early this year, the inspector-general reported Jan. 30.

''It's problems, rather than mistakes,'' said Mohamoud al-Saadi, an Iraqi Electricity Ministry official, citing the sabotage and insurgency.

But some believe the Americans also made a critical mistake by installing gas-turbine generators rather than building or overhauling more of the oil-fueled, steam-run plants.

Iraq doesn't have pipelines to deliver natural gas from its oil fields, so plant operators resort to low-grade oil to run the gas-combustion engines, reducing power output by up to 50 percent and potentially damaging the machinery.

''Turbines don't run well on that, and that forces us into a maintenance cycle,'' said Tom Waters, deputy director for electricity in the U.S. reconstruction office.

Meanwhile, demand kept rising as Iraqis bought imported air conditioners, washer-driers, DVD players and other power-hungry appliances. To help fill the gap, households or neighborhood groups are buying diesel-run generators, stringing dangerous makeshift wiring around their homes.

Demand, almost 9,000 megawatts last summer, is expected to rise sharply this year, and the Army engineers responsible for Baghdad are worried.

''We're about 4,000 megawatts in the hole nationwide to meet our needs,'' Maj. Al Moff, 4th Infantry Division electricity specialist, noted at a recent internal briefing for division officers.

He said the system risked losing 300 megawatts more in hydroelectric power because the Tigris River was running extremely low. But a recent agreement by Turkey to release more upriver water appears to have lifted that threat.

One solution could be power from Iran: one Iraqi proposal is for a transmission line to import much more than the 100 megawatts of Iranian power Iraq now buys.

The U.S. Embassy won't talk about it, in view of Washington's animosity toward Tehran over its nuclear ambitions. But the reconstruction office's Waters said one of the U.S.-financed Iraqi substations under construction could handle more Iranian power.

''Completing an Iran transmission line could give them up to 1,500 megawatts,'' said Army engineer Moff.

The Iranian Embassy says Tehran has earmarked $1 billion in loans for Iraqi infrastructure, mostly for electrical power, the Iranian news agency reports.

Even if a major Iran linkup is built, however, other projects may stay in the blueprint stage unless more aid is forthcoming from Washington or other donors.

''We have a lot of unfinished projects because of a lack of government funding,'' said the Electricity Ministry's al-Saadi.

Reconstruction chief Johnson agrees with Iraq's five-year cost estimate. ''It's probably in the range of $16 to $20 billion to complete the infrastructure to provide 24/7 sustainable power to all the citizens of Iraq,'' she said.

In the long term, Johnson said, it's essential for Iraq to open its power industry to private investment. That would mean making it profitable by following the advice of the World Bank and others to raise rates; Iraqis now pay 50 cents to a dollar a month.

Can people afford more?

Hassan's family already cannot afford fuel for its small generator. ''Most of the time we can't use it,'' the Baghdad housewife said.

Whether she and others can afford higher rates, a classic ''chicken and egg'' problem confronts energy-short Iraq, said Moff.

''Before you can raise rates,'' he pointed out, ''you have to have power.''

© Guardian Newspapers Limited 2006

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Video Purports To Show Iraqi Children Playing With Body Of U.S. Soldier

15 Mar 06

The children climb down into the crater left by an explosion and start picking up scraps of twisted metal. "Allah is great!" they shout before the camera hones in to show what one boy is holding: torn fabric, the colour of the camouflage fatigues worn by US troops. The next scene shows the same children holding aloft a human leg, shreds of the same camouflage fabric hang from it and the foot is clad in a military-style boot. The children trample the leg and kick it around in the dust.
"Today the Americans came to these parts and the buried bomb blew up their Hummer vehicle," says a teenage boy, adding, "if Allah wants it, the mujahadeen will win."

This grisly footage, purportedly shot in the Iraqi city of Ramadi, has appeared in the form of a three-minute video on the Internet. It marks the latest attempt by Jihadist militants to exploit children for propaganda purposes.

Last week Adnkronos International (AKI) obtained a copy of another video shot in Ramadi. On that occasion the action shown took place in the apparently placid setting of a school classroom.

Still, sinister references to the carnage that blights Iraq on a daily basis soon became evident. The pupils were being taught to sing Jihad songs by hooded militants who rewarded their efforts with pens, rulers and erasers. The video concluded with images of two small boys, clad in black tunics and wearing black ski masks and one holding a pistol in his tiny hand.

Unlike the professionally shot video of the schoolchildren posted on the Internet by the Ansar al-Sunna group, part of the terror galaxy of al-Qaeda linked Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the latest crudely filmed footage bears no indication on who its authors might be.

But the sudden appearance of children protagonists in the videos, indicates that the Jihadist militant groups have no intention of sparing the young from the horrors of the fighting. It also shows the extent of the militants' control in the restive al-Anbar province, were Ramadi is located.

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Terrorists or Resistance Fighters: America's Dilemma in Iraq

By Gerald Rellick
16 Mar 06

"Hitler's decisions had ceased to have anything in common with the principles of strategy and operations as they were recognized for generations past. They were the product of a violent nature following its impulses, which recognized no limits to possibility and which made its wish-dreams the father of its acts."--Gen. Franz Halder, Chief of the German General Staff, 1944

In his latest book, "Hegemony or Survival," Noam Chomsky raises provocative questions about America's role in the world, and not just in our current crisis in the reign of Bush II. Ever since World War II America has assumed the role of the world's super power, particularly so after the fall of the Soviet Union.

One critical question he raises is the difference between terrorism and resistance.
During World War II, after German occupation of Europe was complete, there arose underground resistance movements. Prominent among these were the French and the Norwegians. When I was in high school in the 1950's I was a World War II buff. After all, the war was not long over and many men in our small community, including my father and his three brothers all fought in WWII.

Many have disparaged the French resistance as too few in number and ineffectual. But while in high school I recall reading a story of a husband and wife in the French resistance. One day they were in a café when the Gestapo stormed in, guns drawn, and advanced toward their table. The husband pulled out his pistol, shot his wife in the head and then killed himself. They knew the end was at hand and that before death there would be torture. It took incredible courage to do that. That was 40 years ago and I have never forgotten that story. When your homeland is occupied by foreign troops, extraordinary courage seems to come naturally.

Norway had its own style. Although Norway had professed neutrality, the country was critical to the German Navy with its thousand miles of coast line. With Norway in their control, Germany could launch its submarine wolf pack into the Atlantic at will. So, in April 1940 the Germans invaded Norway. But the Norwegians gave the Germans a bit of surprise. They fought bitterly and the Germans took heavy casualties, although Germany's superior numbers won out in the end. But the Norwegians never gave up. They established an extremely effective underground, and throughout the war were able to relay to Allied forces submarine movements, the results of which were critical to the British Navy. Once again, when your homeland is occupied by foreign troops, destroying all you have lived and fought for, extraordinary courage is not so extraordinary after all.

Anther story I recall vividly from those same high school days was that of the Norwegian resistance discovering a traitor amongst them, a man who had given over names of the resistance to the Nazis. He was confronted by the resistance in his home with his family. They tied him to a chair and then summarily executed his wife and three children in front of his eyes, and he was allowed to go free, to live whatever life was possible for him.

So, what defines terrorism? Was this terrorism? Or was it resistance against an occupying force?

This episode echoed the thinking of the French anarchist, Emile Henri, discussed recently by Alexander Cockburn:

"Asked at his trial in 1894 why he had killed some many innocent people…Henri explained to the court that anarchism 'is born in the heart of a corrupt society which is falling to pieces; it is a violent reaction against the established order. It represents egalitarian and libertarian aspirations which are battering down existing authority; it is everywhere, which makes it impossible to capture.' So, said Henri as he faced the guillotine, "il n'y a pas d'innocents". "There are no innocents," at least among the privileged classes."

And to add one more note to this saga, let me cite a recent article by former Sen. Gary Hart in the Boston Globe. Hart writes that, "In 1812, Napoleon Bonaparte invaded Russia and…marched on and occupied Moscow. Napoleon and his generals took over the palaces of the court princes and great houses of the mighty boyars."

"Sadly for Napoleon, the Russians had different plans for their nation. Within days after abandoning their city to the French army, they torched their own palaces, homes, enterprises, and cathedrals. They burned Moscow down around Napoleon. Denied his last great triumph, the disappointed emperor abandoned Moscow and started home. Along the way, he lost the world's most powerful army."

The lesson of history is to never underestimate the occupied and oppressed. And the second lesson is you can't win against the occupied. You don't have the same will. They will die for their cause. Consider our own revolutionary soldiers, a rag-tag bunch at best, up against a well trained and disciplined British Army. But through sheer tenacity, determination and courage, the British were defeated and finally gave in. They realized this war would go on forever, no matter how many troops they sent to the colonies. American courage and determination to be free was endless, stopless. This is how history plays out.

So, now when we look at Iraq, we see the same thing. Even with the ethnic strife and potential for civil war, Iraqis want their country back from the U.S. occupiers. In fact the civil strife has worsened to the point that U.S. military commanders are ordering their troops to stay in their barracks as much as possible. So, one asks, why are our troops there if they are only hiding out in their barracks? What exactly is their mission now?

The sickening answer is they are to save George Bush's "reputation."

The average Army soldier or Marine in Iraq probably has a pretty decent life at home. Most likely he is close to his mother and father and is probably married with children, and has a good job in the U.S. He found the military to be both an adventure and an opportunity for growth and a chance to honor his country in military service, just as those who fought in WWII in the Pacific islands of Guadalcanal, Tarawa, Saipan. He might recall the bloody beaches of Normandy, where the 2nd U.S. Ranger battalion had the unenviable job of scaling up the cliffs of Pointe du Hoc, with German troops firing down on them. Casualties were heavy. At the end of the 2-days action, the landing force of 225+ was reduced to about 90 men who could still fight.

But there was purpose to their mission. They fought to destroy Nazism and Japanese Imperialism. But today our troops in Iraq fight for no honorable cause, and it is not their fault. They are soldiers. They take their orders. But one has to wonder about the big guns, General Abizaid and General Casey. They have shown no courage or commitment to their troops. They have proven be stooges of Donald Rumsfeld. When the history of this war is written, the U.S. military command will be seen as weak and compliant, unwilling and unable to defend America against a rogue president -- nothing more than toy soldiers kissing ass to get ahead. The lesson is that courage is not to be found in the military.

But now after three years, and the recognition that the war was a fraud, theses brave soldiers in Iraq know the difference: 70- 75% of them want the war to end and want to come home to their families rather than fight George Bush's personal war. This is not what they signed up for. They signed an oath to defend and protect the United States. After three years it has become clear to them that this is not the goal in Iraq. Good, decent American soldiers have become the oppressors, destroying much of Iraq's infra- structure, where water, food and medicine are hard to come by, and electric power in Baghdad is available only 20% of the day.

It is time to admit defeat in Iraq as has concluded ultra- conservative William F. Buckley recently in an article in the National Review. Writes Buckley:

"One can't doubt that the American objective in Iraq has failed… Our mission has failed because Iraqi animosities have proved uncontainable by an invading army of 130,000 Americans. The great human reserves that call for civil life haven't proved strong enough. No doubt they are latently there, but they have not been able to contend against the ice men who move about in the shadows with bombs and grenades and pistols."

Buckley concludes, "…different plans have to be made. And the kernel here is the acknowledgment of defeat."

Gerald S. Rellick, Ph.D., worked in aerospace industry for 22 years. He now teaches in the California Community College system. He can be reached at grellick@hotmail.com

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Flashback: The Salvador option - US Led Assassination Squads

By Scott Ritter

According to press accounts, the Pentagon is considering the organisation, training and equipping of so-called death squads, teams of Iraqi assassins who would be used to infiltrate and eliminate the leadership of the Iraqi resistance.

Called the Salvador Option, in reference to similar US-backed death squads that terrorised the population of El Salvador during the 1980s, the proposed plan actually has as its roots the Phoenix assassination programme undertaken during the Vietnam war, where American-led assassins killed thousands of known or suspected Vietcong collaborators.
The highly vaunted US military machine, laurelled and praised for its historic march on Baghdad in March and April of 2003, today finds itself a broken force, on the defensive in a land that it may occupy in part, but does not control.

The all-out offensive to break the back of the resistance in Falluja has failed, leaving a city destroyed by American firepower, and still very much in the grips of the anti-American fighters.

The same is true of Mosul, Samarra, or any other location where the US military has undertaken "decisive" action against the fighters, only to find that, within days, the fighting has returned, stronger than ever.

And yet, it now appears as if the United States, in an effort to take the offensive against the fighters in Iraq, is prepared to compound its past mistakes in Iraq by embarking on a new course of action derived from some of the darkest, and most embarrassing moments of America's modern history.

According to press accounts, the Pentagon is considering the organisation, training and equipping of so-called death squads, teams of Iraqi assassins who would be used to infiltrate and eliminate the leadership of the Iraqi resistance.

Called the Salvador Option, in reference to similar US-backed death squads that terrorised the population of El Salvador during the 1980s, the proposed plan actually has as its roots the Phoenix assassination programme undertaken during the Vietnam war, where American-led assassins killed thousands of known or suspected Vietcong collaborators.

Perhaps it is a sign of the desperation felt inside the Pentagon, or an underscoring of the ideological perversity of those in charge, that the US military would draw upon the failed programmes of the past to resolve an insoluble problem of today.

The Salvador Option would not be the first embrace of assassination as a tool of occupation undertaken by the United States in Iraq.

In the months following Paul Bremer's taking over of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) in June 2003, the streets of Baghdad crawled with scores of assassination squads.

Among the more effective and brutal of these units were those drawn from the Badr Brigade, the armed militia of the Shia political party known as the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, or SCIRI.

Although not publicly acknowledged, the role played by the various anti-Saddam militias in confronting the residual elements of Saddam's former ruling Baath Party offered a glimpse into what was, and is, an unspoken element of the US policy regarding de-Baathification - let the Iraqis do the dirty work.

SCIRI's efforts to exterminate Baath Party remnants still loyal to Saddam Hussein, or who stand accused of committing crimes against SCIRI or its sympathisers, attracted the attention of the "black" side of the CPA-run de-Baathification efforts – covert operations run by the CIA and elite Special Operations units of the United States military.

Of all the various players in this deadly game, the Badr militia stood out as the most willing and able to take the fight to the Baathist holdouts.

Tipped off by the CPA's covert operatives, the Badr assassination squads killed dozens of Baathists in and around Baghdad.

But the assassination of former Baathists did nothing to pacify Iraq.

The ongoing resistance to the American occupation of Iraq was not founded in the formal structure of the Baath Party, but rather the complex mixture of tribal and religious motivations which had, since 1995, been blended into the secretive cell structure of the Baath Party.

While the Americans and their SCIRI allies focused on bringing to heel former Baathists, the resistance morphed into a genuine grassroots national liberation movement where strategic planning may very well be the product of former Baathists, but the day-to-day tactical decisions are more likely to be made by tribal shaikhs and local clerics.

The increasing success of the resistance was attributed in part to the failure of the CPA-ordered de-Baathification policy.

In an effort to reverse this trend, Bremer rescinded his de-Baathification programme, and ordered the Badr assassination squads to stand down.

This change of policy direction could not change the reality on the ground in Iraq, however.

The Sunni-based resistance, having been targeted by the Badr assassins, struck back with a vengeance.

In a campaign of targeted assassinations using car bombs and ambushes, the resistance has engaged in its own campaign of terror against the Shia, viewed by the Sunni fighters as being little more than collaborators of the American occupation.

Having started the game of politically motivated assassination, the US has once again found itself trumped by forces inside Iraq it does not understand, and as such will never be able to defeat.

The Salvador Option fails on a number of levels. First and foremost is the moral and ethical one.

While it is difficult at times to understand and comprehend, let alone justify, the tactics used by the Iraqi resistance, history has shown that the tools of remote ambush, instead of a direct assassination, have always been used by freedom fighters when confronting an illegitimate foreign occupier who possesses overwhelming conventional military superiority.

As such, history celebrates the resistance of the French and the Russians when occupied by the Germans during the second world war, the Chinese resistance to Japanese occupation during that same time, or even the decades-long national liberation movement in Vietnam which defeated not only the French and the Americans, but also the illegitimate government these two occupiers attempted to impose on the people of South Vietnam.

History, on the other hand, treats harshly the occupying power which resorts to the use of the tools of terror to subdue an occupied people.

Thus, while it is fine for a French resistance fighter to blow up a German troop train, it is not acceptable for the Germans to burn a French village in retaliation.

History will eventually depict as legitimate the efforts of the Iraqi resistance to destabilise and defeat the American occupation forces and their imposed Iraqi collaborationist government.

And history will condemn the immorality of the American occupation, which has debased the values and ideals of the American people by legitimising torture, rape and murder as a means of furthering an illegal war of aggression.

Ethics aside, the Salvador Option will fail simply because it cannot succeed. In an effort to confront a Sunni-based resistance, the Pentagon proposes that special assassination squads be recruited from the ranks of "loyal" Kurds and Shia.

In the 30 years of Saddam's rule, the Baathist government and its security organs were very successful in infiltrating the ranks of Kurdish and Shia opposition movements.

The Shia and Kurds, on the other hand, have no history of being able to do the same to the Sunni. If anything has emerged as the undisputable truth in post-invasion Iraq, it is that the Iraqi resistance knows Iraq infinitely better than the American occupiers.

If implemented, the Salvador Option will serve as the impetus for all-out civil war. In the same manner that the CPA-backed assassination of Baathists prompted the restructuring and strengthening of the Sunni-led resistance, any effort by US-backed Kurdish and Shia assassination teams to target Sunni resistance leaders will remove all impediments for a general outbreak of ethnic and religious warfare in Iraq.

It is hard as an American to support the failure of American military operations in Iraq. Such failure will bring with it the death and wounding of many American service members, and many more Iraqis.

As an American, I have hoped that there was a way for America to emerge victorious in Iraq, with our national security and honour intact, and Iraq itself a better nation than the one we "liberated". But it is far too late for this to happen.

We not only invaded Iraq on false pretences, but we perverted the notion of liberation by removing Saddam and his cronies from his palaces, replacing them with American occupiers who have not only kept open Saddam's most notorious prisons, but also the practice of torture, rape and abuse we were supposed to be bringing to an end.

Faced with our inability to come to grips with a popular-based resistance that has grown exponentially over the past year, the best the American policy planners can come up with is to embrace our own form of terrorism, supporting death squads we cannot control and which will only further debase the moral foundation of our nation while slaughtering even more Iraqis.

As an American, I hope and pray that common sense and basic morality prevail in Washington DC, terminating the Salvador Option before it gets off the ground. Failing that, I hope that the programme of US-backed death squads is defeated. That is the most pro-American sentiment I can muster, given the situation as it currently stands.

Scott Ritter was a senior UN arms inspector in Iraq between 1991 and 1998. He is now an independent consultant.

Copyright: Aljazeera

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Iraqi PM offers to step down

March 16, 2006

Iraq's Shia prime minister, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, said today he was willing to withdraw his nomination to stay in the job if this was what his people wanted.

He made the comments at a news conference shortly after Iraq's parliament met for the first time since the landmark national elections three months ago. Mr Jaafari is under growing pressure from Sunnis, Kurds, some Shias and some secular politicians to step down and parliament opened today with political factions still deadlocked over the make-up of a new government.
The parliament session, at the national assembly inside the heavily fortified Green Zone in Baghdad, lasted just 30 minutes, as members were sworn in.

The members stood together and pledged to "preserve the independence and the sovereignty of Iraq and to take care of the interests of its people".

The session was then adjourned because there is still no agreement on a permanent speaker for the assembly or deputy speakers.

Under the constitution, the largest parliamentary bloc, controlled by Shias, has the right to nominate the prime minister. The Shias have nominated Mr Jaafari.

But politicians involved in negotiations to form a new government have said part of the Shia bloc, those aligned with Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, would like to see Mr Jaafari ousted. Those seeking Mr Jaafari's removal, however, fear the consequences of such a move, given his backing from the radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who controls a thousands-strong militia, the Mahdi army.

Sunnis, Kurdish and some secular Shias argue Mr Jaafari is too divisive and accuse him of doing too little to contain revenge killings after Sunni insurgents destroyed the sacred al-Askari shrine in Samarra last month. The bombing and subsequent killings have increased fears of civil war.

Today, Mr Jaafari told a news conference: "If my people ask me to step aside I will do this," Reuters reported.

Reporters were unsure if he was referring to the people of Iraq or those in his own Shia party.

The US ambassador, Zalmay Khalilzad, has been brokering talks between the various factions to try to establish a national unity government. Mr Khalilzad has been pressing political leaders to reach an agreement under which the country's majority Shia Muslims would share cabinet posts equitably with minority Sunnis and Kurds.

Washington sees this arrangement as the best opportunity for blunting the Sunni-driven insurgency that has ravaged the country since 2003. If a strong central government were in place, the Bush administration had hoped to start removing some troops by summer.

As parliament opened today, vehicles were banned from Baghdad's streets to prevent car bombings.

A pianist played as representatives of the country's main ethnic and religious blocs - many in traditional Arab and Kurdish dress - filed into the conference centre where the assembly is based. The session opened half an hour late with a reading from the Qur'an.

Meanwhile today, almost 2,000 Kurdish demonstrators went on a rampage in the northern city of Halabja on the 18th anniversary of the poison gas attack by Saddam Hussein's army that killed 5,000 residents.

Police fired live ammunition into the air, wounding at least six people, in a bid to stop the rioting by residents, angry over what they see as the regional government's failure to rebuild the area.

The demonstrators marched through the streets, chanting "down, down with the government".

Early today in Baghdad, police reported the discovery of 27 more bodies discarded in various parts of the city overnight.

A wave of sectarian killing has swept the capital and other cities since the Samarra bombing.

The victims were all men, some with their hands bound, who had been shot execution-style and dumped in both Shia and Sunni Muslim neighbourhoods, an interior ministry official said.

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U-S to send more troops into Iraq

Associated Press
17 Mar 06

WASHINGTON Military officials say about 700 more American soldiers are heading into Iraq to provide extra security during a religious holiday.
Three officers confirm the move. The force augmentation comes amid a spike in religious violence.

The armored unit may spend as little as 30 days in Iraq. The move contrasts with the Bush administration's stated goal of substantially cutting U-S forces in Iraq this year.

One officer says the First Armored Division battalion is expected to move in within the next few days.

Copyright 2006 Associated Press.

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Accepting Reality: America Lost the War in Iraq

By Remi Kanazi
Information Clearing House
15 Mar 06

America has lost the war in Iraq. The chance for victory vanished long ago with the hearts, minds, arms, legs and lives of the Iraqi people. The insurgence hasn't won; rather the American government never obtained the formula to win. America, led by war-bent hawks (Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz) entered this war with many interests. Among them, the control of a major supply of Mideast oil, military bases, reconstruction contracts for cronies (i.e. Halliburton and Bechtel), a new ally/puppet in the region, securing Israeli dominance, showcasing new products for the arms community, and the greater concept of making Baghdad a haven for US corporate expansion (thereby planting a McDonalds and Starbucks on every street corner).

In this excess of interests, the US neglected a major factor in the equation-the Iraqi people. Every time another suicide bomber enters the marketplace, Iraqis are reminded of the utter failure and incompetence of the US government. Nonetheless, those war-bent hawks couldn't pass up the idea of a cheap war coupled with a swift victory. What they didn't realize (or refused to listen to) was that after decades of heartbreak and struggle under Saddam Hussein, the last thing Iraqis needed was to get "liberated" for an era of struggle under US occupation.
The Iraqi people know what to expect from occupation. They remember the 1982 Israeli siege of Beirut, the 22 year Israeli occupation of Southern Lebanon, and the 38 years of oppression that continues to plague the lives of Palestinians. Iraqis also witnessed the US bombing campaign of 1991, the reneged US support of a postwar Shia uprising, and the sanctions that left Iraqi women and children forgotten. While the West mainly erases these events from their minds, the people of the Middle East, and more specifically Iraqis, must endure the consequences of these events.

If the Bush administration interviewed my father, a 59 year old, Christian Republican Arab doctor living in the US, they would have realized, "Arabs don't like to be occupied." Arabs-be it Sunni, Shia, Coptic, Orthodox or Maronite-don't want to be invaded by a Western force capable of bombing Baghdad to oblivion. Nevertheless, many Muslim and Christian Arabs in the Middle East send their children to Western schooling and profoundly appreciate Western Culture. As James Zogby-president of the Arab American Institute-pointed out on CNN, Americans can see the integration of US based multinational food chains and stores in Saudi Arabia. More than 70 McDonalds and 32 Pizza Huts spread across the country, while a 69,000 sq ft Chuck E. Cheese opened in Jeddah in 2001, with bumper cars, a bowling alley and a new ice rink. There is thirst for American culture within Saudi society, without the aggression and ramifications of US foreign policy.

Where America Went Wrong

US President George Bush and his administration thought they could have it both ways; fulfilling their interests while containing the resistance in Iraq. But "winning the hearts and minds of Iraqis" proved to be unprofitable in postwar Iraq. Consequently, the Bush administration didn't center on reconstruction and ensuring the stability of Iraqi society. It is not enough to say that the US forces "liberated" Iraq. For example, after the fall of Saddam, many Iraqis supported the American presence, but when the deterioration of living conditions set in and security declined, the support for the American presence faltered. The Institute for Foreign Policy (IPS) documented that 48 suicide attacks a month occurred in 2004 compared with 20 suicide attacks in 2003. By the same token, the Baghdad morgue is on pace to record more deaths attributed to unnatural causes this year than in 2004.

In August of 2003 a poll conducted by Zogby International and American Enterprise showed that nearly two thirds of the Iraqis wanted US troops to stay for at least another year. Just seven months later a poll administered by USA Today/CNN/Gallup revealed that only one third of Iraqis believed the American presence was doing more harm than good and 57 percent wanted an immediate pullout.

Governmental corruption, lack of electricity, high unemployment, and rising poverty diminishes the prospect for stability in Iraq. Veteran journalist Patrick Cockburn asserted that one billion dollars was "plundered from the Iraq's defense ministry." He also noted that during the interim Iraqi government's rule in 2004, as much as 2 billion dollars may have gone missing from their ministries. The US appointed the interim government.

According to the BBC on March 16, 2005, Transparency International stated in its Global Corruption Report 2005 that foreign contractors should abide by anti-corruption laws and that the revenues streaming in from Iraq oil "needed to be much more transparent and accountable." The BBC continued with a quote from Transparency International's chairman Peter Eigen, "Corruption doesn't just line the pockets of political and business elites, it leaves ordinary people without essential services and deprives them of access to sanitation and housing," In the BBC article, Transparency International directly criticized the US for awarding companies contracts in a process that was "secretive and favoured a small number of firms." As this corruption became more commonplace, the resistance towards the occupation surged.

Instead of starting a massive campaign to empower and employ the Iraqi people, the Bush administration protected US corporate interests, including close administration allies such as Halliburton and Bechtel. Figures of unemployment in Iraq reach as high as 60 percent. If the US heavily integrated Iraqi companies and workers from the outset, the reconstruction process would have stimulated the Iraqi economy. According to IPS, nearly 60 percent of Iraqis rely on food handouts. The average Iraqi income in 2004 was 800 dollars compared with 3000 dollars in the 1980s. In the 1990s, the UN sanctions severely weakened the Iraqi economy only to then have the US invasion exacerbate the dilemma.

The US Forces are Part of the Problem

The US troops created an environment of tension and animosity. The infrastructural destruction and casualties of the US invasion are compounded by mass arrests for indefinite periods of time without charge, widespread claims of torture, the mishandling of civilians in house raids, shootings at checkpoints, and the confirmed use of chemical weapons on insurgents and civilians in Fallujah.

Incidents such as the torture at Abu Ghraib, the killing of an unarmed "fighter" in Fallujah (as was filmed on camera last year) and claims that American forces bombed weddings cripple the support for American forces.

In the 2004 siege of Fallujah-aptly titled "shake and bake"-the US military used phosphorous bombs against insurgents. The military originally claimed the bombs were used to "illuminate the battlefield." A defense website, GlobalSecurity.org, contends white phosphorus can burn "to the bone." The BBC reported that white phosphorous "ignites on contact," and "burns until deprived of oxygen." The result of this Saddam style attack trumps the scandal of Abu Ghraib and other highly scrutinized actions by US forces. American forces using the same procedures as Iraq's former dictator may cause increased support for attacks against Americans, higher recruitment for foreign fighters seeping across the borders, and international condemnation.

The condition of the checkpoint system poses a serious threat to the daily travelers in Iraq. On June 17 2005, Human Rights Watch (HRW) and The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) wrote an open letter to U.S. Secretary of Defense Donal Rumsfeld, "Checkpoint shootings have sparked outrage among Iraqi citizens, undermining public confidence in the U.S. military." The two groups claim the procedures of the American Forces are insufficient and "endanger civilians, including journalists, as well as U.S. service members."

Mass arrests continue to cause deep concern for Iraqi families and the rule of law. Author Aaron Glantz documented a troubling account in his book, How America Lost Iraq. In the village of Abu Siffa, the townspeople alleged that coalition forces arrested 83 Iraqi men and boys. One of the townspeople said that three of the detained were under the age of sixteen, and fourteen were over the age of sixty, while three men were lawyers and ten were secondary school teachers. A fifteen year old boy, arrested and released, said that the detainees were not charged, not given a lawyer, and allowed no visitors. When Glantz interviewed the boy, only one other detainee had been released. According to Glantz, Colonel Nate Sassaman "indicated that the raids and detentions were necessary for 'national security.' But after two months, U.S. forces admitted that the detainees were only guilty by association because they lived in the same village as the Ba'ath official." Glantz asked a schoolteacher, Nasser Jassem Hussein, if he was a member of the Ba'ath Party, "Of course…We're all members of the Ba'ath Party here, but that doesn't mean involved in the resistance." While the detainees were only "guilty by association," only one more person had been released after the two months, leaving eighty detainees in US custody. Similar accounts have been frequently covered in the international press.

The Iraqi Ministry of Human Rights revealed in an October 2005 report that occupation forces held about 11,500 of the nearly 24,000 detainees. The report stated, "There is an urgent need to provide remedy to lengthy internment for reasons of security without adequate judicial oversight."

In November of 2005, new allegations were made that US forces tortured two Iraqi prisoners. According to the Washington Post, two Iraqi men claim that "U.S. troops put them in a cage with lions, pretended to execute them in a firing line and humiliated them during interrogations at multiple detention facilities." The Post quoted White House Spokesman Bryan Whitman's response, "this is a legal matter, it will be handled as such, but it should not surprise anyone that detainees would make false allegations against their captors." Nonetheless, Iraqis are more inclined to reject the administration's questioning of events after the abuses of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo.
Damning Effects of Troop Presence
Aaron Glantz's wrote, "When you are a soldier in a war zone and you see a young boy standing in your peripheral vision, you don't have time to notice whether he's armed. You just shoot." This dilemma illuminates the problem of the US presence. Securing and "liberating" a state is quite impossible, if "young boys" around you get thrown in with the "enemy." Collateral damage is a term for militaries, not civilians trying to survive. Appropriately, Iraqis don't react with a "take the good with the bad" attitude to collateral damage.

In Patrick Cockburn's article, The War So Far: Worse Than Vietnam, explains the "unraveling" of the occupation:

Many innocent farmers were being shot dead….Ever since Saddam Hussein closed the banks in 1990….Iraqis kept their money at home in hundred dollar bills…Farmers feared robbers and were usually armed. When a U.S. soldier knocked at the door of a house in the middle of the night and saw an armed Iraqi in front of him he would open fire.

Furthermore, these incidents are underreported in the West as they fall into the category of "collateral damage."

Cockburn continues, "Ordinary U.S. soldiers can shoot any Iraqi by whom they feel threatened without fear of consequences. With suicide bombers on the loose, the soldiers feel threatened all the time."

Sidestepping Humanity

Breaches in US ratified international treaties further exemplify the lost strategy of the US government and its ability to protect and "liberate" the nation of Iraq. Eric Seidman interviewed Patrick Resta, the New England organizer for Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW), who stated, "Our supervisor told my platoon that 'the Geneva Conventions don't exist in Iraq and that's in writing if any of you want to see it.'" Resta said that his commander didn't create the idea, instead it was "policy put in place." The IVAW organizer also said that they [the medics] were not allowed to tend to Iraqi civilians unless they were on the brink of death. Instead the civilians were expected to use their own hospitals, which in his area offer "only one type of antibiotic, no glass in the windows, little if any functioning diagnostic equipment, [and] reused surgical instruments without proper sterilization." The US government ratified all four Geneva Conventions and all four apply to US forces in Iraq. Specifically, articles three and four address the issue of humane treatment of prisoners during war and treatment of civilians in a war zone.

The Iraqi Media

Satellite TV gives many Iraqis uncensored coverage of the mayhem. Unfortunately, American forces attacked a number of media outlets, which reinforces the notion that America is willing to stand in the way of the "free press" to preserve its own interests. Adam Gantz reported that the US Defense Department also joined the media circle in Iraq, founding a Baghdad TV station al Iraqiya, a newspaper al-Sabah, a pan-Arab radio station, Radyo Sawa, and a news channel for satellite TV, al-Hurra. These media projects came along pushing the American agenda during the same period that Al Jazeera's offices were attacked by US forces and the Baghdad bureau was repeatedly shut down. In November 2005, the UK's Daily Mirror published an article pertaining to a secret memo claiming that George Bush and Tony Blair met in April 2004 and discussed taking "military action" against Al Jazeera in the company's base in Doha, Qatar. Since the article, the British government has put a gag order on discussing the secret memo.

In March of last year the US forces shut down Muqtada Al Sadr's newspaper al-Hawza al Natiq for "inciting violence." This double standard on "free press," and disregard for democracy only reasserts the failure of the US.

In late November, the New York Times disclosed US plans to embark on a multimillion dollar secret project to "plant paid propaganda in the Iraqi news media and pay friendly Iraqi journalists monthly stipends." This last ditch effort to win back the support of the Iraqi people is extremely revealing. The administration cannot even find Iraqis that are willing to support the occupation. Instead they are looking to feed the same "propaganda" to the Iraqi people that is being fed to Americans.

Why America can't militarily win

Militarily, the US forces cannot win. Of course, they will conquer Fallujah, Tal Afar, and any other area where confrontation takes place. However, the strategy of the insurgency is not to win the war head on, but rather to weaken the US forces by using guerilla warfare (car bombs, suicide bombs, and roadside bombs) and capitalizing on Iraq's spiraling out of control. After the destruction of Fallujah, the insurgency fled quite quickly, avoiding direct confrontation with US forces. The infrastructural and economic destruction of Fallujah didn't destroy the base of the insurgency. Ironically, the siege fueled recruitment, further isolated US forces from Iraqi civilians, and didn't significantly enhance American control over the Sunni stronghold. The American forces eventually retreated, stating that the insurgency was conquered, only to lose control of Fallujah months after the battle. Keeping control of a country the size of Texas with 25 million residents is not feasible with 160,000 troops. If the US were to win militarily in Iraq, they would have to drastically step up their force count, probably in the range of 450,000 as some military analysts have suggested, and start rolling over the country. Under the guise of "liberation" the US forces would need to become the new Saddam Hussein, forcing Iraqis into submission and killing anyone that comes in their way. Moreover, since the military has such a low approval rating, finding people who are willing to rat out the insurgency has become increasingly difficult.

Losing the Hearts and Minds of Americans

This administration believed they could spin the events of Iraq to the American people. This was true in the beginning. The American people forgot about the promised weapons of mass destruction, the assurance that Iraqi oil would pay for the venture, and the guarantee that the people of Iraq would greet the US soldiers with open arms. The minds of Americans, however, started to change as soldiers came home in flag draped caskets and nearly 15,000 returned wounded, many in wheelchairs or prosthetics.

The continuing struggle in Iraq and the administrations misgivings, however, emboldened the anti-war coalition. According to CNN, Decorated Vietnam Vet and conservative democrat John Murtha stated, "It's time to bring the troops home." He went on to say "Our troops have become the primary target of the insurgency. They are united against U.S. forces and we have become a catalyst for violence," he said. Yahoo quoted him as saying, "The war in Iraq is not going as advertised…It is a flawed policy wrapped in illusion."

While leading democrats are still too wary to call for an outright withdrawal, the American people may soon be calling for one. In a CNN/USA Today Gallup poll only 35 percent of Americans approve Bush's handling of the war, while 54 percent think America shouldn't have invaded Iraq. The numbers are also rising on troop withdrawal. Nearly one in five Americans want to see the troops come home today and 33 percent of those polled want the American forces home within a year's time. Anti-war democrats like Murtha are starting to receive airtime on major media outlets such as CNN and MSNBC. If this trend continues, it will profoundly affect those on the fence in the US who are not getting a clear picture of the anti-war movement. Cindy Sheehan, the mother of a US soldier killed Iraq and adamant anti-war critic, received noticeable airtime, but was painted as part of the "fringe left" in the mainstream press. People like Murtha will reinforce the position of the anti-war movement considering his long-running history of being conservative and a friend to the White House. Until this point George Bush hasn't felt the wrath of a fiery opposition. If the media continues to give the anti-war movement a platform, the American public will more quickly realize that we have lost the war in Iraq.

What has Become of Iraq?

The Iraqi Body Count (IBC) claims between 27,000 and 30,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed since the start of the war. In mid-December George Bush gave an estimate on the Iraqi death count for the first time, "I would say 30,000 more or less have died." In a new report released by IBC, during the first two years of the war 20 percent of civilian deaths were women and children. Additionally, US forces accounted for 37 percent of civilian deaths, while insurgents accounted for only 9 percent of civilian deaths. Affirming the contention of lawlessness, "post-invasion criminal violence," attributed to 36 percent of the civilian death toll. The numbers by IBC are thought to be conservative. Last year's Lancet report estimated that 98,000 or more "excess deaths" of Iraqis may have occurred since the start of the US invasion.

Anguish and anger resonates within each Iraqi community. In October the British newspaper, the Sunday Telegraph, released information from a survey administered by the Iraqi university team which found that 45 percent of Iraqis support attacks on foreign troops. It is not just a case of Sunni resistance-which make up only 20 percent of the population-and Iraq's Al Qaeda. There is a strong support for violence against foreign forces and the numbers are strengthening. Added to the growing unease in the Shia community in the South, it is apparent why aggression is effectively taken out against US forces and interests.

The primary focus of the US involvement in Iraq should be on the basic necessities of Iraqi society. Proper sewage and access to clean water are essential. The Ministry of Public Works believes that it may cost up to 10 billion dollars for Iraqis to access clean water. According to the website CorpWatch in April of 2005, the US cut the funding for water projects in Iraq from 4.3 billion to 2.3 billion-"with further cuts planned for the future." Those "further cuts" were another 1.1 billion dollars. The Corvallis Gazette Times stated, "Three of the four major clean-water projects were cancelled."

The reconstruction of water facilities is vital in delivering clean water to the 80 percent of families in rural areas that use unsafe drinking water. The postwar sewage systems must also be reconstructed, which according to the UN report, "seeps to the ground and contaminates drinking water systems."

The UN development agency conducted a study, entitled Iraq Living Conditions Survey 2004. The study found that 23 percent of children in Iraq suffer from chronic malnutrition, while 9 percent of Iraqi children experienced diarrhea, a leading "childhood killer," in the two weeks prior to the survey.

Stability cannot be achieved without confronting basic health concerns. The US government spent more than 200 billion in Iraq, yet it continues to slash funding on projects that will further Iraqi society.

Can We Leave?

Over the last two years many prominent Republicans and Democrats professed, "We are there now, we can't just leave." Nevertheless, if we want to uphold the values of democracy and desires of the Iraqi consensus, we can "just leave." On October 23, the Sunday Telegraph disclosed the results of a poll which found that 82 percent of Iraqis "strongly oppose" foreign troops occupying their country. It's the one thing the majority of the country can agree on. The 160,000 soldiers are a driving force behind the resistance for Sunni fighters and Iraq's Al Qaeda led by Musab Al Zarqawi. We can pull out, immediately.

While a much larger disparity in views exists between Sunni insurgents and Al Qaeda, they do share a common cause-resisting the American occupation. If the US pulled out tomorrow, the Sunni insurgency would automatically be at great ideological odds with Zarqawi and his gang in Iraq. The Sunni insurgency is not fighting for Al Qaeda's "greater Islamic vision," they are trying to make sure the country doesn't break up and in turn dominate the one-fifth Sunni minority. Even so, some Sunnis have not opposed sitting down at the negotiating table, so long as they do not receive the short end of the stick.

The London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies revealed that between 12,000 and 20,000 hardcore insurgents remained in Iraq as of earlier this year. Diffusing the extreme elements of the insurgency is fundamental in the stabilization process. The main fuel to Al Qaeda's fire is undoubtedly the American occupation. While other factors add to its ease to operate, such as chaos, corruption, fear, and border security, the main source of motivation to gain new recruits would be stripped away. The pulling out of US troops alone would at least make the situation in Iraq more transparent.

The only way to bring Iraq forward is bringing them closer to independence and sustainability. The Iraqis were thrown into a whirlpool of violence and the presence of US forces is making the situation worse. In the Sunday Telegraph poll, only one percent of Iraqis in some areas feel that America increases security. This lack of confidence and opposition to the occupation damaged America's position in Iraq beyond recognition and their mission which has yet to be defined. The US government spent more than 200 billion dollars in Iraq over the last two and a half years and the Iraqi people have little to show for it. Of the 18 billion dollars appropriated for reconstruction, only 9 billion has been used, while corruption has tarnished its implementation.

The people of Iraq need security first and foremost, not only from insurgents, but from robbers and armed bandits as asserted by Patrick Cockburn. He reported, "Even during a quiet day as many as 40 bodies may turn up at Baghdad morgue." Furthermore, the political process needs to take its course. It's senseless to rush into to fixed dates so Iraqis can hold up their ink stained fingers while the situation on the ground is left in shambles. Finally, strong Iraqi leadership is essential in engaging the Iraqi people on a daily basis and not just on fixed "historic" dates that help out US poll numbers. The Iraqi people need to feel a sense of control of their society and future, and this is impeded by the presence of the American military.

These are the principals of democracy: letting the indigenous population rule as a sovereign nation. I always hear "bring the troops home." Not only do it for the troops this time, do it for the Iraqi people.

Remi Kanazi is the primary writer for the political website www.PoeticInjustice.net. He lives in New York City as a Palestinian American freelance writer and can reached via email at remroum@gmail.com

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US 'may want to keep Iraq bases'

15 Mar 06

The United States may want to keep a long-term military presence in Iraq to bolster moderates against extremists in the region and protect oil supplies, the army general overseeing US operations in Iraq has said.

While the Bush administration has downplayed prospects for permanent US bases in Iraq, General John Abizaid told a House of Representatives subcommittee on Tuesday he could not rule that out.
Abizaid said that policy would be worked out with a unified, national Iraqi government if and when that is established, "and it would be premature for me to predict".

Many Democrats have pressed President George Bush to firmly state that the United States does not intend to seek permanent military bases in Iraq, a step they said would help stem the violence there.

Abizaid also told the Appropriations subcommittee on military quality of life that while an Iraqi civil war was possible, "I think it's a long way from where we are now to civil war".

Echoing Bush's statement on Monday on the outlook for reducing US forces in Iraq, Abizaid said if Iraqis can form a unified government, "I think there's every reason to believe ... that we'll be able to bring the size of the force down much more so by December of '06".

Deterring Iran

Abizaid cited the need to fight al-Qaida and other extremists groups and "the need to be able to deter ambitions of an expansionistic Iran" as potential reasons to keep some level of troops in the region in the long term.

But he said it would be far less than the 200,000 currently deployed in the region, including 132,000 in Iraq.

"Clearly our long-term vision for a military presence in the region requires a robust counter-terrorist capability," Abizaid said.

"No doubt there is a need for some presence in the region over time primarily to help people help themselves through this period of extremists versus moderates."

Vital interest

Abizaid also said the United States and its allies have a vital interest in the oil-rich region.

"Ultimately it comes down to the free flow of goods and resources on which the prosperity of our own nation and everybody else in the world depend," he said.

Representative David Price, a North Carolina Democrat, questioned "what kind of signal that sends to the American people and to the Iraqis and the region ... if somehow there is ambiguity on our ultimate designs in terms of a military presence in Iraq".

Last week the leading Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, California Representative Jane Harman, wrote to President Bush urging him to clearly spell-out his plans in Iraq.

The administration's "continuing failure to clarify US intentions provides an excuse for certain Iraqis to avoid compromise and jeopardises our ability to succeed in Iraq," she said.

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Iraq: Permanent US Colony

By Dahr Jamail
t r u t h o u t | Perspective
14 March 2006

Why does the Bush Administration refuse to discuss withdrawing occupation forces from Iraq? Why is Halliburton, who landed the no-bid contracts to construct and maintain US military bases in Iraq, posting higher profits than ever before in its 86-year history?

Why do these bases in Iraq resemble self-contained cities as much as military outposts?
Why are we hearing such ludicrous and outrageous statements from the highest ranking military general in the United States, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Peter Pace, who when asked how things were going in Iraq on March 5th in an interview on "Meet the Press" said, "I'd say they're going well. I wouldn't put a great big smiley face on it, but I would say they're going very, very well from everything you look at."

