- Signs of the Times for Thu, 13 Apr 2006 -

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Editorial: Meaningful Consequences Equals Dead Iranians

Kurt Nimmo

Now that John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago and Stephen Walt, academic dean of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, have been effectively marginalized and portrayed as raving anti-Semites by the corporate media for their lukewarm assessment of AIPAC and the Straussian neocons as Israel Firsters, the road ahead, leading to shock and awe against the people of Iran, is wide open.

"Leading the charge has been a familiar group of neoconservatives, such as former Defense Policy Board (DPB) chairman Richard Perle and former Central Intelligence Agency director James Woolsey, who championed the war in Iraq but who have increasingly focused their energies over the past year on building support for 'regime change' and, if necessary, military action against Iran if it does not abandon its nuclear program," writes Jim Lobe, journalist for Inter Press Service.

In fact, this "familiar group of neoconservatives," otherwise known as Straussian neocons, are not simply interested in regime change in Iran, or more to the point they are not interested in a change of government in Iran without first killing the mullahs and a whole lot of innocent Iranians. Even though Iran now claims to be part of the nuclear club, announcing they have achieved "full utilization of a nuclear cycle," a dubious claim at best, this does not translate into nuclear bombs fitted on missiles ready to deploy against Israel, a nation in possession of around 400 highly sophisticated nukes. The Israel Firsters and their friends in the corporate media would have us believe the mullahs and government of Iran have gone insane and suffering from suicidal dementia.

All of this illogical nonsense about Iran and its hallucinated nukes is little more than Straussian neocon and AIPAC Israel Firster propaganda designed to set the stage for a shock and awe campaign against the Iranian people, an event that will happen next month or next year, the exact timeline is more or less irrelevant. It should now be obvious disingenuousness is a primary Straussian neocon personality trait.

"The liberation of Iraq was the first great battle for the future of the Middle East.... But the next great battle—not, we hope a military one—will be for Iran," Lobe quotes the crackerjack Straussian, William Kristol, son of Irving Kristol, a radical Jacobin of Trotskyite pedigree and Mafia don of the Straussian neocons. Of course, the invasion of Iraq had nothing to do with "liberation," beyond the fact around 250,000 innocent people were "liberated" from their lives, and Kristol's disingenuousness shines when he declares his wish that "regime change" in Iran will not require military action, that is to say organized mass murder.

In fact, the Straussian neocons are chomping at the bit to slaughter Iranians, an obvious fact since the Bush Jacobins have squandered all opportunity to resolve issues with Iran peacefully (and the outstanding issue is a demand Iran allow the United States, that is to say the Israel First faction in the United States, to dictate who will rule the country, as a previous coup engineered by the CIA against a democratically elected Iranian leader ushered in the brutal dictatorial rule of the Shah, a stooge of the British and the United States).

As Lobe notes, "neoconservatives and other hawks led by Vice President Dick Cheney succeeded in cutting off ongoing U.S.-Iranian talks on Afghanistan and Iran and killing an offer by Tehran to engage in a broader negotiation on all outstanding differences," thus sending a message to Iran the United States and the Israel Firsters are not interested in negotiation and in fact will settle for nothing less than Iran going prostrate in submission, a real non-starter for the fiercely proud and nationalistic Iranians with a history going back more than 2,500 years to Cyrus the Great.

Slapped in the face by Dick the Destroyer, realizing their position at the top of the Straussian neocon "axis of evil" roster, and taking note of the fact another candidate for destruction, North Korea, has yet to be targeted because it is assumed they have nuclear weapons and a serious retaliation agenda, the Iranians have a vested interest in acquiring nukes, or at least giving the impression they are headed in that direction. In fact, the "hawks" (or, interchangeably, serial murderers) understand full well the Iranians will not nuke Israel, a preposterous claim that assumes the mullahocracy has gone insane and harbors suicidal tendencies. Such nonsense is for the consumption of easily fooled children, that is to say the vast majority of the American public.

"Mainstream analysts, including arms control hawks who favor strong pressure on Iran over its nuclear program, have spoken out against military action as far too risky and almost certainly counterproductive," Lobe continues. It appears these "mainstream analysts" have a problem understanding the rabid and murderous ideology of the Straussian neocons, well ensconced in the White House, the Pentagon, and "influential" think tanks, or criminal organizations, including AIPAC and the American Enterprise Institute.

Ahmadinejad "sees the West as wimps and thinks we will eventually cave in," Patrick Clawson, deputy director of research of AIPAC's Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP) told Seymour Hersh. "We have to be ready to deal with Iran if the crisis escalates," a "crisis" naturally fomented by AIPAC and its Straussian neocon co-conspirators. WINEP is especially dangerous and traitorous because, like the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, it cultivates "close ties among senior military officials in the United States and Israel," that is to say it has burrowed deep in the Pentagon and affects U.S. foreign policy like a virulent infection.

AIPAC, WINEP, and the maniacal Straussian neocons are steering the United States toward attacking Iran, possibly including the use of "mini-nukes," otherwise known as nuclear-payload bunker-busters. Richard Perle, the "Prince of Darkness," a prominent neocon criminal with pull, told the gathered coven of Israel Firsters at AIPAC's 2006 convention last month as much. "The convention, at which the keynoter, none other than the administration's ultimate hawk, Vice President Cheney, vowed 'meaningful consequences' if Iran did not freeze its nuclear program, drew several hundred Democratic and Republican lawmakers in what could only be described as a show of raw political power," writes Lobe.

In reality, the "keynoter" Cheney worships Ares, the Greek god of war, or maybe it is Mars, the Roman equivalent, and the war drums resounding will ultimately pay homage to Hades, the god of the dead.

The Straussian neocons and AIPAC "are the main force behind" the coming Iran attack, a "senior official with another major pro-Israel organization" told Lobe. "I don't think there's another group in the country that has two successive conferences in which the centerpiece was beating the drums for war in Iran."

In principal, the premier globalist front organizations agree with this insane path, or at least provide excuses and rationalizations. Iran does not "need nuclear power for electricity because they've got all this oil and gas," declares Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations and one of James Baker's top Israel advisors during the Bush Senior reign of terror. "So this is a serious moment. But, again, the world still has time for diplomacy to try to put a ceiling on what they're doing," that is to say protect themselves, an unacceptable option for nations on the globalist hit list.

In effect, there is no way to stop this rush to madness and the very real possibility of nuclear war and radiation enhanced Armageddon. Even if millions of Americans filled the streets tomorrow, angrily demanding an end to the warmongering agenda, the plan will go forward, as the Straussian neocons are firmly in power and in control of the war-making apparatus in the bowels of the Pentagon. If the military turned against the neocons, arrested the plotters in their Pentagon offices and surrounded the White House with Abrahams battle tanks, there would be a good chance to nip these disgusting developments in the bud. Short of that, unfortunately, we're screwed, at least in the short term.

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Editorial: Will I live long enough to finally hear the truth?

by Ian Q McTafferty

Hmmm. I wonder. I’m 42 now, male, not overly stressful job. Let’s figure I make it to 70. So that’s approximately 30 years. Guliani has apparently “sealed” his “papers” for 25 years. (Can he do that?) So it might be a close shave . . .

For the purposes of this essay, let us go on the assumption that there is MUCH more to the events of September 11th of 2001 then our current administration and the so-called “bipartisan” 911 commission has told us commoners.

Let us also assume that at least one of the deaths of either Missouri governor and Senate candidate Mel Carnahan and his son, et al (October 16, 2000 – private plane crash) or U.S. Senator Paul Wellstone and his family, et al (October 25, 2002 - private plane crash) were suspicious, having occurred 3 weeks prior and 11 days prior, respectively, to the elections in which they were candidates.

Let us further assume that the death – “suicide” - of Ray Lemme of the Florida Inspector General’s Office on July 1, 2003 – conveniently occurring in a motel just inside the next-door state of Georgia where autopsies are not mandated in such circumstances – is also suspicious. (Thanx Brad! - http://www.bradblog.com/archives/00001243.htm careful of the pics folks – truly not for the faint of stomach.)

With all that, if even a 10th of the elements of the “conspiracy theories” (mind you, I’m not debating them here, merely allowing for all possibilities, and thus the quotation marks) relating to the events listed above are true, there is a HUGE MONSTER WITH AN ACCOMPANYING STOMACH-EMPTYING ODOR being just barely held back, CRAMMED behind the closet door of this administration and its tendrils of influence and threat. It is definitely taking more than one secret keeper to hold that monster in there. Straining shoulders and backs are pressed against that closet door constantly.

See, it occurred to me while my 13 year old son and I were watching Tuesday, April 11th’s episode of CBS’ “THE UNIT” (I cringe when they say the part at the beginning about “answering only to the president”) that SO MANY PEOPLE MUST KNOW THE TRUTH for even just that 10th mentioned above to be true. There are only so many human beings living on this earth that will hold secrets to themselves indefinitely. It just isn’t human nature.

Bottom line: If any of the “alternative” explanations are true, somebody will talk, somewhere.

I’ll fire these out in no particular order . . .

Eight mile debris field behind the final resting place of Flight 93, including an engine almost entirely by itself and almost entirely without wing parts. If it was shot down by presumably a heat-seeking missile and didn’t crash as a result of passenger interference with the hijacking, or a bomb from inside (which doesn’t fit the debris pattern) then at least two pilots, one base radio controller and one high ranking military brass know it. Can they have all held that all inside this long? If they were forced to send innocent fellow Americans, whom they are normally in the business of protecting, to their ends could they have all kept it to just themselves? They have spouses. They have fathers and mothers and brothers and sisters.

South tower came down (brought down?) first though hit second. Tons of dust. Seemingly controlled collapse. You know all the details. Even if we stretch our imaginations and grant that our own military did the explosives rigging themselves, it is a very specialized endeavor, to bring down a skyscraper into itself. That isn’t one of things on the list of training options in any of the military branches I know of. Demolitions yes, but controlled demolition of skyscrapers, no. The science of bringing down a tall city building in the midst of a bustling city is entrusted to one of a short list of professionals – such as the group hired to clean up the aftermath. (Say and isn’t it interesting that the pieces of steel debris were just that right size for their equipment to handle and stack and remove like logs – just like they apparently advertise their explosives expertise to accomplish?) So either a military team trained for months (years?) to wire the place up (ludicrous – ever watch the Discovery channel? this stuff is passed down through generations, or learned over many years of training, just like the art of killing oil well fires) or one of those pros did it. Same for both towers. In either event, they have spouses. They have fathers and mothers and brothers and sisters.

757 hits the Pentagon? Oh wait, that hole wasn’t big enough – was it? Ohhhh, right, the wings folded back like on some transformer toy and the plane parts vaporized while the bodies of the passengers remained intact enough to identify. I forgot. Somebody saw what hit that building. More than one somebody. Somebody made that something - that most likely wasn’t a 757 - hit that building. More than one somebody. They have spouses. They have fathers and mothers and brothers and sisters.

Sensing a pattern? If that monster is in there, he won’t keep origamied away in that closet forever. I am not a journalist of any sort. But, to sheepishly quote that most famous of television conspiracy theory series, “The truth is out there.”

Now admittedly it would seem that our pauper king sitting on his paper throne is currently watching his house of tissue melt in the rains of truth. (Sorry, couldn’t help myself.) But he has pulled off stunning bits of slight-of-hand before and I don’t believe we can count on those “rains of truth” exposing the skinny little worm shivering in his BVDs and Burger King crown as a foregone conclusion. We, someone, needs to look diligently for those little cracks in the wall of subterfuge. When found, we need to then get a fire hose and blast it open at full pressure. It will only take a few to make it happen.

Some of the secret keepers have talked to someone. Maybe part of this should be to appeal to those someones that the secret keepers have talked to, to implore their respective secret keeper to STAND UP AND TELL THE TRUTH.

Please. There are too many questions unanswered, too many inconsistencies. Too many lives at stake and too many lives already lost. I could see getting caught up in the rational. We understand the motives, even if we do not agree with them. If you secret keepers stand up and tell the truth, many of us will stand up ourselves and applaud you for the display of courage, many with tears in their eyes at the relief of finally hearing that truth. We know that the pressures to keep quiet are great. We understand that lives of loved ones may have literally been threatened. But this country needs to hear the truth. Fear and loathing in the US is not what you signed on for. Help us turn this massive vessel back on course. Our children will find another way to fuel their world.

Look at them secret keepers. Look at your children. Look at your families and friends at that next get-together. Think about them. Some of you are surely bursting with pain and guilt and may even be watching your lives crumble about you, watching your marriage fail, and your children forced to take sides as assuredly you will look the parent to blame. All due to your insistence on keeping the secrets. It will harden you into an empty stone shell. Stand up and tell the truth.

Stand up and tell the truth.

Ian Q McTafferty is a Husband of 15+ years, father of one teenager, a thinker, a survivor, an armchair philosopher, a voracious reader, a student of all cultures, and a firm believer in TOLERANCE, TRUTH, JUSTICE & PEACE.

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Editorial: JFK and 9/11

by Jon Korein

Doug Thompson recently recounted a discussion he had many years ago with John Connally, the Texas governor who was shot during the Kennedy assassination.

Connolly was both gracious and charming and told us many stories about Texas politics. As the evening wore on and the multiple bourbon and branch waters took their effect, he started talking about November 22, 1963, in Dallas.

"You know I was one of the ones who advised Kennedy to stay away from Texas," Connally said. "Lyndon (Johnson) was being a real asshole about the whole thing and insisted."

Connally's mood darkened as he talked about Dallas. When the bullet hit him, he said he felt like he had been kicked in the ribs and couldn't breathe. He spoke kindly of Jackie Kennedy and said he admired both her bravery and composure.

I had to ask. Did he think Lee Harvey Oswald fired the gun that killed Kennedy?

"Absolutely not," Connally said. "I do not, for one second, believe the conclusions of the Warren Commission."

So why not speak out?

"Because I love this country and we needed closure at the time. I will never speak out publicly about what I believe."
I'd gone back and forth on the JFK thing, it seemed possible to make arguments both ways. But once I started researching 9/11, and understood more about how this kind of thing is done, it became quite obvious that JFK, as well as RFK, were not shot by "lone gunmen".

When I'd looked at this before, it didn't seem that relevant. At worst, a historical injustice.

My point of view has changed.

In many, many ways, the JFK assassination set the stage. It proved to those who did it that you could do something that dramatic, that heinous to the average citizen, and get away with it. It proved that you could fabricate a cover story and that the press would cooperate . It proved that you could quash dissent and investigation. And it proved that you could do it in America.

There seems to be a strong feeling on the left that, somehow, 9/11 is irrelevant. That to focus on it distracts from "real" issues such as Iraq and domestic spying. Again, almost to minimize the importance of 9/11, treat it as bygone history, and concentrate only on the misuse of the event by the administration.

There are a number of problems with this approach. It leaves in place the people that did it, and the mechanisms used for covering it up. It leaves in place the use of the "war on terror" as justification for the current administration's abuses, and allows the 9/11 rallying cry to continued to be used, and often accepted, to justify these abuses. And it leaves open the very distinct possibility that this kind of attack will be used again to justify further abuses.

There's a misconception that there is no proof for 9/11 being an inside job. There's plenty of proof. Obstruction of investigation before and after the fact, the NORAD failure, buildings collapsing in ways that could only be explained by planted explosives, planes being flown in ways the alleged hijackers could not have flown them, some of those very hijackers still being alive. There isn't just one smoking gun here - there are dozens of them (this is a good place to start research). What the left seems to want is some sort of "official" acknowledgement, one that will never come - just as Connally would never acknowledge publicly what he knew.

There is a strong tendency to deny and try to explain away the evidence. Part of the difficulty in accepting the reality behind 9/11 is confronting the significance not just of the nature of the event but what it and the surrounding cover-up implies. The harder part is not necessarily believing that some people in our own country would do such a thing, but that the entire government and media would assist in the deception that followed. An essay in 911truth.org says it best:
Understanding the full truth of 9/11 seems to require two separate awakenings.

The first, awakening to the fraudulence of the "official 9/11 story," is a pretty simple brain function and only requires a little study, logic or curiosity. ...

The second step, however, consciously confronting the implications of that knowledge -- and what it says about our media, politics and economic system today -- is by far the harder awakening ...
I found that reflected exactly what I had to go through. After seeing the overwhelming evidence on 9/11, it was Kristina Borjesson's essay on her experience investigating TWA800 in her book "Into the Buzzsaw" that was the final straw. It showed that the prototypical "conspiracy theorist" mechanisms of false investigations by the FBI and suppression of investigation by the media were, in fact, in place well before 9/11; that even under the Clinton administration, one that was far less repressive than the current one, such things occurred.

This is one of the reasons it is important to confront 9/11 directly. In a sense it is like a flare that was sent up to illuminate and expose those willing to do such an act and those willing to go along with it. Not acknowledging it means living under the illusion that the media honestly reports the news, something that I've learned is patently false. And this dishonesty is pervasive: most people understand that Fox distorts the news; far fewer realize that the New York Times does as well.

One of the keys to changing the current system is to discuss events such as 9/11 as openly as possible. To not be afraid of the "conspiracy theorist" label, which is exactly one of the fears those doing this use to try to socially isolate and ridicule people who understand their actions and try to publicize them.

What they do works because they create a world view, a "reality", so that people who question it, especially about something so important, seem crazy. As a Bush aide once said, "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality". Nowhere was this more successfully done than with 9/11. Given the patriotic fervor the cover story for the event generated, it was relatively simple to suppress any expressions of doubt in its veracity.

But this changes as more and more people begin to connect the dots and see how the administration uses 9/11. Most of those trying to publicize problems with the official version now, such as David Ray Griffin and Steven Jones (1,2), only looked into it when they noted the abuse of the event by the government; many more are doing that every day, and the notion is not nearly as outlandish to most now as it might have seemed a few years ago.

There is a fairly direct lineage from the perpetrators of the sixties assassinations, through the Watergate and Iran-Contra scandals, to 9/11; the group of people who seem to enjoy and are able to implement covert actions in the name of maintaining power and modifying policy is alive and well and stronger than ever. They're currently attempting to consolidate their control through vote fraud, an effort that started showing results in the 2000 elections. There's no reason to think they won't continue to use these techniques if they continue to go unrecognized and unpunished.

There have been a number of false terrorist attacks abroad since 9/11, and domestic ones still appear to be on the table as an option. A GOP memo conjectured how another "terrorist" attack might help Bush's ratings, and Cheney discussed the possibility of a 9/11-like event precipitating an attack on Iran. As more people catch on, it makes the selling of the false reality of an attack difficult, and the attack less likely to take place. So, for example, when Ron Paul says "Fear of imaginary nuclear weapons or an incident involving Iran - whether planned or accidental - will rally the support needed for us to move on Muslim country #3" he may actually be lessening the possibility of such a "planned incident".

A lot is at stake here. Jim Garrison once said that "fascism will come to America in the name of national security." Incredibly prescient; that's exactly what's happening now. It's no coincidence that this administration has borrowed on the "big lie" technique perfected by the nazis. In fighting it, it's best to face reality, and not believe one of their biggest lies.
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How to Make Iraq Look Like a Picnic

Nuking Iran

Jorge Hirsch
interviewed by Foaad Khosmood
10 April 06

Foaad Khosmood: In the April 17 issue of New Yorker Magazine Seymour Hersh has an eye-opening piece that quotes Administration insiders who suggest nuclear war with Iran is a serious option. You had written back in October of 2005 that "The strategic decision by the United States to nuke Iran was probably made long ago." What led you to that conclusion at that time? What do you think of the Hersh piece?
Jorge Hirsch: Of course the Hersh piece is extremely useful in bringing this issue to the forefront of public attention. However already several months ago an analysis of the facts led me to the conviction that a deliberate decision had been made to use nuclear weapons against Iran. First, the US pursuit over several years to get an IAEA resolution against Iran, no matter how weak, which it finally achieved in September 2005. It didn't make any sense as a diplomatic move if the goal was to exert pressure on Iran, in view of the clear dissent by Russia and China. It had two purposes: one was to bring the issue eventually to the UN Security Council, even knowing that Russia and China would veto any action against Iran, so that, just as in the case of Iraq, the US could argue that other countries share its concern but not the resolve to act. But more importantly, the US issued a commitment to the UN in 1995 that it wouldn't use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear countries signatories of the NPT, which however explicitly excluded countries that are in "non-compliance" with the NPT. So by securing the IAEA resolution of September 2005 of Iran's "non-compliance" the US achieved that it can now use nuclear weapons against Iran "legally", i.e. without violating its 1995 commitment. This explains why it was pushing for it so adamantly.

Furthermore the US has radically changed its nuclear weapons policies since 2001 to erase the sharp line that traditionally existed between nuclear and non-nuclear weapons. It now "integrates" both types of weapons in its military strategy, and envisions the use of nuclear weapons against underground facilities, preemptively against countries "intending" to use WMD's against US forces, and "for rapid and favorable war termination on US terms". Several scenarios like that, that apply specifically to the Iran scenario, were made public in 2005 in the Pentagon draft document "Doctrine for Joint Nuclear Operations", to prepare the country for what was being planned.

Furthermore, the administration has been pushing Congress every year to fund new nuclear weapons, "more usable" nuclear weapons, and bunker busting nuclear weapons, to prepare the public mind for the attack. Many are under the mistaken impression that Congress has resisted these efforts, however they forget or don't know that the B61-11, a bunker-buster that can be used against Iranian underground facilities, is in the US arsenal since 2001. Its yield (power) is classified but is likely to include very low yield, to cause "reduced collateral damage" and thus be more "acceptable".

Furthermore, as I pointed out several months ago and is also mentioned by Hersh, the administration is stacked with nuclear weapons experts that are hawks and participated in the formulation of the new nuclear weapons policies: National Security advisor (Hadley), deputy national security advisor (Crouch II), undersecretary of defense for intelligence (Cambone), chairman of the Pentagon's Defense Science Board (Schneider), undersecretary of state for arms control and international security (Joseph) and ambassador to the UN (Bolton). Bolton was appointed in the face of very strong bipartisan opposition. None of these positions require specific nuclear weapons expertise, however these "nuclear warriors" are in high positions for a reason: to advise President Bush to use nuclear weapons. And let's not forget Cheney, who was the architect of new nuclear weapons policies back in 1992 to target non-nuclear-weapon countries, and Rumsfeld who advocates a smaller high tech military where nuclear weapons play an essential role.

It also became clear to me that there is a long-term advantage in the view of advocates of America's "preeminent role in the world" (PNAC) to use nuclear weapons against Iran: to establish the credibility of the US nuclear "deterrent" against non-nuclear countries that pursue courses of action contrary to US interests. The Iran situation lends itself to a scenario where the US use of nuclear weapons will appear to be "inevitable", under the conditions that have been created by the US carefully and methodically over the course of several years for that purpose. Finally, I believe President Bush has embraced the breaking of the 60-year old taboo against the use of nuclear weapons as his personal goal, to be his lasting "legacy" that will overshadow other "accomplishments" of his administration.

FKh: Is a war with Iran now inevitable? Is a nuclear war inevitable?

JH: If there is an aerial bombing of Iran, I believe it is inevitable it will go nuclear. The intention is there, the advisors are there, the nuclear policies and the weapons are there. The excuses to make it "acceptable" to the American public are there. The President has sole authority to order the use of nuclear weapons, Congress has no say. The chain of command doesn't go through the Joint Chiefs of Staff that may oppose it as Hersh mentions: it goes directly from Bush and Rumsfeld to commanders of the Unified Combatant Commands such as Gen. Abizaid and Gen. Cartwright. Unless those individuals disobey orders, there is no way to stop it.

I believe there is a high probability of war with Iran because key people in the administration desperately want it, but I don't believe it is inevitable. I hope there will be a sufficiently large public outburst of opposition, eg thanks to Hersh's and other's revelations, to make it impossible. The dire situation in Iraq of course is making it more difficult, and I hope there will be strong voices in the administration and influential republicans that will recognize the likely disastrous consequences and oppose it. Or perhaps influential old-timers like Bush Sr. and Scowcroft will be able to dissuade President Bush.

However I believe there is very little time: an attack may well happen within the next 2 weeks, while Congress is in recess. There is no advantage to those that want it to happen in waiting.

FKh: What is the rationale for America using nukes on Iran, given that even the CIA believes Iran is at least "10 years" from any nuclear weapon production?

JH: The use of nuclear weapons against Iran will be justified by "military necessity". In theory, Iran could equip missile warheads with chemical or biological weapons and aim them at Israeli cities or US bases in the area. The declared US policy of "preemption" would "justify" using highly accurate earth penetrating nuclear weapons to destroy missile silos or suspected underground facilities housing WMD's. The argument will be made that a few hundred or thousand Iranian "collateral damage" casualties of low yield earth penetrating nuclear weapons is preferable to potential tens of thousands of US or Israeli casualties from Iranian missiles equipped with WMD warheads.

The US accuses Iran of having clandestine chemical and biological weapons facilities, even though it doesn't present proof of such assertions, and despite the fact that Iran is signatory of the Chemical Weapons Convention and Biological Weapons Convention treaties. Furthermore the US has worked very hard over the past 15 years to create the perception that nuclear, biological and chemical weapons are all similar "WMD"'s, to prepare the ground for the US use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon countries. However the scientific fact is, nuclear weapons are million-fold more destructive than all other weapons and in contrast to chemical and biological weapons there is no protection against nuclear weapons.

FKh: What would be the likely impact on the EU3/IAEA/UN negotiation process for Iran? Some of theorized that the Bush Administration is hoping Iran would withdraw from the NPT, like North Korea did, creating an excuse for intervention. What is your view on this?

JH: Just like in the run-up to the Iraq war, I believe there was the hope that Iran would withdraw from the NPT to create conditions to "justify" an aerial attack. Iran would have been justified in withdrawing, since its right as an NPT signatory are clearly being violated. Wisely it has chosen not to do so. North Korea is in the fortunate situation of having a deterrent to US attack, a few nuclear weapons with which it could retaliate if attacked. Iran does not have that recourse.

FKh: Could the threat of using American nuclear weapons be overplayed in order to serve as a "limit" to any Iranian response to a conventional attack/strike? I distinctly recall in the first months of 2003, the Administration leaked that US is prepared to use nuclear weapons in "retaliation" if Saddam decided to use chemical weapons against advancing US troops.

JH: I don't believe the threat of American nuclear weapons use is being overplayed. Iran will respond to a conventional attack with conventional weapons (eg missiles) and will not be deterred by a US nuclear threat from doing so. The US will use nuclear weapons against Iran because certain sectors of the American establishment, that are in power now, believe it is in the long term strategic interest of the US to do so.

FKh: Is Iran's recent show of force in the Persian Gulf through military exercises involving high-speed torpedoes significant to the US establishment?

JH: I don't believe it is. The US can use overwhelming force against Iran, including nuclear weapons, and Iranian military power is relatively insignificant. The US can destroy a large number of Iranian facilities with relatively little risk to US forces. As Gen. Abizaid recently remarked, "If you ever even contemplate our nuclear capability, it should give everybody the clear understanding that there is no power that can match the United States militarily." However no US military power will be able to contain the chaos and asymmetrical warfare that will engulf the region after the US attacks Iran.

FKh: Is there any likelihood of UN Security Council approving any kind of force against Iran? What about Sanctions?

JH: I don't think there is any likelihood the UN Security Council will approve any kind of force nor sanctions against Iran. Iran is well within its rights within the NPT to enrich uranium on an industrial scale. The US does not want Iran to do it even on a research scale, it doesn't want Iran to have even the "knowledge" or "capability" to do so. President Bush openly acknowledged Iran's right (in the March 16 NSS, and also earlier) when he said that this is a "loophole" of the NPT. Well, one party to a treaty cannot simply declare part of a mutually agreed treaty a "loophole", and expect other parties to automatically submit to unilateral modifications of the treaty.

Russia and China recognize that it is Iran's right to enrich uranium, so they will not agree to force or sanctions against Iran, and since both have veto power at the UN Security Council, neither of those courses of action will be approved by the Security Council.

FKh: Can Russia and China be persuaded to back the Bush regime the way IAEA member India was just weeks ago when it voted to report Iran to the UN? It is often mentioned that these countries have economic interests in Iran, but doesn't that mean they could be "bribed" with bigger incentives from the US?

JH: Neither Russia nor China can be persuaded to back the US in this instance. There are no "bigger incentives" that the US could offer to Russia and China, they are backing a legitimate right of Iran, and it is not to their strategic advantage to allow for further expansion of US power in that region. India could indeed be bought off by US incentives like the nuclear deal, because its shortsighted leaders don't recognize that they are committing national suicide by entering into this nuclear deal with the US.

Does the US Congress pose any barrier to this administration? Some say in an election year, where Republicans could lose control of Congress, risky actions like war -or even riskier "nuclear" war- will not be approved. What do you think?

JH: Congress is unfortunately not posing barriers to the administration in the Iran situation, on the contrary some democrats sound even more hawkish than the administration. This is likely to be in large part due to the very effective work of AIPAC, and the persistent US propaganda over the years that Iran is the "prime sponsor" of terrorism, developing weapons of mass destruction and even having ties with Al Qaeda. Those statements have as little proof as the propaganda against Iraq had, yet Congress has accepted them as facts.

I don't believe the prospect of losing control of Congress plays a role in the thinking of the people in the administration that are intent in nuking Iran. They regard this action as being in the long term strategic interest of the United States, they have worked towards this goal for many years, so that short term setbacks like losing control of Congress are not likely to be a deterrent. The invasion of Iraq doesn't make sense in isolation, since it would leave Iran in a much stronger position in the region. The intent was always to attack Iran after invading Iraq, to suppress Iran's rise as a strong regional power that does not conform to US interests.

FKh: Some in Iran's substantial exile community think it best to pressure Iran's government to back off the confrontation. It seems Iranian leadership is backed into a political corner but If Iran suddenly decided to "give in" and stop nuclear production, will that pacify the Bush Administration?

It will not, the nuclear issue is just an excuse. The US has built its case against Iran over many years, see for example the 1998 Rumsfeld report: " Iran is placing extraordinary emphasis on its ballistic missile and WMD development programs.", "Iran has acquired and is seeking major, advanced missile components that can be combined to produce ballistic missiles with sufficient range to strike the United States."; " Iran is developing weapons of mass destruction. It has a nuclear energy and weapons program, which aims to design, develop, and as soon as possible produce nuclear weapons." Those are just assertions, with no backing from reality. In 1993 the CIA estimated that Iran was 8-10 years away from acquiring nuclear weapons, the NIE estimate 12 years later is that it is still 10 years away.

If Iran declared it will stop nuclear production, the US would make other demands: that it opens up all its military facilities to inspections, destroys all its missiles, whatever it takes to get Iran to say "no", and then use that as a reason to attack.

The best assurance that Iran will not develop nuclear weapons is to allow it to have a full civilian nuclear program under IAEA supervision, as allowed by the NPT, including uranium enrichment to 3%, well below weapons-grade uranium at 90%, as many other non-nuclear-weapon countries do. Bombing Iran will drive its nuclear program underground and ensure it will do the utmost to acquire nuclear weapons as soon as possible.

Will the American people really stand for another "Iraq" only 3 years after the previous one?

JH: Unfortunately the American people will not be asked, and neither will Congress. In signing into law the congressional authorization to use force against Iraq in October 2002, the President explicitly stated that even though he appreciated receiving that support he didn't need it, since he has the authority to initiate military action under the War Powers Resolution, and he can also invoke the 2001 Senate Joint Resolution 23 alleging that Iran supports terrorism against the US. First the bombing will start, then the President will address Congress and the public to "explain" the action and ask for support.

FKh: Just last week you wrote in AntiWar.com: "People in the know have to come forward with information that brings the impending attack to the forefront of attention of Congress and the American public and thwarts it." Is the Hersh article what you had in mind?

JH: Yes, the Hersh article is an example of what I had in mind, but it is not enough. People in the know have to come out and reveal detailed plans, for example whether tactical nuclear weapons are already deployed in the Persian Gulf region. This is very likely to be so, and American people have a right to know. Of course revealing classified information is punishable under US law. However it should be remember that the Nuremberg principles (crafted by the US and its allies) established that international law supersedes internal law. The use of nuclear weapons against Iran, and any preparations to that effect, would be illegal and immoral under international law (eg 1996 International Court of Justice opinion, that the US is bound to). General Pace repeatedly warned Iraqis during the 2003 invasion that any use by them of WMD would be "illegal and immoral", and he very recently advised the US military that "It is the absolute responsibility of everybody in uniform to disobey an order that is either illegal or immoral".

I am convinced the American people will stand behind and support anybody that has the courage to "break the law" and reveal that the US is about to break the 60-year-old taboo on the use of nuclear weapons, since such an action by the US will cause long term grave damage to America. And I am convinced that if the administration goes through with this plan, those responsible will eventually be brought to justice.

You have mentioned a threat of Iranian chemical and biological weapons as a justification for invasion. You've even theorized that such an argument may be framed in the context of the Avian Flu pandemic threat to Europe and America. Is the administration really that desperate for a context? And does this not betray that there is no real danger from Iran?

By now there is an international consensus that there is no "imminent threat" from Iranian nuclear weapons. Even those that argue that Iran is intent in developing nuclear weapons acknowledge that Iran would need several years to do so. The Israeli "point of no return argument" has been at times adopted by administration officials (eg Robert Joseph) but is not very convincing. To justify a US attack, that is likely to escalate into large scale military action, an "imminent threat" is needed. The US accuses Iran of having chemical and biological weapons and programs as well as of sponsoring terrorism, and it is natural to expect that some combination of those allegations will be used. E.g. that Iran is about to launch missiles with chemical or biological warheads against US troops in Iraq, or is about to give terrorist groups chemical or biological weapons to be used against America. It is important to note that Executive Order 13292 of 2003 made information on "weapons of mass destruction" and on "defense against international terrorism" classified. The reason for that is so that such allegations would not be subject to public scrutiny prior to the attack.

There are however several reasons that point to the Avian flu pandemic threat as a convenient excuse: 1) It has a natural time element that cannot be postponed, the yearly bird migration season; 2) The bird flu "danger" has been played up by administration officials far beyond what is scientifically justified; 3) Administration officials emphasize the danger of bird flu transmission over long distances by wild birds, even though this is scientifically in doubt; 4) Iran has an advanced biotechnology and biomedical effort, and the US accuses Iran of having a bioweapons program embedded in it. It is natural that Iran would be studying the H5N1 avian flu virus, even the US is deliberately trying to develop dangerous mutations of the virus to learn how to combat them. 5) There are scientists in the US administration and in the US military that have warned about the danger of influenza as a bioweapon.

Of course what I discuss above answers the last part of your question: there is no real danger from Iran, it is all fabricated.

What will be the likely Iranian response to a conventional air strike? What about a nuclear strike?

JH: Iran is likely to respond to any US attack using its considerable missile arsenal against US forces in Iraq and elsewhere in the Persian Gulf. Israel may attempt to stay out of the conflict, it is not clear whether Iran would target Israel in a retaliatory strike but it is certainly possible. If the US attack includes nuclear weapons use against Iranian facilities, as I believe is very likely, rather than deterring Iran it will cause a much more violent response. Iranian military forces and militias are likely to storm into southern Iraq and the US may be forced to use nuclear weapons against them, causing large scale casualties and inflaming the Muslim world. There could be popular uprisings in other countries in the region like Pakistan, and of course a Shiite uprising in Iraq against American occupiers.

Finally I would like to discuss the grave consequences to America and the world if the US uses nuclear weapons against Iran. First, the likelihood of terrorist attacks against Americans both on American soil and abroad will be enormously enhanced after these events. And terrorist's attempts to get hold of "loose nukes" and use them against Americans will be enormously incentivized after the US used nuclear weapons against Iran.

Second, it will destroy America's position as the leader of the free world. The rest of the world rightly recognizes that nuclear weapons are qualitatively different from all other weapons, and that there is no sharp distinction between small and large nuclear weapons, or between nuclear weapons targeting facilities versus those targeting armies or civilians. It will not condone the breaking of the nuclear taboo in an unprovoked war of aggression against a non-nuclear country, and the US will become a pariah state.

Third, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty will cease to exist, and many of its 182 non-nuclear-weapon-country signatories will strive to acquire nuclear weapons as a deterrent to an attack by a nuclear nation. With no longer a taboo against the use of nuclear weapons, any regional conflict may go nuclear and expand into global nuclear war. Nuclear weapons are million-fold more powerful than any other weapon, and the existing nuclear arsenals can obliterate humanity many times over. In the past, global conflicts terminated when one side prevailed. In the next global conflict we will all be gone before anybody has prevailed.

Jorge Hirsch is a professor of Physics at the University of California at San Diego. He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and an organizer of a recent petition, circulated among leading physicists, opposing the new nuclear weapons policies adopted by the US in the past 5 years. He is a frequent commentator on Iran and nuclear weapons.

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Nuclear Chicken and the "Madman" Theory

by Rahul Mahajan
Empire Notes
April 10, 2006

A few months ago, I predicted that there would be no U.S. military strikes on Iran. While the Bush administration would desperately love to, given the balance of forces it is almost certain to be a strategic disaster. This kind of argument is dangerous when dealing with an administration that is severely insulated from reality, but I made it.

Was I wrong? On April 2, the Daily Telegraph, favored mouthpiece for the British military, ran a story about British meetings and evaluations of U.S. plans to attack Iran; anonymous officials said that a strike on Iran was "inevitable" if it did not comply with demands to freeze uranium enrichment.
And then, in the April 17 issue of the New Yorker, Seymour Hersh, tapping his anonymous dissident sources inside the military-intelligence complex, writes that the Bush administration has .

One of Hersh's sources says that Bush compares Ahmadinejad to Hitler - not exactly a stunningly new development - and believes he is the only politician with the political courage to sacrifice his own popularity (such as it is) in order to save the world from the supposed scourge of Iran with a nuclear weapon.

Hersh says military analyst Sam Gardiner estimates that the United States would need to hit about 400 targets in order to disrupt Iran's putative nuclear weapons program. Some of those sites are so well-buried that it's possible they can only be destroyed with tactical nuclear weapons.

All in all, it sounds pretty scary. Hersh has shown time and again his ability to get stories that nobody else does.

And yet, that's not how I see it. In fact, I feel a profound sense of déjà vu. We had exactly the same scare last year in early spring/late winter, complete with a Seymour Hersh article and predictions of imminent war by people like Scott Ritter. In fact, we also saw last year, as this year, both the U.S. government and the Iranian government dismissing the claims in Hersh's article.

The war didn't happen last year. And all that has changed since then is that Bush has recklessly spent down his political capital, at home and abroad. There is more cooperation with Europe, but Europe doesn't want military action.

Some would say that this is also an exact repeat of the leadup to the Iraq war, complete with statements that Iran has a chance to resolve this diplomatically, or the U.S. will go to war. The difference, of course, is that the Iraq war was undertaken in an era of expansive military triumphalism, when nearly all informed opinion thought the Vietnam syndrome had been kicked forever; a mere three years later, we live in an era of stark pessimism about the ability of the United States to transform the world by violence.

So I think what we are seeing is what military analyst Fred Kaplan calls a game of "nuclear chicken." The United States and Iran are locking themselves into a collision course, each saying that it will not back down under any circumstances. The threat of military strikes against Iran shows not the likelihood of military action but the desperation of the United States, which seems to have exhausted all its cards and can only hope to scare the Iranians into negotiating.

The talk about using so-called "nuclear bunker-busters" goes a step further than that, resurrecting Nixon's old "madman" theory - the quaint idea that if he appeared crazy and violent enough, he could scare the Vietnamese into capitulating. Well, Nixon understood neither the Vietnamese nor the war he was fighting, and his madman theory went into the dustbin of history, only to be occasionally pulled out and dusted off by nuclear hawks (in the Clinton administration as well as this one).

Although, as I outlined before, the United States cannot gain strategically from going to war, if it so happens that it does, make note of this: The war will be justified on the basis of claims that the Iranian rulers are crazy and cannot be trusted to act rationally in their own interests (by refraining from attacking the United States or its allies). At the same time, the war will actually be predicated on a belief that the Iranian government is very sane. Given how amazingly well-placed Iran is to destabilize Iraq even further and to retaliate against soft targets around the world, the United States will be depending on deterring them from retaliation with further threats.

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Kinky Karl Rove says Iran leader not rational

By Erwin Seba
12 April 06

HOUSTON - Reaching a diplomatic solution over Iran's nuclear ambitions will be difficult because Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is "not a rational human being," a senior White House adviser said on Wednesday.

The United States is pressing for the U.N. Security Council to take further action against Iran for pursuing its nuclear program, which the Bush administration says is a cover for producing weapons while Tehran says is for peaceful energy generation.
"We are engaged in a diplomatic process with our European partners and the United Nations to keep them from developing such a weapon," Karl Rove, deputy White House chief of staff, told an audience of business people at the Houston Forum.

"It's going to be difficult. It's going to be tough because they are led by ideologues who have a weird sense of history," he said.

Rove said his characterization of Ahmadinejad was based on statements the Iranian president made after speaking to the United Nations.

"Ahmadinejad spoke to the United Nations and afterwards was quoted as saying that for the 23 minutes that he spoke, there was a halo around his head that transfixed the audience and caused them to be completely focused on his message," he said.

Rove noted, however, that world leaders speaking before the U.N. General Assembly are often watched attentively in silence by the delegates. Rove said that President George W. Bush, for instance, says that speaking to the General Assembly is like appearing before a "waxworks."

"This guy (Ahmadinejad) had the sense that he was mystically empowered and as a result transfixed the audience -- that is not a rational human being to deal with," he said.

International pressure increased on Iran to halt its nuclear program this week after Tehran declared it had produced enriched uranium.

"We're going to have to use every diplomatic tool with the United Nations, the International Atomic Energy Agency and our partners in Europe to bring pressure to bear to stop this," Rove said.

Ahmadinejad drew international condemnation for saying the Holocaust was a myth. He also said Israel should be wiped from the map.

In Washington, White House spokesman Scott McClellan, asked about Rove's description of Ahmadinejad, said Bush has spoken out about the Iranian leader's "outrageous and offensive statements." Bush called the Iranian president an "odd guy" in an interview with PBS television in December.

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Israel sez: Nuclear Iran is threat to whole world

12 April 06

Jerusalem - Iran's announcement that it has successfully enriched uranium should worry not just israel but the entire world, the Israeli military's chief of staff said today.

"This announcement is worrying for everyone as we have seen with the international reaction," General Dan Halutz told army radio.

A nuclear-powered Iran "represents a threat to the whole world and not only Israel," added Halutz.
The Jewish state has come to view the regime in Tehran as its number one enemy, alarmed in particular by a call last year from hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for Israel to be wiped off the map.

Ahmadinejad called in a speech yesterday for a no-holds-barred acceleration of enrichment work -- a process that can be extended to make the fissile core of an atom bomb.

His comments came after Iran's Atomic Energy Chief Gholam Reza Aghazadeh had told the same conference that nuclear scientists had managed to enrich the uranium to 3.5 per cent, or the purity required for civilian reactor fuel.

Halutz said that Iran was still some way off from being in a position to develop nuclear weapons.

"The Iranians are not there yet. Time is an essential element in the diplomatic process, and I believe that things will change during this process," said Halutz, who is of Iranian origin.

The head of Israeli military intelligence also said that the international community should be sceptical about how far down the road Iran was in developing its nuclear programme.

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Israel Making a New Demand for War, on Iran This Time

By Jim Kirwan
April 12, 2006

What really hangs in the balance between the new paradigms of all out rape, pillage and plunder-versus a world with a future? "Change is the order of the day" say those in the Israeli Lobby. But the only thing anyone either there or in Washington wants to do is "move-on." Nothing apparently deserves an explanation; even death is no longer respected - no matter how many are maimed or killed. Whose War on the World is this? Why are Americans and so many others, except Israel, expected to fight in the Middle East when the only so-called state that appears to have actually wanted this current disaster is Israel? Where are the super-tough troops with the IDF patch on their shoulders - and when will Israel explain to the rest of the planet just exactly why the Israelis should remain 'out of bounds' on this ever-deepening disaster?
The NWO is not monolithic, nor is it of a single mind - it's a confluence of interests that is composed of several networks; a series of spider-webs where no single race or faith is dominant. At its core what unites these interests in their black heart of darkness-is POWER & MONEY and together these are wrapped in the amoral and duplicitous use of the flags of many nations. For his part Bush keeps playing with a confluence of interests: Christian fundamentalism, Apocalypse psychology, Zionism, Imperialism, Corporatism, Cronyism, and American Exceptionalism. But through the smoke and mirrors mostly what survives is for the home audience, those immoveable and largely apathetic Americans that have always been the target of these draconian policies.

The world is embarking on the beginnings of World War III, and many have wondered where is the vaunted Israeli army? Sharon is dead, but the insanity of his plans for Palestine apparently lives on. There are plenty of Israeli troops in that area, currently tormenting an imprisoned civilian population that they savage with regularity; but where are their multi-national interests in the larger issue that the War on Muslims will bring?

The War on Iraq was supposed to create a new "Peace Process" for the entire region. After the elections in Iraq, Bush demanded that the Palestinians hold an election of their own, and when the Palestinians voted overwhelming against the invading and now occupying Israeli army - the Palestine people were suddenly DENIED the means to survive by the cowardly policies of the EU, the US and probably the UN as well. So where's the GREAT benefit to freedom and democracy in the region now, for Israel or for anyone else?

This is again that double-standard in action and hundreds of thousands, if not millions will be directly affected, yet there is no "higher power" to reverse this: so the answer will come from the depths of the Whirlwind that has indeed been sown!

This is about Israel and the New World Order. Yet again and again the world sees not only a double standard whenever and wherever Israel is involved, but apparently Israel is making new demands-this time on Iran. Cheney, Bush & Rummy between them probably have about as much military experience as a one-year draftee has after six weeks of basic - yet these clowns are running the most costly war this nation has ever fought - and it isn't even being fought for us. Americans are fighting and dying and being maimed for the profits of the multi-national corporations; for the international Dark Powers that owe allegiance to no flag; for the American Jewish Lobby and for the State of Israel. Remove the Americans; let the Israeli's replace us if they feel they need to be protected: They have the arsenal for the job, the commute is minimal, and since they have 'the finest fighting forces on the planet' (they say) - let's get moving and let Israel live or die in its part of this sordid affair! If Israel wants to take out Iran, let Israel launch its own war (without American "defensive" weapons) and suffer the consequences like every other nation must. (something that America seems to be avoiding, since we 'bailed' on belonging to the World Court).

Israel has a long history of pre-emptive attacks and other unprovoked aggressions. Iran meanwhile, while far from perfect - is trying to live in what is fast becoming a nuclear world. Iran also sits astride the Gulf of Arabia and the international shipping lanes for oil from the Gulf. Its short range missiles can reach Israel, Kuwait, our military headquarters in the Gulf, as well as Iraq. Those who have looked at nuclear development have concluded that Iran is still years away from nuclear weapons development so - What's the rush? Bush is on record as having violated the Geneva conventions, broken international laws against murder, torture, and the US supports the killing of unarmed civilians plus there are dozens Crimes Against Humanity. Where was the authorization for any of that? Most of this came in fights that Israel should have undertaken in the first place. Now Bush has granted himself permission to attack Iran - but this is no more a US war than Iraq was. Dealings with Iran for Israel; should be an Israeli internal affair. Involving the world and the US in creating this idea of the Greater State of Israel is not in the best interests of the US or the world, despite the fact that Israel has been planning this "Greater State," for decades!

The world has always been beset by tyrants, but any attempt at domination to the degree currently underway, has never before been even remotely possible. Now everything has changed, just as the rules have all been altered by the advent of the computer age. Unless we begin to listen to things older than Madison Avenue or Radio; wiser and more arcane than profits or competition; more subtle than deconstruction, but more effective than black-ops-we shall not have the chance to finish out our lives. People everywhere must begin to trust again, whether we belong to clans or tribes or societies - if not, we will all soon be nothing more than targets for the New Barbarians that have come to steal, to plunder and destroy. That's what's at stake as world listens for the approach of a The Third World War - a war that our continued silence just might enable!

Where are we going, and what lurks in the shadows of our daily lives? A number of interlocking directorates around the world, both corporate and criminal, have decided that it's time for A Return-to-the-Crusades! The Puppet-Masters designed it, but they can only have their way - if the real people remains as silent as we've been, while they continue to add more shackles to our chains. This is Class Warfare, between the haves and have-nots world-wide. Religions, creeds, policies, and flags are all potential divisive flashpoints to sap the power of open revolt and to attempt to mask that ugly smell of genocide, of famine, of racism, and of Greed Gone Wild!

How Did this Happen?

Today the world is waiting for Iran to become Part Two of the War on Iraq that continues to burn, in ever-expanding chaos, around the edges of every headline from the Middle East. But it's more than just that! The War on Iran will use the same flawed concepts that failed in Iraq: Bomb Iran back to the stone age, then the rebellious natives within will hail us as "liberators" and everybody joins in to chants of USA - USA - That was the party line in Iraq and that philosophy created fires that are still burning vigorously in the streets of the seven most populous districts in that war-torn land.

US foreign policy is non-existent. We have effectively decimated the Department of State, thanks to the total incompetence of that slithering Contessa of Lies who heads it. But competence is not something that is to be found in this administration that has killed so many people, for so much money - and for so little gain! Iran and Iraq are not isolated chess pieces in an outdated game, to be toyed with or destroyed at will. The real world is multi-dimensional, and the war game has moved well beyond the medieval chess board. There are international interests besides ours, global circles of influence that are threatened by what this cowboy nation keeps trying to do in the zeal of pomp and ignorance that seems to drive Cheney-Bush, and their minions. The new reality is unfettered by the crude simplicity of old world. planning and regimentation. Instead there are new strategies and tactics that can be 'checked' from almost any angle: not the least of which is that world famous "Law of Unintended Consequences"!

Tracing the history of those that planned and financed both the first and second World Wars, it is clear that they did not stop there. In the case of Europe, when the First World War erupted, there was a naiveté that was exploited because of the use of modern weapons never seen before. However; the outcome of the First World War made the Second inevitable, thanks to the redrawing of the world map by the Western Allies, and to the Armistice than impoverished Germany to the enth degree.

