Today's conditions brought to you by the Bush Junta - marionettes of their hyperdimensional puppet masters - Produced and Directed by the CIA, based on an original script by Henry Kissinger, with a cast of billions.... The "Greatest Shew on Earth," no doubt, and if you don't have a good sense of humor, don't read this page! It is designed to reveal the "unseen."
If you can't stand the heat of Objective Reality, get out of the kitchen!

June 3, 2003

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Mossad and Moving Companies:
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"In the beginning of a change,
the patriot is a scarce and brave man, hated and scorned.
When his cause succeeds however,
the timid join him, for then it costs nothing to be a patriot."
Mark Twain

"Fear not the path of truth,
fear the lack of people walking on it."
Robert Francis Kennedy

"I read the news today, oh boy..."
John Lennon

The most successful tyranny is not the one that uses force to assure uniformity but the one that removes the awareness of other possibilities, that makes it seem inconceivable that other ways are viable, that removes the sense that there is an outside.
Allan Bloom
The Closing of the American Mind

This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it, or their revolutionary right to dismember or overthrow it.
Abraham Lincoln
First Inaugural Address

"It is dangerous to be right in matters on which the established authorities are wrong."

Faith of consciousness is freedom
Faith of feeling is weakness
Faith of body is stupidity.
Love of consciousness evokes the same in response
Love of feeling evokes the opposite
Love of the body depends only on type and polarity.
Hope of consciousness is strength
Hope of feeling is slavery
Hope of body is disease.

Life is religion. Life experiences reflect how one interacts with God. Those who are asleep are those of little faith in terms of their interaction with the creation. Some people think that the world exists for them to overcome or ignore or shut out. For those individuals, the worlds will cease. They will become exactly what they give to life. They will become merely a dream in the 'past.' People who pay strict attention to objective reality right and left, become the reality of the 'Future.'
Cassiopaea, 09-28-02


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Mossad and Moving Companies: Masterminds of Global Terrorism?

CIA says al Qaeda ready to use nukes


Al Qaeda terrorists and related groups are set to use chemical, biological and nuclear weapons in deadly strikes, according to a new CIA report. "Al Qaeda's goal is the use of [chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear weapons] to cause mass casualties," the CIA stated in an internal report produced last month. "However, most attacks by the group — and especially by associated extremists — probably will be small-scale, incorporating relatively crude delivery means and easily produced or obtained chemicals, toxins or radiological substances," the report said.

Islamist extremists linked to al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden "have a wide variety of potential agents and delivery means to choose from for chemical, biological and radiological or nuclear (CBRN) attacks," said the four-page report titled "Terrorist CBRN: Materials and Effects." The unclassified report was produced by the CIA's intelligence directorate, and a copy of it was obtained by The Washington Times. The report identifies several deadly toxins and chemicals that al Qaeda could use to conduct the attacks, including nerve gases, germ and toxin weapons anthrax and ricin, and radiological dispersal devices, also known as "dirty bombs."

Disclosure of the CIA report comes as the agency is under fire over its reports on Iraq's chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, none of which has been uncovered. Several lawmakers from both parties, including Sens. John W. Warner, Virginia Republican, and John McCain, Arizona Republican, have called for hearings into the intelligence about Iraq that the Bush administration received.

In the latest report, the CIA said terrorist success would depend on planners' technical expertise. However, one likely goal of any attempted attack would be "panic and disruption," the agency stated. Several groups of al Qaeda tried to conduct "poison plot" attacks in Europe using chemicals and toxins in assassinations and small-scale attacks, the CIA said. "These agents could cause hundreds of casualties and widespread panic if used in multiple, simultaneous attacks," the report said. Also, al Qaeda is developing bombs with radioactive material from industrial or medical facilities, and an al Qaeda document obtained in Afghanistan revealed that the group had sketched out a crude device capable of causing a nuclear blast, the report said.

"Osama bin Laden's operatives may try to launch conventional attacks against the nuclear industrial infrastructure of the United States in a bid to cause contamination, disruption and terror," the report stated. Al Qaeda's plans for chemical arms were revealed in a document obtained in summer 2002 that "indicates the group has crude procedures for making mustard agent, sarin and VX," the report said. Mustard is a blistering agent, and sarin and VX are nerve agents that can kill humans in small amounts. The report also states that Mohamed Atta, ringleader of the September 11 attacks, and Zacarias Moussaoui, who is on trial in Virginia on charges related to the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, studied methods of delivering biological weapons.

Both men "expressed interest in crop dusters, raising our concern that al Qaeda has considered using aircraft to disseminate [biological warfare] agents," the report said. According to the report, al Qaeda and other terrorists also could produce what the CIA calls an "improvised nuclear device" capable of causing a nuclear blast. Such a bomb is "intended to cause a yield-producing nuclear explosion," the report said. Terrorists could produce a nuclear device in three ways, including a bomb made from "diverted nuclear-weapons components," a nuclear weapon that had been modified, or a new, indigenously designed device, the report said.

A homemade nuclear bomb would be one of two types: either an implosion device that uses conventional explosives to create a nuclear blast, or a "gun-assembled" device. Making a nuclear bomb would require that terrorists first obtain fissile material such as enriched uranium or plutonium as fuel for creating a nuclear blast. A more likely type of terrorist attack is the use of such nuclear material with conventional explosives to create a "dirty," or radiological, bomb, the report said. "Use of a [radiological dispersal device] by terrorists could result in health, environmental and economic effects as well as political and social effects," the report said. "It will cause fear, injury, and possibly lead to levels of contamination requiring costly and time-consuming cleanup efforts."

Among the materials that are available to terrorists for this type of bomb are cesium-137, strontium-90 and cobalt-60 — materials used in hospitals, universities, factories, construction companies and laboratories. A security notice made public by the State Department yesterday stated that "al Qaeda and sympathetic terrorists groups continue to demonstrate their interest in mass-casualty attacks using chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) weapons."

The notice said no information proves the group now is planning an attack in the United States with a weapon of mass destruction, but noted that "such an attack cannot be ruled out." The FBI also distributed a bulletin recently to law-enforcement agencies identifying the chemical, biological and nuclear weapons available to al Qaeda and other terrorists. The CIA report contains photographs of a training video obtained in Afghanistan from an al Qaeda training camp showing chemical agents being tested on dogs. Agents available to the group include toxic cyanides that can kill in high doses and less-lethal industrial chemicals such as chlorine and phosgene.

Biological agents al Qaeda could use include anthrax, a bacteria that can cause mass casualties, and botulinum toxin. The CIA stated that methods for producing botulinum have been found in terrorist training manuals. Another toxin weapon, ricin, "is readily available by extraction from common castor beans," the report said. "There is no treatment for ricin poisoning after [the toxin] has entered the bloodstream," the report said. "Terrorists have looked at delivering ricin in foods and as a contact poison, although we have no scientific data to indicate that ricin can penetrate intact skin."