I wonder if there is a training school, or at least talking point memos for these Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, because Pace's predecessor, Gen. Richard Myers, told Senator John McCain last September that "In a sense, things are going well [in Iraq]."

General Pace also praised the Iraqi military, saying, "Now there are over 100 [Iraqi] battalions in the field."

Wow! General Pace must have waved his magic wand and materialized all these 99 new Iraqi battalions that are diligently keeping things safe and secure in occupied Iraq. Because according to the top US general in Iraq, General George Casey, not long ago there was only one Iraqi battalion (about 500-600 soldiers) capable of fighting on its own in Iraq.

During a late-September 2005 Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, Casey acknowledged that the Pentagon estimate of three Iraqi battalions last June had shrunk to one in September. That is less than six months ago.

I thought it would be a good idea to find someone who is qualified to discuss how feasible it would be to train 99 Iraqi battalions in less than six months, as Pace now claims has occurred.

I decided that someone who was in the US Army for 26 years and who worked in eight conflict areas, starting in Vietnam and ending with Haiti, would be qualified. If he had served in two parachute infantry units, three Ranger units, two Special Forces Groups and in Delta Force that would be helpful as well. And just to make sure, if he taught tactics at the Jungle Operations Training Center in Panama and Military Science at the United States Military Academy at West Point, thus knowing a thing or two about training soldiers, that would be a bonus.

That person is Stan Goff.

"This is utter bullshit," was Goff's remark about the Pace claim of having 100 Iraqi battalions when I asked him to comment, "He must be counting the resistance among his forces."

Goff adds, "That dip-shit [Pace] is saying he has 60,000 trained and disciplined people under arms ... 65,000 with all the staffs ... and almost 100,000 with the support units they would require. To train and oversee them would require thousands of American advisors. It must suck for a career Marine to be used so blatantly as a PR flak."

Goff mentioned that Pace "and everyone else" knows that the Iraqi forces, "however many there are," are heavily cross-infiltrated.

"He [Pace] is saying that the Bush administration is going to empower a pro-Iranian government with 100 ready battalions, when this administration was handed this particular government as the booby prize in exchange for Sistani pulling their cookies out of the fire during the joint rebellions in Najaf and Fallujah," added Goff.

Further discrediting the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Goff said, "To train 99 [battalions] since last September is a claim only the average American might swallow. The right question to ask is, where are they? Where are they headquartered, and where are they in operation? Claiming operations security doesn't count, unless they believe they can hide 100 units of 600 people each in Iraq ... from other Iraqis ... who are often related to them."

He concludes, "These guys have become accustomed to saying any damn thing, then counting on ignorance and apathy at home - along with hundreds of Democrats who need spine transplants - to get away with it. You can quote me on any of that."

There's a good reason why Pace and others are busy spewing smoke - it's to hide the fact that there are no plans to leave Iraq.

While we're addressing propaganda, we mustn't leave out our brilliant military strategist and warrior for protecting human rights, the illustrious Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

On March 8th, Rice delivered the opening remarks on the release of her Department's "2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices."

The introduction to the report says: "In Iraq, 2005 was a year of major progress for democracy, democratic rights and freedom. There was a steady growth of NGOs and other civil society associations that promote human rights."

Uh, right.

This report is submitted to Congress by the State Department. I've often wondered if our politicians are just this ignorant, or simply horrifically misinformed like so many Americans. This report, perhaps, answers the latter.

My point is, if there is a concerted effort by high-ranking officials of the Bush administration to portray things in Iraq as going well, then why are there permanent bases being constructed in Iraq?

This media smokescreen from the likes of Pace, Rice and even "sharp-shooter" Cheney, who recently said things in Iraq are "improving steadily," conveniently leads the American people toward believing there will eventually be a withdrawal of American soldiers.

But the problem with smokescreens is that pesky thing called "reality."

And in Iraq, the reality is that people like Pace, Rice, Cheney and their ever-eloquent front man aren't telling the American public about their true plans for Iraq.

One example that provides some insight into their agenda is the US "Embassy" which is under construction in the infamous "Green Zone."

As you read this, a controversial Kuwait-based construction firm is building a $592 million US embassy in Baghdad. When the dust settles, this compound will be the largest and most secure diplomatic compound in the world.

The headquarters, I mean "Embassy," will be a self-sustaining cluster of 21 buildings reinforced 2.5 times the usual standards, with some walls to be as thick as 15 feet.

Plans are for over 1,000 US "government officials" to staff and reside there. Lucky for them, they will have access to the gym, swimming pool, barber and beauty shops, food court and commissary. There will also be a large-scale barracks for troops, a school, locker rooms, a warehouse, a vehicle maintenance garage, and six apartment buildings with a total of 619 one-bedroom units. And luckily for the "government officials," their water, electricity and sewage treatment plants will all be independent from Baghdad's city utilities. The total site will be two-thirds the area of the National Mall in Washington, DC."

I wonder if any liberated Iraqis will have access to their swimming pool?

And unlike the Iraqi infrastructure, which is in total shambles and functioning below pre-invasion levels in nearly every area, the US "Embassy" is being constructed right on time. The US Senate Foreign Affairs Committee recently called this an "impressive" feat, considering the construction is taking place in one of the most violent and volatile spots on the planet.

Then there are the permanent military bases.

To give you an idea of what these look like in Iraq, let's start with Camp Anaconda, near Balad. Occupying 15 square miles of Iraq, the base boasts two swimming pools (not the plastic inflatable type), a gym, mini-golf course and first-run movie theater.

The 20,000 soldiers who live at the Balad Air Base, less than 1,000 of whom ever leave the base, can inspect new iPod accessories in one of the two base exchanges, which have piles of the latest electronics and racks of CDs to choose from. One of the PX managers recently boasted that every day he was selling 15 televisions to soldiers.

At Camp Anaconda, located in Salahuddin province where resistance is fierce, the occupation forces live in air-conditioned units where plans are being drawn up to run internet, cable television and overseas telephone access to them.

The thousands of civilian contractors live at the base in a section called "KBR-land," and there is a hospital where doctors carry out 400 surgeries every month on wounded troops.

Air Force officials on the base claim the runway there is one of the busiest in the world, where unmanned Predator drones take off carrying their Hellfire missiles, along with F-16's, C-130's, helicopters, and countless others, as the bases houses over 250 aircraft.

If troops aren't up for the rather lavish dinners served by "Third Country Nationals" from India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh who work for slave wages, they can visit the Burger King, Pizza Hut, Popeye's or Subway, then wash it down with a mocha from the Starbucks.

There are several other gigantic bases in Iraq besides camp Anaconda, such as Camp Victory near Baghdad Airport, which - according to a reporter for Mother Jones magazine - when complete will be twice the size of Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo. The Kosovo base is currently one of the largest overseas bases built since the war in Vietnam.

Camp Liberty is adjacent to Camp Victory - where soldiers even compete in their own triathlons. "The course, longer than 140 total miles, spanned several bases in the greater Camp Victory area in west Baghdad," says a news article on a DOD web site.

Mr. Bush refuses to set a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq because he doesn't intend to withdraw. He doesn't intend to because he's following a larger plan for the US in the Middle East.

Less than two weeks after the fall of Baghdad on April 9, 2003, US military officials announced the intention to maintain at least four large bases in Iraq that could be used in the future.

These are located near Baghdad International Airport (where the triathlon was), Tallil (near Nasiriyah, in the south), one in the Kurdish north at either Irbil or Qayyarah (they are only 80 kilometers apart) and one in western al-Anbar province at Al-Asad. Of course, let's not forget the aforementioned Camp Anaconda in Balad.

More recently, on May 22 of last year, US military commanders announced that they would consolidate troops into four large air bases. It was announced at this time that while buildings were being made of concrete instead of the usual metal trailers and tin-sheathed buildings, military officers working on the plan "said the consolidation plan was not meant to establish a permanent US military presence in Iraq."


The US has at least four of these massive bases in Iraq. Billions of dollars have been spent in their construction, and they are in about the same locations where they were mentioned they would be by military planners back before Mr. Bush declared that major combat operations were over in Iraq.

It appears as though "mission accomplished" in Iraq was not necessarily referring to guarding the Ministry of Oil and occupying the country indefinitely (or finding WMDs, disrupting al-Qaeda, or liberating Iraqis, blah-blah-blah), but to having a military beach-head in the heart of the Middle East.

Note that while US officials don't dare say the word "permanent" when referring to military bases in Iraq, they will say "permanent access." An article entitled "Pentagon Expects Long-Term Access to Four Key Bases in Iraq," which was a front-page story in the New York Times on April 19, 2003, reads: "There will probably never be an announcement of permanent stationing of troops. Not permanent basing, but permanent access is all that is required, officials say."

Why all of this? Why these obviously permanent bases? Why the beach-head?

A quick glance at US government military strategy documents is even more revealing.

"Our forces will be strong enough to dissuade potential adversaries from pursuing a military build-up in hopes of surpassing, or equaling, the power of the United States," reads the 2002 National Security Strategy.

To accomplish this, the US will "require bases and stations within and beyond Western Europe and Northeast Asia."

Another interesting document is "Joint Vision 2020" from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, whose "vision" is "Dedicated individuals and innovative organizations transforming the joint force of the 21st Century to achieve full spectrum dominance [bold type theirs]: persuasive in peace, decisive in war, preeminent in any form of conflict [italics theirs]."

US policymakers have replaced the Cold War with the Long War for Global Empire and Unchallenged Military Hegemony. This is the lens through which we must view Iraq to better understand why there are permanent US bases there.

In the Quadrennial Defense Review Report released on February 6, 2006, there is a stated ambition to fight "multiple, overlapping wars" and to "ensure that all major and emerging powers are integrated as constructive actors and stakeholders into the international system." The report goes on to say that the US will "also seek to ensure that no foreign power can dictate terms of regional or global security. It will attempt to dissuade any military competitor from developing disruptive or other capabilities that could enable regional hegemony or hostile action against the United States or other friendly countries, and it will seek to deter aggression or coercion. Should deterrence fail, the United States would deny a hostile power its strategic and operational objectives."

In sum, what is the purpose of permanent US military garrisons in Iraq and the implicit goals of these government documents?


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Trapped in Iraq - The US and its allies are trapped in Iraq with little hope of a dignified way out

By Hugh White
Sydney Morning Herald
14 Mar 06

WHEN he sent our forces to help invade Iraq, John Howard was sure they would not be there long: months, not years, he said. Last week his new Defence Minister, Brendan Nelson, was visiting the troops still in Iraq three years after the invasion. And he made it clear he expected them to stay a lot longer.

I'm sure Nelson is right. So how and why was Howard so wrong?
The conventional view is that a brilliantly successful invasion was followed by a hopelessly ill-planned and mismanaged occupation.

The US-led forces didn't stop the looting after Saddam Hussein fell, they didn't restore power and water, they didn't crack down early and hard on the insurgency, they didn't have enough troops in the country. If only these errors had been avoided, Iraq would now be well on the way to stability and democracy, and our troops would be safely on their way home, the argument goes. I don't buy it.

The failure in Iraq is not a failure of execution; it's a failure of conception. The occupation and political reconstruction of Iraq was not a good idea badly implemented. It was a bad idea that no amount of administrative skill, political savvy, cultural sensitivity or military firepower could have made work.

You can see why political leaders might prefer to see the problems in Iraq as failures of execution. That shifts the blame from those who thought of the idea to those who had to carry it out. But if we are to learn by our mistakes it is important to understand what those mistakes were, and who made them.

We need to face squarely the mistakes of our leaders. We can all be glad that Saddam no longer rules Iraq. But we all know that none of the leaders who conceived and drove the invasion would have done so had they been able to foresee how things stand in Iraq today. Howard was more careful than the others, but he lent his weight - and Australia's - to their arguments.

These leaders misunderstood the costs and risks they were running in setting out to reshape Iraq. And that is what they were about. One thing the flood of instant history has made clear is that, while Howard, George Bush and Tony Blair undoubtedly believed Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, that was not why the invasion went ahead.

It went ahead to destroy the Baath regime and replace it with something more congenial, something more aligned with our interests and, they stressed, our values.

The conception at the heart of this enterprise was that if a fully functioning liberal democratic Iraq did not spring spontaneously from the ashes of Saddam's dictatorship, it could be speedily and efficiently conjured by the application of US power. Especially military power; the whole project was, after all, a Pentagon initiative.

This misconception was powered by a misunderstanding of the nature and limits of armed force. Armies are very good at fighting other armies, but they are of very limited use for anything else. The contrary view is the beguiling illusion that military force can be used to achieve political goals and promote values, rather than secure purely military objectives.

It is an idea that not even the Vietnam War could quite kill off. The invasion of Iraq three years ago was a product of its resurgence. The situation in Iraq today is yet another demonstration of its fallacy. A force of 180,000 troops - and the expenditure of billions of dollars a month - gives the coalition very little influence over what happens in Iraq today, or over the shape of its future.

There is still a faint chance that Iraq's ill-matched factions will find a way to work together in some semblance of national government. But whether they do or not is out of our hands.

We had the power to destroy Saddam's regime, but not to build a new one. Only the Iraqis can do that. Only they can make the compromises, build the trust, contain their fears and curb their rage enough to generate the sense of shared interests necessary to make Iraq work as a democratic political entity. All we can do is watch.

From the coalition's point of view - and especially Washington's - to leave now would be a disastrous political and strategic defeat, with unpredictable consequences.

It might come to that anyway, but in the meantime our leaders just hang on and hope that even if we have failed, the Iraqis will somehow make something work. It's a forlorn hope, but better than certain humiliation.

And for Australia? We are there, above all, to support our ally. As an exercise in alliance management, that is probably justified.

But the fact that we find ourselves in this predicament, compelled to sustain a largely futile symbolic presence in a land in which we can achieve so little, is a testament to the failure of Howard's initial conception.

We need to remember this the next time someone tries to argue that we should send our new "hardened and networked army" to promote Australia's values far away.

Hugh White is a visiting fellow at the Lowy Institute and professor of strategic studies at the Australian National University.

Copyright © 2006. The Sydney Morning Herald.

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RAF doctor refused a third tour of duty in 'illegal' war

By Michael Evans, Defence Editor
London Times
16 Mar 06

AN RAF medical officer who refused to return to Iraq for a third tour "honestly" believed that the British military campaign was illegal, a court martial hearing was told yesterday.

Flight Lieutenant Malcolm Kendall-Smith, 37, who is facing five charges of failing to comply with a lawful order, decided that it was his duty to disobey the order, his lawyer said during a pre-trial hearing at Aldershot, Hampshire.
The military doctor had refused to take part in any of the pre-deployment training, but Philip Sapsford, QC, for his defence, said that because Iraq had not attacked the United Kingdom or any of its allies there was no lawful reason to invade the country.

Flight Lieutenant Kendall-Smith had served two tours of Iraq but had a change of mind after reading all the published material relating to the legal advice given to the Government before the decision to join the Americans in invading Iraq. The advice by Lord Goldsmith, QC, the Attorney-General, was finally made public in April last year.

Mr Sapsford said that Flight Lieutenant Kendall-Smith had faced a legal rather than a moral dilemma when he was asked to return to Iraq for a third time. He had concluded that the invasion had done nothing to protect British lives and had destroyed the lives of many thousands of Iraqis.

Although he was a doctor in a non-combatant role, he feared that he could be asked to oversee legally ambiguous situations such as interrogations of prisoners. "The flight lieutenant has been to Iraq, he knows in his own mind what it is like being there. As a doctor, he is entitled to say, 'I will be sharing responsibility by even demonstrating complicity'."

Mr Sapsford said that he was prepared to produce expert evidence to show that an existing United Nations Security Council resolution that the United States and Britain claimed was a mandate for the invasion was no defence in international law.

He told the hearing, which was presided over by Assistant Judge Advocate Jack Bayliss, that he was considering calling as a witness Ben Griffin, a former SAS soldier, who recently resigned from the Army after complaining of "illegal" acts by American troops in Iraq. Although he had expected to face court martial, he left the Army with a glowing testimonial.

For the prosecution, David Perry said that questions about the legality of the invasion in March 2003 were irrelevant.

The charges, he said, related solely to orders given to Flight Lieutenant Kendall-Smith: on June 1 last year he had refused to attend RAF Kinloss for pistol and rifle training, on June 6 he had failed to go for a helmet-fitting, and between June 12 and June 24 he not not turned up for a training course, or for a deployment briefing on June 30.

"To suggest that sending a member of the Armed Forces for pistol training is in some way unlawful would be an astonishing, if not startling, conclusion," Mr Perry said.

He also said that from May 2003 (after the end of the war phase) the multinational force in Iraq was present at the request of the provisional government in Baghdad and had been mandated by the UN Security Council to assist in restoring peace and stability.

The hearing was adjourned until next Wednesday.

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Saddam Hussein: 'I am still the head of state'

Staff and agencies
March 15, 2006

Saddam Hussein insisted today that he was still Iraq's president and called on Iraqis to stop fighting each other and rise up against US and British troops as he gave evidence for the first time at his trial.

Despite the judge repeatedly shouting at him to stop, the deposed leader insisted on reading from a prepared text.

"Let the [Iraqi] people unite and resist the invaders and their backers. Don't fight among yourselves," Saddam said, praising the insurgency. "In my eyes, you are the resistance to the American invasion."

With Saddam taking little notice of attempts to curtail his speech, the chief judge, Raouf Abdel-Rahman, told journalists to leave the chamber and the session continued in secret. The video and audio broadcast of the trial was also cut off.
Saddam was the last of eight defendants to be called to testify. Though he has spoken frequently since the trial began in October, today's session was the first chance for the judge and prosecutors to question him directly on charges of killing 148 Shias and imprisoning and torturing others during a 1982 crackdown in the town of Dujail.

Instead, Saddam - dressed in a black suit - read from his statement, insisting he was Iraq's elected president and calling the trial a "comedy".

He addressed the "great Iraqi people" - a phrase he often used in his speeches as president - and urged them to stop the wave of Shia-Sunni violence unleashed the bombing of a major Shia shrine last month.

"What pains me most is what I heard recently about something that aims to harm our people," Saddam said. "My conscience tells me that the great people of Iraq have nothing to do with these acts," he said referring to the bombing of the shrine in the city of Samarra.

Mr Abdel-Rahman interrupted saying he was not allowed to give political speeches in the court.

"I am the head of state," Saddam replied.

"You used to be a head of state. You are a defendant now," Mr Abdel-Rahman said.

The judge repeatedly shut off his microphone to prevent his words from being heard and told him to address the case against him. But Saddam ignored him and continued to read from his text.

"What has happened in recent days is bad," he said. "You will live in darkness and rivers of blood for no reason. The bloodshed that they [the Americans] have caused to the Iraqi people only made them more intent and strong to evict the foreigners from their land and liberate their country." Mr Abdel-Rahman said: "You are being tried in a criminal case for killing innocent people, not because of your conflict with America."

"What about the innocent people who are dying in Baghdad? I am talking to the Iraqi people," Saddam replied.

The stormy session was a stark contrast to the past three hearings, when each of Saddam's seven co-defendants appeared and was questioned by Mr Abdel-Rahman and the chief prosecutor.

All eight defendants face possible death by hanging if they are convicted in connection with the Dujail crackdown, which followed an assassination attempt on Saddam in the town in July 1982.

Last month, Saddam stood up in court and acknowledged that he ordered the trial of the 148 Shias before his revolutionary court, which eventually sentenced them all to death. The former president insisted it was his right to do so since they were suspected in the attempt to kill him.

Before Saddam's testimony, his half-brother Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikriti - who headed the Mukhabarat intelligence agency at the time of the Dujail attack - was questioned for more than three hours by the chief judge and prosecutor, who presented him with half a dozen Mukhabarat documents and memos about the crackdown.

One after another, Barzan insisted that the documents were fake and that his signatures on them were forged. "It's not true. It's forged. We all know that forgery happens," he said.

In previous sessions, Dujail residents have testified that Barzan personally participated in their torture them during their imprisonment at the Baghdad headquarters of the Mukhabarat. One woman claimed Barzan kicked her in the chest while she was hung upside down and naked by her interrogators.

Barzan insisted the Mukhabarat agency was not involved in the investigation into the attack on Saddam and denied any personal role in the crackdown.

"I didn't order any detentions. I didn't interrogate anyone," he said, adding that he resigned from the Mukhabarat in August 1983. "There is not a single document showing that I was involved in the investigation."

The defence has argued that Saddam's government acted within its rights to respond after the assassination attempt on the former Iraqi leader.

The prosecutor has sought to show that the crackdown not only sought to punish those behind the attacks but also Dujail's civilian population, saying entire families were arrested and tortured and that the 148 who were killed were sentenced to death without a proper trial.

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Staying Occupied

Israel Vows to Keep Large West Bank Settlement Blocs

By Jim Teeple
14 March 2006

Israel's acting prime minister on Tuesday vowed to include a large West Bank settlement in his plan to unilaterally draw Israel's border with Palestinians. The comments come just two weeks before Israelis vote in general elections on March 28.

Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told residents of the settlement of Ariel that he plans to include the settlement town inside Israel, as part of his plan to draw Israel's final borders with the Palestinians by 2010.
Mr. Olmert says the Ariel settlement is part of Israel and will remain so forever. He says he hopes he will be able to insure that Ariel's territorial contiguity with Israel will be formalized in a border agreement by the year 2010.

At the same time Mr. Olmert says he intends to pursue negotiations based on the "road map peace plan," which calls on Israelis and Palestinians to reach a negotiated settlement towards a two-state solution.

Ariel which is about 60 kilometers north of Jerusalem lies in the heart of the West Bank. In recent days Mr. Olmert has said he intends to evacuate some West Bank settlements and move settlers who live in those settlements, to three large settlement blocs in the West Bank, including Ariel.

Akiva Aldar, a columnist with the daily Ha'aretz newspaper says the plan is popular with some Israelis who like the idea of unilaterally withdrawing from some Palestinian territory, and who do not see Palestinians as a reliable negotiating partners.

"I think you have all kinds of possible scenarios here that will be based on a platform that is suggesting interim arrangements and agreements and unilateralism, and the same kind of disengagement that does not require difficult decisions such as final status settlements, refugees and especially Jerusalem," he said.

Mr. Olmert says he has briefed U.S. officials about his plan to unilaterally draw Israel's final borders. The Israeli prime minister has said that since the militant group Hamas won Palestinian parliamentary elections Israel does not have a Palestinian partner to negotiate with. However, in a sign that Mr. Olmert may be softening his position, a key ally of Mr. Olmert, former Prime Minister Shimon Peres, held talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday in Jordan.

U.S. officials, including President Bush, say they believe Israel will hold onto some settlement blocs in any agreement with the Palestinians, but that Israel should halt any further settlement construction in the West Bank, including construction that links large settlement blocs like Ariel to Israeli territory.

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UK govt urges British to leave Palestinian territories after Israel raid

14 Mar 06

LONDON - The British foreign ministry has urged all British nationals who do not have proper security to leave the Palestinian territories amid rising tension in the region.

"We urge all British nationals who do not have adequate and continuous professional close security protection to leave the Occupied Territories," said a statement from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
The latest call escalates an appeal earlier today which advised British nationals against all travel to the Palestinian territories following what it said were "serious threats" against British and US nationals, according to the Jerusalem consulate.

"We are advising against all travel to the occupied territories following serious threats against UK and US nationals," a consulate spokeswoman said.

Britain had previously advised against non-essential travel to all the territories except for the West Bank town of Ramallah but the British cultural centre there was ransacked by hundreds of angry protestors.

The anger followed Britain's withdrawal of three monitors from a prison run with Anglo-US supervision in the West Bank town of Jericho just minutes before a massive Israeli assault.

Around 180 Palestinians were taken into Israeli custody during the raid on the prison compound in Jericho, a military spokesman said.

"We have detained around 180 people at this point. I stress that right now they're not officially under arrest," he told Agence France-Presse.

Israeli troops backed by tanks and helicopters stormed the prison compound to seize militants held over the assassination of an Israeli minister in 2001.

"We haven't arrested any of those we've come to arrest yet," the army spokesman added.

The raid sparked a wave of violent demonstrations against British and US targets in Gaza City and the West Bank town of Ramallah as well as the British consulate in the Gaza Strip and a branch of Britain's HSBC bank in Ramallah.

Palestinian Authority president Mahmud Abbas has appealed for calm and urged Palestinians to refrain from attacking foreign and EU interests in the Palestinian territories.

"President Abbas calls on all Palestinian people not to turn the protest against the Israeli attack on the Jericho prison into violent action against cultural centres of the European Union or any other country," a statement said.

Abbas "regretted the violence in Gaza and warned against exploiting feelings of anger", the statement added, saying that the Palestinian Authority took all responsibility for protecting the foreign buildings.

Copyright AFX News Limited 2005.

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Arab League head accuses UK, US in Jericho raid

14 Mar 06

DUBAI (Reuters) - Arab League chief Amr Moussa said on Tuesday Israel had coordinated its attempt to capture a jailed Palestinian militant with Britain and the United States, who withdrew monitors from the West Bank jail ahead of the raid.

"Clearly, there is some sort of coordination," he told Al Jazeera television by phone. "This (withdrawal of U.S. and British monitors) raises obvious question marks."

Moussa said he was in touch with Arab and international leaders, including U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, to "bring a swift and complete end to this dangerous and strange (Israeli) intervention".

"This is a dangerous indicator about Israel's future policies," he added.

Israeli forces blasted their way into the West Bank prison to try to seize Ahmed Saadat, leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), storming in after U.S. and British monitors withdrew.

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Israel had advance word monitors would leave jail

14 Mar 06

JERUSALEM - Israel received advance word from the United States that foreign monitors were preparing to withdraw from a West Bank prison which Israeli forces raided on Tuesday to seize Palestinian militants, U.S. officials said.

Militants and the Arab League have accused the United States and Britain of colluding with Israel by withdrawing the monitors from the Jericho prison to clear the way for the capture of Ahmed Saadat and five other militants jailed there.
The United States said it was not part of any plot. But U.S. officials told Reuters Washington had given Israel a copy of a March 8 letter it sent to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas saying monitors could be withdrawn at once unless security conditions were met.

Israel launched its surprise raid on the prison minutes after U.S. and British monitors abandoned the building.

A day-long Israeli siege resulted in the capture of Saadat and sparked attacks on U.S. and British buildings by angry Palestinians and several kidnappings of foreigners.

Israeli Major-General Yair Naveh said there had been no coordination with the United States and Britain, but that Israeli forces began preparing for the raid weeks ago, after learning that international monitors planned to leave.

Naveh said Israel conducted observation missions and pre-positioned enough forces in the area to mount the raid at short notice.

In the March 8 letter, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters, the United States and Britain told Abbas that the monitors would be withdrawn "with immediate effect" unless the Palestinian Authority addressed their concerns.

They also expressed concern that Hamas Islamic militants, who won Palestinian elections in January, would free Saadat and the other prisoners after forming a new government. Abbas had also said publicly he would be prepared to free Saadat.

"The pending handover of governmental power to a political party that has repeatedly called for the release of the Jericho detainees also calls into question the political sustainability of the monitoring mission," the letter said.

Saadat was the leader of a Palestinian faction accused of killing an Israeli cabinet minister in 2001.

He was jailed in Jericho in 2002 under a U.S.-brokered deal between Israel and the Palestinian Authority that called for the United States and British to monitor them.

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We warned of prison attack, says Israel - UK and US told what to expect if they pulled out - Angry Palestinians allege collusion in 'crime'

Chris McGreal in Jerusalem
Thursday March 16, 2006
The Guardian

Days before Israel's military assault on Jericho prison it warned Britain and America that it would seize Palestinians held there under an international agreement for killing an Israeli cabinet minister if the two countries withdrew their monitors.

Dov Weisglass, the most influential of the Israeli prime minister's advisers, told Britain and the US last week that it would be better for international supervision at the prison to continue. But he said that if they carried through a threat to pull out British and American monitors because of "security concerns" then Israel would act to bring the wanted men to justice.
The last of 11 foreigners kidnapped by Palestinian groups in response to Israel's destruction of the prison with tanks, bulldozers and missiles were released yesterday as relative calm returned to the occupied territories.

But there remained anger and suspicion among ordinary Palestinians and their leaders that Britain colluded in the Israeli attack to seize Ahmed Saadat, accused of masterminding the 2001 assassination of Israel's tourism minister Rehavam Zeevi in a Jerusalem hotel, and five other Palestinians held in the Jericho jail under international supervision.

British sources said yesterday the monitors were withdrawn after a "specific and credible threat" earlier this year against their lives. The sources said it was the most serious of concerns that included fears of roadside bombs, kidnappings and being caught up in a riot inside the jail.

But the Palestinian leadership accused Britain of using security as an excuse to pull out of the agreement to monitor the jail because it does not want to deal with a Hamas government, and of cooperating with Israel in its attack on the prison.

Touring the wreckage of the jail yesterday, the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, called the raid an "unforgivable crime" and suggested Britain and the US had coordinated their withdrawal so Israel could send in tanks as soon as the monitors left.

"I'm giving the facts. They [the monitors] left at 9.20am and the Israelis came in at 9.30am. How can we explain that?" he asked.

Israel says that on Friday the British and Americans told Israel that the monitors would be leaving but did not specify a date. Israel immediately put its forces on alert, ready for an assault on the jail.

Over the weekend the British consul general, John Jenkins, contacted Mr Abbas's office four times to press him to act on a letter sent a week ago by the US and Britain demanding their security concerns be addressed.

Mr Jenkins was unable to talk to Mr Abbas directly because the Palestinian leader was in Gaza negotiating with Hamas over a new government and then travelling to Jordan. But British sources say the Palestinian president's office assured Mr Jenkins that Mr Abbas understood the gravity of the situation.

The monitors were pulled out on Tuesday morning and Israel began its assault on the prison minutes later.

Mr Blair defended the timing and manner of the withdrawal of the monitors in the Commons yesterday. "The idea that this was precipitous or uncalled for or un-thought through is simply wrong," he said.

"For the past three months we have been warning the Palestinian Authority that the security of these monitors was at risk, that the procedures at this particular detention centre were not adequate and proper."

But Ghassan Khatib, a Palestinian cabinet minister, said the British pullout was not about security but to avoid the embarrassment of Hamas carrying through a pledge to release Mr Saadat and his men.

"We are going to have a Hamas government and I don't think Britain felt able to continue these arrangements. But Britain didn't say that. They tried to accuse the Palestinians of not fulfilling their obligations on security," he said.

The timing of the raid was also questioned in Israel by opponents of the acting prime minister, Ehud Olmert, ahead of a general election in a fortnight.

The strongest challenge to his Kadima party comes from the rightwing Likud party. Israeli commentators speculated that after Mr Olmert pledged to remove Jewish settlers from some parts of the West Bank he needed to appear to be tough on the Palestinians. They also said the acting prime minister could not risk Mr Saadat walking free just before the election.

Yesterday Mr Olmert said the captured Palestinians would be put on trial for Mr Zeevi's killing. "They will be indicted according to Israeli law and they will be punished as they deserve," he said.


· March 8
US/UK write to Palestinian leader saying they will withdraw monitors unless concerns are addressed.

· March 9
Israel says it wants monitors to stay but if withdrawn it will capture men wanted for killing Israeli minister. UK and US tell Israel monitors will withdraw, but do not specify time.

· Weekend
British consul calls Palestinian leader four times seeking commitment to act on the UK and US warning.

· Tuesday
UK monitors pull out of Jericho jail without telling Palestinians. Minutes later Israeli troops move in.

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Abbas condemns Israel raid as unforgivable crime

By Wafa Amr
15 Mar 06

JERICHO, West Bank - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday condemned Israel's raid on a West Bank prison and seizure of a militant leader as a crime that would not be forgiven.
Across the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, Palestinians went on strike over an Israeli operation that has boosted interim Prime Minister Ehud Olmert ahead of March 28 general elections.

Israeli security forces were on high alert after Ahmed Saadat's Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and the Islamist militant group Hamas promised retaliation.

Israeli forces used tanks and bulldozers to tear apart the Jericho jail on Tuesday to grab Saadat, accused by Israel of overseeing the 2001 assassination of Israeli cabinet minister Rehavam Zeevi claimed by the PFLP.

Speaking at the destroyed jail, Abbas accused British and U.S. monitors supervising the incarceration of Saadat and five other militants who were detained of complicity with Israel.

"What happened is an ugly crime which cannot be forgiven and a humiliation for the Palestinian people and a violation of all the agreements. Their arrest by Israel is illegal," Abbas said.

The United States and Britain, citing security concerns, withdrew the monitors on Tuesday and Israeli forces moved in minutes later. Both Washington and London denied cooperating with Israel.

Israel said it had to act once the monitors withdrew and it described the raid as a powerful message to Hamas, which is forming a government after winning a January election. Washington and London denied cooperating with Israel.

"We are not going to compromise with terror. We are proud that we have imposed justice on these killers without hurting unfairly any other person who was not involved," Olmert told reporters during a meeting with police chiefs in Jerusalem.


Political rivals and newspapers in Israel agreed the 10-hour operation was a success for Olmert, strengthening his security credentials before the election his centrist Kadima party is expected to win.

Abbas appealed to Palestinians not to abduct foreigners or damage international property in response to the raid, in which a Palestinian guard and a prisoner were killed.

A group of foreigners kidnapped in Gaza were released on Wednesday.

They included three journalists -- two French nationals and a South Korean -- and a Canadian whose seizure had not previously been known.

They were among 10 foreigners taken in Palestinian areas. The six others were freed soon after they were snatched.

In Gaza, shops were shuttered and many children returned home after they arrived at closed schools. Shops in major West Bank towns were also closed.

A Hamas spokesman, Sami Abu Zuhri, said the raid reinforced the group's decision not to recognize Israel and disarm.

"This crime will not pass without a reaction," Zuhri said at a news conference in Gaza with various Palestinian faction members and Hamas prime minister-designate Ismail Haniyeh.

The raid was another headache for Abbas, already shaken by Hamas's election win. Hamas is sworn to Israel's destruction.

Abbas demanded the return of Saadat and the five others. Olmert said they would be tried and "punished as they deserve".

Saadat, 51, was sent to Jericho jail in 2002 under an internationally-brokered deal that ended an Israeli siege that year of late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's compound in Ramallah, where the PFLP leader was taking refuge.

The PFLP, one of the smaller groups waging a Palestinian uprising, said it shot Zeevi, a far-right former general, to avenge the killing of its top leader, Abu Ali Mustafa, in an Israeli missile strike.

Israel's seizure of the gray-haired Saadat followed suggestions by Hamas and Abbas that he might be freed.

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Hamas threatens to abduct soldiers, PFLP vows retaliation


Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, announced that it will abduct Israeli soldiers in retaliation to the arrest of, Ahmad Sa'adat, Secretary General of the leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, (PFLP). The PFLP military wing launched the "Red Arrow" operations in retaliation to the arrest.

Hamas member of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), Fathi Hammad, stated that the movement will retaliate to the arrest, and military operation in Jericho, against Sa'adat, who is also a newly elected member of the PLC.
"This crime, this attack, will cause retaliation", Hammad said, "Our people will rescue all of the detainees, they will rescue Sa'adat".

"The Zionist enemy chose to arrest Sa'adat, and his comrades, we will abduct soldiers to swap them with Palestinian detainees". Hammad added, "Hamas is capable of protecting all of the Palestinian factions, and the Palestinian people".

Also, Hammad questioned the U.S and British guarantees and intentions especially after the British and U.S guards in the Jericho prison compound left the area shortly before the Israeli army invaded Jericho and surrounded the prison.

"This is a conspiracy, a big conspiracy headed by the United States and the Britain", Hammad stated, "They conspired with Israel in order to arrest Sa'adat and his comrades".

Meanwhile, the PFLP announced that it launched the "Red Arrow" in retaliation to the attack and the arrest of its secretary general.

The Abu Ali Mustafa brigades, the military wing of the PFLP, fired several homemade shells at a military post, east of the Gaza Strip.

The Brigades said that the firing of the shells is part of a series of attacks against Israeli military targets in retaliation to the arrest of Sa'adat and his comrades.

"If they harm Sa'adat, we will retaliate hard, and strike back the same way we did after soldiers assassinated Abu Ali Mustafa", a statement released by the brigades reads.

Abu Ali Mustafa, Secretary General of the PFLP, was killed in a targeted assassination by two rockets fired from an Israeli helicopter as he sat at his desk in Ramallah on August 27, 2001.

He was one of the most senior Palestinian political leaders killed by Israel. The PFLP renamed their armed wing in the Occupied Palestinian Territories after him, as the Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades, while he was succeeded as Secretary General by Ahmad Sa'adat.

In September 1999, after 32 years of exile, Abu Ali Mustafa returned to the West Bank under a deal struck between Yasser Arafat and Israel's Prime Minister, Ehud Barak. In July 2000 he was elected as the new general secretary of the PFLP after, George Habash, retired.

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Palestinian Human Rights Activists and Journalists Asserts Israel and US are Above Law

March 16, 2006

GAZA, Palestine - Palestinian journalists and human rights activist refuted what was mentioned in the US annual report released on March 8, 2006. The US report told that Israel is not one of the countries that violate human rights laws.
Moreover, Head of Al Mezan Center for Human Rights Esam Younis said this US declaration is not new, especially when the American Administration always provides political and lawful protection and cover for the Israeli occupation's crimes against Palestinians in the occupied territories.

For his part, advocate and analyst Karim Nashwan said that this report is not authentic and silly. In addition, it contradicts with all international organizations' reports released that confirmed that Israel violated human rights laws and described the Israeli acts as a state terrorism.

He mentioned the Jericho jail raid as a clear-cut example that Israel violated human rights by storming Palestinian territories and arresting Palestinians from jails dominated by the PA, describing it as an Israeli violation of human rights, international law and all previous signed agreements.

For his part, Ashraf Al Ajrami agreed with Nashwan and said that US Administration is adopting a double standard policy. He said," By the time the US condemns certain countries for violations of human rights, it violates these rights and it ignored what is happening here in Palestine and the crimes committed by the last occupation state in the twenty-first century which is Israel."

"It is not difficult to show the Israeli violations of human rights against Palestinians because they are doing these activities on a daily basis by killings, land confiscation and arrests campaigns," he added.

Moreover, the Israeli newspaper Yedeouth Ahronoth quoted excerpts from the US annual report.

The report's writers mentioned Israel as regards the security forces crackdown on Palestinian detainees, bad circumstances in certain jails and detention camps, social and formal racial discrimination practiced against Arab-Israelis as well as personal and civil discrimination against citizens who are not Jews or orthodoxies, social violence, and discrimination against women. In addition, the report discovered women trade, persecuting foreign workers, discrimination against handicapped and governmental corruption.

Whereas, Israeli violations and preaches on the ground prove the contrary to the report's account that proved that Israel is clear and above suspicion and it is not included among countries that violate human rights and laws. Furthermore, a recent report about the Israeli violations of human rights and laws mentioned that Israel violated human beings, stones, and trees in the Palestinian territories since the outbreak of Al Aqsa Intifada on September 28, 2000 until February 28, 2006 namely 4298 Palestinians were killed by Israeli occupation forces (IOF), and 46353 Palestinians were wounded 8435 of them received field treatment. The number of children killed less than 18 years old was 801 children. In addition, the number of Palestinians who were extra-judicially executed reached 394 Palestinians.

Moreover, according to the PNIC's report released by the State Information Service (SIS), the number of the prisoners and the detainees who are still imprisoned reached 9200, 560 of them were imprisoned before Al-Aqsa uprising distributed among 28 detention camps. Whereas, the number of the school and university students prisoners reached 1389, and 319 children out of this number are held in custody.

1200 Male prisoners suffer from chronic diseases. The number of the Female prisoners reached 116, whereas, 67 prisoners of them are tried, 43 are on remand and 6 prisoners are administrative detainees.

The number of the buildings belongs to the public sector and the security facilities that were completely and partially are 645.

PNIC's report referred also that the gross total of the houses that were completely and partially damaged reached 71470. 7628 houses of them were damaged completely, 4785 of them locate in Gaza Strip. Whereas, the number of the houses that were damaged partially reached 63842, and 23622 houses of them locate in Gaza Strip.

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Israel/Occupied Territories: Palestinian prisoners at risk of being killed by Israeli forces

14 March 2006

Amnesty International is deeply concerned about the safety of Palestinian detainees in Jericho Prison. The prison is currently surrounded by Israeli forces who have threatened to kill detainees who refuse to surrender to them.

The detainees most at risk are Ahmad Saadat, leader of the Palestinian Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), and four other Palestinians who have been detained at Jericho Prison since 2002 despite a court decision ordering their release.
While detained under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority (PA), Ahmad Saadat and his four co-detainees have been held under the supervision of guards provided by the UK and US in accordance with an agreement reached between these states and Israel and the PA. They, together with a sixth Palestinian detainee, Fuad Shubaki, wanted by Israel on charges of smuggling weapons, are the principal targets of today's Israeli military action and are particularly at risk of being killed by Israeli forces.

This morning, after US and UK guards withdrew from Jericho Prison, Israeli forces moved in and surrounded the prison. They demolished its walls with armoured bulldozers and, using megaphones, called on the inmates to surrender. There are reports that one Palestinian guard and one Palestinian prisoner were killed as the Israeli forces moved in. Israeli officials say they took action in order to arrest Ahmad Saadat and his co-detainees because the PA was intending to release them.

The UK and US contributed to perpetuating an extra-legal arrangement over the past four years during which Ahmad Saadat and his co-detainees were held arbitrarily by the PA. The sudden departure of the US and UK guards today contributed to the escalation of the situation that we are currently witnessing.

Amnesty International holds the Israeli authorities responsible for the safety of the detainees and staff in Jericho Prison. The organization reiterates its call on the Israeli authorities to end their policy of assassinations and excessive use of lethal force.

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Israel starts work on new settlement

By Khalid Amayreh in the West Bank
14 March 2006

The Israeli government has begun to develop facilities for what eventually could be the largest settlement project in the West Bank since 1967.

On Monday, Israeli officials confirmed that Israel was building a police headquarters and "other facilities" in what it calls the E-1 area, extending from East Jerusalem to the settlement of Maali Adomim, the largest in the West Bank.

In addition to 3550 settler units, the planned development would include a road network, six hotels and a park.

Non-Jews would not be allowed to live or buy land in the settlement.
"This project has received all the necessary authorisation and work on the foundation began several days ago," an unnamed official in the Israeli prime minister's office has been quoted as saying.

The decision to start building was taken by the Higher Zoning Council for Settlements, an annex to the Israeli Army's civil administration.

Demographic continuity

Israeli officials contacted by Aljazeera.net denied that the construction of the police headquarters was connected to the large settlement project.

"We are only planning to build a police headquarters and some roads, there has been no decision to start working on the settlement itself," said Mark Regev, spokesman for the Israeli foreign ministry.

Regev said that Israel would start building sooner or later in order to create "Jewish demographic contiguity between Jerusalem and Maali Adomim."

"This is consistent with the pledges President Bush gave to Prime Minister Sharon a few years ago."

During Sharon's visit to the US in 2004, Bush said demographic realities ought to be taken into consideration in a final settlement between Israel and the Palestinians.

Since then, Israel has interpreted Bush's statements as giving it carte blanch for unrestricted expansion of Jewish settlements in the West Bank, especially in the vicinity of Jerusalem.

Theft accusations

Israel calls the expansion "natural growth".

However, Palestinian officials say that Israel is embarking on a new phase of "large-scale theft of our land".

Khalid al-Qawasmi, the outgoing Palestinian Authority (PA) minister of local governance, said: "They are stealing our land in broad daylight. They are killing any remaining possibility for the creation of a viable Palestinian state. And they are doing it as America and Europe are watching passively," he said.

He told Aljazeera.net that the PA was in contact with the Quartet, which is made up of the UN, US, EU and Russia, over the issue, adding that if the international community allowed Israel to carry out the new settlement expansion plan, the two-state solution would be doomed.

Al-Qawasmi accused Israel of deceiving the international community.

"They say one thing to the foreign media, but does the opposite on the ground," he said.

Olmert vow

Israel has been saying for years that it intends to build settlements in the area between Jerusalem and Maali Adomim.

The settlement, says Khalil Tufakji, a settlement expert at the Arab Studies' Centre in East Jerusalem, will cut off Jerusalem from its Arab surroundings and kill any chance for a viable Palestinian state in the West Bank.

"This will also effectively cut off the southern West Bank (the Hebron and Bethlehem regions) from the central and northern regions," Tufakji said.

Meanwhile, Ehud Olmert, the acting Israeli prime minister, has said he will keep Ariel, the second largest settlement in the West Bank, "within Israel" in any prospective settlement with the Palestinians.

"Ladies and gentlemen, I want to be clear on this: The Ariel block will be an inseparable part of the State of Israel under any situation," he told settlers and supporters at the settlement on Tuesday.

Ariel was built in the heartland of the West Bank south West of Nablus.

Olmert visited the Ariel to inaugurate a water main that bypasses Palestinian population centres, which Israeli officials say underscores his determination to annex the settlement to Israel.

Comment: Notice "Non-Jews would not be allowed to live or buy land in the settlement." Now, can you imagine what would happen if, anywhere in the world, it was declared that Jews were not welcome? The double standard is nauseating.