The Second World War was necessary to tie up the loose ends that the First World War created. But the end of that conflict still left far too much to be done, before the planet could be completely subjugated.

Old world Europe needed to be completely rebuilt due to the savagery and bombing of their entire industrial base and infrastructure. The industries and the ravaged cities were rebuilt with the latest factories and the latest innovations, to position these "new" nations for the coming financial battles for the soul of money itself.

As for the rest of the planet, The New World Order was ready with their plan to corner every market, to control the labor and parcel out the profits: but first they needed to eliminate the remaining real power among the smaller nation states. Those nations that were self-sufficient were restructured along the lines of The New Order. To comply with the restructuring, they would need to change from the diversity of their sustaining production, and switch to huge single crops or product lines for export. Assistance was readily available from the friendly global-financial agencies, and their sponsors, that made billions in those bargains.

The sustenance of the smaller nations was to be guaranteed by the imports they would need to buy, with the profits they would make, from their own exports. Lost in this shuffle was the fact that each nation was no longer self-sufficient - and could be intimidated or coerced - by the larger and more powerful markets where the longer range desires of the money-changers remained supreme! Institutions such as the World Bank and the IMF were some of what assisted with "nation building" in the undeveloped world and from the wreckage that these institutions wrought - a "third world" was created - a world that can seemingly never get out from under the debt and penury, designed especially for them by the reigning powers. Latin American is beginning to change that whole equation, but it has taken nearly a hundred years!

This brings us to Part Three of this Seizure of the World for Fun & Profit. After the diversion of the Cold War that served as cover for this plan to steal what remains of the independent family of nations; the remaining "power" in the world was the USA. Admittedly this nation was infected by much of what happened with third world counties both before and during the Cold War, because part of the power of the Jackals was based here. But once "the Wall" went down in Berlin, the Puppet-Masters became impatient to get on with their Return to the Crusades, to finally "Own the World." Some believe this is happening: Others just watch and continue to wait.

It is not easy to believe - but the target is the coming War upon America - to turn this nation into an American version of what Baghdad is now. Why? Because there are simply too many risks involved in allowing a country that was as rich and powerful as this one was - to exist - in light of what has been planned for over a hundred years, by people who have only used the flags and words of others to achieve for themselves those things that live in eternal darkness and stand always in opposition to life in the real world. Since this plan of theirs involves the total financial and military takeover of the planet; those behind the scheme didn't seem to think that allowing the USA to exist with our rights and wealth and ideas in tack - would be too wise - in case America suddenly wakes up!

Here's a printable image older than recorded history - I called it Again & Again, because it's about those who used these facets of life for personal gain or glory. How often in history have these trials been unleashed to burn their marks into the living flesh of all of us? http://www.kirwanesque.com/gallery/4_horsemen.htm

Conquest and the burning "Flag of All Nations" with its five pointed star in the colors and shades of humanity, surrounded by that thin green line for what is left of the earth; against the dirty blue background for the corruption of air and water (painted in 1977). The molten gold of the head with no need for a mouth because Conquest does not speak it only conquers War on a crimson mount; his helmet plume three flaming fists, forever closed; The shield is fashioned from the pawns of war who would not choose - and in so doing, chose! In his upraised fist the hilt of his blade reveals a captured American eagle, now darkened with the shame of Vietnam. Famine upends the scales where life-giving food is outweighed by gold, and the starving children move him not, just as his sightless eyes never see the horror that famine brings. And finally Death, for the tyranny of time that too often is cut short. The red-head on the pommel grasps one hand of a clock, in a futile effort to stop the passage of the moments left to her. His mount is translucent because it stands for the mystery of death that each of us must one day enter. These four then are some of the shadows that have haunted the march of humankind down through the centuries - and now They're Back - AGAIN!

Despite all the deception and the lies in all the shadow play that so many have tried to bring to this sagging global stage-should those of us now caught up in this; not finally begin to ask - is MONEY all there really is? Should not human life revolve around a different set of values? Nothing in our lives is given; because everything political is fought for. We have allowed the Torch of Freedom to go out - to fall away from us. We must regain that freedom that belongs at the core of every life. Where are the Americans that we thought we were-has everybody disappeared before the onslaught of the bankers and money-changers? Have all Americans been silenced: Or is it just that so many have yet to speak?

Europe was caught off guard in World War One, but much has happened since. Both The Puppet-Masters and the Whirlwind are coming now. Will this nation will fight for life; or will we simply follow the well-worn paths of all those other failures that have gone before?

Jim Kirwan, kirwanstudios@sbcglobal.net

Comment: Everyone keeps wondering what is really going on, and I'll tell you, in the words of Andrzej Lobacewski:

Psychopaths are conscious of being different from normal people. That is why the "political system" inspired by their nature is able to conceal this awareness of being different. They wear a personal mask of sanity and know how to create a macrosocial mask of the same dissimulating nature. When we observe the role of ideology in this macrosocial phenomenon, quite conscious of the existence of this specific awareness of the psychopath, we can then understand why ideology is relegated to a tool-like role: something useful in dealing with those other naive people and nations. [...]

Pathocrats know that their real ideology is derived from their deviant natures, and treat the "other" - the masking ideology - with barely concealed contempt. [...]

The main ideology succumbs to symptomatic deformation, in keeping with the characteristic style of this very disease and with what has already been stated about the matter.

The names and official contents are kept, but another, completely different content is insinuated underneath, thus giving rise to the well known double talk phenomenon within which the same names have two meanings: one for initiates, one for everyone else. The latter is derived from the original ideology; the former has a specifically pathocratic meaning, something which is known not only to the pathocrats themselves, but also is learned by those people living under long-term subjection to their rule.

Doubletalk is only one of many symptoms. Others are the specific facility for producing new names which have suggestive effects and are accepted virtually uncritically, in particular outside the immediate scope of such a system's rule. We must thus point out the paramoralistic character and paranoidal qualities frequently contained within these names. The action of paralogisms and paramoralisms in this deformed ideology becomes comprehensible to us based on the information presented in Chapter IV. Anything which threatens pathocratic rule becomes deeply immoral. [...]

This privileged class of deviants feels permanently threatened by the "others", i.e. by the majority of normal people. Neither do the pathocrats entertain any illusions about their personal fate should there be a return to the system of normal man. ...

If the laws of normal man were to be reinstated, they and theirs could be subjected to judgment, including a moralizing interpretation of their psychological deviations; they would be threatened by a loss of freedom and life, not merely a loss of position and privilege. Since they are incapable of this kind of sacrifice, the survival of a system which is the best for them becomes a moral imperative. Such a threat must be battled by means of any and all psychological and political cunning implemented with a lack of scruples with regard to those other "inferior-quality" people that can be shocking in its depravity. ...

Pathocracy survives thanks to the feeling of being threatened by the society of normal people, as well as by other countries wherein various forms of the system of normal man persist. For the rulers, staying on the top is therefore the classic problem of "to be or not to be". ....

Thus, the biological, psychological, moral, and economic destruction of the majority of normal people becomes, for the pathocrats, a "biological" necessity. Many means serve this end, starting with concentration camps and including warfare with an obstinate, well-armed foe who will devastate and debilitate the human power thrown at him, namely the very power jeopardizing pathocrats rule: the sons of normal man sent out to fight for an illusionary "noble cause." Once safely dead, the soldiers will then be decreed heroes to be revered in paeans, useful for raising a new generation faithful to the pathocracy and ever willing to go to their deaths to protect it. ...

Pathocracy has other internal reasons for pursuing expansionism through the use of all means possible. As long as that "other" world governed by the systems of normal man exists, it inducts into the non-pathological majority a certain sense of direction. The non-pathological majority of the country's population will never stop dreaming of the reinstatement of the normal man's system in any possible form. This majority will never stop watching other countries, waiting for the opportune moment; its attention and power must therefore be distracted from this purpose, and the masses must be "educated" and channeled in the direction of imperialist strivings. This goal must be pursued doggedly so that everyone knows what is being fought for and in whose name harsh discipline and poverty must be endured. The latter factor - creating conditions of poverty and hardship - effectively limits the possibility of "subversive" activities on the part of the society of normal people.

The ideology must, of course, furnish a corresponding justification for this alleged right to conquer the world and must therefore be properly elaborated. Expansionism is derived from the very nature of pathocracy, not from ideology, but this fact must be masked by ideology.1 Whenever this phenomenon has been witnessed in history, imperialism was always its most demonstrative quality.

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Iran Showdown Tests Power of Israel Lobby

by Jim Lobe
12 April 06

One month after the publication by two of the most influential international relations scholars in the United States of a highly controversial essay on the so-called "Israel Lobby," their thesis that the lobby exercises "unmatched power" in Washington is being tested by rapidly rising tensions with Iran.

Far more visibly than any other domestic constituency, the Israel Lobby, defined by Profs. John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago and Stephen Walt, academic dean of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, as "the loose coalition of individuals and organizations who actively work to shape U.S. foreign policy in a pro-Israel direction," has pushed the government - both Congress and the George W. Bush administration - toward confrontation with Tehran.
Leading the charge has been a familiar group of neoconservatives, such as former Defense Policy Board (DPB) chairman Richard Perle and former Central Intelligence Agency director James Woolsey, who championed the war in Iraq but who have increasingly focused their energies over the past year on building support for "regime change" and, if necessary, military action against Iran if it does not abandon its nuclear program.

(On Tuesday, Iran announced that it had successfully enriched uranium, which can be used for both nuclear weapons and nuclear power reactors, in defiance of a UN Security Council resolution ordering an end to all enrichment activities by April 28).

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the premier Israel lobby group whose annual convention last year featured a giant, multimedia exhibit on how Iran is "pursuing nuclear weapons and how it can be stopped," has also been pushing hard on Capitol Hill for legislation to promote regime change. Despite White House objections, the group has sought tough sanctions against foreign companies with investments in Iran.

"This bill has been pushed almost entirely by AIPAC," noted Trita Parsi, a Middle East expert at Johns Hopkins School for Advanced International Studies (SAIS) here. "I don't see any other major groups behind this legislation that have had any impact on it."

Similarly, the American Jewish Committee (AJC), whose leadership is considered slightly less hawkish than AIPAC, has taken out full-page ads in influential U.S. newspapers since last week entitled "A Nuclear Iran Threatens All" depicting radiating circles on an Iran-centered map to show where its missiles could strike.

"Suppose Iran one day gives nuclear devices to terrorists," the ad reads. "Could anyone anywhere feel safe?"

In their 81-page essay, entitled "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy" and condensed in a shorter essay published last month in the London Review of Books, Mearsheimer and Walt, pillars of the "realist" school of international relations, argue that Washington's Middle East policy is too closely tied to Israel to serve its own national interests in the region, particularly in the so-called "war on terror."

They believe that the power of the Israel Lobby - derived, among other things, from its ability to marshal financial support for Democratic as well as Republican politicians, its grassroots organizational prowess, and its ability to stigmatize critics as "anti-Semitic" (a tactic already deployed against the authors) - is largely responsible.

"No lobby has managed to divert U.S. foreign policy as far from what the American national interest would otherwise suggest, while simultaneously convincing Americans that U.S. and Israeli interests are essentially the same," the authors argued, noting that the lobby, while predominantly Jewish, also includes prominent Christian evangelicals and non-Jewish neoconservatives, such as Woolsey and former Education Secretary William Bennett.

In the administration's decision to invade Iraq, pressure from Israel and the lobby played a "critical" - although not exclusive - role, according to the paper, which cited prewar public prodding by Israeli leaders and by leaders of many major Jewish organizations as evidence, although it notes that most U.S. Jews were skeptical and have since turned strongly against the war.

Neoconservatives closely associated with the right-wing views of Israel's Likud party - both in and outside the administration - played a particularly important role in gaining support for "regime change" in Iraq stretching back to the mid-1990s, according to the paper.

But even during the run-up to the Iraq war, Israeli leaders, notably then-Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, depicted Iran as the greater threat, a theme that was picked up by the Lobby, led by the neoconservatives, immediately after Baghdad's fall.

"The liberation of Iraq was the first great battle for the future of the Middle East. ... But the next great battle - not, we hope a military one - will be for Iran," wrote the Weekly Standard's neoconservative editor, William Kristol, in early May 2003.

Shortly thereafter, neoconservatives and other hawks led by Vice President Dick Cheney succeeded in cutting off ongoing U.S.-Iranian talks on Afghanistan and Iran and killing an offer by Tehran to engage in a broader negotiation on all outstanding differences.

What makes the growing confrontation with Iran so remarkable is that the Israel Lobby appears to be the only major organized force here that is actively pushing it toward crisis.

Mainstream analysts, including arms control hawks who favor strong pressure on Iran over its nuclear program, have spoken out against military action as far too risky and almost certainly counterproductive. Even analysts at the right-wing Heritage Foundation have voiced doubts. "It just doesn't make any sense from a geopolitical standpoint," said Heritage's James Carifano, noting Iran's capacity to retaliate against the U.S. in Iraq.

The Iranian exile community, which has generally favored more pressure on Tehran, similarly appears divided about the consequences of a military attack, with some leaders fearing that it would strengthen the regime, Walt told IPS. He added that "it's hard for me to believe that [U.S.] oil companies would be in favor of a military option [because they] don't like violence or events that create political risk or uncertainty."

While insisting that military action against Iran's nuclear program should only be a last resort, the Israel Lobby, on the other hand, appears united in the conviction that an attack will indeed be necessary if diplomatic efforts, economic pressure, and covert action fail.

"[Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad] sees the West as wimps and thinks we will eventually cave in," Patrick Clawson, deputy director of research of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a think tank established by AIPAC, told New Yorker investigative reporter Seymour Hersh. "We have to be ready to deal with Iran if the crisis escalates."

Hersh summarized Clawson's bottom line as "Iran had no choice other than to accede to America's demands or face a military attack."

That was much the same message delivered by Perle himself and rapturously received by the attendees at AIPAC's 2006 convention here last month. The convention, at which the keynoter, none other than the administration's ultimate hawk, Vice President Cheney, vowed "meaningful consequences" if Iran did not freeze its nuclear program, drew several hundred Democratic and Republican lawmakers in what could only be described as a show of raw political power.

"I don't think there's another group in the country that has two successive conferences in which the centerpiece was beating the drums for war in Iran," noted one senior official with another major pro-Israel organization, who asked not to be identified. "They are the main force behind this."

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Democracy Be Damned - Republicans Need Another War

By Thom Hartmann
Information Clearing House

George W. Bush is at it again. This time, reports Sy Hersh in The New Yorker, it'll be Iran. (Those of us who guessed it would have been Syria first apparently underestimated his hubris.) And this time he wants to be able to use nukes.

In the novel 1984 by George Orwell, the way a seemingly democratic president kept his nation in a continual state of repression was by keeping the nation in a constant state of war. Cynics suggest the lesson wasn't lost on Lyndon Johnson or Richard Nixon, who both, they say, extended the Vietnam war so it coincidentally ran over election cycles, knowing that a wartime President's party is more likely to be reelected and has more power than a President in peacetime.
This wasn't a new lesson, however, and Orwell was not the first to note that a democracy at war was weakened and at risk.

On April 20, 1795, James Madison, who had just helped shepherd through the Constitution and Bill of Rights, and would become President of the United States in the following decade, wrote, "Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded because it comprises and develops the germ of every other."

Reflecting on war's impact on the Executive Branch of government Madison continued his letter about the dangerous and intoxicating power of war for a president.

"In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive [President] is extended," he wrote. "Its [his] influence in dealing out offices, honors, and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the force of the people. The same malignant aspect in republicanism may be traced in the inequality of fortunes, and the opportunities of fraud, growing out of a state of war...and in the degeneracy of manners and morals, engendered by both.

"No nation," he concluded, "could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare."

But it's not just Madison who warned us. More recent presidents have also noted the danger of a craven political usurpation of democracy, particularly when fed by the bloody meat of war.

As he was leaving office, the old warrior President Dwight D. Eisenhower had looked back over his years as President and as a General and Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe during World War II, and noted exactly what Madison had warned against.

"Our military organization today bears little relation to that known by any of my predecessors in peacetime, or indeed by the fighting men of World War II or Korea," Eisenhower said in sobering tones in a nationally televised speech. "Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But now we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense; we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United States corporations."

Nonetheless, Eisenhower added, "This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence, economic, political, even spiritual, is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.

"In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist."

He concluded with a very specific warning to us, the generation that would follow. "We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes," he said. "We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together."

But Americans have been terrified by the prospect of terrorism, endlessly hyped by the Republican majority, and the warnings of Madison and Eisenhower are forgotten by many - and unknown to most of the current generation that now studies "to the test" instead of delving into the deeper lines of American history.

Citizens of other nations, however, immediately recognize what the Republicans are up to.

In October of 2002 - nearly four years ago - I wrote on on these pages the following summary of a trip I'd just taken to Buenos Aires:

I just returned from Argentina. People there understand Machiavelli, I discovered; when he wrote his instructions to The Prince, that, "Every one sees what you appear to be, few really know what you are, and those few dare not oppose..." it would make perfect sense to anybody who'd lived through Argentina's past half-century.

And, while they don't so often read James Madison there, I think they'd agree with the letters he left to his countrymen, that I was reading as I traveled, warning us about war as the greatest danger to the democracy he'd just helped birth. As I walked about, talking with all sorts of people, I kept feeling Madison's ghost tapping on my shoulder. But more about that in a moment; first the questions I encountered in Argentina:

Is Bush just manipulating the press and really planning to wait until 2004 to have his war, thus guaranteeing his own re-election? Or is it going to happen faster to begin pumping oil and thus repay the oil industry campaign donors who brought him to power? Or is it all about something even more insidious: the end of democracy itself, carefully planned by a small group of cynical intellectuals who truly believe that democracy is cute and quaint but that only an all-powerful government can guarantee stability in a dangerous world?

For example, last weekend in the Buenos Aires airport I was sitting next to a gregarious a man while waiting to board our flight. When he saw my American passport, he said, "You know, this Saddam thing has little to do with trying to throw the 2002 elections, like all you Americans think. Of course, that's a nice side-benefit, keeping everything else out of the news. But it's really about 2004 and setting up the Republicans for a half-century of one-party rule like Roosevelt did. Bush will pull back from his war rhetoric after the elections and let in the UN inspectors, and all the world, even his opponents, will hail him as a man of peace. And then, just before the 2004 elections, there will be problems with the inspectors, they'll find some excuse, and the war will start in time for November 2004." He smiled and wagged a finger at me. "We know about one-party rule here. You'll soon learn."

Two days earlier, in a pleasant middle-class home, I sat across the table from a woman who had been tortured and electro-shocked by the police for protesting, exactly 20 years earlier, the war between Great Britain and Argentina over the Malvinas or Falkland Islands. I never would have guessed; she was soft-spoken, middle-class, and fashionably dressed. But she was one of "the disappeared" for a brief moment, and among one of the lucky ones who were released. Indeed, the Argentineans knew about one-party rule.

"The war covered up the dark side of the government and the corruption of the politicians of the time," another woman in a Buenos Aires restaurant told me. "It was a good way of putting the attention of the people somewhere else, like when you're with a little child, and you want to distract him, and you say, 'Come here and have some sweets.' And we bought that immediately. There was dancing in the streets. 'We're going to win a war - oh, boy, oh, boy!' We went with flags to the streets, singing the national songs to celebrate the possibility of winning this war."

The Falklands/Malvinas war was over quickly, though, in part, because each side had an enemy: a nation. Terrorism, on the other hand, is not an enemy: it's a tactic. Unless you want to have a perpetual war, you must declare war against an enemy, not a behavior.

But what if a perpetual war is just what the Bush administration wants, as another man in a restaurant in Buenos Aires suggested? The man said in his Latin accent, "He has learn from mistakes of his poppa: don't end the war too quickly before an election. Keep the talk going, but make sure the war itself happens in 2004."

Others thought it would happen sooner, to get Iraq's oil, seize control of the Middle East and neutralize OPEC, and to start the profits flowing to the oil corporations who got Bush elected.

Or maybe it's all a plan to drive a stake into the heart of democracy, another suggested, using war as the excuse.

Four years later, there can be no doubt that Bush/Cheney/Rove and the Republican cabal lied us into invading Iraq. Ginning it up just before the 2002 midterm elections was largely done so Republicans could take back the Senate in 2002 after losing it because of Jim Jeffords' defection. The 2003 attack was timed, we now can see, so Bush would improve his chances to win the White House in the election of 2004.

So, too, it appears that Bush is now ginning up a new war just in time for the 2006 midterm elections, and Karl Rove probably has a 2007 continuing war in mind to help swing the 2008 elections (or postpone them).

Much of the evidence now available suggests both the 2003 Republican Iraq War and the possible upcoming Republican Iran War are just that simple, just that banal, and ultimately just that traitorous to the traditional ideals of America.

As Governor George W. Bush told Mickey Herskowitz - the man the Bush family hired to ghost-write Bush's autobiography A Charge To Keep - in 1999:

"One of the keys to being seen as a great leader is to be seen as commander in chief. My father had all this political capital built up when he drove the Iraqis out of Kuwait and he wasted it. If I have a chance to invade, if I had that much capital, I'm not going to waste it. I'm going to get everything passed that I want to get passed and I'm going to have a successful presidency."
Bush's determination to invade Iraq to gain "political capital" even before he was appointed to the Presidency in 2001 was first laid out in an article by Russ Baker, who extensively interviewed Herskowitz. Baker noted:

"Herskowitz said that Bush expressed frustration at a lifetime as an underachiever in the shadow of an accomplished father. In aggressive military action, he saw the opportunity to emerge from his father's shadow. The moment, Herskowitz said, came in the wake of the September 11 attacks. 'Suddenly, he's at 91 percent in the polls, and he'd barely crawled out of the bunker.'"
Oil, to the Republicans, would be a nice bonus. And let's not forget those profits for Halliburton and other big Republican contributors.

But the main reason Bush invaded Iraq, it turns out, was so Republicans could take back the US Senate in the election of 2002, and in the hopes that Bush could finally win an election in 2004.

Apparently Bush is now prepared to do the same with Iran - or at least rattle the sabers loudly enough to convince the world he intends to - for the same purpose. Political capital. Hold on to the Republican majority. Prevent investigations of the many crimes of his administration by denying Democrats the power of the subpoena that comes with a majority in the House or Senate.

And - unless Democrats in Congress and the American people stand up and speak out - in the process Bush and his Republican enablers may just bring about the end of the great American experiment in democracy.

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Democracy Now Interview: Seymour Hersh: Bush Administration Planning Possible Major Air Attack on Iran

Democracy Now
12 April 06

We speak with Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Seymour Hersh about his latest article in the New Yorker that the Bush administration has increased clandestine activities inside Iran and intensified planning for a possible major air attack.
We are joined today by Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Seymour Hersh. In the latest issue of the New Yorker, Hersh reports that the Bush administration has increased clandestine activities inside Iran and intensified planning for a possible major air attack. Sources told Hersh that Air Force planning groups are drawing up lists of targets, and teams of American combat troops have been ordered into Iran, under cover, to collect targeting data and to establish contact with anti-government ethnic-minority groups.

One of the military's initial option plans calls for the use of a bunker-buster tactical nuclear weapon against suspected underground nuclear sites.

On Monday, President Bush dismissed Hersh's article saying, "What you're reading is wild speculation." Meanwhile, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld refused to comment on possible plans for military action against Iran at a press conference on Tuesday. Rumsfeld told reporters, "We have, I don't know how many, various contingency plans in this department and the last thing I am going to start telling you, or anyone else in the press or the world, at what point we refresh a plan or don't refresh a plan, and why. It just isn't useful,"

Meanwhile Iran is moving forward on its nuclear program. On Tuesday Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced that the country had succeeded for the first time in enriching uranium on a small scale. The Iranian president insisted that the country's nuclear program is for peaceful means and not to build nuclear weapons.

This transcript is available free of charge. However, donations help Democracy Now provide closed captioning for the deaf and hard of hearing on our TV broadcast. Thank you for your generous contribution.
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AMY GOODMAN: On Monday, President Bush dismissed Hersh's article.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: What you're reading is wild speculation, which is -- it's kind of a, you know, happens quite frequently here in the nation's capital.

AMY GOODMAN: Meanwhile, reporters questioned Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld Tuesday about Hersh's report.

REPORTER: In recent weeks or months, have you asked joint staff at Central Command, possibly through General Pace, to update, refine, modify the contingencies for possible military options against Iran?

DONALD RUMSFELD: We have, I don't know how many, various contingency plans in this department, and the last thing I'm going to do is to start telling you or anyone else in the press or the world at what point we refresh a plan or don't refresh a plan and why. It just isn't useful.

REPORTER: Are you satisfied with the state of planning for Iran options right now?

DONALD RUMSFELD: I am never satisfied.

AMY GOODMAN: That was Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld Tuesday. Meanwhile, Iran's moving forward on its nuclear program. On Tuesday, the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced the country had succeeded for the first time in enriching uranium on a small scale. The Iranian president insists the country's nuclear program is for peaceful means and not to build nuclear weapons. We're joined right now in Washington by investigative journalist Seymour Hersh. Welcome to Democracy Now!

SEYMOUR HERSH: Good morning.

AMY GOODMAN: It's good to have you with us. Well, talk about what you have found and written about in your piece, "The Iran Plans."

SEYMOUR HERSH: Well, very simply, as you said in the introduction. This is not wild speculation. It's simply a fact that the planning has gone beyond the contingency stage, and it's gone into what they call the operational stage, sort of an increment higher. And it's very serious planning, of course. And it's all being directed at the wish of the President of the United States. And I can understand why they don't want to talk about it, but that's just the reality.

AMY GOODMAN: You say that it's a pretty widespread -- or that there's a growing conviction among members of the U.S. military and the international community that President Bush's ultimate goal is regime change in Iran.

SEYMOUR HERSH: There's no question that there's a lot of skepticism, particularly among our former allies -- the allies we now have, the European allies who have been with us. The United States joined late after the negotiations began, but England, France and Germany have been talking to the Iranians for years, three years now, about doing something about -- to keep them away from the nuclear edge. Our allies there are frankly skeptical about what this president really wants to do. They don't think necessarily, although there's -- it's not that the President isn't concerned about any enrichment. He's set that as a red line. He's publicly said many times that when Iran begins to enrich, that's a line we won't let them do. It's that they really think that beyond -- the whole issue is really predicated on a belief that we've got to get rid of these ruling clerics and replace it with Bush's idea, that he thinks he's still pushing very hard, which is of a democratic Middle East.

AMY GOODMAN: Sy Hersh, you write in your piece about a military official who says that the military planning is premised on the belief that a sustained bombing campaign in Iran will humiliate the religious leadership. Can you talk more about what this defense official said?

SEYMOUR HERSH: It's a former defense official who still does a lot of highly classified stuff, so he has access and he was given a briefing or a look at what they're planning. And, you know, it's hard to know. This is a White House that's very dominated -- this kind of planning is very dominated by the Vice President's office. In that office, you have a number of people who have been long associated with what we call the neoconservative point of view, the American Enterprise Institute point of view, which is a very hard line towards the Middle East. They've been the great pushers on this idea of democracy in that area, and it's those people who I think are pushing most effectively the President and the Vice President to believe that you can -- if you bomb and if you sustain the bombing, you will humiliate the clerics, the mullahs, who run the country.

After all, as we know, the Middle East basically, oversimplifying it, but it's this culture dominated by shame. We operate out of guilt here in the West. And shaming them will make them vulnerable to the masses. And there's no question, by the way, the masses in Iran, most of them, it's fair to say that a great large percent of them are very secular. They're all good Muslims, but they're secular. They're not interested in religious leadership. So there is a tension. And that was the thought: Bomb them, and there will be an overthrow, and you'll have a democratic regime that, you know, can dance happily with the democratic regime the President thinks is going to emerge out of Iraq.

AMY GOODMAN: And you quote further this defense official, who talked about the belief that the Bush administration has of humiliating the religious leadership, as saying, "I was shocked when I heard it and asked myself, 'What are they smoking?'"

SEYMOUR HERSH: That's what he said.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you explain what the Science Defense Board is, the Defense Science Board, and what it has to do with this?

SEYMOUR HERSH: Actually, a lot. And it's interesting, because this hasn't been picked up, and it's just hanging there sort of like ripe fruit for the press, if they wanted to. It's an advisory board that's traditionally a defense science board, obviously. It's just an advisory board of scientists who advise the Secretary of Defense on issues, and they do some very serious work. They just did a paper recently on the declining rate of high-tech scientists inside that are capable of doing the kind of work we need to continue our leadership in outer space stuff, etc., etc., with a military point of view. And their whole purpose, of course, is a military point of view.

Many of them also work for large defense contractors. There's a lot of inherent problems in that, too, but nonetheless, in this case the board is headed by a guy named Dr. Bill Schneider, William Schneider, a former -- very conservative guy, very outspoken. Schneider is among a small group of very influential members of the Bush government, who in 2001 produced a paper, just as Bush was coming into office for the first term, they produced a paper advocating or saying, 'Let's not rule out the use of nuclear weapons. There is a need for tactical nuclear weapons, and they should be in the arsenal and accepted as a rational part of the arsenal, particularly when you're going after hard targets like the underground nuclear facilities in North Korea and Iran, if you were to target them.'

And the people that signed that report include Schneider, as I say, but also Stephen Hadley, who is now the National Security Adviser, Stephen Cambone, who's the head of the intelligence for the Pentagon and one of Rumsfeld's closest advisers, and also Robert Joseph, who's the Under Secretary of State for Nonproliferation Affairs, the man who replaced John Bolton in that job and who's been very much a hawk and very tough on Iran in public and even tougher in private. And so, you have these very influential people advocating that tact nukes have some sense and some bearing in the policy.

And I've been told that in the last few months a debate has been sort of ongoing inside the highest levels of the military, and the debate is simply between those senior generals and admirals -- who think using and even planning or talking about using a nuclear weapon in Iran is wacko -- and the White House, because the White House wants it kept in the plan. There's a lot of tension there. But in any case, the science board has been sending papers in saying, 'Hey, you know, we can tool this weapon up and down.' The B61, apparently, the yield can be adjusted. You can get more bang for the buck, a larger yield with less radioactive fallout. And so, these kind of papers go on.

What's interesting, Amy, is in all of the conversations we've had about bombing and not bombing and whether to use weapons, what weapon or how much bombing, as, not surprisingly, I don't think there's been any serious discussion of possible civilian casualties. That never seems to be discussed in any of these papers, but that's the way it is.

AMY GOODMAN: And your response to the Iranian president saying Iran has joined the nuclear countries of the world?

SEYMOUR HERSH: Well, he's another sort of wacko, too. The Iranian president, he's very mouthy, and he says a lot of things. I think the consensus among our allies who have embassies in Tehran and have had much more contact and know much more about that society than we do -- America is very, we're pretty much opaque on Iran. We haven't been there diplomatically in, you know, 25, 26 years, since the Shah's days. Most people think the Ayatollah Khomeini, who's the supreme leader, probably controls the nuclear option, although certainly the Revolutionary Guards, in which the Iranian president is a major player, have something to say.

Look, they didn't join the nuclear club yesterday. They've enriched -- they've done a partial enrichment of some uranium to a low level, a level that could possibly be used to run a peaceful reactor. They've done this before in a pilot program. Certainly, it's a feat that's technically capable. Many governments have done it, not just the eight nuclear powers.

And so, what he's doing by embellishing -- and this is my guess, my sort of heuristic guess, because I don't know, but what I think he's doing, he's basically playing chicken, like in the old James Dean movie, the two cars going at each other at high speed. He's playing chicken with the President of the United States. So that's what we're into. We've got the President of the United States, who's been making -- Bush, as you know, and Cheney have been making an awful lot of bellicose statements in the last couple months, saying that they'll rule out no option, which obviously is a nuclear suggestion, also making declarations about red lines and where Iran can or cannot go. So the bellicosity of the United States is now being matched by the bellicosity of the Iranian president. I mean, great way to run a world.

AMY GOODMAN: We're talking to investigative journalist, Seymour Hersh. His piece in The New Yorker magazine is called "The Iran Plans: Would President Bush Go to War to Stop Tehran from Getting the Bomb?" Can you talk about the list of targets?

SEYMOUR HERSH: Well, you know, I don't really know the list, and I don't want to know the list. It's not my -- when I write about troops, I'm vague about what I know and what I'm writing, because nobody wants to put anybody in the position of jeopardizing any of our forces on the ground, and you should know that I go to great lengths before I publish a story. I have people that I can -- I can drop a draft of an article in a mailbox in, you know, rural Washington, somewhere in the suburbs, where people, serious people, live, and they'll review it for me to make sure. I don't do it with this government, but I do do it with serious people on the inside and take their advice on what to publish or not publish.

But the targeting -- look, first of all, we don't know much about Iran. The intelligence is skimpy. We really don't know what they're doing. We know that one major facility is an underground, called Natance. It's an underground -- I don't know what you call it -- research plant, 75 feet below the ground in very heavy rock. This is why there's some talk of using a nuclear weapon. The only way of guaranteeing its destruction is with a tact nuke. It's so deep underground.

There's also about 16 to 20 sites that have been declared. All of this is not being done in a vacuum. The International Atomic Energy Agency, the I.A.E.A., has been monitoring Iran's declared sites. For example, when Iran enriched uranium, as it was announced yesterday, that was done under I.A.E.A. supervision. And so, Iran has been a member of the -- I should add it's not illegal, because under the N.P.T. they're entitled to do enrichments, as long as it's for peaceful purposes, and that's the claim the Iranians make.

Nobody has any illusions. Iran undoubtedly would like to get in the position where they could have the capability and the know-how and the materials, the enriched materials, to make or fabricate a nuclear weapon, sort of an on-off switch. They'd like to be able to toggle it. But the best guess, even the Israelis, who are, of course -- they view Iran as an existential threat, Israel does. The Israelis, they can tell you that Iran is anywhere from two to three years at the best, by their estimate, from actually being in a position to do it. But the American intelligence estimate, which was published last summer by the Washington Post, what they call the N.I.E., the National Intelligence Estimate, an official document, said something like eight to ten years away.

'So, what's the rush?' is what I'm hearing from the military people and the diplomats involved. What are we setting red lines for about small pilot production? And so, there is time, but if you're going to do it, if you're going to hit Iran and you're going to bomb and you give it to the planners, you're going to get this. You're going to get targeting for the known facilities, targeting facilities we suspect, and then you're going to get countermeasures. You're going to get the Air Force -- nobody in the American government wants to see American boys, pilots, shot down and paraded through the streets of Tehran, as we did in Vietnam, if you remember that happened in Hanoi.

So if you're going to do systematic bombing or sustained bombing, you're going to take out the air fields. Iran has an old integrated air force, based -- many of the planes were given to the Shah by us back in the 1970s. But they still fly, and they're still armed with missiles. Iran, as many in your audience know, kicks out about four million barrels of oil a day and has -- the prices are very high, going higher -- huge financial reserves -- has been buying a lot of sophisticated radar, anti-missile radars and other sort of anti-aircraft radars from the Chinese and, I think, even from Russia.

We have to take that out. We don't want radars targeting our planes. We have to take out all of their defense measures, so we can bomb with impunity. So, how many targets are you looking for? I quoted one paper done by a retired Air Force colonel, a planner named Sam Gardener, who has been doing a lot of war games, who's a very prudent -- by everybody's account, a prudent, careful man. And Colonel Gardener, in a paper he delivered in Europe the other week, said 400 aim points. And some of the aim points may have more than one or two bombs dropped on them, so it's a huge enterprise.

AMY GOODMAN: We're talking to investigative reporter, Seymour Hersh, and we're going to come back to him in a minute to talk more about his piece, "The Iran Plans," what the President of the United States plans are for Iran.


AMY GOODMAN: Our guest in Washington D.C. is Seymour Hersh, investigative reporter with The New Yorker magazine. His latest article is called "The Iran Plans: How Far Will the White House Go?" In the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq, Sy, Tony Blair, the British prime minister, and President Bush were at Camp David. They held a news conference, and they said that the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency had a report that said that Iraq was six months away from building nuclear weapons. And President Bush said I don't know how much more evidence we need. Well, it turned out any evidence would have helped, that the I.A.E.A. did not have such a report. Do you see parallels here with Iran?

SEYMOUR HERSH: How can you not? You know, what's interesting about that I.A.E.A. issue is that they were -- as you know, they had inspectors there until 1968, late '68. And in late '67, the I.A.E.A. published an extensive analysis of the Iranian nuclear complex and basically said nothing - nada - there, I mean, categorical. That's why I was very - because it's a long -- I happen to be working, doing a lot of reporting on what was going on in the U.N. then with the UNSCOM, it was called, the U.N. inspection process. So I had read that report. So, anybody reading that report would have known there was nothing there.

You do have a lot of parallels, because right now it's been taken away from the I.A.E.A., I must say to the disappointment and probably anger, definitely anger, of the leadership there, because at least the I.A.E.A. has inspectors in some legal right to be inside Iran right now. And they've taken it to the U.N., where there's, you know -- are there going to be sanctions or not? I mean, I don't know what kind of economic sanctions you can put on a country that puts out four million barrels of oil a day, and they're swimming in U.S. dollars. And, of course, everybody knows inside, all of the people involved know, that Russia and China will never go along. It's almost inconceivable they will go along with sanctions. China is one of the recipients of oil. Russia does a lot of business there. So, basically you've put yourself in a situation where you've got a dead end. And you know it's going to be a dead end, at least you can anticipate. It could change. Something could happen, but at this point, it's a dead end. And so, the parallel is obvious.

Everybody I talk to, the hawks I talk to, the neoconservatives, the people who are very tough absolutely say there's no way the U.N. is going to work, and we're just going to have to assume it doesn't in any way. Iran, by going along with the U.N., what they're really doing is rushing their nuclear program. And so, the skepticism -- there's no belief, faith here, ultimately, in this White House, in the extent of the talk, so you've got a parallel situation. The President could then say, 'We've explored all options. We've done it.' I could add, if you want to get even more scared, some of our closest allies in this process -- we deal with the Germans, the French and the Brits -- they're secretly very worried, not only what Bush wants to do, but they're also worried that -- for example, the British Foreign Officer, Jack Straw, is vehemently against any military action, of course also nuclear action, and so is the Foreign Office, as I said, but nobody knows what will happen if Bush calls Blair. Blair's the wild card in this. He and Bush both have this sense, this messianic sense, I believe, about what they've done and what's needed to be done in the Middle East. I think Bush is every bit as committed into this world of rapture, as is the president.

AMY GOODMAN: Sy Hersh, you write about a meeting in Vienna between Mohamed El Baradei, the Nobel Peace Prize winner and head of the I.A.E.A., and Robert Joseph, the Under Secretary of State for Arms Control, and the relationship between El Baradei and the United States.

SEYMOUR HERSH: Well, Joseph basically was, you know, essentially just -- I heard a lot about it, because it was pretty blustery. And he just went in and basically told off the head of the -- the Nobel Prize winner and said, you know, 'You will stop--' The European and American complaint against El Baradei is this: they say, 'My God, he's treating this issue as if both sides have some justification, that Iran's aspirations equal the American and European's desire not for them to go nuclear. He's treating them both as parodies. And they're not. We're right, and they're wrong, and he doesn't reflect that.' So they think he's unfair. They think he's being too balanced, too nuanced, and that was the message that Joseph gave, basically, with a significant loss of temper, or let's put it, "intemperate" behavior, basically saying, 'You will desist from saying anything that interferes with us. We view this as our gravest national security threat.'

I can also tell you Joseph has said the same thing in Turkey to the Turkish officials. He went there, and they also reported a very boisterous meeting. And the American ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency is a guy named Greg Schulte, who was until last summer, August of 2005, was in charge of the Situation Room in the White House, and who from 1988 to 1992 worked for -- he's a career diplomat, but worked -- a career bureaucrat. He's not in the diplomatic service. He worked for Dick Cheney, when he was Secretary of Defense, now the Vice President, and did nuclear stuff for him. So he's very connected to the vice President. He's also quite direct and not very diplomatic in what he believes, and it's, you know, it's 'They're bad guys, we're good guys,' that sort of approach. There's no instinct.

What's amazing, Amy, about this is this, and what always surprises me about my country is, here we have a president that doesn't talk to people he disagrees with. And anybody who's been around little boys, big boys, knows that when they get out of control, you grab them. If you're a nursery school teacher, you grab the little four-year-olds by the scruff of the neck, and you pull them together, and you say, 'You two guys, shake hands and make up, and go play in the sandbox.'

Bush doesn't talk to people he's mad at. He doesn't talk to the North Koreans. He didn't talk to the insurgency. When the history is done, there were incredible efforts by the insurgency leaders in the summer of 2003. I'm talking about the Iraqi insurgency, the former Sunni generals and Sunni and Baathist leaders who were happy to see Saddam go, but did not want America there. They wanted to talk to us. Bush wouldn't. Whether it got to Bush, I don't know, it got in to four stars. Nobody wanted to talk to them. He doesn't talk to the president of Syria; in fact, specifically rejects overtures from al-Asad to us. And he doesn't talk to the Iranians. There's been no bilateral communication at all.

Iran has come hat-in-hand to us. A former National Security Council adviser who worked in the White House, Flynt Leverett, an ex-C.I.A. analyst who's now working at Brookings, wrote a piece a month or so ago, maybe six weeks ago, in the New York Times, describing specific offers by the Iranians to come and 'let's deal.' Let's deal on all issues. I'm even told they were willing to talk about recognizing Israel. And the White House doesn't talk. And it's not that he doesn't talk, it's that nobody pressures him to talk. There's no pressure from the media, no pressure from Congress. Here's a president who won't talk to people he's walking us into a confrontation with.

AMY GOODMAN: Seymour Hersh, we will leave it there. I want to thank you very much for being with us. But let me ask you one last thing, and that is where we started, with President Bush's comments about your report, saying, 'What you're reading is wild speculation, which is kind of, you know -- happens quite frequently in the nation's capital.' Your response?

SEYMOUR HERSH: Well, he gave a speech at Johns Hopkins on Monday, that's one of his more remarkable speeches, not only because of his manner, which was a funny affectation -- he was hopping around, almost jocular. Forget what he said about me. It's what he said about Iraq that was very troubling to me. He once again said there's great progress, this is a wonderful thing we're doing, I'm proud that we're doing it, we're bringing democracy. I have it in front of me, because I always carry it around. He said -- he compared this -- 'This is an ideological struggle we're having with Iran that equates the best part of the Cold War, when we defeated the Russians.' He's once again comparing this to the Cold War. He's once again saying that things are wonderful, that it's a noble enterprise. 'Does anybody there read the newspapers?' is what I wonder.

AMY GOODMAN: Seymour Hersh, thanks very much for being with us.

SEYMOUR HERSH: Glad to be here

AMY GOODMAN: Investigative reporter for The New Yorker magazine. The piece in the latest edition is called "The Iran Plans: How Far Will the White House Go?"

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Is War With Iran Inevitable?

By Patrick J. Buchanan
Post Chronicle
11 April 06

In the last six months, Americans have been treated to quite a spectacle: famous pundits and politicians hitting the sawdust trail to the mourner's bench to confess, "Had I only known then what I know now, I would never have supported this war in Iraq."

Lots of folks are calling for Donald Rumsfeld's head, but thus far, none of the pundits or politicians has forfeited his roost or declared himself unworthy of further public trust. They have all "moved on."
But it appears today President Bush is considering yet another "preventive war." Weekend reports by Sy Hersh in The New Yorker claim the Pentagon is planning air strikes on Iran's nuclear facilities with bunker-buster bombs, possibly tipped with nuclear warheads.

The White House is dismissing it all, and this may be just the rattling of B-2s to concentrate minds in Tehran on the need to negotiate on their nuclear program.

But the Bushites have also painted us into a corner. Vice President Cheney has said Iran will not be allowed to have a nuclear weapon. Sen. John McCain says, "The military option is on the table." And Israel is demanding that the United States stop dithering.

Writes Yaakov Katz in the March 10 Jerusalem Post, "The United States has until now not done enough to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, a senior Defense Ministry official has told the Jerusalem Post ..."

Katz quotes the senior man: "America needs to get its act together. Until now, the (Bush) administration has just been talking tough, but the time has come for the Americans to begin to take some tough action."

Only one person is quoted by name in Katz's piece, hawkish Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz.

Moreover, we are drifting into confrontation. Russia and China will not support sanctions in the Security Council, and France and Germany are not going to support a preventive war. Nor is Tony Blair likely to play wingman to F-102 pilot George W. Bush again.

Thus, if Iran's nuclear program is to be restricted to peaceful power, America may have to negotiate directly with Tehran. And if Iran's program is so menacing it must be destroyed, the United States will have to go it virtually alone.

Reportedly, U.S. carrier-based aircraft in the Persian Gulf are already simulating bombing runs on Iran. And President Bush has restated his doctrine of pre-emptive strikes and preventive war in the new National Security Strategy released recently.

But this begs a question: As Congress alone has the power to declare war, and has not authorized war on Iran, where does Bush get the authority to threaten war on a nation that has not attacked us?

Instead of whining about how Bush "deceived" them and "lied" us into war with Iraq, why is Congress not debating whether Bush has, or does not have, the authority to take us into a new war?

By the way, where is Congress? Off on another vacation, for two weeks, after its exhausting labors in a session that is apparently going to set modern records for brevity.

A war with the United States would be disastrous for Iran. With an air force of antiquated F-4s from the Shah's era and a navy of a handful of destroyers, submarines, and torpedo and missile boats, Iran would quickly be laid open to U.S. air and missile strikes. And with only half of Iran's population of Persian extraction, Arabs, Kurds and Baluchis could exploit a war crisis in Tehran to break the country apart.

But if, in retaliation, Iran ignited the Shia against U.S. forces in Iraq and backed terrorist attacks across the Middle East, the entire U.S. position in the region could be in peril.

As for the price of oil, bet on $200 a barrel. Iranian mines and missile boats may be no match for U.S. fleets, but they could certainly threaten 200,000-ton tankers.

If Bush were bold enough, there are the makings of a strategic deal.

The U.S. goals are exactly what Bush got from Libya's Khadafi: an end to terror and abandonment of all chemical, biological and nuclear weapons and programs. What Iran wants is a guarantee of its rights under the non-proliferation treaty to develop peaceful atomic power -- from yellowcake to enriched uranium -- an end to their isolation by the United States and U.S. guarantees against attack.

Both nations have an interest in not seeing Iraq disintegrate in a sectarian war that would separate Shia Iran from the Sunni majority in the Arab world.

If President Bush is truly confident that time is on the side of democracy and freedom, what does he have to lose by negotiating a cold peace with the mullahs' Iran, a failed regime that does not dispose of 5 percent of the military or economic power of United States? We outlasted the British Empire, Stalin and Mao. Is Mahmoud Ahmadinejad a bigger problem?

Perhaps, in Churchill's words, it is time for jaw-jaw, not war-war.


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The Human Costs of Bombing Iran

By Matthew Rothschild
The Progressive
12 April 06

George Bush didn't exactly deny Seymour Hersh's report in The New Yorker that the Administration is considering using tactical nuclear weapons against Iran.

Neither did Scott McClellan.

Bush called it "wild speculation," and McClellan said the United States would go ahead with "normal military contingency planning."

Those are hardly categorical denials.
So let's look at what the human costs of dropping a tactical nuclear weapon on Iran might entail.

They are astronomical.

"The number of deaths could exceed a million, and the number of people with increased cancer risks could exceed 10 million," according to a backgrounder by the Union of Concerned Scientists from May 2005.

The National Academy of Sciences studied these earth-penetrating nuclear weapons last year. They could "kill up to a million people or more if used in heavily populated areas," concluded the report, which was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Defense.

Physicians for Social Responsibility examined the risks of a more advanced buster-bunker weapon, and it eerily tabulated the toll from an attack on the underground nuclear facility in Esfahan, Iran. "Three million people would be killed by radiation within two weeks of the explosion, and 35 million people in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India, would be exposed to increased levels of cancer-causing radiation," according to a summary of that study in the backgrounder by the Union of Concerned Scientists.

While Congress last year denied funding for a new nuclear bunker-buster weapon, the Pentagon already has a stockpile of one such weapon in the arsenal: the B61-Mod11, according to Stephen Young, a senior analyst at the Federation of the American Scientists.

That the Administration is considering using such a weapon against Iran is "horrifying and ludicrous," says Young.

But it is now Bush Administration doctrine to be able to use such weapons. The new "National Security Strategy of the United States of America," which Bush unveiled in March, discusses the use of nuclear weapons in an offensive way. "Our deterrence strategy no longer rests primarily on the grim premise of inflicting devastating consequences on potential foes," it states. "Both offenses and defenses are necessary. . . . Safe, credible, and reliable nuclear forces continue to play a critical role."

Even more explicit is the Pentagon's draft of a revised doctrine for the use of nuclear weapons, which was revealed by Walter Pincus of The Washington Post last September.

It envisions using nuclear weapons for "attacks on adversary installations including WMD, deep hardened bunkers containing chemical or biological weapons." It says that the United States should be prepared to use nuclear weapons "if necessary to prevent" another country from using WMDs.

This is a mere amplification of the Nuclear Posture Review of December 31, 2001, which stated: "Nuclear weapons could be employed against targets able to withstand non-nuclear attack (for example, deep underground bunkers or bio-weapon facilities)."

If the United States used nuclear weapons against Iran, it would be violating the Nuclear NonProliferation Treaty, which prohibits nations that possess nuclear weapons from dropping them on nations that don't.

But in the Bush Administration, planning to do this is just "normal" behavior.

And a million casualties or more?

For Bush, that is evidently not a disqualification.

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If ever there was a nation not to drive to extremes, it is Iran

Simon Jenkins
Wednesday April 12, 2006
The Guardian

This week's most terrifying remark came from the foreign secretary, Jack Straw. He declared that a nuclear attack on Iran would be "completely nuts" and an assault of any sort "inconceivable". In Straw-speak, "nuts" means he's just heard it is going to happen and "inconceivable" means certain.