Comment: While the "terrorists" seem to have various agents and chemicals at their disposal with which to terrorise the American public, the CIA, on the other hand, relies on just one - Reports doused with a generous helping of Bullshit - Whoever put together the above report must have found it difficult to write as they were no doubt laughing hysterically at the time. One point they failed to include however is that the "Islamic terrorists" are also planning to blow up anyone who tries to investigate the Bush administration over the lack of WMD in Iraq. Based on the details of the above report it is obvious that the CIA/Bush administration is relying heavily on the extreme gullibility of the American public and the fact that most do not know how difficult it is to make a nuclear yield device, or that Ricin would have to be injected individually into each target.

Listen to Noam Chomsky speak at the University of the District of Columbia.

"George Bush has Indeed Succeeded in Granting Osama Bin Laden a Wish Beyond his Wildest DreamsÉHe's Turned the U.S. into the Most Feared and Disliked and, in Many Quarters, Hated Country in the World."

Comment: And even more Noam Chomsky here:

"The preventive war doctrine is virtually an invitation to potential targets to develop some kind of deterrent, and there are only two kinds of deterrent. One is weapons of mass destruction, the other is large-scale terror."

We are thinking that we have all been set up. The above quote from Chomsky, states something so obvious that it is shocking to see that it did not penetrate the biochemical induced patriotic fervor. Perhaps no one wants to admit that evil exists until it's already breathing down their neck, and it's too late.

A quote from this interview to keep in mind as the Iraqis continue to live under a terrorist regime, and religious zealots worm their way into power over a once secular society:

"As for countries suffering under tyranny - yes, it would be very good if somebody would help and support them. Take for example the current administration in Washington. They themselves - remember, these are mostly re-cycled Reaganites - they supported a series of monstrous dictators, who subjected their populations to vicious tyranny, including Saddam Hussein, Ceausescu, Suharto, Marcos, Duvalier. It's quite a long list. The best way to deal with that would have been to stop supporting them. Incidentally, support for terror and violence continues. The best way to stop it is to stop supporting them. Often, in fact in every one of those cases, they were overthrown by their own populations, even though the US was supporting the dictator. Ceausescu, for example, was a tyrant perfectly comparable to Saddam Hussein. He was overthrown in 1989 by his own population, while he was being supported by the current incumbents in Washington, and that continues. If there are people resisting oppression and violence, we should find ways to support them, and the easiest way is to stop supporting the tyrants. After that, complicated issues arise. There is no record, that I know of, of the US, or any other state - [there are] very rare examples - intervening to try to prevent oppression and violence. That's extremely rare."

Does the CIA Know How to Overthrow Foreign Governments Successfully?

By Chalmers Johnson

The Central Intelligence Agency has an almost unblemished record of screwing up every "secret" armed intervention it ever undertook. From the overthrow of the Iranian government in 1953 through the Bay of Pigs, the failed attempts to assassinate Fidel Castro of Cuba and Patrice Lumumba of the Republic of Congo, the Phoenix Program in Vietnam, the "secret war" in Laos, aid to the Greek colonels who seized power in 1967, the 1973 killing of Salvador Allende in Chile and Ronald Reagan's Iran-Contra war against Nicaragua, there is not a single instance in which the agency's activities did not prove acutely embarrassing to the United States. The CIA continues to get away with this primarily because its budget and operations have always been secret and Congress is normally too indifferent to its constitutional functions to rein in a rogue bureaucracy. Therefore the tale of a purported CIA success story should be of some interest.

Comment: This article does a good job of summarizing many of the details of past CIA operations outside of America. A different angle he did not explore is that perhaps these CIA operations were not failures at all, but produced the exact results intended. I understand, no one really wants to examine the "terror of the situation."

Pentagon training workers to use new escape masks Associated Press Monday, June 2, 2003

WASHINGTON - The Pentagon has handed out 25,000 emergency gas masks to prepare defense employees for possible chemical or biological terror attacks.

That completes about one-third of the effort started in late February, when officials began training an average of several hundred people a day in the use of ``emergency escape hoods.'' On Monday, they gave the masks to a few dozen members of the news media corps who work daily in the Defense Department headquarters.

The masks are designed to give wearers up to about an hour of protection to flee chemical or biological contamination, officials said.

Some 80,000 masks are to be made available for department employees and other workers as well as visitors at the Pentagon and its annexes in other office buildings throughout the Washington area.

US Senate opens WMD probe

The BBC's Justin Webb By Justin Webb BBC correspondent in Washington

In the United States, a full-scale Congressional inquiry has been ordered on the use and possible abuse of intelligence information on weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

This is the first serious domestic pressure on the Bush administration

The inquiry will include public hearings which will be televised live.

The CIA is reported to be prepared to co-operate fully.

This is the first serious domestic pressure on the Bush administration to give a detailed explanation of its pre-war claims about weapons of mass destruction.

The inquiries are being conducted by the Senate Armed Services and Intelligence Committees.

They are to hold a joint public hearing later in the month.

It is likely that senior officials such as the Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, and the Secretary of State, Colin Powell, will be asked to attend.

Senator John Warner, the chairman of the armed services panel, said he had ordered the inquiry because of the depth and seriousness of the issue.

Mr Warner said he had been assured by the CIA director, George Tenet, that all the statements made by the administration on the subject and all the underlying intelligence supporting those statements would be supplied to the committee.

Comment: As stated previously it seems that something is definitely up here. Someone is ungagging both the media and the Senate, setting them on Bush and Co. The Cassiopaeans suggested that the Columbia shuttle was downed by a "rogue group" to instill fear in Bush, prodding him to act more quickly against Iraq. It would seem that if the pressure over the missing WMD in Iraq were allowed to build significantly on Bush and Co. Bush (via Mossad) may feel obliged to produce another 9/11, to save their skins AND further the Israeli agenda of domination in the middle east. That is one layer of the onion. At a deeper level we perhaps have this supra-governmental "rogue group", that is directing all of this with an ultimate agenda of its own, about which Bush and Israel know little if anything. To it, Bush, Israel Mossad etc. are all its pawns, to be used as they see fit and then dispensed with.

Blix report fuels doubts on weapons of mass destruction

By James Politi in Washington, James Blitz in Evian and Mark Turner at the United Nations June 2 2003

US and British leaders were on Monday scrambling to explain why they had so far failed to find evidence of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction as United Nations weapons inspectors reported that Baghdad was handing over fresh information just hours before the US-led air strikes that began the war.

At the G8 summit in Evian, Tony Blair, the UK prime minister, was forced to deflect suggestions by a former cabinet minister that he had decided last September to go to war with Iraq, whether or not United Nations support was forthcoming.

"The idea . . . that I made some secret agreement with George Bush last September that we would invade Iraq in any event at a particular time is completely and totally untrue," he said.

Colin Powell, US secretary of state, said "it wasn't a figment of anyone's imagination" that Iraq possessed WMD. "There was no doubt in my mind as I went through the intelligence that the evidence was overwhelming," Mr Powell said in Rome, before heading to the Middle East.

Comment: It is now clear that these so called leaders folllow a policy of stating the exact opposite of what is true.

P-I in Iraq: Baghdad a city in chaos

As security, services lag, anger over occupation grows

Monday, June 2, 2003

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- The boy's smile faded when he heard the word "American."