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'Israel subjected US detainees to traumas'

Agence France Presse
March 16, 2006

CHICAGO - Americans have repeatedly suffered physical and psychological trauma while detained by Israeli security forces, a US court was told Tuesday during a hearing about the alleged torture of a man accused of funnelling money to Hamas.

A Federal Bureau of Investigation agent told the court that he questioned a US consular official responsible for helping Americans arrested in Israel during the course of his investigation into Chicago resident Mohammad Salah.

"He said based on his experience he had seen arrestees who had suffered from physical or emotional trauma," said Edward Priestad. A number of US citizens had shown consular officials marks that they said resulted from spending hours handcuffed to a small chair that tilted forward because its front legs were shorter than the back legs, Priestad said.
But while Salah eventually complained of the same treatment, the consular official said he never observed any marks or other signs of mistreatment, Priestad said.

The hearing was meant to determine whether Salah's statements to Israeli security forces following his arrest in 1993 can be used as evidence in his US trial for operating a 15-year racketeering conspiracy in which he provided material support to terrorists. Instead, "this is an attempt to put the government of Israel on trial," Assistant US Attorney Joe Ferguson told the court. Salah's lawyers have requested reams of documents from the Israeli government to support his claim that he was tortured and forced to make false confessions about his involvement with Hamas, which the US has designated a terrorist organisation.

Prosecutors have argued that while Israel has mistreated prisoners, Salah was given special treatment as an American and that his allegations of torture are nothing but self-serving lies.

Statement obtained through torture are inadmissible in US courts. In order to undermine Salah's claims, the prosecution called two agents of the Israeli security agency who took part in Salah's 1993 interrogations. The six-and-a-half days of testimony were held behind closed doors, but a transcript edited of classified information will be made available to the public in a few weeks.

Salah's defence team is attempting to undermine the credibility of those witnesses by showing that Israeli agents have a history of lying under oath to hide the fact that the use of torture is widespread. On Tuesday, they introduced their first witness, Jonathan Kuttab, a renowned Palestinian human rights lawyer who told the court that Israel's general security service has often lied about their use of sleep deprivation, humiliation, threats, isolation, hoods and other methods to break the will of political prisoners.

Kuttab said his group, Al Haq, had interviewed 700 Palestinian detainees and found that 94 per cent had been tortured or ill-treated.

Speaking to reporters outside of the courtroom, Salah's attorney said that regardless of whether the judge believes Salah was tortured, there are sufficient undisputed facts to show that his constitutional rights were not protected.

Israeli records show that Salah was interrogated for 53 days before he was informed of the charges against him was not given the opportunity to speak to a lawyer for 13 days after his arrest.

"The uncontested fact of the time he spent in detention and the fact that he wasn't given a lawyer should require the statements should be suppressed," Michael Deutsche said.

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Where American Lives Do Not Count

By Laura Dawn Lewis
March 15, 2006

Los Angeles - The third anniversary of American peace activist Rachel Corrie's murder by a Caterpillar Bulldozer driver under the direction of the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) arrives. Nearly three years to the day, our US government has failed to intervene or even censure Israel on behalf of her and her family. Our government has failed to investigate, follow-up or actively pursue justice for Corrie and other American citizens killed by Israeli military forces. Unfortunately, this lack of regard constitutes the norm, not the exception. If this sounds strange, that a nation would abandon its own for the vanity of another nation, stranger still is the truth. When it comes to Israel, American lives do not count.

What has the US Government done about these murdered and wounded Americans? With one exception, nothing.
Murdered and wounded Americans by Israeli forces come from most major faiths, including Judaism. This places all of our citizens traveling to Israel at grave risk, especially our Jewish citizens who are more likely to travel to Israel than any other group. Government inaction and apathy toward the targeting of Americans endangers us all.

Whether the Roadmap to Peace, sanctioning Saddam for the same crimes Sharon also visited upon the Occupied Territories or fining Hamas for its 'terrorist' side when Israel's first leaders engaged in the same, the United States government demonstrates predictable consistency when dealing with issues or policies pertaining to Israel. Double standards permeate, including the same transparent hypocrisy applied to our murdered citizens. American lives do count if Palestinians kill Americans in Israel or the territories it occupies. American lives do not count if the murderer is Israeli.

The following six events illustrate this double standard:

How the US Government treats the murder of Americans when Palestinian or Arab people are responsible:

A) Three American contractors were killed and another wounded on October 15, 2003 when a roadside bomb tore through a van that was part of a diplomatic convoy traveling through the Gaza Strip. US Officials were on the ground investigating within 24 hours and several members of congress expressed outrage.

B) July 31, 2002 four Americans were killed when a remote-controlled bomb detonated in the Frank Sinatra Cafeteria at Hebrew University. The US Government issued an immediate statement and sent a team to investigate. The bombing was front page news.

C) August 9, 2001, Jerusalem, Israel. A suicide bombing at Sbarro's in Jerusalem killed American Shoshana Greenbaum and several Israelis. The US Government issued immediate outrage, teams were sent to investigate and this bombing stayed top of mind in the media nearly a week.

The list goes on.

How the US Government treats the murder of Americans when Israelis are responsible:

Contrast the above well publicized events and responses with the following crimes against Americans from an overlapping period, 2002 - 2004. You'll find two glaring differences.

1) Who is committing the crime.

Above it is Palestinians attacking Israeli targets. Below Israeli soldiers attacking American citizens.

2) Intimate knowledge of who is attacked.

Above, the American victims were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Americans were not specifically targeted.

Below, these are intimate attacks, meaning the soldier's knew they were attacking and killing Americans, not Palestinian militia or terrorists.

April 5, 2003: Israeli occupation forces open fire on a group of identified and unarmed peace activists wearing florescent vests, unarmed hands in full view standing beside the road and allowing them to pass. After passing, the IOF soldiers stopped, turned around and opened fire with machine guns on the international assembly, dispensing thirty rounds. American citizen and twenty-four year old peace activist Brian Avery was shot in the face and left for dead. Attempted contacts by Avery, his family and others to their congressional representatives elicited personal sympathy but publicly and politically each refused to address the issue. Little mention found its way into the US mainstream media.

March 15, 2003: Rachel Corrie, a 23-year-old senior at the Evergreen State University in Washington State was murdered, crushed to death trying to save the property of a man, Rafahinian, Dr. Samir Nasrallah. The tactic of razing Palestinian homes in Israel and the Occupied territories is a form of collective punishment, a war crime according to International Law. Wearing a florescent vest and in full view of the D-9 driver as he ran his bulldozer over her body twice, crushing her to death. Several meters away, tanks and IOF soldiers watched. No one intervened.

Summary of
American Citizens Killed or Wounded By Israel
Still Awaiting Justice

Brian Avery
(Injured April 5, 2003): Israeli occupation forces open fire on a group of identified and unarmed peace activists wearing florescent vests, unarmed hands in full view standing beside the road and allowing them to pass. After passing, the IOF soldiers stopped, turned around and opened fire with machine guns on the international assembly, dispensing thirty rounds. Avery, shot in the face, survived.
Leon Klinghoffer (October 7, 1985)- killed on the Achille Lauro, a cruise ship hijacked by 'Palestinians'. Abu Abbas, the Mossad asset who shot Klinghoffer was apprehended in 2003 by US forces in Iraq. Interestingly in Gaza during 1996 Abbas, who was held up as a great 'terrorist' catch offered an apology to the family of Klinghoffer and was not apprehended at that time.

Rachel Corrie
(March 15, 2003) killed by a bulldozer in Gaza. Rachel Corrie was murdered trying to save the property of a man, Rafahinian, Dr. Samir Nasrallah. The tactic of razing Palestinian homes in Israel and the Occupied territories is a form of collective punishment, a war crime according to International Law. Rachel was attempting to prevent this from happening when the D-9 driver ran over her twice, crushing her 23 year old body beneath it.

Suraida Saleh,
(April 3, 2003) at 21 years old this Washington DC native and mother was shot dead by the IOF soldiers disguised as Arabs while sitting, stopped in her car holding her 9 month old baby in her lap with her husband Morad at her side. Morad, a journalist with the Palestinian Broadcasting Company was hit with five bullets: two in his head, two in his shoulder, and one in his hand. The Israelis, assuming that all of the occupants were dead, left the scene. Morad regained consciousness to find his wife dead, slumped over their child. Miraculously, little Muhsin was unharmed. To date, US State Department has done nothing.
Dr. Khaled Salah (54) and his son, Mohammed Salah (16) were murdered July 6, 2004, in their home at 3 AM in front of the mother and two siblings in the West Bank by Israeli Occupation Forces. The Salahs identified themselves as American citizens before being shot. Dr. Salah established the Department of Electrical Engineering at An-Najah University in Nablus. His eldest son was attending university in Boston at the time his father and brother were shot. The US State Department has done nothing.
The sailors and marines of the USS Liberty 34 sailors and marines killed and 171 injured of the USS Liberty (June 8, 1967) in an unprovoked attack on the lightly armed intelligence ship, sailing in international waters off the coast of Egypt. For nearly 39 years the survivors and families have attempted to seek justice and an official Naval inquiry into the attack. Attempts to tell their story through films and books incurred condemnation from US Government personnel, threats by groups loyal to Israel, slander and libel against the crew, calling them anti-Semitic for seeking justice. To date the US Government refuses to investigate this attack, an act of war defined by international law. Through several administrations congressmen, senators and presidents refuse to support the USS Liberty crew, its families and the survivors publicly, preferring instead to safeguard Israel's reputation. In June 2005, like the Corrie family, the survivors filed an official war crimes report with the Secretary of Defense. To date, the US State Department, US Congress, US Senate and the Bush Administration have done nothing.

Rachel is not the first woman killed under the blade of an American made and supplied Caterpillar bulldozer. Twelve days prior on March 3, 2003 another Caterpillar bulldozer driven by an Israeli soldier killed a nine-month pregnant Palestinian woman, Nuha Sweidan (33). Mrs. Sweidan bled to death under the rubble as she cradled her 18-month-old daughter. Inside of her womb, her soon to be born child was also squashed before it had its first breath of life.

Question: What threat could an unarmed pregnant woman in her ninth month possibly pose? She can barely move! Mrs. Sweidan was not a threat. Nor was Rachel.

Rachel's death was ridiculed in the Wall Street Journal's online edition and by several news commentators and comedians.

Following, a U.S. congressional resolution demanding an independent inquiry into Rachel's death was buried in committee for months before it expired at the end of the 108th Congress, leaving the Israeli military's investigation - which cleared itself of any wrongdoing - as the only official investigation. In March 2005 the Corrie family took matters into their own hands and filed a lawsuit against the State of Israel and Caterpillar. The US government remains silent.

July 6, 2004: Dr. Khaled Salah (54) and his son, Mohammed Salah (16) were murdered in their home at 3 AM in front of the Mrs. Salah and two of their children in the West Bank by Israeli Occupation Forces. Soldiers came to the door, woke the family up. Dr. Salah identified himself and his family as American citizens before being shot. Despite his American citizenship, he was murdered anyway. Dr. Salah was in Nablus to establish the Department of Electrical Engineering at An-Najah University. At the time, his eldest son was attending university in Boston.

Dr. Salah and his son were killed after the cessation of hostilities between the Israeli military and the local armed resistance. Family and medical volunteers on the scene that night report Mohammed Salah died because Israeli military officials refused to allow medical personnel access to the boy, who lay bleeding on the floor of the family home. Despite a call placed to the US consulate the night of the attack, neither Consul General David Pearce nor any other US diplomatic officials investigated the Israeli military's targeting of a family with US resident and citizenship status. To date, the US State Department has done nothing.

Question: If the US Consulate doesn't help citizens that have been shot, (how much more trouble can a person get in than life and death?) why do we have consulates?

Meanwhile: The Jerusalem Post reported in April 2005 the Israeli Navy awarded commendations to members of a military unit for their 'bravery' in Nablus including the July 2004 murder of Dr. Salah and his 16-year old son Mohammed.

Question: How much bravery does it take to kill an unarmed American man in the middle of the night and stand by while his son bleeds to death in front of you?

Is this a trend?

Does the United States give Israel a blank check to murder Americans? To date I have been unable to find an instance where the nation of Israel, its military or Israeli vigilantes responsible for murdering or maiming Americans have been held accountable. Consider the consequences.

Every American killed or harmed by Israel, not defended by the United States increases the chances that other Americans visiting Israel on business, pleasure or humanitarian causes will be murdered.

How many more American citizens must die before we, the American people take action? Based upon the e-mails I receive from Jewish readers, more and more are questioning what is happening in Israel. This has prompted many to bypass the approved tourist routes designed for indoctrination and careful viewing of the approved and choreographed 'realities on the ground' in favor of seeing for themselves what is really going on. By doing so, they place themselves at the mercy of the IOF. This threat of harm or death, actionable and never prosecuted, serves Israel's interests as a form of censorship through fear. But it doesn't serve the best interests of the United States which gives 40% of our entire international aid budget to Israel every year. Shouldn't we see what our money is being spent on and how our machines including bulldozers are used? Our government should be defending us, not protecting Israel's rice paper reputation from rain.

Without a penalty for killing Americans, what is to stop an Israeli soldier from taking out his bad day on any American in his path? Being an American is no protection in Israel. Dr. Salah's murder in July 2004 by Israeli Occupation Forces illuminates how little American citizenship means in Isreal. Knowing he and his family to be an American citizen with US residence, IOF soldiers did not hesitate to shoot him and his son. And even by off chance these murders were in error, the fact the IOF soldiers prevented and withheld from an American child medical help that may well have saved his life prove intent. They did not care that he and his family are/were American citizens. They did not care because the American Government provides no penalty, no consequence to Israel for killing our citizens. Adding insult to injury, the Israeli government awarded these soldiers commendations! Still, the US Government remained silent.

Had the US Government required Israel arrest and try the men responsible for the murders of American citizens Rachel Corrie and twenty-one year old mother Suraida Saleh in 2003, Dr. Salah and his son Mohammed most likely would not have been murdered. The cost to Israel and the soldiers pulling the trigger and preventing medical care would have been too high. These young women's deaths, a college student and a young American mother shot holding her nine-month old baby in her arms, lead to the conclusion, in Israel: killing Americans brings less retribution than mistreating a dog. Why, given the US government's actions, think otherwise?

how many have we sacrificed?

How many Americans have died at the hands of Israelis? My searched turned up 39 with 173 wounded. How many of these thirty-nine murdered and 173 injured have received justice from the US Government?

One, sort of.

Only in one case have the murderers been arrested or reparations made, though not by the responsible party. The blame, condemnation and reparations all came from those employed to carry out the plan, not the employer. The party ultimately responsible for the death, in this case, Israeli intelligence, (Mossad) has not been held responsible for the deliberate murder of an American citizen. Worse, our citizen died for a PR stunt and our government continues to perpetuate that stunt rather than the truth.

The Semi-Exception
The case is of sixty-nine year old American citizen Leon Klinghoffer who was murdered aboard the Achille Lauro, October 7, 1985. His family did receive a pseudo justice, reparations and scattered arrests throughout the years from those blamed. The catch here is 'those blamed'. Those ultimately responsible, the people who ordered, orchestrated and funded the hijacking, have not been held accountable by the US government for the murder of our citizen.

Why is Klinghoffer's situation different? Some will say because he's Jewish. It's possible but doubtful. The instructions from Mossad to the hijackers said "make it bad, to show the world what lay in store for other unsuspecting citizens if Palestinian demands were not met." Handicap, white and elderly, Klinghoffer made the perfect victim, plus he offer little resistance. Whether they knew his faith is inconclusive.

More likely, based upon the actions of the US in dealing with those killed by Palestinians, the reason the Klinghoffer family received attention is that the hijackers were Arab. To this day, politicians, (Delay in 2004 for example) still misrepresent the Achille Lauro as a PLO rather than Mossad operation and cite it as an example of terrorism run rampant(1).

The designated mastermind, Abbas was arrested in Iraq in 2003 and held up as an example of success in our "War on Terror". Other members were periodically arrested and some mysteriously escaped during the past twenty years. There is an inconsistency of course. Abbas gave an interview in Gaza covered by CNN in 1996 where he apologized to the Klinghoffer family. Plus, his 'terrorist' career appears to be in retirement since 1985. The PLO also made reparations to the Klinghoffer family, even though it had been public knowledge nearly four years that the hijacking was a Mossad operation. That inconsistency goes against what we're told is the modus operandi for terrorists...always planning their next strike leading many to believe that Abbas was arrested more to show a positive advancement in the war on terror than a dispensing of justice for Mr. Klinghoffer's death. The fact is, through much of the 1990's the American and Israeli governments knew his location and chose not to pick him up.


Contrast this with Israel's actions in relation to American's killed by Israelis. With the exception of a small payment to the US Government over the USS Liberty attack, none of the families whose kin were murdered by Israel have received compensation or apology bringing to mind the following questions.

1) Why does the American Government choose to protect a foreign nation rather than protect its citizens?

2) What kind of nation preaches equality, democracy, liberty and a respect for personal freedom with predictable regularity and then turns and abandon its own?

3) What type of people do we have running our government and our press that allow a young American mother, barely an adult, to be murdered at point blank range holding her baby in her arms and not do anything about it or report it? Democracy Now is the ONLY broadcast media to report Suraida's murder, still.

4) And with regard to the USS Liberty, what kind of leaders spout rhetoric about "Supporting our Troops" then turn around and treat those whom have given the ultimate sacrifice, their lives in service to their country, like criminals simply because their ship was attacked by the one nation on this planet with carte blanc powers to murder Americans and never answer for it?

Am I the only person in the United States who is outraged by these murders and wants our leaders to answer these questions and Israel held accountable for killing our people? Am I the only person who considers it the moral obligation of our leaders to protect our citizens when wronged? Am I the only person who doesn't give a damn what their religions are...who considers them all Americans?

Being an American did not stop the Israeli military and intelligence from targeting and killing Rachel Corrie, Leon Klinghoffer, Dr. and Mohammed Salah, the young mother Suraida Saleh holding her infant as they shot her, or the thirty-four men on the USS Liberty. It did not stop the Israeli military from shooting Brian Avery, disfiguring him permanently. American citizenship carries no value, no consequence in Israel. As an American of any faith, this fact should terrify you! It should infuriate you. Why doesn't it?

How our government treats the families of our citizens slain should alarm every single American, pro-Israel or not. My God, America, where is the support for our citizens? This is not about Israel. Israel is a foreign nation. They'll do what they can get away with. Had Israel's citizens been slaughtered in our nation, the Israeli government would demand action. Had any nation's citizens been murdered in our country as our citizens have been executed in Israeli controlled territories by Israelis, the outrage would be heard around the world. One would expect the same of the US government. Why is our government silent, not even a whimper?

This is about how the US Government is failing to represent and failing to protect its own citizens by promoting the agenda of a special interest, in this case a foreign nation. Americans should not have to go to court to get justice when we are murdered by a specific nation or any nation. Why is our government not defending us? Why?

Ulterior Motives for Government Inaction?

For what logical reason would members of the US government abandon its own, allow its citizens to die, choose not to protest or hold a foreign nation responsible for their murders?

Next month Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman, former executives of the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee, (AIPAC, also known as the Israeli Lobby) go on trial accused of crimes defined under acts of espionage against the United States. This month, several members of congress, the senate and other government agencies including John Boehner, John Edwards, John Bolton, Evan Bayh, Susan Collins, Dick Cheney, Roy Blunt and Steny Hoyer attended the AIPAC convention, speaking, celebrating and proclaiming their support for this lobby representing the interests of a foreign nation, a nation suspected of espionage and a nation that has killed nearly forty American citizens and never answered for it. Logic says our officials should be avoiding this lobby suspected of betraying American interests. Many are not. Instead, many are going out of their way to support it, demonstrating a severe lack of judgment while raising the questions compounded by years of suspicious actions, bills and behaviors: Did our citizens die because of dual loyalties? Who's interests are our elected representatives representing?

Why else would our representatives protect Israel, represent its interests and sacrifice, humiliate and chastise our citizens? Not once, but multiple times over six separate occasions spanning thirty-nine years. What other reason makes sense?

These questions must be asked. Our nation deserves answers.

Taking a Stand

Using reciprocity shrouded as favors and donations, our tax dollars are funneled to Israel (or any special interest) and a pittance returned to individual campaign coffers for blind eyes, muted mouths and closed ears, the interest paid in the blood of our own. Much like a credit card that charges eighteen percent while returning two, necessity to our detriment via a negative balance is demonstrated. We lose more than we gain. Thus the loyalty of many in our government is effectively leased. Leased but not bought. Standing up for our slain citizens amends this contract, putting those not supporting Americans on notice. These murders and the apathy of our representatives illustrate symptoms of a greater problem, the influence of special interests, lobbies, corporations and others imposed on the American people, defying our best interests as a nation and often against our will.

As a nation we owe our thirty-nine dead and 173 wounded citizens justice. The best way to honor our slain is for us, the voters, to insist not one politician with blurred, disjointed definitions of constituencies, loyalties or responsibilities is allowed to serve our nation ever again.

We have the power to end this. As a nation we have the power to provide the families of the slain with justice and with closure. It is called voting. Let us use it.

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Packed Finkelstein talk draws 'real outrage'

By SHANNA McCORD, Sentinel staff writer
March 16, 2006

The suffering of Jewish people during the Holocaust is really no different than apartheid in Africa or the slaughtering of Native Americans by European settlers, Norman Finkelstein told a standing-room-only crowd at the Veterans Memorial Building on Wednesday night.

Finkelstein, the son of two Holocaust survivors who teaches political science at DePaul University in Chicago, spoke about his views of the "fabricated, concocted, illegitimate" Israeli-Arab conflict, while outside at least 150 members of the local Jewish community quietly protested the event.
They held candles and signs that read "Hate speech breeds violence" and "Say no to hate."

"There's real outrage in the community that the Resource Center for Nonviolence would sponsor such despicable hate speech," Rabbi Rick Litvak of Temple Beth El said. "It's a real stain on the Resource Center."

Finkelstein was invited to speak in Santa Cruz by the Resource Center for Nonviolence, a 30-year-old local peace group that promotes nonviolence through social change. One aspect of the center's work has been Middle East peace and support for a resolution to the ongoing Arab-Israeli conflict.

Finkelstein, who cracked light-hearted jokes about his own Jewish heritage, is known for a pro-Palestinian stance and criticism of Israel.

Wednesday night he cited several Israeli scholars, including historian Benny Morris, when talking about the Palestinians getting kicked out of their homeland in 1948 by the Jews and what he says has been the "illegal" occupation of the land by Israelis.

"The Palestinians were ethnically cleansed," Finkelstein said. "It was not an accident of war."

Finkelstein supports a two-state solution to the ongoing Middle East conflict that would include "full Israeli withdrawal from occupied territories" and Palestinians recognizing the right of Israelis to live in security and peace with their neighbors.

Finkelstein criticized Israelis for currently building a wall that would annex a majority of the West Bank, saying, "Israel is destroying Palestine."

He's written several books, including "The Holocaust Industry," which explains his view of how Jewish people have exploited suffering by the Nazis during World War II for political and financial gain, and "Beyond Chutzpah - On the Misuse of anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History."

Finkelstein has drawn fiery reaction from American Jews for calling Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Prize recipient Elie Wiesel the "resident clown" of the "Holocaust circus."

Local Jewish members had called for the center to cancel Finkelstein's talk, based on what they say is hateful and inflammatory speech.

Max Hoff of Felton came to hear Finkelstein speak in Santa Cruz because he wanted to hear a different side of the issue.

"I feel his minority views need to be heard and broadcast far and wide," Hoff said. "He does represent a minority view that is perhaps stifled in this country."

For years, many area Jewish leaders have criticized the Resource Center, saying it is anti-Israel, and that its stated push for peace in the Mideast is actually thinly veiled support for Palestinians.

Center backers say Finkelstein's talk was merely a chance to hear an underrepresented viewpoint.

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Probe: IDF Soldier likely killed by friendly fire

Efrat Weiss
16 Mar 06

An initial IDF probe into the killing of an IDF soldier in Jenin on Thursday morning has ruled that Staff Sergeant Ido Shapira, 20, was killed by friendly fire.

Investigators said there is no conclusive evidence that Shapira was killed by Palestinian gunmen.

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Criminals and Corruption

With Friends Like These

By Sheila Samples
Information Clearing House
16 Mar 06

Senator John Warner (R-Va.) has the unexpected problem of a foreign state-owned company taking over operations at U.S. ports all figured out. The dour, self-righteous chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee announced from the Senate floor on March 9 that Dubai Ports World (DPW), one of seven emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates (UAE), "has decided to transfer fully U.S. operation of P&O Ports North America to a United States entity."
For Rove-Cheney watchers, that immediately begs the question -- what U.S. entity? What does "transfer fully" mean? But, alas, Warner said details about that part of the scam "weren't immediately available." For Warner watchers, especially those of us who have looked at him from every possible angle while scratching our heads, another question springs to mind -- What could Liz Taylor possibly have been thinking back in December 1976 when she took this cranky, cheerless man for a spin on her seventh time around?

Before we get too giddy...it's been suggested that DPW hire a "front company" to run port operations. You know, like defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld did when the Congress told him he couldn't have the Total Information Awareness (TIA) data-mining program. Rumsfeld said okay, and took the program into the shadows, out of Congressional oversight and gave it a new name -- Terrorist Information Awareness program. Then, with Congress and the American public appeased, TIA continued business as usual, and is going full-bore today.

Several US companies have been mentioned to serve as a U.S. front for DPW, such as SSA Marine Ports Company and Maher Terminals. CNN also suggested CSX World Terminals, but failed to mention that Dubai purchased a major portion of CSX from the Carlyle Group in 2005 and, oh yes, CNN suggested almost as an afterthought that perhaps the best qualified of all "entities" is Halliburton. If you're a Halliburton watcher, you know what that's all about, and it has little to do with qualifications...

Who's in charge here?

It looks like it's back to the shadows for a port-control strategy session. If you believe either the Bush regime or the UAE will politely back off because of the nuisance of an unhappy American citizenry, you just haven't been watching these guys in action for the past five years. There's too much money and power involved. They'll figure it out. That session ought to be easy. Bush says he's a "strategist" because, he explained, "I create...er..strategy." Can't argue with that. He also claims to be a problem-solver because he solves...er...problems; he says he's a leader because he...er...leads, and brags that he's a war president because he...er...ohhh, never mind.

It should be obvious by now that George Bush has no control over the machinations of the government he claims to lead. He admittedly knew nothing about the secretive deal pushed through by the Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States (CFIUS) to put six additional U.S. ports, or 24 container terminals, under the control of an Islamic regime that provided -- as Cheney says -- "safe haven" to those who -- as Bush says -- "are lurking, plotting, planning to kill us" until the story broke in the media. White House aides also said that Bush knew nothing about the UAE decision to withdraw until Warner (was Liz drunk?) announced it. Bush's belated threat to veto any amendment to derail the deal didn't scare anybody, least of all Congress, and Warner's success at taking the deal off the table saved Bush the embarrassment of being steamrolled by his own party.

They would have us believe that the deal "just happened." Nobody knew. In addition to Bush taking the Abu Ghraib defense, AP's Ted Bridis writes that "...Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and even Treasury Secretary John Snow, who was plucked from CSX World Terminals for the Treasury job and oversees the government committee that approved the deal, all say they did not know about the purchase until after it was finalized." Bridis adds, "The work was done mostly by assistant secretaries."

So, who's in control here? Disregard what Israel PM Ariel Sharon told Shimon Peres, his Minister of Foreign Affairs, a month after the 9-11 attack -- "I want to tell you something very clear, don't worry about American pressure on Israel," Sharon said. "We, the Jewish people control America, and the Americans know it."

Yeah? Well, I want to tell you Americans don't know Jack about who controls this country. Israel may be our partner in crime; may be sucking us dry; prodding us to fight its battles -- but the United Arab Emirates, "entities" like the Carlyle Group and Halliburton, and the administration globalization gurus are in control and, as Sam Peckinpah so aptly put it -- they're blowin' this town all to hell.

Port watch

The critical news about the UAE is what the media, the Congress, and the administration are NOT telling the people. In addition to its multi-million-dollar order for Boeing jets, and a $6.4 billion deal to buy 80 F-16E/F multi-role fighters which will make Abu Dhabi the leading air power in the Gulf, Dubai firms have several lucrative contracts with the Pentagon, which might explain Rumsfeld's tight-lipped, purple-veined fury after a recent congressional hearing as he stood there beside a dreamily nodding Joe Lieberman (?-CT) and deflected media questions to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Peter Pace, and U.S. Central Commander Gen. John Abizaid.

The spectacle of this nation's top military brass lobbying Congress to give a foreign government control over a crucial part of our infrastructure, our military operations and security is appalling. Making the rounds of recent Sunday talk shows, Pace said, "Since 9-11, Dubai is as good a partner and friend as we've had." Pace told a Pentagon briefing on Feb. 21 that the Arab Emirates were "very, very solid partners in the alliance."

Abizaid was not nearly so diplomatic. He lashed out at the public and the Congress --"The UAE is absolutely vital to our interests," Abizaid said angrily, and added that the furor over the port control was "nothing but Arab and Muslim bashing that is totally unnecessary." Abizaid should know. He's been bashing, smashing and blowing apart Arabs and Muslims for years...

The tantrum Republicans and Democrats are throwing on center stage is very effective at covering the activity teeming in the shadows. Time Magazine's Daren Fonda writes that another Dubai company shows no signs of backing off its Navy contract in the Middle East. Britain sold Inchcape Shipping Services (ISS) to "a Dubai government investment vehicle for $285 million." According to Fonda, ISS "provides services to clients ranging from cruiseship operators to oil tankers to commercial cargo vessels." ISS operates out of more than a dozen U.S. port cities, the article states, "including Houston, Miami and New Orleans."

In a June 2005 release, ISS announced it will provide all logistics requirements of U.S. Navy and Coast Guard ships in ports throughout the Middle East. The release also notes that ISS may asked to provide services for U.S. military training exercises and "contingency operations inland." ISS will "partner" for these services with Halliburton's Kellogg, Brown & Root (KBR), which has been awarded billions (and billions) of dollars in no-bid contracts for Iraq reconstruction. KBR watchers might wonder if these "contingency operations inland" have anything to do with its recent no-bid contract to build a network of detainment camps in the U.S.

Also under consideration is the sale to Dubai International of (you guessed it) yet another British company that makes precision parts used in engines for military aircraft and tanks. The UAE purchased London's Doncasters Group for $1.2 billion, which operates nine factories, including military production facilities in Connecticut and Georgia. According to Middle East Newsline, Doncasters' clients include Boeing, General Electric, Honeywell and Pratt and Whitney...

What should concern Congress and, as a minimum, tweak the curiosity of the media is the UAE's ties to, and protection of, Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda, its recognition of the Taliban as the legitimate government of Afghanistan, its thwarting of a CIA attempt to kill bin Laden before 9-11, its massive money-laundering network for terrorist activity, its funding ($23 milliion) for Neil Bush's IGNITE! learning systems company, and its furnishing two hijackers for the 9-11 attacks. The UAE's appalling record on human slavery should be dragged out of the shadows for all to see. In June 2005, the U.S. State Department reported that the UAE is a major destination for women sex slaves, and it regularly imports, steals or buys children from other countries to serve as camel jockeys to feed the gambling frenzy of oil-rich sheiks.

Why the UAE will win

We seem to be incapable of wrapping our minds around the concept of "order" that our increasingly totalitarianism government is inflicting upon us. Even as we "high-five" our success at forcing Congress to back out of the Dubai deal, we fail to notice that the power brokers on both sides of this issue have not budged. And they will not. In its initial statement, DPW said transferring operation of the ports hinged on its not losing money on its $6.8 billion purchase of London's Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Co. Otherwise, it would have no alternative but to promise to behave itself and continue to march.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist agrees. On Sunday, Frist said if no buyer is found and the Bush administration can't find any security risks, the deal for DPW to manage and operate U.S. ports could go through. "If everything that the president, the administration has said, and that is that there is absolutely no threatening or jeopardy to our security and safety of the American people ... I don't see how the deal would have to be canceled," Frist told ABC's "This Week."

There's no stopping them. With friends like Frist scurrying around in the shadows, and a media willing to distort facts and distract attention, this deal is a no-brainer. Yesterday, an e-mail surfaced from DP World telling managers in Miami that the sale of U.S. assets "could take a while," and for them to assume for now that "ownership...is not going to change." CNN followed up with an opposite-speak report this morning that DP World announced it would divest itself of all U.S. port assets. However, it has hired both a financial advisor and a legal advisor, and the deal will take some time -- possibly four to six months.

That's the good news. The bad news is Bush watchers know what kind of mischief this grand strategist is capable of in four to six months. Unless I am mistaken, we will be far more worried about the insurgency in Iran than we are with the port in Miami...

The UAE will win because of the Free Trade Agreement we are determined to have in that part of the world. It will win because, as Mike Whitney writes in Online Journal, "The United Arab Emirates is situated at the center of an oil-dependent world. This tiny state forms the promontory that juts out into the famed Strait of Hormuz through which 40 percent of the world's oil passes every day." Whitney says Iran is just across that strait and, if we're going to attack Iran, we must have boots on the ground in Dubai to keep the strait open and ward off the resulting devastation to world oil supplies and financial markets.

It will win because the crony alliance that comprises the Iron Triangle of the New World Order -- industry, government and military -- is a power elite that feeds ravenously on the soft underbelly of war like maggots on rotten meat. Until we realize just how precious freedom is, until we work to take back that which was stolen, nothing will change. We must do more than complain and cast worthless votes every few years.

Most Americans are critically aware of the importance of security in the wake of 9-11. But with best friends and partners like the United Arab Emirates, the Carlyle Group and Halliburton controlling the house -- we have little time to worry about enemies at the gate.

Sheila Samples is an Oklahoma writer and a former civilian US Army Public Information Officer. She is a regular contributor for a variety of Internet sites. Contact her at: rsamples@sirinet.net. © 2005 Sheila Samples

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Newspaper's former boss drawn into Plame row

By Jim VandeHei in Washington
March 15, 2006

THE former executive editor of The Washington Post Ben Bradlee is quoted in Vanity Fair magazine as saying that Richard Armitage, then the deputy secretary of state, was probably the source who revealed CIA operative Valerie Plame's name to the paper's assistant managing editor, Bob Woodward.

In an article to be published in the magazine this week Mr Bradlee is quoted as saying: "That Armitage is the likely source is a fair assumption."
But Mr Bradlee denied the quote on Monday. He said he knows the identity of Woodward's source but did not recall making that statement to Vanity Fair. He had no interest in unmasking the official who first told Woodward about Ms Plame in June 2003.

"I don't think I said it," Mr Bradlee said. "I know who his source is … I have not told a soul who it is."

The identity of Woodward's source was one of the mysteries of the CIA case after he disclosed last year that a government official had told him about Ms Plame, an undercover operative, a month before her name was revealed by the columnist Robert Novak.

Novak has refused to discuss his sources but has suggested he and Woodward shared the source.

Ms Plame is at the centre of an investigation by a special prosecutor into whether White House officials knowingly disclosed her name to the media to discredit allegations made by her husband, the former ambassador Joseph Wilson, that the Administration doctored intelligence before the Iraq war.

The investigation has resulted in charges of perjury, making false statements and obstructing justice against Lewis Libby, Vice-President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff.

Mr Bradlee, now Post vice-president at large, said he learned the source's name from someone other than Woodward. Woodward said he did not reveal the source to his friend and former boss.

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Giant immigration bill seeks to double H1-B visas - Giving US Citizens Jobs Away

Press Trust of India

Washington, March 14, 2006

US Congress is likely to take up a giant immigration bill this month, which recommends nearly doubling the number of H-1B skilled-worker temporary visas to 115,000.

The measures include not just increasing the number of visas but also add an option of raising the cap 20 per cent more each year.
If passed, the provisions buried in the Senate's giant immigration bill, would open the country's doors to highly skilled immigrants for science, math, technology and engineering jobs.

The provisions were sought by Silicon Valley tech companies and enjoy significant bipartisan support amid concern that the United States might lose its lead in technology.

They would broaden avenues to legal immigration for foreign tech workers and would put those with advanced degrees on an automatic path to permanent residence should they want it, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

H-1B visas were highly controversial in the Bay Area when their numbers reached a peak of 195,000 in 2003.

The new skilled immigration measures are part of a controversial 300-page bill by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa, now being rewritten by the committee with the goal of reaching the Senate floor by the end of the month.

Other provisions include a new F-4 visa category for students pursuing advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering or mathematics.

These students would be granted permanent residence if they find a job in their field and pay a $1,000 fee toward scholarships and training of US workers.

Congress had increased the visas during the late 1990s dot-com boom, when Silicon Valley complained of tech-worker shortages, although native-born engineers complained that their wages were undermined by cheap labour from India and China.

With the tech crash and the revelation that some of the September 11, 2001, hijackers had entered the country on student visas, the political climate for foreign workers darkened, and Congress quietly allowed the number of H-1B visas to plummet back to 65,000 a year.

The cap was reached in August -- in effect turning off the tap of the visas for 14 months. A special exemption of 20,000 visas for workers with advanced degrees was reached in January.

"We're in a bad crunch right now," said Laura Reiff, head of the Essential Worker Immigration Coalition, a business umbrella group backing more immigration. "We are totally jammed on immigrant visas, the green card category, and totally jammed on H-1B visas. You can't bring in tech workers right now."

The provisions for highly skilled workers enjoy support in both parties in the Senate and in the Bush administration after a raft of high-profile studies have warned that the United States is not producing enough math and science students and is in danger of losing its global edge in innovation to India and China.

However, opponents of broadening immigration for skilled workers said doing so would defeat efforts to get more Americans interested in science, math, engineering and other technological fields.

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U.S. Tries to Salvage Unraveling 9/11 Trial

By Richard A. Serrano and Johanna Neuman
LA Times Staff Writers
March 16, 2006

Prosecutors in Zacarias Moussaoui case ask that ban on aviation security witnesses be lifted, or 'there's no point for us to go forward.'

WASHINGTON - All week long, government lawyer Carla J. Martin badgered them. She sent them 100-plus-page court transcripts. She harried them with e-mails criticizing prosecutors and fretting about the government's image. She called them at home.

By Friday, Lynne A. Osmus had had enough. As a top security official at the Federal Aviation Administration - and soon to be a key prosecution witness in the death penalty trial of admitted terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui - she did not like being used to further the lawyer's interest in making the FAA look good at the expense of telling the truth in a capital murder case.

"I didn't want to have secret discussions with her," she said.

Osmus showed the e-mails to prosecutors, to dramatic effect.
On Monday, the allegations of government witness tampering led the judge to postpone the trial. On Tuesday, the judge barred all testimony and evidence dealing with aviation security - the heart of the government's case.

On Wednesday, prosecutors asked U.S. District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema to reconsider her ruling. Transcripts of a conference call showed prosecutors told the judge that otherwise, they would have to abandon their quest to see Moussaoui executed.

"We don't know whether it's worth us proceeding at all, candidly, under the ruling you made," Assistant U.S. Atty. Robert A. Spencer, the prosecution team leader, told the judge. "Without some relief, frankly, I think that there's no point for us to go forward."

It would be a devastating defeat in a showcase trial that has been in the making since Sept. 11, 2001. The Moussaoui case has lurched chaotically along - with Olympian battles over the death penalty, the use of testimony from secret captives in the war on terrorism and the introduction of highly classified government material - while the emotional defendant made repeated outbursts in court.

Its most bizarre moment came in April, when Moussaoui, a 37-year-old French citizen of Moroccan descent, unexpectedly pleaded guilty to capital murder. He said he was part of the Sept. 11 conspiracy, and that his mission was to fly a plane into the White House.

The government was determined to secure the death penalty in what is the only criminal case on U.S. soil to have emerged from the Sept. 11 attacks. Although Moussaoui was in jail the day hijackers flew four airplanes into the World Trade Center towers, the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania, killing more than 3,000 people, prosecutors advanced the theory that had he tipped off FBI agents, the government would have prevented the carnage.

That was the issue facing jurors when testimony began last week in Moussaoui's sentencing trial, the culmination of a years-long, government-wide effort. Scores of government agents and attorneys had interviewed thousands of witnesses and pored over millions of documents, prosecutors recalled Wednesday in pleading with the judge to reverse herself.

One of those lawyers was Martin.

"In this sea of government attorneys and agents who have assiduously played by the rules, Ms. Martin stands as the lone miscreant," the prosecutors wrote.

Martin, 51, a onetime airline attendant who found a second career as a lawyer, had worked for the FAA since the early 1990s. Her first big case was the Lockerbie trial, in which the families of the victims in the Libyan terrorist explosion aboard Pan Am Flight 103 sued the airline for negligence.

Her job then was to protect government secrets - information about airline security - from entering the trial's public record. By all accounts, she did her job zealously.

"Her role was to make sure names, dates and places that would be dangerous if publicized were kept out of view," said James P. Kreindler, a New York lawyer who represented families in the case. "For 13 weeks, she was in the courtroom every day. Every so often she would ask the judge to please clear the courtroom."

Moving from the FAA to the newly formed Transportation Security Administration, Martin did civil work and had little or no trial experience, former colleagues said.

"She spent over a decade fiercely protecting from disclosure sensitive security information," said one former co-worker who spoke on condition of anonymity because, he said, he did not want to publicly criticize Martin. "That's her niche, to represent her agency, to shield their classified information. She served the niche well, but often at the expense of collegiality and professionalism."

In the Moussaoui case, Kreindler said, Martin's role "was as a traffic cop scheduling appearances. She's not a trial lawyer," he said. "Her role was to get people there at the right time."

In February, Brinkema issued an order mandating that witnesses were not to follow trial proceedings in the press or read trial transcripts before being called to testify. Martin was there when the order was discussed in court, the judge and prosecutors have said; it also was posted on the court's website.

For four days last week, Monday through Thursday, prosecutors slowly began to roll out their case. FBI agents described Moussaoui's arrest and laid the groundwork for the trial's next phase. They would have TSA and FAA officials tell the jury that had Moussaoui cooperated with the FBI, the government would have prevented the attacks.

But as the trial unfolded, Martin was - without prosecutors' knowledge - sowing the seeds of a monumental legal mess.

Osmus had put together a PowerPoint display for prosecutors. It was to show the jury various options the FAA would have had in the late summer of 2001 to try to stop an airplane hijacking. The measures included beefing up airport security, hunting for small knives and box-cutters carried by passengers, and posting suspected terrorists' names on watch lists.

Prosecutors in their opening statement gave the impression that the FAA would have barred the hijackers from boarding the aircraft.

"We would have prevented the terrorists from getting on the plane and getting on the plane with the weapons they used to turn those aircraft into weapons to kill Americans," Spencer told the jurors. "It would have been a straightforward effort to keep those hijackers and to keep anyone with a knife or a box-cutter off a plane."

According to Osmus, Martin was alarmed at that assertion. The day after the opening statement, Martin downloaded the transcript and sent it around to Osmus and half a dozen others planning to testify.

Martin knew there was no way the FAA could guarantee 100% failsafe security and, in hindsight, she probably was right, the witnesses have said. But, they said, she seemed bent on shaping their testimony to reflect that.

In one e-mail, Martin highlighted portions of the opening statement that she disagreed with, calling their attention to what she would have told the jury. The transcript was 129 pages. "She asked us to [read] it, and I didn't know there was any reason not to do it, so I did as she asked," Osmus said.

Martin warned Osmus to be careful under cross-examination, telling her the defense "could drive a truck" through the prosecutor's opening remarks. Martin also told her that she had lawyer friends with United and American airlines who were troubled by the prosecution's statement.

Like the other witnesses, Osmus had no idea about the judge's rule against witness tampering. But she did not feel comfortable about all the coaching.

"I considered talking to Carla about it," Osmus said. "I decided not to … because I assumed since she was an attorney working on this case, she knew what the rules were."

Claudio Manno, the FAA's deputy assistant administrator for security and Osmus' assistant, also was sent the transcript. He skimmed about 70 pages because Martin told him to read it. But Manno, feeling under siege, turned to an FAA attorney for advice and tried to avoid Martin over at the TSA.

"She was really taking up a lot of the time that we needed basically to do our everyday job," he said.

Still the Martin e-mails kept coming. Manno said she was briefing him on other subjects that might come up in his testimony - such as how the FAA responded to earlier plots to blow up planes over the Pacific and to dive bomb an aircraft into CIA headquarters.

"I don't know what Ms. Martin was thinking…. Whether she was trying to prepare me or what she was doing, I can't say."

Martin had Matthew Kormann, a TSA liaison officer, search for documents and review them for their classified status. It appeared she was looking for material to back up how she believed the FAA would have responded had the agency known the Sept. 11 attacks were coming.

Kormann said he gathered the material, some still classified, and dropped it off for Martin at TSA headquarters. In meetings last week, he said, she updated him on how the trial was going. He said she also advised him that he had been listed as a defense witness, and instructed him not to cooperate with the defense.

And then on Saturday, the day after Osmus alerted prosecutors to Martin's behavior, Kormann's phone rang at home. Martin was frantic. He said she told him to forget everything they had discussed and cited the judge's ruling on witnesses.