A measure of the plight of British foreign policy is that such words from the foreign secretary are anything but reassuring. Straw says of Iran that "there is no smoking gun, there is no casus belli". There was no smoking gun in Iraq, only weapons conjured from the fevered imagination of Downing Street and the intelligence chiefs. It is a racing certainty that Alastair Campbell look-alikes are even now cajoling MI6's John Scarlett into proving that Iran is "far closer" to a bomb than anyone thinks.
As for a casus belli, there was also none in Iraq. Tony Blair had to beat one out of the hapless attorney general before his generals would agree to fight. But Iran's casus belli was set out in unambiguous terms by the prime minister in his speech to the Foreign Policy Centre in London on March 21. Blair was updating his 1999 Chicago doctrine of global intervention. Then it was justified by humanitarianism and was optional. Now it is vital for the "battle of values ... a battle about modernity". Those who are not of our values are to be subject to pre-emptive attack.

Blair demanded that the west become "active not reactive" against alien values (obviously Islamic) as "we risk chaos threatening our stability". The crusade against them was "utterly determinative of our future here in Britain". He accepted that Britain should seek international agreement before going to war, but should still fight without it. People were crying out for democracy. We must bring it to them since "in their salvation lies our own security".

The speech was full of jihadist rhetoric. Blair's desire to wipe non-democratic values off the map is akin to Iran's view of Israel. But we know that when he says war he means war. The speech was the wildest by a British leader in modern times and was the clearest imaginable statement of a casus belli. He mentioned Iran three times. It was gilt-edged, copper-bottomed, swivel-eyed neoconservatism.

To such a world view, Iran is a far more plausible target than Iraq. It is a nation approaching 80 million people, whose values would be a real catch for "beacon democracy". Elements within its regime want nuclear weapons. The country is rich and capable of buying the relevant components. The mullahs have sponsored terrorist groups abroad and fiddled elections. In February, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad restarted uranium enrichment at the Natanz plant, in defiance of the UN, and yesterday Iran's nuclear energy chief announced that it had proved successful. What does Straw mean, "no casus belli"?

Tehran has two more weeks to stop enrichment, after which sanctions seem inevitable. Some ostracism of Iran's ruling elite might lead the parliamentary moderates and clerical oligarchs to force Ahmadinejad to back off for a time. But sanctions will split the world coalition against nuclear proliferation, since Russia and China have close trading links with Iran. The US and Britain would then be back to the same "slide to war" as in Iraq. They would have to decide whether to fight on alone or endure humiliating retreat.

A land force attack on Iran is, for forces that cannot even hold Iraq, out of the question. But sowing mayhem through bombing military targets (always causing civilian deaths) might instigate enough anarchy to stir a putsch, a regional uprising or more subtle changes within the regime. There are reports of US special forces operating inside Iran and funds being channelled to opposition groups. The US is said to be aiding Sunni Baluchi insurgents in the south, as they once did the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Bush's description on Monday of leaks about nuclear bunker-busters as "wild speculation" was part machismo, part tautology. Every weapon is an option to a soldier. It would be unlikely even for the Bush government (even with Blair's support) to put the west's status as world policeman back in the stone age. But such talk indicates the brain-scrambling effect of the Iraq war.

Iran is the first test of Blair's interventionism, and the auguries are not good. Every sabre rattle in Washington must be music to Ahmadinejad's ear. Whether or not a bombing attack might damage his factories, it is unlikely to destabilise his government, rather the reverse. It would heighten nationalist fervour and increase hatred of the west.

Sanctions that stop Iranians going to conferences or shopping in Knightsbridge are hardly of concern to mullahs. Any nation supposedly forced to "choose between weapons and the economy" chooses weapons (look at the US). The more the west threatens, the stronger is the case of Tehran's hawks for a nuclear arsenal. Iran is within range of five nuclear powers, including the US. What army would not want a deterrent when the world is awash with crazies?

Confrontation without a willingness to use total force is bluff. Many Iranian hardliners must be itching to cause more trouble in Iraq, threaten tanker lanes in the Straits of Hormuz and set Asian opinion further against the west. As for backing the Baluchi insurgents, this is madness. The most lawless group in the region are, through the Taliban, the chief enemy of British forces in Afghanistan. Is Blair aware that the US is funding his enemies? This whole venture is degenerating into a fourth crusade.

The much-vaunted neocon campaign for a secure and liberal democracy in Asia is in retreat. It is ailing in Lebanon, Palestine, Egypt, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and Pakistan. What might have been gained through security and friendship has been wrecked by the war in Iraq. War puts a premium on paranoia and encourages existing regimes to crack down on dissent. These may be rogue states, but it is time for the west to decide again which are "our rogues".

One country in the region that has retained some political pluralism is Iran. It has shown bursts of democratic activity and, importantly, has experienced internal regime change. If ever there was a nation not to drive to the extreme it is Iran. If ever there was a powerful state to reassure and befriend rather than abuse and threaten, it is Iran. If ever there was a regime not to goad into seeking nuclear weapons it is Iran. Yet that is precisely what British and American policy is doing. It is completely nuts.

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Don't Attack Iran

By Cindy Sheehan
Information Clearing House
12 April 06

Fresh from a resounding victory in Iraq, George Bush swaggered onto the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln and boldly and confidentally declared victory. It was a pretty war, it was a clean war, it looked stunning in all of its shock and awe. Wow, never was there such a swift and amazing American victory and it all looked so damn glamorous on CNN!

As fake as his codpiece was, so was his "cakewalk" of an invasion. Over 2000 thousand dead soldiers, billions of wasted dollars, thousands of maimed young people, innocent Iraqis dead by the hundreds of thousands, still no consistent electricity or clean water in their country, later, and this swaggering imbecile of a "leaker in chief" has the nerve to be trying to sell all of us on a new war in Iran.
Do the warped neocons with their puppet president think that we are all stupid? Fool us once, shame on us, fool us, -- well, we just can't be fooled again.

"But our objective is to prevent them from having a nuclear weapon," GWB, on Iran, 04/10/06 at Johns Hopkins University. So, let me get this straight, in order to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear, or "nucular" weapons, we will use tactical nuclear weapons on them! The continued hypocrisy of this regime is absolutely breathtaking!

Even having nuclear weapons is crazy, but talking about deploying them is sheer insanity. Retired General Anthony Zinni said on CNN today that Iran would not just sit back and do nothing if attacked: they have the means and the capability to retaliate. Our young people in Iraq would be sitting ducks along with Israel and our supply of natural gas and oil could be greatly compromised. I have an even scarier reason: I, and others, believe that using tactical nukes in Iran could start WWIII or IV. With all of the "Left Behind" religious fanatics praying for Armageddon, this thought is made even scarier by the fake believers in the White House who are exploiting the neo-Christian idea that Jesus was a war monger and anything our great leader does is okay, because he is a Christian man!

By putting the focus on nuclear strikes we are also forgetting the appalling destructive power that conventional weapons wield. We must not even, for one moment, contemplate a conventional invasion in Iran either. No matter how George Bush lies about how rosy things are in Iraq, they aren't, and Iraq is proof that war of any kind is a horribly tragic way to solve problems.

We must not believe BushCo or anything they say about Iran. He has lied through his teeth so many times before: From WMD and terrorism in Iraq to the fact that no one could "anticipate" the levees breaking in New Orleans. He was the leaker of the documents that outed Valerie Plame, while he promised us that the leaker would be punished. We must not allow him to frighten us into this one.

The doctrine of preemptive war is an abominable doctrine, especially when we have such a vacuum of leadership in this country that rubberstamps any maniacal thing that this president wants to do. We cannot allow our leaders to destroy the world by jousting with windmills that are no threat to our safety, or our way of life.

We must elect leaders that will get at the root causes of terrorism and not pretend that every terrorist can ever be killed to satisfy some kind of primeval bloodlust that flows through the war machine's veins. When our leaders go terrorist hunting, they kill innocent men, women and children and they, themselves, become the very thing that they are trying to teach us to loathe.

Please go to Don't Attack Iran and sign the petition to our "fearless with other people's lives" leaders and tell them that you do not support an attack on Iran.

We members of Gold Star Families for Peace, Code Pink Women for Peace, Traprock Peace Center, AfterDowningStreet.org, Democrats.com, Progressive Democrats of America, The Velvet Revolution, and Global Exchange urge you to sign the petition prohibiting our leaders from committing more war crimes and crimes against humanity in our names. We must loudly repudiate the crimes lest we be accused of them also.

We cannot allow an attack on Iran. We must restore sanity to our country if it's not too late already.

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This George Is No Washington

By William John Cox
Media Monitors
11 April 06

Each was elected president of the United States, but George the 43rd possesses none of the courage, intelligence, or wisdom of the first.
George Washington was born into a respectable planting family in Virginia. His father died when he was 11, leaving a widow and seven children. The young Washington received a grade-school education; however, he was unable to attend college. He had to go to work at age 16 as a surveyor and ultimately conducted more than 190 surveys on the Virginia frontier. When Washington was 20 years old, he petitioned the governor for a military appointment, and began to lead a series of military expeditions into the Ohio Country, where he engaged in battles with the French and their Indian allies. He was ultimately appointed a colonel, and in 1755 he became an aide-de-camp to the British General Braddock, who was leading an invasion into the French-held Ohio region. Braddock was killed and his army defeated during an Indian ambush; however, Washington was able to rally the troops and saved the lives of many soldiers. Two horses were shot out from under him, and four bullets pierced his coat as he maneuvered in the thick of the battle.

Only 23 years of age, Washington was appointed as Commander in Chief of the Virginia Regiment. He learned lessons from Braddock's defeat and trained his troops in both the rigorous discipline of British troops and the "bushfighting" tactics of Indian warriors. For the next three and a half years, he led his thousand "Blues" in constant combat operations on the Virginia frontier in the war against France. He knew most of his soldiers personally and was viewed as a father figure, even though most of the soldiers were older than him. He resigned his commission in 1758 to get married and to attend to his family's estate.

George W. Bush was born to high privilege; his great-grandfathers helped establish and earned enormous profits from the military industrial complex and, his grandfather helped finance Hitler's war machine. His parents were both raised in wealthy households attended by servants, and they spoiled George Jr., their first born. He was allowed to abuse his siblings, to torment and kill animals and to sustain mediocrity in his education. He required his father's "legacy" to get into Yale, where he organized physical hazing described in newspaper reports as "degrading, sadistic and obscene." He was arrested for theft, disorderly conduct, drunk driving and possession of cocaine.

In 1968, 296,406 American boys were drafted into military service, and 6,332 came home from Vietnam in body bags. Although he was 22 years old, a college graduate, and physically fit, Bush's father pulled strings to jump him over 500 waiting applicants and into the Texas Air National Guard, even though he could only answer 25 of the 100 questions on the pilot aptitude test. Bush declined to volunteer for Vietnam service, choosing instead to patrol the skies over Houston, Texas on weekends, until he grew bored and went AWOL.

In the management of his family's estate, George Washington brought to bear the same skills and energy he had used in creating the Virginia Regiment. Over the next 17 years, he more than doubled the size of Mount Vernon and, in 1766, to overcome the planters' dependence on English merchants, he abandoned tobacco as a cash crop. He began to grow wheat; he built his own mill to process it into flour; and he began to spin and weave locally produced linen and wool to clothe his workers. Washington built a schooner to harvest fish from the Potomac, and purchased a larger ship to transport his own products to European markets. He organized the Mississippi Land Company to obtain control over 2.5 million acres along the Ohio River, and he fought for the rights of Virginia veterans to receive land along the western rivers on the same basis as British regulars.

In 1978, having never worked at a real job, George W. Bush decided to venture into the oil business. He was 32 years old and had an uncle who was a wealthy Wall Street banker to give him a start. Spending more time in West Texas barrooms and on the golf course than the oil patch over the next 12 years, Bush was repeatedly on the verge of bankruptcy and was bailed out by Salem bin Laden, the brother of Osama bin Laden, and by other individuals and corporations seeking favors from his father, the Vice President. In 1990, Bush used insider information of impending losses to dump his corporate stock and illegally failed to report the sale to the SEC for eight months, during which time the value of the stock plummeted. Bush used the proceeds to pay off a half-million-dollar loan he had obtained the previous year to purchase a two-percent interest in the Texas Rangers, Dallas's baseball franchise. Although Bush had been restricted from having anything to do with managing the franchise, he ultimately ended up with almost $15 million when it was sold. Bush bragged that his success was due to hard work, and he denied he had ever profited from his family connections.

George Washington served in the House of Burgesses, and in 1769 he called for Virginia to boycott English goods and for an end to the slave trade. In 1774, he was elected as one of seven delegates from Virginia to the Continental Congress. The following year he was returned to the Second Continental Congress, receiving 106 of the 108 votes cast, and he was chosen to command the Virginia militia. In the Second Congress, after chairing four committees on military readiness, Washington was appointed as Commander in Chief of the Continental Army. He agreed to serve without pay, and for the next six years he was constantly with his soldiers in the field. During battles, he would appear on his horse among the front lines as bullets flew past and others fell dead and wounded by his side.

The war did not immediately go well for the Americans, and during the battle of Long Island, the siege of Fort Washington, and the Forage War, the British and Hessian troops often provided no "quarter" in putting to death all rebels who fell into their hands. The wounded had their brains dashed out, were run through with bayonets and their bodies were mutilated. American prisoners were imprisoned under conditions of great misery, including the holds of prison ships in New York harbor, where large numbers died after great suffering. In spite of these war crimes, Washington never denied quarter to the enemy and ordered that all prisoners be treated as human beings with the same rights that the rebels were fighting for. He wrote, "Treat them with humanity, and let them have no reason to Complain of our Copying the brutal example of the British army in their Treatment of our unfortunate brethren." Washington particularly ordered that Hessian soldiers were "innocent people in this war, and were not volunteers, but forced into this war." The Hessians were treated with such respect and humanity that they were allowed to march to the rear without escort, and 23 percent of all Hessian soldiers who survived the war chose to remain in America.

Following the American victory in Yorktown, Washington retired to Mount Vernon until he was called upon to attend and chair the Constitutional Convention. With ratification of the Constitution and establishment of the United States in 1789, Washington was twice unanimously selected by all electors and served two terms as the Nation's first president. Regarding the government, he said, "As Mankind becomes more liberal, they will be more apt to allow that all those who conduct themselves as worthy members of the community are equally entitled to the protections of civil government. I hope ever to see America among the foremost nations of justice and liberality."

George W. Bush jogged for Congress in 1978 and was decisively defeated. In 1990, he hired consultant Karl Rove to make him over from a failed featherweight businessman into a heavyweight political contender. Relying on policy teams to formulate positions, Rove reduced them to simple terms and phrases for Bush to memorize. The plan worked and Bush was elected in 1994 as Governor of Texas, a largely ceremonial job. The same formula almost succeeded in the presidential election of 2000 when Bush came within a half million votes of Al Gore in the popular vote; however, family connections again bailed him out. His father's former Secretary of State, James Baker flew into Florida where Bush's brother Jeb was governor, the chief vote counter chaired his reelection committee, and only a few hundred disputed votes separated the candidates. After the Florida Supreme Court found for Gore, Bush appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, where a majority appointed by President Reagan and his father ruled that the intent of the Florida voters was irrelevant and Bush was anointed as president.

Bush presided over a failed presidency and his public approval ratings were barely above 50 percent when al Qaeda attacked on September 11, 2001, much like lighting striking the well-insured building of a bankrupt company. As a "war president," Bush established an outdoor prison camp at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba where POW's were confined in chain-link cages open to the elements and denied the rights guaranteed by the Geneva Convention; he illegally held hundreds of undocumented immigrants in prison without access to counsel; he denied all due process to American citizens imprisoned as an "enemy combatants;" he established secret prisons in other countries; he ordered the kidnaping and "extraordinary rendition" of individual into other countries where they were brutally tortured; and he authorized the illegal use of torture in the questioning of prisoners in places such as Abu Ghraib, as long as it didn't produce organ failure or death, or was done in accordance with "military necessity." Even when Congress passed legislation, which he resisted, forbidding the torture of prisoners, Bush appended a "signing statement" in which he said he would follow the law only if and as he decided.

Although there is no evidence that George Washington ever declined as a child to lie about chopping down a cherry tree, his personal probity is a matter of history. He said, "There is but one straight course, and that is to seek truth and pursue it steadily." He hoped to possess "firmness and virtue enough to maintain what I consider the most enviable of all titles, the character of an honest man."

George W. Bush says, "I am the president, see? And I do not have to explain myself to anyone." However, when he does try to explain, it's like something from Through the Looking Glass: "'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said [to Alice], in a rather scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean, neither more nor less.'" Bush recently said, "when the President speaks, he better mean what he says." However, the record is increasingly clear - his words have no true meaning for the rest of us, except to signal that great danger lies ahead.

In his State of the Union speech on January 28, 2003, Bush stated that the International Atomic Energy Agency had confirmed that Iraq had an advanced nuclear weapons development program, when in fact the IAEA maintained it had destroyed the program; he stated that Iraq had purchased high-quality aluminum tubes "suitable for nuclear weapons production," when the IAEA and his own Energy Department had already concluded that they were not suitable for the refining of uranium; and he said, "The British Government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa," when in truth the CIA had informed Bush that the allegations were "highly dubious."

On March 17, 2003, Bush told the American people that Iraq possessed some of the "most lethal weapons ever devised and that it had "aided, trained and harbored terrorists, including operatives of al Qaeda." These were all lies, as was his statement that "every measure has been taken to avoid war." Actually, every step was taken to ensure war. It came, and no weapons of mass destruction were ever found, or any evidence that al Qaeda had ever been active in Iraq.

In June and July 2003, former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson informed the media and the public that Bush had "twisted" intelligence on Iraq's nuclear program and had not dealt honestly with Wilson's findings during his investigation in Niger that there was no evidence that Iraq was seeking uranium. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney conspired to punish Wilson and to destroy his credibility by selectively leaking portions of a classified CIA National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq's efforts to acquire weapons of mass destruction. Acting on their direct orders, Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby secretly informed two reporters about those portions which supported the Administration's conclusion, while concealing evidence to the contrary. In a further effort to discredit Wilson, Libby went on to disclose that Wilson's wife, whom he identified by name as an undercover CIA operative, had arranged the trip. Undoubtedly acting at Bush's direction, his Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove and National Security Adviser Steven Hadley also secretly leaked the same information to other reporters.

CIA officers were furious when the leaks were published and demanded a criminal investigation. There was a public outcry, and a special prosecutor was appointed to identify and prosecute the leakers. Here's what Bush had to say: "I want to know the truth. ... I have no idea whether we'll find out who the leaker is." "I don't know of anybody in my administration who leaked classified information. If somebody did leak classified information, I'd like to know it, and we'll take the appropriate action." And finally, "If someone in my administration committed a crime, they will no longer work in my administration." When he was interviewed by the special prosecutor's investigators, Bush, accompanied by a criminal defense attorney, denied any prior knowledge that anyone on his staff had been involved in a campaign to discredit Wilson or that he had authorized the leaks. Did these words have any meaning other than a callow attempt to avoid responsibility?

As Commander in Chief, George Washington's letters to Congress always took the form of requests rather than demands, and he always acknowledged that his authority was granted by Congress. Once the war was won, there were those who wanted Washington to declare himself king. He told one such advocate to "banish these thoughts from your Mind" and said that the idea was "big with the greatest mischiefs that can befall my Country." King George III commented that if Washington was able to resist becoming king he would be "the greatest man in the world."

Washington sought to expand the powers of Congress, writing "if the powers of Congress are not enlarged, and made competent to all general purposes, that the Blood which has been spilt, and the expence that has been incurred, and the distresses which have been felt, will avail in nothing." He said, "The constitution vests the power of declaring war in Congress; therefore no offensive expedition of importance can be undertaken until after they shall have deliberated upon the subject and authorized such a measure."

George W. Bush has sometimes quipped that it would be so much easier to govern in a dictatorship; however, it is increasingly clear that the real joke is on the American people. Since taking office, Bush has virtually eliminated the public's access to government records; he has issued more than 100 "signing statements," upon signing bills of legislation essentially nullifying any part he does not intend to obey; he has refused to disclose the membership and deliberations of a secret energy panel which formulated government policy; he has suppressed any dissent within government agencies that contradicted his narrow-minded policies; he has punished "whistle-blowers" for revealing government corruption and illegal activities; he deployed the military to spy on non-violent protest groups; he authorized the secret and illegal wiretapping of the telephone conversations and e-mails of thousands of American citizens; and he has lied about it - repeatedly.

In establishing an imperial presidency, Bush seeks to avoid all accountability and oversight. He has used his "global war on terror" to expand presidential powers far beyond any grant by Congress, even denying that Congress has the power to limit him, if it interferes with his role as Commander in Chief of the military. More importantly, Bush has sought to deceive the American people about his crimes over and over and over, and the risk of harm posed by his criminality continues to increase.

The Reagan administration organized "readiness exercises" which called for the Federal Emergency Management Agency to round up and detain up to 400,000 "refugees" in the event of "uncontrolled population movements" over the Mexican border into the United States. In January 2006, the Army Corps of Engineers awarded a $385 million contract to a Halliburton subsidiary to construct detention centers in the United States to cope with "an emergency influx of immigrants into the US, or to support the rapid development of new programs." Each detention center is designed to hold up to 5,000 detainees, should Bush decide to declare martial law in the event of another terrorist attack or a natural disaster, such as another Katrina or an Asian Flu epidemic.

Bush has authorized the military to become engaged in "counter-terrorism" operations inside the United States and to conduct "special access" surveillance programs. The Pentagon's national Counterterrorism Center now holds the names of 325,000 "terrorism" suspects. It is unknown how many of these "suspects" are American citizens defined as terrorist "affiliates." The Pentagon's "Strategy for Homeland Defense and Civil Support" pledges to "transform US military forces to execute homeland defense mission in the ... US homeland." The military considers antiwar protests to be a "threat" and protestors as "those who would harm us." The Pentagon's Civilian Inmate Labor Program (which provides for the use of civilian inmate labor on Army installations) was recently revised. Are these the "new programs?" Should we fear our president?

In the fall of 1789, George Washington undertook a tour of the North, and the new citizens of the United States turned out in great numbers to greet their national hero. In the spring of 1791, Washington toured the South continuing to honor his pledge to visit all the states. One newspaper editorial criticized his being treated as a canonized American saint at every stop. Any fears that he would become king were put to rest when, after eight years in office, Washington quietly retired to Mount Vernon where he continued an active life, but took little part in politics. On December 12, 1799, Washington rode all day in a freezing storm attending to his plantation, but refused to change his wet clothes to avoid keeping his dinner guests waiting. He caught a severe throat infection and pneumonia and died on December 14, 1799. Washington was truly a great man.

George W. Bush's public approval ratings are now down to 36 percent and falling fast. Americans are increasingly concerned about the rationality of any decision he makes, particularly as he is aggressively and obsessively seeking to extend his war on global terror into an atomic attack on Iran and to further curtail the freedoms of American citizens. At 30 percent, the Republican-controlled Congress's ratings are even lower than Bush's, and it is likely that the Democrats will increase their representation in Congress in the fall elections, perhaps even achieving a majority. Impeachment and criminal indictment may be on the horizon. Bush is an ignorant and vindictive little man.

This George is no Washington. George Washington was the Father of His Country. George W. Bush could be the Destroyer of His Country. To preserve our freedoms, America must return to the ideology upon which the United States was founded, and Americans must demand that our elected leaders adhere to those ideals.

William John Cox, the author of "You're Not Stupid! Get the Truth: A Brief on the Bush Presidency," is currently a senior prosecutor for the State Bar of California. As a professional police officer he authored the Policy Manual of the Los Angeles Police Department and the Role of the Police in America for a National Advisory Commission during the Nixon administration. Acting as a public interest, pro bono, attorney, he filed a class action lawsuit in 1979 on behalf of every citizen of the United States petitioning the Supreme Court to order the other two branches of the federal government to conduct a National Policy Referendum; he investigated and successfully sued a group of radical right-wing organizations in 1981 that denied the Holocaust; and he arranged in 1991 for the publication of the suppressed Dead Sea Scrolls. He contributed this article to Media Monitors Network (MMN) from California, USA.

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Bush Must Be Shocked: He's The Leaker

By Lloyd Garver
CBS Broadcasting Inc.
12 April 06

Last week, we learned through Dick Cheney's former aide, "Scooter" Libby, that it was President Bush who authorized the leaking of a classified document that detailed certain conclusions about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.

Since then, politicians, lawyers, and Constitutional experts have been debating whether the president has the legal right to declassify classified material whenever he wants.

I'll leave that debate to them. What concerns me is, why didn't President Bush just come out and say that he was the leaker? Instead, when this leak first became public, the president said that anyone in his administration involved in the leak would be fired. Is he going to fire himself now?
If he didn't mislead us when he acted outraged about the leak, what was he doing? It reminds me of the famous scene in "Casablanca" when the Claude Raines character closes the café saying, "I am shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on here!" A moment later, a croupier hands Raines his winnings. If Bush not only knew about the leak but authorized it, wasn't he being dishonest with us when he claimed he was "shocked, shocked" to hear about the leak?

As with the wiretapping flap, why didn't he just come forward and "cowboy up?" Why didn't he say, "I'll tell you who was responsible for the leak. It was me. And as president, I have every right to declassify material whenever I want to. I did nothing illegal, and nothing I need to apologize for." Then the lawyers could have debated the issue, but at least the president would have been honest with us.

Instead, after some pressure, the administration appointed an independent special prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald, to investigate.

That investigation reminds me of another movie: "No Way Out." In that one, Kevin Costner was put in charge of an investigation in which, unbeknownst to anyone else, he was the culprit everyone was looking for. President Bush has been saying that this investigation should run its course, but he's known all along who the big leaker was - him.

Now that it's public knowledge, the president has come forward and acknowledged that it was his decision to declassify the material and get the information - which turned out to be misinformation - to the American public.

But why did they leak it in the first place? If the administration really believed in the "intelligence" about weapons of mass destruction and that Saddam Hussein was seeking nuclear material from Africa, why not just say this was the case?

If it's not illegal for the President to decide to declassify something, why not just declassify it and tell everyone what's in it instead of secretly leaking it?

If they primarily wanted the threat from Iraq to appear greater than it really was, we should know about that. If they leaked the report to discredit one of their critics, Joseph Wilson, and/or his CIA wife, Valerie Plame, we should know about that. Now is not the time for more "movie acting."

Just tell us the truth.

When the wiretapping that the administration was secretly doing became public, President Bush said, "It was a shameful act for someone to disclose this very important program in a time of war."

Is it less shameful to leak information from classified documents? Last time I looked, that same war was going on.

Way back in 2003, White House spokesman Scott McClellan denied that administration officials had anything to do with the leaking of the identity of CIA operative, Valerie Plame. He said, "I'm telling you flatly that that is not the way this White House operates."

Oh, really?

It sounds exactly the way this White House operates - in shadows, in secrecy, in defining its own power. Their position has consistently been, "If you're against our policies and you do something we don't like, you're disloyal and hurting the war effort. If we do the same things, we're just doing our jobs."

So, what was my reaction when I found out that not only Vice President Cheney, but President Bush was behind this leak? I was shocked, shocked that such a thing could take place in this administration.

Lloyd Garver writes a weekly column for SportsLine.com. He has written for many television shows, while awake, ranging from "Sesame Street" to "Family Ties" to "Frasier." He has also read many books, some of them in hardcover.

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The American Caesar: Time to Hold Bush and Cheney Accountable

By Ralph Nader
12 April 06

In the name of fighting stateless terrorism, George W. Bush is looming as the American Caesar running roughshod over the civil liberties of the American people who have turned against him in ever larger majorities.

In the name of fighting terrorism, George W. Bush fabricated numerous excuses for illegally invading Iraq and occupying it for now over three costly years in ways that are magnets for the recruitment and training of ever more stateless terrorists. His own CIA Director, Porter Goss, made exactly this point in testimony before the U.S. Senate in February 2005. So too have many retired intelligence and military specialists including those who recently worked for George W. Bush.
More and more evidence of the workings of Caesar Bush are coming to public light. Just this week, in court filings by the prosecutor against the indicted I. Lewis Libby Jr., Dick Cheney's right hand man, another thunderbolt came forth. Mr. Libby testified that, in the words of The New York Times, "Mr. Bush, who has long criticized leaks of secret information as a threat to national security" himself approved Libby leaking just such information to the press in order to rebut a critic.

Democratic Senate Leader, Senator Harry Reid (D-Nevada) said that "in light of today's shocking revelation, President Bush must fully disclose his participation in the selective leaking of classified information," calling the President "the leaker in chief."

Not that the Democrats will do anything about this latest outrage, but the Republicans in the Congress are reaching certain limits to their self-censored sycophancy toward Caesar Bush. Also this week, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales told a House Committee that the President may have the legal authority even to wiretap communications between Americans inside the United States without a court order. When pressured for his authority behind such breathtaking outlawry, he fell back on his usual Caesarean mantra - "his inherent [the President's] role as commander in chief." Sounds like the modern version of the "divine right of Kings".

This was too much even for the House Judiciary Chair, Republican F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr. (R-Wisconsin), who accused the Bush administration of "stonewalling".

Unbridled Presidential authority is un-American whether in peacetime, wartime or fighting a gang whose exaggerated power has served Bush and Cheney very well politically. How better to silence the Democrats, stifle or chill public dissent, distract attention from domestic necessities, until their post-Katrina debacle, enrich their donating corporate buddies with military contracts and concentrate more lawless power in the White House at the expense of the courts and Congress than by breaking our constitutional system of separation of powers?

Mr. Bush gave the "Go" signal for the leak without going through a conventional declassification process to determine how such "information might compromise methods or sources," according to Professor Jonathan Turley of the George Washington University Law School.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-California) summed the leak up this way:

If the [Bush] administration believes it can tap purely domestic phone calls between Americans without court approval, there is no limit to executive power. This is contrary to settled law and the most basic constitutional principles of the separation of powers.

Still the Democrats do not have the modest fortitude to support Senator Russell Feingold's (D-Wisconsin) modest motion to censure George W. Bush. The Democrats are waiting for more incriminating material to spill out from the Executive Branch to add to the mounds of evidence already made public from U.S. and British sources.

For sure more will spill out. Whenever there are court cases like Libby's, where the defendant wants to defend only himself, there will be more damaging memos, emails, testimony and maybe confessions. When an awakened mainstream media is hungry in pursuit of such stories, you can be sure more will come out. Inside contacts and sources will increase. Retirements will increase as well to produce more whistleblowers.

If the House and Senate start exercising their constitutional rights to oversight, more power will be added to extract information from the gold mines of what Bush and Cheney did and when prior and after the invasion of Iraq.

At some point the Bush regime's luck, bred by secrecy, cover-ups and mendacity, will run out. The critical mass will be reached. And the American Caesar will fall, with or without the assistance of the pitiful Democrats.

Writing about the Democratic Primary race in Connecticut between Senator Joseph Lieberman and Ned Lamont, who calls the incumbent "Bush's favorite Democrat", Keith C. Burris of the Manchester, Connecticut Journal Inquirer declares, "Even in wartime, the power of government must be checked; even in wartime the president is not a law unto himself; even in wartime the people deserve to be informed by the free exchange of ideas. Even in wartime, the citizens may seek to change the government."

Especially during an unconstitutional, illegal war in Iraq started by George W. Bush! See http://www.DemocracyRising.US for more information.

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Connecting the Dots to Treason

Len Hart
The Existentialist Cowboy
12 April 06

Bush lied about having found WMD in Iraq for almost a year after the story had been discredited by the Pentagon itself. But this was the same year that Valerie Plame would be "outed" by George W. Bush. Is there a connection?
First the Washington Post story:

Lacking Biolabs, Trailers Carried Case for War
Administration Pushed Notion of Banned Iraqi Weapons Despite Evidence to Contrary

By Joby Warrick
Washington Post Staff WriterM

Wednesday, April 12, 2006; A01
On May 29, 2003, 50 days after the fall of Baghdad, President Bush proclaimed a fresh victory for his administration in Iraq: Two small trailers captured by U.S. and Kurdish troops had turned out to be long-sought mobile "biological laboratories." He declared, "We have found the weapons of mass destruction."

The claim, repeated by top administration officials for months afterward, was hailed at the time as a vindication of the decision to go to war. But even as Bush spoke, U.S. intelligence officials possessed powerful evidence that it was not true. ...

Damien recently posted a link to the following information:

Outed CIA officer was working on Iran, intelligence sources say
Larisa Alexandrovna

Published: February 13, 2006

The unmasking of covert CIA officer Valerie Plame Wilson by White House officials in 2003 caused significant damage to U.S. national security and its ability to counter nuclear proliferation abroad, Raw Story has learned.

According to current and former intelligence officials, Plame Wilson, who worked on the clandestine side of the CIA in the Directorate of Operations as a non-official cover (NOC) officer, was part of an operation tracking distribution and acquisition of weapons of mass destruction technology to and from Iran.
Speaking under strict confidentiality, intelligence officials revealed heretofore unreported elements of Plame's work. Their accounts suggest that Plame's outing was more serious than has previously been reported and carries grave implications for U.S. national security and its ability to monitor Iran's burgeoning nuclear program ...

That Plame was "outed" raises serious questions but not merely about the competence of a regime already known to be incompetent. It's worse than that! There is no rational explanation for persisting in a WMD story known to be untrue even as Bush "leaks" information that disrupts Plame's operation. Revenge against Wilson is most certainly a factor, but Bush's motives for deliberately undermining the security of the U.S. must surely go beyond mere revenge. What are the motives for high treason? But, of course, that MSM will never ask that question until they face the emerging truth: Bush betrayed the United States.

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Democracy From Below

By Rana Bose
Counter Currents
12 April 06

Something is happening in this post-Cold War era of struggles for social justice. There is a spectre once again haunting the world, when it comes to popular movements. It is the spectre of movements rooted in pragmatic thinking (as opposed to hidebound theory), enjoying significant popular support and more importantly aligned internationally with a global enthusiasm to counter the will and strong arm tactics of a failing empire known as the United States.
These movements are firmly rooted in their people and at the same time they have an astounding maturity that combines the local and indigenous element with the global condition. They have a plan for the immediate and a plan for the future. They want to achieve what is achievable, today, taking the people along with them, make the necessary compromises and they have in certain cases the resources to fight the onslaught of finance and military muscle arranged against them, with their own resources.

The depression in the left-wing camp after the demise of the erstwhile Soviet Union has been put aside. It is a period of recovery. Whereas the media-savvy Chiapas-style movement combined a certain contemporariness with indigenous mass involvement in an era of combating "globalization", the current condition is best described by two developments of a different nature. Nepal and Venezuela represent this new development and have basically drawn a "line in the terrain of the whole world" so as to speak.

The Maoists in Nepal have proven repeatedly that while they can operate with impunity in the jungles and mountains and have virtually surrounded all the major centers (and can even knock out military helicopters from the skies) they can also come out of their hideouts and give interviews to the BBC and many other mainstream media and eloquently present themselves as having consistently asked for a constituent assembly and a multi-party system. Their demand for Nepal to come out of an archaic monarchist-feudal era run by palace buffoons and military thugs, rings true. They have also successfully aligned themselves with mainstream opposition parties to form a classic United Front against backward elements and toadies.

Theirs is a genuine armed struggle whose end goal is to end the armed struggle. They have clearly advanced in forming a parallel society in the countryside and are already running it and defending it. The fabled Royal Nepalese Army can do very little except to confine themselves to city centers and launch occasional forays and cause civilian casualties. The Maoists also admit to their mistakes openly, do not have illusions of marching into Katmandu at the head of a column of tanks and also do not expect a communist regime to emerge out of such a feudal developmental stage that Nepal is in.

The Maoists in Nepal also know that the Indian government (and its so-called Left wing allies) would not like to see a successful Maoist movement in Nepal and its impact on Indian Maoists. They also know what the nearly hysterical rants of the US Ambassador to Nepal amount to and they also know what the totally misguided policies of the government of China amount to. They see their struggle for basic democracy as defending the rights of the poorest sections of the Nepalese people who form the majority of Nepal's poverty-ridden population, while walking a very tight corridor of international intrigue and intrusion. They know how to negotiate. They know how to call a cease-fire and also go on the offensive. They know how to stick to their promises and they also expose the buffoon king every day, without much effort. Their maturity should be a lesson for those who in India have thumped their chests for nearly forty years announcing that liberation was imminent for the Indian peasantry. Their call for a democratic constitution born out of a constituent assembly-- no one should doubt.

Several continents away another story is emerging. Out of Latin America a spate of alliances and changes have started happening with Venezuela leading the foray with their Bolivarian revolution asserting the right of nations to develop their economies independent of the diktat of the policies of the US-led IMF and World Bank. Latin American nations are forming their own alliances regionally and no amount of demonizing and Hugo-bashing can detract from the fact that Venezuela is significantly more democratic and an open society, then the Latin America that the United States would like to see. In Venezuela, Argentina, Peru, and even in Uruguay, Brazil and Chile one can see a growing assertion of people and indigenous movements to come out of the centuries old stranglehold of US policies operating through tin-pot dictatorships and fascistic military putschists of the old era. The Monroe doctrine has been pitched and cannot be revived. Even the Sandinistas may soon be back in power. In Latin America, there is one important element to be recognized. For once, oil wealth is being turned into a resource to provide health, education, housing and food for the poor. In fact Venezuela even controls one of the largest oil companies operating in the US (Citgo) and has effectively offered discount gasoline to the poorer sections of the US population and it is actually a functional operation in many southern states, even though the United States hates to admit it.

The dilemma with pre-democratic (feudal Nepal) and "post-democratic"( post-feudal Venezuela and Latin America) is that both palace thugs and modern capitalists require the trappings of "democracy" to go about palace intrigue and capital accumulation. A subservient social class that can maintain this set-up for the kings and the Pinochets of the world have now been virtually made to run in both Nepal and Venezuela.

Methods of popular self-government (village people's committees) and barrio assemblies have been developed to run civic society more and more. What has radicalized both Nepalese society and Venezuelan society is the "decommissioning" of these "middle-forces" (the petit-bourgeoisie representatives) and their "democratic" institutions. These institutions relied on the legacy of "aid" "loans" and the attendant dependence and corruption to completely paralyze these economies. This has all come to a head. In Nepal, by the assertion of the Maoists through their ten-year consistent armed self-defense and widespread popularization of their struggles and in Venezuela by the brash but thoughtful assertion of Hugo Chavez to tear up old arrangements where Venezuela's oil billions went to a handful of wealthy families and instead use that wealth to fight poverty. Democracy from below is replacing democracy from above. The world is witnessing, in Nepal and Venezuela, a phenomena that is rare. Two different types of popular and pragmatic uprisings in a post-doctrinal era.

Rana Bose is a novelist, performance artist and engineer

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The Slander That Launched Don Rumsfeld's Career

by Chris Floyd
12 April 06

An anecdote from James Carroll's magnificent new book, House of War (which I'll be reviewing here soon) provides a brief but penetrating glimpse at the gutter politics and moral nullity that have marked the entire career of the Pentagon warlord -- and the rest of his cohorts in the Bush gang.
In 1963, John F. Kennedy nominated Paul H. Nitze as Secretary of the Navy. This was actually a demotion for Nitze, who, as Carroll notes, had been at the very heart of American power for almost 20 years by then. He was in fact one of the godfathers of the Cold War, a Wall Street blue-blood turned high-level bureaucrat who served several presidents but was always driven by the same vision: projecting American dominance to the four corners of the earth, using an ever-expanding nuclear arsenal as the tip of the spear. For Nitze, thoroughly marinated in the "paranoid school" of U.S. political thought, no Pentagon budget was ever too big, no policy was ever too aggressive (including first-strike nuclear attacks), no restriction on American liberty was ever sufficient to stave off the demonic, all-powerful "evil empire" of the Soviet Union, which threatened, at every moment, to destroy America and its "way of life."

Nitze was the author of NSC-68, the document that more than any other engineered the militarization of American society and constituted the re-founding of the country as a "National Security State," controlled by the military-industrial complex and driven by a nightmare vision of exaggerated threats, craven fear, secrecy and deception, bellicosity and brinkmanship. This vision has waxed and waned in intensity at various times over the years, but it has never been displaced as the central dynamic of American power. The demonic, all-powerful enemy has now morphed from the Soviet Union to Islamic extremism, but the paranoid rhetoric and "Pentagon uber alles" philosophy of the Cold War has been seamlessly transferred whole cloth to the supposedly transformed "post-9/11 age."

And in the Bush administration, this nightmare Nitzean philosophy has reached its apotheosis in the war-making, liberty-gutting dictatorship of the Commander-in-Chief that George W. Bush proclaims more openly every day. Thus Nitze is one of the Founding Fathers of the new Bushist State, and Rumsfeld is one of his most dutiful sons.

All the more ironic then, that Rumsfeld began his career with a vicious smear of Nitze during his confirmation hearings for the Navy nomination. Rumsfeld was then a rookie Congressman from Illinois looking to make a name for himself. Nitze, who had been one of Kennedy's top advisors, had fallen out of favor with the young president. During two flashpoints that brought the world to the very brink of nuclear war -- in Berlin and Cuba -- Nitze had urged Kennedy to take military action, including nuclear first strikes if necessary. He derided the "morality questions" involved in taking the world to nuclear war, and accused Robert Kennedy (and indirectly the president) of "appeasement" for seeking peaceful solutions. For some reason, Nitze thought all this would win him a much longed-for nomination as Deputy Secretary of Defense -- the same position held much later by Paul Wolfowitz. But Kennedy had other ideas. Nitze was too powerful, too well-connected to jettison outright -- as Carroll's book makes clear, by this time the presidency had become in large part a prisoner of the Pentagon -- so he was palmed off with the Navy job.

And here he came into the crosshairs of young Don Rumsfeld. Any confirmation hearing is a good opportunity for the political opposition to score points off the sitting administration, but what could a hard-right, rampant Cold Warrior like Rumsfeld find to say against one of the chief architects of America's bristling, ever-expanding nuclear arsenal and its policies of aggressive "rollback" that even then beginning to ensnare the United States in the bloody quagmire of Vietnam? Here was a man after Rumsfeld's own cold heart. But the budding Bushist knew just what to do in such a situation: you lie. You come up with the most ludicrous, unsupported, impossible lie that you can think of -- then you launch it in the most public way possible. Yes, it's the old "Big Lie" gambit, consciously perfected by Josef Goebbels in Nazi Germany and now the chief mode of political discourse used by the Bush Administration. And although George W. himself was just a prep school cheerleader at the time, Rumsfeld was already honing the skills he would need to serve the master to come.

Rumsfeld accused Nitze -- of all people -- of being a pinko wimp who supported nuclear disarmament in the face of the implacable Soviet foe. What was the basis of this outrageous charge, which made about as much sense as calling Gandhi a war profiteer? It seems that years before, Nitze had attended a meeting of the National Council of Churches. At this conference, some people had spoken in favor of disarmament; others opposed it. In fact, the keynote speaker at the event was John Foster Dulles, then Secretary of State and one of the most aggressive and military-minded figures ever to hold power at the State Department (until the arrival of Condi Rice). It was, in other words, a very Establishment affair, where the great and good gather to pontificate and eat prime rib; "hardly a gathering of pinkos," Carroll notes. Nitze himself had a copious public record of speaking out against disarmament.

But none of these facts stopped Rumsfeld from publicly slandering Nitze at the hearings as a disarmer, a betrayer of national security, the kind of weakling who would cut and run in the face of the enemy. For Rumsfeld, the merest, fleeting association with any organization that so much as entertained the notion of pursuing peace over domination was enough to taint a nominee. Other Republicans followed the firebrand stripling's Big Lie and pounded Nitze -- one of the greatest champions of war, even genocidal nuclear war, in American history -- as a peacenik unworthy to head the Navy. Nitze survived the assault and won the confirmation vote, barely; but as Carroll writes, "the wound of the insult would never heal." As for Rumsfeld, his particular brand of ideological nastiness was noted -- and approved -- by powerful factions in the Republican Party, and when Richard Nixon brought the party back to power five years later, he found room for the hawkish hatchet man in the White House. Rumsfeld was a made man; he would remain entrenched in the bowels of the military-industrial, and often at the center of government, from that time until today.

And every step of the way, his career has been marked by mendacity, duplicity, smirking chatter and deadly ideological blindness -- for example, in the White House, he was a champion of the infamous "Team B" group that insisted that all of the CIA's intelligence about the Soviet Union's declining economy, its military weakness and its genuine desire to reach a new, peaceful accommodation to the West while reforming its own system was all false; Rumsfeld and his cohorts insisted -- on the basis of false evidence, manipulated evidence and no evidence at all -- that the "evil empire" was developing a whole range of new super-weapons that would be able to destroy the United States at a moment's notice. The fact that the CIA, the NSA, the DIA and the whole phalanx of America's intelligence services couldn't find any evidence for these weapons of mass destruction only proved how devious the Russians were in cloaking them. This group of "outside advisers" was formed by then-CIA Director George H.W. Bush; when he and goofy front-man Ronald Reagan took office in 1981, Rumsfeld and the B-teamers were able to "stovepipe" their twisted non-intelligence directly to the White House, which used it to justify gargantuan increases in military budgets and missile systems.

The Big Lie -- first deployed against his ideological soul-mate, Paul Nitze -- has served Rumsfeld well throughout his long career. And now he may cap this long and dirty record with the greatest irony of all: making Nitze's dream come true by launching nuclear weapons in an unprovoked first strike against a demonized Enemy -- Iran.

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Hawk-Tied Democrats

By Robert Dreyfuss
Tom Paine
11 April 06

As the Russian foreign minister correctly reminds us, there is a lot about the manufactured crisis over Iran that is déjà vu: the axis of evil again, attempts to tie Iran to Al Qaeda, accusations about WMD, U.S. government efforts to play footsie with Iranian exiles, and bluster about demanding action by the United Nations or else. One other thing looks familiar, too: just as the Democrats meekly got in line to support the invasion of Iraq, many (perhaps most) elected Democrats are demanding a confrontation with Iran, too. Some, such as Hillary Clinton, are even trying to out-Bush the president in demanding a showdown with Iran.
To anyone who has read the latest policy missive from the Democratic Party describing its approach to national security, the Democrats' stance is not suprising.

At least one leading Democratic foreign policy strategist is upset with the party's refusal to contradict the president. Zbigniew Brzezinski, the Carter administration über-hawk who become an Iraq dove, provided the bluntest commentary on why the Democrats shy away from confronting the Bush administration's war-based foreign policy. Brzezinski, appearing on the April 5 "Diane Rehm Show" on NPR, noted the traditional sad critique that Democrats fear being seen as weak or vacillating on issues related to national security. But then he put the real blame squarely where it belongs: on Bill and Hillary Clinton. The former president, he said, wants his wife to be president, and together they have determined that this goal can best be reached by Hillary disguising herself as the reincarnation of Maggie Thatcher. And since Hillary the Iron Lady II is the frontrunner for the 2008 nomination, she sets the tone for the rest of the party, said the former national security adviser.

Unfortunately, Brzezinski is on the mark. Despite the fact that former Vice President Al Gore is speaking out consistently against the war in Iraq, despite the fact that Representative John Murtha has called for an American withdrawal, despite the fact that even John Kerry is now demanding a deadline for a U.S. pullout, the Democratic establishment has avoided a forthright challenge to Bush. That was obvious when, following the State of the Union speech, the Democrats chose Virginia Governor Tim Kaine to give a befuddled, Mr. Nice Guy response, whose refrain was that the Democrats have "a better way."

In the last week of March, with great hullabaloo, the Democrats presented a 123-page document called "Real Security: Protecting America and Restoring Our Leadership in the World ." The party leaders designed the document as an answer to President Bush's wreckage-strewn disaster of a U.S. national security and foreign policy. Instead, the Democrats could only manage a mealy-mouthed mishmash of half-measures, tepid critiques and bravado disguised as toughness. Much of it is said to have been "produced by the House and Senate Democrats." But in fact the main architects of the document appear to have been a host of warmed-over Clintonians and the Hillary-linked Center for American Progress, a centrist thinktank. No surprise, then, that the self-same Center for American Progress, in its March 31 "Progress Report," attacked the media, including The New York Times , CNN, and others, for ignoring the "Real Security" document. In fact, if it was newsworthy at all, it was because it only confirmed that the Democrats are so weighed down by the likes of Hillary Clinton, Joe Lieberman, Jane Harman and Rahm Emanuel that they are utterly incapable of anything like bold new thinking on national security.

Rather than call for an end to the war in Iraq by setting a timetable, starting a drawdown of forces, and allowing the Arab League and the United Nations to play the lead role in stabilizing Iraq, the Democrats call for what can only be called "Bush Lite." Like Bush, they insist that the key to stabilizing Iraq is the endless quest to recruit, train, and equip Iraqi security forces. In the paper, they present no strategy for getting out of Iraq, instead calling on President Bush to come up with "a plan." That said, the Democrats' document goes on and on with things like "better pay for the troops," "more funding for body armor and other equipment," "reimbursing soldiers and families for body armor" and "more funding for up-armored Humvees." Is the biggest problem facing America in Iraq the fact that our troops need more body armor and tougher Humvees? As the Iraqi forces take over, the United States can begin what the Democrats call a "responsible redeployment" of U.S. forces, whatever that means. They certainly do not call for ending the war, and they don't even go as far the Center for American Progress' own, workable plan to get U.S. troops out of Iraq by the end of 2007.

Rather than call for an end to the so-called Long War, the war-without-end "global war on terrorism," the Democrats call for an escalation, including doubling the size of the U.S. Special Forces and instituting self-defeating sanctions-type measures such as a plan to "[bar] foreign subsidiaries of U.S. companies from doing business with countries considered sponsors of terrorism." And how do they suggest we deal with the Al Qaeda, the perpetrators of 9/11? They will "eliminate bin Laden, destroy terrorist networks like Al Qaeda, finish the job in Afghanistan, and end the threat posed by the Taliban." The document is mum on how this will be accomplished.

Rather than call for downsizing the bloated U.S. military, which under President Bush has enjoyed a breathtaking expansion that rivals Ronald Reagan's early 1980s buildup, the Democrats call for even more military spending, hiring more spies, increasing the deployable army by 30,000 troops, expanding the National Guard, and rebuilding "a state-of-the-art military by making the needed investments in equipment and manpower." They say: "The president's budget fails to include $21 billion in requested military needs-the largest amount denied since 9/11." So, giving the Pentagon the billions it wants is "a better way"?