"Ishta!" he said to the American. "Leave!" And he waved his hand as if he were chasing away flies from his fruit stand.

Last fall, a P-I team was again warmly welcomed to a Baghdad that was beginning to come alive, despite the continuing sanctions and despite the looming threat of war.

Then, UNICEF figures showed, the malnutrition rate was declining, the vaccination rate was going up, and there had been improvements in communications, agriculture and the electricity supply. Also, everywhere, from Baghdad to Basra, there was a surge of housing construction.

Now, another P-I team has found a drastically altered Iraq.

After two devastating wars and 12 years of economic sanctions, Iraqis are being crushed physically, economically, socially and spiritually. Health conditions are in a downward spiral; the vast majority of the work force has no work; the once burgeoning middle class has almost disappeared; and they are under the occupation of a conquering army.

That many of them are no longer able to muster their famed hospitality for American visitors comes as little surprise.

Electricity is still rolling on and off in the city. Water is available, but humanitarian workers warn that it is of poor quality. Some streets are awash in sewage. The shells of burned-out buildings, from government ministries to shopping malls, dot the skyline. Garbage rots along the sidewalks. Without traffic lights and almost no police officers, the streets are chaotic, and if not for the young men in various communities who volunteer daily to risk life and limb to help direct traffic, they would be parking lots.

There is a U.S. military-enforced curfew from 11 p.m. until 4:30 a.m., but because of the increasing violence, most people begin heading indoors much earlier. By nightfall, the streets are almost empty. [...]

"Iraqis are facing real hunger as their food rations run out," said Rick McDowell of the AFSC.

McDowell said food rations are being distributed again for the first time since the war, but 10 to 20 percent of the system won't be in operation until August.

"That means that 2 (million) to 4 million people won't get any food rations in June and July," McDowell said. [...]

Iraqis get first food rations as weapons controversy flares again

Tuesday June 3, 4:45 AM

Iraqis began receiving their first food rations since the war to topple Saddam Hussein as US and British leaders denied accusations they exaggerated the threat of biological and chemical weapons.

UN special representative to Iraq Vieira de Mello claimed a sweeping mandate upon his arrival in the country, as US overseers speeded up efforts to involve Iraqis in running their own affairs. [...]

Distribution of food rations resumed for the first time since the war broke out in March, but the UN's World Food Program (WFP) said just 1,000 people in Baghdad received the package.

The ration program, begun after UN imposed sanctions on Iraq following its 1990 invasion of Kuwait, was the main source of food for about 60 percent of Iraq's 26 million people before the war. [...]

Comment: 1000 people in Baghdad are once again receiving food rations. What exactly are the other 15,599,000 Iraqis who rely on that aid supposed to do? Surely their food supplies are running low after three months. Given the chaos and lawlessness that is still gripping most of the country, those 1000 people may not have long to live.

Poll: 70% say things going well in Iraq

By Richard Benedetto, USA TODAY
6/2/2003 8:43 PM

WASHINGTON — Most Americans still say things are going reasonably well for the United States in Iraq, despite reports of continued civil disorder there, escalating attacks on American troops and failure to find weapons of mass destruction, a USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll shows.

Overall, 70% say things in Iraq are going very or moderately well, down from 85% in late April, shortly after the major fighting ended.

The findings suggest that the public is less concerned about the messiness of the Iraq situation than many critics of the Bush administration, including Democratic presidential candidates, who charge that President Bush misled the nation about the severity of the Iraqi threat and failed to adequately plan for the war's aftermath.

"Despite the media coverage of the chaos in Iraq, the public is saying, 'The war is over. We won. We knew that it was going to be messy after the fighting ended. We don't necessarily want to know about it,' " says Andrew Smith, a University of New Hampshire pollster.

Indeed, much of the news coverage over the weekend, while the poll was being taken, focused on continued violence in Iraq and the administration's failure so far to find weapons of mass destruction. At least 10 American servicemembers were killed in ambushes or accidents in the past week. [...]

Comment: Either this poll was manipulated to make it seem to Americans that their neighbors think everything is peachy in Iraq, or most Americans actually do think that things are going well. In either case, it illustrates BushCo's control of the media as well as the blissful slumber of the vast majority of the American people.

Search for Guns in Iraq and Surprise Under a Robe

New York Times

BAGHDAD, Iraq, June 2 — The young Iraqi woman smiled when two American paratroopers toting assault rifles strode up to the front door this afternoon.

"No weapons," she said in Arabic, waving her hands back and forth. "No weapons."

Sgt. Shane Netter was one of six paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division combing a block in the working-class neighborhood of Abu Dsheer. The troops shared one translator.

So Sergeant Netter used pidgin Arabic and body language to communicate. He motioned that they would have to search the house anyway. Grudgingly, the woman and her husband quickly ushered Sergeant Netter and Specialist Alleyne Edwin through their two-story cinderblock home. But when the soldiers departed, so did the niceties.

"What right do they have to get into the house?" the husband, Nejim Abdullah, 26, asked icily. "If some people have some weapons, does that give them the right to see every house in the city?"

The search in Baghdad today was part of the largest operation of its kind here. Troops inspected more than 2,000 homes for illegal weapons. The surprise sweep and nighttime arrests produced bitter complaints, a few comical moments and only a handful of weapons. Two clerics were arrested.

Throughout the day, the American paratroopers and Iraqi civilians engaged in an awkward dance. To win over the Iraqis, young Americans went out of their way to respect local customs, averting their eyes in the presence of Iraqi women. To win over Americans, Iraqis pointed out photos of loved ones executed by Saddam Hussein.

Over and over again, the dual realities that American forces face in Iraq appeared. Iraqis smiled when in direct contact, but bitterly complained about the Americans as soon as they left. They repeatedly accused the United States of failing to bring democracy to Iraq.

"We know the Western countries have democracy and liberty, and we want these things to be implemented in our country," said Raad Hadi, 38, a baker. "But we see around us that they are arresting our clerics." [...]

Comment: They ARE being implemented in Iraq. It's liberty and democracy, American style.

The Day of the Jackals: On War and Occupation

June 2, 2003

Mesopotamia. Babylon. The Tigris and Euphrates. How many children, in how many classrooms, over how many centuries, have hang-glided through the past, transported on the wings of these words?

And now the bombs have fallen, incinerating and humiliating that ancient civilization.

On the steel torsos of their missiles, adolescent American soldiers scrawled colorful messages in childish handwriting: "For Saddam, from the Fat Boy Posse."

A building went down. A market place. A home. A girl who loved a boy. A child who only ever wanted to play with his older brother's marbles. On the March 21--the day after American and British troops began their illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq--an "embedded" CNN correspondent interviewed an American soldier. "I wanna get in there and get my nose dirty," Private A.J. said. "I wanna take revenge for 9/11."

To be fair to the correspondent, even though he was "embedded," he did sort of weakly suggest that so far there was no real evidence that linked the Iraqi government to the September 11, 2001, attacks. Private A.J. stuck his teenage tongue out all the way down to the end of his chin. "Yeah, well, that stuff's way over my head," he said.