"That was the first time I heard that," he said.

Martin has not spoken with reporters, and her attorney declined to comment. She faces possible civil or criminal contempt charges, and was expected to appear before Brinkema this week.

Prosecutors said in court papers Wednesday that her behavior was "aberrant and apparently criminal."

Trial lawyers, said Kreindler, would know how to prep witnesses without shaping their testimony, would know where the line was between preparing witnesses and coaching them.

"It's second nature to trial lawyers not to interfere with the substance of a witness' testimony," Kreindler said.

He speculated that Martin might have thought she was protecting the airlines, something she has done all her career.

"She's a nice person, I've known her for 17 years, through Pam Am 103 and 9/11 and at aviation conferences. The unfortunate thing is what she did," Kreindler said.

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Video: 9/11 - BYU Professor Steven E Jones WTC Lecture UVSC


BYU Physics professor and founder of Scholars For 9/11 Truth Steven E Jones presents his presentation on the collapse of WTC Buildings 1,2, and 7 on 9/11. A very informative and scientific presentation that raises serious questions about the official account of the collapse of the World Trade Center Towers and Building 7. Presenter: Steven E Jones

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Jessica Simpson snubs Bush

By Steve Gorman
16 Mar 06

LOS ANGELES - Concerned about politicising her favourite charity, singer-actress Jessica Simpson on Wednesday turned down a invitation to meet with U.S.
President George W. Bush, a snub that left Republicans dismayed.
The apparent final word that Simpson would be a no-show at a major Republican fund-raiser with Bush and congressional leaders on Thursday night came after a day of conflicting reports from her camp and organisers of the event.

The blond star of the film "The Dukes of Hazzard" still plans to visit Washington on Thursday to lobby members of Congress on behalf of Operation Smile, a non-profit venture offering free plastic surgery for disadvantaged children overseas with facial deformities.

People close to Simpson said she declined a request to appear that same evening at the gala fund-raiser of the National Republican Congressional Committee -- even after she was offered some private face time with Bush -- because Operation Smile is a non-partisan group.

"It just feels wrong," one Simpson insider told Reuters on Wednesday, adding that the actress keeps her political views private. "She would love to meet the president and talk about Operation Smile ... but she can't do it at a fund-raiser for the Republican Party."

NRCC spokesman Carl Forti said he was surprised at Simpson's position.

"It's never been a problem for Bono," he said, referring to the U2 rock star who has met regularly with political leaders of all stripes to promote various causes, including Third World debt relief. "I find it hard to believe she would pass up an opportunity to lobby the president on behalf of Operation Smile."

Although Simpson's publicists insisted she never had planned to attend the fund-raiser, Forti said the actress initially accepted the NRCC invitation when it was extended on Tuesday night, only to change her mind the next evening.

Forti said the Republican group had even arranged for Simpson to dine at one of the head tables with U.S. House of Representatives Majority Leader John Boehner, an Ohio Republican. The NRCC hopes the $2,500 (1,433 pounds) -per-plate dinner event will raise $7.5 million for Republican candidates in the congressional midterm elections in November.

Simpson, 25, a Texas native who started out singing in her church choir, became a star on the Christian music circuit as a teenager and crossed over to the pop mainstream with her major-label debut album "Sweet Kisses" in 1999.

She became an overnight MTV sensation in 2003 as co-star of a reality show chronicling her first year of wedlock with fellow pop vocalist Nick Lachey, but she filed for divorce in December after three stormy years of marriage. Simpson is currently featured wearing cowboy boots and hot pants in a TV pizza ad.

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US Senate candidate says Homosexuals Should be Executed: Elton John, Mary Cheney included

by PageOneQ

Last week, the press reported that Merrill Keiser, a Democratic candidate United States Senate from Ohio, believes that homosexuality should be punishable by death. Kaiser's opposition for the Democratic nomination is US Rep. Sherrod Brown.

PageOneQ has obtained a portion of an audio interview in which Keiser says that singer/performer Elton John should be put to death and insinuates that the same should happen to Mary Cheney, the daughter of Vice President Richard B. Cheney.

The Edge Show, a growing podcast with over 4,000 weekly listeners, conducted the interview.

Here is the transcript of the portion of the show in which Kaiser speaks of superstar and out gay man Elton John.
Host Chad Larson: Elton John, he comes to the state of Ohio, he's gay and proud, you want him dead? Should he be killed?

Candidate Merrill Keiser: I would prefer that he repent

Obviously, he's not repenting, should he be killed?

Keiser:Well he's worthy of death

The interview then turned to the subject of Mary Cheney, the Vice President's daughter. Larson inquired as to whether Ms. Cheney should be subject to the same treatment Mr. Kaiser suggested for Elton John:

Larson: How about Mary Cheney? How about the vice president's daughter? Should she be killed? Should she be killed, sir, if she does not repent?

Keiser: You know the important thing is they are facing the second death

Larson: Of course, but in your perfect world, should Mary Cheney be killed for her being a homosexual?

Keiser: If she's not going to repent.

Larson: Then she should be killed?

Keiser: She's not being killed.

Larson: If her life is no longer existing then she is being killed.

Keiser: Well, how else are you going to do it?

Larson: So you are saying Mary Cheney …So you are saying Mary Cheney should be killed for being a homosexual.

Keiser: Why don't we….What's wrong with drugs

Larson: We're going to drug her?

Keiser: Why do we have laws against drugs?

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Pro-Israel Activists Block Travel Reform

March 17, 2006

WASHINGTON - Jewish organizations played a leading role in defeating the effort, launched in response to the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal, to ban privately funded trips for members of Congress.

Advocates of lobbying reform and many members of Congress stepped up their push for a ban on travel paid for by private individuals and organizations after Abramoff - who organized junkets for many lawmakers - pleaded guilty in January to fraud, tax evasion and conspiracy. With lawmakers fearing a public backlash over the Abramoff scandal, many members of Congress on both sides of the aisle were lining up behind legislation that would outlaw privately funded trips and place severe restrictions on gifts and meals from lobbyists.
But then Jewish organizations, in the lead of a loose coalition of nonprofit groups, moved to block the reforms on travel, arguing that one of their most effective lobbying tools has been privately sponsored trips to Israel for lawmakers. Israel is the number one foreign destination of privately funded congressional trips, and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, Washington's powerful pro-Israel lobby, is the second largest underwriter of such overseas travel.

The tide appears to have turned against those pressing for a ban on travel, according to congressional insiders. They say that a solid bipartisan majority now favors watered down legislation that would impose some restrictions on privately funded travel by legislators and require full transparency, but still allow privately funded trips. The severe restrictions on gifts and meals remain.

"We've all been successful in making sure that there are no immediate rushes to action" on travel reform, said William Daroff, vice president for public policy at the United Jewish Communities, the umbrella group of North American Jewish federations. "We are very comfortable with the bill that is now being debated on the Senate floor because it brings about a good combination of smart reform that aims to rid the system of many of the abuses while not imposing a ban."

In the past five years, Aipac and its affiliated American Israel Education Foundation spent almost $1.1 million dollars on trips - most of them to Israel - for members of Congress, according to PoliticalMoneyLine, a Washington lobbying and campaign finance watchdog organization. Aipac is second only to the well-funded Aspen Institute, a nonpartisan think tank, which has spent close to $ 3.5 million on trips for members of Congress since 2000. During the period surveyed, Israel was the foremost destination for such travel, accounting for 164 out of 1,922 privately funded trips overseas by members of Congress. Almost all trips to Israel are funded by Aipac, with some financed by local Jewish federations and other Jewish groups, including the American Jewish Committee. The dovish Center for Middle East Peace and Economic Cooperation spent more than $200,000 on congressional trips to Middle Eastern countries, including Israel.

Pro-Israel groups argue that banning "educational" trips, which seldom have any recreational or entertainment component - unlike the junkets organized by Abramoff and many other lobbyists - would be a mistake. During an appearance in front of the House of Representatives Rules Committee, Daroff said that banning educational trips would be "throwing the baby out with the bath water." Congress, Daroff said, is seeking ways to block lobbyists from improperly trying to obtain legislators' support by showering them with lavish recreational trips. But visits to Israel, he said, are intended to teach legislators and their staff "about some of the most critical foreign policy and security issues of the day."

Many members of Congress seem to agree.

When going on Aipac-funded trips "you'd better hold your breath, because you don't do anything but go to meetings," said Rep. Alcee Hastings, a Florida Democrat, during his appearance at the House hearing last week.

Some watchdog groups are still lobbying for a blanket ban on privately funded trips, including travel to Israel. "The whole concept of privately financed travel is an extension of lobbying activity by interest groups, with very few exceptions, and Aipac is not one of those exceptions," said Craig Holman, the legislative representative of Public Citizen's Congress Watch, a nonprofit consumer-rights organization in Washington. "Even if these trips are very educational, Aipac has its own agenda that it is pushing," he added.

Members of Congress ought to travel to the Middle East to learn about outstanding issues there, Holman said, but "they should go on a clean slate," using taxpayer money and maintaining a balanced itinerary. "When the spinning is all done by one side, that is not a true educational experience," but "something that rather resembles propaganda," Holman said. He conceded that the fight for a blanket ban on privately funded travel has little chance of success.

Congress pushed for lobbying-reform legislation in January, after Abramoff pleaded guilty to corruption charges and made clear that he would share information with federal investigators about his past contacts with legislators. Last week, however, because of a growing conviction on Capitol Hill that sweeping reform is unneeded and because of sharp disagreements among House Republicans, the legislation seemed to be losing steam. Some Hill insiders even speculated that despite the initial enthusiasm, lobbying-reform legislation might not be passed this year.

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Bush Puts America on Death Row

by Chris Floyd
16 Mar 06

Hardened cynics often accuse President George W. Bush of ruthlessly exploiting the tragedy of 9/11 to advance his pre-set agenda of killing a whole heap of foreigners. This is, of course, a calumnious slander against the Dear Leader's noble ambitions. For as he clearly demonstrated last week, Bush is also exploiting the tragedy of 9/11 to advance his pre-set agenda to kill a whole heap of Americans as well.

In yet another of those momentous degradations of public morality that go unremarked by the ever-vigilant watchdogs of the national media, Bush slipped a measure into the revamped "Patriot (sic) Act" he signed last week that will allow him to expedite the death penalty process across the land, the Austin American-Statesman reports.
Prisoners just aren't being killed fast enough for ole George, you see. They hang on for years and years, using all them lawyer tricks and court procedures and what all, that DNA hocus-pocus and habeas corpus junk, or even new testimony showing that they're innocent – as if that mattered. No, you got to strap 'em down and shoot 'em up with that poison juice lickety-split, churn those convict corpses out like so much prime pork sausage – the way ole George did it when he was head honcho down in Texas.

This remarkably vindictive and bloodthirsty measure – which has absolutely nothing to do with the "war on terrorism" or "homeland security," the ostensible subjects of the Patriot Act – strips the judiciary of its supervision over state-devised "fast track" procedures to speed up the execution process. The history of the move actually goes back to that remarkably vindictive and bloodthirsty precursor to the Bush Regime known as the Reagan Administration. During that glorious "morning in America," it became all the rage to "cut the red tape" that kept prisoners alive until the appeals process had run its course and determined there were no egregious errors in their cases before the government killed them. The tape-cutting crusade was led by then-Chief Justice William Rehnquist, who once ruled that even new proof of innocence was no bar to killing a prisoner if state courts had earlier upheld his conviction, the Washington Times reports. Urged on by Rehnquist – who was executed by God last year – several states went the fast-track route, limiting the time that prisoners have to file petitions and narrowing the range of factors that judges can consider in death-row appeals.

Unfortunately, America's courts were not yet fully packed with hard-right cadres, and even the vulturous Rehnquist couldn't keep them all in line. Fast-track options in state after state were struck down by federal judges – because the fast-trackers' overall death penalty systems were such a shambles, riddled with literally fatal incompetence. One glaring example could be found in – where else? – Texas, where Guv Dub was mowing them down on his way to becoming the greatest mass killer in modern American history, with 152 notches on his belt.

Bush had set up a veritable execution assembly line in his fiefdom, aided by his trusty legal aide, Alberto Gonzales. Knowing just what the boss wanted, Al would prepare dumbed-down capsules of death penalty cases, stripping away pesky details like "ineffective counsel, conflict of interest, mitigating evidence and even actual evidence of innocence," as Alan Berlow reported in the Atlantic Monthly. Bush would "sometimes" bother to look at the reports, sometimes not, Gonzales said. In his six years as governor, Bush spared only one condemned prisoner from execution: the serial killer Henry Lee Lucas. All the rest – including women, juvenile offenders, even the mentally retarded – got the spike. Yet one in every eight death row inmates have been exonerated since America resumed the death penalty in 1976, the Washington Times reports – an astonishing percentage of false imprisonment in capital cases. It is virtually impossible that Bush did not kill some innocent people with his relentless 152-1 execution ratio.

In 1996, the courts put a crimp in Bush's carnival of death, ruling that Texas failed to meet "minimum competency standards" for the fast-track system. He had to make do with the old-fashioned appeals process, which slowed but never stopped his killing spree: he averaged almost two executions a month during the course of his term. But he never forgot – or forgave – the judicial interference with his dominion over life and death. How it must have rankled, to think that this judicial brake on wholesale state-sponsored slaughter still existed in the Homeland, when he – the great Commander, breaker of nations – could now order the "extra-judicial killing" of anyone on earth whom he arbitrarily deemed a "terrorist" and send mighty armies to grind tens of thousands of people into bloody mulch. Who would dare put fetters on the god-like sway of the "unitary executive"?

So now he has taken his revenge. The backdoor measure in the Patriot Act decrees that responsibility for awarding fast-track death-penalty status to the states will now be the sole prerogative of the U.S. Attorney General – one Alberto Gonzales. Yes, the fawning minion whose perversions of law on behalf of his boss have abetted murderous war, systematic torture, mass corruption, assassination, abduction, rendition, dictatorship – and the slipshod Texas death machinery – will now decide if states are legally scrupulous enough to resume lickety-split executions. You can hear those sausage grinders gearing up all over America.

God only knows what festering psychic wounds drive these spiritual cripples and their obsession with death. But for them, power isn't real unless it's written on the body of another human being – a prisoner, guilty or not; an "enemy," real or imagined; or the multitude of slaughtered innocents whose only crime was living in a land that the cripples wanted to conquer.

Chris Floyd/This is an expanded version of the column appearing in the March 17 edition of The Moscow Times. .

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Stop Bush's War

New York Times
16 Mar 06

"By some estimates," according to a recent article in Foreign Affairs, "the number of Iraqis who have died as a result of the [U.S.] invasion has reached six figures - vastly more than have been killed by all international terrorists in all of history. Sanctions on Iraq probably were a necessary cause of death for an even greater number of Iraqis, most of them children."
Not everyone agrees that Iraqi deaths have reached six figures. President Bush gave an estimate of 30,000 not too long ago. That's probably low, but horrendous nevertheless. In any event, there is broad agreement that the number of Iraqis slaughtered has reached into the tens of thousands. An ocean of blood has been shed in Mr. Bush's mindless war, and there is no end to this tragic flow in sight.

Jeffrey Gettleman of The Times gave us the following chilling paragraphs in Tuesday's paper:

"In Sadr City, the Shiite section in Baghdad where the [four] terrorist suspects were executed, government forces have vanished. The streets are ruled by aggressive teenagers with shiny soccer jerseys and machine guns.

"They set up roadblocks and poke their heads into cars and detain whomever they want. Mosques blare warnings on loudspeakers for American troops to stay out. Increasingly, the Americans have been doing just that."

Everyone who thought this war was a good idea was wrong and ought to admit it. Those who still think it's a good idea should get therapy.

Last Friday and Saturday, a conference titled "Vietnam and the Presidency" was held at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston. Discussions about the lessons we failed to learn from Vietnam, and thus failed to apply to Iraq, were pervasive.

Some of the lessons seemed embarrassingly basic. Jack Valenti, who served as a special assistant to Lyndon Johnson, reminded us how difficult it is to "impress democracy" on other countries. And he noted something that the public and the politicians seem to forget each time the glow of a brand-new war is upon us: that wars are "inhumane, brutal, callous and full of depravity."

Think Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo. Think suicide bombers and death squads and roadside bombs. Think of the formerly healthy men and women who have come back to the United States from Iraq paralyzed, or without their arms or legs or eyes, or the full use of their minds. Think of the many thousands dead.

Most of the people who thought this war was a good idea also thought that the best way to fight it was with other people's children. That in itself is a form of depravity.

Among those who played a key role in the conference was David Halberstam, the author of "The Best and the Brightest," which is not just the best book about America's involvement in Vietnam, but a book that grows more essential with each passing year. If you read it in the 70's or 80's, read it again. We can all use a refresher course on the link between folly and madness at the highest levels of government, and the all-but-unimaginable suffering it can unleash.

In the book's epilogue, Mr. Halberstam wrote that, among other things, President Johnson "and the men around him wanted to be defined as being strong and tough; but strength and toughness and courage were exterior qualities which would be demonstrated by going to a clean and hopefully antiseptic war with a small nation, rather than the interior and more lonely kind of strength and courage of telling the truth to America and perhaps incurring a good deal of domestic political risk."

That latter kind of toughness is what's needed now. Invading Iraq was a disastrous move by the Bush administration, and there is no satisfactory solution forthcoming. The White House should be working cooperatively with members of both parties in Congress to figure out the best way to bring the curtain down on U.S. involvement.

Before that can begin to happen, the administration will have to rid itself of the delusion that things are somehow going well in Iraq. The democracy that was supposed to flower in the Iraqi desert and then spread throughout the Middle East was as much a mirage as the weapons of mass destruction.

President Bush continues to assert that our goal in Iraq is "victory." Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, recently told Tim Russert that things were going "very, very well" in Iraq.

They are still crawling toward the mirage. It's time to give reality a chance.

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Iraq War Resisters Stage 241-Mile Peace March Across U.S.-Mexico Border

March 15th, 2006

On Sunday, a group of anti-war protesters set off on what will be a 241-mile march for peace across the Mexico-US border and through California. At 6:30 Sunday morning the marchers set off from Tijuana Mexico. They crossed the Mexico-US border later that day, and plan to end the march with a rally in the California city of La Paz.

Yesterday we reached one of the march's key organizers, Pablo Paredes. An Iraq war resister, Paredes was a Navy petty officer who refused orders to board a ship in 2004 heading to Iraq. We reached Pablo by cell phone as the marchers were leaving a Pendleton, California recruiting station. I asked him to talk about the march and one of the other organizers, Fernando Suarez Del Solar who lost his son in Iraq in 2003.
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AMY GOODMAN: Late yesterday, we reached one of the march's key organizers, Pablo Paredes. He is an Iraq war resister, a Navy petty officer, who refused orders to board a ship in 2004 heading to Iraq. We reached Pablo by phone as the marchers were leaving a Pendleton, California recruiting station. I asked him to talk about the march and one of his fellow organizers, Fernando Suarez Del Solar, who lost his son Jesus in Iraq in 2003.

PABLO PAREDES: We have just finished at the recruiting station here in the Vista area, where we confronted some recruiters for the second time in this march, because part of the march -- one of the many facets of it is going to be Fernando's solemn asking of the recruiters to be more truthful with our youth, as he is the father of a person who died in Iraq and whose son was lied to about the reality of the military by recruiters. So that's one of the many facets of this effort. It's a counter-fraudulent recruitment sort of work, and unfortunately, we've been met with very rude kind of reactions. Fernando was actually laughed at by military recruiters at the Army Recruiting Station.

We began at the Public School 44, which is where Fernando's son Jesus first started his school sort of pipeline in Tijuana. And like many immigrants, he ended up coming to the United States looking for a better life, for an education, and like many immigrants, as well, was targeted by recruiters and ended up in the military.

So, part of our march seeks to emulate the plight of the immigrant. We're going to go – we started in Tijuana, we crossed the border and tried to destroy it, in a sense, with our message of peace that doesn't have borders, and we go to Camp Pendleton today, which is the end point today, because that's where a lot of immigrants end up. We end up recruited, and we end up being taught how to kill and die in wars, which is not the best use of our beautiful culture, so we want to redirect it. That's why the march will go from Camp Pendleton on to a place called La Paz, which translates to "peace." Very symbolically, we want to travel from war to peace, and beyond that, that's where César Chávez is buried, and he's also one of the legacies of our culture that we want to resurrect, the legacy of nonviolent civil action in the face of such injustices as this war in Iraq.

This latest idea actually came from the World Social Forum. That's where we were at when we put this together, me and Fernando, and we decided to take on a march. We're taking the legacy of Gandhi and the anniversary – that's the reason the first date of the march being March 12, it's the anniversary, the 76th anniversary of Gandhi's salt march. He was an older man, a sympathetic person that people could really identify with, who just really wanted freedom for his country from the British oppression. And so he set out on a very ambitious march, a 241-mile march at age 60-plus, and so Fernando and me, at the third year of this unjust war, decided that something had to be done, that the polls are telling us two-thirds of the country are opposed to the war, and 72% of the troops in Iraq want to come home now. But those are polls. You know, it's just what people type in the internet and answer phone calls with. It's not action.

So, we wanted to be the ones to lead the action, especially as Latinos in the Latino community, to try to get the rest of our community and the entire U.S. community that is opposed to this war to take to the streets, to have their voice be heard and not just polled. So that was the inspiration, Gandhi's salt march, and that's why we had the same rough number of miles, 240-plus, also because we want to symbolically mirrors the suffering of the American troops in Iraq, which the numbers, unfortunately, are all too easy to predict, and we know that there will be over 2,400 passed by the time we end our march. So we're going to march as many miles, at least one mile to every ten soldiers that have fallen in Iraq, as a sign of solidarity.

We're asking everyone and anybody to join us. We're asking people not to simply, you know, answer the polls when they call you at your house, but to take to the street your message. If you really believe in democracy, then you have to be willing to work for it. You have to be willing to go out in the streets and have your voice be heard. At this point, the country is in agreement. We do not want this war. We find it unjust and immoral. All of the polls show this. Two-thirds-plus of the country, in one poll, are saying they are opposed to this war, but what has it shown us? The government isn't just going to do something on its own. The Bush administration is definitely not going to roll over and just stop what they're doing in Iraq. They're obviously making all kinds of money off of it, and they've obviously decided to go through with this, so we have to force our government. It's sad to say that as a democracy we have to force them, and we have to sacrifice the way we're sacrificing to be heard, but we do have to. And we call on everyone in every community that really believes that there has to come an end to this war to please join us.

The march ends on March 27th, and the reason for that is because the three-year anniversary of Jesus Suarez Del Solar's death, that's Fernando's son, who stepped on an illegal U.S. cluster bomb, and that's how he passed away. He was also lied to about that. Fernando was lied to and told that his son came under enemy fire. The reality was he stepped on the only weapons of mass destruction so far found in Iraq, and those were U.S. placed. We invite people to come join us. Our web sites, GuerreroAzteca.org as well as SwiftSmartVeterans.com have all the details about where you can join up. You can do a mile; you can do two miles; you can do the whole thing. Anything that interests people, we invite them to come join us.

AMY GOODMAN: Pablo Paredes, Iraq war resister on his 240-mile walk from Tijuana to San Francisco. This is Democracy Now!, DemocracyNow.org, the War and Peace Report, and speaking of those who lost loved ones, like Fernando losing his son, Jesus, told one thing about how he died and learning it was because of something else, in just a minute, we'll be joined by NOW producer and correspondent of the PBS show, NOW, to talk about two mothers who lost their sons, what they were told, and what actually happened.

To purchase an audio or video copy of this entire program, click here for our new online ordering or call 1 (888) 999-3877.

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Around the World

N. Korea Threatens Pre-emptive Attack

By Jon Herskovitz
14 Mar 06

North Korea has the right to launch a pre-emptive attack against U.S.-backed South Korean forces because the two Koreas are technically still at war, the communist state's official media said on Tuesday.

The comments came as North Korea shows its displeasure with annual joint South Korean-U.S. military exercises, which Pyongyang has said are a preparation for an invasion of its territory.
A spokesman for the North's Korea People's Army (KPA) said distrust is high between the United States and North Korea, and Pyongyang "will never remain a passive onlooker to the U.S. pre-emptive attack on the DPRK," its official news agency reported.

DPRK is short for North Korea's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

"The KPA side is of the view that a pre-emptive attack is not (the) monopoly of the U.S. and the DPRK, too, has the right to pre-empt an attack as the most effective and positive act for self-defense in the light of the hard reality that the DPRK and the U.S. sides are still technically at war," the spokesman was cited as saying.

The 1950-1953 Korean War ended in a truce and not a peace treaty meaning that the two Koreas are technically still at war. The United States led U.N. forces in defense of South Korea and signed the armistice agreement in that capacity.

U.S. and South Korean forces will stage annual field exercises from March 25 to March 31 designed to coordinate defenses of the southern half of the peninsula.

"The KPA will follow with a high degree of vigilance the grave situation prevailing on the Korean peninsula due to the projected war maneuvers and keep itself fully ready to go into action to cope with any event on its own initiative," the spokesman said.

North Korea has said the joint drills are an impediment to progress in six-party talks aimed at ending North Korea's nuclear weapons programs.

The last round of the talks among the two Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and the United States was held in November 2005.

The talks have hit a snag over Washington's decision to crack down on firms it suspects of helping North Korea in illicit activity such as counterfeiting.

North Korea has said it is unthinkable for it to return to the talks while Washington is trying to topple its leaders through the financial measures.

Washington, Seoul and others have said the crackdown is a matter for law enforcement and not related to the six-party talks.

In previous years, North Korea has placed its civil defense system on high alert at the time of the joint drills that have been taking place for four decades.

There are about 30,000 U.S. troops in South Korea in support of some 690,000 South Korean troops. The North has about 1.2 million troops.

Copyright © 2006 Reuters Limited.

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Russian state-controlled TV revives allegation of secret CIA prison in Ukraine

Associated Press
14 Mar 06

MOSCOW - Russian state television revived an allegation that Ukraine hosted a secret CIA prison for terrorist suspects, a move Kiev allegedly made to prove its loyalty to the United States.

The alleged prison was located in a former nuclear weapons storage base in a military garrison in the Kiev region, an investigative reporter for Rossiya television said in a broadcast late Sunday. He said the prisoners were probably transferred to Ukraine from Poland and Romania.
"In the opinion of many foreign experts, Ukraine served as a buffer," the reporter, Arkady Mamontov, said. "When information about the location of secret prisons on the territory of East European states, first of all Poland, came out and the scandal started, they remembered the Ukrainian variant."

The Russian state television allegations come just two weeks before Ukraine's parliamentary elections, in which one of the top issues will be whether Kiev's top foreign policy priority should be Russia or the West. President Viktor Yushchenko aspires for Ukraine to join NATO. The party that is currently ahead in the polls, led by former Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, favors closer ties with Moscow.

Ukrainian officials vehemently denied allegations of a secret prison when they were first printed in a Swiss newspaper in January.

"There are no secret detention facilities or secret bases run by foreign governments on Ukrainian soil," Ukrainian State Security agency spokeswoman Maryna Ostapenko said at the time.

Mamontov last made a splash in Russia with his report on British spies allegedly sending and receiving intelligence through transmitters hidden in a rock in a Moscow park and funding non-governmental organizations. The footage for that broadcast came from Russia's intelligence service.

Mamontov did not divulge his sources for the Ukraine prison report, saying only that he got most of his information "practically from a firsthand source." He also spoke with an employee of a company that performed a renovation at the base and with soldiers who described underground storehouses.

The allegations of secret CIA prisons in Europe were first reported by The Washington Post in November. The New York-based Human Rights Watch group identified Romania and Poland as possible hosts of secret U.S.-run detention facilities; both denied involvement. Clandestine detention centers and secret flights to countries where suspects could face torture would violate European human rights treaties.

© 2006 Khaleej Times All Rights Reserved.

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Philippines: The Killing Fields Of Asia

By James Petras and Robin Eastman-Abaya
14 Mar 06

Since President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo joined the US global "War on Terrorism", the Philippines has become the site of an on-going undeclared war against peasant and union activists, progressive political dissidents and lawmakers, human rights lawyers and activists, women leaders and a wide range of print and broadcast journalists. Because of the links between the Army, the regime and the death squads, political assassinations take place in an atmosphere of absolute impunity. The vast majority of the attacks occur in the countryside and provincial towns. The reign of terror in the Philippines is of similar scope and depth as in Colombia. Unlike Colombia, the rampaging state terrorism has not drawn sufficient attention from international public opinion.
Between 2001 and 2006 hundreds of killings, disappearances, death threats and cases of torture have been documented by the independent human rights center ,KARAPATAN , and the church-linked Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research. Since Macapagal Arroyo came to power in 2001 there have been 400 documented extrajudicial killings. In 2004, 63 were killed and in 2005, 179 were assassinated and another 46 disappeared and presumed dead. So far in the first 2 ½ months of 2006 there have been 26 documented political assassinations.

An analysis of the class and social background of the victims of this systematic state terror in 2005 demonstrates that the largest sector, about 70, have been peasants and peasant leaders involved in land and farm labor disputes. The military has invariably accused the murdered and disappeared peasants of links to or sympathy with the communist guerrillas or Muslim separatists. The victims include members of the national farmers' association, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), as well as Igorot, Agta and Moro indigenous minority peasant leaders involved in protecting their lands. One notorious massacre occurred in late November 2005 when 47 peasants and their legal representatives held an open, public meeting over a land dispute in Palo, Leyte in the Visayas. A large force of soldiers surrounded and attacked the meeting killing 9 peasants outright and arresting over a dozen. An additional 18 'disappeared' and are presumed dead. The 'Palo Massacre' of the members of the San Agustin Farmers Beneficiaries Cooperative and Alang-Alang Small Farmers Association was at first presented by the armed forces as a military encounter with the New Peoples Army and a few homemade weapons were planted on the victims. In this, as in all other cases, none of the perpetrators have been punished and there has been no official investigation.

Workers and labor leaders form the next largest group of victims of assassination (at least 18) not including the disappeared and presumed dead. Members of a national labor federation, Kilusan Mayo Uno (May First Movement), Nestle's Worker's Union, Central Azucareara de Tarlac, Negros Federation of Sugar Workers, a leader of the Department of Agrarian Reform Employee Association, regional college employee union leaders and various militants in both the electrical company and bus company employee unions were murdered in 2005.

Earlier in 2005, 26 unarmed Muslim detainees in a military prison in Manila were shot protesting against their prolonged and arbitrary detention, lack of a trial date and horrific prison conditions. These men were mostly vendors and displaced peasants and fishermen living with their families in Manila. They were accused , but never convicted, of membership in the 'Abu Sayaf' kidnapping gang.

Seven print and radio journalists and writers were killed in 2005 as well as seven attorneys and judges involved in human rights, labor and land dispute cases. Among the religious community, there were 3 targeted assassinations of clergy and 7 church workers, all involved in advocacy work with the poor, peasants, workers and national minorities.

This listing of killings in 2005 doesn't included attempted assassinations, illegal detention and torture and unreported disappearances. The victims were killed by death squads controlled by the military with the aim of protecting the power of the large landowners and land grabbers, timber and mining barons and company bosses with the connivance of the regime.

Another important group of victims, which overlaps with peasants and workers associations, are the 83 leaders and members of the popular left political party, Bayan Muna (The People First) and its 'party list' affiliates. Most were systematically murdered in the provinces outside of Metro Manila between 2001-2005 (67 in 2005 alone). Leaders and coordinators of allied party-list groups, such as the women's party Gabriela and the urban poor people's party, Anakpawis (Toiling Masses), have been murdered, disappeared or wounded. Elected officials from Bayan Muna, such a Tarlac City councilman, Abelardo Ladera , were shot in broad daylight, prompting defiant provincial funeral marches. His killing followed the notorious 2004 massacre of hacienda union workers in Tarlac and the subsequent systematic elimination of witnesses.

A breakdown of the 66 death squad killings of members and supporters of the progressive political parties in 2005 include 33 from militant urban poor peoples party Anakpawis and 30 from Bayan Muna. Five members of Anakpawis and 3 from Bayan Muna have 'disappeared' and are presumed dead in 2005. So far three Bayan Muna officials have been assassinated in the first 10 weeks of 2006.

Since 2003, the Philippines became the 2nd most dangerous country for journalists after Iraq because of the staggering number of reporters killed and disappeared by death squads. Most recently a radio reporter involved in exposing abuses at a local mine was kidnapped by death squads working for the mine owners in late February 2006 and is presumed dead.

State sponsored terror today is reminiscent of the worst days of martial law, under the Dictator Ferdinand Marcos (1972-1986). As under Marcos the entire countryside is virtually under military control sharply limiting the role of civilian administrators. A manual published by the Macapagal regime, entitled "Knowing the Enemy" is used by the Armed Forces throughout the country to label legal mass organizations and civil rights groups, like the Philippine Association of Protestant Lawyers, as supporters of 'terrorism'.

The combined military-death squad campaign has all the earmarks of US-sponsored 'low intensity' warfare against the civilian population. The military "proscribes" or labels individuals and groups as terrorists on the basis of what it claims to be 'secret intelligence' in order to criminalize their right to resist oppression and fight for self-determination and justify their elimination. The creation of these 'lists' is outside of the process of judicial scrutiny and limits any legal protection for the victims or their survivors. Using the black propaganda of a psychological warfare operation, the victims and their associations are invariably described as 'terrorists'.


A de-facto civilian-military alliance has been ruling the Philippines, since with the declaration of Martial Law by Marcos in 1972. In the 1960's most economists considered the Philippines to be the most economically progressive nation in South East Asia. With the advent of the liberalization of the economy, it has become and remains the one of the poorest and most socially polarized country in Asia, with a per capita GDP of $950/year, about half of Thailand's. With over 50% of total private assets controlled by 15 extended super-rich families it is one of most unequal societies in the world. In stark contrast to the rest of Asia, there has been no economic progress in the past two decades. The Philippines with a population of over 85 million has one of the highest unemployment rates (20%) and an additional 30% underemployed in the informal sector. Over 40% of the households are unable secure adequate shelter and food; they are the indigent poor. The once highly regarded public educational and health systems have sharply deteriorated due to massive government cuts in social spending and privatization. The nation, whose research institutions produced the high yield 'miracle rice', is now a net importer of rice and other food staples. Malnutrition is widespread, according to the World Health Organization. Upwards of eight million Filipinos, unable to find decent work at home, are working abroad to support their families 'Better to die working in Iraq, than to stay home and watch your family starve' was the pitiful, but common slogan of Filipino workers clamoring for exit visas to perform menial work for the US occupation army in Iraq. As many as 4,000 Filipino workers are believed to be in Iraq.

In the years following the overthrow of the Marcos dictatorship (Feb. 26, 1986) by a military and Church-backed revolt, the subsequent elected presidents have failed to stem the ongoing deterioration of the country. The new rulers like Corazon Aquino (1986-1992), and former General Fidel Ramos (1992-1998), simply favored a new set of oligarchs and set the stage for the rise to power of a corrupt populist, Joseph Estrada. His "anti-oligarch" rhetoric brought him to the presidential palace in 1998 with widespread support among the poor. Estrada became an irritant to Washington and the traditional oligarchy by welcoming Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in 1999 and for his populist social policies, such as handing out thousands of land titles to urban squatters.

US-designed, upper class-backed, street demonstrations supported by sectors of the military elite culminated in the ouster of Estrada in January 2001. The same forces hoisted his Vice President, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to the Presidency. Macapagal is a US educated, neo-liberal economist and favorite of the US Embassy.

This political putsch led to the expansion of US military basing rights and a new military agreement, quickly signed by Macapagal after a two year delay during Estrada's presidency. With the rise of Macapagal-Arroyo, Washington has a reliable client.

From Populism to Neo-Liberal Terror

The newly 'installed' Macapagal Arroyo quickly instituted a neo-liberal program of privatizations, drastic cuts for public education and public hospitals and onerous value-added taxes which impacted the poor and lower middle-class. By 2005, the Philippine total external and internal debt ballooned to over $100 billion dollars and yearly debt servicing exceed 30% of the budget. Even 8 million overseas Filipino workers (including a significant section of the educated professionals) sending home $12.5 billion dollars of remittances in 2005 could not begin to cover debt servicing. The Philippines bears the dubious distinction of being the only country in Asia to have seen a drop in per capita GDP during and since the heady years of the 'Asian Tiger' boom.

Macapagal Arroyo's family and cronies have been implicated in the same levels of corruption as that attributed to the deposed President Estrada. Mike Arroyo, the President's husband, remains in self-imposed exile in the US to avoid facing charges of graft and fraud. Macapagal Arroyo maintains her support among the military by offering lucrative concessions to favorite generals and key officials in the military leading to deep discontent among the junior ranks of the armed forces forced to survive on low wages. As a result, several mutinies of junior officers and soldiers occurred, the largest of which was the takeover of an upscale Manila shopping and apartment complex in July 2003 by 300 soldiers from the special forces and the more recent uprising of Marines in January of this year.

Military intelligence has been implicated in a campaign of bombings both in Manila and on the southern island of Mindanao, targeting markets, buses, commuter trains, airports and mosques. The Macapagal regime blamed a Moslem kidnapping gang, Abu Sayaf, and used the bombings as a justification for greater militarization of the country. The curious timing of the bombings, for example the December 2004 bombing of a Manila shopping center, which killed 15, happened very soon after a devastating landslide burying almost 1,000 townspeople in a province near Manila, exposed the regimes incompetence in civil assistance.

Local journalist with sources in the military believe the campaign of bombings have been carried out by the regime itself to justify requests for more military 'aid' from the US.

The US Connection

In December 2002 the US announced a significant expansion of its joint US-Philippine military training exercises. The first contingent of US troops landing on the southern island of Mindanao engaged in field operations against the Muslim separatists. In early 2003 then-Assistant US Secretary of Defense, Paul Wolfowitz called the Philippines the 'Second Front in the War on Terror'. Since then tens of thousands of Muslem villagers have been forcibly displaced and hundreds have been tortured, killed or disappeared. As a result Muslim guerrilla activity has increased.

In October 2003, during a visit to the Philippines, Bush cited the Philippines as a model for the re-building of Iraq. Forgetting to mention the US invasion of the Philippines in 1898 and 13-year pacification campaign when upwards of 1 million Filipinos died, Bush described the Philippines as a "model of democracy" – a bonafide death squad democracy.

The Bush Administration's support for the Macapagal Arroyo regime has been reciprocated: A contingent of Philippine troops was sent to Iraq over the protests of hundreds of thousands of Filipinos. These troops were only withdrawn when Iraqi resistance fighters threatened to execute captured Filipino laborers in Iraq: the Philippine economy is more dependent on remittances from its workers in the Middle East than on US aid. The lucrative reconstruction contracts, which the Philippine elite had expected to be awarded for its services to the Bush Administration in Iraq, never materialized. During 2006, another contingent 5,500 US soldiers are scheduled to arrive in Mindanao and the number of joint exercises has doubled.

US troops are not confined to the separatist stronghold in the far south of the country. More and more "joint operations" occur in the central islands and Luzon where the communist New Peoples Army has been conducting a campaign against the government for 40 years over issues of land reform and oligarchic-imperialist control of the economy. With an estimated 10,000 fighters, the NPA is clearly viewed as a threat to US and local ruling class interests.

Urban Popular Protest and Emergency Decrees

In 2004, Macapagal Arroyo narrowly defeated her rival in the Presidential elections in a campaign marred by violence and fraud. An audiotape released in the spring of 2005 recorded the President discussing with a top election official the rigging of the election. Amid resignations of members of her cabinet and calls for her resignation from the general public, she narrowly escaped a vote of impeachment in November 2005.

Macapagal Arroyo's disastrous neo-liberal economic policies, the growing social and economic deterioration of the country, frantic attempts by the professionals to escape through immigration, moves by restive middle level officers and demonstrations by popular mass social movements put the Philippines back in the international news. In early February 2006, an even more devastating landslide brought on by rains and de-forestation, buried almost 2,000 townspeople on the island of Leyte. The inability of the regime to provide even the most basic aid to the victims angered the entire nation.

On February 23, 2006, the eve of the 20th anniversary of the overthrow of the Marcos dictatorship, Macapagal Arroyo declared a state of emergency banning all rallies, demonstrations and closing opposition media. She issued orders for the arrest of 59 individuals including members of the Congress, military officers and social critics, on charges of rebellion against her regime. Rallies were planned to commemorate the end of the Marcos dictatorship and to protest the electoral fraud, corruption, economic mismanagement and human rights violations of the Macapagal Arroyo regime. Some rallies defied the President's decree, went ahead and were violently repressed.

Those charged with rebellion included 6 Congress people from leftwing political parties, a human rights attorney, retired and active military officers and social activists. Most of the charges have no substance and are totally arbitrary. For example, Anakpawis (Toiling Masses) Congressman Crispin Beltran, age 73, veteran labor leader and anti-Marcos activist, was arrested shortly after the Emergency Rule declaration, at first on the basis of a 25-year-old charge made during the Marcos dictatorship. When these charges were shown to have been dropped decades earlier, he was charged with rebellion.

This is the latest of a series of attacks on the part of the Macapagal Arroyo regime aimed specifically at destroying class-based political parties and trade union activity, including Bayan Muna and its coalition partners. The campaign of assassination and disappearances of 80 members of this party alliance between 2001-2005, including mayors and provincial elected representatives has finally reached the top elected representatives in the Philippine Congress. In 2006, repression turned from the countryside to the capital, from peasant leaders to Manila-based Congress people, media, working class and left party leaders. Of the 26 political assassinations in the first 10 weeks of 2006, 3 have been Bayan Muna officials.

The arbitrary arrest of Congressional representatives sends a signal to the legal left that the regime will not tolerate dissent or challenges to its policies even from within Congress.

Who are the Perpetrators?

According to the KARAPATAN, the independent human rights organization involved in documenting and providing legal support to victims of human rights abuses, the disappearances and assassinations are committed by death squads in some of the most heavily militarized areas in the Philippines. The death squads would not be able to act with impunity without the complicity of the military. Witnesses to the killings have themselves disappeared and the Philippine judicial system has failed to prosecute the intellectual authors or perpetrators. Nor has the military made any effort to investigate and arrest identified death squad leaders. Human rights groups provide evidence that death squads operate under the protective umbrella of regional military commands, especially the US-trained Special Forces. Macapagal's promotion of the notorious Colonel Jovito Palparan, ('Butcher of Mindoro') to General, despite extensive documentation and testimony of gross human rights abuses points to the President's support for military-backed state terrorism. When Palparan was assigned to Central Luzon in September 2005, the number of political assassinations in that region alone jumped to 52 in four months. Prior to his promotion, the regions with the largest number of summary executions like Eastern Visayas and Central Luzon were under then-Colonel Palparan.

State of the Resistance

In the face the disintegration of the economy and society, and the regime's use of force to sustain its hold on power, faced with its gross incompetence in the face of several natural/ecological disasters, popular resistance has spread from the countryside to the cities. The popular mass organizations, involving peasant and indigenous minority farmers, industrial workers, teachers, journalists, civil servants, students, women, artists, human rights workers, lawyers and clergy have grown despite the campaign of state terror. On the 20th Anniversary of the 1986 overthrow of Marcos, tens of thousands defied the State of Emergency and marched in Manila and in cities throughout the country. Over 10,000 women defied police bans to march on International Women's Day. Students and teachers are mounting campaigns on the campuses around the country. Former Presidents, business executives and clergy are calling for Macapagal Arroyo's resignation and a 'smooth transition' within the elite, while the popular mass movements and their besieged political representatives are demanding justice for the victims of state terror, an end to US military presence, a repeal of the value added taxes, an increase in the minimum wage, land reform, a moratorium of debt payments, re-nationalization of key economic sectors and consequential peace negotiations between the state and the NPA and Muslim separatists. That Macapagal Arroyo will eventually be forced to resign is, according to officials, a likely outcome. The question is when and by whom?

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Lebanese forces stifle anti-US protest

16 March 2006

Thousands of Lebanese security forces mobilised outside the US embassy to block a demonstration against "American-British collusion" with Israel in a prison raid in Jericho earlier this week.
With the security dragnet on Thursday, the protest was muzzled, and only a handful of protesters managed to get to within a couple of kilometers of the compound.

Several thousand troops in armoured vehicles and police in trucks were deployed to major roads north and south of Beirut, setting up checkpoints to search cars for weapons and check identification of passengers, security officials said. Traffic backed up for kilometres on the coastal highway, witnesses said.

Similar measures were taken in southern Lebanon, with witnesses reporting troops blocking roads leading out of Palestinian refugee camps in the port city of Sidon to prevent protesters from heading to Beirut.

The authorities appeared to be preventing the demonstrators from reaching the embassy, which is in the suburb of Aukar, north of the city. Only a few protesters managed to get to the coastal road, down the hill from the compound.

Two of the organisers, Mohammed Safa and Bassam Kintar, were detained by police, the two said by cellular phone to the al-Manar TV station.

The security measures signified a new and tougher stance by authorities against protests by groups not allied with the government.

Acting Interior Minister Ahmed Fatfat said organisers did not receive permission.

"They are not allowed to normally demonstrate," he said. "But at the same time we do not seek to ban legal protests."