Rather than trying to ease the national hysteria over homeland security, the Democrats want to escalate that, too, with vast new spending to make every possible terrorist target safe from attack. They want to spend billions more on intelligence, $8 billion more make ports, airports, mass transportation and other facilities super-secure, $5 billion more to boost police and fire resources, and so on. Nowhere in the document do they suggest dismantling the Homeland Security Department, repealing the USA Patriot Act, barring the U.S. military from involvement in law enforcement and domestic spying, dismantling the U.S. Northern Command in Colorado, and other measures to ensure that America's domestic response to terrorism is appropriate to the scale of the threat.

To their credit, the Democrats do criticize Bush for manipulating the intelligence used as a pretext for the war in Iraq, for invading Iraq without any plan for what would follow, for launching wars that created more terrorists than they killed, for unleashing a foreign policy that isolated the United States and alienated us from our traditional allies, and so on. But by paying exceeding deference to the party's hawks, and being overly careful not to give Republicans a chance to portray Democrats as peaceniks (heaven forbid!), the Democratic establishment has once again plopped itself down far behind the advanced ranks of its supporters. Poll after poll shows that American voters are disgusted with Bush's foreign policy and that they are no longer buying his snake oil. One recent poll -by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee no less-revealed that on issues of national security Americans favor Democrats over Republicans by 41 to 39 per cent, more than erasing the double-digit gaps that have long plagued Democrats on this issue. That, alone, ought to be evidence enough that the Dems can be far bolder than what turns up in the "Real Security" document. Sadly, because it lacks the bold thinking to distinguish them from the Bush worldview, the Democrats' latest paper, like the administration's own "National Strategy for Victory in Iraq" (November 2005) will soon be forgotten.

Robert Dreyfuss is the author of Devil's Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam (Henry Holt/Metropolitan Books, 2005). Dreyfuss is a freelance writer based in Alexandria, Va., who specializes in politics and national security issues. He is a contributing editor at The Nation, a contributing writer at Mother Jones, a senior correspondent for The American Prospect, and a frequent contributor to Rolling Stone.He can be reached through his website: www.robertdreyfuss.com

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More Americans Frustrated With Politics

AP Political Writer
12 April 06

WASHINGTON (AP) - Robert Hirsch wonders where all the statesmen have gone. Ed Laliberte wishes politicians would stop bickering and start fixing the nation's ills. Diane Heller says everybody in Washington is corrupt or out of touch.

''I don't see any great leaders on the horizon,'' says Heller, a Pleasant Valley, N.Y., real estate broker.

These voters are not alone. More and more, Americans are frustrated with politics as usual in Washington, where incompetence, arrogance, corruption and mindless partisanship seem the norm rather than the exception - a pox on both the Republican and Democratic parties.

Analysts say the public may be getting angry enough to give the U.S. political system a jolt, one way or another.

Voters could toss Republicans from power in Congress this fall, or turn the White House over to Democrats in 2008.

Maverick reform-minded Democrats and Republicans might shake up their parties.

Or perhaps voter unrest will fuel a credible third-party presidential campaign.

''There is certainly a lot of anti-incumbency out there and neither of these parties is doing swimmingly well,'' said independent pollster Andrew Kohut of the Pew Research Center.

His surveys suggest a throw-the-bums-out mentality is on the upswing, especially among independent voters.

''If they stop fighting and bickering and put the American people's interests in front of where they should be, they could cure a whole lot of problems,'' said retiree Laliberte, an independent voter in Bangor, Maine.

Nearly half of independents say the Democratic and Republican parties are equally corrupt. An AP-Ipsos poll in December found nearly 90 percent of all voters believes political corruption is a serious problem.

''I don't see either party doing anything advantageous for the population,'' said real estate broker Heller, a conservative Democrat. ''I think the country is getting fed up. Big business is controlling everything.''

President Bush's approval rating is at the lowest point of his presidency, and the public gives even lower marks to Congress. Republican and Democratic congressional leaders are held in equally low esteem.

''I'm not happy with either party on national security,'' said Hirsch, a Republican-leaning businessman from Chicago. ''We have a lot of politicians but not a lot of statesmen.''

While polls suggest more voters want Democrats to control Congress than Republicans, the Democratic Party's approval rating is no better than Bush's. A George Washington University Battleground 2006 survey in February found that 84 percent of likely voters believe lawmakers in Washington put partisan politics above all else.

Nearly 70 percent of the public believes the country is on the wrong track, a level of pessimism that rivals the nation's sentiment in 1992, when Bush's father was defeated for re-election, and 1994, when Democrats lost control of Congress.

''The mood is sour,'' said Republican strategist Rich Bond.

''If some larger-than-life personality - let's say Colin Powell - decided he wanted to launch a third-party candidacy for some office, I think he'd be an impact player,'' Bond said. ''But he's not running.''

Bond said the third-party candidacies of Ross Perot in 1992 and Ralph Nader in 2000 and 2004 made it easier for future mavericks to gain ballot access. The organizing and fundraising power of the Internet also lowers barriers to third-party bids.

Still, it would take a special candidate. ''You really have to have the proper mix of gravitas and quirkiness,'' Bond said.

Who might that be?

-Sen. John McCain has the ''credibility and stature'' to make a third-party run, Kohut said. But the Arizona lawmaker insists he would run as a Republican, a self-styled reformer promising to change politics as usual. Some wonder whether McCain would bolt the GOP if denied the nomination. Not Bond. ''He's not the take-my-ball-and-go-home type,'' Bond said.

-Former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani also could cast himself as a straight-talking, battle-tested leader, the type of politician who will be in vogue in 2008, analysts said. Whether that would help him win the GOP nomination as a moderate is open to question, as is his potential as a third-party candidate.

-New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg could launch an independent presidential bid. The ambitious billionaire is raising his national profile as friends and associates privately muse about his potential as an outside-the-mainstream candidate.

Asked recently whether he wanted to be president, Bloomberg replied, ''Which letter of the word 'No' do you not understand?''

These and other politicians don't necessarily need to leave their party to take advantage of the public's sulky mood.

Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., is exploiting voter unrest inside the Democratic Party. His call to censure Bush has won favor with frustrated anti-war liberals who believe party leaders kowtowed to the White House on Iraq.

Still, Republican consultant Ken Duberstein said voters may be angry enough to support a third-party bid. GOP pollster Bill McInturff said a third-party candidacy depends on who Republicans and Democrats nominate in 2008.

If the prizes go to polarizing figures such as Democratic Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Republican Newt Gingrich, the pollster said, ''the gap in the middle would be pretty profound.''

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How to Break the American Trance

By Doris "Granny D" Haddock
11 April 06

If we Americans are split into two meaningful camps, it is not conservative versus liberal. The two camps are the politically awake and the hypnotized.

The following is a speech given by 92-year-old Doris "Granny D" Haddock, who walked across the U.S. in 1999-2000 for campaign finance reform. She made this speech to Citizens for Participation in Political Action in Boston, on Sept. 27, 2002.
I want to begin by congratulating you for all the work you do. I know it is often frustrating work. You are blessed to be able to see ahead to a world of cooperation and peace -- a world of justice and sustainable economies and meaningful democracies. You wonder why others cannot or will not see these things or reach out for them, and why they in fact oppose the obvious good -- why they take the part of the oppressor, the blindered war horse.

I would like us to take a few moments to consider why this work is so hard, and what we might do to move toward our common dreams more rapidly and with greater joy.

Some of you may be old enough to remember the Reagan Administration. Mr. Reagan and those around him believed in a very new kind of American hero. This new hero was a business hero -- not the fellow who built up a family furniture store on Main Street and supported the Little League and the Scouts; this new hero was not the woman who worked late hours to create a successful travel agency, nor was this new business hero anything like any of the hard-working Americans who built-up our middle class, advanced our standard of living and gave us the resources and leisure for the proper civic life of a democracy, with its leagues and Rotaries and Lions and Elks and VFWs and party conventions and all that glory.

No, the Reagan business hero was the corporate takeover artist.

Any regulations that might get in the way of these ruthless new capitalists were removed -- removed so that reptiles of uncommon greed and brutality might rule the earth, which they now nearly do.

What soon happened was that ALL corporations of medium size or larger had to look over their shoulders. How did a corporation protect itself in this environment from a hostile takeover? It had to close down any factories that were not earning obscene profits. Never mind that a factory had served a town well for a century, or that it provided a healthy and regular profit for its stockholders. If it seemed to be underperfoming by the new hypergreed standards, or if it could be closed in favor of opening a foreign plant that provided a slightly higher rate of return, then, in this new atmosphere, the company was derelict in its duty to its stockholders if it did not ruthlessly act.

Perfectly good and profitable factories were closed. Benefits to employees everywhere were attacked, and staffs were downsized, outsourced, computerized, downsized again, outsourced again to temp agencies that paid no health care or retirement, and on and on until America became a very different place. The gap between rich and poor is now wider than at any time in our history.

It is still a wealthy nation for many people, but poverty is on the rise, and those with jobs find themselves so overworked trying to make ends meet that there is little time for family or for the joy of living. Indeed, there is very little joy left in American life. Workers are not loyal to their companies, because companies treat them like expendable slaves, with no dignity or assurance that hard work will result in advancement or security.

We are living in the harsh world invented by a handful of corporate raiders whose values were completely foreign to the fairness and moderation that had so long served as the proper foundation of American success and the American dream of plenty for all. They were not a new kind of person, for there have always been among us a few reptilian hearts of uncommon greed. What was new was the political permission they received for their rape and rampage, which continues.

And so a new world devolved as if from a virus. The new business hero, a Horatio Alger on crack, did very well. The new model CEO derived from that moment -- the ruthless mercenary who would come in to reorganize a company and render it takeover-proof by rendering it inhumane. This executive was worth millions per year, we were told. In this way, a Darwinian system of corporate survival assured that the most carnivorous, rather than the most responsible, would rise to lead our most powerful commercial organizations. And if you need an explanation for Fox News or Enron, this is the history you need to remember.

These superwealthy predators now, through their political patronage, control both political parties. They control Congress and the White House. They control elements within your state house. They are not particularly smart people, as their current agent in the White House clearly demonstrates.

Here is how the takeover of corporations became the corporate takeover of American democracy: To get along and move up in one of these right wing business organizations, you have to be like the boss. The people working under you will then want to be like you to get along themselves. In Fox News, even reporters in local regions are told how to slant each story hard to the right. There is no pretense of journalism within the organization. And many people stuck in those jobs, who got into journalism with the idea of doing legitimate journalism, are sick to their stomachs every working day.

In this way, the right-wing leanings of a few people have distorted entire industries, including television news. Political leaders are quickly infected in this trickle down reptilism -- trickling down from the people who write the checks for political campaigns and who control political news.

And the reptilism trickles down further, to the weaker minds listening to talk radio or silly enough to spend too much time watching cable television news -- people who buy the lies, who are simply suckered into forking over their own political best interests to the con artists who attempt to pick their pockets at the same moment they are pointing out others who, they say, are the real trouble makers. About 25 percent of our people are susceptible to this kind of con, and they then give us problems by standing against any reasonable reforms. They have been spiritually twisted by the cheap poison of a hundred Rush Limbaughs into the angry, unthinking agents of the superrich.

On my long walk across America, a man driving a garbage truck told me that the biggest problem facing America today was the inheritance tax. I didn't have to ask him if he had a radio in his truck.

I remind you of all this because it is important to know that the reason our reforms are difficult is not because Americans are split into two camps, conservative and liberal. It is not like that at all. There are lots of conservatives and liberals in America, but we are not the two sides of the divide. True conservatives in our country don't have many political leaders to look to with respect. Among the last was Barry Goldwater. He believed that the government had no business in our bedrooms. He believed that a woman and her doctor didn't need the government's help in deciding her important issues. He would have laughed and then, I think, become very, very angry at Ashcroft's attacks on the Bill of Rights and his citizen-against-citizen snitching system. Goldwater believed that the only issue of importance regarding gays in the military was whether or not they could shoot straight.

What we are seeing now from the far right is not conservatism at all. It is fascism: the imposition of a national and worldwide police state to enforce a narrow world view that enriches and empowers the few at the expense of the many, and that gives no respect or honor to other cultures, ways of living, or opinions. To call that conservatism is a crime against the memory of America's great and true conservatives, who might think that government ought to be less involved in life than we old liberals would concur with, but who nevertheless stood for the core American values that today's right-wing leaders undermine at every opportunity.

We Americans are not split into liberals and conservatives. In fact, if you are running for office from the center, or from left of center, just do a better job of demonstrating how far right-wing your opponent is, and you will win more and more votes. You will win them from the vast number of people, most especially urban women and professional men, who identify themselves as Republicans for old time's sake, but who are very uncomfortable when forced to look squarely at the far right positions of many candidates running under the flag of the Grand Old Party. Given moderate alternatives, they will vote for them. That was exactly the truth that Clinton understood and exploited so brilliantly. He understood that Republicans are conservatives but the Republican Party is not. If you want to reflect upon how well he exploited this insight, remember that Hillary was a Republican when he met her.

If we Americans are split into two meaningful camps, it is not conservative versus liberal. The two camps are these: the politically awake and the hypnotized -- hypnotized by television and other mass media, whose overpaid Svengalis dangle the swinging medallions of packaged candidates and oft-told lies. It is all done to politically prolong the open season on us -- open season indeed, as the billionaire takeover artists bag their catch for the day. And in their bags are our freedoms, our leisure, our health care futures, our old age security, our family time, our village life, our family-owned businesses on Main Street, the middle class itself, and our position of honor and peaceful leadership in the world.

Once we understand what we are up against, and where the meaningful dividing lines truly run, our lives as reformers can be easier because we shall know how to proceed.

How to break the hypnosis is then the question. It is easy.

Pull any contractor out of his white pickup truck, turn down the talk radio blaring from it, and ask him, "Government good, or government bad?"

His glazed eyes will widen. "Government bad!" he will say.

Ok, good. You found one to play with.

Now, ask him what the town might do to make it safer for kids to get to and from school, and around town when they're not in school, without getting killed by traffic or getting in trouble. He will have a million ideas. Good ideas. He has no clue that he is being government -- if government is what happens when we get together to solve our common problems and to make life better for our communities.

You have broken his trance.

When a proposition is on the ballot, people talk about the mechanics of the idea, and the hypnosis is largely circumvented. You see quite progressive ballot propositions passing in otherwise quite unprogressive states. Why? Because people are problem-solvers at heart, and they enjoy it. They want to participate and be helpful and accepted as valuable players. It takes a lot of hypnosis to overcome that instinct, and a lot of hypnosis is what we have had. But we can get around it.

Government agencies, of course, have been the communitarian's worst enemies. Anything that smacks of bureaucratic rudeness or pushiness or counterproductive stubbornness does nothing but damage the idea that government is us -- we the people acting together to solve our problems as fellow citizens. That brand of government really needs to be stamped out whenever it shows its pinched, gray face. That is what can be done and must be done to prepare the ground for what must come next, which is a new engagement of citizens with the issues of interest to them in their communities. We should begin in our high schools. During the years from 13 to 19, lifelong civic values are formed.

We should start with our younger people. As community leaders, we should work with the popular history and civics teachers in our high schools to bring the issues of the day and the issues of the town into the classroom -- not to propagandize but to openly invite students to learn, research, and offer advice to the community on a wide range of issues. This is where the hypnosis falls apart. This is where democracy finds its feet again.

This summer I asked America's independent community radio stations to get involved with those same teachers in our high schools, to make students into community reporters and commentators. I reminded these indy news stations that they have the technology and the dramatic missions young people crave. I said young people will never become robots if they are enlisted in the cause of truth at an early age.

What we do in schools, we must also do in colleges and then in the general community. But if we only have the means to focus on the high schools, that is enough. These young people will be voting in only a few years. If we support their increased civic engagement as they move through college and into the community, we will have raised an army of citizens immunized against corporate hypnosis. Our victories for needed reforms will come naturally. With an engaged and informed citizenry, who knows what good we might do, and what great civilization we might yet again move toward?

True conservatives and liberals unite! Bring your issues and your opinions to our young people, and create a new expectation that they will get involved, get informed, and form a view of themselves as problem-solving citizens of a democracy. Our differences from the left or right are nothing compared to the differences between the politically awake and the hypnotized drones of the new colonialism that now stalks and shreds our civilization.

I urge you to think young, to link with moderates on the other side of the fence, and to approach the schools and teachers who can help you connect your young, rising citizens to the issues that will shape their lives.

If you believe that human beings, in addition to all their other instincts, want to help create and live in a happy, creative and cooperative world, then you must believe that people are to be trusted in their politics so long as they are encouraged to study everyone's experience and study the competing points of view -- and so long as they are raised with enough love and security to be capable of empathy. We need not force a liberal agenda on our society, any more than we need force our political opinions on our children. We can enjoy life instead of banging our heads against the old walls. If we encourage an awake thoughtfulness, democracy and justice will have all the victories our hearts can handle.

To read more of Doris Haddock's writings, visit GrannyD.com

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Bush wins 2006 Jefferson Muzzle award

Associated Press
April 11, 2006

President George W Bush and the Justice Department are among the winners of the 2006 Jefferson Muzzle awards, given by a free-speech group to those it considers the most egregious violators of constitutional rights in the past year.
Bush led the list, compiled by the Thomas Jefferson Centre for the Protection of Free Expression, for authorising the National Security Agency to tap the phones of US citizens who make calls overseas.

The wiretaps were conducted without authorisation from a federal court.

The White House defended the warrantless wiretapping programme as necessary to fight terrorism.

The Justice Department earned a Muzzle for demanding that Google turn over thousands of Internet records, prompting concerns that more invasive requests could follow if the government prevails.

"If individuals are fearful that their communications will be intercepted by the government, such fears are likely to chill their speech," the Jefferson centre said.

Other winners of the 15th annual awards include the Department of Homeland Security for barring an air marshal from expressing concerns about public safety; the Yelm, Washington state, City Council for banning the words "Wal-Mart" and "big-box stores" at public hearings; and students at the University of Connecticut who heckled conservative columnist Ann Coulter.

The centre, based in Charlottesville, Virginia, awards the Muzzles each year to mark the April 13 birthday of Thomas Jefferson, the third president and a First Amendment advocate.

The First Amendment of the US Constitution guarantees such basic rights as freedom of speech and the press.

As in the past, this year's winners reflect concern about "the overextension of government authority into areas that clearly affect our lives and chill and inhibit our ability to express views," centre director Robert M O'Neil said.

John W. Dean, who was Richard Nixon's White House counsel, remarked that the domestic spying exceeds the wrongdoing that toppled his former boss.

In the Google case, the Justice Department demanded search records to buttress its defense of a law aimed at protecting children from Internet pornography.

Google resisted turning over any information because of user privacy and trade secret concerns.

Other Internet providers - including AOL, Yahoo and MSN - complied with the government's demand.

"Google appears to be the only one that drew a line in the sand," O'Neil said. "We commend their insistence that aggregate data could end up identifying a particular subscriber."

The Department of Homeland Security won its Muzzle for taking air marshal Frank Terreri off flight duty after he e-mailed colleagues expressing concerns about air-security risks.

The federal policy curbing such activity was modified, and Terreri was allowed back on duty.

But he sued, contending the department's rules still restrict employees' right to free speech.

In Yelm, Washington, the city council banned discussion of a plan by Wal-Mart to build a super centre after many opponents sought to express their views.

When that did not squelch opposition, the council voted in June to prohibit citizens from using the terms "Wal-Mart" or "big-box stores" at public meetings.

Hecklers at the University of Connecticut earned a Muzzle for drowning out Coulter's speech in December.

People have a right to express their disagreement with a speaker, the free-expression centre said, but preventing fellow audience members from hearing the message is contrary to the First Amendment's spirit.

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Less international tourists coming to US

By Amy Yee in Washington
April 12, 2006

US tourism industry leaders and top government officials on Tuesday urged collaboration between the public and private sectors to stem shrinking US market share of international visitors.

Michael Chertoff, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), told travel industry leaders at the Global Travel & Tourism Summit held in Washington that government is attempting to balance strong security with welcoming foreign tourists.
"We want to have a system that is secure and safe but welcoming to travel across the world," said Sec Chertoff. "Americans lose when we put up walls and keep people out."

Business leaders have voiced deep concerns over a decline in international visitors due partly to more bureaucratic US visa policies and a battered image overseas September 11, 2001.

US market share of international tourism is at an all-time low, dropping 35 per cent between 1992 and 2004, which translates into $286bn in lost revenue, according to the Travel Industry Association of America (TIA).

"We are using technology to reduce delays to legitimate travellers while raising the bar to keep out those who are not," said Sec Chertoff. "Pilot programmes already running demonstrate that it is possible to confirm the identity of visitors quickly and screen out potential threats."

The US State Department and the DHS in January announced a series of measures to streamline travel to the US, including reducing wait time for visas; and setting up a "redress" process to address travellers' complaints about their poor treatment at borders or consulates abroad.

Jay Rasulo, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts and chairman of TIA, called for an aggressive campaign to market the US as a destination to overseas tourists. TIA has approved $500,000 to put together a strategic plan by year end to tackle the issue of declining tourism.

While about 20 US states have overseas marketing campaigns, there has not been a unified US-themed one in 15 years. The issue has become urgent as countries such as Australia and Ireland market themselves aggressively and capture greater share of global tourism.

Mr Rasulo blamed the slow response from the US on lack of cohesiveness from the diverse travel industry, which broadly includes hotels, airlines, restaurants, car rental agencies, cruise lines and related businesses.

"The travel industry has not spoken with a single voice," said Mr Rasulo. "We hope we're changing the channel."

Travel industry leaders also voiced concern over controversial Congressional proposals to reform immigration laws.

"Some in Congress want to criminalise undocumented workers and their employers," said J.W. Marriott, chief executive of Marriott International, the world's largest hotel operator by revenue.

"Do you industry executives think of yourself as felons? But if we don't stand together and demand good, comprehensive immigration reform, we will be criminalised if we unknowingly employ illegal aliens."

The US hotels industry employed nearly 1.8m people in 2004, many of them immigrants. The sector will demand an additional 300,000 employees by 2014, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Mr Marriott added, "In our hotels, we can't get the work done without workers from other nations and we still have jobs to fill."

Copyright The Financial Times Ltd.

Comment: Ah, yes - the old "fear of the true diagnosis" syndrome. As Lobaczewski writes:

There are other needs and pressures felt by the pathocrats, especially from outside. The pathological face must be hidden from the world somehow, since recognition of the deviant rulership by world opinion would be a catastrophe.

Ideological propaganda alone would then be an inadequate disguise.

Primarily in the interests of the new elite and its expansionary plans, a pathocratic state must maintain commercial relations with the countries of normal man. The pathocratic state aims to achieve international recognition as a certain kind of political structure; and it fears recognition in terms of a true clinical diagnosis.

All this makes pathocrats tend to limit their measures of terror, subjecting their propaganda and indoctrination methods to a certain cosmetology, and to accord the society they control some margin of autonomous activity, especially regarding cultural life. The more liberal pathocrats would not be averse to giving such a society a certain minimum of economic prosperity in order to reduce the irritation level, but their own corruption and inability to administer the economy prevents them from doing so.

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Military recruiters, confronted by crowd, leave campus job fair Anti-war protesters at university block doors to building

Diana Walsh
Chronicle Staff Writer
April 12, 2006

Four military recruiters hastily fled a job fair Tuesday morning at UC Santa Cruz after a raucous crowd of student protesters blocked an entrance to the building where the Army and National Guard had set up information tables.

Members of Students Against War, who organized the counter-recruiting protest, loudly chanted "Don't come back. Don't come back" as the recruiters left the hilltop campus, escorted by several university police officers.
"The situation had degraded to the point where there was a possibility of injury to either a student or law enforcement officer. We certainly didn't want that to happen,'' said Capt. Will Griffin, one of the Army recruiters.

University officials had been aware for weeks that Students Against War planned a protest to prevent military personnel from participating in the school's biannual job fair held for students.

The student organization has become a bit of a cause celebre of the national anti-war movement ever since it was discovered that the group's protest of the same job fair last April landed it in a Pentagon surveillance file, which listed the protest as a "credible threat" to military facilities or personnel.

Universities that receive federal funds are required to allow military recruiters on campus. But campus officials had worried that Tuesday's protest would get out of hand as it had last April, when Students Against War protesters surrounded the table where military personnel sat, and hundreds of other demonstrators engaged in an angry protest outside. Some of the recruiters reported that their tires had been slashed and one employee at the career center was injured.

David Kliger, campus provost and executive vice chancellor, said the school was most concerned Tuesday about safety issues, but also wanted to preserve access to the recruiters for students who wanted to speak with them, while still allowing protesting students their right to free speech.

Kliger said officials had tried to engage the anti-war student group in discussions in the weeks leading up to the fair. But when talks broke down, officials began privately hoping for rain and brought in extra police.

The rain probably accounted for a decidedly smaller turnout -- about 100 students compared with about 300 a year earlier.

Still, the Army's Griffin said he sensed that some of the students were "looking for action" and decided to pack up their table before things got out of hand and someone got injured.

Students Against War members said they were pleased that their counter-recruiting effort forced the military personnel off campus, at least for the time being.

"We're saying it's not OK to recruit on high school campuses, it's not OK to recruit on university campuses,'' Marla Zubel, a UC Santa Cruz senior and member of Students Against War, said. "In order to stop the war, you have to make it more difficult to wage war."

But at least one student, Cody James, said he was disappointed that he couldn't get in to speak with the military personnel.

"It's frustrating,'' said James, a senior majoring in politics. "I'm not a Republican. I'm not a conservative. I don't support the war. It's about finding a career."

E-mail Diana Walsh at dwalsh@sfchronicle.com.

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Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire

Bush WMD Statements Based On Debunked Evidence

WDSU Channel 6
12 April 06

WASHINGTON -- The White House said Wednesday that President George W. Bush's claim three years ago that weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq was based on information later proved wrong.

Bush had said in a TV interview that weapons were found, and that two trailers seized in Iraq were mobile biological labs.

The Washington Post reported experts on a Pentagon-backed trip had already told Washington the trailers had nothing to do with bio weapons.
Spokesman Scott McClellan strongly denied that the intelligence had already been debunked at the time Bush made his statements.

McClellan said the report suggests Bush talked about intelligence that had already been debunked, which he says isn't true.

He said the president was repeating what the intelligence community believed to be true at the time.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press.

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War Pimping: Iran Could Produce Nuclear Bomb in 16 Days, U.S. Says

12 April 06

Iran, which is defying United Nations Security Council demands to cease its nuclear program, may be capable of making a nuclear bomb within 16 days if it goes ahead with plans to install thousands of centrifuges at its Natanz plant, a U.S. State Department official said.
''Natanz was constructed to house 50,000 centrifuges,'' Stephen Rademaker, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for International Security and Nonproliferation, told reporters today in Moscow. ''Using those 50,000 centrifuges they could produce enough highly enriched uranium for a nuclear weapon in 16 days.''

In fact, Iran will move forward to ''industrial scale'' uranium enrichment involving 54,000 centrifuges at Natanz, the Associated Press quoted deputy nuclear chief Mohammad Saeedi as telling state-run television today.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said yesterday the country had succeeded in enriching uranium on a small scale for the first time, using 164 centrifuges. That announcement defies demands by the UN Security Council that Iran shut down its nuclear program this month.

The U.S. and other countries fear Iran is pursuing a nuclear program to make weapons, while Iran says it is intent on purely civilian purposes, to provide energy. Saeedi said 54,000 centrifuges will be able to enrich uranium to provide fuel for a 1,000-megawat nuclear power plant similar to the one Russia is finishing in southern Iran, AP reported.

''It was a deeply disappointing announcement,'' Rademaker said of Ahmadinejad's statement.

Weapons-Grade Uranium

Rademaker said the technology to enrich uranium to a low level could also be used to make weapons-grade uranium, saying that it would take a little over 13 years to produce enough highly enriched uranium for a nuclear weapon with the 164 centrifuges currently in use. The process involves placing uranium hexafluoride gas in a series of rotating drums or cylinders known as centrifuges that run at high speeds to extract weapons grade uranium.

Iran has informed the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency that it plans to construct 3,000 centrifuges at Natanz next year, Rademaker said.

''We calculate that a 3,000-machine cascade could produce enough uranium to build a nuclear weapon within 271 days,'' he said.

While the U.S. has concerns over Iran's nuclear program, Rademaker said ''there certainly has been no decision on the part of my government'' to use force if Iran refuses to obey the UN Security Council demand that it shuts down its nuclear program.

Rademaker is in Moscow for a meeting of his counterparts from the Group of Eight wealthy industrialized countries. Russia chairs the G-8 this year.

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Powell says Bush took 'misleading' Cheney advice, ignored State Department

By Robert Scheer
Apr. 11, 2006

The president played the scoundrel -- even the best of his minions went along with the lies -- and when a former ambassador dared to tell the truth, the White House initiated what Special Prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald calls "a plan to discredit, punish or seek revenge against Mr. Wilson." That is the important story line.

If not for the whistle-blower, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, President Bush's falsehoods about the Iraq nuclear threat probably would never have been exposed.
On Monday, former Secretary of State Colin Powell told me that he and his department's top experts never believed that Iraq posed an imminent nuclear threat, but that the president followed the misleading advice of Vice President Dick Cheney and the CIA in making the claim. Now he tells us.

The harsh truth is that this president cherry-picked the intelligence data in making his case for invading Iraq and deliberately kept the public in the dark as to the countervailing analysis at the highest level of the intelligence community. While the president and his top Cabinet officials were fear-mongering with stark images of a "mushroom cloud" over American cities, the leading experts on nuclear weaponry at the Department of Energy (the agency in charge of the U.S. nuclear-weapons program) and the State Department thought the claim of a near-term Iraqi nuclear threat was absurd.

"The activities we have detected do not, however, add up to a compelling case that Iraq is currently pursuing what INR would consider to be an integrated and comprehensive approach to acquire nuclear weapons," said a dissenting analysis from an assistant secretary of state for intelligence and research (INR) in the now infamous 2002 National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq, which was cobbled together for the White House before the war. "Iraq may be doing so but INR considers the available evidence inadequate to support such a judgment."

The specter of the Iraqi nuclear threat was primarily based on an already-discredited claim that Iraq had purchased aluminum tubes for the purpose of making nuclear weapons. In fact, at the time, the INR wrote in the National Intelligence Estimate that it "accepts the judgment of technical experts at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) who have concluded that the tubes Iraq seeks to acquire are poorly suited for use in gas centrifuges to be used for uranium enrichment and finds unpersuasive the arguments advanced by others to make the case that they are intended for that purpose."

The other major evidence President Bush gave Americans for a revitalized Iraq nuclear program, of course, was his 2003 State of the Union claim -- later found to be based on forged documents -- that a deal had been made to obtain uranium from Niger. This deal was exposed within the administration as bogus before the president's speech in January by Ambassador Wilson, who traveled to Niger for the CIA. Wilson only went public with his criticisms in an Op-Ed piece in the New York Times a half year later in response to what he charged were the administration's continued distortions of the evidence. In excerpts later made available to the public, it is clear that the Niger claim doesn't even appear as a key finding in the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate, while the INR dissent in that document dismisses it curtly: "[T]he claims of Iraqi pursuit of natural uranium in Africa are, in INR's assessment highly dubious."

I queried Powell at a reception following a talk he gave in Los Angeles on Monday. Pointing out that the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate showed that his State Department had gotten it right on the nonexistent Iraq nuclear threat, I asked why did the president ignore that wisdom in his stated case for the invasion?

"The CIA was pushing the aluminum tube argument heavily and Cheney went with that instead of what our guys wrote," Powell said. And the Niger reference in Bush's State of the Union speech? "That was a big mistake," he said. "It should never have been in the speech. I didn't need Wilson to tell me that there wasn't a Niger connection. He didn't tell us anything we didn't already know. I never believed it."

When I pressed further as to why the president played up the Iraq nuclear threat, Powell said it wasn't the president: "That was all Cheney." A convenient response for a Bush family loyalist, perhaps, but it raises the question of how the president came to be a captive of his vice president's fantasies.

More important: Why was this doubt, on the part of the secretary of state and others, about the salient facts justifying the invasion of Iraq kept from the public until we heard the truth from whistle-blower Wilson, whose credibility the president then sought to destroy?

In matters of national security, when a president leaks, he lies.

By selectively releasing classified information to suit his political purposes, as President Bush did in this case, he is denying that there was a valid basis for keeping the intelligence findings secret in the first place. "We ought to get to the bottom of it, so it can be evaluated by the American people," said Sen. Arlen Specter, the Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. I couldn't have put it any better.

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Truth about Iraq's mobile weapons factories ignored, experts say

Joby Warrick in Washington
April 13, 2006

ON MAY 29, 2003, 50 days after the fall of Baghdad, President George Bush proclaimed a new victory for his Administration in Iraq: two small trailers captured by US troops had turned out to be long-sought mobile "biological laboratories".

"We have found the weapons of mass destruction," he trumpeted.
The claim, repeated by top Administration officials for months, was hailed at the time as a vindication of the decision to go to war. But even as Mr Bush spoke, US intelligence officials had evidence that it was not true.

A mission to Iraq - not made public until now - had already concluded that the trailers had nothing to do with biological weapons. Leaders of the Pentagon-sponsored mission transmitted their unanimous findings to Washington in a field report on May 27, 2003, two days before Mr Bush's statement.

The interim report and a 122-page final report three weeks later were stamped "secret" and shelved. Meanwhile, for nearly a year, the White House and intelligence officials continued to claim that the trailers were weapons factories.

The authors of the reports were nine US and British civilian experts - scientists and engineers with extensive experience in making bioweapons - who were dispatched to Baghdad by the Defence Intelligence Agency for an analysis of the trailers. Six of the experts - who did not want to be named - described their findings to a reporter from The Washington Post . Their accounts were verified by current and former government officials close to the mission.

The contents of the final report remain classified. But interviews reveal that the technical team was unequivocal in its conclusion that the trailers were not intended to manufacture biological weapons. "There was no connection to anything biological," said one expert who studied the trailers. Another said they were referred to as "the biggest sand toilets in the world"

The technical team's findings had no apparent impact on the intelligence agencies' public statements on the trailers. On May 28, 2003, a day after the team's report was sent to Washington, the CIA released its first formal assessment of the trailers, reflecting the views of its Washington analysts.

Throughout the rest of 2003 the trailers were referred to as "mobile biological laboratories" in Administration speeches and press statements. In June, the then secretary of state Colin Powell said the "confidence level is increasing" that the trailers were intended for biowarfare.

In September, Vice-President Dick Cheney said the trailers could have been used to produce anthrax or smallpox.

The technical team's preliminary report was transmitted on May 27, just before its members returned home. The final report remained unequivocal in declaring the trailers unsuitable for weapons production.

The team members returned to their jobs and watched as their work simply vanished. "I went home and fully expected that our findings would be publicly stated," one member said. "It never happened. I just had to live with it."

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US denies Iraqi weapons knowledge

13 April 06

The White House has angrily denied a newspaper report that suggested President George W Bush in 2003 declared the existence of biological weapons laboratories in Iraq while knowing it was not true.

On May 29, 2003, Bush hailed the capture of two trailers in Iraq as mobile biological laboratories and declared, "We have found the weapons of mass destruction."

The report in The Washington Post said a Pentagon-sponsored fact-finding mission had already concluded that the trailers had nothing to do with biological weapons. The newspaper cited government officials and weapons experts who participated in the secret mission or had direct knowledge of it.
The Post said the group's unanimous findings had been sent to the Pentagon in a field report, two days before the president's statement.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan called the account "reckless reporting" and said Bush made his statement based on the intelligence assessment of the CIA and the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA), an arm of the Pentagon.

Bush cited the threat posed by weapons of mass destruction as the prime justification for invading Iraq. No such weapons were found.

A US intelligence official, speaking to Reuters on condition of anonymity, confirmed the existence of the field report cited by the Post, but said it was a preliminary finding that had to be evaluated.

"You don't change a report that has been coordinated in the (intelligence) community based on a field report," the official said. "It's a preliminary report. No matter how strongly the individual may feel about the subject matter."

McClellan said the Post story was "nothing more than rehashing an old issue that was resolved long ago," pointing out that an independent commission on Iraq had already determined the intelligence on alleged Iraqi biological weapons was wrong.

When an ABC reporter pressed McClellan on the subject at his morning briefing, McClellan upbraided the network for picking up on the report.

"This is reckless reporting and for you all to go on the air this morning and make such a charge is irresponsible, and I hope that ABC would apologise for it and make a correction on the air," he said.

The three-page field report and a 122-page final report three weeks later were classified and shelved, the Post reported. It added that for nearly a year after that, the Bush administration continued to publicly assert that the trailers were biological weapons factories.

The authors of the reports - nine US and British civilian experts - were sent to Baghdad by the DIA, the newspaper said.

A DIA spokesman told the paper that the team's findings were neither ignored nor suppressed, but were incorporated in the work of the Iraqi Survey Group, which led the official search for Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.

The team's work remains classified. But the newspaper said interviews revealed that the team was unequivocal in its conclusion that the trailers were not intended to manufacture biological weapons.

"There was no connection to anything biological," one expert who studied the trailers was quoted as saying.

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White House angrily denies report on Iraq WMD

By Steve Holland
12 Apr 06

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House on Wednesday angrily denied a newspaper report that suggested
President George W. Bush in 2003 declared the existence of mobile biological weapons laboratories in
Iraq while knowing it was not true.

"It's reckless reporting. Everybody should be agitated about it," White House spokesman McClellan told reporters of The Washington Post report.
On May 29, 2003, Bush hailed the capture of two trailers in Iraq as mobile biological laboratories and declared, "We have found the weapons of mass destruction."

Two days earlier, on May 27, 2003, the
Pentagon confirmed on Wednesday, a Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) team faxed its preliminary report on the mobile labs. This report concluded the trailers had nothing to do with biological weapons, the Post said.

McClellan said Bush made his statement based on the combined conclusions of the
CIA and DIA that were given to him in a May 28 white paper.

That white paper reflected the intelligence community's position at the time that the mobile units were biological weapons laboratories.

The dissenting May 27 view did not appear to have made it to the White House, and in fact, the intelligence community for months stuck to its analysis that the units were weapons labs.

Bush cited the threat posed by weapons of mass destruction as the prime justification for invading Iraq. No such weapons were found. In May 2003, U.S. officials were urgently seeking evidence to support prewar intelligence claims that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction.

A U.S. intelligence official, speaking to Reuters on condition of anonymity, said the field report was a preliminary finding that had to be evaluated.

"You don't change a report that has been coordinated in the (intelligence) community based on a field report," the official said. "It's a preliminary report. No matter how strongly the individual may feel about the subject matter."

McClellan said the Post story was "nothing more than rehashing an old issue that was resolved long ago," pointing out that an independent commission on Iraq had already determined the intelligence on alleged Iraqi biological weapons was wrong.


McClellan criticized ABC News' "Good Morning America" for its version of the report on Wednesday morning.

The network responded later by posting a "clarification" on its Web site acknowledging that anchor Charles Gibson misstated the gist of the Post story by saying that when Bush spoke, he knew what he was saying was not true.

"I hope they will go and publicly apologize on the air about the statements that were made, because I think it is important given that they had made those statements in front of all their viewers," he said.

The three-page field report and a 122-page final report three weeks later were classified and shelved, the Post reported. It added that for nearly a year after that, the Bush administration continued to publicly assert that the trailers were biological weapons factories.

The authors of the reports -- nine U.S. and British civilian experts -- were sent to Baghdad by the DIA, the newspaper said.

A DIA spokesman told the paper that the team's findings were neither ignored nor suppressed, but were incorporated in the work of the Iraqi Survey Group, which led the official search for Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.

The team's work remains classified. But the newspaper said interviews revealed that the team was unequivocal in its conclusion that the trailers were not intended to manufacture biological weapons.

Comment: Yup, McClellan did the expected: "It's nothing but rehashing of old news..." routine. Lobaczewski writes:

Spellbinders are generally the carriers of various pathological factors, some characteropathies, and some inherited anomalies. Individuals with malformations of their personalities frequently play similar roles, although the social scale of influence remains small (family or neighborhood) and does not cross certain boundaries of decency.

Spellbinders are characterized by pathological egotism. Such a person is forced by some internal causes to make an early choice between two possibilities: the first is forcing other people to think and experience things in a manner similar to his own; the second is a feeling of being lonely and different, a pathological misfit in social life. Sometimes the choice is either snake-charming or suicide.
Triumphant repression of self-critical or unpleasant concepts from the field of consciousness gradually gives rise to the phenomena of conversion thinking, or paralogistics, paramoralisms, and the use of reversion blockades. They stream so profusely from the mind and mouth of the spellbinder that they flood the average person's mind. Everything becomes subordinated to the spellbinder's over-compensatory conviction that they are exceptional, sometimes even messianic. An ideology emerges from this conviction, true in part, whose value is supposedly superior. However, if we analyze the exact functions of such an ideology in the spellbinder's personality, we perceive that it is a nothing other than a means of self-charming, useful for repressing those tormenting self-critical associations into the subconscious. The ideology's instrumental role in influencing other people also serves the spellbinder's needs.

The spellbinder believes that he will always find converts to his ideology, and most often, they are right. However, they feel shock (or even paramoral indignation) when it turns out that their influence extends to only a limited minority, while most people's attitude to their activities remains critical, pained and disturbed. The spellbinder is thus confronted with a choice: either withdraw back into his void or strengthen his position by improving the effectiveness of his activities.

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White House Demands Media 'Correct' Itself

The Truth Will Set You Free
12 April 06

The White House is fumbling over today's report that it knew there were no WMD's before Bush made his fateful speech.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan called the account "reckless reporting" and said Bush made his statement based on the intelligence assessment of the CIA and the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), an arm of the Pentagon.

* * *

A U.S. intelligence official, speaking to Reuters on condition of anonymity, confirmed the existence of the field report cited by the Post, but said it was a preliminary finding that had to be evaluated.

"You don't change a report that has been coordinated in the (intelligence) community based on a field report," the official said. "It's a preliminary report. No matter how strongly the individual may feel about the subject matter."

Field reports are raw, they say. It always needs some cooking.
But then why bother sending experts?

The authors of the reports -- nine U.S. and British civilian experts -- were sent to Baghdad by the DIA, the newspaper said.

A DIA spokesman told the paper that the team's findings were neither ignored nor suppressed, but were incorporated in the work of the Iraqi Survey Group, which led the official search for Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.

The team's work remains classified. But the newspaper said interviews revealed that the team was unequivocal in its conclusion that the trailers were not intended to manufacture biological weapons.

I wonder who were the key members of the 'Iraqi Survey Group' responsible for the finished product?

McClellan said the Post story was "nothing more than rehashing an old issue that was resolved long ago," pointing out that an independent commission on Iraq had already determined the intelligence on alleged Iraqi biological weapons was wrong.

When an ABC reporter pressed McClellan on the subject at his morning briefing, McClellan upbraided the network for picking up on the report.

"This is reckless reporting and for you all to go on the air this morning and make such a charge is irresponsible, and I hope that ABC would apologize for it and make a correction on the air," he said.

Feeble pleas for help. McClellan demands the media 'correct' their report, like the ISG 'corrected' that of the field experts.

Their house of cards is falling.

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Mainstream Media Willfully Ignores Charlie Sheen's Challenge

Paul Joseph Watson & Alex Jones
Prison Planet.com
April 13 2006

The London Observer carried an article in this week's edition by movie critic Mark Kermode which again wholesale refused to address any of the evidence that Charlie Sheen had raised to clarify his stance on 9/11.

Charlie Sheen is an actor who has exhaustively researched 9/11. Mark Kermode is a movie critic who, judging from his pathetic hit piece, has swallowed without question what the US government told him happened on 9/11 without one iota of independent investigation.

Kermode alludes to the tired old argument that believing the government was involved in the attack enables people to sleep better at night because it brings a sense of order to a chaotic world.

This echoes syndicated columnist Betsy Hart's ravings, who said that people who think anyone else but Al-Qaeda was involved are just afraid to face the frightening reality of Muslim hordes who want to kill us.
Both hit pieces completely miss the boat on two fronts.

a) Charlie Sheen never claimed to know who was behind the attack, he simply raised unanswered questions brought about as a result of researching the official version of events and discovering that it was an impossibility.

b) Neither piece addresses one single shred of evidence that Charlie Sheen raised in either his first or second interview on The Alex Jones Show, even after Charlie Sheen issued an invitation that the establishment media challenge him on the facts.

Kermode (pictured) resorts to eye-rolling psychological gymnastics in an attempt to avoid talking about a topic of which he obviously has very limited knowledge.

"The real reason people believe in such wild conspiracies is simple - it's more reassuring. In the case of 9/11, there is something perversely comforting about the idea that, behind all the chaos, the American government was always in control, carefully orchestrating the events of that terrible day."

Let's flip this around.

The real reason people believe whatever the government says is simple - it's more reassuring. In the case of 9/11, there is something comforting about the idea that, behind all the chaos, Muslims from other countries that our government can find and destroy were carefully orchestrating the events of that terrible day.

Which is more frightening? The enemy that you can see or an unknown enemy lurking in the darkness?

Which is more frightening? A rag tag group of Muslims from a far away land? Or a huge, hulking, powerful military-industrial complex with the world's most potent army behind it?

He laughs at 'conspiracy theorists' for associating the 1962 film The Manchurian Candidate with fact of any kind, blissfully unaware that Senate Hearings took place and Bill Clinton later apologized for that fact that the CIA did create MK Ultra, a project designed to create a Manchurian Candidate.

He turns to United 93 film maker Paul Greengrass, now the apparent authority on anything Flight 93, who confidently informs Kermode that, "The stuff about the plane being shot down is simply not true."

Perhaps Paul can explain to us how a plane that is supposedly intact before it hits the ground after the "let's roll" scenario causes debris to be spread over an 8 mile radius?

Kermode then mixes in Elvis and faked moon landings to try and frame the entire debate in a context of frivolousness and incredulity.

"I had to abandon my adolescent fantasies. Others should do the same. It is chaos, rather than conspiracy, which really rules the world, " concludes Kermode, a pretty broad statement considering he has just claimed to put his finger on how the planet operates without citing a single slither of proof.

When Charlie Sheen sent his email statement to the London Guardian in response to their shoddy hit-piece on his recent questions about the official 9/11 story, we expected the prestigious newspaper to follow-up by taking his challenge to cover the facts.

We should have known better than to think the mainstream media (MSM) would take up such a challenge. The Guardian's response was to mock his serious comments and take more jabs at Sheen's character and oeuvre.

Although Sheen has helped to bring questions about 9/11 to a larger audience than ever, the mainstream media seems to be willfully pushing the news about a growing 9/11 Truth Movement to the back of the arts & entertainment sections. As ever, recent reports about the 9/11 Truth Movement in the Guardian's sister publication, the London Observer are little more than skewed comedy routines on those wacky conspiracy-types.

So while the MSM continues the strategy of deny and conquer, the blogosphere has championed the story of the Sheen's questions (as well as the growing number of other high profile skeptics), the MSM backlash, and the growing 9/11 Truth Movement.

Sites like Bravocharlie911.com and others have sprung up to spread the word and remind people that despite the MSM's attempt to convince us that we are alone in our "speculations" the numbers of people that are unconvinced by the government's official story of what happened on 9/11 is growing exponentially every day. For a site in existence for only a few weeks to have received thousands of votes on their polls questioning if 9/11 was an inside job is no small thing.

Charlie Sheen and his brave step into the spotlight for 9/11 Truth has opened the floodgates for people everywhere who have questions about 9/11 but up until this point have been too afraid to voice them. He has done what no one has until now, he has begun to make it acceptable to offer dissent about the official line and as more like him begin to publicly ask questions we will overwhelm the whitewash and the people who perpetrated it.

One such individual who viewed Charlie Sheen's courageousness as an inspiration was Winnipeg Free Press columnist Dallas Hansen from whom we received the following e mail.

"As a regular op-ed columnist for the *Winnipeg Free Press* since October, 2004, I have had only two submissions refused by my editor, both of which concerned the Bush administration and information first discovered on your websites."

In one of the columns, entitled Sept. 11 is my generation's Nov. 22, Hansen addressed points that Sheen had actually raised as evidence for his doubts on 9/11, something which every MSM hit piece has thus far failed to do.

Appearing Wednesday on the Alex Jones show, Hansen (pictured) made it clear that his column was just editorializing on the cultural phenomenon of a major Hollywood actor discussing a major modern day event. Yet his editor was vehement in stating that the column would not run under any circumstances, despite the fact that, as we saw in the case of CNN's Showbiz Tonight, interest in the subject is at an all time high and it boost viewership and readership figures.

This mirrors other examples where higher powers have acted to squash any coverage of this issue despite its rampant popularity.

Alex Jones' appearance on Fox News and Ed Asner's appearance on CNN to discuss Charlie Sheen's position on 9/11 were both cancelled at the last minute after pressure from above.

The lapdog establishment press have failed to address Charlie Sheen's challenge across the board. They have continued to idly gossip about Sheen's private life, his immature behavior from 20 years ago, and performed catch-all meandering mental somersaults in order to avoid the one thing they fear.

Having a real debate on 9/11 in which the evidence is laid out in the open.

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Economic Apocalypse

Government Spending Hits Record in March

AP Economics Writer
12 April 06

WASHINGTON - Government spending hit an all-time high for a single month in March, pushing the budget deficit up significantly from the red-ink level of a year ago.

In its monthly accounting of the government's books, the
Treasury Department reported Wednesday that federal spending totaled $250 billion last month, up 13.7 percent from March 2005.
Government receipts also were up, rising 10.6 percent from a year ago, to $164.6 billion. That left a deficit for the month of $85.5 billion, a record imbalance for March.

Treasury Department officials said that half of the growth in outlays for March represented a $15 billion shift in payments for certain government benefit programs, including Medicare, into March rather than April. The benefit payments were made early because April 1 fell on a Saturday.