When the United States invaded Iraq, a New York Times/CBS News survey estimated that 42 percent of the American public believed that Saddam Hussein was directly responsible for the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. And an ABC news poll said that 55 percent of Americans believed that Saddam Hussein directly supported al-Qaeda. None of this opinion is based on evidence (because there isn't any). All of it is based on insinuation, auto-suggestion and outright lies circulated by the U.S. corporate media. Public support in the U.S. for the war against Iraq was founded on a multi-tiered edifice of falsehood and deceit, coordinated by the U.S. government and faithfully amplified by the press. We had the invented links between Iraq and al-Qaeda. We had the manufactured frenzy about Iraq's "weapons of mass destruction." No weapons of mass destruction have been found. Not even a little one. [...]

Iraqi bandits attempt to ambush MP's convoy

By Arifa Akbar
03 June 2003
The Independent

Ann Clwyd, the Prime Minister's special representative on human rights in Iraq, escaped unscathed when her convoy was threatened by bandits yesterday.

The Labour MP told her office at Westminster that shots were fired but that no one had been hurt in the incident, which occurred near Kirkuk, in Northern Iraq.

Ms Clwyd, who was with a convoy of eight cars and military escorts, insisted she was "none the worse" for the experience but sounded shaken as she spoke of the incident.

"We were going along the road to the south of Kirkuk and people were coming in our direction. They were making gestures holding their hands together as though they were tied. They were trying to warn us there had been shots fired at cars coming in our direction.

"Shots were certainly fired at people coming towards us. We stopped short of that. We were given a warning. Then the Peshmerga, the Kurdish fighters, and the Americans went after them," she said. The MP for Cynon Valley, South Wales, said the bandits eluded capture by running into the hills.

Despite the confrontation, Ms Clwyd sounded a positive note over her visit to the country. "There is such normality you can't believe there has been a war," she said.

Comment: Armed bandits shooting at cars is normality?! Ms. Clwyd's statement would be hysterical if it weren't such a sad example of the wishful thinking and lying that seem to be at the core of the Bush Reich and its allies.

US 'to appoint Iraqi leadership'

There is growing frustration among Iraqis towards the coalition

Plans to allow a national conference of Iraqi groups to elect an interim administration may be scrapped, a senior US official in the country has suggested.

[...] Washington has admitted that it did not anticipate the total collapse of the Iraqi administration following the fall from power of President Saddam Hussein as coalition forces entered Baghdad. [...]

Iraqis Assail U.S. Plans For Council

By Rajiv Chandrasekaran
Washington Post Foreign Service
Tuesday, June 3, 2003

BAGHDAD, June 2 -- Iraqi political leaders lashed out today at a plan by the top U.S. civilian administrator here to appoint an interim advisory council instead of convening a national conference to choose a transitional government, saying that U.S. officials had reneged on earlier assurances and that many Iraqis would regard the decision as unpalatable.

Leaders of seven key political groups held an emergency meeting today on the decision by L. Paul Bremer III, the head of the U.S. occupation authority in Iraq, to select between 25 and 30 Iraqis to serve on an interim political council whose powers would largely be limited to advising U.S. officials on policy issues and nominating Iraqis to serve in senior positions in government ministries. The organizations refrained from issuing a joint condemnation of Bremer's plan because they hope to persuade him to change course, but some of the groups made it clear they disapproved of the decision.

"We are skeptical this is going to work," said Entifadh Qanbar, a spokesman for the Iraqi National Congress, which has close ties to Pentagon officials and was until recently an exile group based in London.

Qanbar said the seven groups, including two parties representing ethnic Kurds and two representing Shiite Muslims, want to soon have an interim Iraqi government with clearly defined authority for various aspects of governance instead of an "advisory board to Bremer."

While the U.S. occupation authority is not obliged to listen to the views of the political groups, they do represent millions of Iraqis and serve as important interlocutors for U.S. officials attempting to navigate the country's uncharted and fractious political landscape. [...]

In Baghdad today, several Iraqis said they regarded Bremer's plan as a denial of their political rights and a move that could increase negative attitudes toward the U.S. occupation authority.

"If they want stability, they should let Iraqis govern Iraq," said Abdul Latif, an accountant. "We should be allowed to choose who should represent us." [...]

Bush shrugs off WMD worries

by Steve Schifferes BBC News Online, Washington

In the US, President George W Bush is credited with victory in Iraq despite the failure to find weapons of mass destruction.

While there is growing concern in Europe and elsewhere that the failure to find weapons of mass destruction could undermine the case for war against Iraq, there is far less political pressure over the issue in the United States.

There are probably three reasons for this.

First, President Bush's conduct of the war as commander-in-chief is seen as a great success by the public, and therefore he is being given the benefit of the doubt on this issue.

In the most recent polling evidence, Americans said by a 67% to 31% majority that they were not deliberately misled on the question of weapons of mass destruction.

Secondly, the Democratic opposition for the most part is focusing on domestic issues, such as jobs and health care, and is reluctant to take on the president on his strong suit of national security.

Only Senator Bob Graham, a former head of the intelligence committee, has charged that the government's obsession with Iraq had weakened its ability to pursue the broader war on terror.

Now that the war is over, many Americans are also focusing much more on the domestic agenda, and questions of the legal justification for war are no longer seen as so important.

And thirdly, both in the media and in the policy community, there are strong voices which argue that overthrowing Saddam Hussein was a worthwhile objective in itself.

Columnists like the Washington Post's Charles Krauthammer argue that the evil that was found in Iraq was so overwhelming as to justify regime change.

Such viewpoints are echoed on many radio talk shows and cable television channels like Fox News.

However, some voices of dissent are being heard.

Writing in the New York Times, columnist Paul Krugman argued that "much of justification for the war turns out to have been fictional".

A US soldier stands guard in front of a store during a search for automatic weapons in a residential building US forces in Iraq have not found banned weapons And calls are growing in Congress for an investigation of the "intelligence failures" after a number of articles, notably by Seymour Hersh in the New Yorker, have claimed that intelligence officials are concerned that the raw data had been misinterpreted.

Senator Joe Biden, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said on US television that the Bush administration had "hyped" both the threat that Iraq was developing nuclear weapons and their links to al-Qaeda.

Both the House and Senate Intelligence Committees say they will launch an investigation of the matter, and the Senate Armed Services Committee may join in.

The ranking Democrat on the House committee, Jane Harmon, says that if there was an intelligence failure to find such weapons, it would undermine the "major moral underpinning of the war" - protecting the US from terrorist attack.

However, Republican Senator John Warner, the head of that committee, said that the existence of an investigation should not be taken to suggest an indictment of the administration.

Last week, Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld suggested that it may be that Iraq did not actually have any weapons of mass destruction, just the capability to manufacture them quickly if necessary from "dual-use" facilities.

The existence of only a "weapons programme" would be a significant lowering of expectations from the claims made at the United Nations in the run-up to the war.

US Secretary of State Colin Powell said he believed the evidence was overwhelming that Iraq had the weapons and that it continued to develop weapons programmes after UN inspectors left in 1998.