Fatfat said security forces would take action if protesters resort to violence. "The security forces, with the help of the army, will provide security to the people if the law is broken," he said on LBC television.

The demonstration was called by the Arab Organisation for Defending Detainees and other groups to protest against the raid in the West Bank town of Jericho in which Israel spirited away six members of resistance groups, including Ahmed Saadat, the alleged mastermind of the 2001 assassination of an Israeli cabinet minister.

The protest was "in solidarity with the struggler Ahmed Saadat and his comrades", the organisation said in a statement.

Syria sit-in

In Damascus, about 150 Palestinians staged a sit-in outside the Red Cross headquarters to protest against the Israeli raid and to criticise the Palestinian Authority for having advance information about the pullback of US and British observers before the raid.

"From Jericho to Abu Ghraib to Guantanamo, the Mask of the Neo-Nazi's Have Fallen," read a banner raised by the protesters. "The Raid is a Stain on the Palestinian Authority's Forehead," read another.

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Papua mine protesters hack police to death

By Jenny Booth and agencies
16 Mar 06

A mob demanding the closure of the world's largest gold mine today hacked three policemen and a passing air force officer to death, according to Indonesian police in Papua.

Two nearby hospitals reported at least 19 people were injured, many with gunshot wounds, in the violent protests against the mine run by Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc, an American company.

Three policemen and one soldier were bludgeoned with rocks and knives, said police Lieutenant Colonel Paulus Waterpauw, who is leading the investigation into the attack. An earlier statement, that two of the officers had been burned alive, was retracted.

It was the third day of violent protests in the Indonesian province of Papua, a region where tensions are already running high in a separatist rebellion.

Hundreds of protesters blockaded the road outside a university in Jayapura, the provincial capital, demanding that the government close the mine. Riot police tried to break up the rally with tear gas and baton charges, but the rock-hurling students refused to move.

"The killers are no longer human beings," said police Colonel Kertono Wangsadisastra. "They went wild."

Colonel Wangsadisastra said at least five people were arrested but that members of the mob who killed the officers had fled into a nearby jungle.

Freeport's mine is often held up by independence supporters as a symbol of the unfair division of resources between the capital and Papua, while its practice of paying soldiers to guard the facility is also deeply unpopular.

There have been several rallies against the gold mine, including one on the road leading to the mine that forced it to temporarily suspend operations, costing the New Orleans-based company millions of dollars.

"We want Freeport to close because it has not given any benefits to the people of Papua, in fact it's made them suffer," said protester Kosmos Yual.

Sporadic clashes continued throughout the afternoon, with gunshots repeatedly heard across the city, although it was not clear who was firing. Journalists were ordered away from the scene.

Freeport defends its operations in the highlands of Papua, saying that it pays millions of dollars in taxes each year and funds scores of community projects close to the mine.

Papua's separatist movement has been supressed by Indonesian security forces. Foreign journalists are banned from the region, some 3,700 km (2,300 miles) east of Jakarta.

Unlike Indonesia's mainly Malay inhabitants, Papuans are ethnic Melanesians. Most Indonesians are Muslims, but Papuans are Christians or animists. Papua lies on the western side of the divided island. The eastern part of the island forms Papua New Guinea.

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Greek general strike shuts down country

16 Mar 06

ATHENS - Greek private and public sector unions launched a 24-hour strike on Wednesday in protest against government economic reforms, shutting down most of the country and crippling transport.

Thousands of workers took to the streets as unions staged large rallies in several cities and accused the government, half-way through its four-year term, of penalising workers unfairly with a series of unpopular reforms.

The reforms aim to liberalise labour markets and cut Greece's budget deficit in an effort to ward off European Union sanctions.

"We can no longer endure the results of this neoliberal economic policy that constantly degrades the workers," private sector umbrella union president Christos Polyzogopoulos told a central Athens rally.

The union said about 30,000 people attended the rally, making it the largest in a decade. It also said participation in the strike reached almost 100 per cent.

Around Athens there were huge traffic jams through the day as the city centre was sealed off for the rallies and most public transport was on strike, forcing citizens to use their cars.

Trains and the subways were also out of action and state carrier Olympic Airlines scrapped dozens of flights, leaving only one flight per destination.

"I have been stuck in traffic for over one hour and a half and it seems it just gets worse every minute," driver Theodoris Papasotiriou said in the central Athens Pangrati district. "I've never seen this before."

The strike also hit government offices, public utilities, banks, hospitals, ports and schools. Many shops around the capital also appeared to be closed.

A small group of hooded protesters hurled firebombs at the entrance to the Labour Ministry, causing some damage while the Finance Ministry was pelted with nails and glass.

There were also scuffles between riot police and Olympic Airlines employees during the main march in central Athens. The strike was organized by the private sector union GSEE and its public sector counterpart ADEDY.

The two umbrella unions boast 2.5 million members, or 60 per cent of Greece's workforce.

The reforms have hit the government's opinion poll ratings and led to rising discontent in the workforce. The number of general strikes in the past year was double that for 2003, the last full year that the opposition Socialists were in power.

"Everday we are faced with higher inflation and rising unemployment but the government is doing nothing," said Spyros Tsinakis, a 52 year-old carpenter, taking part in the rallies. "These economic reforms are putting all the burden on workers."

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China told to explain military build-up - Condolizzard Pot Calls Kettle Black

The Age
March 16, 2006

America has warned China to come clean on why it is boosting its military, as Condoleezza Rice began her first visit to Australia as US Secretary of State.

A meeting with Foreign Minister Alexander Downer marked the start of her three-day visit which will include ministerial-level security talks between the US, Australia and Japan.

Before she left the US, the world's most powerful woman indicated the growing influence of China would be a key focus of her talks.

And on Thursday she made it clear the US had serious concerns about China's military build-up, highlighted by a 14 per cent increase in its defence budget.
"We've told the Chinese they need to be transparent about what their military build-up means," Dr Rice told reporters following her meeting with Mr Downer.

"I heard that there is going to be a 14 per cent increase in the Chinese defence budget. That's a lot. China should undertake to be transparent about what that means."

If China played by the rules and was open and transparent, Dr Rice said it had the potential to be a force for good.

"The growth of the Chinese economy, if it's done in a rules-based way in which China is fully obeying the rules of the global economy, is a very positive development for international growth and for the United States," Dr Rice said.

China has been worried that the security talks would be aimed at dampening its power, an impression Australia has tried to dispel.

Australia faces a tough time soothing the concerns of China, one of its biggest trading partners, while maintaining a position compatible with the US, its closest ally.

"From our point of view we've never had a concern that the United States was pursuing a policy of containment of China," Mr Downer said.

"We feel comfortable with where the United States is at in terms of its relationship with China."

On another potentially sticky issue, the sale of uranium to India, Dr Rice said Australia could make up its own mind.

The US and India struck a deal earlier this month which will see America supply fuel and technology to the subcontinent despite its refusal to sign the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT).

Australia supports the agreement but won't follow suit because of a policy of supplying uranium only to countries signed up to the NPT.

Dr Rice said Australia's position wasn't a problem for the US.

"I think the issue of whether or not one agrees to participate in fuel supplies is a quite separable issue and is one for the Australians to determine," she said.

"It's not one that is at issue with the United States by any means."

Just days after the Queen's visit, Dr Rice sparked a massive security operation in Sydney as she lunched with US sailors on the USS Port Royal and addressed students at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.

She brought traffic to a standstill as she travelled in a 17-car motorcade shadowed by helicopters.

Anti-war activists protesting America's war record were arrested and charged with hindering police as they targeted her afternoon engagement with students.

Dr Rice was due to dine with Prime Minister John Howard at Kirribilli House on Thursday evening. They will meet formally on Friday morning.

In the afternoon she heads to Melbourne for the Commonwealth Games but will be back in Sydney for the tri-lateral security dialogue with Mr Downer and Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso on Saturday.

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Storms expected through weekend- Kauai has six times more rain than usual for all of March

By Mary Vorsino
Honolulu Star Bulletin

Four back-to-back storms over the last three weeks have dumped more rain on parts of the islands than they normally would have seen in months, and drenched Kauai with up to six times more rain than normal for all of March, the National Weather Service said yesterday.
The news comes as forecasters are expecting heavy rains to stick around through the weekend. The weather service also says the possibility of heavy showers will remain in the forecast for all islands for at least 10 more days.

The series of storms to hit the state has caused widespread flooding, rockfalls, sewage spills and road closures from Kauai to the Big Island.

On Tuesday night, a landslide at the Wilson Tunnel on Likelike Highway caused some rocks and mud to fall on the road. Crews will close the town-bound lanes of the tunnel today and tomorrow to prevent further rockfalls.

Homes on the Windward Coast of Oahu sustained as much as $5 million in damage after flash flooding late last month and in early March. Damage totals for other affected areas have not yet been calculated.

A flash-flood watch is in effect for the state through Friday, but could be extended, said Andy Nash, director of operations for the weather service office in Honolulu.

Heavy rains settled over parts of Oahu, Kauai and the Big Island yesterday. Lihue got more than 4.8 inches in the 24-hour period ending at 5:45 p.m. yesterday, while Wailua saw 4.6 inches.

The fourth storm in the series started Monday, forecasters said. Other storms hit from Feb. 19 to 24, March 1 to 3 and March 8 to 10.

For Hanalei, the last three weeks has been the wettest on record since 1907 -- two years after meteorologists starting recording rainfall totals for the town, Nash said.

Lihue received 25 inches over the three-week period, compared with just an inch last year. It's the wettest February and March for Lihue since 1950.

"We've just had round after round after round of heavy rain," Nash said. "For Kauai, it's certainly up there in the record books."

The record-high totals on Kauai come on the heels of an unusually dry 2005 for the island. In December, Mount Waialeale got just 1.67 inches of rain, while Lihue Airport saw just .08 inches -- both record lows.

Over the last three weeks, Mount Waialeale has seen more than 106 inches, and Lihue Airport has gotten 28.9 inches.

"Kauai has taken the brunt of the most widespread, excessive rainfall," the weather service said. "Even the normally drier leeward sides have been much wetter than normal."

On Oahu, Poamoho saw the biggest rainfall total over the three-week period, with 63 inches. Wilson Tunnel got 39.1 inches -- a far second, but a more than six-fold increase from 2005. Punaluu, Luluku and the Waihee Pump rounded out the top five rainfall totals for Oahu.

Waiakea Uka and Glenwood topped the totals for the Big Island, getting 43.6 inches and 42.9 inches, respectively -- up to four times higher than normal. Mountain View saw 37.8 inches, compared with 4 inches last year.

All the storms were created by low pressure systems northwest of the islands, which produce unstable air and tap into tropical moisture, Nash said. A high pressure system to the east of the state has blocked the storms, stopping them from moving quickly across land.

"Storm after storm seems to follow this path," Nash said, adding that there has been little break between the heavy systems -- keeping the ground saturated and prone to flooding.

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Child porn ring called the worst imaginable

By David Humphries and Justin Norrie
March 17, 2006

FOUR Australian men are among 29 people arrested for alleged involvement in what the US Attorney-General, Alberto Gonzales, called "the worst imaginable forms of child pornography".

Internet videos of live molestation were included in thousands of images of child abuse, involving victims as young as 18 months, allegedly revealed in an undercover investigation of a private internet chat room used in the United States, Canada, Australia, the Netherlands and Britain.

The Australian arrests included a 30-year-old Lake Macquarie man, a 56-year-old man from Mill Park, in Melbourne, and a 22-year-old man from Stafford, in Brisbane. A fourth man, a 38-year-old from Ashgrove, in Brisbane, was arrested yesterday.

An Australian Federal Police agent, Peter Drennan, above, said all Australian charges related to an international peer-to-peer network involving the swapping of child abuse images over the internet.

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Ark's Quantum Quirks

Signs of the Times
March 17, 2006



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Propaganda and COINTELPRO

US general says no proof Iran behind Iraq arms

14 Mar 06

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The top U.S. military officer said on Tuesday the United States does not have proof that Iran's government is responsible for Iranians smuggling weapons and military personnel into Iraq.

President George W. Bush said on Monday components from Iran were being used in powerful roadside bombs used in Iraq, and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said last week that Iranian Revolutionary Guard personnel had been inside Iraq.

Asked whether the United States has proof that Iran's government was behind these developments, Marine Corps Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the military's Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a Pentagon briefing, "I do not, sir."
"Unless you physically see it in a government-sponsored vehicle or with government-sponsored troops, you can't know it," Rumsfeld said at the same briefing. "All you know is that you find equipment, weapons, explosives, whatever, in a country that came from the neighboring country."

"With respect to people, it's very difficult to tie a thread precisely to the government of Iran," Rumsfeld added.

Washington's charges about Iranian weapons and personnel in Iraq have added to tensions between the United States and Iran over Tehran's nuclear program.

Rumsfeld reiterated that there was evidence that Revolutionary Guard personnel had been in Iraq, and said, "It's entirely possible there are rogue elements and they're just there on their own or they're pilgrims. Not likely."

Bush said on Monday, referring to improvised explosive devices: "Some of the most powerful IEDs we're seeing in Iraq today includes components that came from Iran."

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Ritter: We Went To War Based On A Lie

Katherine Blake
CBS4 Denver

BOULDER, Colo. Former United Nation's weapons inspector Scott Ritter told several hundred people at the University of Colorado Wednesday night that the war in Iraq was based on a lie.

"The foundation of our involvement in Iraq is as corrupt as you can possibly imagine," Ritter said. "We went to war on a lie."

He compared himself to the detective character Columbo. Ritter said he thought it was his job to uncover the truth in Iraq and find weapons of mass destruction during the 1990s.

"So when you hear that 'we believe there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq,' I'm here to tell you right now the CIA knew that there were no weapons of mass destruction," he said.
Bob Martinez, chair of the Colorado Republican Party, was outside Ritter's speech in Boulder. He said Ritter's comments were irresponsible.

"We're at war with Islamo-Fascists who have vowed to destroy our way of life," Martinez said. "The students should remember the scenes that they watched on September 11th and what really happened that day."

Ritter resigned from the United Nations in 1998. He was a Marine before becoming a U.N. weapons inspector.

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Half of Americans Say Bush Misled on WMD's

Angus Reid Global Scan : Polls & Research
16 Mar 06

Many adults in the United States remain sceptical of their government's justification to launch the coalition effort in Iraq, according to a poll by Gallup released by CNN and USA Today. 51 per cent of respondents believe the Bush administration deliberately misled the American public about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.

The coalition effort against Saddam Hussein's regime was launched in March 2003. At least 2,311 American soldiers have died during the military operation, and more than 17,100 troops have been wounded in action.."

Pre-war speeches by U.S. president George W. Bush mentioned specific chemical agents, such as mustard gas, sarin and VX nerve gas as banned substances allegedly secured by Iraq. State secretary Colin Powell assured the United Nations (UN) Security Council in February 2003 that Hussein possessed biological weapons.

The final report of the Iraq Survey Group-presented to the U.S. Congress on Sept. 30, 2004-concluded that Saddam Hussein's regime did not possess chemical, biological or nuclear weapons, and had not implemented a significant program for their development.

On Mar. 13, Bush expressed satisfaction in his decision to launch military action against Hussein's regime, saying, "In less than three years, the Iraqi people have gone from living under the boot of a brutal tyrant, to liberation, to sovereignty, to free elections, to a constitutional referendum, and last December, to elections for a fully constitutional government. In those December elections, over 11 million Iraqis-more than 75 percent of the Iraqi voting age population-defied the terrorists to cast their ballots

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Shut Down the Prisons and Shut Up the Warmongers

By Ron Jacobs
16 Mar 06

Remember those big headlines last week about Abu Ghraib? According to the media splash, the US was preparing to close those notorious chambers within three months. That would mean by June 2006.

Well, guess what? Those stories were just another piece of disinformation.
According to the US Department of Defense news service DefenseLink, "News reports that the U.S. military intends to close Abu Ghraib within the next few months and to transfer its prisoners to other jails are inaccurate." Like everything else in Iraq, the actual timetable for any closure of the prison will be based on "the readiness of Iraq's security forces to assume control of them" and some kind of infrastructure improvements at other facilities. (DefenseLink 3/12/06) If previous reality holds true in this instance, that means that the Abu Ghraib facility will not be closing any time soon.

Just like the reports of soon-to-come troop withdrawals rumored every few months, the stories of the closure of Abu Ghraib are just one more part of the government's attempts to keep us hopefully confused. Whether the media's intention is to deceive or clarify by reporting these statements, the objective reality is the former.

Once again, it becomes clear that the only way the troops will come home alive is by consistent and loud popular demand. Polls showing that most Americans favor such a withdrawal are obviously not enough. Neither are votes for antiwar legislators. More is needed.

Of course, if one listens to Alexander Haig and Henry Kissinger-two architects of the last major US foreign disaster in Vietnam-they might think that the only way to get out of Iraq is by blowing the country and its inhabitants to hell. Indeed, Mr. Haig, who was a general, Secretary of State under Reagan, and an advisor to Richard Nixon (even serving as his Chief of Staff during the final months of Nixon's presidency), told an audience of a conference on the Vietnam War at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, ''Every asset of the nation must be applied to the conflict to bring about a quick and successful outcome, or don't do it." This is from a man, who helped engineer (among other things) the Christmas bombings of 1972, the mining of Haiphong harbor and the bombing of Hanoi and the dikes of northern Vietnam, and the invasion of Cambodia. What does he suggest the US do in Iraq? Break out some tactical nuclear weapons? The mindset that Haig represents seriously believes that the US military was restrained in Vietnam and that a similar situation exists in Iraq. This is despite the fact that more ordnance has been dropped on those two countries than on any other country in history.

His fellow panel member, Henry Kissinger, would probably like that idea. After all, it was Mr. Kissinger who considered the use of nuclear weapons against northern Vietnam in 1969, but was convinced such an idea might be a bad move after hundreds of thousands of US residents filled the streets of DC and several other cities on November 15, 1969 in a national mobilization to end the war in Vietnam.

Both of these men should be in adjoining cells in the Hague. Instead, they are guests of honor at the JFK Library. It's not that they were besmirching Kennedy's legacy by being there. Indeed, Mr. Kissinger said he admired the Kennedys-a statement that should not surprise any serious student of US history given Kissinger's tenure as a consultant on security matters to various U.S. agencies from 1955 to 1968. Indeed, Kissinger's treatise on nuclear weapons and foreign policy was a major influence on the strategic policies of the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. Given that treatise's emphasis on the use of tactical nuclear weapons together with conventional forces and the current discussion of just such a policy, one could say that Kissinger's influence continues to steer US war policy.

According to a report on Boston TV station Channel 4 of the conference attended by Haig and Kissinger, he was met by antiwar protestors on his way to the meeting. In addition, during the question and answer session Mr. Kissinger was asked if he wanted to apologize for the hundreds of thousands of deaths in Vietnam. His answer was typical Kissinger, arrogant and dismissive: ''This is not the occasion,'' he said. ''We have to start from the assumption that serious people were making serious decisions. So that's the sort of question that's highly inappropriate.'' (CBS4boston.com 3/12/06) When asked about the possibility that the US bombing of Cambodia helped create the Khmer Rouge and the ensuing killing that followed, Mr. Kissinger dismissed the possibility. In fact, he minimized the extent of the US bombing, telling the audience that it only took place along a "five-mile strip" of that country. According to Globalsecurity.org this is simply not true:

"Many of the bombs that fell in Cambodia struck relatively uninhabited mountain or forest regions; however, as declassified United States Air Force maps show, others fell over some of the most densely inhabited areas of the country, such as Siemreab Province, Kampong Chhnang Province, and the countryside around Phnom Penh. Deaths from the bombing are extremely difficult to estimate, and figures range from a low of 30,000 to a high of 500,000. Whatever the real extent of the casualties, the Arclight missions over Cambodia, which were halted in August 15, 1973, by the United States Congress, delivered shattering blows to the structure of life in many of the country's villages."

It wasn't all warmongering at the conference. Former aide to Lyndon Johnson, Jack Valenti told the audience that Washington has forgotten the major lesson of Vietnam. That lesson, said Valenti, who is retired from the presidency of the Motion Picture Association of America, "No president can win a war when public support for that war begins to decline and evaporate." Of course, this fact didn't stop Messrs. Haig and Kissinger from trying their damnedest and it doesn't seem to be preventing their modern-day incarnations from doing the same.

Back to Abu Ghraib. It is public knowledge that this prison has been the site of torture and murder of prisoners by the US military and intelligence agencies. It is also public knowledge that Abu Ghraib is but one of several such prisons operated by the US government around the world, with the one at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba being the most (in)famous. Back in 1970, the US public was told about similar prisons in Vietnam. These were known as tiger cages and were used to hold and torture so-called enemy no-combatants and political prisoners. Despite the fact that the tiger cages were exposed and decried by human rights organizations and some US congressmen, the cages were not shut down until the United States military and its southern Vietnamese cohorts were defeated in May 1975. As I wrote this, a story appeared on my computer's news ticker that U.S. State Department Deputy Assistant Secretary Colleen Graffy told BBC that Washington wants to close down Gitmo. Upon closer reading, however, such a closure is just something under discussion and will hopefully happen "over the years." (Reuters 3/12/06) So, the question remains, how long will it be before today's cages are closed?


Ron Jacobs is author of The Way the Wind Blew: A History of the Weather Underground (Haymarket Series), just republished by Verso. Jacobs' essay on Big Bill Broonzy is featured in CounterPunch's new collection on music, art and sex: Serpents in the Garden.

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Muslim students condemn UK newspaper spy ploy

14 March 06

In a recent expose, the newspaper was caught offering student reporters at the London Student Newspaper cash in return for infiltrating Islamic Society meetings in an attempt to report claims of Islamic radicals being active on campuses.
The umbrella organization of Muslim student groups Tuesday condemned a British weekly newspaper for reportedly offering cash to students to spy on Islamic Society meetings.

The Federation of Student Islamic Societies (FOSIS) in the UK and Eire said that the action of the Mail on Sunday will do nothing to help alleviate the concerns of Muslim students.

"This comes at a time when Muslim students are already feeling threatened on university campuses, having been banned from wearing the veil at Imperial College, London, and from forming an Islamic Society at Matthew Boulton College, Birmingham," Fosis said.

In a recent expose, the newspaper was caught offering student reporters at the London Student Newspaper cash in return for infiltrating Islamic Society meetings in an attempt to report claims of Islamic radicals being active on campuses.

"We condemn the Mail on Sunday for further attempting to perpetuate the myth that University campuses are breeding grounds for radicalism and extremism," Wakkas Khan, Fosis president, said.

"If allegations of extremism were really as widespread as is often claimed, then there would be no need to resort to such measures," he said.

The University of London Union said last week it was considering banning the sale of the Daily Mail following reports that its sister paper has been trying to bribe students to spy on their Muslim colleagues.

Fosis, which represents over 90,000 Muslim students in the UK, said that Islamic Societies play a "highly pivotal role in bridging the gap between Muslim Students and the wider student body."
"It is important the media recognize the importance of such institutions on campus and promotes them within the positive light which they deserve. The students they represent are a far cry from the enemy within," Khan said.

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Uncle Chutzpah and His Willing Executioners on the Dire Iran Threat: With Twelve Principles of War Propaganda in Ongoing Service

By Edward S. Herman
15 Mar 06

Back at the time of a major Bush-1 "drug war" in 1989, Hodding Carter pointed out that with increasing attention to the newly declared "crisis" by the administration and media, the public's estimate of the importance of the drug problem rose spectacularly.

"Today's big news is the drug war. The president says so, so television says so, newspapers and magazines say so, and the public says so."

Today's big news is the possibility that Iran, the Little Satan, might some day acquire a nuclear weapon: the administration says so, the media say so, and now three times as many people regard Iran as the U.S.'s greatest menace than four months ago and 47 percent of the public agrees that Iran should be bombed if needed to prevent its acquiring any nuclear weapon capability.
The system works this mobilization process like a well-oiled propaganda machine--which it is--and it can apparently sell almost anything in the way of justifying external violence to a large fraction of the populace, at least in the short run. The attack on Iraq was a remarkable achievement in this respect, given that it was built on a series of lies about Iraq weapons, links, and threats that were extremely dubious at best, a number clearly false and even quite silly (the mushroom cloud and threat to U.S. national security); and given that the actions taken were in blatant violation of the UN Charter. To put this over required tacit collusion between the administration and mainstream media, with the latter serving as de facto propaganda arms of the war-makers.

We may recall that the justification for NATO's bombing of the Serb TV broadcasting facilities in 1999 (killing 16 people) was that it was a propaganda arm of the Serb military. On that logic, accepted by respectable opinion and Carla Del Ponte on behalf of the Yugoslavia Tribunal, in a just world, where Bush and company would surely be brought to trial for manifold war crimes in the Iraq aggression-occupation, Arthur Hays Sulzberger, Bill Keller, Thomas Friedman, Donald Graham, Leonard Downie, Jr., Richard Cohen, George Will, Rupert Murdoch, Bill O'Reilly, and numerous others would be in the dock alongside them.

The further remarkable thing is that, despite their semi-apologies for betraying the public interest and their readers in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq--at least at the New York Times and Washington Post--the media are going through the same routines of propaganda service in the buildup to a possible attack on Iran. They quite generally avoid mentioning the similarity of the arguments made earlier, or that the administration lied egregiously earlier, or their own earlier hyper-gullibility. A tabula rasa is required if the system calls for serial propaganda service that entails the serial conveying of disinformation and suppression of inconvenient evidence. The "Drumbeat sounds familiar" to Simon Tisdall in the London Guardian (March 7, 2006), but not to the servants of power in the U.S. media.

Twelve Principles of Propaganda Used in Setting the Stage for War: the Iran Case

The first principle in manufacturing propaganda for the U.S. war party is to take it as a given that the United States has the legal and moral right to take the lead in making a case that the international community must act-here to stop Iran's nuclear program. Consider that the United States is in the midst of an occupation in Iraq in which it is daily committing war crimes, all of which follow on a major act of aggression that violated the UN Charter. A lesser power doing this would be declared an international outlaw, and would not be considered a proper leader to guide the international community in the pursuit of villainy. In fact, containing the outlaw would be deemed of primary importance. Furthermore, the United States showed its contempt for the rule of law and for any UN legal procedures in the runup to the Iraq war, when it fabricated a crisis-Iraqi violation of international rules and an Iraqi threat to U.S. national security-and on that basis simply ran roughshod over UN processes and international law.

Beyond these outrages, the United States has unclean hands as regards the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty that Iran is allegedly violating: as a signatory to the NPT, the United States pledged "to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control." It has not met this pledge, nor the promise not to threaten or use nuclear weapons against signers who agreed to forego developing nuclear weapons. It is even "upgrading" and "modernizing" its nuclear weapons to make them more "practical." In theory, Iran or any other party could complain to the IAEA that the United States is in clear breach of the NPT, but somehow this doesn't happen; only possible breaches that the United States sees fit to pursue can be attended to in the New World Order. Furthermore, the United States has given crucial support to Israel, engaged in a massive ethnic cleansing operation in violation of international law, with both superpower and client simply brushing aside a stream of UN rulings and an International Court condemnation of Israel's apartheid wall. The United States has either aided or given tacit approval to breaches of the NPT by Israel, Pakistan and India. In short, its moral right to challenge Iran is non-existent-it can do so only by virtue of power, bribery and threats, and because the patriotic mainstream media take its moral right as an undiscussible given.

The second principle, paralleling the U.S. right to do as it pleases, is the absence of the target's right even to defend itself. The United States and Israel may possess nuclear weapons, the latter refusing to subject itself to the NPT and the former violating it and threatening Iran with "regime change," but any Iran move to right the balance by acquiring such weapons for itself is a terrible thing that threatens "international peace and security," as stated in House Concurrent Resolution 341. The United States and Israel have been bringing "peace and security" to the Middle East! It should be noted that in the EU negotiations on Iran's nuclear activities, the United States has refused to give any security guarantee to Iran as part of the package, making its un-peaceful intentions toward Iran clear, but this still does not give Iran the right to acquire weapons that might reduce that open threat. For the media this is all irrelevant, as its leadership says that Iran is a menace and nothing else matters.

A third principle is inflating the menace that would follow from Iran's possession of nuclear weapons. This of course parallels closely the earlier inflation of the Iraq threat, where the Bush administration propagandists were not laughed off the stage for talking about mushroom clouds off New York and other dire threats. Then and now the media have not pointed out that Saddam Hussein had only used chemical weapons in the 1980's against Iran (and Iraqi Kurds) at a time when he was serving U.S. interests--and therefore with tacit U.S. approval--but that he didn't use them at all in the Persian Gulf War when the United States was the opponent and could retaliate in kind and with greater force. By the same token, as the United States and Israel have enormous retaliatory capability, the Iranians could never use nuclear weapons as an offensive tool without committing national suicide. But nuclear weapons would serve as a default weapon if Iran were attacked; that is, it would contribute to self-defense. This line of argument is carefully avoided in the mainstream propaganda flow.

Of course, demons shouldn't have the right of self-defense, and the fourth principle applied in the media's beating the drums of war is unrelenting demonization of the target. This was easy to do with Saddam Hussein, but it can be worked for almost anyone, as there are few political leaders who don't have some unsavory elements in their record or who haven't made indiscreet or wild statements that can be latched onto, taken out of context, and used to suggest irresponsibility and menace. Iran's mullahs have run a fairly repressive state, although its repression has eased up and democratic voices have not been silenced. The newly elected president Mahmoud Ahmandinejad, of course, made an indefensible statement on the Holocaust (a "myth") and a wild statement that Israel should be "wiped off the map." In his recent classic of war propaganda ("Judicious Double Standards," Washington Post, March 7, 2006), Richard Cohen even says that the Iranian leader is a "zealot who has pledged to eradicate Israel," a straightforward lie. Victor David Hanson makes the current scene one of "appeasement." as in the treatment of Hitler in the 1930s, and Iran now a threatening "bully." ("Appeasement 101: dealing with bullies," Chicago Tribune, Feb. 17, 2006). Iran of course has zero nuclear weapons, whereas the United States and Israel both have massive numbers and delivery systems, and Iran hasn't once moved beyond its borders, whereas the United States and Israel have done so regularly and are pummeling Middle East populations right now, but Iran is the "bully," and appeasement means failing to make sure by threat or violence that it cannot ever acquire a single nuclear weapon. But lies and inflated rhetoric are par for the course, and in the panicky environment of the pre-war threat buildup there is no cost to lying or comical threat inflation.

A fifth principle is to avoid discussion of any current relationships with governments that might deserve demon status as much or even more than the target (here Iran). Saudi Arabia is more fundamentalist Islamic and more repressive than Iran, and Egypt, Pakistan, Morocco, and Uzbekistan are at least as vulnerable to criticism for undemocratic practice as Iran, but they are U.S. client states, hence relatively free from criticism let alone threat of destabilization or attack. Pakistan even has nuclear weapons, and the United States finds that tolerable.

Israel of course has a sizable nuclear arsenal, which the United States helped Israel develop and which the United States accepts as reasonable. Richard Cohen explains that this is part of the judicious double standard because "Israel has not threatened to blow Iran off the map; because it is vastly outnumbered in a tough, belligerent neighborhood; and because it is the lone real democracy in a region run mostly by thugs." But Israel has threatened to bomb Iran, and made this threat long before Ahmadinejad's pugnacious statements, which have never been as specific or realistic as Israel's threats; and Israel has regularly invaded its neighbors, which Iran has not done (although it was invaded by Iraq, which was helped in this by the United States). Cohen fails to mention that the "thugs" in the neighborhood are mainly U.S. client states, whose thuggery is accepted because used only against their own citizenry. Israel is "outnumbered" in people but not in tanks, modern aircraft, missiles, and nuclear arms, and it has the full backing of the United States, so that it threatens and beats up others, but remains invulnerable. It is not a true democracy-it is a racist democracy, and it is the world's only state that is free to occupy another people's land and ethnically cleanse them over many years in violation of international law and accepted standards of morality, from which it is exempt by virtue of its and its patron's military power. In short, this "judicious double standard" is built on racism, lies, and Orwellian thought, now institutionalized (see my "Ethnic Cleansing and the 'Moral Instinct'," Z Magazine, March 2006).

A sixth and closely related principle is the need to keep under the rug any awkward past actions or relationships with the target that might show both hypocrisy and the fraudulence of the claimed threat. This was dramatically so in the case of Saddam Hussein, aided and protected by U.S. (and British) officials in the 1980s when he was actually using the dread "weapons of mass destruction," although he was using them on a U.S.-approved target (Iran) as well as on some of his own citizens. In the case of Iran, the United States actually promoted that country's development of nuclear energy when the Shah of Iran was in power. He was far more oppressive of his people than the mullahs are today--his torture chambers were state-of-art, with U.S. and Israeli aid--but he took orders, so using Cohen's "judicious double standards" it was reasonable that he should be encouraged to go nuclear. The media's ability to forget these inconvenient facts and to dredge up long neglected "principles" now applied to Iran with the utmost seriousness is a reminder of the principles of Newspeak (Ingsoc) described in Orwell's 1984.

A seventh principle is keeping under that (rapidly bulging) rug any current actions of the United States that might appear incompatible with its harsh stand opposing Iran's pursuing any nuclear program. Most obvious today is the new agreement with India just signed by U.S. president George Bush and Indian president Manmohan Singh, that offers U.S. nuclear aid to India for its civilian uses of nuclear energy, but which therefore frees India's ongoing processing of nuclear fuel for use in its nuclear weapons program. The mainstream media have not buried the fact of this agreement, but they have done an outstanding job of avoiding any stress on its violation of principles: India, a country that has avoided joining the NPT and instead built nuclear weapons, instead of being penalized for this evasion and contribution to nuclear proliferation is accepted as a nuclear weapons power and helped to enhance its nuclear status, civilian and military; whereas Iran, which did sign that treaty and allowed itself to be subjected to IAEA inspections, and which has no nuclear weapons, is denied even the right to civilian uses of nuclear energy and is threatened with sanctions and even attack.

An eighth principle is that the United States not only has a right to ignore the NPT as it applies to itself, it can also alter the terms of the NPT as it applies to its target. In this case, the NPT gives Iran the "inalienable right to develop, research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes" (Art. IV.1). But the U.S. Ambassador to the UN has asserted that "no enrichment in Iran is permissible" because it "could give Iran the possibility of mastering the technical difficulties it's currently encountering in its program," and having done that it could use these processes elsewhere. Once again, the law is irrelevant, and the violator of the UN Charter in the Iraq aggression is once again threatening aggression because it deems Iran to be a menace. Of course all the serious threats are emanating from the United States and Israel, and there is no hard evidence that Iran is going beyond its perfectly legal rights under the NPT, but these considerations can be disregarded as the biggest and strongest has spoken.

A ninth principle is that if the target cannot prove a negative, the severity of the threat to U.S. "national security" requires that Iran be bombed and that there be a change in regime to one that can be trusted (like that of the Shah of Iran, or Sharon, or Musharraf). This of course parallels the course of events in Iraq in 2002-March 2003, where the inspectors found nothing, despite very extensive searching (including searches in all places that U.S.-British intelligence had suggested as promising), but on this principle an invasion was required because the negative was not (and could not be) proved. We may see the same process in the Iran case.

A tenth principle is to use the mechanisms of international regulation linked to the UN to serve the war and goal of regime change: by pushing for ever more intensive inspections and ultimatums; by denigrating the adequacy of inspections; by taking any absence of proof of the negative and any target country foot-dragging on cooperation with increasingly intrusive inspections to demonstrate its nefarious character and virtual proof of its secret operations; and by getting the UN and Security Council to make concessions appeasing the aggressor that give his aggression an aura of semi-legality. The UN and France and Germany took a lot of flak in the runup to the Iraq aggression for failing to give the United States carte blanche, although they all bent over backwards to placate the aggressor (and eventually gave their sanction to his illegal and murderous occupation). In the runup to the attack on Iran, the United States has kept intense pressure on the IAEA and EU to condemn Iran for its "concealment" and lack of "transparency," pressing the IAEA to inspect frequently and intensively (it has put up 17 written and four oral reports on its inspections of Iran to its board since March 17, 2003), possibly hoping that Iran will be provoked into withdrawing from the NPT and giving the aggressor his casus belli. Again, this is being pressed by an aggressor who has still not digested his last meal and that is himself in gross violation of the NPT.

An eleventh principle is to pretend that all the frenzy and activity of the Great Powers to deal with the Iran threat is based on a universal worry, and does not reflect U.S. power and the attempts to appease that power. The EU has cooperated with the Bush administration even more willingly than they did before the attack on Iraq, going along with publicizing and condemning Iran's supposed misbehavior, and pressing the IAEA to go after Iran more aggressively-while of course ignoring completely the U.S. violations of the NPT, its open threats directed to Iran and openly announced programs of intervention and destabilization, threats that once again violate the UN Charter. So the "international community" is actively cooperating in a planned and threatened further U.S. aggression.

A twelfth principle is to disregard any hidden agenda the U.S. may have in going after Iran. In fact, as the explicit agenda of removing a threat to U.S. national security is as fraudulent as the threat to U.S. security posed by Iraq, and as the United States refuses to give Iran a security guarantee as part of a weapons control package, the failure to examine the real reasons for the U.S. program is the height of "international community" and journalistic irresponsibility. Is it a simple projection of power by an imperial state, as urged by many Bush officials in the Project for a New American Century, "Rebuilding America's Defenses" (2000) and spelled out in the "National Security Strategy of the United States" (2002)? Is it part of a quest for domination of oil supplies, which may call for a controlled client state in Iran as well as Iraq? Is it to prevent the rise of an oil bourse in Iran and potential diminution of the role of the dollar as a dominant currency? Is it to prevent an energy-based power alignment between Iran, China, and other Asian countries? Is it to help Israel retain its dominance in the Middle East and its ability to continue the ethnic cleansing of the West Bank and East Jerusalem without any interference? Some combination of these undoubtedly underlies the U.S. bullying and threats. A democratic media and a responsibility international community would be debating these and drawing the proper conclusions.


Uncle Chutzpah and his willing executioners-the media, UN and coalition of the cowardly and bribed-have isolated Iran and set her up for possible destabilization and aggression. One wouldn't think this possible given the remarkable parallels in argument and (phony) evidence in this case and that of the failed aggression in Iraq, but the power of the aggressor and subservience of the media and international community are apparently boundless.

It is certainly not assured that Iran will be attacked, and if it is attacked that is most likely to be by bombs only, but it can well happen. The stage is being set, and the folks likely to make those decisions are proven killers, torturers and law violators, confident in their military superiority and invulnerability to prosecution for criminal behavior and with a great capacity for righteous self-deception. And the international community is not only doing nothing to stop them, it is helping them prepare the "(im)moral" and quasi-legal groundwork . The leaders of the aggressor state are also politically astute, and recognize the political value of war as a means of retrieving political fortunes. They may be failures at home as well as abroad, but their service to the business community has been far-reaching, and those successes have protected and sustained them. To continue them, as they damage the great majority, may require forcible action. As Thorstein Veblen pointed out a hundred years ago, "The direct cultural value of a warlike business policy is unequivocal. It makes for a conservative animus on the part of the populace…At the same stroke, it directs popular interest to other, nobler, institutionally less hazardous matters than the unequal distribution of wealth" (The Theory of Business Enterprise [1904], pp. 391-3). When each day you are adding to your service to the rich and damaging the majority, war can come in handy to get folks to turn again to the "nobler, institutionally less hazardous" matters like stopping the dire threat of an Iranian bomb.

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MySpace Is The Trojan Horse Of Internet Censorship- Media elite's last gasp effort to save crumbling empire

Paul Joseph Watson & Alex Jones
Prison Planet.com
March 16 2006

MySpace isn't cool, it isn't hip and it isn't trendy. It represents a cyber trojan horse and the media elite's last gasp effort to reclaim control of the Internet and sink it with a stranglehold of regulation, control and censorship.

Since Rupert Murdoch's $580 Million acquisition of MySpace in July 2005, it has come from total obscurity to now being the 8th most visited website in the world, receiving half as many page hits as Google, despite the fact that on first appearance it looks like a 5-year-old's picture scrap and scribble book.
MySpace is the new mobile phone. If you don't have a MySpace account then you belong to some kind of culturally shunned underclass.

What most of the trendy wendy's remain blissfully unaware of is the fact that MySpace is Rupert Murdoch's battle axe for shaping a future Internet environment whereby electronic dissent, whether it be against corporations or government, will not tolerated and freedom of e-speech will cease to exist.

MySpace has been caught shutting down blogs critical of itself and other Murdoch owned companies. They even had the audacity to censor links to completely different websites when clicking through for MySpace. When 600 MySpace users complained, MySpace deleted the blog forum that the complaints were posted on. Taking their inspiration from Communist China, MySpace regularly uses blanket censorship to block out words like 'God'.

Earlier this week Rupert Murdoch sounded the death knell for conventional forms of media in stating that the media elite were losing their monopoly to the rapid and free spread of new communication technologies. Murdoch stressed the need to regain control of these outlets in order to prevent the establishment media empire from crumbling.

MySpace is Rupert Murdoch's trojan horse for destroying free speech on the Internet. It is a foundational keystone of the first wave of the state's backlash to the damage that a free and open Internet has done to their organs of propaganda. By firstly making it cool, trendy and culturally elite for millions to flock to establishment controlled Internet backbones like MySpace, Murdoch is preparing the groundwork for the day when it will stop being voluntary and become mandatory to use government and corporate monopoly controlled Internet hubs.

The end game is a system similar to or worse than China, whereby no websites even mildly critical of the government will be authorized.

The Pentagon admitted that they would engage in psychological warfare and cyber attacks on 'enemy' Internet websites in an attempt to shut them down. The fact that the NSA surveillance program spied on 5,000 Americans tells us that the enemy is the alternative media and that it will be targeted for elimination. Google has been ordered to turn over information about its users by a judge to the US government.

The second wave of destroying freedom of speech online will simply attempt to price people out of using the conventional Internet and force people over to Internet 2, a state regulated hub where permission will need to be obtained directly from an FCC or government bureau to set up a website.

The original Internet will then be turned into a mass surveillance database and marketing tool. The Nation magazine reported, "Verizon, Comcast, Bell South and other communications giants are developing strategies that would track and store information on our every move in cyberspace in a vast data-collection and marketing system, the scope of which could rival the National Security Agency. According to white papers now being circulated in the cable, telephone and telecommunications industries, those with the deepest pockets--corporations, special-interest groups and major advertisers--would get preferred treatment. Content from these providers would have first priority on our computer and television screens, while information seen as undesirable, such as peer-to-peer communications, could be relegated to a slow lane or simply shut out."

The original Internet will deliberately be subject to crash upon crash until it becomes a useless carcass of overpriced trash and its reputation will be defiled by the TV and media barons cashing in on the perfectly streamlined Internet 2, the free for all network that just requires you to thumbscan in order to log on! Those with a security grading below yellow on their national ID card will unfortunately be refused access. Websites that carry hate speech (ones that talk about government corruption) will be censored for the betterment of society.

For the aspiring dictator, the Internet is a dangerous tool that has been seized by the enemy. We have come a long way since 1969, when the ARPANET was created solely for US government use. The Internet is freedom's best friend and the bane of control freaks. Its eradication is one of the short term goals of those that seek to centralize power and subjugate the world under a global surveillance panopticon prison.

Rupert Murdoch's MySpace and its ceaseless promotion by the establishment media as the best thing since sliced bread is part of this movement. In saying all this we do encourage everyone to set up a MySpace account, but only if you're going to use it to bash MySpace, Rupert Murdoch and copy and paste this article right at the top of the page! See how long it is before your account is terminated.

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Internet means end for media barons, says Murdoch - Power 'moving from the old elite to bloggers'

Owen Gibson, media correspondent
Tuesday March 14, 2006
The Guardian

Rupert Murdoch last night sounded the death knell for the era of the media baron, comparing today's internet pioneers with explorers such as Christopher Columbus and John Cabot and hailing the arrival of a "second great age of discovery".

The News Corp media magnate nurtures a long-held distaste for "the establishment" but last night confided to one of the few clubs to which he does belong - The Worshipful Company of Stationers and Newspaper Makers - that he may be among the last of a dying breed.

"Power is moving away from the old elite in our industry - the editors, the chief executives and, let's face it, the proprietors," said Mr Murdoch, having flown into London from New York after celebrating his 75th birthday on Saturday.

Far from mourning its passing, he evangelised about a digital future that would put that power in the hands of those already launching a blog every second, sharing photos and music online and downloading television programmes on demand. "A new generation of media consumers has risen demanding content delivered when they want it, how they want it, and very much as they want it," he said. Indicating he had little desire to slow down despite his advancing years, he told the 603-year-old guild that he was looking forward, not back.

"It is difficult, indeed dangerous, to underestimate the huge changes this revolution will bring or the power of developing technologies to build and destroy - not just companies but whole countries."

The owner of Fox News added: "Never has the flow of information and ideas, of hard news and reasoned comment, been more important. The force of our democratic beliefs is a key weapon in the war against religious fanaticism and the terrorism it breeds."

Refusing to reminisce over a career that saw him develop a global empire stretching from DirecTV and the New York Post in the US to Sky and the Sun in the UK via assets in South America, Asia and Australia, he declared: "I believe we are at the dawn of a golden age of information - an empire of new knowledge."