The March outlay record of $250 billion surpassed the old mark of $232 billion set in February.

Even though the deficit was a record for March, it was below the all-time monthly high of $119.2 billion, which was set in February.

So far through the first six months of this budget year, which began in October, the deficit totals $303 billion, an increase of 2.8 percent over the deficit in the first six months of the 2005 budget year.

The administration is forecasting that the deficit for this budget year, which will end Sept. 30, will hit a record $423 billion, surpassing the old mark in dollar terms of $413 billion set in 2004. The administration says the costs of the war in
Iraq and reconstruction spending from the Gulf Coast hurricanes will drive the deficit higher.

Congressional Budget Office is forecasting that the deficit will total $371 billion this year, and many private forecasters believe the red ink will be even lower, noting that the healthy economy has pushed revenues up sharply.

Through the first six months of this budget year, revenues have totaled $1.04 trillion, up 10.5 percent from the same period a year ago.

Spending during this six-month period totals $1.34 trillion, up 8.7 percent from the same period in 2005.

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Americans will buy SUVs even if gas hits four dollars a gallon: Ford

Agence France Presse
12 April 06

A core group of US consumers will continue to buy large sports utility vehicles (SUVs) even if gasoline prices rise to four dollars a gallon and stay that way, a senior executive at the Ford Motor Company said.

"There is a certain portion of the marketplace and customers who want that flexibility that is provided with a traditional SUV," Mark Fields, president of the automaker's Americas division, said during a conference with analysts.

"So I don't think our strategy would change too much."
High gasoline (petrol) prices, which currently top three dollars a gallon in some critical US retail markets, have already cut into sales of Ford's gas-guzzling large SUVs.

Fields said the company had forecast prices to be in the 2.50 to three dollar range this year and as a result has focused on expanding sales of cars and smaller more fuel-efficient crossover sports utility vehicles.

Fields said the automaker is also on track to sell 900,000 of its F-series trucks this year.

"That's more than double the sales of the industry's best-selling car," he told analysts.

A shift away from highly profitable sports utility vehicles has played a large role in the massive financial losses Ford's North American automotive sector posted last year.

The company reacted with a plan to shutter 14 plants, lay off up to 30,000 workers and to change the way it does business.

Fields reiterated the company's commitment to returning its North American operations to profitability by 2008 and to stabilizing its declining US market share.

"We believe our plan is comprehensive and we are starting to make progress," Fields said. "We know there's still a lot of work to do."

Fields said the company's objective is "to first stop the rate of loss of share and ultimately grow it," but he would not comment on whether he anticipated Ford would be able to regain market share from Asian rivals or would have to battle it out with domestic automakers General Motors and Chrysler.

He said the company had done significant market share research and found that a large group of customers were committed to buying American brands if the automakers were able to deliver attractive products.

"There is a certain core of customers who buy imports and will only buy imports," he acknowledged.

When asked whether recent credit ratings downgrades have affected the company's ability to offer customers competitive financing options due to rising costs for financing the company's massive debt load, Fields said the company's financial branch "continues to have a very strong liquidity position and funding flexibility.

"I'm very confident we have the resources to support our business going forward but as you know that continues to play out."

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Empire's War on Labor

By Charles Sullivan
Information Clearing House
12 April 06

Most of the workers in this country are at will employees who have no protection from the tyranny of their employers, and no recourse to the law when they are unjustly fired, as so many are. Yet they are too timid and too frightened to rebel. The situation demands bold action. The streets should be filled with angry and indignant protesters committing acts of civil disobedience, economic disruption and sabotage against an unjust system of wage slavery. But the masses remain well behaved, resigned to their fate of servitude; content with the few morsels that fall from the tables of the rich. There should be social unrest, angry mobs in the streets that refuse to go away and a revival of revolutionary unionism.
What do I mean by revolutionary unionism? I mean unions that fight like hell for the rights of workers and take no prisoners. Unions that recognize most employers as the enemy of workers they are. I mean unions that strike fear into the hearts of the employers; unions that seek to overthrow capitalism and to remake society in the image of the worker rather than the ruling elite. I am talking about radical, militant in your face organizing on a global scale that unites working class people against Plutocratic rule.

How can we forget a history of class struggle that we have never known? The four men who were foremost in the fight for the eight hour work day, which included Albert Parsons and August Spies, were hung in the streets of Chicago in November of 1887. The eight hour work day did not become law in the U.S. until 1938 when it was enacted as part of Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Our government is killing millions of innocent civilians, people like us in every part of the planet, while laying waste to the world for the private gain of a few. The people should be up in arms. But there is hardly a whimper of protest. We can hardly pry the average citizen away from American Idol and Survivor; much less get them into the streets to demand an end to wage slavery and to fight for social justice. We should not occupy the shopping malls; we should be in the streets. What does this say about the conscience of the American people? Where is the courage? Where is the righteous indignation that is demanded by the times? Where is the solidarity that once characterized working class people? Why do we choose to live on our knees rather than stand on our feet and fight for what we know is right?

We are a disgrace to the legacy forged by the workers who came before us and sacrificed so much-to Joe Hill, Frank Little, Sid Hatfield, Albert Parson, August Spies, Mary Harris, Lucy Parsons, Big Bill Haywood, Daniel DeLeon and Eugene Debs.

Why do we tolerate the intolerable evil that manifests itself in the neocon cabal that is running the world and appears to be intent upon destroying all of us? Are our minds so numbed, our souls so empty that we cannot even lift a finger to resist? Are we so selfish as a people that we can think only of our own comfort while ignoring the suffering imposed upon others in our name? How can any just person allow their government to invade sovereign nations, to slaughter its people and to subject them to lives of terror and unimaginable indignities? How can we allow this to continue and call it liberation and democracy? The perversion of language is sickening. What in the hell is wrong with us? Do we enjoy licking the boots of men like George Bush and Adolph Hitler? Spit in their eye and blacken the other, I say!

We would behave differently if it was our country that was being bombed to rubble by a foreign power. But since it is not, we callously ignore the evil that is done in our name. We go on with our lives as if the lives of Muslims, whose names we do not know, whose faces we never see, do not matter. According to Gary Null, the U.S. is responsible for the death of 1.2 million Iraqis alone. And Iraq is only one of the one hundred and thirty-five nations occupied by the U.S. forces. How can we fail to fathom the incalculable pain and misery we are sowing around the world? Will we ever learn that might does not make right? Only justice makes right.

Millions of workers in France are filling the streets and committing acts of civil disobedience because they can be fired by their employers without reason. They have joined the ranks of at will employees. Have we regressed into a nation of obedient sheep, incapable of making trouble? American workers should be in the streets demonstrating solidarity with our French brethren. We should be in the streets with our Latino brothers and sisters razing hell. We should be there with Cindy Sheehan. Why does ninety-nine percent of the population consent to be ruled by the other one percent? Why are we so damned polite and servile? Were our backbones removed at birth? Were we born without conscience, without a sense of right and wrong? Do we exist only to consume goods; to serve as canon fodder in imperialism's wars?

Too many working people are ignorant of their own history and thus lack historical perspective and understanding. The struggles of working class people against the ruling elite, while often difficult to read because of the sense of rage it engenders, is also a history of hope. It shows us the way through organized struggle, direct action and civil disobedience. Little wonder, then, that the official keepers of history want to keep it secret. It might give people the idea that something can be done about oppression and injustice. It might even inspire them to take action and that is a very dangerous proposition to those in power. Peace, justice, and worker emancipation are born of struggle. They will not magically appear as a gift from our oppressors. Freedom is not given, it is won. Win or lose, we must fight the fight.

The genius of capitalism, if something so insidious may be called that, is that it provides just enough material comfort and hope for enough people to keep them from rebelling. If there is more than a small shift in the people's level of comfort and hope, things could quickly change. Open rebellion-revolution-might even be possible. Capitalism must keep the carrot, the promise of a better life; a more just and equitable way of living, just beyond the grasp of the working class people. Betterment must appear not only possible, but probable in order to keep the masses striving and thus under control. If the ruling class is to maintain the elite status proffered by capitalism, the working class must never realize that they are playing the game with a marked deck. The system allows only a few winners. Workers were never meant to have pie in the sky-that is only for the privileged elite.

Under the oppressive weight of capitalism, workers will never receive their fair share of the wealth they create for their employers. Eugene Debs once calculated that the average worker receives no more than seventeen percent of the wealth she/he creates. Capitalism is all about maximizing corporate profitability by exploiting the workers and the earth. It is capitalism that is waging war on working class people in every nation on earth. And now the parasites running the country are drawing up plans to bomb yet another sovereign nation that poses no threat to us, perhaps with nuclear munitions. How many more sons and daughters will have to die before we awaken from our stupor? Are we even capable of awakening? Where is the moral outrage that should be finding expression in the streets?

Why are we so afraid to acknowledge that U.S. aggression is interrelated with capitalism, class privilege, war profiteering and worker abuse in every part of the world? Are we just going to sit quietly in our living rooms before the television's tiny light while the world burns? It appears so.

Yesterday morning as I sat having breakfast with my wife, I looked out the window and noticed some birds hovering in the air. It quickly became apparent that there was some contention between them. At first a single crow was bravely diving at a Red-tailed Hawk that was apparently hunting in the vicinity of her nest. The crow was quickly joined by her mate; then another crow and yet another joined in the chase. In just a few minutes there were many crows involved, although their nests were not threatened, and the hawk was noisily driven off. We could learn something from those crows.

Charles Sullivan is a photographer, free lance writer and citizen activist residing somewhere in the hinterland of West Virginia. He may be reached at earthdog@highstream.net.

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US threatening Russia with economic retaliation

Financial Express
11 April 06

MOSCOW - Fearful of Russia helping Iran build a nuclear bomb and the Kremlin reverting to authoritarianism, the US is threatening Mosow with economic retaliation, a media report said on Tuesday.

"The United States is the last major country to put up obstacles to Russian entry to the WTO.
"On the surface, the outstanding WTO issues are purely economic - intellectual property rights, for instance, or keeping Russian markets open to American poultry exports, an issue that has recently arisen.But just beneath the surface, the politics surrounding Russia's quest to join the global trade organisation is clearly visible," the 'Moscow Times' daily said.

Russia has resolved trade disputes with many countries, but has yet to iron out its differences with Washington, a prerequisite for admission to the 149-member WTO.

US senator Bill Frist, the majority leader and one of a handful of Republicans likely to run for President in 2008, said here on Monday that the political chasm separating the US and Russia figured into the resolution of trade disputes.

Speaking at a news conference after meeting foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, frist said Russia's disregard for rule of law, human rights violations and other 'anti-democratic' tendencies 'colour the position of the United States'.

Frist added that ''our Congress plays a major role in whether Russia will ultimately be admitted to the WTO''.

A senior congressional aide, speaking to the daily on condition of anonymity said the US house of representatives would be a 'major stumbling block' for Russian ascendancy to the WTO. Amid reports of attempts by the US to delay Russia's accession to WTO, a top Russian lawmaker said that Moscow could defer its decision to join the global trade body. "Russia will only join the World Trade Organization on terms it considers favourable," said Boris Gryzlov, chairman of state Duma, Russia's lower house of parliament.

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The Arrogance Of Power

By Paul Street
Information Clearing House

One of the great privileges of power is the right to attack others for doing --- or allegedly doing (see below) --- exactly what you do without anybody who matters calling you on your hypocrisy. Think of the affluent white Americans who criticize the alleged personal irresponsibility, cultural inadequacy, and welfare dependency of the inner city poor. Never mind that the these wealthy Americans engage in an ongoing orgy of conspicuous and ecologically toxic consumption. Forget that they typically invest in and/or receive generous salaries from corporations that receive massive public subsidies while cheating customers, subverting regulations, deepening inequality, slashing wages and benefits, abandoning communities, discriminating against women and minorities, and/or otherwise contributing to human misery at home and abroad. Such blantant hypocrisy generally proceeds without without public notice or exposure.

The White House, to give another example, declares that any state harboring terrorists is a terrorist state and is therefore subject to just invasion and attack by "the civilized world," led of course, by Washington. It is left to the lunatic fringe to point out that the leader of civilization would be justly bombed by this standard since the U.S. happens to host such known terrorists as Orlando Bosch and Posada Carriles, who collaborated in blowing up a civilian Cuban airliner as part of a U.S. directed campaign against the Castro government.

It is left to the leftist denizens of the radical nuthouse to point out that U.S. foreign policy has long used [state-] terrorist methods to slaughter masses of innocent people in places like Vietnam (where American forces killed more than 2 million people between 1962 and 1975) and Iraq, where more than a million died from U.S-imposed economic sanctions during the 1990s. The current US-led invasion of Iraq has killed more than 100, 000 civilians.

Do the savage U.S. torture camps and brutal state-terrorist "interrogation" techniques maintained and conducted in Gunatanamo, Abu Ghraib, and Bagram Air Force base, among other locations help the U.S. qualify as a fitting candidate for punitive attack by "the civilized world?"

How about the role that John Negroponte, current U.S. Director of National Intelligence, played as U.S. ambassador to Honduras in the 1980s? Negroponte ran interference for the Honduran security forces in the U.S. Congress, making sure that U.S. military assistance kept flowing to Honduras while those forces conducted a brutal campaign of torture and massacre against that nation's civilian populace. Negroponte's main job in Honduras, however, was to oversee the terrorist contra camps in Honduras, from which a C.I.A.-equipped mercenary force launched repeated murderous attacks that killed masses of Nicaraguan civilians.

These are relevant questions only for the aforementioned nutcases.


Speaking of Negroponte, he takes the powerful pot-calling-the-not-so-powerful kettle-black game to a new level. A recent front-page New York Times article on Venezuela's foreign policy contains some very interesting reflections from the United States' blood-soaked uber-snoop. By Negroponte's observation, respectfully reported without properly stunned amazement or derision by the Times, Venezuela's president Hugo Chavez is "spending considerable sums involving himself in the political and economic life of other countries in Latin America and elsewhere, this despite the very real economic development and social needs of his own country. It's clear," Negroponte told a Congressional hearing last month, "he is spending hundreds of millions, if note more, for his very extravagant foreign policy." Negroponte's tone of concern over Chavez's "extravagance" was loyally repeated in the Times' article, which bore the ominous title "CHAVEZ SEEKING FOREIGN ALLIES, SPENDING BILLIONS: Oil Used in Rivalry With U.S. for Influence in the Americas" (April 4, 1968).

Forget for a moment, as the Times dutifully did, that the Chavez government has been "using its oil revenues for the public good" by "doing what previous elite-dominated [Venezuelan] governments failed to do: providing for the basic political, social, and economic needs of the population. Oil revenue," Maria Peaez Victor recently noted, "is now used for universal health services, education at all levels, clean water, food security, micro credits, support for small and middle range industry, land distribution and deeds for de-facto owners, worker cooperatives, infrastructure, such as roads and railways and support for independent community radio," leading to significant ongoing improvements in the social health of Venezuela (Maria Paez Victor, "Mr. Danger and the Socialism for the New Millennium," Speech to the University of Toronto Walter Gordon/Massey Symposium, March 15, 2006 available online at www.venezuelanalysis.com).

And forget also that Chavez's supposedly "extravagant" and power mad (Donald Rumsfeld recently likened Chavez to Adolph Hitler) foreign policy appears to alleviate and counter economic and social problems and abroad and thus stands in sharp contrast to the regressive dictates and outcomes of U.S. foreign policy. Chavez, by the Times' own account, has "been subsidizing...eye surgery for poor Mexicans and even heating fuel for poor families from Maine to the Bronx to Philadelphia." He has helped Argentina overcome its foreign debt and given $3.8 million in foreign aid to four African nations. In the Bronx last winter, the Times reports, Venezuela's oil corporation Citgo "provided heating fuel at a 40 percent discount to some 8,000 low-income residents of 75 apartment buildings."


Put all that aside and reflect upon the curious fact, naturally not mentioned by the Times, that the U.S. is a great perpetrator when it comes to the the crime of sacrificing domestic social and economic health and development to the pursuit of an "extravagant foreign policy" involving massive interferencve in the internal affairs of other natiuons.

The more than $500 billion each year on an imperial defense budget that maintains more than720 military bases located in nearly every country on the planet, including many in Central and Southern America.

But this is only one way in which Uncle Sam "involv[es] himself in the political and economic life of other countries in Latin America and elsewhere." Other forms of such involvement include the powerful and regressive neoliberal economic interventions of the U.S.-dominated International Monetary Fund and World Bank, the vast reach of American corporate media and consumer culture, the ubiquitous political pressure of U.S. "diplomacy," the placement of explicitly propagandistic "news" stories in foreign newspaper and television, and the flooding of Central American markets with highly subsidized U.S. agricultural exports.

The U.S. government has even been known to invade and occupy other, formerly sovereign states, smashing their existing nation-state and insisting that the occupied nations develop in accord with U.S. imposed politico-economic dictates.

How "extravagant" (and expensive) is all that?

All of this global extravagance transpires while:

* More than 37 million residents of the United States (which US Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson [R-Texas] calls "the beacon to the world of the way life should be") languish beneath the federal government's notoriously low poverty level ($15,219 for a family of three in 2004).

* More than 13 million or 18 percent of US children live below that sorry measure, and the US child poverty rate is substantially higher than that of other industrialized nations.

* 15.6 million Americans live at LESS THAN HALF the inadequate U.S. poverty level, comprising 42 percent of the nation's giant poverty population.

* More than one in three US children live in or near poverty and more than 8 million Americans live in homes that frequently skip meals or eat too little.

* More than 45 million Americans lack health coverage, making up 16 percent of the U.S. population. The U.S. is still the only modern industrialized state without a universal, socially inclusive health insurance plan.

* The top 1 percent owns more than 40 percent of the wealth in the U.S..

* The top 10 percent owns two-thirds of US wealth, leaving the rest of us - 90 percent of the population - to fight it out for one third of the nation's assets.

* The net worth (all assets minus all liabilities) of the typical black family in the U.S. is around $8000, roughly 7 percent of the typical white family's net worth - that's seven black cents on the white dollar.

* As the Times acknowledged in a front-page story last May, "Life at the Top Isn't Just Better, It's Longer" because "class is a potent force in health and longevity in the United States. The more education and income people have, the less likely they are to have and die of heart disease, strokes, diabetes and many types of cancer. Upper-middle-class Americans live longer and in better health than middle-class Americans, who live longer and better than those at the bottom. And the gaps are widening, say people who have researched social factors in health. As advances in medicine and disease prevention have increased life expectancy in the United States," Times reporter J. Scott elaborated, "the benefits have disproportionately gone to people with education, money, good jobs and connections. They are almost invariably in the best position to learn new information early, modify their behavior, take advantage of the latest treatments and have the cost covered by insurance" (Janny Scott, "Life At The Top," New York Times, 16 May 2005).

* Unequal health care contributes to more than 100,000 black Americans dying earlier than whites each year. Middle-aged black men die at nearly twice the rate as white men of a similar age.

I could go on and on. The list of the "very real" but all-too unmet "economic development and social needs" and savage racial and related class disparities in the imperial "homeland" is practically endless. It is also getting bigger with time. As the Times reported (along with the rest of "mainstream" media) earlier this year, the Bush II administration has seen the U.S. poverty rate rise during every single year of its existence. That terrible measure has never gone up each year for five straight years until now.

This remarkable record of worsening misery at the bottom of the United States' steep socioeconomic pyramid partly reflects the deliberate bankrupting of social programs through a militantly plutocratic program of massive tax-cutting that primarily benefits the already super-wealthy.

It also reflects the huge social and democratic opportunity cost of the imperial state's addiction to an extravagantly expensive militarism. The U.S. spends nearly as much on what it deceptively calls "defense" as the rest of the world. In 2002, the U.S. military budget was 30 times bigger than the combined spending of the seven official U.S. "rogue" states --- Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Sudan and Syria (when will Venezuela be added to the list? )--- who together spent $14.4 billion. The seven "rogue" enemies plus Russia and (long-term Pentagon obsession) China together spent $116.2 billion, equal to just 27.6% of the U.S. military budget.


Meanwhile, here's how the National Priorities Project (NPP) breaks down the tax bill American paid for 2005, by the end of which the invasion of Iraq had cost more than $270 billion. Let's say you paid Uncle Sam $1,000 last April. Your patriotic investment in the American public sector was used as follows:

* $285 went to the military, what the federal government likes to call "defense" and what would more accurately be called "empire."

* $200 went to "health care": all health spending by the federal government, including federal spending on Medicare and Medicaid.

* $180 went to pay interest on the debt (which costs the nation $317.3 billion each year), that is to pay off domestic and international bond holders/global finance capital.

* $60 went to "income security," including Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Supplementary Security Income, and various programs for families and kids.

* $40 went to education: all federal expenditures on elementary, secondary, higher education and federal research and general education assistance.

* $37 went to benefits for veterans (which some analysts would include under "military").

* $27 went to nutrition spending, including Food Stamps and all child nutrition programs.

* $20 went to housing: all federal housing assistance.

* $14 went to environmental protection.

* $ 3 went to job training.

"Defense" (empire) outweighed education by more than 7to 1; income security (for the poor) by more than 4 to 1; nutrition by more than 10 to 1; housing by 14 to 1; environmental protection by 20 to 1; and job training by 95 to 1. The military accounts for more than half of all discretionary - not previously obligated - federal spending.

And don't be fooled by the number two ranking for health care. Most of that $200 is a transfer payment to the corporate-medical-industrial complex, just as much of the "defense" budget is a transfer payment to such giant corporate masters of war as Raytheon, Lockheed-Martin, and Boeing. US governmental per-capita health expenditures are higher than those of some nations with national health insurance plans (including France and Germany) because of America's inordinately high doctor salaries, skyrocketing drug prices in the US (where consumers flex little countervailing bargaining power against the market-setting capacity of leading pharmaceutical corporations), and the flood of paper work and bureaucratic bloat in the private (corporate) "health" sector.

The NPP also breaks down the social costs of the Iraq occupation. As of April 6, 2006 at 5:30 PM, the NPP reported, Washington's imperial war of choice on Mesopotamia had cost more than $271 billion. With that same sum of money, the NPP calculated, the United States could have: enrolled 30, 923, 096 U.S. children in Head Start for one year; provided health insurance for one year to 162, 406, 756 children; built 2,442, 073 additional housing units; hired 4,700, 260 additional public school teachers for one year; and given 13,148,101 Americans a four-year college scholarship at a public university.


The day on which the New York Times story about Chavez's "extravagant foreign policy" (Negroponte) appeared - April fourth - happened to mark the 38th anniversary of the assassination (or perhaps state execution) of the great civil rights leader Martin Luther King. Jr. King, it is haunting to recall, was killed exactly one year after he delivered his famous "Time to Break the Silence" speech denouncing the Vietnam War at the Riverside Church in New York City.

By the time of that famous oration, King was regularly speaking and writing against what he called "the triple evils that are interrelated": militarism, poverty, and racism. "I [can] never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettoes," King said, "without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today - my own government." He was moved to speak out on Vietnam, he said, by "allegiances and loyalties which are broader and deeper than nationalism." His Christian-humanist values meant that he could not watch passively as "as we poison" the Vietnamese peoples' "water, as we kill a million acres of their crops," and "send them into the hospitals, with at least twenty casualties from American firepower for one 'Vietcong'-inflicted injury." The people of Indochina, King mused, must find Americans to be "strange liberators" as "we destroy...their... famil[ies], village[s],...land and...crops."

But focusing back on the imperial homeland, King also noted that many young black Americans and poor whites were in Vietnam because their poverty was so high and their job prospects so low that enlistment looked like a step up. He observed that the American government's resort to mass bloodshed in Southeast Asia was undermining his ability to argue effectively for nonviolent resistance to inequality and racism in American ghettoes. And he passionately decried the fact that the U.S. government's decision to pour tens of millions of dollars into the "crucifixion of Southeast Asia" (as Noam Chomsky once aptly described an American military assault that killed 3 million residents of that region) was undercutting its ability to deliver on the "promissory note" of social justice it had started to write with its briefly declared "War on Poverty." "With the resources accruing from the termination of the war, arms race, and excessive space races," King told the US Senate in 1966, "the elimination of all poverty could become an immediate national reality. At present," he bitterly observed, "the war on poverty is not even a battle, it is scarcely a skirmish." "Defense" expenditures in Vietnam, King knew, were strangling the anti-poverty "war" in its cradle.

Struggling against the toxic, interrelated logics of empire, inequality, and racism, King called for "a radical reordering of the nation's priorities." By 1967, he went public with his determination that that "reordering" required "restructuring the whole of American society." "A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift," King warned, "is approaching spiritual death."

Nearly four decades after King's death, the U.S. government dishonors the now officially iconicized civil rights leader's officially forgotten anti-imperialist and social-justice legacy by prioritizing militarism over social provision and health like no time in memory. It is once again sacrificing domestic social and economic needs to the extravagant costs of waging an imperial war for "so-called freedom" (King on the Vietnam War) abroad.

Adding Orwellian insult to injury, the leading imperial terror manager Negroponte has the unmitigated gall to falsely accuse a relatively small and populist Latin American state of sacrificing its domestic social health to an expensive, expansionist, and "extravagant foreign policy." And the United States' leading "liberal" newspaper, which guards the leftmost boundary of the narrow moral-ideological spectrum in a spiritually dead "mainstream" media, naturally refuses to call the imperial functionary on his astonishing and odious hypocrisy.

Paul Louis Street is a writer, activist, teacher, and public speaker based in DeKalb, IL, and Iowa City, IA. His many publications include Empire and Inequality: America and the World Since 9/11 (www/paradigmpublishers.com). He can be reached at pstreet@niu.edu.

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Hillary Clinton: Miss Piggy at the Trough: Company Finds Clinton Useful, and Vice Versa

NY Times
12 April 06

Corning Inc., one of upstate New York's largest and oldest employers, has supported Republican candidates for so long that its chairman once joked that it had not raised money for a Democrat since 1812.

But since Hillary Rodham Clinton was elected to the Senate in 2000, Corning and its mainly Republican executives have become one of her largest sources of campaign contributions. And in that time, Mrs. Clinton has become one of the company's leading champions, delivering for it like no other Democratic lawmaker.
In April 2003, a month after Corning's political action committee gave $10,000 to her re-election campaign, Mrs. Clinton announced legislation that would provide hundreds of millions in federal aid to reduce diesel pollution, using, among other things, technology pioneered by Corning. It was one of several Congressional initiatives Mrs. Clinton has pushed that benefit the company.

And in April 2004, Mrs. Clinton began a push to persuade the Chinese government to relax tariffs on Corning fiber optics products, inviting the Chinese ambassador to her office and personally asking President Bush for help in the matter. One month after the beginning of that ultimately successful effort, Corning's chairman, James Houghton, held a fund-raiser at his home that collected tens of thousands of dollars for her re-election campaign.

It is part of a senator's job description to help a major employer in his or her home state, and it is not unusual for that employer to encourage that help or to reciprocate with campaign contributions. In Mrs. Clinton's case, her alliance with Corning provides a window into how she has used her singular clout as a former first lady on behalf of new constituents in her adopted home state, and how those efforts in turn have helped her to bolster her already powerful fund-raising machine and win over previously skeptical New Yorkers.

Indeed, her work on behalf of Corning began even before company officials had made a single contribution to her as a senator.

"She's there when you need her," said Amo Houghton, a former Republican congressman and the brother of Corning's chairman.

Mrs. Clinton, who is running for re-election this year, has been cultivating leaders in upstate communities like Corning, in central New York, hoping to exceed her 2000 results, including those in Republican strongholds, to demonstrate that she has appeal beyond her traditional base, Democrats and her associates say.

Corning has proved doubly helpful on that front. The company and its employees contributed $137,000 from the time she was elected in 2000 through the end of 2005. Although it was a small portion of the $33 million the senator raised for her re-election during that time, it was the most from any single source other than MetLife - more even than politically active Wall Street firms like Goldman Sachs. In addition, Corning twice paid for her to travel upstate to be briefed on issues important to the company and the region.

Beyond financial support, Corning has also defended Mrs. Clinton against upstate critics. When, for instance, The Buffalo News suggested in 2003 that she was failing to win over local leaders, Corning's vice chairman, James B. Flaws, sent a letter to the paper listing ways she had helped the company and its region.

"She has delivered and continues to deliver for us," Mr. Flaws wrote.

The Clinton-Corning alliance is so new and unexpected that John W. Loose, who retired as Corning's chief executive in 2002, after 38 years, reacted in disbelief when told of the company's contributions to her campaign after he left.

"No kidding?" said Mr. Loose, who raised money for Mrs. Clinton's Republican opponent, Rick Lazio, in 2000. "I'm really surprised to hear that. Very surprised. A lot of the executives there were Republicans. There were only a handful of Democrats."

Corning's support of Mrs. Clinton stands in contrast to its less enthusiastic backing of other Democrats, including New York's senior senator, Charles E. Schumer. While contributing $51,000 to Mrs. Clinton in 2004, Corning employees gave $5,000 to Mr. Schumer that year - even though he was running and she was not. And its political action committee gave $10,000 to Mrs. Clinton's Democratic predecessor, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, during the 1990's.

Like her husband, Mrs. Clinton has been closely scrutinized for her aggressive fund-raising. Her spokesman said that she takes pride in helping a company that is a major employer upstate. "A relationship that began with glass is now a bond as strong as steel," said the spokesman, Philippe Reines, referring to Corning's origins as a glass maker.

"Corning, in upstate New York, whom I'm privileged to represent, has come through tough times and thrived," Mrs. Clinton said in remarks last summer at the Aspen Institute, discussing the challenges American manufacturers face.

Corning, a Fortune 500 company, has 26,000 employees worldwide, and its major presence upstate is one of the bright spots of an economically battered region. The company makes glassware and ceramics used in fiber optics, diesel emission controls and liquid crystal displays.

Its contributions to Mrs. Clinton often tracked her support for the company, records show. Their mutual support started small, but grew in significance, and dollars, over time.

In early 2002, at the company's urging, Mrs. Clinton helped secure $5 million for a program that would provide federal grants to help school districts overhaul diesel-powered school buses by using a kind of ceramic-filter technology that Corning was beginning to market.

During the 2000 Senate campaign, Corning's political action committee gave $3,000 to Mrs. Clinton, compared with $9,000 for Mr. Lazio, the Republican. But in March 2003, the company gave $10,000 to Mrs. Clinton. A month later, she announced a measure that would provide hundreds of millions of dollars in additional federal money to reduce school bus diesel emissions.

In another initiative, Mrs. Clinton played a key role in persuading Congress to provide millions to state and local governments to upgrade other kinds of diesel-powered vehicles, said Conrad Schneider, advocacy director for the Clean Air Task Force, a nonprofit environmental group that lobbied for the legislation along with Corning and other companies.

"She was really using shoe leather, making member contact, convening meetings and that sort of thing," Mr. Schneider said.

But it was Mrs. Clinton's work on the Chinese tariff dispute that helps explain why Corning might have sought her assistance to begin with. Though a junior senator, Mrs. Clinton apparently used her status as former first lady and high-profile senator not only to intercede with Chinese officials, but also to prod President Bush himself to help the company.

The dispute began in early 2004 when the Chinese Commerce Ministry announced a preliminary decision to impose a 16 percent duty on Corning fiber optics products, saying Corning had deliberately undercut Chinese manufacturers.

Corning appealed to Mrs. Clinton for help, and in April 2004 she reached out to the Chinese minister of trade when he visited Washington. In a strongly worded letter, Mrs. Clinton asserted that the issue was "of great importance to me," that she held Corning in "high esteem" and that she considered the accusations against the company "unfair," according to a copy of the letter.

That month and the next, Corning executives contributed $46,000 to her campaign committee, campaign finance records show.

Next, Mrs. Clinton invited the Chinese ambassador to her Capitol Hill office, where she again stressed the issue's significance to her, said a person with direct knowledge of the exchange, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, citing the private nature of the conversation. The ambassador agreed to take that message to his superiors in Beijing, the person said.

Finally, in November, Mrs. Clinton pulled President Bush aside during the opening of her husband's presidential library in Arkansas to press Corning's case. "She explained the issue and she asked the president to be personally involved," the person said.

Mr. Bush told her he would look into the matter, aides to Mrs. Clinton said. The United States trade representative's office and the Department of Commerce also pressed the Chinese to lift the tariff. By December, the Chinese government had reversed its decision and lifted the duty. Corning officials credited Mrs. Clinton's work with making a difference.

"Her ability to reach out in Washington and outside Washington - I mean, she's the former first lady of the United States," said Timothy J. Regan, the senior vice president of worldwide government affairs at Corning. "No question that her involvement helped move things."

It is difficult to assess how much Mrs. Clinton influenced the Chinese. Corning took other steps to press its complaint, including hiring Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, an influential Washington lobbying firm, which assigned a former undersecretary of commerce to the case.

A lawyer in China who represented Corning before the Chinese Commerce Ministry, John Yong Ren, declined to comment.

Former President Bill Clinton has made several visits to China since leaving office, taking part in AIDS symposiums and giving paid speeches to Chinese businesses. But Senator Clinton's aides said her husband was not involved in the Corning matter.

What is indisputable is that China's decision to rescind the tariff came at a critical juncture for Corning, company officials said. The collapse of the telecommunications boom of the 1990's caused Corning's revenue to drop to $3 billion in 2003, from $6.9 billion in 2000, heightening its need for new markets for its pollution control technology and fiber optics products.

That explains why the company has become one of Mrs. Clinton's biggest supporters, Mr. Regan said.

"When you are down and somebody gives you a hand," he said, "you have to remember that."

Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

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Millionaires and Poverty - Daily Wisdom:Words From on Old Man

by Cloy Richards

There was a small blip the other day on the business channel about millionaires. Seems as though the latest count put them at more than eight million. This was money over and above any equity in their homes.

It is ironic that forty years after Johnson started his war on poverty this country now has a higher per-centage of the population living in poverty, but we've managed to increase the number of millionaires eight-fold.

Does this suggest we might be doing something wrong?
Now I grant you that the millionaires dont think so, but what about the rest of us?

I sense a growing unease in this country about this problem. The latest polls show that 70% of the people think this country is headed in the wrong direction. They cite a number of factors, but, I think, deep down, that they can feel the tilt which is creating a large pool of poverty. They are concerned that they are living on this slope which is slowly sliding them, and their children, into this enormous pool down below.

There are many labels fastened on those who abdicate a mandatory shift of wealth from the haves to the have-nots. The haves control the wealth, and the power derived from that wealth, and will do everything they can to stop such a shift from occuring. That's what drives the tax policies which have been enacted in recent years.

Some times you can be too greedy. If you dont believe me, read the history of the tsars and pre-revolutionary France. Lets hope the millionaires see the light before this country is torn apart.


Cloy Richards maintains a Blog named "Daily Wisdom: Words from an Old Man" exclusively at TinasCornerCafe.com -- Serving Food For Our Democracy

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Bolivian Government Confirms No Agreement with IMF

Prensa Latina
10 April 06

La Paz - The government of President Evo Morales ratified Monday its refusal to sign agreements with the International Monetary Fund or a free trade treaty with the US.
In a meeting with the international press accredited here, Bolivian Planning Minister Carlos Villegas revealed the government started negotiations to recover state stock control of private enterprises and that the new Bolivian government has told governments and organizations cooperating with Bolivia that the nation will define where and how to invest resources

He said that this reverses a situation in which foreign corporations defined policies, strategies and priorities.

Asked about relations with IMF, Villegas said that before this administration, the IMF had a policy of excessive interference in Bolivian domestic affairs and the country had put all its efforts into the macro-economy, to the perceived detriment of individual Bolivians.

Villegas affirmed that Bolivia could take care of balancing its macro-economy and pointed out that the international economic situation is quite favorable to Bolivia due to relations with economies, such as China and India.

He stated there would be no conditions imposed by the IMF, and the government will keep "a fraternal relationship with this organization."

Of a trade agreement with the US, the minister said that, as proposed, such an agreement would affect local producers, and only benefit a small group of exporting countries.

He confirmed the government is looking for alternatives, giving as examples negotiations with Argentina and Brazil for commercial agreements.

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Mother Nature: "Terrorism? HA!"

NORTHERN CALIFORNIA: Levees, creeks, hillsides -- oh, my!

Michael Cabanatuan, Glen Martin and Jim Doyle
Chronicle Staff Writers
April 12, 2006

Northern California, sodden with record rainfall, absorbed more water Tuesday and neared the bursting point. Rains threatened to overwhelm San Joaquin Valley levees and the Bay Area's creeks and hillsides.

And more is on the way.
"Rain," sighed Diana Henderson, a National Weather Service meteorologist, when asked for the latest forecast. "We're looking at rain or a chance of rain through next Tuesday."

Rain pounded the North Bay and the Santa Cruz Mountains on Tuesday, and delivered powerful but intermittent bursts of heavy precipitation almost everywhere else.

The weather service issued flash flood warnings for southern Marin County and Capitola in Santa Cruz County, when radar images showed heavy rains approaching, but the creeks stayed in their banks.

The warning, however, drew wary residents in Marin County out of their dry homes and businesses to watch the San Anselmo creek rise. On New Year's weekend, the creek jumped its banks and flooded businesses and some residences in San Anselmo.

"At this point, I've got more raincoats than pajamas in my closet," said Katie Hogan of San Anselmo, a real estate broker who was watching the creek in the town of Ross.

The rains continued to slow Bay Area commutes, temporarily flood low-lying roads and chew potholes in pavement. Highway 1 in San Mateo County remained closed at Devil's Slide. Caltrans officials continued monitoring the slide, which has caused the road to sink and crack.

"It's slowly inching downward, which is the modus operandi of Devil's Slide," said Caltrans spokesman Jeff Weiss. "It doesn't slide quickly, but slowly and surely, until all of the water is out of the slide plain."

In the Central Valley, water and public safety officials paid close attention to levees, rivers and reservoirs. The border of Sacramento and San Joaquin counties forms a kind of flood-threat line in the Central Valley. North of the border, conditions are fair: There appears to be sufficient capacity left in the reservoirs bordering the Sacramento Valley, and levees generally are in good repair. South of the line, in the San Joaquin Valley, the situation is ominous. Reservoirs east of the valley are nearing capacity, and many levees are in marginal condition.

San Joaquin Valley flooding was considered probable by today, but officials say reservoir operators recently were able to reduce downstream releases, keeping the valley's rivers within their banks -- barely.

By Tuesday afternoon, the San Joaquin River near Vernalis in the south delta region neared flood stage, but was not expected to go higher.

"We are at 28.5 feet at Vernalis," said Michael Miller, a spokesman for the California Department of Water Resources, on Tuesday. "We technically are at flood stage at 29 feet, but we don't declare a danger flood stage until 29.5 feet, when we can expect levee overtopping."

Also on Tuesday, the state Department of Boating and Waterways closed delta waters in San Joaquin and Contra Costa counties to all boating to prevent levee overtopping by watercraft wakes. The closure is expected to remain in effect until Friday.

While the possibility of inundation has diminished for the next day or two, the flood threat will be high for weeks or months as the San Joaquin River and its tributaries remain swollen.

"The Sacramento (Valley) system can accommodate roughly 600,000 cubic feet of water a second," said Don Strickland, an information officer with the Department of Water Resources. "By contrast, the San Joaquin Valley system can accommodate 52,000 cfs. The San Joaquin simply isn't designed to handle as much water."

Officials say the current rainy season is shaping up as the fifth wettest on record for the state, and could result in unprecedented water releases.

"I've been at this job for 20 years, and last year, a wet year in its own right, was the first time I ever saw flood control releases on the Fourth of July," said Jeff McCracken, a spokesman for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.

But this year, said McCracken, flood control releases on California rivers could extend until Labor Day.

"With all the snow in the high country, there is a tremendous volume of water in the system," he said, "and it takes a long time to move it through. The water we release from Friant Dam (on the upper San Joaquin River) today will end up in the delta in about a week."

The San Joaquin River is running at well over 20,000 cubic feet per second by the time it hits the delta, and water levels are unlikely to diminish significantly for weeks. Such an extended period of high water will strain the river's levees to the utmost, officials say.

In other words, major flooding could occur anywhere along the San Joaquin system due to a levee breach.

"Along the Sacramento River, the levees were built and are maintained either by the state or the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the standards are very high," McCracken said.

It's different in the San Joaquin Valley, McCracken said, because many of the levees there are maintained by local reclamation districts; construction and maintenance standards are lower, he said.

"The state is doing what it can to strengthen some of them, but it's difficult," he said.

Strickland said Department of Water Resources crews are bolstering levees near Firebaugh, Vernalis, Stockton and at the confluence of the Stanislaus and San Joaquin rivers.

Perhaps most worrisome is the simple fact that most of the water has yet to enter the San Joaquin's system: It's locked up as snow in the high elevations of the Sierra.

"We're talking about a snow pack that's 150 percent of average, and it's mostly still up there," said Strickland. "Usually by this time, a lot of the snow is gone -- but we're still adding to it."

The worst-case scenario, said Strickland, would be a spate of hot spring weather immediately after the passage of the current cycle of storms.

"That would present some real problems," he said. "Ideally, we'd like to see some dry, moderate weather to give things a chance to dry out."

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Air heats up high above Antarctica

New Scientist Print Edition
8 April 06

If you thought that stories about global warming and Antarctica were a lot of hot air, you'd be half right. It seems that it is not just surface temperatures that are rising and melting the Antarctic ice: temperatures in the atmosphere high above the continent are also soaring.
Although rapid warming at the surface of Antarctica has been well-documented, this is the first report of climate change much higher above the continent. What's more, it is the largest warming of its kind found anywhere on Earth (Science, vol 311, p 1914).

John Turner and colleagues of the British Antarctic Survey in Cambridge, UK, monitored the temperature of the middle troposphere, at altitudes of up to 10 kilometres. They used data from 11 weather balloons stationed around the Antarctic coast between 1971 and 2003. The balloons measured air temperature, humidity and pressure.

They found that winter air temperatures over Antarctica have increased at a rate of 0.5 to 0.7 °C per decade over the past 30 years. "The warming could have implications for snowfall across the Antarctic and sea-level rise," Turner says.

While the exact causes of the warming are hard to pin down, "changes in cloud amount and increases in the greenhouse gas concentration may well be playing a part", he says.

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Climate change: The great Atlantic shutdown and the Coming Ice Age

New Scientist Print Edition
15 April 06

IS EUROPE'S central-heating system about to break down, causing climate chaos around the world? Late last year, oceanographers reported a sudden and shocking slowdown in the currents of the North Atlantic, a critical part of the vast system of ocean circulation that influences temperatures and weather around the world. A shutdown could cause famine in south Asia, kill off the Amazon rainforest and plunge western Europe into a mini ice age.
However, if you live in Europe, don't order that snowcat just yet. The conclusions reported last year have been dismissed by many climate scientists, who say their models show the current will keep going for at least another hundred years or so. So what is really going on? Are changes in ocean circulation about to turn our lives upside down, or is this something only our grandchildren will have to cope with?

This vital question is in doubt because the behaviour of ocean currents is still remarkably obscure. On a crude level, the oceans of the world are linked together by a network of currents sometimes called the global conveyor, with warm surface flows connecting to cold deep currents. The conveyor is driven by winds and by a more complicated process called thermohaline circulation - and this is the process that has climatologists worried.

As its name implies, thermohaline circulation depends on heat and salt. An offshoot of the Gulf Stream called the North Atlantic Drift flows all the way to the seas off Greenland and Norway. Evaporation makes the water saltier, so as it is chilled by Arctic winds it becomes denser than the waters underneath it and sinks. It then spills back southward over the undersea ledges between Greenland and Scotland to form a slow, cold, undersea river called the North Atlantic Deep Water. This flows all the way to the Southern Ocean, with some water going as far the Indian Ocean, where it gradually wells up again, perhaps a millennium after it sank.

The weak link is the sinking process. Climate change is injecting ever more fresh water into the Arctic by increasing river flows and accelerating the calving of icebergs from Greenland. This fresh water dilutes the North Atlantic Drift, reducing its density and making it more buoyant. If the fresh water input reaches a critical rate, around 100,000 tonnes per second, sinking could stop entirely. The northern branch of the conveyor would stop, and warm tropical waters would no longer flow past the west coast of Europe.

With that million-gigawatt heat supply switched off, climate models suggest that air temperatures in the region could fall by between 5 and 10 °C, and parts of the US and Canada would suffer too. A switch-off like this is blamed for a cold snap 12,000 years ago called the Younger Dryas, which turned the forests of Scandinavia into tundra.

Could it be happening again? That spectre was raised in December by Harry Bryden of the National Oceanography Centre in Southampton, UK. His team took a ship from Florida to the coast of North Africa, stopping at 120 points en route to lower a bundle of instruments all the way to the sea floor. The researchers compared their results with similar measurements made at irregular intervals since 1957. According to their analysis, the deep, cold return leg of the circulation has weakened by 30 per cent (New Scientist, 3 December 2005, p 6). If that has slowed, they reasoned, then the northward branch of warm water must have slowed too.

In fact, the slowdown seems to have started nearly a decade ago. When the US National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration made a similar survey of the Atlantic in 1998 it was interested in carbon dioxide levels and did not calculate the flow rate. When Bryden's team did the sums, they found the flow had been relatively steady between 1957 and 1992, dropped off by 1998 and remained low.

Bryden's paper prompted some nervous press coverage. "There were alarming stories saying that the sky is falling," says Carl Wunsch, a physical oceanographer at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "It's a complicated story reduced to a fairytale". In fact, Bryden's measurements are not proof of imminent cataclysm.

One question mark is whether his team has simply seen short-term fluctuations in the ocean. "The ocean is a very turbulent beast. We tend to assume that at great depth it is quiet, but that's not necessarily so," says Stefan Rahmstorf of the University of Potsdam in Germany. Wunsch likens it to the vagaries of the weather: "It might get colder for a few days in England, but you don't necessarily say we're entering a new ice age." Bryden, however, thinks his team has found more than a stutter. "If we just had the 1998 data we'd be nervous, but 2004 is similar to 1998," he says.
Are the models wrong?

There are other reasons to be cautious. Climate models do not predict any substantial slowdown in Atlantic currents until near the end of this century. "It would mean all our models are wrong," says Rahmstorf. Bryden thinks they might well be: "I think if we measure a slowdown, the models will follow."

The trouble for Bryden is that not all observations fit in with his conclusions. If less warm water is flowing north, the seas off western Europe ought to be cooler than normal. They are not. In fact, these waters are slightly warmer than a decade ago. And direct measurements of the cold, deep currents that spill southwards over the ledges joining Scotland, Iceland and Greenland do not show a downward trend. Although these currents did slow between 1995 and 2000, they have picked up again. "We are faced with conflicting evidence," says Rahmstorf.

How to resolve this conflict? It is possible that Bryden's group has got its physics wrong. Like other groups, the team did not measure flow rates directly, but instead calculated them from measurements of temperature and salinity. Rahmstorf and Wunsch both point out that these calculations rely on assumptions that are far from proven.

Or it could be that the currents are changing in ways that no one has anticipated. There is a vast stretch of ocean between Bryden's measurements at 25° north and the overspill at around 65°. In between, the warm surface current becomes meandering and unstable, and difficult to measure, says oceanographer Tore Furevik of the University of Bergen in Norway. "There are certainly large changes going on beneath the surface of the North Atlantic, but we are still missing too many pieces in the puzzle to get the picture clear," he says.

For the moment, this rather unsatisfactory answer is the best we have. Oceanographers and climate scientists agree that thermohaline circulation will slow as the world warms, but most think it will happen later rather than sooner. In its report due next year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is likely to predict a slowdown of at most 50 per cent by the end of this century.

This prediction, however, relies on estimates of the freshwater input. While the discharge from Siberian rivers is being monitored, that from Canadian rivers is not. The input from the Greenland ice cap could change too. The glaciers that drain the ice cap are accelerating, and in the past decade the amount of ice they spit into the ocean has doubled. Nobody can predict with confidence what they will do in the coming decades. "At the moment models don't represent the dynamics of Greenland glaciers, which may or may not start moving faster," says Richard Wood of the Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research in Exeter, UK. What all this means is that even if Bryden is wrong and Atlantic circulation is not yet slowing, a shutdown could still happen sooner than most models predict.
Farming hit hard

For Europe, the timing of any slowdown or shutdown is critical. If it does happen soon, the weather will certainly get chilly. Average temperatures would be about 5 °C lower, and winters could be as harsh as those in Newfoundland. In bad years the Thames might freeze over, and even in good years farming will be hit hard.

On the other hand, if currents hold fairly steady until the late 21st century, the cooling effect of a shutdown would help to mitigate warming. There might be drastic changes in other aspects of the climate - not to mention a relatively rapid rise in sea level around the northern Atlantic (see "Rising waters") - but Europeans might escape much of the warming that occurs elsewhere.

Their distant descendants might need those snowcats, though. If greenhouse gases do eventually fall to pre-industrial levels and the world cools down again, there could be a lag of a thousand years before ocean circulation restarts. So Europe still faces the big freeze - just not for a few hundred years.

Coming back to this century, other parts of the world face even more serious consequences than Europe. A slowdown in the thermohaline circulation would reduce the transfer of heat from the southern to the northern hemisphere, shifting the Earth's "thermal equator" to the south. "One of the things that really struck us is that rainfall patterns over the whole world change dramatically," says Wood.

When he tried artificially switching off thermohaline circulation in one climate model, he found that monsoon rains weaken over India, and parts of central and south America lose half their rainfall. "It would have a huge impact on the climate of those regions," says Wood. He estimates that agricultural productivity in parts of India could fall by 30 per cent. And in the Americas? "If you lose the rain then the rainforest tends to die out." Although all of this is based on an imminent shutdown, which climatologists think very unlikely, even a delayed slowdown could seriously disturb rainfall patterns.

Wood's model also predicts that a shutdown would warm the southern hemisphere by 0.2 °C on average - not much, but against a background of rising global temperatures any extra warming will hardly be welcome. In 2004, Brazil was hit by the first ever hurricane recorded in the South Atlantic, perhaps a consequence of rising sea-surface temperatures. Could a slowdown in circulation have contributed? "Theoretically, this is possible," says Michael Mann of Pennsylvania State University in Philadelphia, "but I think it would be a leap to tie any observed change to thermohaline circulation. It could just be fluke."