Mr Powell has pointed out that he spent four days and nights going through the evidence with the CIA before he went to the UN, in order to convince himself that it was solid information - although some press reports suggest he was less than convinced about the al-Qaeda link.

It was Mr Powell's presentation to the United Nations in February that convinced many of the doubters about Iraq's weapons programmes.

And for many American policy makers, the issue of weapons of mass destruction was always more important for the international audience rather than the domestic one.

It is still possible that the issue will gain domestic political momentum, for example, as a result of a Congressional investigation.

But for now, the Bush administration must be grateful that the failure to find weapons of mass destruction has had such limited political consequences.

Bush to Chirac: Time to move on

Tuesday, June 3, 2003 Posted: 01:01 GMT

EVIAN, France (CNN) -- U.S. President George W. Bush and his French counterpart Jacques Chirac talked through their differences on Iraq on Monday, with Bush saying it was "time to move on," a senior U.S. official said.

Bush held a 25-minute meeting with Chirac discussing the whole of the Middle East, including the Palestinian issue, before departing for Egypt to seek support from Arab leaders for the U.S.-backed "road map" designed to end the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. [...]

At their meeting with Chirac at the G-8 summit in Evian, France, Bush said the U.S. and France maintained "good relations."

In a sign of thawing relations France said it was sending special forces to Afghanistan to work alongside U.S. troops.

"This decision reflects both a wish of the United States and our desire to participate in the stabilization of Afghanistan," Reuters quoted Chirac spokeswoman Catherine Colonna as saying. She declined to say when the troops would go or how many would be involved.

Later Chirac told a news conference that while Bush had not actually invited him to the U.S., he had told him he would be happy to see him in America when the French president attends a conference in New York on the eve of a U.N. General Assembly meeting in September.

"President Bush asked me if I was going to the session, and I said it was possible, and President Bush said 'I'd be happy to meet you on that occasion,' and I said 'naturally'," Chirac said.

Chirac was Bush's fiercest adversary in the run-up to the U.S.-led war and threatened to veto a second U.N. resolution authorizing force against former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

The American president said Chirac had been "honest" with him over Iraq. The French leader knew a lot about the Middle East and he would be asking his advice, Bush said before his flight to Egypt.

The senior U.S. official who reported Bush's comments to Chirac said Chirac offered a number of interesting ideas in dealing with Syria. No details were given. The two leaders also talked about Iran and their shared concern that it be nuclear free. [...]

Comment: Isnt that just rosy! I wonder if he also mentioned that blue really suited Bush and suggested the name of a good hairdresser? The whole thing reads like a Miss World acceptance speech. Anyone feel we are being toyed with here? One minute they are at each others' throats, the next they are exchanging telephone numbers.

Bush locks Europeans out of Middle East process

By Eric Silve in Jerusalem and Sa'id Ghazali in Gaza
03 June 2003
The Independent

George Bush travelled from Evian to the Middle East yesterday, determined to deny the Europeans a role in monitoring progress along the international road-map to a Palestinian state.

Today he meets Arab leaders in Egypt before hosting a formal Middle East summit in Aqaba, Jordan, tomorrow between Israelis and Palestinians. European diplomats have been excluded. An Israeli official told The Independent yesterday: "There will be no Europeans involved in the monitoring process. This has been a clear understanding between Israel and the United States."

The US monopoly chips away at Tony Blair's claim before the invasion of Iraq that Britain was a major player in the search for peace between Israel and the Palestinians. His friend George Bush, having committed his authority to the peace plan, wants the Americans in the driving seat. The Israelis insist it is in nobody's interest to have Europeans "sticking a spoke in the wheels". [...]

Short: Blair lied to cabinet and made secret war pact with US

Tory threat to break ranks on Iraq

Nicholas Watt and Michael White in Evian June 2, 2003

The Guardian Tony Blair is facing mounting pressure from across the House of Commons to hold an independent inquiry into the Iraq war after Clare Short levelled the incendiary allegation at the prime minister that he had lied to the cabinet.

As an increasingly exasperated prime minister once again swept aside calls for a public inquiry into the failure to uncover banned Iraqi weapons, the former international development secretary accused Mr Blair of bypassing the cabinet to agree a "secret" pact with George Bush to go to war.

To compound the prime minister's difficulties - as MPs prepare to return to Westminster tomorrow after the Whitsun recess - Robin Cook demanded an independent inquiry into the "monumental blunder" by the government.

His criticisms were echoed last night by the Tories who said they were giving "very serious consideration" to calls for an inquiry.


By Sir Max Hastings Who Initially Accepted The Case For War

EVEN by the standards of the Bush Administration, last week was a remarkable one for diplomatic folly.

Paul Wolfowitz, the Assistant Defence Secretary, disclosed that the US wilfully exaggerated the threat of weapons of mass destruction to rally support for an Iraq war.

Likewise, Wolfowitz's boss, Donald Rumsfeld, declared that he has little expectation of finding any WMDs.

He then launched a new round of sabre-rattling against Iran.

So much for the gleeful banner under which President Bush greeted a homebound American aircraft carrier crew: "Mission accomplished."

The leading lights of the US Defence Department always made it plain that disarming Saddam was a pretext for regime change in Iraq.

Yet that pretext was the basis of a massive American diplomatic offensive.

Tony Blair explicitly told the British people that disarming Saddam justified taking Britain to war. That argument was fraudulent.

Some of us, who accepted public and private Whitehall assurances about WMDs, today feel rather silly.

Robin Cook is crowing, and well he may. He said that WMDs did not exist. He appears to have been right.

It is irrelevant that the Allies won the war. The Prime Minister committed British troops and sacrificed British lives on the basis of a deceit, and it stinks.

Meanwhile inside Iraq, it has become irrelevant to criticise the Americans for past failure to anticipate the problems of making the country work.

The question is whether they intend to commit resources on a scale commensurate with the task, now that the requirement is plain.

The example of Afghanistan, where Washington seems untroubled by post-war anarchy, is not encouraging.

The Americans shrug that today's warlordism offers Afghans better lives than yesterday's Taliban, and that outcome should suffice.

THE administration always asserted that the Iraqi people were not enemies, but hapless pawns of a tyrant.

In 1945, the Germans and Japanese begged for cigarettes and scratched in the ruins of their cities without much audible protest, because they knew they were the vanquished. The Iraqis, by contrast, behave as if they had just voted the Americans into office. They are petulantly impatient to see their new government fulfil its election pledges. The world is happy to cheer them on.

George Bush seems likely to fight a khaki presidential election in 2004, on a platform of tough action abroad in the cause of homeland defence.

Critics observe that he can scarcely do anything else, since his management of the US economy frightens the life out of everyone who thinks beyond polling day.

It is hard to overstate the seriousness of the damage to British trust which is inflicted almost daily by Washington's insouciance.

What was the point of reluctantly joining the Iraqi adventure, people ask, if the British Government cannot curb the excesses of American policy, and if the British Army's reward for participation is a half-baked war crimes charge against one of its officers by a disgruntled American major?

AMERICAN hawks would dismiss most of the above as a reflection of familiar British liberal pusillanimity, our unflagging belief that we ran the world more intelligently in our centuries than they do in theirs.