But he combined his new-found enthusiasm for the digital future with a "change or die" message for the monolithic media empires of the 20th century.

"Societies or companies that expect a glorious past to shield them from the forces of change driven by advancing technology will fail and fall," he warned. "That applies as much to my own, the media industry, as to every other business on the planet." Two hundred liverymen and freemen of the trade guild were joined by family and friends who then dined in Stationers' Hall, a Grade 1 listed building near St Paul's Cathedral in London.

He had some words of hope for his industry peers buffeted by declining circulations, free titles and the internet. "I believe traditional newspapers have many years of life but, equally, I think in the future that newsprint and ink will be just one of many channels to our readers," he said, predicting a future in which "media becomes like fast food" with consumers watching news, sport and film clips as they travel, on mobile phones or handheld wireless devices.

"Great journalism will always attract readers. The words, pictures and graphics that are the stuff of journalism have to be brilliantly packaged; they must feed the mind and move the heart," he enthused.

Following its chairman's change of heart, News Corp has splashed out close to $1bn (£578m) on internet investments.

Most tellingly, the company spent $400m on MySpace.com, the social networking phenomenon that has proved hugely popular with 35m regular users on both sides of the Atlantic. Mr Murdoch has undergone a Damascene conversion, admitting he hugely underestimated the power of the web. He said last night: "It is a creative, destructive technology that is still in its infancy, yet breaking and remaking everything in its path. We are all on a journey, not just the privileged few, and technology will take us to a destination that is defined by the limits of our creativity, our confidence and our courage."

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Money Matters

UAE turns back on dollar in foreign reserves shake-up

By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard
14 Mar 06

The United Arab Emirates is planning to switch 10pc of its foreign reserves from dollars to euros in the first sign of fall-out from Washington's snub to Dubai Ports World last week.

Sultan bin Nasser Al Suwaidi, the governor of UAE's central bank, said the plan was designed to achieve a better balance in the $19.1bn reserves of the oil-rich Gulf federation, almost entirely held in dollars.
"This policy initiative has nothing to do with the controversy over DP World's bid for P&O operations in the US," he said. In the same breath, however, he denounced the move by the US Congress to block the Dubai group from taking control of six American ports on security grounds, warning it would drive capital away.

"It is against the principles of international trade. People will look at investment opportunities in the US through new binoculars," he said.

The UAE has been a close ally of Washington in the fight against terrorism, so the shrill tone on Capitol Hill - bordering on anti-Arab hysteria - has been deeply wounding. There are fears it could lead to a withdrawal of petrodollar funds from the US, much like the Saudi-driven capital flight after the terrorist attacks of 9/11.

"Dubai's difficulties are going to cause Arab countries to invest less in the United States," said Mohab Kamel, a trader at Kara Energy in Geneva. "The kick in the teeth by Washington is not reassuring for Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, which have a more fundamentalist attitude," he said.

The next move could be a decision by Emirates Airlines - the region's top carrier - to opt for Europe's Airbus A350 in a $7.5bn order for passenger jets expected next month instead of Boeing's 787 Dreamliner.

The IMF forecasts that the Gulf region will rack up a current account surplus of $275bn in 2006, giving it huge clout in the global capital markets.

By some estimates, the recycling of petrodollars has eclipsed the Asian central banks as the chief source of foreign financing for the US deficit, now over 7pc of GDP. Exact figures are elusive as Middle East holdings of US Treasury bonds are mostly disguised through purchases in London and the Caribbean.

David Lubin, an economist at HSBC and author of a report on Gulf petrodollars, said Washington could prove to be the victim of its recourse to "asset protectionism".

"It has been a particularly unpleasant incident and it may well have longer-term consequences since the US relies on foreign inflows to fund its current account deficit. This sort of move will make it even more dependent on easily-reversible portfolio flows," he said.

The IMF's Middle East director, Mohsin Khan, said that central banks in the Gulf region play a secondary role in recycling petrodollars.

What really matters is the investment strategy of the giant oil funds, such as the secretive Abu Dhabi Investment Trust now worth well over $200bn.

"They are still going into US-denominated assets, and the proportion of the assets held in dollars is not changing much - Gulf investors are not dumping dollars," he told the Middle East Economic Digest.

The moment they do, however, the long-awaited slide in the US dollar could start with a vengeance.

© Copyright of Telegraph Group Limited 2006

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Launch of Iranian oil trading hits wall - Oil exchange unlikely to begin till at least midyear

By John Partridge
Investment Reporter
15 Mar 06

As the nuclear standoff pitting Iran against the West continues, some conspiracy theorists are more focused on another plan that the Middle Eastern nation is pursuing.

But they are jumping the gun if they still figure Iran is within days of launching a new international oil exchange that would sell its own and other Middle Eastern oil producers' black gold in euros rather than U.S. dollars -- and which, the theory goes, could ultimately torpedo the greenback and the U.S. economy.
Despite repeated reports over the past 18 months or so that the planned bourse would finally open for business on March 20, 2006 -- and go head to head with the New York Mercantile Exchange and the ICE Futures Exchange in London -- the start date has been postponed by at least several months and maybe more than a year.

"In the middle of 2006, we are able to start the bourse," Mohammad Asemipur, special adviser on the project to Iran's Oil Minister, said when reached in Tehran. The plan is to trade petrochemical products first, with a crude oil contract coming last, a rollout that likely will take three years, he said.

"Oh, crikey, it's at a much earlier stage than people would think," said British consultant Chris Cook, who claims credit for coming up with the idea for the exchange in the first place and is a member of the consortium headed by the Tehran Stock Exchange that is charged with bringing the project to life.

"You can rest assured, there will not be a crude oil contract, Gulf-based, in my opinion, within a year -- and that would be really pushing it," Mr. Cook, a former director of ICE's predecessor, the International Petroleum Exchange, said when reached in Scotland.

The electronic exchange is to be located on Kish Island in the Persian Gulf, an Iranian duty- and tax-free zone.

There has been far less talk about the planned bourse in the mainstream media than on the Internet, particularly on websites aimed at gold bugs and other economic conspiracy theorists.

The theory is that all trades through the new bourse would be made in euros, not the U.S. dollar, which for decades has been the world's primary reserve currency, as well as the one in which oil and most other commodities have been priced. As a result, European nations and other countries, especially Middle East oil producers, tired of having to buy billions of now weakening greenbacks to pay for their energy purchases, would no longer have to do so.

This, the conspiracy theorists contend, would knock the stuffing out of the U.S. currency and hasten the decline and fall of the American Empire, all the while allowing Iran to stick it to the Great Satan.

But, the theory continues, Washington will pre-empt all this by using Iran's nuclear ambitions as a pretext for attacking the country.

Kamal Daneshyar, chairman of Iran's Majlis [parliamentary] Energy Commission reportedly told the Iranian Students News Agency in December that the exchange would at first operate in both dollars and euros, but gradually move to the European currency exclusively. He was also quoted as saying that this would enable Iran to get even with the U.S. for the economic damages it has inflicted on the Islamic republic.

Dr. Asemipur, meanwhile, was noncommittal on the currency question, saying market participants, not the Iranian government, would make the decision. He also denied the planned bourse could harm the U.S. economy.

Mr. Cook dismissed the idea that Iran's goal is to use the bourse to sabotage the greenback. "I have a technical term for that," he said. "Bollocks!"

As for trading oil in euros, he said the Iranians likely would find it very difficult, at least in the next several years. "Basically, there aren't enough euros in circulation, and nor are there likely to be," he said.

Mr. Cook cited a recent article on Hong Kong-based Asia Times Online by William Engdahl, who specializes in the geopolitics of oil.

"For the euro to begin to challenge the reserve role of the U.S. dollar, a virtual revolution in policy would have to take place in Euroland," Mr. Engdahl wrote. "First the European Central Bank . . . would have to surrender power to elected legislators. It would then have to turn on the printing presses and print euros like there was no tomorrow."

A full challenge to the U.S. dollar as the world central bank reserve currency, Mr. Engdahl added later, would entail a "de facto declaration of war on the 'full-spectrum dominance' of the United States today," and that is something no country or group of countries is yet willing to launch.

© Copyright 2006 Bell Globemedia Publishing Inc

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Investors flee Iceland banks as economy heads towards forecast 'hard landing'

By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard
14 Mar 06

Iceland's banks were pummelled yesterday as the Nordic economy lurched into its third week of crisis, flashing an ominous early-warning signal for markets worldwide.
The krona tumbled another 3pc against the US dollar and is now down almost 18pc this year, a victim of "hot money" flight by investors scrambling for the exit doors at the same time. Reykjavik's blue-chip stock index was down 3.3pc.

The cost of insuring against a bond default by Iceland's three big banks - Kaupthing, Landesbanki, and Islandibanki - shot up another 20 basis points yesterday as investors became increasingly alarmed over their use of foreign debt to fund an equity spree. "This is a warning sign the euphoria we've se en in global markets is dissipating rapidly," said Julian Callow, an economist at Barclays Capital.

Funds had piled into Iceland to milk 10.75pc rates but panicked after warnings of a "hard landing" by the credit agency Fitch. The krona's crash set off global dominos, hitting New Zealand, South Africa, Hungary, Poland and Turkey. The rumbling thunder of monetary tightening by all the world's big central banks provided the background music.

The banking crisis followed when Fitch and Merrill Lynch warned that the banks could have trouble rolling over their foreign debts. Merrill Lynch said the big three faced refinancing on $17.8bn of foreign debt by the end of 2007, equal to 130pc of Iceland's GDP.

"With a debt distribution that is front-loaded, Icelandic banks are particularly vulnerable to shifts in market confidence," it said.

Analysts said the banks had leveraged the nation to the hilt, borrowing vast sums on the global capital markets for a Viking conquest of corporate Europe. "The whole county has become a hedge fund," said one economist.

Icelandic banks and investment groups such as Baugur and FL have snapped up chunks of Britain, with investments reaching £1.8bn by last year. They own supermarket-chain Somerfield, Booker cash and carry, Hamleys toy shop, Teather & Greenwood stockbrokers, Whittards tea and coffee, and a stake in Easyjet.

Their banking empire in Europe includes Denmark's FIH and Norway's Bnbank.

Paul Rawkins, a sovereign debt analyst at Fitch, said the country's net external debt had reached a colossal 450pc of GDP. "The risks of a hard-landing have increased, raising concerns about how well the broader financial system would cope," he said.

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Saudi prince pledges £1.6bn to halt plunge in stock market

By Philip Thornton, Economics Correspondent
16 March 2006

The Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, one of the world's richest men, intervened yesterday to stem the plunge in the value of the country's stock exchange.

Stock markets across the Gulf region have suffered sharp losses this week amid a deepening crisis of confidence after a three-year bull market.
The Saudi bourse had lost a fifth of its value since Friday before yesterday's move, while the markets in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain have all lost ground.

Prince Alwaleed said his company, Kingdom Holdings, would inject between $1.3bn and $2.7bn (£765m and £1.6bn) into the market to combat the correction, which he blamed on speculators. The Saudi finance ministry also announced plans to allow the country's estimated 6 million foreign residents to invest directly in the Saudi stock exchange. It said it was also considering organising share-splits to lower the nominal prices of shares on the exchange to make it easier for small investors to buy into the market.

"Splitting shares is beneficial and allowing foreign residents [to invest] is a very good decision," the Saudi prince, who owns stakes in Euro Disney, News Corporation and luxury hotels across the world, said in a statement.

The Saudi all-share index closed up more than 4 per cent yesterday, almost wiping out Tuesday's losses. "The measures give confidence to the market but it's difficult to say how long their impact will last," one analyst said. Markets in the region have surged over the past five years as Middle East investors reaped the benefits of a rising oil price and Western investors sought out high-yielding investment in a low interest rate environment.

Markets in Egypt, Dubai, Saudi Arabia and the Lebanon doubled and several more saw returns of more than 50 per cent.

But as interest rates have started to rise across the developed world, investors are starting to pull their money out of riskier investments. Earlier this week Iceland's currency and stock market fell sharply.

Analysts believe that fears of a correction in the Middle East have been heightened by the recent political dispute over Dubai Ports World's takeover of P&O that forced DPW to sell the six US ports it would have acquired under the deal.

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Anger over British firms' Iraq profits

By Ben Russell, Political Correspondent
16 March 2006

Tony Blair has been challenged over the "scandal" of vast profits being made by British firms with reconstruction contracts in Iraq.

The Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn attacked the Prime Minister after The Independent revealed that British businesses have profited by at least £1.1bn since Saddam Hussein was ousted three years ago. Top earners include the construction firm Amec and the security company Aegis. Heasked: "Does he not think it is time to set a date for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq, to end the occupation and end the growing scandal of the huge profits being made by British and American companies from reconstruction and that the continued presence represents more of a problem than a solution?"

Mr Blair said Britain should continue to support Iraq's efforts to achieve a stable democracy.

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Global Economic Hegemony: A New Kind of Warfare?

By Kaleem Hussain
15 Mar 06

An Interview with Dr Krassimir Petrov,Ph.D (Teaches Macroeconomics, International Finance & Econometrics at the American University in Bulgaria).
Afghanistan, Iraq and now Iran and potentially Syria on the cards for a military intervention, I was intrigued to find out what exactly is driving the neo-conservatives in the echelons of power at the Whitehouse and the few coalition allies to the U.S. to continue their strategy of potential military strikes despite what is universally accepted has been a disastrous foreign policy in Iraq.

I interviewed Dr. Krassimir Petrov who has recently wrote an article titled "The Proposed Iranian Oil Bourse" to enlighten me on this subject. The interview focused on two articles, namely the one cited above and by W.R. Clark titled "Petrodollar Warfare: Dollars, Euros & The Upcoming Iranian Oil Bourse." The response is a combination of statements from the articles and Dr. Krassimir Petrov's own opinions on the questions asked.

The questions were framed as a result of what the authors have highlighted is the setting up of a proposed Iranian Oil Bourse due to become operational from March 2006. The word "bourse" refers to a stock exchange for securities trading, and is derived from the French Stock Exchange in Paris. The Tehran Government has plans to begin competing with New York's NYMEX and London's IPE using a Euro based international oil trading mechanism. You may ask, why is this of any significance?

Well, in the year 2000, Iraq had decided that it was no longer going to accept dollars for oil being sold under the UN's Oil For-Food Program and decided to switch to the Euro as Iraq's oil export currency. The result was a military strike by the U.S. and it's allies and subsequently in ample time the dollar was restored as Iraq's oil export currency.

The authors feel that this was one of the main reasons for attacking Iraq to maintain the U.S. dollar as the monopoly currency for the critical international oil market. What this signifies is that without some sort of U.S. intervention and if the Iranian oil bourse goes ahead, the Euro is going to establish a firm foothold in the international oil trade market. Under the rubric of what is seen as the potential nuclear threat of Iran in future years, W.D. Clark states in his article that given the U.S. debt levels and taking into consideration the neo-conservative project of U.S. global domination, Tehran's intentions "constitute an obvious encroachment on dollar supremacy in the crucial international oil market." With international pressure mounting on the Iranian Government, it was under these circumstances that I posed the questions to Dr. Krassimir Petrov.

Q1/ In light of the above articles, are we witnessing a "new kind of warfare," namely that of "economic warfare"?

Dr. Krassimir Petrov: War always has an economic stance to it. Nations would not go to war if they were not to benefit economically from their pursuits. Hence, why in my article I coined the phrase under economics of empires "a nation state taxes it's own citizens while an empire taxes other nation sates." As W.R. Clark succinctly states in his article "there are unspoken macroeconomic drivers underlying the second stage of petrodollar warfare, Iran's upcoming Oil Bourse." Dr. K. Petrov suggests that the imperial ability to tax has been at the core for building a stronger economy and consequently a better and stronger military. Economically, the American empire was born with Bretton Woods in 1945.

The U.S. dollar was not fully convertible to gold, but was made convertible to gold only to foreign governments. This established the dollar as the reserve currency of the world. Dr. K Petrov suggested that, historically taxation had always been direct, where the subject state handed over the economic goods directly to the empire, but for the first time in history, during the twentieth century, America was able to tax the world indirectly, through inflation fostering the creation of a new U.S. imperial tax. The guns-and-butter policy of the 1960's was an imperial one: the dollar supply was relentlessly increased to finance Vietnam and LBJ's Great Society.

In August 15, 1971, The U.S. Government had defaulted on its payments when foreigners demanded payment for their dollars in gold. The popular "spin" at the time was that the U.S. was severing the link between the dollar and gold, in reality the denial to pay back in gold was an act of bankruptcy by the U.S. Government in order to foster the aims of what it had declared as its empire. It had extracted an enormous amount of economic goods from the rest of the world, with no intention or ability to return those goods, and the world was powerless to respond- the world was taxed and it could not do anything about it. At that juncture, in order to sustain the American empire and continue to tax the world, the U.S. had to force the rest of the world to hold ever depreciating American dollars in exchange for economic goods. It had to give the rest of the world a viable reason to hold these ever depreciating dollars. The reason it gave was oil.

The answer Dr. K. Petrov gave to the first question was an overwhelming yes based on economic, military and imperialistic goals.

Q2/ The U.S. and Saudi Governments have previously signed a Iron Clad Agreement. If the Euro is successful as a currency for oil exportation, what other nations are likely to benefit in the future and could we witness a disenfranchisement in terms of the relationship the U.S. has with the House of Saud?

Dr. Krassimir Petrov: In 1971, as it became clearer and clearer that the U.S Government would not be able to buy back its dollars in gold, it made in 1972-73 an iron-clad arrangement with Saudi Arabia to support the power of the House of Saud in exchange for accepting only U.S. dollars for its oil. The rest of OPEC was to follow suit and also accept only dollars. Because the world had to buy oil from the Arab oil countries, it had the reason to hold dollars as payment for oil. Because the world needed ever increasing quantities of oil at ever increasing oil prices, the world's demand for dollars could only increase. Even though dollars could no longer be exchanged for gold, they were now exchangeable for oil.

The economic essence of this arrangement was that the dollar was now backed by oil. As long as that was the case, the world had to accumulate increasing amounts of dollars, because they needed those dollars to buy oil. As long as the dollar was the only acceptable payment for oil, its dominance in the world was assured, and the American empire could continue to tax the rest of the world. If, for any reason, the dollar lost its oil backing, the American empire would cease to exist. Thus, imperial survival dictated that oil be sold only for dollars. It also dictated that oil reserves were spread around various sovereign states that weren't strong enough, politically or militarily, to demand payment for oil in something else. If someone demanded a different payment, he had to be convinced, either by political pressure or military means, to change his mind.

Dr. Krassimir Petrov: The U.S Government has supported the Saudi government for many years both economically and militarily. If the Iron Clad Agreement was no longer viable, I am sure that the U.S Government would use all its economic and military power to restore its ascendancy in the region. The other nations that would benefit, would be the likes of China, Russia & the Asian countries. Many countries in the region would cherish the opportunity to curtail the U.S. monopoly in this area. Although many and I included would like to see the day when these oil rich nations disenfranchise themselves from the U.S. and the dollar, the likelihood of it happening in the foreseeable future is very minimal.

Q3/ Do you feel that nuclear proliferation agenda by Iran is being used as an excuse by the U.S. and it's coalition allies to achieve their economic and political goals in the region?

The man that actually did demand Euro for his oil was Saddam Hussein in 2000. At first, his demand was met with ridicule, later with neglect, but as it became clearer that he meant business, political pressure was exerted to change his mind. When other countries, like Iran, wanted payment in other currencies, most notably Euro and Yen, the danger to the dollar was clear and present, and a punitive action was in order. Bush's Shock-and-Awe in Iraq was not about Saddam's nuclear capabilities, about defending human rights, about spreading democracy, or even about seizing oil fields; it was about defending the dollar and the American empire. It was about setting an example that anyone who demanded payment in currencies other than U.S. Dollars would be likewise punished.

Many have criticized Bush for staging the war in Iraq in order to seize Iraqi oil fields. However, those critics can't explain why Bush would want to seize those fields. He could simply print dollars for nothing and use them to get all the oil in the world that he needs. He must have had some other reason to invade Iraq.

Dr. Krassimir Petrov: Dr K. Petrov started by referring to the above extract in his article with reference to what took place with Iraq previously. The notion that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction was in fact a great distortion of the real reason why military intervention was carried out. Dr. K. Petrov then reiterated the statement that history teaches us that an empire goes to war to either (1) defend itself or (2) benefit from war and the Iranian situation is no different. The situation in Iran is that they are 10 years away from potentially having nuclear weapons. Whereas, North Korea is many years ahead of Iran in terms of it's nuclear agenda and we are not hearing any signals about a potential military reprisal against them. Based on recent evidence in Iraq, the current policy is merely a culmination of what has already passed with future projections of an attack on Syria also on the cards.

Q4/ Why was the Euro as a currency introduced into the global market?

Dr. Krassimir Petrov: The idea of introducing the Euro as a currency into the international financial markets

was given credence in the early 1990's. The main reason was to establish a currency that could compete with the dollar in the global economy. By having a strong Euro

operating in the oil market will dramatically shift the balance of power as the main oil exporting countries will begin to evaluate their options in this market with the EU and in relation to their balance of payments.

Q5/ What is the realistic probability of the Iranian Bourse operating successfully from March 2006 onwards?

Dr. Krassimir Petrov:

According to the reports I have, there is nothing suggesting at this moment in time that the Iranian Oil Bourse will not become operational from March 2006 onwards.

Q6/ At this stage when pressure is being put on Iran by the UN Security Council and the U.S. Government, what compromise is there on a economic front with references to the Iranian oil bourse & preventing a potential military attack on Iran?

Dr. Krassimir Petrov: The U.S. and it's international allies do not really wish to engage in a military battle with Iran at this juncture in light of what has happened in Iraq. However, when you suggest a compromise that would be beneficial to the U.S., the only viable compromise would be for the Iranian Oil Bourse not to go ahead. Otherwise, the repercussions as the precedent from Iraq shows is an increasing likelihood of a military reprisal. This is further reiterated in the opening statement of W.D. Clark's article on "Petrodollar Warfare" where he cited the following passage from a speech made by President G.W. Bush "This notion that the United States is getting ready to attack Iran is simply ridiculous...Having said that, all options are on the table."

The End of Dollar Hegemony: Analysis of Congressman Ron. Paul's speech before the U.S. House of Representatives.

During the interview, Dr K. Petrov also directed me to a recent speech by Hon. Ron Paul of Texas titled "The End of Dollar Hegemony" before the U.S. House of Representatives to endorse his findings over the years. Congressman Ron Paul gallantly presented his case underlying with relative precision how if the U.S does not change it's ways in terms of the economic, diplomatic & military policies in certain parts of the world, the end of dollar hegemony could be on the cards as it is replaced by another currency or gold as the leading standard bearer in the global markets. The speech by R. Paul very much continues the legacy and the picture that has been painted by Dr. K. Petrov and W.D. Clark in terms of the policies and strategies that the U.S. has historically used to maintain the dollar as the dominant currency on the world markets. The "bullish" confidence that has formed the benchmark in preserving the dollar boasted well for financing extravagance by conquering foreign lands, which in return meant less strains on domestic labour and productivity as it reaped the benefits not only gold but slaves (cheap labour) all contributing towards the economic and military might of the American empire. These foreign excursions also provided more ample opportunities to tax people & nation states, all assisting in preserving the dominance of the empire. Based on this historical observation, R. Paul states that when the wealth of nations had been sapped and gold no longer could be maintained, the military prowess of the empire subsequently also plummeted. Today, the principles are the same but the process is different. Paper money has replaced gold as the currency of the realm, but the goals remain essentially the same, namely to "compel foreign countries to produce and subsidize the country with military superiority and control over the monetary printing presses."

The Other side of the Coin

R. Paul suggests that since printing money is nothing short of counterfeiting, military ascendancy is paramount for its successful operation. However, the drawback is that such a policy tramples on the character of the counterfeiting nation depleting the incentive to save and produce, propelling increasing debts and welfare instability.

At the stage when paper money is rejected, or when gold runs out, wealth accumulation and political stability are lost. The term "dollar diplomacy" in the late 19th century was rephrased with "dollar hegemony" during the second half of the 20th century. The Federal Reserve System from 1913-1971, WW II created a simple formula, which was increasing the money supply of dollars and military might equalled a virtual monopoly on global economic trade with the dollar acting as the catalyst in the system. The 1944 Bretton Woods agreement had solidified this dominance making the purchase of dollars holding equal a footing as gold with a purchase power at 1/35th ounce of gold which was illegal for American Citizens to own. As R. Paul mentions, this was a policy that was destined to fail as in the following years the U.S. increased the supply of dollars without gold backing. This unseemly adventure came to an end on Aug 15, 1971, when Nixon closed the gold window.

Preserving the Dollar Hegemony

R. Paul's article highlights how the U.S. agreement with OPEC to price oil in U.S dollars exclusively for all worldwide transactions gave the dollar a pivotal position in the global currency market as the dollar would now be extricable linked to oil. In exchange, U.S. protection was guaranteed towards the oil rich nations and the dollar gained in relative strength allowing the U.S. to export "monetary inflation" and buy oil and other goods at a discount rate fostering further the quest for dollar hegemony.

However, the key points that R. Paul highlights in the article is that the OPEC arrangement was not as strong and stable as the Bretton Woods arrangement or the gold standard of the late 19th century. This volatility was highlighted when in the 1970's the dollar nearly collapsed and extortionate interest rates of 21% were required to bring stability back into the system. To this date, central banks and international commercial banks have preserved the strength of the dollar giving it similar footing to that of gold.

Economic Warfare: A New Kind of Warfare?

Congressman R. Paul points out that the artificial demand for the dollar along with the military might places the U.S. in the unique position to the rule the world without hindering its own domestic resources or deficits. This cosy relationship can't last!

In the past 5 years, the dollar has been devalued in terms of gold by more than fifty percent. The above analysis has shown, that if anyone does challenge the status quo in terms of the link between the dollar and oil e.g. Saddam Hussein (2000), the powers that be will use all economic and military means to remove that challenge (regime change) at whatever costs, including at times illegitimate authorisation as in Iraq. In 2001, Venezuela's ambassador to Russia spoke of Venezuela switching to the Euro for all their oil sales. This was immediately thwarted with economic pressure from the U.S.. The U.S. foreign policy in recent years has heightened tensions and increased resentment amongst majority Muslim nations around the world. This does not hold well when it comes to U.S. credibility and diplomacy in the international arena. R. Paul states that the $ 2.trillion never ending war must be paid for one way or another. Dollar hegemony provides the vehicle to do just that.

The key is to propel the dollar dependency among states, so that they remain "allies to the fraud" and hence keep the dollars artificial value high. If Iran does go ahead with the planned Iranian Oil Bourse from March 2006, if previous precedents is to go by, she will be subjected to the same economic and military pressures until a regime change has been put firmly in place in the region. As R. Paul highlights, using force to compel people to accept money without real value can only work in the short run.

Economic law is based on fiduciary exchange of goods with real value as opposed to the superficial values system the dollar hegemony project is promoting. It seems that the tide is slowly changing, when we will see the oil rich nations bartering in currencies other than the dollar. Although, the authors of the three main articles in this analyses would cherish seeing that day, the immediate likelihood is that the neo-conservative U.S. global economic dollar hegemonic project will continue using both political and military pressure to foster this global agenda.

Copyright© 2002-05 Independent Centre for Strategic Studies and Analysis (ICSSA).

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Police State Terrorism

The U.S. Gulag Prison System - The shame of a nation and a crime against humanity

By Stephen Lendman
Information Clearing House
16 Mar 06

No, not the one you think, outrageous as it is.? I'm referring to the US prison system that's with no exaggeration about as shockingly abusive as the gulag abroad.? It qualifies for that label by its size alone - more than 2.1 million as of June, 2004 and growing larger by about 900 new inmates every week.? Blacks (mostly poor and disadvantaged) especially are affected.? While they make up just 12.3% of the population, they account for half the prison population, and their numbers there have grown fivefold in the last 25 years.? Hispanics (also poor) account for another 15%.
About half of those incarcerated are there for non-violent offenses, and half of those (500,000) are drug related.? But while blacks make up 15% of ilicit drug users, they account for 37% of drug arrests, 42% of drug offenders in federal prison and 62% in state prisons.? And Human Rights Watch reported in 2000 that in one third of the states 75% of all prisoners for drug-related offenses are black.? In my home state of Illinois they reported the number to be an astonishing 89%, a total exceed by only one other state. Further, in a so-called free society, below the radar are hundreds of political prisoners, mostly people of color, there only because they represent a threat to the state from their pursuit of justice for their people if they were free.

Today the US shamelessly has more people behind bars than any other nation including China with over 4 times our population.? And things have become especially repressive against those in society least able to defend themselves including immigrants of color and our newest head of the queue demon - Muslims.? The Bush administration has made a bad situation far worse taking full advantage of their fear-induced "permanent state of war" and sham "global war on terrorism" to target all those seen as a potential threat to their plan for global dominance and full control at home.

Taken as a whole, this is a national disgrace and outrage, but the effect on those targeted is pretty much below the radar, unreported and undiscussed in the mainstream.? Who cares about a couple of million mostly poor, mostly people of color (including immigrants, many of whom are undocumented and have no legal rights at all) languishing behind bars out of sight and out of mind.? When any of this is discussed, it's to let the (voter eligible) public know our political leaders are "tough on crime" and working to keep us safe.? Safe from whom or what? In the words of a great world class journalist, that kind of talk is "what comes out of the rear end of a bull."? What's really going on has little to do with public safety but lots to do with controlling a justifiably restive population of poor and desperate people, the inability of those people to afford a proper defense in our so-called criminal justice system stacked against them, and a growing opportunity for big business to profit on human misery.? It's a kind of modern day slavery - a growing state and privately run criminal injustice and prison industry using human beings as their product.? In this land of opportunity and the "free market", all things (and people) are commodities to be exploited for profit.


The way this country has always treated its least advantaged throughout its history is shameful.? British historian Arnold J. Toynbee perceptively understood this in his quote made 46 years ago when he said:? "America is today the leader of a world-wide anti-revolutionary movement in the defence of vested interests.? She now stands for what Rome stood for:? Rome consistently supported the rich against the poor.........and since the poor, so far, have always and everywhere been far more numerous than the rich, Rome's policy made for inequality, for injustice, and for the least happiness of the greatest number."? Imagine what Toynbee might say today if he were still living.

Toynbee didn't say it but he might have added that none in America have fared worse than people of color - American Indians, Hispanics, Asians and especially Blacks first brought here as chattel and who remained that way for over 300 years.? Even when they were freed by the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution and guaranteed the right of life, liberty and property, due process and equal protection under the law by the Fourteenth Amendment they still seldom got it. Throughout the 100 years of Jim Crow justice and even after the civil rights gains in the 1960s, most blacks and other people of color have always been on the bottom rung of society (along with our native people) and denied most of its benefits including equal justice under the law.

There are those today in the US, even from the progressive community, who like to say this country has come a long way from its racist past, and while there are still far too many inequities we're making progress.? Are these people living in the same country and on the same planet as I am?? In the US the statistics on blacks alone in the criminal justice system make a mockery of any notion of a nation no longer racist.? When it comes to the issue of justice, we've never been more racist since the days of legal slavery.? The numbers are truly shocking and in a country claiming to be a democracy and a model for the rest of the world.? I hope that world makes another choice.? There are far better ones than ours, and our imperial adventures abroad and policies at? home toward our least advantaged prove it.


Here are some key facts.? Nationwide black males over 18 are incarcerated at 9 times the rate of comparable white males, and in 11 states those rates range from 12 to 26 times the rate for whites.? In my home state of Illinois the rate is 15 times, and in the nation's capital the rate is an astonishing 49 times.? The most current data on incarceration for blacks in the US was 1,815 per 100,000 vs. 609 per 100,000 for Latinos, 235 for whites and 99 for Asians.? For adult black males the rate was 4,630 per 100,000, 1,668 for Latinos and 482 for whites.? In 1999, 11% of black males in their 20s and early 30s were in prison including one third of black male high school dropouts. ? Even worse, the statistical model used by the Bureau of Justice Statistics at the turn of the century to determine racial and ethnic differences in their chances for incarceration at sometime in their lifetime predicts a 29% chance of serving prison time for a black male aged 16 in 1996.? The comparable chance for a white male in the same age group was 4%.? In 2002 the Justice Policy Institute reported there were more black men behind bars than in colleges or universities.? It also reported that 30% of black males between 20 and 29 are either in prison or on probation or parole.

From the numbers above we know that one in every 20 black men over 18 is now in a state or federal prison compared to one in every 180 whites.? And in some states like Oklahoma, Iowa, Rhode Island, Texas and Wisconsin, the black male incarceration rate incredibly is between 13 -14% of all black men in those states - a devastating blow to the black families and communities there.? It's also true that the best predictor of a state's incarceration rate and its total prison population is the size of its black population.

By almost all measure the state of what can only be called the US criminal injustice system is shocking and outrageous.? In the last 35 years the total number incarcerated has exploded from less than 300,000 in 1970 to more than 7 times that number now.? Today the US is number one not only in its total prison population but in the highest number per 100,000 population imprisoned - 690. Only Russia is a close second with 675 while in South Africa it's 400, England - 125, France - 90, Sweden - 60 and Italy - 40.? Would anyone suggest the US is 17 times more non-law-abiding than Italy, or is there a simpler explanation?

It's also true that race is the most prominent reason why states deny voting rights to convicted felons and ex-felons.? The greater the percentage of blacks in a state, the more likely it is for that state to disenfranchise its residents who've served time in jail.? A prison record in those states means a loss of a citizen's most fundamental democratic right.? The laws vary by state, but The Sentencing Project estimates 4.7 million Americans, or 1 in 43 adults, have currently or permanently lost their right to vote because of a felony conviction.? And 1.4 million black men, or 13% of all black men, are so disenfranchised, a rate 7 times the national average.? Even more shocking, the same report estimates that given the current rates of incarceration, 30% of the next generation of black men will be disenfranchised at some time in their life.? And in states that disenfranchise ex-offenders, as many as 40% of black men may permanently lose their right to vote.

Let's be very clear.? Based on the Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution it can, and I believe should, be argued that all state disenfranchisement laws are unconstitutional.? Section 1 of that amendment reads: "The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous servitude."? It remains for a future Congress and/or the courts to address this issue and decide whether we're to be a democracy for all our citizens or just for those we decide are eligible and for the reasons we choose.? And? this doesn't address the more basic question of whether our right to vote really matters.? The public has virtually no voice in choosing the 2 major parties' candidates, and when we cast our votes the new electronic voting machines can easily be programmed or manipulated to ignore our choice and count it for another candidate and even do it multiple times.? This is why half the eligible voting public opt out.? They don't believe the system is free and fair so why bother.? That thought never leaves my mind, and I wonder why I bother.? But that consideration awaits another commentary and analysis, a pretty fundamental and important one.


Since the 1970s the prison-industrial complex has exploded in size and continues to grow exponentially.? It now exceeds $40 billion annually and rising.? On average states now spend 60 cents on prisons for every dollar spent on higher education, up from 28 cents in 1980.? And several large states are so hell-bent to lock people up their annual budget for prisons exceed that for education.? Also, the overall rate of prison spending growth has greatly exceeded that for education for the past 25 years.? It's shocking that the annual per prisoner cost today almost equals a year's tuition at Harvard.? And what's all this spending buying us.? Not a damn thing except a nation growing more repressive, more racist and more likely to target anyone if they ever run short of their current favorites.? But since 9/11 they've tapped a new vein of 1.5 million Muslims.? And if they throw in Hindus, Buddhists and a few other easy to demonize miscellaneous sects out of the mainstream they can easily triple that number. Now that's a "strike" that may be too "rich" to ignore.? Think of all the new prisons they'll need to lock up a load of them, get them off the streets and help keep a new growth industry growing and prosperous.

Contrary to the "law and order" baloney from our politicians, there's no evidence of a rising trend of criminality, including the violent kinds.? Since 1980, the data on the national crime rate has trended slightly up, then down, without any significant change.? Still the incarceration rate has skyrocketed reflecting a crime wave that doesn't exist.? In the 1990s, thanks to a good economy, crime rates actually fell, but incarceration rates rose dramatically nonetheless.? Smell fishy?? It sure does to me.? And my own view, shared by others, is that this is all part of a sinister effort to control dissent by a combination of a state-induced climate of fear and hard line national security police state tactics to keep a restive population in line.? Those most likely to be restive are the ones most deprived, the ones left out over the last 25 years when the wealth gap widened exponentially between rich and poor and continues to unabated.? At the same time the social safety net has been and continues to be shredded making conditions intolerable for the poor and also impacting lower and middle income earners and families.? Of course, the ones always hurt most are people of color and that means mostly black people.? But Hispanics are gaining ground in this race to the bottom as that segment of our population (including undocumented immigrants) is growing the fastest along with those from Asia.


We should have caught on by now.? When our political leaders want to scare hell out of us about something, real or imagined (you can bet it's the latter), they declare war on it.? It gets the juices flowing and the flags waving.? We had the phony "cold war", and now, with "the evil empire" gone and desperate to find new imagined and contrived enemies, we have a "war on terrorism" and a "war on drugs."? We also have an unmentioned "war on the climate" as witnessed by the alarming rate of melting of the polar and Greenland ice caps.? Maybe one day they'll declare dandruff public enemy number one and declare war on it.? Might as well.? It would make as much sense as all the others, except for the one real one they never mention caused by global warming.

And, oh yes, there's one other war never mentioned, and it's the most important and dangerous one of all - it's the ongoing and growing war on the Constitution and our sacred Bill of Rights.? They're being taken from us right before our eyes, and in our blindness and mental fog we don't even see it happening.? Most of us know the Ben Franklin quote about those who would sacrifice their freedom for security deserve neither and will lose both.? He also said that "distrust and caution are the parents of security" and reportedly said at the signing of the Declaration of Independence "we must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately."? Franklin's contemporary, the great German philosopher and writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, just as wisely said that "None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free." Franklin, Goethe and many others aren't considered iconic and venerable historic figures for nothing.? And if we take the trouble to read them, we have the benefit of their great wisdom.? They've warned us with it, and we damn well better be listening and heeding them.? If not, we'll awaken one day, find our precious freedoms gone, finally understand what happened, and it'll be too late.

Except for the 2 unmentioned real wars, the others are surreal ones.? They're contrived and concocted by devious politicians for their own interests like trying to get reelected or needing a reason to raise defense or homeland security spending.? They're also to benefit their corporate allies who profit from them.? The more they can scare us the greater the amount of our tax dollars they can divert from vital societal needs to put in the pockets of their corporate friends and fight wars of imperial conquest for their benefit.? And the more repressive laws they can pass to destroy our civil liberties, and as discussed above, lock up in cages those most in need and most likely to be restive about it.

The current catchy phrase in the "drug war" was first used during the supposed crack epidemic in the 80s, but we can pin one more rap on Richard Nixon who first declared a "war on drugs" over 30 years ago.? But the idea of making some "drugs" illegal goes back much further than that, to the 1930s (and earlier) when prohibition ended and alcohol producing companies may have decided to eliminate the threat of a competing "drug."? You'd think we might have learned something from 13 years of violence and corruption under Prohibition that made criminals out of otherwise law-abiding people who may have just wanted a cold beer and also created a new revenue source for organized crime.

But all that was chicken feed compared to today as the UN now estimates the annual take from trafficking elicit drugs is around $400-500 billion.? That's double the sales revenue from US legal prescription drugs Big Pharma reported in 2005.? Those profiting big time from the illegal ones include more than the "kingpins" and organized crime.? The market is so big everyone wants in on it.? For many banks, including the major international money center ones, "laundering" drug money is one of their important profit centers.? And it's well-known that the CIA was been involved in drug-trafficking (directly or indirectly) throughout its half century existence and then began to profit from it in earnest during the Contra wars of the 1980s to fund their operations.? Today the CIA is part of the elicit drug trade in places like Afghanistan working with major criminal syndicates in the huge business of trafficking heroin.? The take from this one operation alone is so lucrative it's hard to imagine they'd ever give it up or not want in on all other major parts of the drug trade worldwide.? Who'll stop or prosecute them?? And what criminal enterprise wouldn't want them as a partner to guarantee them ease of access to the US and other major markets.? That's a marriage joined together none of the parties would ever want to put asunder.

And now in this modern Age of (contrived) Anxiety,? we have 2 new "super-spook" agencies established to take full surveillance advantage of the Bush administration's unjustifiable "wartime" powers and fear-induced concocted "war on terror" to last for "generations" - The Office of Homeland Security and Office of the Director of National Intelligence.? Wanna bet they're also in the elicit drug biz big time.? How could they resist it.? They both need every buck they can get to watch all of us, everywhere, all the time - which is what they're now doing.? And it's an indisputable fact that all the spy agencies are above the law and can do whatever they please - spy legally and illegally, traffic elicit drugs, torture detainees they control and murder anyone they target including heads of state.

But it's the purpose of this essay to focus on how the so-called drug war has led to a burgeoning prison-industrial complex that adversely affects the lives of millions of society's most disadvantaged who happen to be mostly people of color and most of them black.? Just like during Prohibition, otherwise law-abiding people have become criminals and are being locked away for long sentences.? The repressive "mandatory minimum" sentences are especially harsh and outrageous.? Supposedly established to target "kingpins" and big time dealers, it hasn't turned out that way and likely was never intended to.? The US Sentencing Commission reports that only 5.5% of all federal crack cocaine defendants and 11% of all federal drug defendants are "high-level" dealers.? The rest are low-level operatives and those caught "possessing."? In most cases they're from society's least advantaged and poor, and most of them are black.? These convenient targets create a ready supply of bodies to fill prison cells as part of the plan to remove the unwanted from the streets and create a new growth industry at the same time.


First off, coca leaf cultivation in South America has been the cornerstone of the Andean region for 4 thousand years, and its consumption has been part of the culture since before the Incas.? It's commonly used by millions of people there including the cocaleros, or coca farmers, as we in this country use coffee, tea, a glass of wine or just a cold beer.? Besides drinking coca tea, the leaf is chewed to relieve fatigue, suppress appetite, as a communal activity and to offset altitude sickness. The US Embassy in Peru even recommends it for the latter purpose.

Use of cocaine in the US didn't first begin in the 60s.? It's been around recreationally for nearly 150 years for "whatever ailed you" tonics, in cigarettes, ointments and nasal sprays.? Its use was perfectly legal until the federal government classified it as a narcotic (which it is not) in 1914.? After that it could only be gotten legally by prescription or illegally from a "street dealer."?

Cocaine is a powder which in "cooked" form is called "crack."? The law treats each very differently.? The racist "mandatory minimum" sentencing laws established by Congress in 1986 penalize crack users especially harshly.? Defendants convicted of selling 500 grams of powder cocaine vs. 5 grams of crack each receive 5 year sentences.? For 5 kilos of powder and 50 grams of crack it's a 10 year sentence.? That's a 100:1 ratio.? Why?? Hold on, there's more.?

Simple possession of any amount of powder by a first-time offender is a misdemeanor punishable by a max 1 year sentence.? For crack, simple possession is a felony carrying a 5 year sentence.? Now to the why.? Blacks accounted for 84% of convicted crack offenders in 2000, Hispanics 9% and whites 6%.? For powder it was Hispanics - 50%, blacks - 30% and whites - 18%.? Now you know.? The federal crack laws established 20 years ago were part of the "Reagan revolution" and its racist war against the poor, mainly blacks.? It was also intended as a defense against those least advantaged poor and mainly blacks as the "Reagan revolution" began dismantling the social safety net and transferring wealth to the rich and well-off.? That transfer has now been ongoing for 25 years with no end in sight. The "war on drugs" and its harsh laws, mainly targeting blacks, were intended to defuse the inevitable pressure that would build among the poor and black community and likely explode again in the streets as it did in the 60s.? 2.1+ million people locked in cages is how this nation's leaders address the gross social inequity problem it deliberately created.? It's their solution, and it's a national disgrace and outrage.


Surprised?? The few who even think about this may be, but even many of them shamefully believe all those locked up deserve the harsh treatment they get.? Aren't they sent there to be punished for committing crimes?? Did they expect a "country club?" Punishment is what they get big time because prisons everywhere are brutal places, and those sent to them have no rights and it shows in how they're treated - routinely.? And let's be perfectly clear about the way it is at all US domestic and foreign based prisons (and most all other countries' as well): No, it doesn't just happen at Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and Bagram near Kandahar, Afghanistan; and no, it's not just by a few "rogue elements" or "bad apples."? What goes on is policy, and it comes right from the top sanctioned and approved.? And let's be very clear about one other thing. The real criminals sit in corporate suites and boardrooms or in capitol hill offices while their victims are locked in cages and subjected to unspeakable abuse and brutal torture with no chance to stop it or receive redress.

Prisons, with few exceptions, are not intended for rehabilitation.? They are institutions societies use for vengeance and punishment.? There are the most gruesome hellholes around the world the US takes full advantage of just in the prisoners it "renditions" for attempted information extraction by some of the worst physical and psychological tortures the human mind can conceive.? But this essay is about what goes on in US prisons within our borders, and what you'll read below will sound like reports about Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib.? Get ready to feel your skin crawl.