While the precise effects on the climate remain uncertain, there is little doubt that a shutdown will wreak serious damage beneath the waves, since upwelling waters supply vital nutrients to the phytoplankton that are the basis of ocean food chains. A study last year predicted that the productivity of the world's oceans would fall by a fifth if the Atlantic thermohaline circulation shuts down.

There's more. At the moment, the oceans are soaking up a lot of the excess carbon dioxide pouring into the atmosphere. Without the thermohaline circulation, however, surface waters will soon become saturated and greenhouse gases will build up faster still. Any reduction in carbon fixing as forests and ocean ecosystems fail would only compound the effect.

A lot therefore depends on what is really happening in the Atlantic. To find out, the UK has launched a project called RAPID, an unprecedented effort to monitor North Atlantic currents. In 2004, on the same voyage that found the controversial signs of a slowdown, Bryden's team planted a series of 22 moorings along a line from Africa to America (see Diagram). Cables fixed to the seafloor tether instrument packages that are constantly measuring ocean properties such temperature and salinity.

With continuous measurements now coming in from the Atlantic, it should be possible to distinguish between short-term fluctuations and a longer-term trend. "Soon we'll find what seasonal variability there is and know whether what we said was a 30 per cent slowdown was above the noise level. I'm hoping we'll eventually be able to get 10 years' worth of measurements."

Then again, monitoring a single cross section of one ocean might not be enough. "People are obsessed with the North Atlantic and it's only 10 per cent of the ocean," Wunsch says. "There is a danger we're neglecting the rest." For example, there are areas of sinking ocean water around Antarctica that also help to drive the global ocean circulation. "Recent papers have started to suggest there are changes happening in the Southern Ocean," says oceanographer Steve Rintoul, based in Hobart, Australia.

Some studies show that the water in some Antarctic seas is getting less salty, for instance, but the picture in the Southern Ocean is even less clear than it is in the Atlantic. "We have to observe this system globally and indefinitely," says Wunsch. "But how the devil do you get governments to do that?"
From issue 2547 of New Scientist magazine, 15 April 2006, page 42

Rising waters

In the Hollywood disaster movie The Day After Tomorrow, the shutdown of the Atlantic circulation somehow results in a giant wave crashing over New York. That is nonsense, of course, but a shutdown of the Atlantic thermohaline current would raise sea levels in the North Atlantic.

At present, sinking waters in the Arctic produce a kind of plughole effect, lowering the sea level of this region and slightly raising it elsewhere. If sinking stops, sea levels will fall in the Southern Ocean and rise by up to a metre on some North Atlantic coasts.

A group led by Anders Levermann of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany has run a simulation that shows northern Norway getting a metre rise by the time the circulation stops altogether, while the UK, north-eastern Canada and the US see rises of up to 80 centimetres (see Map). With global sea levels also rising as the oceans warm up and glaciers melt, these regions face total rises of well over a metre by the end of the century.

One NASA study shows that if the sea level was just a metre higher on the New York coast, storm surges that now occur just once in a century would happen almost every year, flooding some low-lying suburbs. In the Thames estuary, planners believe they can handle total rises of up to two metres, but if there is also a large increase in the frequency and ferocity of storms, as some models predict, then an extra half-metre rise from a thermohaline shutdown could mean abandoning some areas to the sea.

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Volcano-like tremors detected deep within Earth's crust near San Andreas

Media Contacts: Cheryl Dybas, NSF, (703) 292-7734, cdybas@nsf.gov
Charna Meth, EarthScope, (202) 682-0633, cmeth@earthscope.org

Tremors within the Earth are usually--but not always--related to the activity of a volcano. Now, such vibrations have been recorded nowhere near a volcano, but at a geologic observatory at the San Andreas Fault. Scientists believe the fault tremors may be related to activity at a subduction zone--a place where one of Earth's constantly moving tectonic plates slips beneath another.
To determine whether the San Andreas Fault is moving with the tremors, scientists with the San Andreas Fault Observatory at Depth (SAFOD) are installing instruments to measure the tremors' activity. Located near Parkfield, Calif., SAFOD is part of the EarthScope Project, an effort to study the North American continent's geology.

"Unlike the sharp jolt of an earthquake, tremors within Earth's crust emerge slowly, rumbling for longer periods of time," said Kaye Shedlock, program director for EarthScope at the National Science Foundation (NSF), which funds the project. "Although not in this case, tremors are usually produced by magma moving in cracks or other conduits beneath a volcano."

The rumblings are the first recordings of non-volcanic tremors in a deep borehole, providing scientists with data to better understand such mysterious underground movements.

The results will help geologists understand whether the deeply buried rocks of the San Andreas Fault - which are derived from an ancient subduction zone - behave in a similar way to the rocks of the Cascadia Subduction Zone, still active today.

"In the Cascadia Subduction Zone off the Pacific Northwest, for example, tremors are associated with the slow slip of the undersea Juan de Fuca tectonic plate as it submerges beneath the North American tectonic plate," said Greg van der Vink, EarthScope facility project director.

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Emerging Ocean Volcano Has 'Moat of Death'

Thursday, April 13, 2006
By Ker Than

An undersea volcano in the Pacific is growing from its summit and could breach the ocean surface within a few decades, a new study reveals.

In the meantime, it is creating a thriving environment for some sea creatures, but a death trap for others.
Researchers used submersible vehicles and other technology to explore the Vailulu'u Seamount, an active volcano lying off the coast of the Samoan archipelago. They found that the volcano had sprouted a new 1,000-foot cone at its summit since it was last explored 5 years ago.

Toothpaste and pillows

Dubbed Nafanua, the cone is made from large pillow lava, a type of rock that forms when hot magma spewed by underwater volcanoes or cracks in the Earth comes into contact with water and congeals into large blobs, or "pillows."

"Imagine a replica volcano on your tabletop and somebody squirting toothpaste out from underneath," said study team member Hubert Staudigel of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, Calif.

"If you keep squirting toothpaste from this one place, the squirts will overlie one another. Depending on their viscosity, the squirts will have a very flat slope or just stay in place and pile on top of each other," Staudigel told LiveScience.

Moat of death

Nafanua, which is still about 2,300 feet below sea level, is creating new niches for undersea creatures as it creeps slowly towards the ocean surface.

Near its summit, eels swarm around warm hydrothermal vents and feed on shrimp carried their way by volcanic currents.

The inside of Nafanua, however, is deadly. The same currents that provide the eels with food also deposit sea creatures into a cavity of turbid and toxic waters, creating what the researchers call a "moat of death."

The bodies of fish, squid and crustaceans rot within this moat, and bright red bristleworms feed on the bacteria that slough off their carcasses.

The finding was detailed in this week's issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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Moderate earthquake rattles northern Japan

Thursday April 13, 2006

TOKYO (AP) - A moderate earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 5.3 rattled northern Japan Thursday afternoon, but there was no danger of a tsunami, the Meteorological Agency said.
There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage from the 1:27 p.m. (0427 GMT) undersea earthquake, the agency said.

It said the quake was felt strongest in the town of Urakawa, a Pacific coastal town on Japan's northern island of Hokkaido, about 780 kilometers (480 miles) northeast of Tokyo.

The tremor was centered about 40 kilometers (25 miles) under the ocean floor off Urakawa.

The agency said there was no threat of a tsunami, potentially dangerous waves triggered by seismic activity.

Japan, which rests atop several tectonic plates, is among the world's most earthquake-prone countries.

A magnitude 5 quake can damage houses and buildings in densely populated areas.

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CDC Eyes Air Travel in Mumps Epidemic

Associated Pressr
12 April 06

ATLANTA -- Two infected airline passengers may have helped spread Iowa's mumps epidemic to six other Midwestern states, health officials said Wednesday, the latest example of how quickly disease can spread through air travel.

"These people may have exposed other people on those planes or in these airports," said Kevin Teale, a spokesman for the Iowa Department of Public Health.
The mumps epidemic is the nation's first in 20 years. Health officials say 515 suspected cases have been reported in Iowa, and the disease also has been seen in six neighboring states, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

As of Monday, Nebraska has 43 reported cases; Kansas, 33; Illinois, four; Missouri, four; Wisconsin, four; and Minnesota, one.

The Iowa health department identified two people who were potentially infectious when they were traveling in late March and early April.

Officials in other states have not yet linked any cases to the air travelers. But because the illness's incubation is two to three weeks, cases may not begin appearing until about now, Teale said.

This week the CDC put out an advisory about the passengers to state health departments. "Infectious diseases can travel easily on planes and other modes of transportation," said Dr. Jane Seward, acting deputy director of the CDC's viral diseases division.

The first traveler is executive director of a Waterloo, Iowa, downtown development organization who in late March was in a delegation that traveled to Washington, D.C.

The woman, Terry Poe Buschkamp, had earlier visited the Dominican Republic where she thinks she may have caught the bug. Health officials did not release her name, but she has acknowledged her infection to the media.

Buschkamp, 51, left Waterloo, Iowa, on March 26 on a Mesaba Airlines flight to Minneapolis and then flew Northwest Airlines to Detroit. On March 26, she flew to Washington, D.C.'s Reagan National Airport. During her visit, she shook hands with Iowa's two U.S. senators, Tom Harkin and Charles Grassley, she said.

She returned to Waterloo on March 29 on Northwest and Mesaba flights, with a stop in Minneapolis.

She said she developed a scratchy throat upon her return, and after hearing reports of a mumps outbreak, went to a doctor for testing. She got confirmatory test results six days later.

During those six days, she had been to church and numerous work events, including an April 1 pub crawl that involved about 370 people. Mumps has been a mild disease for most people, but Buschkamp found the length of time she was able to spread the virus before learning her test results alarming.

"That's the real story," she said.

She said two of her fellow travelers have told her they have mumps-like symptoms, but have declined to see a doctor about it.

The second person was a young man returning from vacation in Arizona on April 1, Teale said.

He flew American Airlines, from Tucson to Dallas, then to Fayetteville, Ark., to St. Louis and finally to Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Two people - and nine flights? "It's hard to get anywhere (from Iowa) without connecting," Teale explained.

Mumps is a virus-caused illness spread by coughing and sneezing. The most common symptoms are fever, headache and swollen salivary glands under the jaw. But it can lead to more severe problems, such as hearing loss, meningitis and fertility-diminishing swollen testicles.

No deaths have been reported from the current epidemic.

A two-dose mumps vaccine is recommended for all children, and is considered highly - but not completely - effective against the illness. About a quarter of the Iowans who have suspected cases got the vaccine, Teale said.

© 2006 The Associated Press.

Comment: Somehow, we don't think that they are really all that worried about a Mumps epidemic. As it happens, many people who have suffered mumps are, in fact, more susceptible to the predations of psychopaths and the evil they bring to our world. As Andrzej Lobaczewski writes:

We shall give the name "ponerogenic association" to any group of people characterized by ponerogenic processes of above-average social intensity, wherein the carriers of various pathological factors function as inspirers, spellbinders, and leaders, and where a proper pathological social structure generates. Smaller, less permanent associations may be called "groups" or "unions".
Such an association gives birth to evil which hurts other people as well as its own members. We could list various names ascribed to such organizations by linguistic tradition: gangs, criminal mobs, mafias, cliques, and coteries, which cunningly avoid collision with the law while seeking to gain their own advantage. Such unions frequently aspire to political power in order to impose their expedient legislation upon societies in the name of a suitably prepared ideology, deriving advantages in the form of disproportionate prosperity and the satisfaction of their craving for power.

A description and classification of such associations with a view of their numbers, goals, officially promulgated ideologies, and internal organizations would of course be scientifically valuable. Such a description, effected by a perceptive observer, could help a ponerologist determine some of the properties of such unions, which cannot be determined by means of natural conceptual language.
A description of this kind, however, ought not to cloak the more factual phenomena and psychological dependencies operating within these unions. Failure to heed this warning can easily cause such a sociological description to indicate properties which are of secondary importance, or even made "for show" to impress the uninitiated, thereby overshadowing the actual phenomena which decide the quality, role, and fate of the union. Particularly if such a description is colorful literature, it can furnish merely illusory or ersatz knowledge, thus rendering a naturalistic perception and causative comprehension of phenomena more difficult.
One phenomenon all ponerogenic groups and associations have in common is the fact that their members lose (or have already lost) the capacity to perceive pathological individuals as such, interpreting their behavior in a fascinated, heroic, or melodramatic ways. The opinions, ideas, and judgments of people carrying various psychological deficits are endowed with an importance at least equal to that of outstanding individuals among normal people.

The atrophy of natural critical faculties with respect to pathological individuals becomes an opening to their activities, and, at the same time, a criterion for recognizing the association in concern as ponerogenic. Let us call this the first criterion of ponerogenesis.
Another phenomenon all ponerogenic associations have in common is their statistically high concentration of individuals with various psychological anomalies. Their qualitative composition is crucially important in the formation of the entire union's character, activities, development, or extinction.

Groups dominated by various kinds of characteropathic individuals will develop relatively primitive activities, proving rather easy for a society of normal people to break. However, things are quite different when such unions are inspired by psychopathic individuals. Let us adduce the following example illustrating the roles of two different anomalies, selected from among actual events studied by the author.

In felonious youth gangs, a specific role is played by boys (and occasionally girls) that carry a characteristic deficit that is sometimes left behind by an inflammation of the parotid glands (the mumps). This disease entails brain reactions in some cases, leaving behind a discreet but permanent bleaching of feelings and a slight decrease in general mental skills. Similar results are sometimes left behind after diphtheria. As a result, such people easily succumb to the suggestions and manipulations of a more clever individuals.

When drawn into a felonious group, these constitutionally weakened individuals become faint-critical helpers and executors of the leader's intentions, tools in the hands of more treacherous, usually psychopathic, leaders. Once arrested, they submit to their leaders' insinuated explanations that the higher (paramoral) group ideal demands that they become scapegoats, taking the majority of blame upon themselves. In court, the same leaders who initiated the delinquencies mercilessly dump all the blame onto their less crafty colleagues. Sometimes a judge actually accepts the insinuations.

Individuals with the above-mentioned post-mumps and post-diphtheria traits constitute less than 1.0 % of the population as a whole, but their share reaches 1/4 of juvenile delinquent groups. This represents an inspissation of the order of 30-fold, requiring no further methods of statistical analysis. When studying the contents of ponerogenic unions skillfully enough, we often meet with an inspissation of other psychological anomalies which also speak for themselves.

Ponerology now available!!!

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New Italian PM to Pull Iraq Troops

Prensa Latina
12 April 06

Rome - Romano Prodi, the leader of the Union coalition, which won the latest elections in Italy, said on Wednesday that he will withdraw the Italian troops from Iraq when he takes office, claiming there was no justification for the US-led invasion of the Arab country.

In an interview with the French Le Monde daily, the Italian Prime Minister Elect said that he will fulfill his election promise of withdrawing his country´s troops from Iraq.
Following the pullout, an Italian civil contingent will be sent to Iraq to help in the reconstruction of the infrastructure and institutions, asserted Prodi.

The also former president of the European Commission reiterated that he always opposed the war against Iraq and thought there were other ways to solve differences with Baghdad.

Last July, the Chamber of Deputies agreed to extend the deployment of the Italian troops for another six months, though the center-left opposition along with the communists voted against.

As legislative elections are getting closer and pressures increase, the Italian government announced a reduction of its troops and 2,600 Italian soldiers of the 3,200 initially deployed remain in Iraq since last January.

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Video: "We Think the Price Is Worth It"

60 Minutes

Lesley Stahl on U.S. sanctions against Iraq: We have heard that a half million children have died. I mean, that's more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright: I think this is a very hard choice, but the price--we think the price is worth it.

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SOS over Iraqi scientists

By Ahmed Janabi
10 April 2006

Since the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, an alarming number of the country's leading academics have been killed. A human rights organisation puts the number at about a thousand and has a documented list of 105 cases. These professors, it says, were not random casualties - they were assassinated.

The first documented case is that of Muhamad al-Rawi, the president of Baghdad University, who was killed on 27 July, 2003, when two men entered his private clinic, one of them feigned severe stomach pain and was doubled over. Concealed against his stomach was a gun with which he shot al-Rawi dead.

Assassination incidents continued after al-Rawi's shooting. Dr Majid Ali was assassinated in 2005, shot four times in the back. He had a PhD in physics and was one of the best nuclear energy experts in Iraq.

The Paris-based Arab Committee for Human Rights (ACHR), an international NGO which has special consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the UN, has issued an international appeal for help to protect Iraqi academics.

Al Jazeera.net spoke to ACHR's president, Dr Violette Daguerre, a human rights activist and psychology professor in France, and Dr Qais al-Azawi, director of the Committee for Protecting Iraqi University Professors.

Has ACHR taken action to prevent the assassination of Iraqi scholars?

Daguerre: We are actually moving within a well-organised network of firms involved in defending freedom and academics. The network is big and includes organisations in North America, Europe and other parts of the world.

I also think it is important to classify the assassinated scholars according to their specialisations so that their trade unions and syndicates can move accordingly. I would also like to stress here that journalists should put in more effort in this regard, as this crucial issue is not getting the proper attention in media.

Al-Azawi: Urgent contacts have been made with Iraqi and international organisations. We work closely with Iraqi trade unions that represent Iraqi professors.

We also met the Qatari ambassador to the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) and we are discussing with them how can we protect Iraqi academics.

Since our campaign has found support among academic organisations in different parts of the world, a suggestion has been made that each interested university would host three Iraqi university professors for one year as visiting lecturers to keep them away from dangers in their own country.

The general perception is that scholars targeted are those who specialise in the sciences and who were, or might be, of use to weapons of mass destruction programmes. In your view, what is the explanation behind the assassination of scholars working in fields such as Arab literature and history?

Daguerre: I think the target is intellectuals in general, regardless of their field of specialisation - they are all important to their country's renaissance. Iraq is known for producing high-calibre people not only in the scientific field but also in the humanities. I can mention here Jawad Ali, who is regarded as an authority on pre-Islamic Arab history, and Abdul Aziz al-Douri, an expert in Arab economic history. But there are many others. I think the role of Iraqis in Arab poetry, literature and jurisprudence goes without saying.

Here I would like to notify you of another dangerous phenomenon growing in Iraq, the targeting of human rights activists and lawyers.

Al-Azawi: High-calibre academics in general are regarded as the backbone for the development in any country.

Do you think the assassinations are politically motivated?

Daguerre: Assassinating chosen scholars would hit Iraqis' spirit and consequently deepen the rift among Iraqi factions, which is what Iraq's enemies want, although death can hit any Iraqi.

The assassination policy has been adopted by all ideological groups, who have convinced assassins that if what they do does not serve the country, it definitely serves their faction or group, which is not necessarily national.

The Lebanese civil war is a good example that assassins might be fellow countrymen of the victim but they are working within a network of foreign interests and implementing a plan put before the war.

Al-Azawi: Our information indicates that some assassinations are of a sectarian or political nature.

What is your evidence that the assassination campaign is directed by foreign parties?

Daguerre: Nationalists cannot work for the destruction of their own country, and the evidence is logic. Foreign parties do not reveal their agenda; as long as there is a party from inside the targeted country willing to do the dirty job, why would a foreign party involve itself in public?

What about sectarian motives?

Daguerre: It is obvious that there is a plan to provoke sectarian violence in this country. I think sectarian violence is one of the key elements of a plot aimed at destroying Iraq.

Sectarian tension and violence grow along with fear. When fear controls you, you tend to get terrified of others who are different from you. Fear would prevent you from analysing that difference, how important it is, How big it is. You just delude yourself with the notion that the other person is different - so he is the enemy.

When the culture of fear rules, the distance among different religious, political or sectarian groups becomes huge, and people tend to isolate themselves from the bigger society. They become attached to their closest bond which might be the sect, the tribe, or the political party.

Have you made contact with academics inside Iraq to find out if the government has taken action to protect scientists and scholars?

Daguerre: The co-ordination is going on with the Iraqi committee for protecting Iraqi university professors, which has recently issued an SOS calling the international community to protect Iraqi scientists and scholars.

What we are trying to do in the Arab Committee for Human Rights is to be the bridge between Arab countries and the rest of the world.

Who do you think will benefit from targeting Iraqi scientists?

Daguerre: The same parties that have been working for years to make this country fall to pieces, and prevent it from retaining its original key role in the area. Maybe it was Iraq's bad luck to have that huge oil wealth after all.

It was not comfortable for some that this country was investing its own wealth in its own way; they decided to deny Iraqis this legitimate right.

Successive US administrations have always fallen prey to Jewish lobbies. Their strategy is to launch a massive character assassination campaign followed by insulting and degrading actions that would destroy the target's will and morale before giving the final blow.

Al-Azawi: Based on our correspondents and meeting with dozens of Iraqi academics, all of them were convinced that they were targeted by "parties interested in preventing Iraq from moving forward".

Scenarios circulated among Iraqis point the finger at the US-led forces in Iraq, and at Iran and Israel. What do you think of that?

Daguerre: Examples prove that the involvement of those parties is a lot, especially the Israelis, as all those parties have interest in tearing Iraq apart in order to pass their geopolitical and economical plans.

Al-Azawi: Maybe both of them [Iran and Israel] are involved in this killing campaign, but to be objective we do not have solid evidence to prove that.

But we have many cases of Iraqi professors kidnapped and were not released before they made clear commitment to leave Iraq. Iraqis know very well who is interested in keeping them behind.

What is the impact of the "assassination campaign" on Iraq's educational system?

Daguerre: Definitely the negative impact is huge, because that terror campaign is pushing many scientists and scholars to leave their country [Iraq].

This is a major blow to the process of conveying knowledge to the coming generations, which will need such quality people to plant the culture of civil and modern society and brush aside the culture of sectarianism, violence and hate.

Al-Azawi: I would like here to cite a statement made by the Iraqi minister of higher education in which he said: Nearly 160 Iraqi university professors have been killed, and nearly 2,000 have fled the country, which led to the closure of 152 post-graduate departments in Iraq.

How is the Iraqi government dealing with the assassination of scientists and scholars? Are there criminal investigations? Any results?

Daguerre: Let me answer this by raising a counter question; Do the current rulers of Iraq have any sort of genuine interest in launching such investigations?

I believe that as long as the violence and extremism continues in Iraq, its foreign enemies will continue to act like ticks, sucking the blood of the country and stripping it of its defence potential.

I would like to seize this opportunity to urge the world's biggest organisation for academics' rights, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) in Washington, to intervene.

Two of ACHR staff got NAS's award for human rights - Haytham Manna and Moncef Marzouki - and just as the Guantanamo issue gained international coverage after the efforts of NGOs, we hope that the case of the assassinations will be brought into the spotlight as well.

Al-Azawi: All the cases were dropped for the lack of evidence.

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Zarqawi-gate: More important than you think...

11 April 06

Is the threat posed by Jordanian-born terror mastermind Abu Musab al-Zarqawi real? Is Zarqawi himself a fiction, as some maintain?

The Washington Post's recent revelation that a Pentagon psyop unit hyped up the Zarqawi threat may turn into the next big scandal, especially since the leaked document specifices that the propaganda campaign targeted the "U.S. Home Audience."
One segment of the Post story desrves special attention:

One slide in the same briefing, for example, noted that a "selective leak" about Zarqawi was made to Dexter Filkins, a New York Times reporter based in Baghdad. Filkins's resulting article, about a letter supposedly written by Zarqawi and boasting of suicide attacks in Iraq, ran on the Times front page on Feb. 9, 2004.

That letter, though largely forgotten in the onrush of events, attracted some attention at the time. It's a 17-page "Dear Osama" letter in which Zarqawi helpfully demonstrated a link between the insurgency and Al Qaeda.

In other words, the letter fulfilled a propaganda purpose. The message to Americans: U.S. forces must stay in Iraq. Otherwise, an insurgency run by Al Qaeda will prevail.

As Rachel Maddow noted on her program today (she provided some juicy sound bites), George Bush somewhat incoherently cited this very letter yesterday during a Q-and-A session with students at Johns Hopkins. Here's a segment of the official (and not quite accurate) transcript:

In 2004, we intercepted a letter from Zarqawi to Osama bin Laden. In it, Zarqawi expressed his concern about "the gap that will emerge between us and the people of the land." He declared "democracy is coming." He went on to say, this will mean "suffocation" for the terrorists. Zarqawi laid out his strategy to stop democracy from taking root in Iraq.

Bush said these words on the same day the Post story identified this letter as the product of an American psyops team!

Incidentally, the transcript has been massaged to make Bush sound more erudite. In the original sound bite, which Maddow played on her program, Dubya's tongue slipped: He referred to this message as something we wrote, as opposed to one Zarqawi wrote.

Signs of fakery: In truth, this missive always carried a funky odor. Filkin was not the only recipient of this bit of propaganda. William Safire devoted a column to it in February of 2004, in which he insisted that the Zarqawi communication "proved" the mythical Saddam-Bin Laden axis. (That logic requires one to presume a Saddam-Zarqawi alliance, which is the sort of leap guys like Safire seem happy to make.) The Safire piece gives a detailed account of the letter's orgins:

That Kurdish militia has for years been waging a bloody battle with Ansar al-Islam, the terrorist group affiliated with Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and supported by Saddam Hussein in Iraq. It captured a courier carrying a message that demolishes the repeated claim of Bush critics that there was never a "clear link" between Saddam and Osama bin Laden.

The terrorist courier with a CD-ROM containing a 17-page document and other messages was Hassan Ghul, who confessed he was taking to Al Qaeda the Ansar document setting forth a strategy to start an Iraqi civil war, along with a plea for reinforcements. The Kurds turned him over to Americans for further interrogation, which is proving fruitful.

Quite a story. Worthy of Hollywood, in fact. So far as I know, the Hassan Ghul business first appeared here -- which means that either Safire made the story up out of whole cloth, or someone in the intelligence community gave him this yarn.

Unfortunately, Safire's account seriously conflicts with the version proffered by NYT writer Filkin. As Billmon pointed out back in 2004, the Filkin piece included this bit:

A senior United States intelligence official in Washington said, "I know of no reason to believe the letter is bogus in any way." He said the letter was seized in a raid on a known Qaeda safe house in Baghdad, and did not pass through Iraqi groups that American intelligence officials have said in the past may have provided unreliable information.

Well, which is it: Baghdad or Kurdistan?

As we now know, this letter entered the newstream pursuant to a psyops campaign -- and by the way, Filkin and Safire were not the only journalists involved: Douglas Jehl of the Times devoted a major piece to the same story. One wonders why the propagandists could not get their stories straight.

Why do so many of our citizens (especially our troops) still believe in the purported alliance between Al Qaeda, Saddam and the insurgency? The Zarqawi "evidence" did much to perpetuate the legend. What we are looking at here is a true Wag the Dog scenario -- the creation of a political myth.

How real is Zarqawi? Robert Fisk argued on Democracy Now that fairly good evidence suggests that the man died some time ago:

ROBERT FISK: Look, Zarqawi has not been seen by anyone other than "U.S. officials say" ever since the beginning of the war. I think it's possible, and many Iraqis think this, that he was killed in one of the initial air raids on Iraq in the northeastern area, in the Kurdish area, and that his I.D. has somehow come to be used by some other institution.

He has a wife of whom he was very possessive, who is now so poor. In the town of Zarqa, she has to get out to work. When his mother died more than a year ago, he didn't even send condolences to the family, or so the family have informed me, unlike a man --

AMY GOODMAN: And the family lives --?

ROBERT FISK: In Zarqa, hence his name Zarqawi, of course. In Jordan. But, you know, the problem is that if this man believes he's a true Muslim, why didn't he send sorrowful greetings to his family on the death of his mother. Very, very weird. And over and over again we hear American military officials say or they think they can identify him in a videotape. This is a guy wearing a hood, right? I don't know. Maybe he is alive, or maybe he's a creation, but I've never met anyone who's met him recently in Iraq, which surprises me, because I do meet a lot of people in Iraq.

At this point, we must ask how many -- if any -- of the Zarqawi stories we've heard have any truth to them.

Fake Bin Laden messages? For example, Bin Laden purportedly wrote a reply of sorts to the fake missive described above. The following news story from March 14, 2005 hits a few now-familiar motifs:

Osama bin Laden attempted to communicate with Al-Qaeda's frontman in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a month ago through a letter that was seized when a ground courier in Pakistan was intercepted, a counter-terrorism expert said here on Monday.

"About four weeks ago, we intercepted communication between Osama bin Laden and Zarqawi," which occurred when "a ground courier was intercepted," Bob Newman, director of international security and counter-terrorism services with The GeoScope Group, told an Airport, Port and Terminal Security (APTS) Middle East conference.

"We (US intelligence) intercepted the man and looked in his pockets. That's how we found out," he added.

Newman, whose Colorado-based organisation provides teams to help track down terror suspects at the planning stage, later told reporters the courier was stopped in west Pakistan, "carrying a letter".

Seems to me that the Pentagon psyops crowd might well want to use a private organization of anti-terrorist cowboys as a cut out.

Not only that. Bin Laden himself -- in one of those questioned audio tapes -- endorsed Zarqawi in late 2004. Since Al Qaeda was no doubt another target of the psy-op operation, this evidence may prove that Bin Laden simply took the bait. On the other hand, the tape itself may well be a fake.

The Berg connection. Zarqawi, wearing a hood, is said to have beheaded Nick Berg. Although I accept the authenticity of that gruesome video, others have questioned it. Still others believe that the video is undoctored but that the action took place in Abu Ghraib.

Hence the importance of Zarqawi-gate. Prove that Zarqawi is largely a myth, and you call into question all of the evidence that has ever been offered by this administration to prove any point. Even his base supporters will become infuriated. And no-one will trust any Bush-supplied "evidence" surrounding future events, such as the Iran attack and "Big Wedding II."

If any true patriots at the Pentagon are reading these words, all I can say is: More leaks, please!

UPDATE: Actually, this isn't really an update so much as a plea. I want to ask the readers to do what they can to make sure this story receives more attention, and to do their own digging . For three reasons:

1. Very few people understand that Bush cited a probable hoax -- yet another fake document -- as his chief ex post facto justification for his war, and that he did so even after the letter was exposed. Just as the Niger forgeries kick-started the conflict, these forgeries keep it chugging forward.

2. The Zarqawi propaganda has convinced many people -- especially our soldiers -- that when we fight the insurgents, we are fighting Al Qaeda.

3. As noted in a post below, someone in the military probably took a great risk when he or she leaked this info. We do not encourage further leaks if we ignore the ones we get.

So please...do what you can to spread the word!

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What Happens When You Remain Silent?

Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity
August 22, 2003

Sixty-four summers ago, when Hitler fabricated Polish provocations in his attempt to justify Germany's invasion of Poland, there was not a peep out of senior German officials. Happily, in today's Germany the imperative of truth telling no longer takes a back seat to ingrained docility and knee-jerk deference to the perceived dictates of "homeland security." The most telling recent sign of this comes in today's edition of Die Zeit, Germany's highly respected weekly. The story, by Jochen Bittner holds lessons for us all.
Die Zeit's report leaves in tatters the "evidence" cited by Secretary of State Colin Powell and other administration spokesmen as the strongest proof that Iraq was using mobile trailers as laboratories to produce material for biological weapons.

German Intelligence on Powell's "Solid" Sources

Bittner notes that, like their American counterparts, German intelligence officials had to hold their noses as Powell on February 5 at the UN played fast and loose with intelligence he insisted came from "solid sources." Powell's specific claims concerning the mobile laboratories, it turns out, depended heavily-perhaps entirely-on a source of the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), Germany's equivalent to the CIA. But the BND, it turns out, considered the source in no way "solid." A "senior German security official" told Die Zeit that, in passing the report to US officials, the Germans made a point of noting "various problems with the source." In more diplomatic language, Die Zeit's informant indicated that the BND's "evaluation of the source was not altogether positive."

German officials remain in some confusion regarding the "four different sources" cited by Powell in presenting his case regarding the "biological laboratories." Berlin has not been told who the other three sources are. In this context, a German intelligence officer mentioned that there is always the danger of false confirmation, suggesting it is possible that the various reports can be traced back to the same original source, theirs-that is, the one with which the Germans had "various problems."

Even if there are in fact multiple sources, the Germans wonder what reason there is to believe that the others are more "solid" than their own. Powell indicated that some of the sources he cited were Iraqi émigrés. While the BND would not give Die Zeit an official comment, Bittner notes pointedly that German intelligence "proceeds on the assumption that émigrés do not always tell the truth and that the picture they draw can be colored by political motives."


Despite all that, in an apparent bid to avoid taking the heat for appearing the constant naysayer on an issue of such neuralgic import in Washington, German intelligence officials say that, the dubious sourcing notwithstanding, they considered the information on the mobile biological laboratories "plausible."

In recent weeks, any "plausibility" has all but evaporated. Many biological warfare specialists in the US and elsewhere were skeptical from the start. Now Defense Intelligence Agency specialists have joined their counterparts at the State Department and elsewhere in concluding that the two trailer/laboratories discovered in Iraq in early May are hydrogen-producing facilities for weather balloons to calibrate Iraqi artillery, as the Iraqis have said.

Perhaps it was this DIA report that emboldened the BND official to go public about the misgivings the BND had about the source.

Insult to Intelligence

What do intelligence analysts do when their professional ethic-to tell the truth without fear or favor-is prostituted for political expedience? Usually, they hold their peace, as we've already noted was the case in Germany in 1939 before the invasion of Poland. The good news is that some intelligence officials are now able to recognize a higher duty-particularly when the issue involves war and peace. Clearly, some BND officials are fed up with the abuse of intelligence they have witnessed-and especially the trifling with the intelligence that they have shared with the US from their own sources. At least one such official appears to have seen it as a patriotic duty to expose what appears to be a deliberate distortion.

This is a hopeful sign. There are indications that British intelligence officials, too, are beginning to see more distinctly their obligation to speak truth to power, especially in light of the treatment their government accorded Ministry of Defense biologist Dr. David Kelly, who became despondent to the point of suicide.

Even more commendable was the courageous move by senior Australian intelligence analyst Andrew Wilkie when it became clear to him that the government he was serving had decided to take part in launching an unprovoked war based on "intelligence" information he knew to be specious. Wilkie resigned and promptly spoke his piece-not only to his fellow citizens but, after the war, at Parliament in London and Congress in Washington. Andrew Wilkie was not naïve enough to believe he could stop the war when he resigned in early March. What was clear to him, however, was that he had a moral duty to expose the deliberate deception in which his government, in cooperation with the US and UK, had become engaged. And he knew instinctively that, in so doing, he could with much clearer conscience look at himself in the mirror each morning.

What About Us?

Do you not find it ironic that State Department foreign service officers, whom we intelligence professionals have (quite unfairly) tended to write off as highly articulate but unthinking apologists for whatever administration happens to be in power, are the only ones so far to resign on principle over the war on Iraq? Three of them have-all three with very moving explanations that their consciences would no longer allow them to promote "intelligence" and policies tinged with deceit.

What about you? It is clear that you have been battered, buffeted, besmirched. And you are painfully aware that you can expect no help at this point from Director George Tenet. Recall the painful morning when you watched him at the UN sitting squarely behind Powell, as if to say the Intelligence Community endorses the deceitful tapestry he wove. No need to remind you that his speech boasted not only the bogus biological trailers but also assertions of a "sinister nexus" between Iraq and al-Qaeda, despite the fact that your intense, year-and-a-half analytical effort had turned up no credible evidence to support that claim. To make matters worse, Tenet is himself under fire for acquiescing in a key National Intelligence Estimate on "weapons of mass destruction" in Iraq that included several paragraphs based on a known forgery. That is the same estimate from which the infamous 16 words were drawn for the president's state-of-the-union address on January 28.

And not only that. In a dramatic departure from customary practice, Tenet has let the moneychangers into the temple-welcoming the most senior policymakers into the inner sanctum where all-source analysis is performed at CIA headquarters, wining and dining Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Colin Powell, National Security Assistant Condoleezza Rice, and even former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (now representing the Pentagon) on their various visits to make sure you didn't miss anything! You have every right to expect to be protected from that kind of indignity. Small wonder that Gingrich, in a recent unguarded moment on TV, conceded that Tenet "is so grateful to President Bush that he will do anything for him." CIA directors have no business being so integral a "part of the team."

Powell, who points proudly to his four day-and-night cram course at the CIA in the days immediately prior to his February 5 UN speech, seems oblivious to the fact that personal visitations of that frequency and duration-and for that purpose-are unprecedented in the history of the CIA. Equally unprecedented are Cheney's "multiple visits." When George H. W. Bush was vice president, not once did he go out to CIA headquarters for a working visit. We brought our analysis to him. As you are well aware, once the subjects uppermost in policymakers' minds are clear to analysts, the analysis itself must be conducted in an unfettered, sequestered way-and certainly without the direct involvement of officials with policy axes to grind. Until now, that is the way it has been done; the analysis and estimates were brought downtown to the policymakers-not the other way around.

What Happens When You Remain Silent?

There is no more telling example than Vietnam. CIA analysts were prohibited from reporting accurately on the non-incident in the Tonkin Gulf on August 4, 1964 until the White House had time to use the "furious fire-fight" to win the Tonkin Gulf resolution from Congress-and eleven more years of war for the rest of us.

And we kept quiet.

In November 1967 as the war gathered steam, CIA management gave President Lyndon Johnson a very important National Intelligence Estimate known to be fraudulent. Painstaking research by a CIA analyst, the late Sam Adams, had revealed that the Vietnamese Communists under arms numbered 500,000. But Gen. William Westmoreland in Saigon, eager to project an image of progress in the US "war of attrition," had imposed a very low artificial ceiling on estimates of enemy strength.

Analysts were aghast when management caved in and signed an NIE enshrining Westmoreland's count of between 188,000 and 208,000. The Tet offensive just two months later exploded that myth-at great human cost. And the war dragged on for seven more years.

Then, as now, morale among analysts plummeted. A senior CIA official made the mistake of jocularly asking Adams if he thought the Agency had "gone beyond the bounds of reasonable dishonesty." Sam, who had not only a keen sense of integrity but first-hand experience of what our troops were experiencing in the jungles of Vietnam, had to be restrained. He would be equally outraged at the casualties being taken now by US forces fighting another unnecessary war, this time in the desert. Kipling's verse applies equally well to jungle or desert:

If they question why we died, tell them because our fathers lied.

Adams himself became, in a very real sense, a casualty of Vietnam. He died of a heart attack at 55, with remorse he was unable to shake. You see, he decided to "go through channels," pursuing redress by seeking help from imbedded CIA and the Defense Department Inspectors General. Thus, he allowed himself to be diddled for so many years that by the time he went public the war was mostly over-and the damage done.

Sam had lived painfully with the thought that, had he gone public when the CIA's leaders caved in to the military in 1967, the entire left half of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial would not have had to be built. There would have been 25-30,000 fewer names for the granite to accommodate.

So too with Daniel Ellsberg, who made the courageous decision to give the Pentagon Papers on Vietnam to the New York Times and Washington Post for publication in 1971. Dan has been asked whether he has any regrets. Yes, one big one, he says. If he had made the papers available in 1964 or 65, this tragically unnecessary war might have been stopped in its tracks. Why did he not? Dan's response is quite telling; he says the thought never occurred to him at the time.

Let the thought occur to you, now.

But Isn't It Too Late?

No. While it is too late to prevent the misadventure in Iraq, the war is hardly over, and analogous "evidence" is being assembled against Iran, Syria, and North Korea. Yes, US forces will have their hands full for a long time in Iraq, but this hardly rules out further adventures based on "intelligence" as spurious as that used to argue the case for attacking Iraq.

The best deterrent is the truth. Telling the truth about the abuse of intelligence on Iraq could conceivably give pause to those about to do a reprise. It is, in any case, essential that the American people acquire a more accurate understanding of the use and abuse of intelligence. Only then can there be any hope that they can experience enough healing from the trauma of 9/11 to be able to make informed judgments regarding the policies pursued by this administration-thus far with the timid acquiescence of their elected representatives.

History is littered with the guilty consciences of those who chose to remain silent. It is time to speak out.

Gene Betit, Arlington, VA
Pat Lang, Alexandria, VA
David MacMichael, Linden, VA
Ray McGovern, Arlington, VA

Steering Group
Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity

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On "Preventive War," Kissinger Becomes Bush's "Useful Idiot"

By Walter C. Uhler
Information Clearing House
12 April 06

Having recently revisited the international law governing the use of military force by reading Christine Gray's book, International Law and the Use of Force, I approached Henry Kissinger's April 9, 2006, Op-Ed in the Washington Post with eager interest. Unfortunately, as I waded through his Rules On Preventive Force, I found myself in the midst of a smoke and mirrors justification for "extending" international law to permit the type of illegal preventive war that should earn President George W. Bush impeachment and a subsequent trial by a War Crimes Tribunal.
Like Mr. Bush in both editions of his National Security Strategy, Mr. Kissinger appears to intentionally confuse "preemption" with the actual type of illegal war that the Bush administration waged in Iraq and is contemplating against Iran. In fact, Mr. Kissinger devotes his first five paragraphs to preemption before actually turning to preventive war.

Thus, before proceeding any further, we must first establish definitions:

(1) Preemptive war - sometimes called "anticipatory self-defense" -- is considered legal under international law, but only when undertaken in response to an imminent threat. Moreover, the onus for demonstrating such an imminent threat falls on the country doing the preempting. Which means that bogus or politicized intelligence will not be seen to be anything more than criminal negligence.

(2) Preventive war - sometimes called "anticipatory self-defense" - is considered illegal under international law precisely because no imminent threat exists. Under international law, preventive war is considered a type of naked aggression.

Consequently, if one assumes that at least some officials in the Bush administration actually understand the difference between legal preemptive war and illegal preventive war, then one also is compelled to assume that the use of the term "preemption" in the National Security Strategies of 2002 and 2006 serves two purposes: (1) As a propaganda shroud designed to place a patina of legality over the coarse reality of naked aggression and (2) to undermine "imminence" as the critical criterion determining legality, and thus render illegal "anticipatory self-defense" legal.

Mr. Kissinger correctly notes that this "extension of the right to self-defense [as articulated in Bush's 2002 National Security Strategy] was widely rejected because the rest of the international community did not accept a definition put forward by one country that reserved to itself the right to implement it."

But Mr. Kissinger errs, and serves as an especially "useful idiot" for the Bush administration, when he claims that greater experience around the world with "emerging threats" explains why Bush's 2006 National Security Strategy "passed without the controversy that marked its predecessor in 2002." First, he should not confuse resignation about the Bush administration's rogue behavior for acceptance. Second, the absence of vociferous rejection hardly implies the world's recognition "that some reconsideration of the existing rules is overdue."

Moreover, Mr. Kissinger is particularly mistaken when he implies that such changes to the existing rules have found their way into the United Nations as a result of efforts by a "high-level group [that] has reported to that effect to the U.N. secretary general."

Mr. Kissinger's "high-level group" is none other than The Secretary-General's High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change," and its report, released in December 2004, carries the title, A more secure world: Our shared responsibility. But the report contains no recommendation supporting the Bush/Kissinger claim for an "extension of the right of self-defense."

Consider Part 3 of A more secure world, which is devoted to Collective security and the use of force. Its synopsis begins by asking: "What happens if peaceful prevention fails? If none of the preventive measures so far described stop the descent into war and chaos? If distant threats do become imminent? Or if imminent threats become actual? Or if a non-imminent threat nonetheless becomes very real and measures short of the use of military force seem powerless to stop it?" [A more secure world: Our shared responsibility, Report of the Secretary-Generals High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change, United Nations, 2004, p. 61]

And it answers those questions with the assertion: "In all cases, we believe that the Charter of the United Nations, properly understood and applied, is equal to the task: Article 51 needs neither EXTENSION [author's emphasis] nor restriction of its long-understood scope, and Chapter VII fully empowers the Security Council to deal with every kind of threat that States may confront." [Ibid]

In the Charter of the United Nations, "Article 2.4, expressly prohibits Member States from using or threatening force against each other, allowing only two exceptions: self-defense under Article 51, and military measures authorized by the Security Council under Chapter VII." [Ibid, p. 62]

When discussing self-defense under Article 51, the report notes that nothing in the U.N. Charter "shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defense...until the Security Council has taken measures to maintain international peace and security." And it adds: "A threatened State, according to long established international law, can take military action as long as the threatened attack is imminent, no other means would deflect it and the action is proportionate." [Ibid, p 63]

Obviously, although the Bush administration claimed to be threatened by Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and ties to al Qaeda, when it failed to secure a second Security Council resolution authorizing the use of force, it gave fallback justifications for invading Iraq that met none of the criteria specified under Article 51. Thus, it's no accident that U.N Secretary-General Kofi Annan publicly asserted that Bush's war was "not in conformity with the UN Charter," and thus was "illegal." [John Burroughs and Nicole Deller, The United Nations Charter and the Invasion of Iraq, Neoconned Again, p. 368]

In his Post Op-Ed, Mr. Kissinger makes no suggestion that Bush's invasion of Iraq was legal, In fact, his very recommendation that legal anticipatory self-defense should be extended to cover non-imminent preventive war constitutes a tacit acknowledgement that Bush's invasion of Iraq was illegal.

Nevertheless, Mr. Kissinger certainly carries water for the Bush administration when he lends respectability to schools of thought advocating preventive war or regime change to counter "the emergence of nuclear weapons powers," such as Iran.

Yet, rather than moving in the direction implied by Mr. Kissinger, the high-level panel gave a stinging rebuff to precisely such thinking.

In considering a hypothetical situation of a state that, "with allegedly hostile intent" acquires a "nuclear weapons making capability," the high-level panel asked: "Can a State, without going to the Security Council, claim in these circumstances the right to act, in anticipatory self-defense, not just pre-emptively (against an imminent or proximate threat) but preventively (against a non-imminent or non-proximate one)? [A more secure world, p. 63]

It's answer? "The short answer is that if there are good arguments for preventive military action, with good evidence to support them, they should be put to the Security Council, which can authorize such action if it chooses to. If it does not choose, there will be, by definition, time to pursue other strategies, including persuasion, negotiation, deterrence and containment." [Ibid]

Lest Messrs. Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Kissinger miss the point, the high-level panel added the following rebuke: "For those impatient with such a response, the answer must be that, in a world full of perceived potential threats, the risk to the global order and to the norm of non-intervention on which it continues to be based is simply too great for the legality of unilateral preventive action, as distinct from collectively endorsed action, to be accepted." [Ibid]

So, no, Mr. Kissinger, "the analysis underlying" Bush's "Strategic Doctrine document" is NOT "correct in emphasizing the changes in the international environment and the propensity (or perhaps even the necessity) they create toward some forms of preventive strategy." You're especially mistaken when you imply that the U.N. is moving to legalize unilateral preventive war.

Thus, rather than recommend that the Bush administration work to bring congressional and sustainable public support for such illegal preventive war, you might appear less of a "useful idiot," were you to put your mind to the question: "How does the world bring to justice a Hegemon that reserves solely to itself the prerogative of waging illegal preventive wars in the name of preemption?"

Walter C. Uhler is an independent scholar and freelance writer whose work has been published in numerous publications, including The Nation, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the Journal of Military History, the Moscow Times and the San Francisco Chronicle. He also is President of the Russian-American International Studies Association (RAISA).

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Heavenly Harbingers

Comet breaking into 17 bits, fragments may be visible next month

12 April 06

Hyderabad - Comet 73 P Schwassmann-Wachmann, which is breaking up, is heading for a rendezvous with the earth next month coming closer than any other comet in the past 20 years.

"In 1995, it was seen to have broken into three bits, when it was about two hundred and forty million kilometers away from the earth. It now appears to have broken into nineteen fragments, the closest of these will be just nine kilometers away around May 12," Dr B G Sidharth, Director of the B M Birla Science Centre here, said.
However, these bits would not be very clear and be barely visible to the naked eye. The best time for viewing them would be between May 12 and 14, with the aid of binoculars or a small telescope," he said.

"At thist time, the fragments of the Comet will be in the constellations Cygnus (Hansa) and Pegasus (Khagashwa). All this astral phenomenon will be visible in the East from around midnight till the early hours of the morning in the West. There is a small chance that the sighting of the Comet will be accompanied by meteor showers due to its debris, but it seems unlikely," Dr Sidharth added.

The break-up of a comet is a common phenomenon and sometimes fragments may even crash into the earth, as happened in Tunguska (Siberia) in 1908, he said, adding that fortunately, the site of the impact was uninhabited. It is believed that this devastation was cuaused by the debris of the Comet Encke.

However, Dr Siddarth assured that there is no chance of frgaments from this particular comet hitting the Earth.

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Hybrid comet-asteroid in mysterious break-up

Jeff Hecht
NewScientist.com news service
11 April 2006

Something substantial has broken off an icy 50-kilometre object beyond the orbit of Saturn, leaving puzzled astronomers trying to figure out why.

Comets have been seen breaking up before, but only after heating when passing close to the Sun or a gravitational disturbance following a close encounter with a planet.

However, at 1.9 billion kilometres, this object is very far from the Sun. Another mysterious feature is that much more gas and dust is escaping from the breakaway fragment than from the parent body. The disintegration has created a dust cloud more than 100,000 km across and which is several times brighter than the original object was before the event.
The object, called 60558 Echeclus, was discovered in 2000 and is a "centaur" - part rocky asteroid and part icy comet. Its new activity, revealed in images taken on 2 April, makes it look "really strange", says William Romanishen of the University of Oklahoma, US, one of the team that took the images. "The first thing that came to mind was a collision."

Earlier observations showed Echeclus rotates about once every 26 hours, so a fragment would need a push to escape its gravity, says Paul Weissman of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, who spotted the original cloud of gas and dust around Echeclus on 30 December 2005.
Explosive sublimation

Such an impact on a comet-like body has not been observed before. But there are other possibilities, says Steve Tegler of Northern Arizona University, US, who works with Romanishen. He says it is most likely that the event was caused by explosive sublimation of volatile ices in Echeclus, resulting in material being blasted off.

Tegler says the evaporating ice is probably carbon monoxide, with vaporises at about that distance from the Sun, where the object's temperature is about 80 degrees Kelvin, close to the sublimation temperature. No one has yet analysed the gas composition.