Yet there are good grounds for mistrusting American judgment.

I was among those who thought the war mistaken, but reluctantly accepted the arguments for British participation, to preserve the Atlantic alliance and to maintain some marginal influence upon American policy. Today, given the behaviour of the US Administration, that case is in tatters. Thus, some people declare that this is the moment for Britain to jump ship, plainly to assert that we will go no further alongside an ally so reckless in its diplomacy, so careless in its actions.

Yet the US remains the only superpower we have got. It cannot be exchanged for a new model. Britain is now committed in Iraq, for better or worse.

It remains vital to engage with Washington. Even in the face of great difficulties, the diplomatic effort must continue, to restrain American unilateralism.

But a heavy blow has been struck against our faith in American rhetoric and judgment.

The struggle against terrorism, and the management of the world look harder today than they did a week ago, thanks to Washington's frightening surge of unforced errors.

Comment: That's nice that Sir Hastings is coming clean, and saying he made a mistake. We all make mistakes right? Our natural impulse is to forgive and forget. I do hope he takes a look at the carnage he contributed toward for such a pitiful reason as, " preserve the Atlantic alliance and to maintain some marginal influence upon American policy." and then subtly slides in, "Yet the US remains the only superpower we have got. It cannot be exchanged for a new model. Britain is now committed in Iraq, for better or worse." Makes one a bit suspicious of the sincerity.

Why Moscow won't back down
By Hooman Peimani

Unlike what many American reports based on unidentified sources suggest, Russia does not seem to be bowing to American pressure to stop its non-military nuclear cooperation with Iran. On the contrary, Russian authorities have repeatedly stated their intention to continue such peaceful cooperation, as they did on May 27 when an Iranian Nuclear Energy Ministry delegation visited Moscow. Although Moscow's firm stance on this issue is not new, the timing of the recent Russian statements made them distinct from all previous ones as the American government has heated up its campaign against Iran's nuclear program.

Hence, Alexander Rumyantsev, Russian Atomic Energy Minister, commented on his country's construction of Iran's Bushehr nuclear power reactor during his talks with the Iranian delegation. In a clear show of "defiance" to the United States, he stated: "We will continue to fulfill our obligations despite the fact that our positions on this issue differ from those of [the] officials in Washington." Disregarding repeated American requests, including one made in May, to stop the Bushehr project, he stressed his ministry's determination to complete the reactor project. "The Russian side does not see grounds to revise its obligations with regard to the construction of the first power unit at the nuclear power plant in Bushehr."

During their talks with the Iranian delegation, Rumyantsev and his ministry made it clear that worsening American-Iranian relations would not affect "Russia's cooperation with Iran with respect to the completion of the nuclear power plant in Bushehr", as Itar-Tass reported. For example, an unspecified ministry spokesperson stated: "There are no reasons [for Russia] to halt [the] construction of the first phase of the Bushehr Nuclear plant or cease future cooperation between Iran and Russia in nuclear energy." Not only that, but, according to IRNA, the Russian Atomic Energy Ministry repeated its readiness to cooperate with Iran on building five more nuclear power plants, an offer made initially in 2002 when the Russian government released its plans for future economic relations with Iran.

Russian-Iranian nuclear ties have received the approval of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), a Vienna-based agency in charge of the verification of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty of 1968. Consequently, Russia's commitment to continue and to expand its ties should not be controversial under normal circumstances. However, the international environment since last year has been anything but normal. The American and British governments justified their war against Iraq and its subsequent occupation under the pretext of preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). They justified their actions, although they had no proof to substantiate their claim of Iraq being in material breach of its obligation under the United Nations resolution on its WMD.

Having Iraq under occupation, the American government is shifting its attention to Iran with the same objective in mind, ie, bringing the country into its sphere of influence through a regime change. Of course, there are fundamental differences between Iran and Iraq with regard to their internal situation and external ties and significance, which raise great doubts about the feasibility of such plan. Nonetheless, Washington seems to be preparing grounds to achieve the mentioned objective, probably through different means, but with resorting to the same type of allegations as it did prior to its war with Iraq. Such allegations are mainly the country's ties with al-Qaeda and its pursuit of WMD.

The American government drew on Iraq's well-known WMD program in the 1980s to justify its unsubstantiated claims regarding that country in 2003. However, its allegation on Iran having an active nuclear weapon program is based on pure speculations and lacks any credibility, as, unlike the case of Iraq, there is not even a historical precedence to make such allegation. Moreover, Iran's nuclear program has received IAEA approval, clear proof of its non-military nature.

Nevertheless, Washington has pressured the IAEA to declare Iran in material breach of its nuclear obligations in the upcoming IAEA meeting in June, although the February visit of the IAEA head and his inspector teams to Iran did not prove any wrongdoing by the Iranians. In particular, Washington has tried to portray Iran's declared plan to establish facilities to have a complete nuclear fuel cycle as a clear violation of its IAEA obligations and a proof for its pursuing a nuclear weapons program. This is notwithstanding the fact that having such objective and its required facilities to enable the Iranians to exploit their own uranium mines and to enrich uranium are well within Iran's rights under IAEA rules and regulations.

Thus, Iran's two declared and under-construction uranium enrichment facilities in Natanz and heavy water production facility in Arak are not proof of its wrongdoings; the former inspected by the IAEA team in February. This is especially so as IAEA regulations require the declaration of nuclear facilities when they contain nuclear material, which is not even the case for the two under-construction facilities.

In light of these realities, Russia's clear determination to continue its nuclear relations with Iran reflects not only its attempt to preserve its economic interests in Iran, but its growing concern about America's aggressive foreign policy. Undoubtedly, such policy has major security implications for Moscow. In particular, the Russians are concerned about the possibility of Iran's domination by the US, in one form or another, which could also lead to a long-term American military presence in that country.

Moscow's loss of its Iranian strategic ally, if it happened, would seriously endanger its security at a time that it requires a long period of peace and security to revitalize its devastated economy. Such loss will complete its encirclement by hostile or potentially hostile pro-American states hosting the American military. The American government's behavior since late 2001 has indicated its pursuit of a plan to ensure its uninterrupted access to energy resources and strategically important regions, such as the Persian Gulf, its unchallenged power and its leadership of a unipolar international system. That requires eliminating the potential "troublemakers", the current and future "rogue" states.

Given this reality, Russia should have every reason to believe it to be one of the next states, if not the next one, on the American list of targets if Washington restores its influence in neighboring Iran. Fear of such a scenario seems to be a major reason for the Russians to continue their multi-dimensional ties with Iran, including in the nuclear realm, to prevent its weakness and isolation, two tempting prerequisites for any future American designs on Iran.

The real messages sent at G-8 summit

Getting postwar bearings, leaders wrestle with US dominance and a global economy.

By Howard LaFranchi
The Christian Science Monitor

WASHINGTON Despite some progress on his preferred topics of terrorism and weapons nonproliferation, President Bush confronted at this week's gathering of world leaders in France a reality of resistance to US power that is likely to mark a range of future US-world relations.