Everything we saw on TV months ago about prisoner torture at Abu Ghraib (and heard goes on at Guantanamo) happens in our state and federal prison system right here at home and lots more we didn't see or hear about.? These are the lessons and techniques first devised and used in US based torture-prisons and then exported for use in our comparable torture-prisons around the world. That's the way things are in all our prisons, and in the language of author Gertrude Stein when she referred to roses: a prison is a prison is a prison.? The main difference between San Quentin and Abu Ghraib is their location. What goes on at both and all others includes savage beatings by prison guards; attacks by fierce dogs that inflict real bites; severe shocking with cattle prods and 50,000 volt emitting Taser electro-shock guns often used multiple times that make the victim shake for hours after being struck and can also kill and often do; assaults by toxic chemicals like pepper spray strong enough to inflict severe pain, second degree burns, temporary blindness, and even death in a vulnerable victim; and all this happening at times with prisoners stripped naked including brutal rapes by guards, other prisoners and much more.?

A courageous woman activist imprisoned for several months for her actions told me the case of a woman she saw stripped naked in her cell and then bound suspended in spread-eagle form on her prison bars and left there for hours to suffer.? The experience devastated her and nearly killed her.? And she was another activist being punished for her courageous acts.? Hard to believe? You'd better believe it because it goes on every day in all prisons routinely throughout the country -? acts of deliberate barbarity and sadism, so severe they can and do kill and often leave their victims an emotional shell when they don't.? Whenever you hear reports about prisoners committing suicide, you'd better think hard about it.? It's most likely they were murdered by prison guards and reported as suicide.? It may be from repeated Taser shocks, from being beaten to death so savagely every rib in their body was broken or just from a body giving out from repeated and brutal maltreatment over a long period with nothing more to look forward to but more of the same.? How many can endure the worst of that?? No one in a civilized country should ever have to.? And no civilized person should believe they had it coming.


International law is explicit and long-standing forbidding the use of any form of torture and inhumane or degrading treatment under any circumstances.? The? Universal Declaration of Human Rights outlawed it in 1948.? The Fourth Geneva Convention then did it in 1949 banning any form of "physical or mental coercion" and affirming detainees must at all time be treated humanely.? The European Convention followed in 1950.? Then in 1984 the UN Convention Against Torture became the first binding international instrument dealing exclusively with the issue of banning torture in any form for any reason.? And let's be clear on what's meant by torture and inhumane treatment.? It includes punching a prisoner or detainee in the mouth or kicking him or her in the stomach or butt.

Except for the non-binding "Universal Declaration", all the others are binding international law, and the US is a signatory to the Fourth Geneva Convention and the UN Convention.? And hold on, there's more.? The US War Crimes Act of 1996 makes it a criminal offense for US military personnel and US nationals to commit war crimes to include cruel treatment and torture covered under the Fourth Geneva Convention.? And virtually every human rights organization is on the record? banning all kinds of torture anywhere for any reason.


I must include some important information about one type of torture that may be only going on overseas - for now.? Although the US is a signatory to the Geneva Conventions and the UN Convention Against Torture, it's routinely ignored and violated them with impunity in US prisons and abroad.? Further, the CIA's use of psychological torture was exempted in the UN Convention. ?

With cover from that exemption, Professor Alfred McCoy's new book - A Question of Torture: CIA Interrogation From the Cold War to the War of Terror - exposes the CIA's secret efforts to develop new forms of torture over that period. He explained how they conducted intensive research to crack the code of human consciousness and through much trial and error came up with human devastating psychological and self-inflicting torture techniques - from sensory disorientation or the severe pain from tortures like forced continuous standing for 24 - 48 hours.?

The CIA experiments continue now at Guantanamo and other overseas hellhole torture-prisons.? But 2 new techniques have been added - cultural sensitivity and individual fears and phobias.? This four-fold assault on the human psyche is now being used against prisoners held in overseas prisons, and the detainees affected (most picked up randomly and guilty of no offense) are being used as human "lab rats" in a gruesome, vile and clearly illegal and immoral experiment to devise the most effective psychological techniques to break down a human subject - to break a human being so totally it's near impossible to recover. ?

I could find no information on if these experiments are now being conducted in US domestic prisons.? But that doesn't mean they're not.? They may be happening here, but we don't know about them.? But the key point is this.? Once the use of torture in all forms gains currency, it's inevitable it will spread everywhere.? And let's be very clear on one other point.? The Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 (the so-called McCain Anti-Torture amendment) passed in December last year is so full of loopholes and offsets by other legislation that it's worthless and will do nothing to stop the tortures explained above.


Life in prison is a living hell for all those in one as all the victims know who've been there or those of us who've read about it in detail as I have.? Being there is like being in one of the 5 levels of Dante's hell where those consigned to spend eternity are doomed to eternal punishment. ?

All prisons are hellholes.? But for those prisoners with any hope of release one day, the second lowest level of Dante's hell is any of the so-called "supermax" prisons.? They're supposedly intended to house society's most dangerous, incorrigibly violent inmates, but many sent there aren't that at all like the many political prisoners consigned that fate because the state wishes to bury them alive and keep them isolated.? The number in these "special" hellholes are a small but growing percent of the total prison population, and those in them spend their waking and sleeping hours locked in small, often windowless, cells for long sentences of many years. They're deprived of all contact with other inmates and only allowed out for brief periods a few times a week for showers and some solitary exercise in a small, enclosed space.? They're deprived of all mental stimulation from human contact, recreation or education, and are nearly always shackled hands and feet and escorted by armed guards whenever they leave their cells.? Prisoners who've endured this torture, come out, and spoken publicly about it have described it to be like living in a tomb.? And the state inflicted misery they've been subjected to often results in a host of severe emotional problems including insanity.? Try locking yourself in your bathroom with a little plain food and water for 24 hours (if you can stand it) and see how you feel.? Then multiply that by 20 or more years.

The state and federally sponsored murder factories known as "death rows" are, without a doubt, the lowest and worst level of Dante's hell.? Dante might have written his words "Abandon every hope, all ye who enter" for the abandoned souls sent to these barbaric death factories.? They only look different than Auschwitz. Those entering never come out (except the few lucky ones DNA evidence exonerate).? As of April, 2005 there were 3452 on "death row" in the 37 states with the death penalty including 36 in federal prisons and 7 held by the US military.? The vast majority of them are poor or disadvantaged and their racial breakdown is as follows: 45.5% white, 41.7% black, 10.4% Hispanic, 1.2% Asian, 1.2% American Indian and .5% unknown.? Nearly all of them, 98.5%, are male.

Most civilized countries have no death penalty, and in the Global North only the US and Japan still do.? Japan is very selective in who it executes, unlike the US with its assembly line-like killing operations.? The Japanese have executed about 50 inmates in the last dozen years and about an equal number now await execution.? Many opponents of the death penalty call these "final solution" acts institutionalized, state-sponsored, ritualistic acts of torture-murder.? They say "torture" because often the prisoner is so hated that their executioners "deliberately" try to inflict pain during the process of killing them.? And while that alone is inhumane and barbaric enough, all too often the accused is innocent, often the state knows it, and they're still put to death.? Most often these are people of color, most likely black, poor and unable to afford a proper defense.? They become victims of a system not based on justice but on vengeance along with the belief by elected officials that being "tough on crime" is a good vote getter.

The case of Stan "Tookie" Williams, as much as anyone, stands out for its barbarity and gross injustice.? Stan was a co-founder of the Crips street gang as a teenager in South Central Los Angeles in 1969.? He was convicted and sentenced to death for multiple murders he said he never committed (I believe him), but never got a proper defense to prove it.? Even later when? evidence became known that might have exonerated him, he was never given a chance to prove his innocence. ?

Over a dozen years before his execution in California, Stan changed his life, became an anti-gang activist while on death row, and renounced his former gang affiliation.? He co-wrote children's books, worked to convince youths not to join gangs and wrote one of the most compelling books on prison life I ever read called Life in Prison.? He did it to show readers what prison life is really like in plain, stark language.? He pulled no punches.? Anyone reading it will know that prison is no place any human being wants to be.

For his work in prison, Stan received multiple Nobel Peace Prize nominations, in 2004 a feature film called Redemption: The Stan Tookie Williams Story was made about his life, and as his execution date approached, a mass effort I was part of was launched to urge an uncaring and hostile Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to grant clemency.? Fat chance. Thousands joined the effort including celebrities, politicians, Nobel laureates and Pacifica Radio, especially on its very special bold and courageous KPFA weekday news and information program Flashpoints Radio (the best program of its kind anywhere).? It was all in vein, clemency was denied and Stan was put to death by lethal injection on December 13, 2005 as thousands protested outside the infamous San Quentin State Prison.? Stan's death was not easy or painless.? It took repeated needle insertions in a process that took nearly 30 minutes of great inflicted pain to complete.? Stan's suffering at the end was not an exception.? It's common practice, and as mentioned above, is deliberately inflicted by a sadistic staff.? As such, even for a prisoner being executed, this is a flagrant violation of the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution that prohibits "cruel and unusual punishment."? But who cares and who will act to prevent it when it's inflicted on a condemned black man and on the day the state murders him.


The for-profit side of running a gulag began to explode during the Reagan years when incarceration rates began increasing dramatically.? Along with a growing private prisons industry (a small slice of the prison pie still largely a public enterprise), a vast array of private businesses wanted a piece of the action and got it.? These include architectural and construction companies; food service contractors; all sorts of equipment, hardware and other suppliers of steel doors, razor wire, communications systems, and health care and medical supplies.? There's also a big need for uniforms and assorted weapons including dangerous products to restrain like clemical sprays that can injure, cause severe pain, second degree burns, temporary blindness or worse and taser electro-shock guns that emit 50,000 volts of electricity (enough to flatten an all-pro NFL lineman in peak form) that can and have killed as many as 167 victims from it's use through January, 2006.? And there's loads more.? The (mal) care and feeding of a couple of million humans takes a lot of supplying to keep the system going.? Add it all up and it's big business, and it gets bigger with every new prison and the inmates to fill them.? Not to worry.? Unlike oil, there's no chance of running out bodies.

The big players in this growing industry are the private companies that run the hellholes.? And the ones they run are even more hellish than the public ones.? Private, publicly owned corporations with shareholders and Wall Street to please always need a growing revenue and profit stream and strict cost control to maximize the bottom line part of it.? That means understaffing, low pay for poorly trained staff, poor and unsafe conditions, little or no life-enhancing or self-help programs like educational opportunities or counseling services to rehabilitate those in need like ilicit drug users, and even worse medical care than the third world kind in the publicly run system.? Why bother, they all cost money, reduce profits and constrain shareholder equity.? Private contractors can also exploit prisoners as de facto chattel.? They're not obliged to pay wages or benefits and can take full advantage of all those bodies free of charge.? Why would they ever pass that up.? It's one more revenue and profit stream.

The private side of running prisons is still a small part of the total.? But it's growing, and as it does, it's darker side may just get darker.? Unlike most businesses, quality control is not one of their concerns.? If humans suffer to enhance the bottom line, who will care.? In running a gulag, you just gotta keep 'em under control locked in cages, and if you use, abuse and lose some along the way, there's plenty more supply to fill the available beds.? That's how it works in a nation that commodifies its masses and exploits them.? It's what happens in this modern era when social conditions deteriorate enough to produce what Franklin Roosevelt spoke about in the Great Depression years of the 1930s when he said "I see one-third of a nation ill-housed, ill-clad, ill-nourished."? It's not that bad yet, but we're heading in that direction.? As discussed above, it produces a restive population the state chooses to lock up in lieu of providing vital social services to satisfy essential needs.? The result is the US gulag, the shame of the nation.? Future historians and others will judge us by the character of our social conscience, especially how we treat our least advantaged and most needy. They'll also judge us by our system of justice and the prisons within it which reflect that conscience. The honest ones won't be kind. The great Russian 19th century novelist, Fyodor Dostoevsky, once remarked that he measured the quality of a society by the quality of its prisons.? He might have added by its quantity as well.


The evidence on our criminal injustice system and prisons within it alone shows a nation moving from a republic to tyranny.? It's not much different from what happened in ancient Rome when it passed from a republic to an empire under the rule of its emperor Augustus Caesar after Julius ignored his "Ides of March" warning and ended his reign the hard way in the Roman Senate. ?

Our prison system alone is a stark symbol and reminder of a society based on militarism and imperial conquest abroad, the shredding of our civil liberties at home, and the dismantling of our social contract obligation along with the transfer of wealth to the privileged and powerful.? It reflects a nation descending into the hell of tyranny and despotism that threatens to become worse and affect us all except those at the top.? We've created the monster of a national security police state (run by the new Department of Homeland Security and Office of the Director of National Intelligence) to control a growing restive population that will likely grow larger.? It will include many more of us as those in need grow in numbers and new demons are easily found, targeted and moved to prison cells to maintain absolute control. ? That's how it works in all tyrannical states, even ones claiming to be democracies like ours but which, in fact, are not.?

It happened in ancient Rome and in more modern times in Nazi Germany after Hitler was appointed Chancellor and ended the Weimar Republic.? He called his party the National Socialist German Workers Party (the term Nazi is the short form for National Socialist with a "zi" on the end), but his constituents were the German industrialists and militarists and his ideology was fascist and racist.? It wasn't long before he removed his many enemies and tried to create a state for the privileged and Aryian pure.? The immortal words of Pastor Martin Niemoller explained it and warns us now when he said they first came for the Jews, then the Communists, then the trade unionists and each time he didn't speak out because he wasn't one of them - until there was no one left and they came for him, and there was no one to speak out to help him. ?

This essay only addresses the mass incarceration of the most vulnerable among us.? I've discussed the other issues in other writings and intend to write solely about our war on immigrants in a future article.? But unless we heed Pastor Niemoller's warning, one day, sooner than we think, they'll come for us and who'll be left to help. ? Based on the evidence I've presented we already have a society out of control with a reckless rogue administration, a "go-along" Congress and "friendly" courts leading us along the road to hell.?

The US prison system is its metaphor and clear warning and reflects a repressive state based on harsh and unjust Patriot Act laws that are close to being supplemented by a racist, fascist-style immigration bill passed by the House (the so-called Sensenbrenner anti-immigration bill) and now being considered in the Senate.? Its provisions that criminalize undocumented immigrants (targeted at those of color) and all those compassionate enough who help them are right out of the bowels of Nazi hell.? It may pass and likely be followed by even more repressive laws that target you and me unless we're one of the privileged.? So far, the targets are mostly those on the bottom rungs of society - people of color including immigrants and Muslims.? But also in the line of fire is anyone of influence (including Muslim academics falsely labeled terrorists) daring to speak out and oppose state policy.? How long will it be before it gets even worse and no one is safe?

Few people know the president has now given himself the sole power to designate anyone he chooses for any reason he decides a "bad guy" - incredibly in that language.? Going even further, in January, 2006, George Bush claimed the right to govern as a "Unitary Executive" with the power to abrogate the separation of powers doctrine, bypass the Congress and courts and act as he chooses to "protect national security."? This simply means if he decides to ignore the law he'll govern by presidential edict usurping the right of dictatorial power with no constraint.? If he's ever brazen enough to do it (and don't believe he won't be) and isn't stopped, he'll have "crossed the Rubicon" and turned the country into a full-blown totalitarian state and the ball game is over for all of us.? We're already all in the queue as potential prey, and we'd better understand we're moving up in it fast.? Unless Bush-Cheney and those around them are stopped, they'll come for us one day, and then it'll be too late.? It makes a shameless mockery of any notion that all citizens, rich and poor, are entitled to the sacred rights and protections guaranteed us by the Constitution.? Only the privileged and powerful get that right today, not the rest of us.? And if you're black and poor, an undocumented immigrant or a Muslim of color (our latest public enemy No. 1), you have no rights at all.? Step right up, they've assigned you a number too, and you'd better keep a bag packed.

We've come a long way in our 230 year history but, except for brief periods of relief and redress, it's been pretty much downhill.? If that's "the American way", it's? time we retool and find a new path to follow, one based on social, political and economic justice, of caring about all others instead of using and abusing them for the benefit of a privileged few.? We may not have much time left, so we better wake up and move fast.? If we keep watching Fox News, read the New York Times, listen to NPR and then run to the mall, we're doomed to meet the same fate as all other nations who followed the road we now travel.? It's the road to hell, and ours isn't even paved with good intentions.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.? Also visit his blog address at www.sjlendman.blog.spot.com

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The Abu Ghraib files

Salon Special Report

279 photographs and 19 videos from the Army's internal investigation record a harrowing three months of detainee abuse inside the notorious prison -- and make clear that many of those responsible have yet to be held accountable.

Editor's note: The 10 galleries of photo and video evidence appear chronologically in the left column, followed by an additional Salon report on prosecutions for abuse and an overview of Pentagon investigations and other resources. The nine essays accompanying the photo galleries were reported and written by Michael Scherer and Mark Benjamin. Photo and video captions were compiled by Page Rockwell. Additional research, reporting and writing for "The Abu Ghraib Files" were contributed by Jeanne Carstensen, Mark Follman, Page Rockwell and Tracy Clark-Flory.

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Major General Geoffrey Miller: I Refuse To Answer Because I've Already Answered That Question

By accidentalactivist
14 Mar 06

Major General Geoffrey Miller, the officer sent from Guantanamo Bay to Iraq to teach the MP's and intel teams at Abu Ghraib how to interrogate prisoners Gitmo-Style, has invoked his Article 31 right not to testify in the courts-martial of several dog handlers who are now being prosecuted. Shame shame General!

When you join the service, you do give up quite a few civil rights, but you still have the right to remain silent, not to incriminate yourself. That right is contained in the Uniform Code of Military Justice, Article 31 (very similar to the 5th amendment of the Constitution).
While it is somewhat shocking, to me, to read about a general officer invoking his Article 31 right, what is even more disturbing is his lawyer's rationale for the general's stance. He's doing so because "he had already answered questions about Abu Ghraib." According to the Washington Post, Miller's lawyer said, his "choice to no longer answer the same questions . . . was based on the advice of counsel and includes the fact that he has already, and repeatedly, answered all inquiries fully."

Well, in my reading of Article 31, that is not an acceptable excuse for refusing to testify at a subordinate's court martial. You should only refuse to testify if what you have to say might tend to incriminate you. If that isn't the case, I believe that General Miller should face court martial for contempt towards officials (Article 88), refusing to obey a lawful order (Article 92), false official statements (Article 107), conduct unbecoming an officer, perjury (Article 131), and my favorite catch-all "General Article" (Article 134) of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Young men and women are facing years in jail because of their behavior at Abu Ghraib. While I personally find much of what I've read disgusting, and have little sympathy for those who abused prisoners, I do not think it is fair for the officers who were supposed to train and supervise these folks to refuse to testify at their trials. What were the orders these people were given? Where are the written guidelines? Where were you when these things were happening? What supervision did you provide? Did anyone ask for guidance or express concern about what was happening?

Something stinks to high heaven when officers refuse to testify, and I think it stinks all the way up the chain of command to the White House. But, how will we ever find out if the military brass protect their own and Congress refuses to intervene.

Some good news on that front, according to Friday's Stars and Stripes, Senators John Warner and Carl Levin have written to the Pentagon and asked them to delay the good general's retirement (refusing to testify and getting his ass out of Dodge - ah, what a great officer and gentleman). "Major General Miller's decision to exercise his right to remain silent raises potential issues regarding his candor and the completeness of his testimony before the Committee," the letter states. The committee may just have to call the General into a hearing. And this time, I hope they ask him specific questions about these dog handlers. And.... Maybe they should call the dog handlers too! Wouldn't it be fun to watch a few grunts answer questions honestly and completely in front of Congress and have a Major General refuse to testify?

If I were a member of Congress and could ask the questions, I think I would start by looking at some rather routine and typical military activities. Making your bed, cleaning your rifle, stowing your gear, ironing your uniform, polishing your shoes, preparing a vehicle before driving, just about any activity that every grunt does every day. I would then ask them how they know what to do for each of those tasks.

I would expect the answer to be that each activity was either clearly regulated or at least documented, and those that weren't were drilled into the troop through some form of training.

Then, I might take some less routine things like rules of engagement on the battlefield, the steps involved in dealing with a potential explosive device found in the barracks, what to do if a female soldier reports that she has been sexually harassed.

In all of these, again, we would learn that everything was either regulated, clearly documented, or drilled in through training.

Finally, I would ask what the rules were for handling prisoners/detainees. And I believe it is there that we would see how miserably the command structure has failed our troops. Either they were, in fact, instructed to do some of the horrible things we've witnessed, or they were given little or no guidance. In either of those cases, the guilty parties are not the poor enlisted sots who are losing stripes and freedom now, they are the brass. From the lowly 2nd Lieutenant all the way up to the top of the chain of command who are guilty.

One Colonel named Pappas has been granted immunity in exchange for his testimony in the dog handlers case. Senators Levin and Warner, I hope, will watch the Colonel's testimony carefully. Pappas worked for Miller. Miller says "he has already, and repeatedly, answered all inquiries fully." If, based on what Pappas has to say, General Miller seems to have lied when he answered all those inquiries fully, I hope they change his retirement plans from a nice sunny spot in Arizona to a small dark cell in Virginia.

But, if the General is willing to testify about where he got his marching orders..... Donald, as a civilian you can't invoke Article 31, but you've still got the 5th!

Late-breaking news on March 16:Col. Pappas has testified that he did in fact authorize the use of dogs. At the court martial of one of the dog handlers, Pappas is quoted by the Miami Herald as admitting to authorizing the use of dogs to scare detainees, but that the rules for such use were confusing or vague. He said "In hindsight, clearly we probably needed to establish some definitive rules and put out some clear guidance to everybody concerned."

Pappas admitted that he was supposed to get permission from a general officer before authorizing the use of dogs. He did not get that permission, he claims.

Question: For those of us who watch Law And Order (and as a former Barracks Lawyer myself), doesn't granting immunity from prosecution usually indicate that the prosecution has a bigger fish to go after, and that the testimony of the witness would probably help the case? Why would the military have granted Pappas immunity if all he could do was implicate lower-ranking enlisted folks?

The smell I mentioned before is only getting stronger. I certainly hope Congress calls Col. Pappas to testify soon. Perhaps they can ask better questions than those asked by the defense in the dog handler case.

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Chicago court hears chilling tales of torture

By Chuck Goudie
March 14, 2006

In federal court in Chicago Tuesday, chilling stories about the torture of political prisoners by Israeli police. Testimony came during a hearing in the case against Muhammad Salah, who is accused of laundering money for Palestinian terrorists.
Muhammad Salah's lawyer put on the witness stand Tuesday a world renowned human rights lawyer who says that he has interviewed hundreds of detainees in Israeli prisons who were systematically tortured to force them to confess. That is precisely the defense that Salah is claiming, that only after months of torture, did he sign a confession that is now the basis for his prosecution as a Hamas terrorist.

Defense lawyers want to ban a confession by Muhammad Salah made while he was in custody in Israel in 1993. The Bridgeview man is scheduled for trial this fall on charges he siphoned funds to Hamas.

Israeli attorney Jonathan Kuttab testified as an expert for the defense. Kuttab said he has documented human rights abuses in Israeli prisons consistent with what Salah claims. He says they were subjected to "the shabak technique," which was widely used and accepted by Israeli police, including the hooded detainment of suspected Hamas members, the short-legged kindergarten chair that suspects would be handcuffed to, the kicking and beating across the groin and chest, and what was known as the painful frog crouch.

"We have studies that show that 96 percent of those who are interrogated in Israel end up signing confessions in Hebrew and all of them complain about mistreatment and torture. Now, if those statements can be imported to the United States, and used against US citizens in this country, this is really terrible. We are told these people are terrorists. We need to get them information from them. We have to use every method possible. And we don't realize that torture gets the confession that doesn't get you the truth," said Kuttab.

Even though Kuttab testified Tuesday that his group interviewed more than 700 prisoners and that the majority had been tortured. Under cross examination, he admitted having no direct knowledge of whether Muhammad Salah was tortured.

Tuesday was the first time in more than a week that the Salah proceedings were open to the public. Testimony by two members of the Israeli secret police was closed last week, apparently to protect their identities, although partial transcripts of their testimony may be available in the next week or two.

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200,000 (probably innocent) people are listed in terror suspect database

14 Mar 06

WASHINGTON (AP) - Police and other government workers in the U.S. have come in contact with terrorists or people suspected of foreign terror ties more than 6,000 times in the past 28 months, the director of the federal Terrorist Screening Center said Tuesday.

The encounters in traffic stops, applications for permits and other situations have resulted in fewer than 60 arrests, said Donna Bucella, whose agency maintains a list of 200,000 people known or suspected to be terrorists. The list contains an additional 150,000 records that have only partial names, Bucella said.
The vast majority of people on the list are not in this country, and many have only tenuous or inconclusive ties to terrorism, Bucella said at a briefing for reporters at FBI headquarters.

As an example, she cited a truck driver whose work requires him to regularly cross the U.S.-Canada border. He may be under suspicion, but is still allowed to enter the country because there is insufficient evidence linking him to terrorism, she said.

The TSC list, conceived after the intelligence failures before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, combines about a dozen databases from nine agencies that any government official - from a Customs agent to a state trooper - can use to check the name of someone who has been screened or stopped.

When there is a possible match, the screening center verifies the information is accurate and advises what steps to take. In most of the more than 6,000 incidents Bucella described, officials collected additional information and let the person go.

There have been about 28,000 matches worldwide, many of those from U.S. diplomatic outposts that screen applicants for visas to enter the United States, Bucella said.

Her agency acts as a sort of guide for law enforcement, facilitating the sharing of information and alerting investigators to suspects' movements, she said. "Those calls happen every single day," she said.

Bucella spoke only in general terms, saying the database last year identified a number of people on the watch list who were flying into the same metropolitan area at the same time. She said their purpose was not innocent, but declined to say whether they were arrested or what they intended to do.

National Intelligence Director John D. Negroponte last year said New York City police were led to a possible al-Qaeda associate after they consulted the watch list during a routine search on a parking violation.

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Attorneys React to Shocking Guantánamo Suicide Letter Just Declassified and Released by The U.S.

Information Clearing House
16 Mar 06

First Guantánamo Suicide Letter Declassified by U.S. Government Confirms Prior Accounts From Detainee: "Imprisoned, Tortured and Deprived" for "No Reason or Crime Committed"
In New York, onMarch 15, 2006, attorneys representing Guantánamo detainees at the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) reacted to the first detainee suicide letter ever declassified by the U.S. Government, blasting the Bush Administration for driving detainees to suicide through indefinite detentions, mistreatment and torture at the base. The shocking letter by Jumah Al Dossari, a Bahraini national whose attorney found him hanging by his neck in a suicide attempt at Guantánamo in October 2005, describes how the horrific conditions of Jumah's confinement and indefinite detention drove him to try to take his own life. In his letter, Jumah seeks to make his "voice heard by the world from the depths of the detention centers" and implores the "fair people of America to look again at the situation and try to have a moment of truth…"

"This disturbing new letter reveals a man brought to the brink of self-destruction because of the government's inhumane policies of indefinite detention and mistreatment - affecting hundreds of people who have not been accused of a crime or even afforded the most basic due process in court," said CCR Deputy Legal Director Barbara Olshansky.

"Jumah's letter is a haunting reminder of the meeting I had with him just before he slashed and hung himself. Jumah had repeatedly begged us to get him out of isolation. Because our request to the court for this relief was denied on technical grounds, we implored the military to hold Jumah under more humane conditions, and we continue to do so. Our grave fear is that if the military persists in denying our requests, Jumah, who by the military's own count has tried to kill himself ten times in U.S. custody, will not survive Guantanamo," said Joshua Colangelo-Bryan of Dorsey & Whitney LLP, co-counsel with the Center for Constitutional Rights for Jumah.

On March 22, 2006, the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia will hear oral argument relating to the government's motion to dismiss Jumah's case and those of all other Guantanamo detainees.

Guantánamo Suicide Letter Declassified And Released by The U.S.

Jumaa's Suicide Letter

In fact, I don't know where to begin... or how to begin… Josh, Khaled the interpreter… I feel very sorry for forcing you to see…It might be the first time in your life… to see a human being who suffered too much… dying in front of your eyes…I know it is an awful and horrible scene, but…I really feel sorry for you. There was no other alternative to make our voice heard by the world from the depths of the detention centers except this way in order for the world to re-examine its standing and for the fair people of America to look again at the situation and try to have a moment of truth with themselves… why was no conclusion reached with regard to the detainees in Guantanamo, Cuba until now? Till when this tragedy will continue? When will it end after all these years, and when will the detainees go back to their homelands, families, wives and children? When will this tragedy cease to continue… till when? The detainees are suffering from the bitterness of despair, the detention humiliation and the vanquish of slavery and suppression…

Josh, Khaled: Actually I spent nice hours with you… even though they were full of talking about my agonies, pains and grieves… I hope you will always remember that you met and sat with a "human being" called "Jumah" who suffered too much and was abused in his belief, self, in his dignity and also in his humanity. He was imprisoned, tortured and deprived from his homeland, his family and his young daughter who is in the most need for him for four years…with no reason or crime committed. Remember that there are hundreds of detainees in Guantanamo –Cuba – they are in the same situation of suffering and misfortune. They were captured, tortured and detained with no offense or reason. Their lives might end like mine… When you remember me in my last gasps of life before dying, while my soul is leaving my body to rise to its creator, remember that the world let us and let our case down… Remember that our governments let us down… Remember the unreasonable delay of the courts in looking into our case and to side with the victims of injustice… Remember that if there were people who are actually fair and who defend justice and defend the victims of injustice and if there are judges who are fair, I wouldn't have been wrapped in death shrouds now and my family –my father, my mother, my brothers and sisters, and my little daughter – would not have to lose their son… forever… but what else can I do?

Take some of my blood… take pieces of my death shrouds... take some of my remains…take pictures of my dead body when I am placed in my grave, lonely…send it to the world.. to the judges…to people with live conscious… to people with principles and values, "the fair-minded"…

To make them carry the burden of guilt in front of the world for this soul that was wasted with no guilt it has ever done…

To make them all carry this burden in front of the future generations for this wasted soul that has done no sin…

To make them carry this burden of guilt in front of history for this soul that was wasted with no reason…

After this soul has suffered the worst by the hands of "the protectors of peace and the callers for democracy, freedom, equality and justice"…

There, in the very far east, at the other end of the ocean… there in the east… how many fathers, mothers, wives, siblings, children and other family members who are crying now for their imprisoned children at Guantanamo Bay –Cuba… Why…Why do they have to suffer the agony of separation and swallow the bitterness of deprivation from having their sons…

I am not the only one suffering …this anguish…my family is very much suffering too… My little daughter whom they destroyed her spirit because of my detention and having me taken away from her... sends me letters saying: "Dad please come to me… please come back to me...all the girls in my school have dads, except me?!... Dad, I need you...I want you to come back to me...please come back for my sake...

In fact, I don't have an answer to her question…The answer to her question is there, with "the fair minded people"...

Josh... Khaled: At this moment, I see death looming in front of me while writing this letter…Death has a bad odor that cannot be smelled except by people who are going through the agony of death only.

Josh... Khaled: farewell… farewell with no hope of you seeing me again…I thank you for everything you have done for me, but I have a final request…

Show the world the letters I gave you…let the world read them…Let the world know the agony of the detainees in Cuba…

Note: I wrote this letter on the same date shown, but I was surprised that Khaled, the interpreter, did not show. I really wanted to see him before I leave this life…I have decided not to make any changes to this letter that was meant to talk to you and Khaled, out of respect to my faithful friend Khaled...(same day at night).

Prisoner of Deprivation / Jumah Abdel Latif Al Dossari
Guantanamo Bay, Cuba
(Signature) Friday, 10/14/2005

Jumaa's Suicide Letter (PDF)15Kb

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Trial by spin machine - The innocence of British Muslims released from Guantánamo is a story no official wants told

Victoria Brittain
Tuesday March 14, 2006
The Guardian

The coincidental release of Michael Winterbottom's prize-winning film about the young men from Tipton, Road to Guantánamo, and Moazzam Begg's book, Enemy Combatant, predictably brought the US and British spin machines into full swing last week - so that anyone reading the book or seeing the film would have got the idea that these men may have been badly treated, but they certainly were not innocent.

Last week the Daily Telegraph flagged an exclusive on its front page. "Begg told FBI he trained with al-Qaeda," was the headline over a full-page article by Con Coughlin, the paper's security correspondent, using an FBI report which, as Begg's book explains, was written by two FBI agents. After Begg had been tortured, threatened with death, offered a job undercover by the CIA, and come to believe he would never see his family again, he signed the "confession", confident that it was so illiterate and inconsistent that no court of law would accept it as having been written by an educated man such as himself. Coughlin had a copy of the book from the publishers, so - assuming he read it - knew all this as he prepared his piece, which has so damaged Begg.

Meanwhile, Colleen Graffy, the US deputy assistant secretary of state for public diplomacy, was in London last week on a propaganda offensive. Ms Graffy had visited Guantánamo and witnessed no unpleasant interrogation, no torture and plenty of sports facilities, she told Jeremy Vine on Radio 2. The imperturbable Vine was speechless when she drew from her bag a sample tube used for force-feeding prisoners and explained to him that it had no metal edges and was therefore humane.

The force-feeding at Guantánamo has been strongly condemned in a letter signed by 250 doctors in The Lancet. However, wider British audiences will have read not that, but "How Innocent is Moazzam Begg?" over Andrew Gilligan's interview in the Evening Standard, while in the Daily Mail a rant from Richard Littlejohn linked Begg and the Tiptons, claiming their stories don't stand up to "close scrutiny".

Five years ago, in the British Journalism Review, David Leigh reported on cases of intelligence services using journalists. One was the 1995 Sunday Telegraph story about the son of Libya's Colonel Gadafy and his alleged connection to a currency-counterfeiting plan. The story was written by Mr Coughlin, the paper's then chief foreign correspondent, and was originally attributed to a "British banking official". In fact - as emerged in a libel case brought by Gadafy's son - it had been given to him by an MI6 officer, who, it transpired, had been a regular contact for years.

Whatever the intentions of Coughlin and other journalists, the innocence of Begg, the Tipton Three and the other British detainees who have come home is a part of the story of Guantánamo that no official wants people to hear. Like all major miscarriages of justice finally overturned, the officials concerned will never apologise for breaking these men's lives, no one in authority will lose their jobs, and sections of the media will continue to question their innocence. The denial of justice for these British Muslims - not to speak of the 490 men, including nine UK residents, still in Guantánamo with no legal rights - will corrode the social fabric of this country far into the future.

But the horror of Bagram, Guantánamo and other secret American detention and torture centres for Muslims, in which the UK government is scandalously complicit, is now so well known throughout the world that no propaganda offensive by western officials and their friends has any prospect of lasting success.

· Victoria Brittain is co-author, with Moazzam Begg, of Enemy Combatant victoriacbrittain@hotmail.com

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Ire in Iran

Bush ready to initiate 'regime change' for the mullahs

By Alec Russell in Washington
14 Mar 06

After five years of indecision and internal disputes the Bush administration has started a new, more vigorous phase in trying to undermine the ruling mullahs of Iran.

The phrase "regime change" is seen as too loaded to use in public but in effect that is what the administration is hoping to do, according to officials in Washington.

Buoyed up by achieving its initial goal of dragging Teheran before the United Nations Security Council, which is to debate Iran this week, officials are now promoting several measures reminiscent of the American approach towards Moscow in the Cold War.
Even as £45 million is pumped into television and radio outlets to broadcast to the Iranian people, listening posts are to be opened in countries close to Iran to make up for America's lack of a diplomatic presence there.

At the same time officials from the state department and the Pentagon, traditionally at loggerheads on Iran, appear to be sounding the same tune. Talk of "overtures" and "outreach to Teheran", the preferred approach of many in the state department in President George W Bush's first term, is over as Condoleezza Rice, the secretary of state, nudges the diplomats towards a more confrontational approach.

"A lot of things have come together," a senior administration official told The Daily Telegraph yesterday. "It's not yet the end of the line. . . but this is the moment for us to start organising our efforts."

US officials are privately cockahoop that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran's new president, has "played into their hands" by threatening to eliminate Israel and by denying the Holocaust.

That played a crucial role in bolstering EU nations, in particular Germany, to abandon misgivings over the Bush administration and work with it to confront Iran.

"So determined are they to get nuclear weapons that they have forfeited a lot of what they had gained. It had been a great success of Iranian foreign policy to split America and Europe but they have thrown that away," said the official.

The official insisted that military action against Iran's nuclear sites remained a last resort. But he suggested that people were wrong to assume that the presence of 130,000 US troops across the border in Iraq meant that action was out of the question. "I wouldn't assume anything. Our president has said everything is still on the table."

Some insiders suggest that a decision will have to be made on military action by the end of this year.

In the meantime there will be a twin-track approach of boosting external and internal opponents of the regime, while trying to stiffen the spines of nations on the Security Council so they do not shrink from imposing penalties on Iran. The plan is for the pressure to intensify bit by bit rather than to bring the issue to a sudden climax.

"We still support diplomatic measures but they ought to include using the UN Security Council and putting the Iranians on the spot if they continue to defy everybody," said the official. Analysts caution that backing the exiled opposition and sending messages to internal opponents of the regime risks backfiring badly and bolstering the mullahs.

But in Washington officials feel that after deliberately staying on the sidelines over a year of diplomacy led by Britain, France and Germany, it is time to take charge of the debate.

Mr Bush has spent more and more time on the issue in recent months, inviting dozens of analysts to the White House for briefings. The state department last week created a special Iran desk.

Nicholas Burns, the undersecretary of state, told the Washington Post yesterday that more diplomats would be posted to countries around Iran specifically to focus on Teheran.

He said that a new outpost in Dubai would be the "21st Century equivalent" of the station in Riga, the capital of Latvia, in the 1930s when Washington had no embassy in the Soviet Union.

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War Pimping: US restates strike-first policy, warns Iran

Agence France Presse
16 Mar 06

Making no apologies for the war in Iraq, the United States reaffirmed its strike-first policy of preemption and warned that Iran may pose the biggest threat to US national security.

"We may face no greater challenge from a single country than from Iran," the White House said in a 49-page blueprint called "The National Security Strategy of the United States of America."

The report drew up a balance sheet of what it called US President George W. Bush's foreign policy successes and remaining "challenges" like bloody violence in Iraq and tense standoffs over nuclear programs in Iran and North Korea.
It also warned Russia that its ties with the West depend on democratic reforms, and urged China to embrace greater political freedom -- while saying that Washington will "hedge" for the possibility this does not happen.

And the report pleaded for patience with what has thus far been a mostly fruitless policy towards ending what it again referred to as "genocide" in Sudan's troubled region of Darfur.

The blueprint made no direct reference to possible UN Security Council action to punish Iran for refusing to freeze sensitive aspects of its nuclear program, which Washington says hides an atomic weapons project.

Instead, it referred to US-backed diplomacy by Britain, France and Germany, as well as efforts by Russia, and cautioned that "this diplomatic effort must succeed if confrontation is to be avoided."

Bush has said that he hopes for a diplomatic solution to the North Korean and Iranian crises, while refusing to rule out military options.

The document made clear that Washington does not view the failure to find the weapons of mass destruction (WMD) that were at the core of its public case for the 2003 invasion of Iraq as a blow against its strategy of preventive war.

That strategy was fleshed out in the 2002 version of the document, which built on Bush's position that the September 11, 2001 terrorist strikes made Cold War deterrence obsolete and required bolder action.

"The place of preemption in our national security strategy remains the same," the White House said on Thursday. "We do not rule out the use of force before attacks occur."

Bush had made Saddam Hussein's alleged possession of chemical and biological weapons and pursuit of nuclear arms the centerpiece of his case for war, but no such weapons have been found.

"There will always be some uncertainty" about banned weapons programs, the White House said. "We have no doubt that the world is better of if tyrants know that they pursue WMD at their own peril."

The document branded North Korea, Iran, Syria, Cuba, Belarus, Burma and Zimbabwe as tyrannies, and warned that tyrannies that seek weapons of mass destruction "threaten our immediate security interests."

While praising Beijing's help on the North Korean nuclear crisis, Washington said it sought "to encourage China to make the right strategic choices for its people, while we hedge against other possibilities."

On Russia, the document cautioned Moscow that "efforts to prevent democratic development at home and abroad will hamper" ties with its neighbors, Europe, and the United States.

On Latin America, the document singled out Venezuela and referred to President Hugo Chavez as "a demagogue awash in oil money," who "is undermining democracy and seeking to destabilize the region."

The document also restated Washington's support for the creation of a Palestinan state at peace with Israel and reasserted the US view that Hamas, which recently won a landslide election victory, must renounce violence, accept Israel, and disarm.

It added so-called "bird flu" to HIV/AIDS as a disease with such severe ramifications that it rises to the level of national security threat.

While the document is technically required every year, this is the first since 2002. The 2006 version comes as Bush's Republican party aims to make national security its central issue in November legislative elections.

The report can be found online at www.whitehouse.gov/nsc/nss.html

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War Pimping: Bush blames Iran for some bombs in Iraq

13 Mar 06

Iran has been supplying explosives to those intent on wreaking violence in Iraq, U.S. President George W. Bush said Monday.

He told an audience in Washington that his administration has proof that Iran is producing lethal, improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, that have been found in Iraq.

"Coalition forces have seized IEDs and components that were clearly produced in Iran," the president said.
"Such actions, along with Iran's support for terrorism and its pursuit of nuclear weapons, are increasingly isolating Iran, and America will continue to rally the world to confront these threats."

Bush's administration has been critical of Iran, accusing Tehran of trying to build nuclear weapons.

It has been threatening to bring the issue to the United Nations Security Council to seek possible sanctions.

Iran, whose hardline Islamic government fought a bitter war against Iraq in the 1980s, says it has a right to develop a peaceful nuclear program aimed at generating power.

Bush on new PR offensive

Bush's speech was billed as the first in a series intended to rebuild public support for the U.S. military's presence in Iraq, in the wake of an AP-Ipsos poll last week that showed the president's approval rating had dipped to an all-time low.

The poll suggested only 39 per cent of Americans support Bush's handling of the situation in Iraq, where 133,000 U.S. troops are currently stationed.

"We will not lose our nerve," Bush said in Monday's speech, pledging that the United States would continue to face off against militants in Iraq.

"I wish I could tell you that the violence is waning and that the road ahead will be smooth. It will not. There will be more tough fighting and more days of struggle, and we will see more images of chaos and carnage in the days and months to come."

Bush said the militants were trying to shake Americans' resolve and force a retreat, but he vowed not to let them succeed.

"The battle lines in Iraq are clearly drawn for the world to see and there is no middle ground. The enemy will emerge from Iraq one of two ways: emboldened or defeated."

1 in 10 of British troops leaving

On a related note, Britain said Monday that it intends to decrease the number of troops it maintains in Iraq by 10 per cent, amounting to 800 soldiers.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair has been Bush's strongest ally in the international coalition that has been trying to maintain order in Iraq in the three years since a U.S.-led invasion ousted former leader Saddam Hussein.

"Our commitment to the coalition remains certain," Defence Secretary John Reid said in a speech to the British House of Commons.

Britain is reducing its contingent of troops because Iraqi security forces are ready to take a greater role in policing the country, Reid said.

Comment: Yeah, right. And there are WMDs in Iraq. Hey, Georgie! Since you believe this stuff, did you know there is oceanfront property in Arizona?? Sure is. I own a big lot right on the beach... wanna buy it?

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China, Russia Blocking U.S. Bid to Pressure Iran

13 Mar 06

China and Russia are blocking agreement on a U.S.-backed statement by the United Nations Security Council that Iran must suspend uranium enrichment activities, U.S. Ambassador John Bolton said.

Envoys from China, France, Russia, the U.K. and U.S., the council's five permanent members, ended a third round of talks today on a draft statement that also asks the UN's nuclear watchdog agency to report on Iran's response to the suspension demand. Another meeting is scheduled for tomorrow in New York.
''We've been trying to get this issue into the Security Council for close to four years and other countries, including other permanent members, haven't had that view, so it's no surprise that different views remain,'' Bolton told reporters at the UN.

U.K. Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry said Britain, France and the U.S. want a statement supporting the International Atomic Energy Agency's demand for greater cooperation by Iran, urging Iran to comply and seeking an IAEA report on the response.

Iran, holder of the world's second-largest reserves of oil and gas, said it has the right to produce enriched uranium, which can be used in nuclear reactors and bombs. The IAEA can't ''conclude that there are no undeclared nuclear materials or activities in Iran,'' Director General Mohamed ElBaradei said in a report send to the Security Council's 15-member governments last week.


Iran announced that it would resume uranium enrichment after talks with the France, Germany and the U.K. broke down.

Chinese and Russian envoys have said they don't want to go beyond an expression of support for the IAEA in the Security Council. Sanctions on Iran aren't being considered.

Jones Parry said the U.S., U.K. and France would circulate a text to the Security Council's 10 elected members as early as tomorrow, regardless of whether agreement is reached with China and Russia. He said there is agreement among the permanent members on very basic goals.