Another puzzle is the difference in activity between the main nucleus and the fragment. Freshly exposed ices normally sublimate, so "you'd expect equal activity from both pieces", Wiessman says. But the nucleus does not look very active.
Unstable orbits

Echeclus was discovered by the Spacewatch telescope in 2000, and at first looked like an asteroid. Then Weissman found it was surrounded by a coma, so astronomers also classed it as a periodic comet, 174P. The photos from 2 April show the coma has now spread out.

Echeclus belongs to a group of more than 100 centaurs with orbits well outside the main asteroid belt. Although originally from the distant Kuiper belt, they now orbit the Sun between Jupiter and Neptune, but will be ejected from those unstable orbits within tens of millions of years. Cometary clouds have been reported around three other centaurs too.

Echeclus is currently moving towards the Sun on its 35-year orbit, and will pass closest to our star - about 880 million km - in April 2015. Other centaurs have become active as they moved inward, Tegler says. But none have shown such dramatic activity.

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Clandestine comets found in main asteroid belt

Kimm Groshong
NewScientist.com news service
23 March 2006

You do not have to look to the outer edges of the solar system, or even out beyond Neptune to observe a reservoir of comets. A bevy of the ice-containing bodies lies disguised as main-belt asteroids between Mars and Jupiter, claim astronomers from the University of Hawaii, US.

David Jewitt and Henry Hsieh have dubbed the new population "main belt comets". They describe three objects with near circular, flat orbits in the asteroid belt that stream volatile materials, producing an observable tail for weeks and months at a time.

The finding backs a theory that ice-bearing asteroids - or "comets" - from this much closer region may have played an important role in forming the Earth's oceans.
Scientists once believed the icy comets from the outer regions of the solar system were the most likely source of the water that transformed the early Earth from a dry, barren world. But chemical analyses of comet water - carried out from a distance - ruled out the possibility.

Another possibility was asteroids. But it had seemed impossible to study the water content of asteroids since most of their water appears to have dissipated or is now buried too deeply to observe.
Window to the past

Now Jewitt says this new population within the asteroid belt may provide a way to sample the chemicals in water on or near the surface of these objects. And he says the main-belt comets hold promise for future study as components of the protoplanetary disc that surrounded the Sun - the disc from which the planets formed. "They're a window to some early epoch, back when objects were accreting," he says.

The new study underscores the increasingly hazy distinction between comets and asteroids. "There are different definitions of comet used by different people at different times," Jewitt told New Scientist.

The two traditionally recognised comet reservoirs are the Kuiper Belt, a frigid region beyond Neptune's orbit, and the even more distant Oort Cloud. One definition describes a comet as an object following a highly elliptical, often inclined orbit with origins in one of these two reservoirs.
Carbonaceous covering

But another definition involves what an observer sees either with the naked eye or through a telescope - a comet's streaming gassy tail as it loses ice and other volatile materials through being warmed by the Sun.

Jewitt says based on their nearly circular, stable orbits, the main belt comets are "completely asteroidal". You would never guess that they were anything but asteroids." But in terms of appearance, with their long-lasting tails, he says "they're definitely comets".

The team believes in order to survive at such proximity to the Sun, the volatiles in the main belt comets would have to be covered by a layer of possibly carbonaceous material. They say an impact event could then uncover some of the volatiles, allowing the Sun's heat to trigger the observed outgassing.
Activated asteroids

Asteroid expert Richard Binzel at MIT questions the need for the new classification. "I prefer to think of them as activated asteroids," he told New Scientist. "It's no surprise if some asteroids have some water content, particularly in the outer asteroid belt."

He says volatiles have been measured to make up about 10% of some carbonaceous meteorites that are thought to come from the region.

Jewitt says potentially tens of thousands of main belt objects contain ice and have simply not been observed during their active period. In order to be seen spewing dust, the objects would have to have been hit by a meteor size boulder within the last thousand years or so, he adds.

Journal reference: Science (DOI: 10.1126/science.1125150)

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The comets' tale - Maybe the dirty snowball theory is wrong

By David L. Chandler
Globe Correspondent
April 10, 2006

Three fly-by missions since 2001 have confounded almost everything astronomers thought they knew about the makeup of comets.

Then, two weeks ago, University of Hawaii researchers announced the discovery of a whole new family of close-in comets -- which might help explain how the early Earth got its water.

Our lack of knowledge could have dire consequences, scientists warn, because -- unlike asteroids, whose paths can be predicted years in advance -- comets could strike Earth with little warning. The missions have proven that we don't know enough about these dazzling lumps of ice and dirt to know how to respond.
But now, one astronomer has come up with a theory that might tie some of the loose ends together.

Instead of the conventional view of a comet's nucleus as a solid, several-miles-wide rubble pile or dirty snowball, Michael Belton, a lead scientist for last year's Deep Impact comet mission, suggests that the nucleus may be more like a lump of papier mache -- built up from a random assortment of irregular sheets of varying thickness.

''The presence of layers is ubiquitous" in the nuclei seen so far, Belton said, ''and may be an essential element of their internal structure." In his view, the nuclei were built up gradually as hundreds of smaller bodies smashed together over time, each flattening out and sticking to the growing body, forming one layer after another.

Astronomers were startled and confused by the dramatic and unexpected differences between the nuclei of Tempel 1 (seen by last year's Deep Impact mission), Wild 2 (as seen by the Stardust mission in 2004) and Borrelly (seen by deep Space 1 in 2001).

Belton's new theory, which he outlined at a conference in Houston last month, identifies all the varied and unexplained features seen on these comets -- including supposed craters on Wild 2, mesa-like plateaus on Borrelly, and distinctly different, overlapping surface textures on Tempel 1 -- as different aspects of the layered model he nicknamed Talps (for ''splat" spelled backwards).

Clark Chapman, a specialist in asteroids and comets at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colo., agrees with Belton that ''it looks like comets have layers in them," but he said the theory is still untested. ''It's a first step toward trying to understand comets differently."

The new model would have significant implications for the life cycle of comets and for how we might attack a comet headed for Earth. Pushing aside a solid ball with a huge rocket or nuclear blast might make sense, but using the same approach against a ball of many layers might cause the comet to splinter and could magnify the damage rather than avert it, Belton suggests.

The find of a new type of comet -- the third known -- adds a lot of new questions to comet research and possibly helps answer a longstanding mystery: How the Earth has so much water when models suggest it shouldn't.

As the solar system's inner planets coalesced from the cloud of gas and dust swirling around the sun, the sun's heat caused water to evaporate. The new discovery suggests that Earth's water supply might have been replenished by some comets or asteroids that initially formed just a bit farther out and so might have retained their ice as they hurtled around the sun and eventually smashed into our planet.

Astronomers Henry Hsieh and David Jewitt of the University of Hawaii announced late last month that they have found comets with asteroid-like orbits -- circling the sun as planets do, between Mars and Jupiter, instead of the very elongated orbits characteristic of all previously known comets.

Finding comets like these suggests that there could be icy asteroids or comets that formed much closer to the sun than previously thought. They would have replenished Earth's water supply when they crashed into its surface.

''I think it's very significant," Jewitt said, to find such a fundamentally different group of comets, which must have formed separately from all the others.

But it will take more study to figure out how this new population will compare to the others and what kind of structure they might have. Being born in a hotter region of the growing solar system, for example, might have produced a different kind of layering, if any.

Belton, president of Belton Space Exploration Initiatives in Tucson, said he'd like to have a chance to prove his model by getting a closer look at some of these comets, particularly with a radar analysis -- which past missions couldn't perform -- that could clearly show whether the orb is layered deep down.

It may be a while before he gets that wish, but the European Space Agency's Rosetta mission will provide close-up views in 2014 of another comet nucleus and will use microwaves to probe its inner structure. Other comet missions have been proposed.

''The reconnaissance is over," Belton said. ''It's time to get into the detailed exploration phase."
© Copyright 2006 Globe Newspaper Company.

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Israel vs. Palestine

British MP Calls for Sanctions Against Israel for Killing of its Citizens

12 April 06

British Member of Parliament (Labour) Gerald Kaufman is calling for sanctions against Israel if Jerusalem does not turn over the soldiers responsible for the deaths of James Miller and Tom Hurndall, killed in Gaza in 2003.

Kaufman is demanding they be placed on trial in the UK or alternatively, before an international tribunal. His demands follow coroner's inquests in Britain that were demanded out of British dissatisfaction with Israeli investigations into the two deaths.

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Hamas 'willing' to recognise Israel

By Khalid Amayreh in the West Bank
12 April 06

The Hamas-led Palestinian government is willing to recognise Israel if the latter withdraws fully from West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip, Al Jazeera. net has reliably learnt.

Sources close to Ismail Haniya, the Palestinian prime minister, described the Hamas decision as a "significant change in policy".
"What it means is that the Palestinian government is willing to recognise Israel if Israel met certain conditions, including a complete withdrawal from the territories Israel occupied in 1967," a source told Al Jazeera.net on Wednesday.

Speaking on condition of anonymity as he was not authorised to speak to the media, the source added that he expected the "new posture" to be announced officially by Haniya in the coming few days.

The Hamas-led government is coming under intense international pressure to recognise Israel, abandon armed resistance and accept outstanding agreements between the Palestinian Authority and Israel.

If true, the new development will constitute a significant departure from Hamas' dogged refusal to accept Israel's right to exist.

Hamas' officials and spokespersons in the West Bank have refused to comment on the movement's willingness to recognise Israel in return for a viable Palestinian state on 100% of the occupied territories.

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Gaza families watch in awe and fear as Israelis pour in 300 shells a day

Conal Urquhart in Beit Lahiya, Gaza
Wednesday April 12, 2006
The Guardian

The Israeli government said yesterday it would continue its bombardment of northern Gaza with an estimated 300 shells a day despite international criticism over the death of a young girl.

Shaul Mofaz, the defence minister who is touring Israel's borders with Gaza, said: "As long as it's not quiet here [in Israel], it won't be quiet there [in Gaza]."

Israeli forces have been firing shells close to Palestinian communities to stop militants from firing rockets at Israeli communities. The army continued to bombard the outskirts of Beit Lahiya yesterday, but Palestinian militants fired their homemade missiles from different residential areas, which they believe are safe from Israeli reprisals.
Kim Howells, the Foreign Office minister, condemned the killing of the girl, Hadeel Ghabeen, whose home in Beit Lahiya was hit by two shells on Monday, and asked the Israeli government to exercise maximum restraint.

"Israel has the right to defend itself, but any actions in the occupied territories must be proportionate and in accordance with international law. Equally, we urge the Palestinian Authority to take steps to halt all attacks launched at Israeli targets from the Gaza Strip," he said.

Ghabeen, believed to be aged between four and 12, was the 15th Palestinian to be killed in Gaza since Friday in shell and air attacks. Israel has been firing about 300 shells a day at Gaza at an estimated cost of more than £125,000 a day, according to the Israeli media.

Palestinian militants have fired about 50 missiles at Israel in the past month without causing serious injury.

Yesterday the residents of Al Nader towers, the highest point in northern Gaza, were nervously watching the one-sided artillery duel. Israeli artillery announced itself with a low thud in the east followed by the overhead whistle of a shell.

People hunched their shoulders for protection but then saw an eruption of dust in the valley half a mile below and to the west, followed by a noise like a thunder clap. The Israelis were targeting a field between Beit Lahiya and the sewage works.

Those watching admired the accuracy of the Israeli gunners as shell after shell landed within metres of the last.

As groups of young men watched the spectacle, women put out washing and trucks arrived to sell cucumbers and tomatoes for 5 shekels (60p) a box. The vegetables are normally sold for export via Israel for 78 shekels (£10), but when the goods terminal is closed they have to be sold at a price that Gazans can afford.

Then a sudden scream emerged from behind the towers and a Palestinian rocket headed towards Israel. Its vapour trail disappeared in seconds and it did not seem to make its destination. The streets quickly cleared. No one had seen who fired it but no one was going to wait for an Israeli response. A Red Cross vehicle waited nearby for permission from the Israelis to see what damage they had caused.

Abdel Rahim Ghanaim, 48, runs a shop at the edge of what is considered the safe part of Beit Lahiya. He and his extended family have spent the past two weeks sleeping outside their home in the hope that will protect them from Israeli shells. Mr Ghanaim said: "We are not sleeping and during the day there is no business. No one is passing here so no one is buying."

Said Judah, director of the Beit Lahiya Hospital, said that apart from Monday, when the young girl was killed and 12 members of her family injured, he had received about five minor casualties a day. "It is not like the days of the Israeli incursions but it is very damaging for people psychologically."

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The uber-wardens

By Amira Hass
12 April 06

Two weeks ago, on Election Day, at 8 A.M., drivers wishing to leave Tul Karm from the eastern exit (toward Anabta) discovered that their permits were invalid. A soldier at the checkpoint, who prevented the passage of the drivers, apologized: Today, leaving the city by car is permitted only to residents of the three neighboring villages - Shufa, Safrin and Beit Lid, he explained to Machsom Watch activists. "And in general, this is not a checkpoint (through which the permits are meant to allow passage - A.H.), but a barricade. And here there are no permits; here there are procedures."
Palestinians living under the Israeli occupation are imprisoned in a thicket of physical, corporeal barriers of all types and sizes (checkpoints, roadblocks, blockades, fences, walls, steel gates, roads prohibited to traffic, dirt embankments, concrete cubes) and by a frequently updated assortment of bans and limitations. There are permanent bans, to which various periodic bans are supplemented, such as the aforementioned ban on travel to Anabta. Even without recurrent nighttime raids by the army to arrest wanted men, even without the shelling that fails to stop the firing of Qassam rockets, life is completely disrupted.

The disruption of life and the bans are not reported as "news," because they are the routine. And this routine erodes any hope for a humane future.

Gazan natives are not permitted to be in the West Bank. Palestinians, including residents of Jericho, are not permitted to be in the Jordan Valley (except for those with official addresses there). It is prohibited to drive in a private car through the Abu Dis checkpoint (which divides the northern and southern parts of the West Bank). It is forbidden to enter Nablus by car. It is forbidden for Palestinians residing in East Jerusalem to enter West Bank cities (except for Ramallah). Citizens of Arab states married to Palestinians are prohibited from entering the West Bank.

The soldier at the checkpoint or behind the Civil Administration counter is the last, least important, link in the thicket of restrictions and limitations. The soldiers do not question the orders and bans, but they didn't invent them. They are low-ranking jailors, and behind them is a faceless battery of bureaucrats who enact regulations, constantly tweaking methods of imprisonment and proscription.

The Israeli uber-wardens seem to have special fondness for meddling in Palestinian family life, and not only when one of the spouses is an Israeli citizen. Their agents in the Civil Administration prevented, for instance, entry into the West Bank (not Israel) to the Turkish wife of a Palestinian resident; to an individual whose relative died ("because the relative was not a first-degree relative"); to a woman whose father-in-law died (a relation that is not considered first-degree); to a father whose son had taken ill (with the excuse that other family members had entered the West Bank on tourist visas, and, according to records, had not left the West Bank when their visas expired).

Natives of Gaza who live in the West Bank are 70 kilometers away from their parents and siblings in Gaza; some have not seen each other for five-to-eight years, since they have not received transit permits through Israel. Jordan Valley residents may have relatives living 10 kilometers away who are not allowed to visit them.

Planners of the separation fence have shown not only a weakness for the available lands of the Palestinians, but also a weakness for separating families. If the fence route now being proposed is approved, approximately 570,000 dunams (140,000 acres) of Palestinian land (approximately 10 percent of the area of the West Bank) are expected to be wedged between the separation fence and the Green Line. In other words, they would be essentially annexed to Israel. Residents of the villages imprisoned behind the separation fence have relatives in nearby villages.

One father in Azoun Atma, for instance, relates that his daughter in Saniria, a neighboring village that's a few-minute walk away, is not receiving a permit to visit him. Youths whose families own orchards on the other side of the separation fence are not receiving permits to enter via the gates of the fence and help their elderly grandfathers work the land. Weddings, funerals, olive harvests and mass family events are celebrated - thanks to the initiatives of the Israeli uber-wardens - via telephone, e-mail or videocam, for those who have it.

One can only wonder what the planners of these separations are hoping to achieve by forbidding a grandson to help his grandparents to work their land or a woman to live with her husband, and decreeing that entire villages lose their lands, that is, their futures. They are backed up by almost across-the-board support for any measure they take, ostensibly in the name of security.

They continue to invent prohibitions because there is no one raising a voice against it. And they are responsible for not only seriously disrupting the lives of Palestinians, but also implanting the jailor mentality in thousands of Israeli young people, soldiers, clerks and policemen - an intoxicating mentality of those who treat those weaker than they with impunity.

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Big Brother

Google defends censorship practices in China, praises Beijing

Agence France Presse
12 April 06

"We must comply with the local law, indeed we have all made a commitment to the government that we will absolutely follow the Chinese law. We don't have any alternatives.

"It is not an option for us to broadly make information available that is illegal, inappropriate or immoral or what have you."
Google defended its much criticized censorship policy for China, insisting it must follow local laws, as it launched its new brand for the lucrative Internet market.

"We simply don't have a choice but to follow the law," chief executive officer Eric Schmidt told reporters at a launch ceremony in Beijing for the US Internet giant's new Chinese name, which translates to "Gu Ge."

"We must comply with the local law, indeed we have all made a commitment to the government that we will absolutely follow the Chinese law. We don't have any alternatives.

"It is not an option for us to broadly make information available that is illegal, inappropriate or immoral or what have you."

Google caused an uproar in January when it launched its new service for China, google.cn, after agreeing to censor websites and content banned by the nation's propaganda chiefs.

The Silicon Valley company, whose rise as a global Internet giant was accompanied by the motto: 'Do no evil', joined the likes of Yahoo and Microsoft in bowing to China's censorship demands.

While Google and the other companies have come under pressure in the United States not to succumb to Chinese pressure, Schmidt praised China's rulers for their Internet strategy that has seen a huge online population develop.

"We look at the rise of China, the investment and the smart people and we are in awe of what has occurred here," Schmidt said.

"And we salute the government, key leaders in the industry and all of you who have made the rise of the Internet in China such a tremendous accomplishment."

In the case of Yahoo, it came under fire last year for supplying information to the Chinese government that led to the arrest of Chinese journalist Shi Tao.

Shi was sentenced to 10 years in prison for passing on a government censorship order through his Yahoo e-mail account.

Schmidt refused to answer a reporter's question on whether Google would also supply personal information on its Internet users to Chinese authorities if requested.

"I'd rather not answer a hypothetical question," he said.

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NSA Can 'Vacuum' Emails Across Internet

10 April 06

The National Security Agency has the means to "vacuum" all e-mails and other data crossing the Internet, a former AT&T employee familiar with the technology reveals.

The disclosures of Mark Klein, who worked for AT&T for more than 22 years, come in connection with a class-action lawsuit filed in January by the Electronic Frontier Foundation. It accuses the telecom giant of violating the law and the privacy of its customers by collaborating with the NSA in its program to wiretap Americans' communications.
According to the EFF, the NSA uses powerful computers to "data-mine" the contents of Internet and telephone communications for suspicious names, numbers and words in an attempt to identify suspected terrorists.

On March 31 and April 5 of this year, the EEF - a nonprofit organization that seeks to defend free speech, privacy and consumer rights - filed papers with the court asking that it order AT&T to stop disclosing the contents of its customers' communications to the U.S. government.

In support of this motion, the EFF filed a declaration from Mark Klein, which was reproduced on the Web site Wired News.

Klein said that in January 2003, while he was working in an AT&T office in San Francisco, he saw that a "secret room" was being built adjacent to a switching room where the public's phone calls are routed. Under the direction of the NSA, special equipment was being installed in the room, which was off-limits to most employees.

In October 2003, AT&T appointed Klein to oversee the Worldnet Internet room, "which included large routers, racks of modems for customers' dial-in services, and other equipment," he said. "While doing my job, I learned that fiber optic cables from the secret room were tapping into the Worldnet circuits by splitting off a portion of the light signal."

Klein said he saw a design document that "listed the equipment installed in the secret room, and this list included a Narus STA 6400, which is a 'Semantic Traffic Analyzer.' The Narus STA technology is known to be used particularly by government intelligence agencies because of its ability to sift through large amounts of data looking for preprogrammed targets."

He also learned that similar technology was being installed in other cities, including Seattle, San Jose, Los Angeles and San Diego.

Klein said in his declaration: "Based on my understanding of the connections and equipment at issue, it appears the NSA is capable of conducting what amounts to vacuum-cleaner surveillance of all the data crossing the Internet - whether that be peoples' e-mail, Web surfing or any other data.

"And unlike the controversy over targeted wiretaps of individuals' phone calls, this potential spying appears to be applied wholesale to all sorts of Internet communications of countless citizens."

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Iraq War Hero on Airline "Terrorist Watch List"!!

Associated Press
12 April 06

MINNEAPOLIS - A Marine reservist returning home after eight months in Iraq was told he couldn't board a plane to Minneapolis because his name appeared on a watch list as a possible terrorist.
Staff Sgt. Daniel Brown, who was in uniform and returning from the war Tuesday with 26 other Marine military police reservists, was delayed briefly in Los Angeles until the issue was cleared up.

The other reservists arrived at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport as scheduled, but instead of immediately meeting their families, they waited on a bus for Brown.

"We don't leave anybody behind," 1st Sgt. Drew Benson said. "We start together, and we finish together."

Brown, 32, arrived more than an hour later. He had also had airport trouble when he was trying to go to Iraq _ and he missed his plane then as well.

"A guy goes over and serves his country fighting for eight or nine months, and then we come home and put up with this?" he asked.

Nico Melendez, a spokesman for the Transportation Security Administration, said Wednesday he could not confirm or deny whether someone was on a watch list. He said Brown's case should have been fairly easy for the airline to clear up in Los Angeles.

"It should have taken 10 minutes," he said. "We do regret that an American hero was inconvenienced."

Comment: If these are the guys "watching the store," we are in BIG trouble!

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23 Administration Officials Involved In Plame Leak


The cast of administration characters with known connections to the outing of an undercover CIA agent:
Karl Rove
I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby
Condoleezza Rice
Stephen Hadley
Andrew Card
Alberto Gonzales
Mary Matalin
Ari Fleischer
Susan Ralston
Israel Hernandez
John Hannah
Scott McClellan
Dan Bartlett
Claire Buchan
Catherine Martin
Jennifer Millerwise
David Wurmser
Colin Powell
Karen Hughes
Adam Levine
Bob Joseph
Vice President Dick Cheney
President George W. Bush

Karl Rove - Senior Advisor to President Bush (2001-2005); Deputy White House Chief of Staff (2005-Present)

ADMINISTRATION, ROVE ORIGINALLY DENIED ANY INVOLVMENT IN THE LEAK: Asked on 9/29/03 whether he had "any knowledge" of the leak or whether he leaked the name of the CIA agent, Rove answered "no." That same day, White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan, after having "spoken to Karl," asserted that "it is a ridiculous suggestion" to say Rove was involved in the leak. In August 2004, Rove maintained, "I didn't know her name and didn't leak her name." [ABC News, 9/29/03; White House Press Briefing, 9/29/03; RawStory; Newsweek, 7/11/05]

ROVE SPOKE WITH TIME REPORTER MATT COOPER: In a conversation with Time reporter Matt Cooper - a conversation that Rove insisted be kept on "deep background" - Rove instructed Cooper, "Don't get too far out on Wilson." Rove then identified Valerie Plame as "Wilson's wife" who "works at the agency on wmd [weapons of mass destruction]." According to Cooper, his conversation with Karl Rove was the first time he had heard anything about Wilson's wife. Additionally, Rove told Cooper that further information discrediting Wilson and his findings would soon be declassified and ended the phone conversation by saying "I've already said too much." [Time, 7/25/05]

ROVE SPOKE WITH COLUMNIST ROBERT NOVAK: A week prior to publishing his column which outed undercover CIA agent Valerie Plame, Robert Novak spoke with Karl Rove. In the 7/8/03 conversation with Rove, Novak brought up Plame's role at the CIA, and Rove confirmed for the reporter that Plame worked at the CIA: "I heard that too," said Rove. [NYT, 7/15/05]

ROVE TESTIFIED FOUR TIMES BEFORE THE GRAND JURY: Karl Rove appeared before a federal grand jury for a fourth and most likely last time on October 14, 2005. In his previous testimony to the grand jury, Karl Rove reportedly admitted "that he circulated and discussed damaging information regarding [Plame] with others in the White House, outside political consultants, and journalists" and "is said to have named at least six other administration officials" who were involved. From Rove's description of the administration's efforts, sources characterized the actions as "an aggressive campaign to discredit Wilson through the leaking and disseminating of derogatory information regarding him and his wife to the press, utilizing proxies such as conservative interest groups and the Republican National Committee to achieve those ends, and distributing talking points to allies of the administration on Capitol Hill and elsewhere." [American Prospect, 3/8/04; Newsweek, 7/11/05; Reuters, 10/14/05]

ROVE DEFENSE TEAM ANTICIPATES CHARGES; ROVE PLANS TO RESIGN IF INDICTED: "Rove's defense team asserts that President Bush's deputy chief of staff has not committed a crime but nevertheless anticipates that special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald could find a way to bring charges in the next two weeks." "Bush senior adviser Rove and others at the White House had concluded that if indicted he would immediately resign or possibly go on unpaid leave, several legal and Administration sources familiar with the thinking told Time." [Washington Post, 10/15/05; Time, 10/24/05]

ROVE WAS REPORTEDLY ADMONISHED BY BUSH FOR LEAKING: "An angry President Bush rebuked chief political guru Karl Rove two years ago for his role in the Valerie Plame affair, sources told the Daily News. 'He made his displeasure known to Karl,' a presidential counselor told The News. 'He made his life miserable about this.'" [NY Daily News, 10/19/05]

MEMBER OF THE WHITE HOUSE IRAQ GROUP: Rove was a regular participant in the weekly meetings of the Bush Administration's White House Iraq Group. The main purpose of the group was the systematic coordination of the "marketing" of going to war with Iraq as well as selling the war here at home. One clear example of this fact is that "the escalation of nuclear rhetoric" during the pre-war stage, "including the introduction of the term 'mushroom cloud' into the debate, coincided with the formation" of WHIG. The group included the other individual who has been confirmed as a leaker, Lewis Libby. [Washington Post, 8/10/03]
I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby

Chief of Staff to Vice President Cheney (2001-Present)

CHENEY AND LIBBY PRESSURED CIA ON URANIUM: Cheney and Libby visited the CIA headquarters to engage the CIA analysts directly on this issue of uranium acquisition in Africa, "creating an environment in which some analysts felt they were being pressured to make their assessments fit with the Bush administration's policy objectives." [Washington Post, 6/5/03]

LIBBY, WITH ROVE AND HADLEY, PREPARED TENET'S RESPONSE TO NIGER CRITICISMS: Karl Rove and I. Lewis Libby Jr., were helping to prepare what became the administration's primary response to criticism that a flawed phrase about the nuclear materials in Africa had been included in Mr. Bush's State of the Union address six months earlier. They had exchanged e-mail correspondence and drafts of a proposed statement by George Tenet, then the director of central intelligence, to explain how the disputed wording had gotten into the address. Mr. Rove, the president's political strategist, and Mr. Libby, the chief of staff for Vice President Dick Cheney, coordinated their efforts with Stephen Hadley, then the deputy national security adviser, who was in turn consulting with Mr. Tenet. [New York Times, 7/22/05]

LIBBY SPOKE TO JUDY MILLER: Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff discussed with New York Times correspondent Judith Miller the fact that the wife of a White House critic worked for the CIA on as many as three occasions before the woman, Valerie Plame, was publicly identified, according to a New York Times account. [NYT, 10/16/05]

LIBBY MAY HAVE BEEN TRYING TO OBSTRUCT JUSTICE: According to Miller, this was what her attorney Floyd Abrams told her about his conversation with Libby's attorney: "He was pressing about what you would say. When I wouldn't give him an assurance that you would exonerate Libby, if you were to cooperate, he then immediately gave me this, 'Don't go there, or, we don't want you there.' " [NYT, 10/16/05]

LIBBY SPOKE TO WALTER PINCUS: "Pincus answered questions about Libby as well. Both he and Cooper said they did so with Libby's approval, and both said that their conversations with Libby did not touch on the identity of Wilson's wife." [Washington Post, 9/15/04]

LIBBY SPOKE TO GLEN KESSLER: "Fitzgerald took a tape-recorded deposition that will be played to the grand jury from Washington Post reporter Glenn Kessler. Kessler said he agreed to be interviewed, at the urging of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, chief of staff to Cheney, about two telephone conversations he had with Libby. Kessler said he told the prosecutors that in conversations last July 12 and July 18, Libby did not mention Plame or Wilson." [Washington Post, 6/24/04]

LIBBY SPOKE TO MATTHEW COOPER: Libby tells Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper that Dick Cheney had not been responsible for Wilson's mission. Speaking on the record, Libby denies that Cheney knew about or played any role in the Wilson trip to Niger. Speaking on background, Cooper asks Libby if he had heard anything about Wilson's wife sending her husband to Niger. Libby replies, "Yeah, I've heard that too." [Time, 7/25/05]

WHITE HOUSE DENIES LIBBY INVOLVEMENT: During press briefing, Scott McClellan says of Libby and others that "they assured me that they were not involved" in "leaking classified information." [White House, 10/10/03]

CHENEY ASKED ABOUT LIBBY BY PROSECUTORS: "Vice President Dick Cheney was recently interviewed by federal prosecutors who asked whether he knew of anyone at the White House who had improperly disclosed the identity of an undercover C.I.A. officer. Mr. Cheney was also asked about conversations with senior aides, including his chief of staff, I. Lewis Libby . It was not clear how Mr. Cheney responded to the prosecutors' questions." [New York Times, 6/5/04]

LIBBY NOTES FREQUENTLY REFERRED TO BY PROSECUTORS: "One set of documents that prosecutors repeatedly referred to in their meetings with White House aides are extensive notes compiled by I. Lewis Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff and national security adviser. Prosecutors have described the notes as 'copious.'" [New York Times, 2/10/04]

LIBBY TESTIFIED BEFORE GRAND JURY, MAY HAVE MISLED: Libby told special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald that he first learned Plame's identity from Tim Russert. Russert said in a statement last year that he told the prosecutor that "he did not know Ms. Plame's name or that she was a CIA operative" and that he did not provide such information to Libby in July 2003. [Bloomberg, 7/22/05]

LIBBY PLANS TO RESIGN IF INDICTED: "Bush senior adviser Rove and others at the White House had concluded that if indicted he would immediately resign or possibly go on unpaid leave, several legal and Administration sources familiar with the thinking told Time... The same would apply to I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby, the Vice President's chief of staff, who also faces a possible indictment." [Time, 10/24/05]

MEMBER OF THE WHITE HOUSE IRAQ GROUP: Libby was a regular participant in the weekly meetings of the Bush Administration's White House Iraq Group. The main purpose of the group was the systematic coordination of the "marketing" of going to war with Iraq as well as selling the war here at home. One clear example of this fact is that "the escalation of nuclear rhetoric" during the pre-war stage, "including the introduction of the term 'mushroom cloud' into the debate, coincided with the formation" of WHIG. The group included the other individual who has been confirmed as a leaker, Karl Rove. [Washington Post, 8/10/03]
Condoleezza Rice

National Security Advisor (2001-2005); Secretary of State (2005-Present)

RICE WAS ABOARD AIR FORCE ONE: Rice was one of several senior administration officials on a July 2003 flight to Africa, during which it was decided that she would appear on the Sunday shows to "protect Cheney by explaining that he had had nothing to do with sending Wilson to Niger, and dismiss the yellowcake issue." [Newsweek, 7/17/05]

RICE RECEIVED TOP SECRET BRIEFING BOOK ON AFRICA TRIP: "To allow her to prepare on the long flight home to D.C., White House officials assembled a briefing book, which they faxed to the Bush entourage in Africa. The book was primarily prepared by her National Security Council staff. It contained classified information - perhaps including all or part of the memo from State. The entire binder was labeled TOP SECRET." [Newsweek, 7/17/05]

RICE SAID SHE LEARNED OF WILSON'S TRIP FROM ABC NEWS APPEARANCE: " [O]n Ambassador Wilson's going out to Niger, I learned of that when I was sitting on whatever TV show it was, because that mission was not known to anybody in the White House." [State Department, 7/11/03]

RICE CLAIMED NO KNOWLEDGE OF LEAKS: "I know nothing of any such White House effort to reveal any of this. And it certainly would not be the way the president would expect his White House to operate." [Fox News, 9/28/03]

"COOPERATED" WITH FITZGERALD'S PROBE. When asked if she had been asked to testify before the grand jury, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said, "I have, like everybody else, cooperated with Prosecutor Fitzgerald and I'm quite certain that he will make his report." [Fox News, 10/16/05]

MEMBER OF THE WHITE HOUSE IRAQ GROUP: Rice was a regular participant in the weekly meetings of the Bush Administration's White House Iraq Group. The main purpose of the group was the systematic coordination of the "marketing" of going to war with Iraq as well as selling the war here at home. One clear example of this fact is that "the escalation of nuclear rhetoric" during the pre-war stage, "including the introduction of the term 'mushroom cloud' into the debate, coincided with the formation" of WHIG. The group included the two individual who have been confirmed as leakers, Karl Rove and Lewis Libby. [Washington Post, 8/10/03]
Stephen Hadley

Deputy National Security Advisor (2001-2005); National Security Advisor (2005-Present)

ROVE COMMUNICATED HIS CONVERSATION WITH COOPER TO HADLEY: After Karl Rove spoke to Time magazine reporter Matt Cooper about Joseph Wilson (according to Cooper, this was the first time he learned of Plame's identity), Rove wrote Hadley an email. The July 11, 2003 email said: "Matt Cooper called to give me a heads-up that he's got a welfare reform story coming. When he finished his brief heads-up he immediately launched into Niger. Isn't this damaging? Hasn't the president been hurt? I didn't take the bait, but I said if I were him I wouldn't get Time far out in front on this." [Associated Press, 7/15/05]

HADLEY SEEN AS "EYES AND EARS" FOR CHENEY: In 1989, Hadley served as assistant secretary of defense for international security policy under then-Defense Secretary Dick Cheney. Hadley admitted Cheney was "a factor" in his hiring as deputy national security adviser by President Bush in 2001. The Washington Post reported that some saw Hadley as Cheney's "eyes and ears" at the NSC. [Washington Post, 7/25/01]

HADLEY WAS WARNED NOT TO CITE URANIUM EVIDENCE: Hadley briefed reporters on July 22, 2003 to explain why the bogus intelligence should have been excluded from Bush's State of the Union. Hadley noted his receipt of a memorandum from the CIA, dated October 6, 2002, that explained why references to Iraq's pursuit of uranium was dropped from Bush's October 7 speech against Iraq. According to Hadley, the memo provided "some additional rationale for the removal of the uranium reference." The memo described "some weakness in the evidence, the fact that the effort was not particularly significant to Iraq's nuclear ambitions because the Iraqis already had a large stock of uranium oxide in their inventory This memorandum was received by the Situation Room here in the White House, and it was sent to both Dr. Rice and myself." [Hadley/Bartlett Gaggle, 7/22/03]

HADLEY REVIEWED POWELL'S SPEECH TO U.N. WHICH DID NOT CONTAIN URANIUM REFERENCE: Prior to Powell's speech, Condoleeza Rice's deputy Stephen Hadley led "the White House effort to sift through the intelligence with the help of the CIA," and tried "to determine what can be released without damaging the agency's ability to gather similar information." The uranium reference mentioned in Bush's 2003 State of the Union just one week prior was deleted from Powell's speech to the U.N. because Powell said it did not stand "the test of time." [Washington Post, 1/30/03]

HADLEY COORDINATED WITH TENET ON TENET'S APOLOGY: The Washington Post reported, "Behind the scenes, the White House responded with twin attacks: one on Wilson and the other on the CIA, which it wanted to take the blame for allowing the 16 words to remain in Bush's speech. As part of this effort, then-deputy national security adviser Stephen J. Hadley spoke with Tenet during the week about clearing up CIA responsibility for the 16 words, even though both knew the agency did not think Iraq was seeking uranium from Niger, according to a person familiar with the conversation." [Washington Post, 7/27/05]

MEMBER OF THE WHITE HOUSE IRAQ GROUP: Hadley was a regular participant in the weekly meetings of the Bush Administration's White House Iraq Group. The main purpose of the group was the systematic coordination of the "marketing" of going to war with Iraq as well as selling the war here at home. One clear example of this fact is that "the escalation of nuclear rhetoric" during the pre-war stage, "including the introduction of the term 'mushroom cloud' into the debate, coincided with the formation" of WHIG. The group included the two individual who have been confirmed as leakers, Karl Rove and Lewis Libby. [Washington Post, 8/10/03]
Andrew Card

White House Chief of Staff (2001-Present)

CARD GIVEN A TWELVE-HOUR HEAD START ON THE INVESTIGATION: On September 29, 2003, the Department of Justice informed then-White House counsel Alberto Gonzales that it was launching a criminal investigation into the leak of Valerie Plame's identity. Gonzales was instructed to notify the White House staff to preserve all documents related to the case. By his own admission, Gonzales didn't comply with the request immediately; he went to Chief of Staff Andrew Card and told him that the White House staff would be told to preserve all documents related to the leak the following morning. As a result, Card had a 12-hour window to tip off White House staff about the request - an amount of time that "would give people time to shred documents and do any number of things." [CBS, 7/24/05; Democracy Now; Fox News, 12/31/03]

CARD WAS ON AIR FORCE ONE: Then-Secretary of State Colin Powell was on Air Force One accompanying President Bush on the July 2003 trip to Africa. A "senior State Department official confirmed that, while on the trip, Powell had a department intelligence report on whether Iraq had sought uranium from Niger." The State Department memo in question - a "key piece of evidence in the CIA leak investigation" - stated that "Wilson's wife had attended a meeting at the CIA where the decision was made to send Wilson to Niger." The memorandum "contained information about CIA officer Valerie Plame in a paragraph marked '(S)' for secret, a clear indication that any Bush administration official who read it should have been aware the information was classified..." [Newsweek, 8/9/04; Washington Post, 7/20/05, 7/20/05; Knight Ridder, 3/5/04]

CARD INITIATED CONVERSATION BETWEEN TENET, BUSH ABOUT INVESTIGATION: Two days into the Justice Department investigation, Card initiated a conversation between President Bush and then-director of the CIA George Tenet about the leak investigation. Though Tenet was not planning on discussing the issue with the President at the daily intelligence briefing, it was Card who brought up the subject. [New York Times, 10/5/03]

MEMBER OF WHITE HOUSE IRAQ GROUP: Andrew Card was the founder and a "regular participant" in the weekly meetings of the Bush Administration's White House Iraq Group. The main purpose of the group was the systematic coordination of the "marketing" of going to war with Iraq as well as selling the war here at home. One clear example of this fact is that "the escalation of nuclear rhetoric" during the pre-war stage, "including the introduction of the term 'mushroom cloud' into the debate, coincided with the formation" of WHIG. The group included the two individual who have been confirmed as leakers, Karl Rove and Lewis Libby. [Washington Post, 8/10/03]
Alberto Gonzales

Chief White House Counsel (2001-2005); Attorney General (2005-Present)

GONZALES INTERVIEWED BY THE GRAND JURY: Gonzales testified in front of the Grand Jury about the Plame leak on June 18, 2004. [Washington Post, 6/19/04]

GONZALES WAITED TWELVE HOURS BEFORE INFORMING WHITE HOUSE STAFF OF INVESTIGATION: On 9/29/03, the Department of Justice informed White House counsel Alberto Gonzales that it was launching a criminal investigation into the leak of Valerie Plame's identity. Gonzales was instructed to notify the White House staff to preserve all documents related to the case. Gonzales, however, waited 12 hours before informing White House staff about the investigation. Instead, he told only Chief of Staff Andrew Card about the inquiry, in effect giving Card a 12-hour window to tip off White House staff, including Karl Rove, about the request. [Face the Nation, 7/24/05]

GONZALES SERVED AS 'GATEKEEPER' OF JUSTICE DEPARTMENT INVESTIGATION: After the Justice Department launched its investigation into the Plame leak, Gonzales was the chief advisor to White House staffers on complying with the investigation. He also acted as "gatekeeper," invoking "executive privilege" in order to hold back certain sensitive White House documents from investigators. Gonzales personally spent days screening all requested documents before handing them over to investigators. [CBS, 10/7/03]
Mary Matalin

Senior Advisor to Vice President Dick Cheney (2001-2002)

MATALIN WORKED CLOSELY WITH VICE PRESIDENT DICK CHENEY: Mary Matalin was senior advisor in Vice President Dick Cheney's office at the time of the leak. While in the White House, she worked closely with Scooter Libby - the Vice President's chief of staff who was one of Matt Cooper's sources. [Washington Post, 2/3/01]

MATALIN INTERVIEWED BY THE GRAND JURY: Matalin testified in front of the Grand Jury about the Plame leak on January 21, 2004. [Washington Post, 2/10/04]

MEMBER OF THE WHITE HOUSE IRAQ GROUP: Matlin was a regular participant in the weekly meetings of the Bush Administration's White House Iraq Group. The main purpose of the group was the systematic coordination of the "marketing" of going to war with Iraq as well as selling the war here at home. One clear example of this fact is that "the escalation of nuclear rhetoric" during the pre-war stage, "including the introduction of the term 'mushroom cloud' into the debate, coincided with the formation" of WHIG. The group included the two individual who have been confirmed as leakers, Karl Rove and Lewis Libby. [Washington Post, 8/10/03]
Ari Fleischer

White House Press Secretary (2001-2003)

IN EARLY JULY, FLEISCHER READ MEMO ABOUT PLAME ON AIR FORCE ONE: "On the flight to Africa, Fleischer was seen perusing the State Department memo on Wilson and his wife, according to a former administration official who was also on the trip." [Bloomberg, 7/18/05]

FLEISCHER TOLD GRAND JURY HE NEVER SAW THE MEMO: "Mr. Fleischer told the grand jury that he never saw the document, a person familiar with the testimony said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the prosecutor's admonitions about not disclosing what is said to the grand jury." [New York Times, 7/23/05]

FLEISCHER AMONG FIRST GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS TO CRITICIZE WILSON: Newsday reported, "In the subpoenaed July 12 [2003] transcript of a briefing in Nigeria, then-press secretary Ari Fleischer called Wilson a "lower-level official" and said Wilson had made flawed and incomplete statements." The transcript of the briefing was pulled from the White House site but has since been restored. [Newsday, 3/6/04; White House, 7/12/03]

FLEISCHER TALKED TO NOVAK ONE DAY AFTER HIS COLUMN WAS PUBLISHED: Fleischer's "telephone log showed a call on the day after Mr. Wilson's article appeared from Mr. Novak, the columnist who, on July 14, 2003, was the first to report Ms. Wilson's identity." [New York Times, 7/23/05]


FLEISCHER A FOCUS OF FITZGERALD INVESTIGATION: "'Ari's name keeps popping up,' said one source familiar with special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's probe. Another source close to the probe added there is renewed interest in Fleischer, 'based on Fitzgerald's questions.'" [New York Daily News, 7/15/05]
Susan Ralston

Personal assistant to Karl Rove (2001-Present)

RALSTON IS ROVE'S RIGHT-HAND: ABC News reported on August 2, 2005 that Susan Ralston, Karl Rove's long-time right-hand, testified before the grand jury. The National Journal reported, "If Karl Rove is Bush's main man, then it's Ralston who makes this White House go - because she's indispensable to Rove." According to Newsweek, Ralston was suggested to Rove by ethically-troubled lobbyist Jack Abramoff, for whom she previously served as a top aide. [ABC The Note, 8/2/05; Newsweek, 4/20/05; National Journal, 6/18/05]

RALSTON WAS ASKED WHY ROVE'S CALL WITH MATT COOPER NOT ENTERED INTO PHONE LOGS: "At one point, the aides were asked why Mr. Cooper's call to Mr. Rove was not entered in Mr. Rove's office telephone logs. There was no record of the call, the person who has been briefed said, because Mr. Cooper did not call Mr. Rove directly, but was transferred to his office from a White House switchboard. The aides have worked closely with Mr. Rove, screening his calls and coordinating his activities with other White House officials. Mr. Hernandez had been an aide to President Bush since his successful campaign for governor of Texas in 1994, and Ms. Ralston is known as one of Mr. Rove's most trusted associates." [New York Times, 8/3/05]

FITZGERALD MAY WANT RALSTON'S TESTIMONY FOR SOMETHING BESIDES COOPER CONVERSATION: "But a person familiar with Cooper's testimony said that Ralston's name did not come up during the reporter's grand jury appearance. That indicates that Fitzgerald may be interested in her testimony for other reasons." [Los Angeles Times, 8/3/05]
Israel Hernandez

Personal assistant to President Bush (2001-2005)

ROVE AIDE HERNANDEZ TESTIFIED: ABC News reported on August 2, 2005 that Israel Hernandez, a Rove aide in July 2003 during the leak of Valerie Plame, testified before the grand jury. Hernandez was tapped as assistant secretary of commerce. [ABC The Note, 8/2/05; NY Daily News, 6/24/05]

John Hannah

Aide to Vice President Cheney

HANNAH A "MAJOR PLAYER" IN FITZGERALD PROBE: According to the UPI, "The investigation, which is continuing, could lead to indictments, a Justice Department official said. According to these sources, John Hannah and Cheney's chief of staff Lewis 'Scooter' Libby were the two Cheney employees. 'We believe that Hannah was the major player in this,' one federal law enforcement officer said. Calls to the vice president's office were not returned. Hannah and Libby did not return calls. [UPI, 2/4/04]

FITZGERALD PRESSURED HANNAH TO NAME SUPERIORS: The strategy of the FBI is to make clear to Hannah 'that he faces a real possibility of doing jail time,' as a way to pressure him to name superiors, one federal law enforcement official said.'" [UPI, 2/4/04]

INVOLVEMENT IN LEAK PROBE: "Officials who testified or were questioned by investigators also included John Hannah, Mr. Cheney's principal deputy national security adviser." [NYT, 10/19/05]

HANNAH REPORTEDLY WORRIED ABOUT INDICTMENT: "John Hannah, an aide to Cheney and one of two dozen people questioned in the CIA leak case, has told friends in recent months he is worried he may be implicated by the investigation, according to two U.S. officials." [Washington Post, 10/20/05]
Scott McClellan

Deputy White House Press Secretary (2001-2003); White House Press Secretary (2003-Present)

MCCLELLAN WAS NOT ON AFRICA TRIP: "Fleischer and Bartlett were with Bush on a July 7-12 trip to Africa just prior to publication of Novak's column, and McClellan, then Fleischer's deputy, was on vacation." [Associated Press, 2/11/04]

MCCLELLAN SAID THE PRESIDENT "KNOWS" KARL WASN'T INVOLVED: "Q All right. Let me just follow up. You said this morning, 'The President knows' that Karl Rove wasn't involved. How does he know that? MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I've made it very clear that it was a ridiculous suggestion in the first place. I saw some comments this morning from the person who made that suggestion, backing away from that. And I said it is simply not true. So, I mean, it's public knowledge. I've said that it's not true. And I have spoken with Karl Rove..." [White House, 9/29/03]

MCCLELLAN SAID THERE WAS NO EVIDENCE ANYONE IN THE WHITE HOUSE OR VICE PRESIDENT'S OFFICE WAS INVOLVED: "There's been nothing, absolutely nothing, brought to our attention to suggest any White House involvement, and that includes the vice president's office as well." [White House, 9/29/03]

MCCLELLAN SAID IF ANYONE IN THE ADMINISTRATION WAS INVOLVED THEY'D BE FIRED: "If anyone in this administration was involved in it, they would no longer be in this administration." [White House, 9/29/03]

MCCLELLAN SAID ROVE, LIBBY AND ABRAMS WERE NOT INVOLVED: "Q Scott, earlier this week you told us that neither Karl Rove, Elliot Abrams nor Lewis Libby disclosed any classified information with regard to the leak. I wondered if you could tell us more specifically whether any of them told any reporter that Valerie Plame worked for the CIA? MR. McCLELLAN: Those individuals - I talked - I spoke with those individuals, as I pointed out, and those individuals assured me they were not involved in this. And that's where it stands." [White House, 10/10/03]

MCCLELLAN REFUSES TO COMMENT FURTHER BECAUSE "THE INVESTIGATION IS ONGOING": Even though he made his previous comments while the investigation was ongoing. [White House, 7/11/05]

MCCLELLAN INTERVIEWED BY FBI: Time magazine revealed in mid-October 2003 that "the FBI has interviewed more than two dozen officials in several Washington offices, including White House press secretary Scott McClellan and Bush political adviser Karl Rove as well as other West Wing aides." [Time, 10/27/03]
Dan Bartlett

White House Communications Director (2001-2005); Councelor to the President (2005-Present)

BARTLETT WAS ON AIR FORCE ONE: Bartlett was one of several senior administration officials on a July 2003 flight to Africa. During the trip, Bartlett gave a background briefing in which he urged reporters to look into the CIA's sole in sending Joe Wilson to Niger. The briefing has not drawn "substantial interest" the prosecutor's office recently. One source for a New York Times article on the subject said Prosecutor Fitzgerald knew about the briefing but was not pursuing it. A different source for the same article said the Mr. Bartlett did not see the State Department memo that was otherwise witnessed on the plane. [NYT, 7/27/05]

BARTLETT TESTIFIED BEFORE THE GRAND JURY: According to Anne Kornblut of the New York Times, citing "a person who has been briefed on the case," Bartlett told investigators that "he did not know who Ms. Wilson was" when her name was leaked. Bartlett's attorney has refused to discuss the case, citing requests by the special counsel. [[NYT, 7/27/05; Washington Post, 7/21/05]