French President Jacques Chirac was the most direct in citing much of the world's concerns about the United States in the post-Iraq-war world. In a press conference Sunday that was part of the G-8 meeting of the world's industrialized countries, Mr. Chirac said he has "no doubt whatsoever that the multipolar vision of the world that I've discussed many times is supported by a large majority of countries."

But the chafing at American demands of cooperation also came through in comments from Russian President Vladimir Putin in reference to US concerns over Iran's nuclear program. Mr. Putin said in a joint news conference with President Bush that the positions of the two countries "are much closer than they seem." [...]

[...] Bush - who left the summit of world leaders (set to end Tuesday) on Monday to continue on to two crucial summits in the Middle East - sounded a parting note of cooperation that built on two meetings intended to mend fences with Chirac.[...]

Bush also met with Chinese President Hu Jintao and made progress on the issue of North Korea, according to US officials. The Chinese say that North Korea has dropped demands that it meet solely with the US. It has agreed to discuss its nuclear-weapons program with other regional countries present.

The White House, too, appears to have moved on the issue. It is now apparently willing to consider direct talks with the North Koreans if other countries are present at the meetings.[...]

On economic issues as well, leaders attempted to project a sense of cooperation even as domestic concerns dominate their actions. Bush told the group that he continues to support a strong dollar, even as European and other leaders worry that the policy is hurting their exports and causing economic woes at home.

Mr. Charney says he believes that in the long run, a wide, if initially grudging, respect for what the US accomplished by removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq will encourage countries to move beyond their concerns to greater cooperation on the issues the White House is emphasizing. But he says results may yet take a while.

Who's Your Daddy?

The politics of terror alerts: heads Bush wins, tails Bush wins...

by Steve Perry
Monday, June 2, 2003

You may not have noticed, but another Orange Alert has come and gone. The latest one faded quietly away this weekend when the latest wave of al-Qaeda attacks failed to materialize. The interesting thing is that it was left in place for only a couple of weeks--an awfully short time, one would imagine, in the planning-and-execution cycles of terrorist organizations. How can the lighthouse keepers know that the threat has abated in such a short time?

You have to admit it looks like a risky move on its face--after all, what if there is an attack somewhere this week? For the Bush administration to take even this relatively minor gamble in lowering the threat level suggests that it sees a value in the terror alert system that it doesn't want to squander by leaving the sirens turned up all the time.

Why? Everyone knows that: public safety. We don't want the populace to grow so inured that they walk down the street absentmindedly picking up bombs.

Except that this makes no sense at all. Even at Orange Alert we're all told to go on with our normal routines--so there is really no added measure of public safety in getting the public to take terror alerts seriously. (To the extent it's useful to change the alert status of police and government agencies periodically, that could as easily be done without public hoopla.) But there are numerous political uses. And if the system was conceived as one kind of political instrument--a post-9/11 means of assuring the public that the Bushmen were on top of a situation that they were patently not on top of--it's clear that Rove and the rest have long since seen through to its other political uses. At the moment its main virtue is the ability to dictate the news cycle--and thus bury other, less opportune stories at will--and to change the tenor of the day's political dialogue, also at will. It will be one important source of political capital for the Bushmen in the summer and fall of 2004 if they don't wreck its credibility altogether between now and then. (This is far from a sure bet. The state of Arizona is saying it may ignore the next orange alert.) [...]

Wasted at the Pentagon

Fiscal Irresponsibility, Fraud and the Military-Terrorism Complex


The Bush administration recently shelved a report commissioned by the Treasury that shows the US currently faces a future of chronic federal budget deficits totaling at least $44,200bn in current US dollars . Shortly before this, the San Francisco Chronicle published a story about the Defense Department's recent acknowledgement that it is missing over $1.3 trillion U.S. and that the Army lost track of 56 airplanes, 32 tanks, and 36 Javelin missile command launch-units. The DoD figure itself is old news, derived from at least seven years old according to reports from the General Accounting Office, but what made the story important was how little serious coverage of the Rumsfeld/Bush reform proposal there was.

The Defense Transformation for the 21st Century Act represents not just an assault on the working class and unionized labor, but also a cover-up of the fact that the Department of Defense's effort to improve and modernize the Department of Defense accounting practices is at least ten years old, has itself cost at least a hundred million dollars and has produced no real results . In fact, the Department by its own admission has only begun to implement its plan to completely overhaul its financial management systems aggressively since 2002.

This raises several questions. First, given that many of Corporate America's finest managerial minds have worked for the DoD, how is it that this reform process has been so thoroughly bungled? Second, could the missing tanks and planes be located in places like Poland, for example, or any of the other countries that the US bribed to join the "coalition of the willing"? The fraud in military spending is, of course, legendary, but what is not addressed is the mismanagement and how it quite possibly furthers America's most covert foreign policies. [...]

Israel Releases Prominent Palestinian Before Summit

By Jeffrey Heller
Mon June 2, 2003 07:52 PM ET

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel released a jailed member of the Palestine Liberation Organization's executive committee in a goodwill gesture on the eve of a Middle East summit on Tuesday led by President Bush.

About another 100 Palestinian prisoners were likely to go free by Wednesday, when Bush follows a meeting with Arab leaders in Egypt with landmark talks in Jordan with the Israeli and Palestinian prime ministers on a new "road map" for peace.

Taysir Khaled, a leader of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine and a member of the PLO's executive committee -- its highest body -- was released from prison late on Monday.

"My arrest was politically motivated," Khaled said in the West Bank city of Ramallah, where he was welcomed by Yasser Arafat at the Palestinian president's battered headquarters. Israeli defense officials were unavailable for comment. [...]

FCC adopts media ownership rules

June 2, 2003: 1:19 PM EDT

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - The Federal Communications Commission narrowly approved new media ownership rules Monday, allowing television broadcasters to expand their reach, despite fears the move may reduce the variety of viewpoints available to consumers.

The Republican-led government agency voted 3-2 to allow the broadcast networks to own television stations that reach a combined 45 percent of the national audience, up from 35 percent.

Citing a need to update the decades-old rules to reflect new sources of entertainment, information and news, the FCC also voted to lift a ban that prevents a company from owning both a newspaper and a television or radio station -- except in the smallest markets.

FCC Puts Democracy on Mute

JUNE 2, 2003 1:14 PM

WASHINGTON - Common Cause, and Free Press today condemned the FCC's 3-2 vote in favor of relaxing media ownership rules that favor corporate monopolies at the expense of local news outlets and diversity. The groups vowed to continue fighting to take back America's public airwaves by going to Congress and the courts to restore limits on what media giants can own.

"This is a dark day for American democracy," said Chellie Pingree, president of Common Cause. "The FCC has ignored mounting public pressure and given the green light to a handful of media moguls to control what the American public sees, hears, and reads. That is frightening prospect." [...]

Bad Idea

About 10 or 12 mega-conglomerates control about 75 percent of the communications in the United States, and the Federal Communications Commission is about to pass a rule that will allow them to gobble up the remainder.

This is not good.

For a land that is supposedly the bastion of free speech, we have fewer competing newspapers than most other industrial countries in the world. Catch the news on ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC, Fox and CNN, and you get essentially an identical picture of the world, one that bears only a limited and superficial resemblance to the real one. We are nation of 268 million people and there are only, as of 2001, 1,480 daily newspapers — most of them owned by these few mega-corporations.