''On strategic goals there is absolutely no disagreement,'' he said. ''Our aim is to avoid proliferation of nuclear weapons, encourage Iran to come into compliance with what the governing board of the IAEA has asked. We are discussing the best means by which we can apply pressure to encourage Iran and demonstrate support for the board.''

Bolton said the U.S., U.K. and France might submit their text as a resolution that would be voted on by the Security Council, and which China and Russia could veto. Their initial plan was for a statement adopted by consensus, without a vote.

In Washington, President George W. Bush today extended economic sanctions against Iran that have been in effect since March 1995. The routine annual notice, which prevents trade between the U.S. and Iran, keeps the sanctions from expiring on March 15.

The ''crisis'' between the U.S. and Iran ''has not been resolved,'' Bush's notice to Congress says. Iran's policies are ''contrary to the interests of the United States in the region and pose a continuing unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy and economy of the United States,'' the statement says.

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Russia and China remain at odds with U.S., Britain and France over Iran statement

Associated Press
March 14, 2006

UNITED NATIONS - Russia and China remained at odds Tuesday with the United States, Britain and France over a U.N. Security Council statement on Iran's nuclear program, which the three Western nations contend is aimed at producing nuclear weapons.

The five permanent veto-wielding council members met for more than 90 minutes but didn't resolve differences on a proposed British-French draft that would demand Iran halt all uranium enrichment and call for a report within weeks on Iran's progress in answering questions about its nuclear program.
China wants only a short statement reiterating there are concerns about Iran's program, allowing space for continued diplomatic efforts to bring Iran on board, Chinese Ambassador Wang Guangya told reporters afterward.

''What we want is to leave the room and sufficient time for all diplomatic efforts to play,'' he said. ''So therefore I think we should not close all the doors for diplomatic activities.''

China also wants to reinforce efforts by the U.N. nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, and ''not to replace the IAEA,'' Wang said.

U.S. Ambassador John Bolton said Washington agrees the IAEA has a role, but also believes ''the Security Council has an independent obligation when faced with the risk of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction in violation of treaty obligations, which is what the case of Iran is.''

He said the Bush administration wants to move ''as quickly as we can,'' although he added that it wants to maintain the unity of the five permanent council members.

''Every day that goes by is a day that permits the Iranians to get closer to a nuclear weapons capability,'' Bolton said.

Iran insists its atomic program has only the peaceful purpose of using nuclear reactors to generate electricity. Its supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said Tuesday that the program is ''irreversible'' and warned that giving in to international pressure would ''break the country's independence.''

Later Tuesday, Britain and France were expected to outline their proposed statement to the 10 non-permanent Security Council members, which are elected for two-year terms. Bolton said the five permanent members would meet again Wednesday morning.

The United States, Britain and France think a strong council statement could further isolate Iran and pressure it to abide by demands from the U.N. nuclear watchdog, and they raise the possibility that it might have to resort to tougher measures later, such as sanctions.

Russia and China, which have strong business and political ties to Iran, argue that action would risk angering Tehran further, leading Iran to withdraw from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and kick out IAEA inspectors.

Last month, the IAEA's board voted to report Iran to the Security Council, saying it lacked confidence in the Tehran regime's nuclear intentions and accusing Iran of violating the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

Iran responded by ending voluntary cooperation with the IAEA and announcing it would start uranium enrichment and bar surprise inspections of its facilities.

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Activists in Iran say U.S. strategy hurts their work

By Karl Vick and David Finkel
The Washington Post/Seattle Times

TEHRAN, Iran - Prominent activists inside Iran say President Bush's plan to spend tens of millions of dollars to promote democracy here is the kind of help they don't need.

In a case that advocates fear is directly linked to Bush's announcement, the government has jailed two Iranians who traveled outside the country to attend what was billed as workshops on human rights.

Two others who attended were interrogated for three days.
The workshops, conducted by U.S.-based groups, were held in April. But Iranian investigators did not summon participants until last month, about the time the Bush administration announced plans to spend $85 million "to support the cause of freedom in Iran this year."

"We are under pressure here both from hard-liners in the judiciary and that stupid George Bush," activist Emad Baghi said as he waited for his wife and daughter to emerge from interrogation last week.

The fallout illustrates the challenge facing Washington as it seeks a role in a country where U.S. influence is unwelcome even by many who share the same goal.

"Unfortunately, I've got to say it has a negative effect, not a positive one," said Abdolfattah Soltani, a human-rights lawyer recently released from seven months in prison.

After writing in a newspaper that his clients were beaten while in jail, Soltani was charged with offenses that included spying for the United States.

"This is something we all know, that a way of dealing with human-rights activists is to claim they have secret relations with foreign powers," said Soltani, who co-founded a human-rights defense group with Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi. "This very much limits our actions. It is very dangerous to our society."

Activists said the Bush initiative demonstrates the chasm that often separates those working inside Iran for greater freedoms - carefully calibrating their actions to nudge incremental changes in a hostile system - and the more strident approach of many Iranian exiles who often have the ear of Washington.

"Our society is very complicated," said Vahid Pourostad, editor of National Trust, a reform newspaper. "Generally speaking, it is impossible to impose something from outside.

"It seems to me the United States is not studying the history of Iran very carefully," Pourostad said. "Whenever they came and supported an idea publicly, the public has done the opposite."

Russia, China resist pressuring Iran

UNITED NATIONS - Russia and China have rejected proposals from the United States and other veto-wielding members of the U.N. Security Council for a statement demanding Iran clear up suspicions about its nuclear program, diplomats said Monday.

The dispute raises the threat of an impasse in the Security Council and means that the U.S., Britain and France may not get their wish for strong action by the powerful U.N. body.

They believe such a text could further isolate Iran and help force it to abandon uranium enrichment, a process that can make fuel for a civilian nuclear reactor or fissile material for an atomic bomb.

The Associated Press

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Iran: Where do we go from here?

By Mike Whitney
Information Clearing House
14 Mar 06

The Bush administration has run into a rock wall at the Security Council. Neither Russia nor China will agree to any resolution that condemns Iran for "noncompliance" with its treaty obligations. In fact, there is general agreement that Iran has not violated the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) so the point is moot. This eliminates any chance that punitive action will be taken against Iran or that sanctions will be applied.

So why did the Bush administration take the case this far if they knew that there was no possibility for consensus on the main issue?
The administration knew from the beginning that the world body would not support sanctions or military action. The intention was simply to increase suspicion about Iran's nuclear programs and mobilize public support for a war.

In fact, the United States is not at all concerned with Iran's nuclear programs. It is merely a hoax that is being used to conceal Washington's war plans.

Presently, the administration is trying to coerce the Security Council to issue a strongly-worded "presidential statement" laying out what Iran needs to do to ease concerns that it is using its civilian programs to hide a nuclear weapons program.

Since there is "no evidence" of such programs (according to the UN watchdog agency IAEA) the Security Council should not become involved in a process that can only strengthen the administrations plans to attack Iran.

The "presidential statement" does not have the power of a Security Council "resolution". It cannot be used to apply sanctions or to take military action. It is purely a formal reprimand that makes constructive suggestions for changing behavior. It is designed to allay fears that Iran may be secretly building nukes. Unfortunately, the statement is utterly meaningless since Iran has already allowed the most extensive inspection regime to rummage through every aspect of its nuclear program for 2 years without producing any proof of wrongdoing.

The Bush administration would never waste its time on diplomatic maneuvering unless it had a goal in mind. The strategy for using the presidential statement as a pretext for war is evident in the way the wording is being negotiated. Rather than simply saying that the Security Council hopes that Iran will guarantee that its program is "exclusively peaceful purposes"; the US wants to add that, "continued enrichment-related activity would add to the importance and urgency of further action by the Council".

This phrasing provides the US with a pretext for intervention if Iran continues to enrich uranium.

The statement also contains a demand that Iran accept an "additional protocol" that gives IAEA inspectors "exceptional access to plants". It asks for "additional 'transparency measures,' including access to individuals, documents, and research laboratories".

In essence, the statement insists that Iran forgo its "inalienable right" to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes and accept an intrusive inspection-regime that can ferret through every armory, barracks, conventional-weapons site, communications facility, ammunition-dump, palace, and research laboratory in the country. This is the same rule that was applied to Saddam before the war in Iraq.

But, why should Iran agree to this public humiliation if it has done nothing wrong? Should they sacrifice their sovereign rights just to placate Washington?

Iran will never accept these conditions nor would the United States if the situation was reversed. Iran must continue to defend its right to enrich uranium and, thus, vindicate the principle that underscores international treaties. The Bush administration has no authority to repeal treaties nor does it have the right to create the conditions whereby the terms of those treaties are rescinded.

The "presidential statement" will be used in the media to demonize Iran for its alleged "defiance" and to convince the public that there is universal agreement on Iran's imaginary nuclear weapons programs. Although the statement does not authorize the US to take unilateral action, it will be used to do just that. John Bolton has already admitted that if the Security Council does not meet the administrations expectations, the US may act on its own and look for partners in applying sanctions or taking military action.

So, where do we go from here?

There's a good chance that the logistical groundwork for war with Iran has already been laid. This would explain the earnestness of American diplomats at the State Dept. and the UN.

The Security Council needs to realize the gravity of the situation and take positive steps to diffuse the crisis. The Council should forgo the issuing of the "presidential statement" and buttress Iran's rights under the NPT to enrich uranium under the strict supervision of the IAEA. They should also condemn any unilateral action by member states as a violation to the UN Charter which confers sole authority to the UN Security Council for sanctions or military action.

Most of all, the United Nations must defend its own credibility as a viable institution for world peace by ensuring that it is not used to mask the war-mongering objectives of other nations.

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Nukes Leave No Option

Nuclear Bunker Buster Bombs against Iran: This Way Lies Madness

By Stephen M. Osborn
16 Mar 06

The latest information I have had from the followers of Bush is that he has demanded and received permission to use nuclear "bunker busters" in Iran in a preemptive strike. As a nuclear veteran (Operation Redwing, Bikini, 1956) I can affirm that this is absolute madness. The "bunker buster" is a cute sounding name for a nuclear horror. Air bursts are horrible enough, doing incredible destruction through heat, shock and high initial radiation. The fallout from an air burst is registered around the world. A surface or subsurface burst is even deadlier and more long lasting.
The Castle-Bravo blast at Bikini in 1954 was a fifteen megaton surface blast. It blew a hole over a mile wide and four hundred feet deep in the atoll, completely obliterating the island and vaporizing over thirteen billion cubic feet of coral, rock and water, sending it in a radioactive cloud extending into the stratosphere. The fallout over the atolls downwind was devastating to the people and ecology there. All of that material is rendered extremely radioactive and as it cools it condenses to fall as rain or radioactive "snow" which contaminates everything it touches. The effects are felt worldwide.

Firing der Bush's bunker busters in Iran, or anywhere else for that matter, will vaporize hundreds of thousands of tons of earth, water and rock and send this radioactive soup downwind to kill and sicken whole populations. Those immediately downwind will die quickly, in hours or days. Those further downwind will take longer. The global incidences of cancers and disease will again rise markedly. The land downwind will remain contaminated and unusable for generations. If there were deep shelters, it has been postulated by the designers that the bunker busters would not penetrate deeply enough to affect them. I imagine that would initiate the attack theory of sending one nuke after another into the same hole. Picture the intensity of the radioactive disaster that would perpetrate on the area.

There are not too many of us left that witnessed the tests, but there are a number of groups that monitor the effects through cancers, birth defects, both physical and mental and monitoring of contamination in the environment. We are still feeling the results of those tests. I have exchanged e-mails with downwinders and with the children of downwinders who have had children with birth defects that had no previous history of such things in their families; who suffer from cancers that are peculiar to nuclear radiation.

Now we are facing the specter of Depleted Uranium, which is turning up in atmospheric filters around the world. Depleted Uranium is a nuclear byproduct of the nuclear industry. It is a low level radioactive material of extreme density. The half life of DU is 4.5 billion years. Workers in DU have to wear full protective equipment and respirators. DU ammunition is extremely hard and dense. It penetrates armor like tissue paper, vaporizing and burning, leaving dust and particles as shrapnel to be ingested or breathed. DU is not what the public thinks of as a radioactive material. It only emits alpha and beta radiation. A piece of paper will stop it. However, when it is in the lungs or elsewhere in the body, it is in contact with living tissue, bombarding that tissue with low level radiation for the rest of your life and beyond. That radiation can lead to cancers, genetic damage and eventual death.

Independent laboratories like Johns Hopkins have studied this and made predictions of the harm it can do. The government says, as it did with Agent Orange, "There is nothing to it, it is all in your head." Meanwhile, people continue to sicken and die and will for generations.

Chernobyl was not a nuclear explosion. It was just a very hot, stubborn fire in nuclear fuel. Chernobyl and a huge surrounding area is uninhabitable for an estimated three to six hundred years. The fallout from Chernobyl contaminated food and livestock around Europe and Scandinavia for a long time, and the radiation is still traceable in the earth and some living things.

I, and many thousands like me, worked for many years to end the nuclear threat. Treaties were drawn up and ratified. The Peaceful Uses of Space treaty which guaranteed that no nation would use space as a platform for making war. That treaty is now derided by the American Military Establishment as naive. We are ready to take full control of the space around earth to provide a high ground for attack on any "threat" to the United States hegemony. The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which was to keep nuclear weapon technology from spreading around the world. Der Bush has narrowed that down to anyone who could conceivably at some time in the future be a threat to American domination. Our "friends" can build what they want. We'll even help them. The Arms Reduction Treaty between us and the CCCP. That was a treaty to destroy nuclear weapons and delivery systems on a mutual basis, with observers from each country verifying the destruction. Der Bush and Putin decided to change that to putting the weapons in storage instead of destroying them. Storage means access by black marketeers who can bribe poorly paid security guards and remove weapons and weapon grade material for resale to the highest bidder.

Treaties mean nothing to this government, of course, if they interfere with profits or power. The Geneva Conventions on the treatment of prisoners is ignored, the international conventions against torture are ignored, the tenets of our own Bill of Rights and Constitution guaranteeing privacy and freedom of _expression to its citizens are being canceled our by der Bush and his minions, the United Nations Charter is ignored or derided. The Kyoto Protocols on global warming and other studies are ignored by this administration as they interfere with short term profits.

All of these breaches of humanity are overshadowed, however, by the possibility of our using nuclear weapons. The effects of that will be as earth shattering as global warming and pollution. This can be avoided very simply by not using them, the one thing we cannot count on der Bush doing unless we stop him by absolutely forbidding the use of nuclear weapons. Even better would be to forbid him from conducting so called "preemptive wars" with anybody who disagrees with him.

Here are some links for those who wish to read a bit further into the subject.

This is my page on the Atomic Veterans site. It contains writings on my nuclear experiences. Then explore the rest of the site. http://www.aracnet.com/~pdxavets/osborn.htm

Downwinders are those who have been exposed to radiation through our testing both here and in the Pacific. http://www.downwinders.org/

There are a number of Chernobyl sites of interest, but these two really bring it home. http://library.thinkquest.org/3426/ Goes over the circumstances and effects of Chernobyl on the world. The Kiddofspeed site is the site of a courageous lady named Elena who has ridden her motorcycle through Chernobyl and its surroundings, photographing what she found there. http://www.kiddofspeed.com/chapter1.html

Depleted Uranium is discussed at many sites including the following, http://www.iacenter.org/depleted/du.htm Googling Depleted Uranium will give you about five million hits, many of them government apologia saying that DU is harmless, or nearly harmless.

http://www.cadu.org.uk/ is the site of the Committee Against Depleted Uranium and well worth reading.

http://www.ccnr.org/bertell_book.html Is a site on DU and Gulf War Syndrome, which also explores some of the problems with the manufacture of DU armaments to the ecology in the vicinity of the plants.

Please, do your own reading on the subject, then insist that the use of nuclear weapons is unacceptable for any reason. As one who has faced the nuclear dragon and survived, I can only say that "Ban the Bomb" is not just a slogan, it is a necessity.

© Copyright 2005 GlobalResearch.ca

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Video: Hiroshima - Where Denial Meets Reality

Flash Presentation

The Lies - The Deaths - The Future? Click here to watch the video.

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New War Dangers: Iran, the U.S. and Nukes in the Middle East

By Phyllis Bennis
Institute for Policy Studies
15 March 2006

* Escalating rhetoric, continued losses in Iraq, Bush's political problems, and an ideologically-driven pursuit of power make the possibility of a U.S. military attack on Iran - however reckless and however dangerous its consequences - a frighteningly real possibility.
* Iran is a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and has not violated the Treaty. While there appear to be unresolved issues regarding full transparency, its nuclear program, including enriching uranium, is perfectly legal under NPT requirements for non-nuclear weapons states.
* Iran does not have nuclear weapons; even if it is trying to build a nuclear weapons program, it could not produce weapons for five to ten years or more.
* There is a dangerous, unmonitored and provocative nuclear arsenal in the Middle East; it belongs to Israel, not Iran. U.S. hypocrisy and double standards in nuclear policy, accepting Israel's unacknowledged nuclear arsenal and rewarding India's nuclear weapons status while threatening war against Iran and denying its own obligations under the NPT, has undermined Washington's claimed commitment to non-proliferation.
* U.S. officials claim they are not considering an invasion of Iraq but "only" surgical air strikes against known nuclear facilities; they have not explained what their military response will be when Iran retaliates, whether against U.S. troops in Iraq or elsewhere in the region, against U.S. oil tankers in near-by shipping lanes, or against Israel.
* Global suspicions remain regarding U.S. claims because of Washington's lies leading to the invasion of Iraq, but international conditions regarding Iran are significantly different; many governments appear more willing to consider Iran a "threat."
* The only solution to the crisis is to move towards a nuclear weapons-free, or even weapons of mass destruction-free zone across the entire Middle East.

The Bush administration's rapid escalation of anti-Iran rhetoric in the last few months should not be dismissed as posturing. Some of the attacks, especially Vice-President Cheney's and UN Ambassador John Bolton's speeches to the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee convention, were clearly aimed at least partly at that specific audience. But this administration has a history of carrying out actions widely viewed, even among U.S. elites, as reckless and dangerous. The Bush administration's new campaign of claiming Iran is responsible for the improvised explosive devices (IEDs - or roadside bombs) that are proving so deadly against Iraqi civilians and U.S. troops in Iraq, represents a further escalation of the threat by linking Iran to the rise in U.S. casualties in Iraq.

The extremist language of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad also has played a role in heating up the rhetorical battle. His outrageous claims denying the Holocaust appear to be playing to what he perceives as the views of his own domestic audience. But Ahmedinejad's refusal to recognize the obligations of national presidents in the world spotlight - especially the president of a nation in Washington's crosshairs - has created a situation in which both sides may become boxed into political corners from which they cannot escape.

The Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) is based on the idea that countries with and without nuclear weapons all give up something, and both have rights and obligations under the Treaty. Countries without nuclear weapons - almost all countries in the world have signed the Treaty - agree not to buy or build nuclear weapons. In return, the NPT allows them to create and use nuclear power, and even urges the nuclear weapons countries to provide them with nuclear technology for their peaceful use - including the technology to enrich uranium. (This encouragement of the spread of nuclear technology and nuclear power is a huge weakness of the NPT, but it remains the operative legal framework.) On the other side, the five recognized nuclear weapons countries - the U.S., Russia, France, the UK and China - are obligated under Article VI of the NPT to move towards full and complete nuclear disarmament.

The three known nuclear weapons states beyond the five official nuclear powers are Israel, India and Pakistan. Unlike Iran, none of them have signed the NPT. (North Korea, widely viewed as having the ability to build, or perhaps even an existing nuclear weapon, was a signatory to the NPT, but withdrew from the treaty before moving towards full nuclear weapons capacity.)

Iran, however, is a signatory to the NPT, and as such has been under voluntary international scrutiny for many years. Like all non-nuclear weapons signatories, Iran maintains the right to have access to nuclear technology, to build nuclear power plants, and to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes. Iran has not violated the NPT's restrictions for non-nuclear weapons countries. Even the U.S. does not claim Iran is violating the NPT; the Bush administration claims, rather, that it "does not trust" Iran, and therefore Iran should be denied the rights granted to it under the treaty.

Iran has no capacity to produce nuclear weapons at this time. If it chooses to move towards nuclear weapons production, estimates are that it would take five to ten years before it would be possible. Tehran has made clear its desire for a security guarantee with the U.S. During the year-long European-led negotiations over Iran's nuclear program, Washington's refusal to offer such a guarantee fueled public support in Iran for the nuclear program.

The escalating danger of a new U.S. military strike or a nuclear arms race in the Middle East must take into account the provocative nature of Israel's unacknowledged but widely known nuclear arsenal of 200-400 high-density nuclear bombs produced at its Dimona nuclear center in the Negev desert. The Israeli nuke was first tested jointly with apartheid South Africa in 1979 and made public by nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu in 1986. Since then Israel, with U.S. support, has maintained a nuclear policy of "strategic ambiguity," neither confirming nor denying the existence of its nuclear weapons. As long as Israel, while continuing to violate international law in its occupation of Palestinian and Syrian territory, remains the Middle East's sole nuclear power, other countries in the region will continue seeking nuclear parity for deterrence. (Alternatively, they may seek chemical or biological weapons, often termed the "poor countries' nuclear weapons.")

U.S. officials are not yet openly calling for military action against Iran; their rhetoric so far states that "all options are on the table," with Cheney, Rice, Bush and others making explicit threats about what Iran "must" do. When details do come out, U.S. and Israeli military and political officials claim to be looking only at "surgical" air strikes against known Iranian nuclear facilities. What is not being publicly answered is what the U.S. plans to do should Iran retaliate militarily to such an attack. Whether such retaliation is an attack on U.S. troops in Iraq or elsewhere in the region, a move to stall shipping in the strategic Strait of Hormuz, or an attack against Israel, would the U.S. then consider an invasion of Iran in response? In this context it makes less difference whether an initial military strike against Iran is carried out by the U.S. directly or by Israel - since Iran might respond militarily against either one regardless of which air force actually dropped the bombs.

Governments around the world, including powerful European governments, remain skeptical of Washington's intentions and especially dubious regarding U.S. intelligence claims following the lies of the Iraq war. But most governments, including those who defied U.S. pressure on Iraq, remain eager to get back into Washington's good graces. So since they know Iran, unlike Iraq before the invasion, does in fact have a functioning nuclear energy program, many are prepared to put aside Iran's legal position under the NPT and embrace Washington's campaign to treat Iran as a global danger. The UN's nuclear watchdog (IAEA) continues to call for de-escalation of the rhetoric and reliance on negotiations, and has reported that there is no evidence of nuclear weapons production. But the IAEA itself has been unwilling to challenge Washington's campaign directly, emphasizing instead its unhappiness with Iran's allegedly insufficient transparency; IAEA Director Mohamed el Baradei even stated that "diplomacy has to be backed by pressure and, in extreme cases, by force." The result is that overall international skepticism regarding the Bush administration's claims may not be sufficient for winning governmental opposition to rising U.S. threats against Iran.

The IAEA board has now reported the Iran issue to the UN Security Council where closed, non-public debate is underway, initially involving only the five permanent members. At the moment it appears unlikely Russia and China would accept a resolution imposing full-scale economic sanctions against Iran. Both are strong trade partners with Iran, China depends on Iran for more than 10% of its growing oil needs, and Russia's own nuclear industry remains tied to Iran's nuclear power production.

Instead, it is likely that any call for Security Council sanctions will be in the form of so-called "smart sanctions," largely limited to freezing assets and denying travel rights to specific members of the Iranian regime and specific Iranian companies. A greater danger may be the language of the resolution; if the U.S. agrees to call only for "smart" sanctions, the quid pro quo from Russia and China may be language that the Security Council decision is taken under Chapter VII of the UN Charter. The significance is that Chapter VII includes the Council's right to use military force to enforce UN decisions. Even if only the Council itself may legally make such a determination, the very presence of the words "Chapter VII" in the text may be used by the Bush administration to make the claim that any future unilateral attack on Iran is somehow "enforcing UN resolutions."

Another international shift whose consequences remain uncertain has to do with Iran's planned opening (perhaps as early as this month) of a new international oil trading center, with a euro- rather than dollar-based exchange. Such a move would potentially threaten the dominance of the petro-dollar in the global oil markets, and thus pose new risks for the U.S. currency dominance. Saddam Hussein had shifted from dollars to euros for oil trading two years before the U.S. invasion; it was almost certainly one of the several reasons for the overthrow of the Iraqi regime. The opening of such a new euro-based oil exchange in Iran would likely benefit Europe, with the possibility of a shift away from the current European passivity towards Washington's military threats.

There is no military "solution" to the Iran nuclear issue. The only answer is the creation of a nuclear weapons-free zone across the Middle East. In fact, the U.S. is already legally bound to the even broader commitment of a weapons of mass destruction-free zone in the region. In the U.S.-drafted UN Security Council Resolution 687, that ended the 1991 Gulf War and imposed sanctions on Iraq, Article 14 states calls for "establishing in the Middle East a zone free from weapons of mass destruction and all missiles for their delivery." It is time Washington was held accountable to that commitment.

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America's nuclear hypocrisy undermines its stance on Iran

By Sanford Gottlieb
March 16, 2006

Even as he was telling Iran not to produce nuclear weapons, President Bush was urging Congress to pay for a new nuclear weapon designed to destroy underground military facilities.

Although the nuclear "bunker-buster" is still on the drawing board, Iran can be expected to charge the United States with atomic hypocrisy during the current war of words.
No less than a conservative Republican from Ohio, Rep. David L. Hobson, has thwarted Mr. Bush's push for the bunker-buster for the past two years. Mr. Hobson chairs a House subcommittee that appropriates money for the nuclear weapons complex. He persuaded the House not to spend a cent for research on the bunker-buster. The Senate followed.

What worries him most about this weapon, Mr. Hobson has said, "is that some idiot might try to use it."

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld told a Senate subcommittee in April that 70 countries are pursuing "activities underground."

"We don't have a capability of dealing with that," he testified. "We can't go in and get at things in solid rock underground." Mr. Rumsfeld suggested he needs the relatively small bunker-buster to avoid using "a large, dirty nuclear weapon."

Yet at the time of his testimony, Mr. Rumsfeld probably saw a study from the National Academy of Sciences estimating that the small bunker-buster, if used in an urban area, could cause more than a million deaths.

Pursuit of the bunker-buster and Mr. Rumsfeld's testimony confirm the administration's shift away from nuclear deterrence toward possible use of nuclear weapons in war. Under Mr. Bush's doctrine of pre-emption, the U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM) has added missions to its war plans. STRATCOM's global strike plan foresees the use of nuclear weapons to pre-empt an imminent threat from weapons of mass destruction or to destroy an adversary's WMD stockpiles.

The Pentagon's draft "Doctrine for Joint Nuclear Operations" describes these new missions. The draft was discovered on the Pentagon Web site in September by Hans Kristensen, now with the Federation of American Scientists. When Mr. Kristensen shared his find with the media, the draft disappeared from the Web site. But STRATCOM's war plans remain in force.

"You may win this year," Mr. Rumsfeld told Mr. Hobson in 2005, "but we'll be back." Meanwhile, Congress has mandated that any future earth-penetrator weapon must be based on conventional explosives.

The Pentagon had hedged its bets. In 2004, the Defense Department awarded a contract to Boeing to design and test a huge conventional bomb, to be known as the Massive Ordnance Penetrator. It would be the biggest conventional bomb in the U.S. arsenal, capable of demolishing "multistory buildings with hardened bunkers and tunnel facilities."

So why has the administration been pressing for a nuclear version?

The United States still has a massive Cold War arsenal. About 5,000 hydrogen bombs and warheads are deployed on intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarines and bombers; another 5,000 are held in reserve. In addition, 600 to 700 tactical nuclear weapons are ready for battlefield use.

Russia has fewer than 5,000 H-bombs deployed but many thousands more in reserve, and 3,000 tactical nuclear weapons. Many Russian nuclear weapons are not fully secured. Britain, France, China and Israel have several hundred nuclear weapons each. India and Pakistan are slowly building their arsenals.

In addition to the bunker-buster, the Bush administration wants new nuclear warheads to replace old ones. Daryl G. Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, is dubious. He thinks the replacement process could be a back door to new warhead concepts, not what's needed when trying to persuade Iran to keep out of the nuclear club. A more meaningful approach, says Mr. Kimball, would be to slash the swollen U.S. and Russian arsenals.

Yet under the Treaty of Moscow, by 2012, both nuclear behemoths could still deploy 2,200 long-range nuclear weapons, not counting those in reserve and tactical arms. The world will still bristle with the most destructive of weapons of mass destruction 22 years after the Cold War's end.

That's not a prospect likely to dissuade the insecure leaders of Iran.

Sanford Gottlieb, a former executive director of the National Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy, is the author of "Defense Addiction: Can America Kick the Habit?" His e-mail is sandyglad@hotmail.com

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Plagues and Pestilence

Hot pepper kills prostate cancer cells in study

15 Mar 06

WASHINGTON - Capsaicin, which makes peppers hot, can cause prostate cancer cells to kill themselves, U.S. and Japanese researchers said on Wednesday.
Capsaicin led 80 percent of human prostate cancer cells growing in mice to commit suicide in a process known as apoptosis, the researchers said.

Prostate cancer tumors in mice fed capsaicin were about one-fifth the size of tumors in untreated mice, they reported in the journal Cancer Research.

"Capsaicin had a profound anti-proliferative effect on human prostate cancer cells in culture," said Dr. Soren Lehmann of the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and the University of California Los Angeles School of Medicine.

"It also dramatically slowed the development of prostate tumors formed by those human cell lines grown in mouse models."

While it is far easier to cure cancer in mice infected with human tumors than it is in human beings, the findings suggest a possible future treatment. They also may offer a good excuse for men who like spicy food to eat more of it.

Lehmann estimated that the mice ate the human equivalent of 400 milligrams of capsaicin three times a week. That is about the amount found in three to eight fresh habanero peppers, depending on how hot the peppers are.

The capsaicin inhibited the activity of NF-kappa beta, a molecular mechanism that helps lead to apoptosis in many cell types.

Prostate cancer is the most common malignant cancer in U.S. men. It is diagnosed in 232,000 men every year and kills up to 30,000 of them. Worldwide, 221,000 men die every year from prostate cancer.

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Lethal bird flu confirmed in Israeli kibbutzim; flocks to be killed

16 Mar 06

The Health Ministry confirmed on Friday that the virus responsible for the recent deaths of approximately 11,000 turkeys at the southern kibbutzim of Holit and Ein Hashlosha was indeed the H5 strain. The same strain was identified at Kibbutz Nachshon near Beit Shemesh, following an unusual amount of poultry deaths.

Three people from Kibbutz Ein Hashlosha, who worked at the chicken coops, were sent to Soroka Hospital under suspicion that they contracted the deadly bird flu strain. One of them, a Thai worker was held in isolation.
The Health Ministry ordered the flocks of turkeys on all three kibbutzim be destroyed, and the carcasses buried underground. The poultry were to be killed by consumption of poisoned water. The poultry killed may reach hundreds of thousands of birds.

After its meeting to discuss the response to a bird flu outbreak, the Agriculture Ministry announced on Friday that they would continue the veterinary quarantine over the southern kibbutzim of Holit and Ein Hashlosha.

They also decided to test fowl in other farms in the region.

Chief veterinarian of the Agriculture Ministry Dr. Shimon Pokamunski told Israel Radio that it had not yet been decided to launch a massive vaccination campaign, but should that decision be made, the Health Ministry would be ready to proceed within three days.

Health officials repeatedly reminded the public that the avian flu primarily affects birds. It was very rare for the virus to make the transition into a human host. Even in cases where humans do contract the disease, it is generally limited to people who come in direct contact with fowl, usually bird handlers in chicken coops. Unfortunately, mortality tends to be high in cases when it is contracted.

The Health Ministry voiced caution and urged the public not to panic after the Agriculture Ministry announced on Thursday night that turkeys on two Negev farms were "suspected" of having died from the H5N1 strain of avian flu.

Health Minister Ya'akov Edri called an emergency meeting last night to discuss the case.

Agriculture Minister Ze'ev Boim said the ministry was still testing the birds to determine whether they had the feared flu strain.

Boim stressed that Israelis should remain calm until the tests have been completed.

The suspected outbreak was centered on the Negev desert farming community of Ein Hashlosha and the nearby community of Holit, where a large number of turkeys were found dead, Boim said.

"We have imposed a quarantine in a radius of seven kilometers around the area, and we are prepared, in case our suspicions are confirmed, to prepare for a wide-scale destruction of the flocks in a radius of three kilometers," he said.

Health Ministry associate director-general Dr. Boaz Lev said that there was no danger to the general public, as avian flu spreads directly among poultry and wild birds and can spread only to people in direct contact with live birds whose droppings contain the virus. There is no danger eating poultry, even if the food supply is affected by the virus, as it is destroyed by the heat of cooking and does not pass to humans who touch raw processed poultry.

"It's a problem for the turkeys and the chickens, but not for humans at this point," said Prof. Manfred Green, director of the Israel Center for Disease Control. "If it is bird flu, poultry will be isolated and killed in the affected area within a radius of three kilometers. Agriculture workers who have been directly in contact with them could be given antivirals as a prophylactic measure and on an individual basis. We are waiting for confirmation. So far, it seems to be the H5 strain, but we are not sure that it is H5N1, which is more infectious."

Health Minister Ya'akov Edri called an emergency meeting last night to discuss the situation.

Eshkol Regional Council head Uri Naamati said that turkeys at Kibbutz Ein Hashlosha and Kibbutz Holit started dying several days ago, and the rate of death increased rapidly on Tuesday and Wednesday.

On Wednesday the largest group of fowl died, and the company that runs the coops at Ein Hashlosha suspected that the cause of death was the deadly H5N1 strain.

The coops at Ein Hashlosha are not operated by the kibbutz, but by an outside company. Samples were sent to the Agriculture Ministry on Wednesday, and the results received Thursday tested positive for bird flu. "Definitely the H5 strain, but we are not sure if it is for certain the H5N1 strain. Personally I think it is the H5N1, but we will have to wait for the final results," Naamati told The Jerusalem Post Thursday night. "The first test results came back positive, but we are waiting for the final results which will come in Friday or Saturday," he added.

"How does the saying go: If there is doubt, then there is no doubt. We are getting ready for the next step, which is to cull the fowl within a 3-kilometer radius of the chicken coops at Kibbutz Ein Hashlosha and Kibbutz Hofit" Naamati said.

Both kibbutzim are under closure, and it is forbidden to remove any fowl from the area. People are allowed in and out of the area though, Naamati told the Post. Residents have been warned to stay away from the coops.

Two Ein Hashlosha residents who were working at the coops are under medical observation, and have been instructed to take precautionary measures, such as regular showers. These two workers wore protective clothing during their work in the coops and, according to Naamati, are not thought to have contracted any disease. "They have taken precautions and they are healthy," he said.

He could not say if the two local workers were quarantined in isolation, or are being allowed to mingle with the general population. He said only that they are being kept on the kibbutz and are being monitored.

Naamati added, however, that there were "several workers outside of the kibbutz" who also worked at the Ein Hashlosha coops who were employees of the company that runs the coops and markets the turkeys to Israeli supermarkets countrywide after they are slaughtered.

Naamati said that all the birds at Ein Hashlosha were local fowl bred at a farm in the area. The life span of a turkey at Ein Hashlosha is 26 weeks, Naamati said. "Six weeks after they are born at a breeding farm in the south of the country, they are brought to Ein Hashlosha, where they spend 20 weeks before being slaughtered and shipped out."

He said that the financial damage to the company that runs the coops, and other subsidiaries, would reach several million shekels. "Up until this moment we have not heard from the government about compensation. I don't believe we will hear about compensation and it could be that this revenue will simply be lost. But I have hope that the State of Israel will come to its citizens' help in this case," he told the Post.

He could not say for certain how the birds at Ein Hashlosha came to be infected. "It's called bird flu, you know. All it takes is one bird to fly in from Egypt [where bird flu was discovered over the past few weeks - A.M.] and infect the local fowl," he said.

Israel has had sporadic cases of avian flu in wild birds, but not of the specific H5N1 strain.

The H5N1 virus was detected in neighboring Egypt last month, and Boim said the death of the birds in southern Israel might indicate that the disease had entered the country from Egypt.

Health officials fear H5N1 could evolve into a virus that can be transmitted easily between people and become a global pandemic, but there has been no confirmation of this happening yet. At least 97 people have died from the disease worldwide, with most victims infected directly by sick birds.

The H5N1 strain has killed or forced the slaughter of tens of millions of chickens and ducks across Asia since 2003, and recently spread to Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

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Religion - The Tie That Binds

Evangelical broadcaster Pat Robertson calls radical Muslims 'satanic'

Associated Press
14 Mar 06

Evangelical broadcaster Pat Robertson said Monday on his live "700 Club" television program that Islam wants to take over the world and is not a religion of peace, and that radical Muslims are "satanic."

After watching a news segment about radical Islam in Europe, Robertson remarked that the outpouring of rage elicited by cartoon drawings of the Prophet Mohammed "just shows the kind of people we're dealing with. These people are crazed fanatics, and I want to say it now: I believe it's motivated by demonic power. It is satanic and it's time we recognize what we're dealing with."

Robertson also said that "the goal of Islam, ladies and gentlemen whether you like it or not, is world domination."
Robertson's Virginia-based Christian Broadcasting Network expunged the comments from the version of the program posted on its Web site out of concerns they could be misinterpreted if viewed out of context, said Angell Watts, a Robertson spokeswoman.

Americans United for Separation of Church and State, which monitors "The 700 Club" daily, released a written transcript of Robertson's remarks. CBN confirmed the remarks with its own transcript.

Robertson said in a statement later Monday that he was referring specifically to terrorists as being motivated by Satan when he made his comments in an editorial following a CBN News story on the widening Muslim protests in Europe over the cartoons. In the story, he noted, radical Muslims were shown screaming "May Allah bomb you! May Osama Bin Laden bomb you!"

"My statement in the commentary, 'These people are crazed fanatics,' refers specifically to the radicals and terrorists who want to bomb innocent people," Robertson said. "I believe that they are motivated by demonic power and are satanic."

Robertson has come under intense criticism in recent months for comments suggesting that American agents should assassinate Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's stroke was divine retribution for pulling Israel out of the Gaza Strip.

Robertson recently told ABC's "Good Morning America" that he makes his comments off the cuff after watching news segments. He later told the Christian magazine World that he's being more careful and reviewing news stories before going on the air.

On Monday, Robertson also said of Islam: "These people are saying it over there in Europe - world domination. 'We're going to take over Europe, we're going to take over England, we're going to take over Denmark, we're going to take over France.' That's their goal. And why don't we wake up to the fact of who we're dealing with? And by the way, Islam is not a religion of peace."

Asked why Robertson said Islam is not a peaceful religion, Watts said, "At its core, he does not believe it is (peaceful). He's talking about fundamentalists, not moderates."

The comments were similar to remarks he made on his program in 2002, when he said Islam "is not a peaceful religion that wants to coexist. They want to coexist until they can control, dominate and then, if need be, destroy."

The Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, called Robertson's new comments "grossly irresponsible."
"At a time when inter-religious tensions around the world are at an all-time high, Robertson seems determined to throw gasoline on the fire," Lynn said in a statement.

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Cultural Warmongers - Picking a fight with a faith 1.3 billion strong

By Patrick J. Buchanan
American Conservative
14 Mar 06

If you wish to get along with a man, you do not insult his faith. And if you seek to persuade devout Muslims that al-Qaeda is our enemy, not Islam, you do not condone with silence insults to the faith of a billion people.

Understanding this, President Bush ceased to call the war on terror a "crusade." Visiting a mosque, he removed his shoes. He has hosted White House gatherings for the breaking of the fast at the end of Ramadan. He sent Karen Hughes to the State Department to improve our dismal image in the Islamic world. He has declared more times than many of us care to recall, "Islam is a religion of peace."
President Bush knows we are in a struggle for the hearts and minds of Islamic peoples, and if we are to win this struggle we must separate the Muslim monsters from the masses. For as that great American military mind Col. John Boyd defined it, strategy is the appending to oneself of as many centers of power as possible and isolating your enemy from as many centers of power as possible.

This is what makes the Mohammed cartoons so stupid and self-destructive. They have given Islamic extremists visible proof to show pious Muslims that the West relishes mocking what they hold most sacred: the prophet. They have united Muslim moderates with militants in common rage against us. They have added to the hatred of the West in the Islamic world as friends like King Abdullah of Jordan, Presidents Mubarak of Egypt and Karzai of Afghanistan, and Prime Minister Erdogan of Turkey warned us they would.

One wonders. Did the cynical Europeans learn nothing from the Salman Rushdie episode? Did they learn nothing from the firestorm that erupted in the Islamic world when Christian ministers in the United States, post-9/11, called Mohammed a "terrorist"?

Why then did they do this? Why did the Danish paper Jyllands-Posten publish cartoons it knew to be so blasphemous to Muslims? Why did Le Monde, France Soir, Die Welt, El Pais, Il Stampa republish them-on their front pages? If a European newsman was oblivious to the probable effect among Muslims of plastering a cartoon of Mohammed with a bomb in his turban on page one, he is too stupid to be an editor. But if he did know the near-certain effect of such an in-your-face provocation, why would he do it? Is this the reflexive secularist hostility of the Europress to all religious faiths on display here or something else?

And so we come to the heart of the matter. Why? What was the motive here? What is the game that is afoot? The rationale of the imams who ensured that all Muslims knew of the cartoons and their contents and called for demonstrations and assaults on Western consulates and embassies is evident. They hate us, and they wish to drive us out of the Middle East. But what propelled our own ideologues to prod U.S. editors to republish the cartoons in "solidarity" with the Europeans? Who pushed George W. Bush and Condi Rice not to condemn the cartoons but to "stand up" for the freedom to publish and defy any "intimidation" by the Islamic world?

Answer: our cultural warmongers, who seek the same goal as their cultural warmongers-to ignite a war of civilizations. Both want the "long war" of which the Pentagon speaks, the "World War IV" against "Islamofascism" that is the dream of neoconservatives and the nightmare of their countrymen.

As has been evident for some time, bin Laden and the neocons both seek the same thing: a fight to the finish, no matter how long, no matter how many invasions it takes, no matter how many lives are lost. For if peace were reached between the Islamic world and the West, even a cold peace with Iran and Syria, what would they do then?

As the provocations of Ahmadinejad are music to the ears of neocons, for they rule out dialogue and diplomacy, the escalation of the cartoon wars into an all-out culture war between Islam and the West has made their day. But it has also wiped out much of the goodwill that George W. Bush has sought to rebuild in the region.

As one explores the arguments of the provocateurs in the West for what they are doing, on inspection all appear hollow. "We believe in the First Amendment!" comes the blustery reply of journalists when asked why they published the cartoons. The First Amendment protected the right of Trent Lott to toast Strom Thurmond. But that did not save Lott from the savagery of the neocons who demanded and got his ouster as Senate majority leader. Yet which is the more egregious offense? To pay a birthday tribute to a century-old man who was once a segregationist or to insult deliberately the most revered figure in the faith of a billion people?

Daily, U.S. editors decline to publish ethnic slurs and obscene remarks and cartoons that might offend a race or religion. This is not censorship. It is editorial judgment. The motto of the New York Times, which declined to publish the offending cartoons, is "All the News That's Fit to Print."

Conservatives contend that Islamic nations tolerate cartoons and TV shows far more viciously anti-Semitic than these cartoons were anti-Islamic. They are right. But Western newspapers never publish such cartoons, first, because they are outrageous, second, because publication would cost them advertisers, readers, and maybe their jobs. Insulting Muslims and Mohammed is a less risky and less expensive hobby than insulting Judaism or Jews. Indeed, if you insult Islam, you can make out credentials as a moral hero.

Though State initially condemned the cartoons-"Inciting religious or ethnic hatreds in this manner is unacceptable"-the neocons rapidly re-seized control of the message. In hours, State was in retreat: "While we share the offense that Muslims have taken at these images, we at the same time vigorously defend the right of individuals to express points of view." Of course we do. But do we believe freedom of the press was responsibly exercised when these idiot editors used it to incite a religious war?

And when it comes to press freedom, Europeans are world-class hypocrites. British historian David Irving has spent months in a prison in Vienna awaiting trial for two speeches he made 15 years ago. In Europe, skeptics and deniers of the Holocaust are fined and imprisoned with the enthusiastic endorsement of the press.

Unfortunately, Bush let slip an opportunity to show respect for the Islamic world and faith and, instead, let himself be intimidated into silently condoning an insult to both. Standing beside the King of Jordan, Bush denounced the violence the cartoons had ignited but declined to condemn the cartoons. Condi Rice denounced Iran and Syria for exploiting the rage over the cartoons but did not condemn the cause of that rage. If there is a double standard here, Bush is the guilty party. He rightly denounced Iran's president for mocking the Holocaust but would not denounce the European press for mocking the prophet.

If Bush and Rice cannot muster the moral courage to condemn the insulting content of the cartoons, as well as the violence being promoted by anti-Western agitators and demagogues, our wars for democracy in the Middle East are in vain. For we can never win the friendship of these people if they believe our words of respect for their religion cover up a sneering contempt.

Copyright © 2006 The American Conservative

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