BARTLETT HAS LONGSTANDING TIES TO KARL ROVE: Rove and Bartlett go way back, and the influence of the former still has a tendency to affect the later. As Newsweek reports: "Technically, Rove was in charge of politics, not 'communications.' But, as he saw it, the two were one and the same-and he used his heavyweight status to push the message machine run by his Texas protege and friend, Dan Bartlett." [Newsweek July 25, 2005.] He has worked closely with both Bush and Rove since 1994, when he worked on Bush's first successful campaign for governor. Before that, Bartlett was an employee of Karl Rove and associates, a political consulting firm established by Karl Rove after the 1980 primary defeat of George HW Bush against Ronald Reagan. [Link; White House]

BARTLETT OFFERED CONTRADICTORY EXPLANATIONS OF 16 WORDS: In July of 2003, Bartlett, referring the infamous "16 words" in Bush's State of the Union address, told reporters that "there was no debate or questions with regard to that line when it was signed off on." The very same week Condoleeza Rice told reporters that there was "discussion on that specific sentence, so that it reflected better what the CIA thought." [Washington Post, 7/15/03;=]

MEMBER OF WHITE HOUSE IRAQ GROUP: Bartlett was a regular participant in the weekly meetings of the Bush Administration's White House Iraq Group. The main purpose of the group was the systematic coordination of the "marketing" of going to war with Iraq as well as selling the war here at home. One clear example of this fact is that "the escalation of nuclear rhetoric" during the pre-war stage, "including the introduction of the term 'mushroom cloud' into the debate, coincided with the formation" of WHIG. The group included the two individual who have been confirmed as leakers, Karl Rove and Lewis Libby. [Washington Post, 8/10/03]
Claire Buchan

Deputy Press Secretary (2001-2005)

BUCHAN ANNOUNCED THAT PRESIDENT BUSH HAD SPOKEN WITH A LAWYER REGARDING LEAK: On Wednesday, June 2, 2004, Buchan announced that Bush had consulted a lawyer, Jim Sharp, about the growing leak controversy. "The president has said that everyone should cooperate in this matter and that would include himself," said Buchan at the time. [Associated Press, 6/2/04]

BUCHAN TESTIFIED BEFORE THE GRAND JURY: Buchan testified on February 6, 2004-the same day as Adam Levine, a former press office employee, and Scott McClellan. "I was pleased to cooperate," said Buchan at the time. She has declined to reveal any details of her testimony. [Fox News, 2/11/04]

BUCHAN CLAIMED THAT NO WHITE HOUSE STAFF HAD BEEN ASKED TO SIGN WAIVERS: Despite the fact that the White House is "fully cooperating," Buchan said that no one had been asked to sign a form waiving the right to privacy. White House officials said that privacy waivers were routinely sought from government employees in the course of investigations to find the sources of sensitive or classified information, even though the procedure was not widely known. [NYT, 1/3/04].
Catherine Martin

Assistant to the Vice President for Public Affairs (2001-2004)

MARTIN DENIED THAT CHENEY HAD ANY KNOWLEDGE OF WILSON OR HIS REPORT: In response to claims that Joe Wilson had circulated his Niger report prior to the State of the Union Address, Martin denied that Cheney had any knowledge of it. "The vice president doesn't know Joe Wilson and did not know about his trip until he read about it in the press," said Martin. [The New Yorker, 10/20/03]

MARTIN INTERVIEWED BY FEDERAL INVESTIGATORS: The FBI interviewed Martin about the leak. It is suspected, though uncertain, that Martin testified before the grand jury. [Newsday, 2/24/04; Washington Post, 11/26/04]

PROSECUTORS EXPRESS INTEREST IN CALLS MADE TO AND BY MARTIN: Prosecutors have reportedly asked about calls made to and from Martin's cell phone in July of 2003. [NYT, 2/10/03]

MARTIN CLAIMED IGNORANCE OF WHETHER OR NOT LIBBY HAD TALKED TO NOVAK: According to a Newsweek article, Martin denied knowledge of whether or not Scooter Libby had talked to columnist Bob Novak. "I don't know the answer," Martin said when asked about Scooter's possibly involvement. Her response is considered part of a larger White House tactic to avoid answering such questions. [Newsweek, 10/8/03]
Jennifer Millerwise

Spokeswoman for Vice President Cheney (2001-2003)

FORMER CHENEY SPOKESWOMAN: She served as Deputy Assistant for Communications and Press Secretary to Vice President Dick Cheney from 2001 to 2003. During the first 10 months of the Bush Administration, she was Assistant Press Secretary in the White House Office of the Press Secretary. [CIA website]


QUESTIONED BY FEDERAL PROSECUTORS IN LEAK PROBE: Bloomberg reported that she was questioned by Fitzgerald's team "about the vice president's knowledge of the anti-Wilson campaign and his dealings on it with Libby, his chief of staff." [Bloomberg, 10/17/05]
David Wurmser

Cheney assistant on national security

WURMSER REPORTEDLY A KEY TO THE PROBE: "Special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, meanwhile, is combing over testimony by John Hannah and David Wurmser, national security aides to Vice President Cheney who sources questioned under oath say may be the key to the probe." [NY Daily News, 10/20/05]

FBI AGENTS HAVE PURSUED WURMSER'S ROLE: "FBI agents also have asked current and former officials about Richard Perle of the defense board and David Wurmser, an Iran specialist and principal deputy assistant for national security affairs in Cheney's office, according to sources familiar with or involved in the case." [Washington Post, 9/4/04]

INVESTIGATION IS LOOKING AT WURMSER, PERLE, AND FEITH MEMO: "Some familiar with the case suggest that the FBI's investigation is looking back as far as 1996, when Feith, Richard Perle, Feith's boss at the Pentagon in the 1980s and until recently chairman of the Pentagon's Defense Policy Board, and David Wurmser, a co-founder of OSP who is now Cheney's Middle East adviser, wrote a radical memo, called 'A Clean Break,' to incoming Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calling for confrontation with Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and the PLO." [The Nation, 10/4/04]

WURMSER WAS SUBJECT OF ANOTHER FBI PROBE: "According to a government source, the Pentagon's National Criminal Investigative division began probes in 2002-with FBI guidance-to determine who leaked secret war plans to The New York Times and The Washington Post in June 2002. At the State Department, diplomatic security launched an investigation into David Wurmser, an aide to John Bolton, for leaking a letter from Secretary of State Colin Powell to the Pentagon objecting to the Syria Accountability Act. The letter ended up being the basis for a story in The Jerusalem Post." [The New Republic, 10/10/05]
Colin Powell

Secretary of State (2001-2005)

POWELL WAS ON AIR FORCE ONE: Then-Secretary of State Colin Powell was on Air Force One accompanying President Bush on the July 2003 trip to Africa. A "senior State Department official confirmed that, while on the trip, Powell had a department intelligence report on whether Iraq had sought uranium from Niger." The State Department memo in question - a "key piece of evidence in the CIA leak investigation" - stated that "Wilson's wife had attended a meeting at the CIA where the decision was made to send Wilson to Niger." The memorandum "contained information about CIA officer Valerie Plame in a paragraph marked '(S)' for secret, a clear indication that any Bush administration official who read it should have been aware the information was classified..." There are also indications that Fitzgerald subpoenaed phone records from Air Force One - where the memo was first seen by many administration officials - to "determine whether presidential aides used the aircraft's phones to leak the name of a CIA employee to reporters." [Newsweek, 8/9/04; Washington Post, 7/20/05; Knight Ridder, 3/5/04]

POWELL TESTIFIED BEFORE THE GRAND JURY: Though not a subject of the inquiry, then-Secretary of State Colin Powell testified before the federal grand jury on July 16, 2004. Powell's appearance was seen "as the latest sign the probe being conducted by prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald [was] highly active and broader than [had] been publicly known. Sources close to the case say prosecutors were interested in discussions Powell had while with President George W. Bush on a trip to Africa in July 2003, just before Plame's identity was leaked to columnist Robert Novak." Sources saw the decision to question Powell as indicative of "the thoroughness with which Fitzgerald is conducting the probe-and that knowledge about Plame was circulated at the highest levels of the administration." [Newsweek, 8/9/04]
Karen Hughes

White House Aide (2001-2002); Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy (2005-Present)

HUGHES INTERVIEWED BY SPECIAL PROSECUTOR: In the questionnaire for her confirmation proceedings, Karen Hughes listed that she had been interviewed by the special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald. [New York Times, 7/22/05]

HUGHES DECRIED LEAK, DENIED ROVE'S INVOLVMENT: In her book, Ten Minutes From Normal, Hughes discussed the leak, calling it "wrong" and "unfair" to Bush. Hughes earlier said the leak was "disruptive to democracy." In her book, she said whoever conducted the leak "should come forward and not hide behind journalistic ethics for his or her self-protection." She added, "The use of unnamed sources has become a convenient way for too many political operatives to hide and avoid accountability for their statements." Additionally, Hughes commented that she knew Rove wasn't involved in the leak because "Karl has said he was not involved." [Ten Minutes From Normal; POE News, 10/2/03]

HUGHES INVOLVED IN DRAFTING 2003 STATE OF THE UNION WITH FALSE URANIUM CLAIM: In his 2003 State of the Union address, President Bush declared, "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa." It has been reported that Karen Hughes was "involved in drafting the speech." She said her primary goal in the process was to answer: "Why is Saddam Hussein's continued defiance a threat to our country and to peace in the world?" Intelligence from the CIA and the State Department at that time indicated Iraq was not attempting to acquire uranium from Niger. Furthermore, the inclusion of the false statement led to apologies from Condi Rice, Stephen Hadley, Ari Fleischer, and George Tenet. Instead of addressing the allegations at the time they were made, Hughes defended the false intelligence and devised a communications strategy that questioned the motives of those who criticized the president. [President Bush, 1/28/03; The Houston Chronicle, 1/27/03; Baltimore Sun, 7/23/03; Washington Post, 7/20/05; MSNBC, 9/28/03; White House Press Briefing, 7/29/03; CNN, 7/11/03; USA Today, 3/14/02]

HUGHES HAS PREVIOUS HISTORY OF SMEARING WHITE HOUSE CRITICS: Hughes "was an advocate of the howitzer treatment" of the former Bush counter-terrorism chief and White House critic Richard Clarke. In an attempt to attack and smear the character of Richard Clarke, the White House released numerous pieces of information that were previously classified, including an email from Clarke to Condi Rice shortly after 9-11 and Clarke's resignation letter. The White House also revealed Clarke to be the source of an anonymous background briefing he had done on behalf of the president. However, the White House refused Clarke's request to declassify his correspondence with Rice prior to 9-11 about the threats that were being ignored. Hughes admitted on ABC's 20/20 that she was involved in these efforts against Clarke: "I'm involved in White House discussions about those issues... I think, from personal knowledge, that many of the things he said are not true." [New York Times, 3/28/04; CNN, 4/9/04; CNN, 3/4/04; ABC's 20/20, 3/29/04]

MEMBER OF WHITE HOUSE IRAQ GROUP: Hughes was a regular participant in the weekly meetings of the Bush Administration's White House Iraq Group. The main purpose of the group was the systematic coordination of the "marketing" of going to war with Iraq as well as selling the war here at home. One clear example of this fact is that "the escalation of nuclear rhetoric" during the pre-war stage, "including the introduction of the term 'mushroom cloud' into the debate, coincided with the formation" of WHIG. The group included the two individual who have been confirmed as leakers, Karl Rove and Lewis Libby. [Washington Post, 8/10/03]
Adam Levine

Communications Aide (2001-2003)

LEVINE WAS ONE OF FEW PRESS AIDES TO SPEAK TO REPORTERS DURING AFRICA TRIP: "Levine was one of the few press officials at the White House to answer reporters' calls [during the Africa trip]." [CNN, 2/10/04]

LEVINE AMONG THE FIRST WHITE HOUSE OFFICIALS TO TESTIFY BEFORE GRAND JURY: Levine testified on February 6, 2004. "Levine's testimony was described as 'brief' and non-combative, and followed several interviews with FBI agents. The source said there were many questions about which reporters [Levine] and other senior officials talked to, suggesting investigators are trying to get as much information as possible from press officials, knowing the reporters are unlikely to talk." [Newsday 2/24/04; CNN, 2/10/04]

LEVINE SAID TO TESTIFY ABOUT 'WHITE HOUSE PROCEDURES': "Dan French, former U.S. attorney for New York's Northern District, and Don Kinsella, the district's longtime criminal bureau chief, are representing a former White House press aide, Adam Levine 'The President of the United States has asked his staff to cooperate, and even though Levine's no longer on the staff he's adhering to the President's request,' French said. 'He has been called to testify before the federal grand jury concerning his knowledge of White House procedures, in particular phone calls with reporters. He was called to testify and we represented him in those proceedings.'" [The Times Union (Albany, NY) 2/12/04]

LEVINE LEFT ADMINISTRATION IN DECEMBER '03, BUT RELATIONSHIP CONTINUED: New York Times: "Levine left the Bush administration in December after working as the principal liaison between the White House and television networks." Later, the Washington Post describes Levine as "a former White House aide who portrayed Russert in mock sessions with administration officials," referring to White House prep for President Bush in advance of his Meet the Press appearance in early February '04. [NYT, 2/10/04; Washington Post, 2/5/04]

LAST-MINUTE TESTIMONY FROM LEVINE: The Washington Post reported that prosecutors conducted "last-minute interviews with Adam Levine, a member of the White House communications team at the time of the leak, about his conversations with Rove." [Washington Post, 10/27/05]
Bob Joseph

Director for Nonproliferation at National Security Council (2001-2005); Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs (2005-Present)

JOSEPH SPECIFICALLY ASKED FOR INCLUSION OF URANIUM CLAIM IN STATE OF THE UNION: The New York Times reported that senior intelligence officials said that Alan Foley, a C.I.A. expert on weapons of mass destruction, said "he was asked by Bob Joseph, the director for nonproliferation at the National Security Council, whether the president's address could include a reference to Iraq's seeking uranium from Niger." [NYT, 7/18/03]

JOSEPH GUIDED WMD CASE AGAINST IRAQ: Bob Joseph, "the senior director dealing with weapons of mass destruction, guided the process of building the case against Iraq" from the White House. Thus, it appears likely he would have seen the State Department memo that contained Plame's identity. [Newsweek, 9/30/03]
Vice President Dick Cheney

FITZGERALD FOCUSING ON DIRECT CHENEY INVOLVEMENT: Bloomberg reported, "A special counsel is focusing on whether Vice President Dick Cheney played a role in leaking a covert CIA agent's name, according to people familiar with the probe that already threatens top White House aides Karl Rove and Lewis Libby." [Bloomberg, 10/17/05]

CHENEY INTERVIEWED BY FEDERAL PROSECUTORS: "Vice President Dick Cheney was recently interviewed by federal prosecutors who asked whether he knew of anyone at the White House who had improperly disclosed the identity of an undercover C.I.A. officer. Mr. Cheney was also asked about conversations with senior aides, including his chief of staff, I. Lewis Libby . In addition, those people said, Mr. Cheney was asked whether he knew of any concerted effort by White House aides to name the officer. It was not clear how Mr. Cheney responded to the prosecutors' questions. [Cheney] was not questioned under oath and he has not been asked to appear before the grand jury." [NYT, 6/5/04]

CHENEY SEEMS TO BE THE COMMON DENOMINATOR: Four members of the Vice President's staff - "Scooter" Libby, John Hannah, Mary Matalin, and Catherine Martin - have either been implicated in the leak or testified before the grand jury. In addition, Stephen Hadley worked under Cheney at the Defense Department and is considered by some to be his "eyes and ears" on the NSC staff. [Washington Post, 7/25/01]

CHENEY AND LIBBY PRESSURED CIA ON URANIUM: Cheney and Libby visited the CIA headquarters to engage the CIA analysts directly on this issue of uranium acquisition in Africa, "creating an environment in which some analysts felt they were being pressured to make their assessments fit with the Bush administration's policy objectives." [Washington Post, 6/5/03]
President George W. Bush

WAS BUSH INVOLVED IN THE LEAK? In July 2005, the New York Times raised the possibility that Bush could be involved in the leak. "It is still not clear what the investigation into the leak of a C.I.A. operative's identity will mean for President Bush. So far the disclosures about the involvement of Karl Rove, among others, have not exacted any substantial political price from the administration. And nobody has suggested that the investigation directly implicates the president. Yet Mr. Bush has yet to address some uncomfortable questions that he may not be able to evade indefinitely There is the broader issue of whether Mr. Bush was aware of any effort by his aides to use the C.I.A. officer's identity to undermine the standing of her husband, a former diplomat who had publicly accused the administration of twisting its prewar intelligence about Iraq's nuclear program." [NYT, 7/24/05]

BUSH QUESTIONED BY FITZGERALD FOR OVER AN HOUR: On June 24, 2004, special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald and several of his assistants questioned the president for about 70 minutes in the Oval Office. Bush retained a private lawyer, Jim Sharp, for the interview. A prominent First Amendment lawyer, Floyd Abrams, said "It's hard to believe the special prosecutor would be burdening the president with an interview unless they had testimony to the effect that the president had information." [Washington Post, 2/25/04]

STARR DEPUTY SAID BUSH INTERVIEW SUGGESTED HIGH-LEVEL INVOLVEMENT IN LEAK: The New York Daily News reported, "The Bush interview 'indicates there's obviously a belief that the leak was at a high level,' said Sol Wisenberg, a former [Ken] Starr deputy who questioned Clinton. 'The President usually doesn't meet and knock around ideas with midlevel staffers.'" [New York Daily News, 6/25/04]

BUSH WAS ABOARD AIR FORCE ONE WITH THE STATE DEPARTMENT MEMO: A classified State Department report that contained Valerie Plame's identity was sent to Secretary of State Colin Powell and other administration officials who were aboard Air Force One with the president on July 7, 2003. The extent of the circulation of the memo is not known. [Washington Post, 7/21/05]

BUSH CLAIMED TO WANT TO GET TO THE BOTTOM OF THE LEAK: On September 29, 2003, a senior administration official told the Washington Post that Bush said, "I want to get to the bottom of this," during a daily staff meeting which Karl Rove attended. [Washington Post 9/30/03]

BUSH TOLD TENET HE WOULD COOPERATE WITH THE INVESTIGATION: A conversation between the president and Tenet about the investigation did not consume, according to Andy Card, "any significant amount of time or discussion or angst. It was basically, 'We're cooperating, you're cooperating, I'm glad to see the process is moving forward the way it should.'" [NYT, 10/4/03]

BUSH REPORTEDLY KNEW ROVE WAS A LEAKER TWO YEARS AGO: "An angry President Bush rebuked chief political guru Karl Rove two years ago for his role in the Valerie Plame affair, sources told the Daily News. 'He made his displeasure known to Karl,' a presidential counselor told The News. 'He made his life miserable about this.'" [NY Daily News, 10/19/05]

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The New Pearl Harbor

Scientific Panel on 911: "Terror attacks of 9/11 were faked; Al-Qaeda is the creation of western spy agencies"

A. K. Dewdney, PhD
Coordinator Scientific Panel Investigating 911
April 5th, 2006

The evidence is in, the analyses have been made, and conclusions have been drawn by scientists, engineers and other experts: the so-called terror attacks of September 11, 2001 were faked. There is, moreover, independent evidence from multiple and credible sources that Al Qaeda is the creation of western intelligence agencies.

If you have any questions concerning these assertions, visit http://www.physics911.net

The Scientific Panel Investigating Nine-Eleven has formed around this website. The Panel consists of over thirty experts in the fields of science, engineering, architecture, intelligence, the military, medicine, Islamic studies and other disciplines. The members are willing to stand up and be counted, even the ones with the highest public profiles. You will find them listed on this page: http://physics911.net/spine.htm

Of course, the Physics 911 website is hardly alone in cyberspace. There are now literally hundreds of skeptical websites on the internet (with only a handful of dissenting sites defending the official story). There are other working groups with websites, as well, not to mention thousands of people doing their own inquiries into 911, and millions of people skeptical of the official story (including 48% of New Yorkers, according to a Zogby poll taken in 2005).

We are now living in what has been called the Age of Synthetic Terror. In contrast to the corporate media line, "terrorism" is the brainchild and product of western intelligence agencies. Its purpose is to foment domestic anger at Muslims in order to justify a program of a) invasion of sovereign nations, b) seizure of their oil resources, c) mass murder designed to look like sectarian violence, d) establishing permanent military bases and e) the installation of puppet governments in the countries so affected.

It follows that the mass murder of 9/11, blamed on Arab/Muslim patsies, was but the opening scene of a drama that would have many acts, with hundreds of thousands of murders to follow.

There is one and only one way to bring this program of synthetic terror to an end. The knowledge that we have acquired must be made public and made public soon. The next massive military operation may be against Iran. Such an attack would require a triggering episode in which a handful of Muslims, Iranian this time, would be blamed for the bombing of a western target, possibly involving a nuclear device, given the (pretended) concern over Iran's nuclear program. (Think Iraq. Think WMDs.)

How long will it take members of the corporate media to break free with this story? Their colleagues may be unaware that the country of Venezuela has undertaken an international inquiry into 9/11. They may be unaware that Charlie Sheen's allegations are but the tip of an iceberg or unaware of the deception in Iraq or that the Osama tapes are faked.

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9-11 and the IMPOSSIBLE: The Pentagon

by Ralph Omholt

"When you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains - however improbable - must be the truth!" - Doyle

Almost nothing in the "official" 9-11 account proves to be factual. For all the purported U.S. failures; no one was punished - most were rewarded.

At the 9-11 Pentagon, the world witnessed a fire and suggestions of explosions. Airport fire trucks rushed to the scene of a purported "crash" site - without discovering an airplane. There is no viable evidence of burning jet fuel. Just the statement, "They say it was an airplane." The pre-collapse Pentagon section showed no 'forward-moving' damage. The damage is at the wrong location. The expected "crash" damage doesn't exist. There was no particular physical evidence of the expected "wreckage." There was no tail, no wings; no damage consistent with a B-757 "crash." Even the Pentagon lawn was undamaged! The geometry of the day certifies the 'official' account as a blatant lie. The few aircraft parts discovered at the Pentagon are highly suspect. The dramatic "witness" accounts lack supporting physical evidence - with the exception of those who described the incredibly few aircraft parts. All images show that the building wasn't aggressively searched for survivors. Lacking any 'expected' clues, one is left to ask "Who said this was an airplane crash, in the first place?"

The purported Flight 93 crash site in Pennsylvania is quite similar.

Since 9-11, it was discovered that there was no expected Air Force fighter response. By all appearances, the expected fighters were held back from interfering with; or witnessing the unfolding events. The fighter onboard electronics would have not only offered an intercept target, but would have displayed and recorded the forbidden reality of the day. Of particular interest would be the fate of two obviously missing airliners.

The alleged hijackers apparently were not on board the aircraft! Their names were not on any passenger manifests - yet shown. The 'names' of at least seven of the alleged hijackers were discovered to be still alive - with no questions being asked about whom the real hijackers were. No attempt has been made to discover the "known terrorists." There were at least four hijackers - all evidence pointing to their being highly qualified jet pilots - not zealous Arab wannabes.

As the names of "al Qaeda" and "bin Laden" continue to be pandered in the shadows of 'terrorism,' journalists continue to discover that the bin Laden family was given the treatment of royalty, immediately following 9-11.

This just can't be, yet ......

The legacy of 9-11 is that America - and its Constitution - is far more threatened from the White House, than the caves of Afghanistan.

This site pleads for the preservation of the U.S. Constitution, the admirable American sense of justice and the proud traditional American way of life.

Blind faith is self-inflicted! Whenever confusion is encountered, it is necessary to somehow find a "grounding point," call it a "benchmark." That undeniable and absolutely trustworthy point of reference. Next, it's necessary to gather ACCURATE peripheral data, which can be trusted - no matter how kind or how harsh it may be. Thereafter, whether lost in the woods - or in politics- the truth may be discovered. Such is the case with 9-11.

The "official version" of 9-11 just doesn't stand up, against even elementary scrutiny. Despite the "official" denials, there were overwhelming warnings of suicide hijackers; but no warnings to the public or to airline pilots. The selective maintenance of a badly outdated hijacking procedure set the operational stage for the "official" version of 9-11.

In David Ray Griffin's book on the 9/11 Commission Report - "The 9/11 Commission Report: Omissions and Distortions" - Griffin addresses the Report; describing these same issues, in great detail. Griffin reveals where the Report is flawed and how. It should be noted that the observations of this Web site are not the least bit unique.

A little bit at a time, America - and the world - is taking a step back to examine 9-11, 2001 for what is factually represented:

- Terrorism warnings without response.
- Terrorist investigations stopped from the White House.
- Hijackings without response.
- Hijackers without identity.
- Terrorists who never were.
- The known family of the acclaimed terrorist protected from the White House.
- An informed President who doesn't react; later running from harm without reason.
- Named terrorists who are not pursued.
- Derelict leaders not reprimanded.
- Major crimes without investigation or prosecution.
- Terrorist resources protected by the White House.
- Institutional Criminals rewarded by D.C.

For the most dramatic impression, let's start with the scene of the 9-11 Pentagon -


A fire and apparent explosion. The airport fire trucks rushed to the scene, failing to discover any evidence of an airplane. Examining the photos and videotape of the day, it's obvious that the fire is neither competently fought (if the "official account is the least bit accurate), nor is the target building aggressively searched for survivors by the supposed rescuers. A secret facility with no security; before, during or after. An attack on the nation's military headquarters - with no police or military perimeter set up. Hundreds of casualties anticipated; without a consistent ambulance response. All the rescue assets are on location, but held back from the fire scene.

One is challenged to discover how much more could be wrong in such a picture.

Disregarding passionate and otherwise tempting lies, the only truth which can be trusted in the "official" account of 9-11, is that two aircraft hit the WTC towers. The rest is an incredible collection of clever lies and obstruction of truth. "I didn't SAY it; I repeated it" doesn't equate to telling the truth. Especially when the information 'sources' keep their jobs.


While it stretches anyone's imagination, it is appropriate to examine the extent of where the selective airline security procedures left America - and the world. By all indicators, the American airline industry is set for another 9-11. Airport security has gone from being a joke to a being a Gestapo joke.

Again, there's that peculiar nagging issue, concerning 9-11 - the alleged hijackers apparently were not on board the aircraft! Their names were not on any passenger manifests - yet shown. The names of at least seven of the alleged hijackers are still alive - with no questions being asked about who the real hijackers were. Obviously, there were at least four hijackers. We may be certain that they were highly qualified jet pilots - not Arab wannabes.

To even begin to comprehend what happened on 9-11, one has to first observe that all warnings of 9-11 were blocked with great prejudice. Thereafter, it must be noted that there were no official repercussions against those who, by accident or design, facilitated 9-11 - as pandered to the world. No reprimands, no resignations, no investigations at any office or departmental level, certainly no prosecutions. Not even an official name-calling session. Just the seeming statement, "Damn, I hate it when that happens!"

That's all!

Thereafter any "official" investigations into the details of 9-11 are blocked - from the White House!

The events of 9-11 didn't just kill thousands, cost billions and precipitate wars - nay, War Crimes - pursuant to the U.N. Charter, the Geneva Accords and the Nuremberg Precedents, which the U.N. Charter embraces. Conveniently, few American citizens or soldiers have the faintest clue as to what those documents say. Ignorance can be as effective as a lie! The post 9-11 events injected both horror and compelling questions upon the American population, in particular. History will be America's jury; the verdict is quite obvious.

Disregarding raw American pride, patriotism and prejudice; War Crimes DID happen from America! At the time of this writing, they continue.

The 9-11 Pentagon epitomizes the issues of that day. As time goes on, certain issues persist in their demand for hard answers.

The greatest horror of 9-11 was the killing of the American Constitution - for no good excuse whatsoever! The U.S. Constitution delivered and maintains the American way of life. If that document is abandoned - or destroyed; traditional America goes with it. Freedom and justice, as the entire world has come to know it, is defined, essentially, by the U.S. Constitution. What America HAD, the world wants. If the Constitution is reverted to the status of a political relic, the entire world faces the sunset of justice and freedom.

As it stands, the U.S. "powers" are going around the world meting out Gestapo justice in secret trials. Such is even proposed by the current President, exclusively naming him - personally; not his office - as the ultimate authority in the post 9-11 Presidential Military Order on terrorist tribunals.

Amazingly the President reserves the right to try "unlawful combatants," while sanctifying U.S. corporations farming out mercenary (unlawful combatant) forces in places such as Afghanistan and Iraq. Somehow the world is expected to make a distinction between "mercenary" and "contractor."

There was no shortage of authority or power in the Constitution to prevent 9-11; it cannot totally prevent massive and methodical corruption; it can punish such deeds - including the related conspiracy. The necessary investigation powers were in place; before 9-11. The so-called "whistle blowers" got the shaft; 9-11 came from within!

The obviously pre-written "Patriot Act" was totally unnecessary; and an act of pure tyranny. Those in doubt of the previous statement need to observe cases such as Martha Stewart, who were charged with a crime, for having entered a "not guilty" plea at their trial. She wasn't alone; that's "tyranny," as America knows it.

The very essence of American justice is that a person is regarded as innocent, until proven guilty. Thus, the "not guilty" plea is sacred to the American judicial system. In another bizarre case, an Internet Service Provider (ISP) was imprisoned for the postings of one of his customers; the customer wasn't touched. Such is on par with criminally charging a Mailman for delivering a porno magazine.

In order to preserve the American way of life, one must look very closely at the events of 9-11. The missing information is more compelling than what has been pandered as "truth." If those actually responsible are not brought to justice, America is in dire straits.

Returning to that day ...

Given all the "mysteries" surrounding 9-11, it is necessary to refer to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's philosophy:

"When you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains - however improbable - must be the truth."

For anyone to understand how bizarre their world can get, it is at least "interesting" to start with certain basics at the Pentagon and Flight 77. Among the alleged "wreckage," no tail, no wings, and no damage consistent with such a "crash." Even the Pentagon lawn was undamaged; so much for the infamous security videotape fireball!

Seismic monitors will register a sonic boom, but the seismic monitors don't reveal anything suggesting such an aircraft impact. ONLY AT THE PENTAGON!

The strongest suggestion is that the wrong seismic time frame was cited, relative to the actual impact. What would 'other' data show? What happened in the vicinity of 9:31?

The horizontal strike on the WTC towers, a thousand feet up, registered a major seismic spike - but nothing at the Pentagon.

Clearly an illusion was created at the 9-11 Pentagon; using the very best of "Perception Control." Start with the actual crash of an aircraft carrying thousands of gallons of Jet-A fuel -

One is left to notice that it's more than just "strange" that nothing similar was seen at the Pentagon! Thereafter, one is left to ask themselves how THAT happened! Next, ponder the deafening silence in regard to just the single discrepancy. Then move to the illusion of the Pentagon fire - just the fire - for starters.

Notice another detail in this picture; the corner of the building is impacted, with the bulk of the fuel burning OUTSIDE of the building. That leaves the question, "What collapsed the center columns?"

At the 9-11 Pentagon, we are supposed to believe that a 757, traveling at 300 Knots dove over a batch of construction equipment, immediately adjacent to the Pentagon wall, then leveled out; and did a totally perfect strike at the convenient "Least-Risk Point." Thereafter, it morphed its way through three rings of the Pentagon, turning left and right through the linking hallways, leaving a handful of aircraft pieces which defy accountability. All that, without damaging or burning the Pentagon lawn! All that by a pilot known to be an idiot at the controls of a small plane.

It's more than IMPOSSIBLE: it's absurd!

There's another strange matter - the collapsed portion of the Pentagon wasn't in the alleged path of the purported 757 center-of-mass; yet that portion which allegedly was in that path didn't collapse! That should have been damage from the purported right wing.

In the elementary physics of the purported strike, according to the proposed impact angle, the aircraft tail would have rotated to the left, breaking off major pieces of its structure - including the tail section.

As George Nelson, Colonel, USAF (ret.), pointed out, NONE of the "found" parts have part numbers or serial numbers on them; not at the Pentagon and not at Pennsylvania! For production control, manufacturers stamp such 'part' numbers on virtually EVERY piece of an aircraft. The major components are found with the manufacturer's serial numbers. Clearly, someone went to a lot of trouble to 'sanitize' the 9-11 pieces. Anyone with experience around aircraft accidents will cite the total lack of serial-numbered parts as IMPOSSIBLE.

Step back, for a moment. Try to imagine a trans-continental flight with hardly any passengers and no cargo. The flight reversed course and arrived back in the D.C. area unexpectedly, yet there is no record - or even 'tales' - of ATC directing aircraft away from the "rogue aircraft," no ATC warnings, no pleas for other aircraft to look for the "missing" aircraft, no continuous calls from ATC, attempting to establish contact - on any frequency. There were no TCAS (mid-air collision) alarms, with aircraft in a busy terminal area scattering for clear airspace. Nor were there any secondary TCAS alarms from the otherwise expected chaos.

The FAA order for all aircraft to land hadn't yet been announced, when the supposed 757 hit the Pentagon; there would have been an abundance of conflicting aircraft at the Dulles and Reagan airport areas.

For those unfamiliar, the TCAS system allows the transponders of different aircraft to electronically warn each other of a collision threat - with computerized audio and visual warnings in the cockpits of the planes involved. "Hard" warnings generate audio and visual commands, for the pilots to climb or descend to evade a collision.

Remember that the FAA claimed the aircraft circled and descended from 7,000 feet, overhead the Pentagon. Only a functioning transponder would yield an FAA digital display, indicating the altitude. In the world of facts, they can't have it both ways. The transponder was either on or off. All of that assuming that the aircraft was factual. If there was an aircraft actually involved, an Air Force fighter for example, it made a low pass; it didn't hit the Pentagon!

Beyond the 'normal' tight airspace restrictions, such a site automatically becomes "Prohibited" airspace for pilots. No pilot in his/her right mind would go near the area - without an 'official' directive.

Again, if the purported 757 transponder had been ON, it would have caused ATC and TCAS warning chaos with innumerable aircraft within the Baltimore/Dulles/Reagan Airport areas, as the aircraft approached the Pentagon. Yet, there were no questions asked about that discrepancy!

As a minimum, the FAA hasn't indicated why they just watched the close-in approach of the purported aircraft, without making any attempt to warn anyone. It would have violated Dulles Airport airspace, as well as threatened "Prohibited Airspace," with the FAA just watching. If the FAA is being honest; where's the appropriate accountability? If there was no airplane, the obvious lie was a serious felony!

The witnesses -

The witnesses who came forward were rather typical of all aircraft accident witnesses - they described what they believed was true. It's nearly impossible to have an aircraft crash that someone doesn't see it on fire - in the air; often with an associated explosion. That's just an accepted quirk of human nature. Witness testimony is always corroborated against physical evidence - if such exists.

Typical was one eloquent witness who poisoned his own statement by describing his having "heard" the aircraft pull up; a maneuver would not make a noise. That statement was later changed to "power-up.

Given the physical magnitude of the event, the physical evidence would corroborate reliable witness accounts - yet, the physical corroboration is nearly 100% lacking.

Some witnesses may have actually been casual individuals, versus "plants." We'll never know, for sure. But, there is one detail which eliminates 99% of the "witnesses," instantly - what they DON'T describe!

No one described being terrified by the noise of a low-flying jet aircraft.

The aircraft was alleged to have passed low over major buildings, yet no one describes it as "big;" certainly not "deafening." A B-757 is supposed to have passed low over so many people, yet no one was frightened by the overwhelming noise of a 757, doing 300 Knots. That noise would have been more memorable than most visual details.

The approach-departure "Doppler Effect" would have left a frightening impression, as the frequency of the engine noise built, then faded. Still, there are no such descriptions.

The required path would have taken the aircraft extremely low over a major highway. Yet, there aren't hundreds of witnesses who saw - or heard - ANYTHING. Drivers eventually stopped for the Pentagon fire; they didn't stop for a low-flying aircraft.

Nor did any group of people abandon a building or even run to a window to see what had to be a major event of some sort. Nor do you hear of any sounds of the crash. One bang; that's about it. A 757 hitting the Pentagon would have made one hell of a racket; as recorded in the WTC impacts. For all the recorders in the Pentagon, there is no trace of an audio recording of the event. A "secure" building which can't produce a viable image of the 9-11 events; not likely.

Supposedly, the collapsed section had just been rebuilt to be blast resistant. According to the pre-collapse photos and videotapes, the requisite "impact" areas show no signs of being externally struck. For all their "blast resistance," the walls just "morphed" a B-757? The right side showed a maximum of fifteen feet of lateral "penetration" damage. What collapsed the interior? The right "wing" which clearly couldn't have penetrated the outer wall - per the photos? The ten-minute fire?


RADAR! The data is recorded. Does anyone remember the Defense Radar on TWA-800 and Egypt Air 990? What radar imagery couldn't be discerned by human eyes in real-time was available for later review, and documentation - whether FAA or military radar data.

According to Congressional testimony, the radar data was reviewed and analyzed for selected material; where is it? The military is hiding the most important witness of all!

The public was presented with computer-generated imagery to suggest 9-11 radar data; but the imagery was only a visual emulation of the purported flight paths. Where did that imagery come from? Who was so 'connected?' That imagery hangs on the brink of "conspiracy" and "Obstruction of Justice!"

The FAA claimed they saw the aircraft on radar, circling and descended from 7,000 feet, overhead the Pentagon. Where is the data?

While the FAA primarily depends on aircraft having a transponder (yielding such things as a digital altitude readout), they can also "see" a certain amount of raw "Primary Returns." Only the Defense Department radar can discern altitude from "raw" returns. The military radar is oriented around "seeing" primary returns, sneaking into our airspace, and maneuvering within. Yet, the military and FAA radar systems - of all indicators - are the silent witness.

Just try to imagine the "Prohibited Airspace" of Washington, D.C. area not being protected to the maximum, by the most sophisticated military radar; or monitored by satellite imagery! IMPOSSIBLE!

Just the CIA headquarters, across the river from the Pentagon, would have terrific amounts of radar data; where is it? The CIA building is the benefactor of the "Prohibited Airspace," not the Pentagon.

Imagine, also, the Pentagon - of all institutions - NOT being able to provide such a record. WHY? Because the radar data supporting the "official" account couldn't have existed. The PR value would have been incredible - if that data actually existed. In perfect propaganda control, no one mentioned the radar records. The public was not to be taught any tricks. The mass media wouldn't get involved in the obvious. WHY?

Certainly, the fighter 'non-intercept' issue is a major story, by itself - obscured in the mysterious cloud of "national security." That aspect is beyond the pale of "impossible." At a minimum, we know from documentation that the fighters which were launched from Langley "cruised" to the Pentagon; there was no hurry. Why should they hurry?? There were obviously no airplanes to intercept!


To the world of the legitimately curious, one's attention should first go to an early view of the airport fire trucks, attacking the blaze.

Note the un-collapsed wall and the firemen, obviously not concerned with the building occupants. No hand-lines are deployed and oriented toward the building. There are no firemen with shiny aluminized protective hoods donned, prepared to penetrate a jet fuel fire, in a rescue attempt. No suggestion of an aircraft crash.

The fact is that there were tremendous firefighting resources dispatched to the Pentagon; what happened to them?

Continue reading and view images at http://physics911.net/omholt.htm

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Odds n Ends

Horror of India's child sacrifice

By Navdip Dhariwal
BBC correspondent, northern India

In India's remote northern villages it feels as if little has changed. The communities remain forgotten and woefully undeveloped, with low literacy and abject poverty.

They are conditions that for decades have bred superstition and a deep-rooted belief in the occult.

The village of Barha in the state of Uttar Pradesh is only a three-hour car drive from the capital Delhi. Yet here evil medieval practices have made their ugly presence known.

Lured with sweets

I was led by locals to a house that is kept under lock and key. They refuse to enter it.
Peering through the window bars you can see the eerie dark room inside, with peeling posters of Hindu gods adorning the walls and bundles of discarded bed clothes.

In one corner is the evidence we had come to find: blood-splattered walls and stained bricks.

It is the place where a little boy's life was ritually sacrificed.

Those who tortured and killed Akash Singh did so in a depraved belief - that the boy's death would offer them a better life.

"The woman who did this was crazed," the villagers say. "Akash was friends with all our children... We still cannot believe what happened here."

Akash's distraught mother discovered her son's mutilated body. The family was told he was lured away with sweets and begged his captors to set him free.

"First they cut out his tongue," his grandmother Harpyari told me. "Then they cut off his nose, then his ears. They chopped off his fingers. They killed him slowly."

'Profiting from fear'

The woman who abducted Akash lived just a few doors away. She claimed to be suffering from terrible nightmares and visions.

It was then she turned for guidance to a tantric, or holy man. It was under his instruction that she brutally sacrificed the boy - offering his blood and remains to the Hindu goddess of destruction.

There are temples across India that are devoted to the goddess. Childless couples, the impoverished and sick visit to pray that she can cure them.

Animal sacrifice is central to worship - but humans have not been temple victims since ancient times.

We were met with a hostile reception at the temple in Meerut. The high priest did not want us to see the ritual slaughter.

Tantrics like him clearly have an overwhelming grip on their followers. Often they are profiting from people's fears. In extreme cases others have instructed their followers to kill.

Crackdown campaign

S Raju is a journalist for the Hindustan Times and has been reporting on child sacrifice cases since 1997 in western Uttar Pradesh. He has reported on 38 similar cases.

In one incident he says a tantric told a young man that if he hanged and killed a small boy and lit a fire at his feet the smoke from the ritual could be used to lure the pretty village girl he had his eye on.

He has been campaigning for a crackdown on the practice of tantrics, alarmed at what he has seen.

"The masses need to be educated and dissuaded from following these men," he said. "They play on people's fears and superstitions - it is crazy."


We visited the jail where those accused of murdering Akash were being held.

The prison warden told us of over 200 cases of child sacrifice in these parts over the last seven years.

He admitted many of the cases go unreported because the police are reluctant to tarnish the image of their state. He told us incidents of child sacrifice are often covered up.

Many of those killers are behind bars - but, chillingly, others poisoned by the same sinister beliefs remain at large.

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First Knights Templar are discovered

Daily Telegraph
10 April 06

LONDON: The first bodies of the Knights Templar, the mysterious religious order at the heart of The Da Vinci Code, have been found by archaeologists near the River Jordan in northern Israel.

British historian Tom Asbridge yesterday hailed the find as the first provable example of actual Knights Templar.

The remains were found beneath the ruined walls of Jacob's Ford, an overthrown

castle dating back to the Crusades, which had been lost for centuries.

They can be dated to the exact day -- August 29, 1179 -- that they were killed by Saladin, the feared Muslim leader who captured the fortress.

"Never before has it been possible to trace their remains to such an exact time in history,' Mr Asbridge said. "This discovery is the equivalent of the Holy Grail to archaeologists and historians. It is unparalleled."

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Pottery points to monks' quest to create gold

Martin Wainwright
Thursday April 13, 2006
The Guardian

A glazed pottery alchemist's cone has been unearthed at one of Britain's mediaeval abbeys whose monks have long been suspected of trying to create gold.

The delicate vessel, eight inches (25cm) long, was found by English Heritage archaeologists at Bylands Abbey in North Yorkshire, founded by the Cistercians in 1137.

A leading Cistercian monk, Richard Archebold, was described by 15th century scholar Richard of Buckfast as running up debts in pursuit of an "unattainable" goal.

The Bylands cone was a condenser designed to fit over a heated pan holding a boiling mixture.

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Emergence of the Gospel of Judas Offers a Tangled Tale of Its Own

NY Times
13 April 06

When the National Geographic Society announced to great fanfare last week that it had gained access to a 1,700-year-old document known as the Gospel of Judas, it described how a deteriorating manuscript, unearthed in Egypt three decades ago, had made its way through the shady alleys of the antiquities market to a safe-deposit box on Long Island and eventually to a Swiss art dealer who "rescued" it from obscurity.

But there is even more to the story.
The art dealer was detained several years ago in an unrelated Italian antiquities smuggling investigation. And after she failed to profit from the sale of the gospel in the private market, she struck a deal with a foundation run by her lawyer that would let her make about as much as she would have made on that sale, or more.

Later, the National Geographic Society paid the foundation to restore the manuscript and bought the rights to the text and the story about the discovery. As part of her arrangement with the foundation, the dealer, Frieda Tchacos Nussberger, stands to gain $1 million to $2 million from those National Geographic projects, her lawyer said. There may even be more.

Details of how the manuscript was found are clouded. According to National Geographic, it was found by farmers in an Egyptian cave in the 1970's, sold to a dealer and passed through various hands in Europe and the United States. Legal issues in its transit are equally vague.

No one questions the authenticity of the Judas gospel, which depicts Judas Iscariot not as a betrayer of Jesus but as his favored disciple.

But the emerging details are raising concerns among some archaeologists and other scholars at a time of growing scrutiny of the dealers who sell antiquities and of the museums and collectors who buy them. The information also calls into question the completeness of National Geographic's depiction of some individuals like Ms. Tchacos Nussberger and its disclosure of all the financial relationships involved.

Terry Garcia, the vice president for mission programs at National Geographic, which is based in Washington, said that the organization had "heard some rumors" about possible legal problems involving Ms. Tchacos Nussberger but could not confirm them. He also noted that the organization had disclosed its relationship with the foundation, the Maecenas Foundation for Ancient Art.

Mr. Garcia emphasized that he believed that issues like Ms. Tchacos Nussberger's financial relationship with the foundation or questions about other antiquities she sold were not relevant to the story of the Gospel of Judas. He added that National Geographic had taken on the project because it saw an opportunity to help save a unique document.

"It is not every day that you find a lost gospel," Mr. Garcia said.

But scholars who have campaigned against the trade in artifacts of questionable provenance said they were troubled by the whole episode.

"We are dealing with a looted object," said Jane C. Waldbaum, president of the Archaeological Institute of America, a professional society. "The artifact was poorly handled for years because the people holding it were more concerned with making money than protecting it."

For her part, Ms. Tchacos Nussberger rejected any suggestion that she was trying to profit from the Gospel of Judas. She described her run-in with Italian officials as inconsequential.

"I went through hell and back, and I saved something for humanity," Ms. Tchacos Nussberger said in a telephone interview. "I would have given it for nothing to someone who would have saved it."

Last week, National Geographic began a large campaign for the Gospel of Judas, featuring it in two new books, a television documentary, an exhibition and the May issue of National Geographic magazine.

The organization did not buy the document. Instead, it paid $1 million to the Maecenas Foundation, effectively for the manuscript's contents. Part of the revenues generated by the National Geographic projects go to the foundation.

The foundation was set up some years ago by Ms. Tchacos Nussberger's lawyer, Mario Roberty, well before it became involved with the Gospel of Judas. Mr. Roberty is the only official of the foundation, which he said was involved in projects like returning antiquities to their countries of origin. He said that when Ms. Tchacos Nussberger turned over the document to the foundation in 2001, he quickly contacted officials in Egypt and assured them that the manuscript would be returned there. He said the foundation had clear legal title to the document.

In National Geographic's narratives, the manuscript takes a long journey through the antiquities trade. Those stories describe Ms. Tchacos Nussberger efforts to sell the Gospel of Judas privately soon after buying it and her subsequent role in its restoration. She is portrayed as driven by religious conviction to save the document.

"I think I was chosen by Judas to rehabilitate him," Ms. Tchacos Nussberger, 65, is quoted as saying in one of the society's books, "The Lost Gospel," by Herbert Krosney. Mr. Krosney is also an independent television producer who brought the gospel project to National Geographic.

Missing from the book is any mention of an incident in 2001 when Ms. Tchacos Nussberger was detained in Cyprus at the request of Italian officials, who wanted to question her as part of a broader investigation into antiquities that had been illegally taken out of Italy and sold elsewhere. Paolo Ferri, the Rome-based prosecutor in the case, said she was charged with several violations involving antiquities but was given a reduced sentence that was suspended because she had, among other things, previously agreed to return an artifact claimed by Italy.

Both the dealer and her lawyer said the issues involved were far less serious than those described by Mr. Ferri, the prosecutor. They also said that all of Ms. Tchacos Nussberger's dealings in antiquities in Italy and elsewhere had been lawful. Her record will be erased in 2007 if she is not charged by Italian authorities with another antiquities violation.

Ms. Tchacos Nussberger said that she, like other dealers, had run into problems because laws governing the antiquities trade had sharply changed in recent years.

According to National Geographic, she bought the Judas document for about $300,000 in 2000 from another dealer who had placed it in a safe-deposit box in Hicksville, N.Y., on Long Island. She tried to sell it to the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University.

Yale officials have not specified why they did not buy the document. But Robert Babcock, curator of early books at the library, said through a spokeswoman that "there were unresolved questions about the provenance."

Then in 2001, Ms. Tchacos Nussberger sold it to an antiquities dealer in Ohio for $2.5 million, but the deal fell apart when the dealer did not make good on the payments.

Aided by her lawyer, Mr. Roberty, she regained ownership of the document and at his suggestion turned it over to the Maecenas Foundation. Under the deal, she is entitled to receive a sum from revenues generated by the Gospel of Judas essentially equivalent to what she would have received from the Ohio dealer, minus the value of several pages of the manuscript that dealer bought. In addition, she is entitled to get back about $800,000 she lent to the foundation for expenses like legal costs and early restoration efforts, Mr. Roberty said.

Mr. Roberty said the foundation had already started paying money to the dealer, but he declined to say how much she had received to date.

Mr. Garcia, the National Geographic executive, said that a critical aspect of the society's contract with the Maecenas Foundation was the group's pledge to return the document to Egypt. Mr. Krosney, the writer, said he was convinced from his discussions with Ms. Tchacos Nussberger that she had acted out of the best of motives.

He said he had raised with Mr. Roberty the rumors he had heard about Ms. Tchacho Nussberger and Italy, and added that the lawyer was "dismissive"of them. He said he never asked the dealer about it.

Hershel Shanks, editor of the Biblical Archaeology Review, said there was inherent tension between the need to conserve ancient objects and deter trade in looted artifacts.

"If you want to learn from the material, you have got to deal," Mr. Shanks said. "I am in favor of rescuing these unprovenanced things because they have important information to impart."

But other scholars remain disturbed. "The owners are trying to take monetary value out of something they don't really own," said Patty Gerstenblith, a law professor at DePaul University in Chicago who specializes in the antiquities trade. "The people with control over the manuscript don't appear to be the rightful owners."

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