Don't be fooled by all the talk about choices. Sure you have a choice between America Online and CompuServe. Guess who owns CompuServe? AOL. The big conglomerates own most of the cable channels. The producers of most of the programming are likewise relatively few.

Every city and town in America needs an independent, locally owned newspaper, radio station and TV station. Darned few have them anymore. Some of these big conglomerates own newspapers, radio stations, TV stations, book publishers, magazines, cable channels, movie studios and TV networks. You name it, they got it. And they want what they don't already have, and the FCC is about to give it to them by loosening present restrictions on ownership of properties in the same market.

You should also not be fooled by the blarney that owners don't tell employees what to write or say. They don't have to. They don't hire people who disagree with them on what they consider to be the really important issues. You've got to be a pretty dumb employee not to figure out what the boss likes and dislikes. And if you don't, you won't be around that long.

Ego and pretentiousness notwithstanding, journalists are blue-collar workers in information factories. There aren't many willing to tell off the publisher or the news director, and those who do are out the door.

I used to get a laugh when I was working for a daily newspaper and the paper was crusading for some pet project. Inevitably, somebody would call and say, "Why don't you write a column and tear their arguments apart?"

"Well," I would reply, "for starters, my name is Reese, not Rockefeller. This newspaper you want me to attack is the one that pays my salary. Aside from my interest in not being unemployed, as long as I take their money, I owe them loyalty."

Sure, I used to take positions that differed from those of the newspaper on some issues, but if it was an issue the publisher and editor really cared about, I either supported it or, if I couldn't honestly do that, just wrote about something else. That's the way the world works. And as an old Buddhist sage once observed, "If you understand, the world is as it is; if you do not understand, the world is as it is."

In all seriousness, the foundation of our great idea of self-government is that if the people know the truth, they can make the right political decisions. In our time, we depend on commercial communications for most of our information. To allow so few hands to control so much of our communications is dangerous.

Fakery in American Journalism

By Thomas Fleming

Mr. Fleming's latest book is The Illusion of Victory: America in World War I (Basic Books, 2003). He is a member of the board of directors of HNN.

The uproar over Jayson Blair, the New York Times reporter who was exposed as a man who made up details and descriptions and embellished stories with false quotes, has omitted one salient fact. The journalists of the 19th and early 20th centuries would have shrugged off Mr. Blair's inventions with a goodnatured wink. "Faking it" -- the tradition of manufacturing facts to enliven stories -- or even describing things that never happened -- has a long tradition in American newspapers. [...]

9/11 Movie Paints Bush as Hero

by Linda McQuaig June 2, 2003

In real life, Wyatt Earp probably dove under the bed at the first sign of trouble. But he sure looked brave on the big screen, taking on troublemakers in Dodge City.

Of course, anyone's story can be magically transformed by Hollywood screenwriters, who routinely turn the tawdriest tales into heroic sagas.

Even so, they must have dug deep into their bag of tricks to write the made-for-TV movie - filmed in Toronto this spring - of George Bush's heroic handling of the 9/11 crisis.

The film, which qualifies for generous Canadian federal and provincial cash incentives for film production, is sure to help the White House further its two-pronged re-election strategy: Keep Americans terrified of terrorism and make Bush look like the guy best able to defend them.

Lionel Chetwynd, the writer-producer of this heartily pro-Bush movie, is a kind of west coast David Frum - a Canadian who has fully embraced the Bush revolution and even joined the administration (sitting on a White House arts committee).

His film - unlikely to enhance the reputation of Canadian filmmakers - portrays Bush as decisive and in-charge on 9/11, commanding officials on Air Force One to take him to Washington.

"If some tinhorn terrorist wants me, tell him to come and get me! I'll be at home! Waiting for the bastard!"

Whoever was driving Air Force One apparently wasn't listening; as we know, the president was flown instead to Nebraska and only returned that evening to the White House, where Laura Bush was holding the fort.

One real-life scene unlikely to get much attention in the Hollywood epic was captured on video the morning of Sept. 11.

It shows the president, right after he's been told a plane has hit the World Trade Center, strolling into a Grade 2 classroom at a Florida school. Minutes later, an aide informs him a second plane has hit the WTC.

The president continues watching the children read a story about a pet goat and then chit-chats with them about reading. (This leaves the casting options wide open - Arnold Schwarzenegger as Bush, but Mr. Dress-Up would have worked too.)

Anyone who's seen that video will recall Bush's inscrutable look the moment he hears about the second plane. Does he realize the course of history has changed? Is he afraid of goats?

In researching his film, Chetwynd reportedly had "lengthy" interviews with Bush and top officials, including Donald Rumsfeld, Andrew Card and Karl Rove.

This access is in stunning contrast to the short shrift the administration has given to serious attempts to investigate 9/11, including efforts by a joint Congressional inquiry, which was denied access to top officials.

The White House is currently blocking publication of most of the inquiry's 800-page report. It is also putting roadblocks in the path of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks, which Bush initially resisted establishing, but agreed to, under pressure from 9/11 families.

Among the many questions needing answers: Why was the multi-billion-dollar U.S. military unable to muster any defence of the nation that day, not even sending U.S. fighters up to investigate the hijacked planes?

As Harvard academic Elaine Scarry wrote in the Boston Globe last fall: "On Sept. 11, the Pentagon could not defend the Pentagon, let alone the rest of the country ... Does [this] mean that fifty years of American defence policy is all wrong?"

Interesting question - just don't expect a response.

Canadians should ponder that question, as we consider backing Bush's missile defence project.

Is it likely that the U.S. military - which couldn't even deal with large planes flying over its own territory for more than an hour on Sept. 11 - would be able to deal with a sleek, camouflaged missile approaching suddenly, at great speed, from some unknown location?

It's astonishing that the most catastrophic event in American history has gone all but uninvestigated in the world's most apparently open democracy.

As Randal Davis, owner of a small Oregon floor cleaning company, noted in an e-mail to me, "If someone slips and falls at the supermarket where I contract, there is always an investigation. We want to know why things happen so they don't happen again."

This investigative zeal applies to just about everything in America - except 9/11. If nothing else, aren't Americans curious to know what went wrong that day?

Curious or not, they're soon to get the airbrushed version, which will paint Bush as a hero and remind Americans how much there is to fear.

As E. J. Dionne noted in the Washington Post last week: "(T)he only thing Republicans have to fear is the end of fear itself."

A Producer's Claim: Queens man blames killing of director on post- 9/11 stress

By Chau Lam New York

Film producer Nathan Chandler Powell admits he killed writer-director Jawed Wassel. Then, he said, he cut up the body, packed the parts in boxes but kept the head in his refrigerator. In an interview last week at the Nassau County jail where he is awaiting trial on murder charges, Powell said he did it because he suffered from post-traumatic stress after witnessing the 9/11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. "I suspected that he [Wassel] was an agent for the Taliban," said Powell, 40, who was in his loft across the East River in Long Island City when he saw the towers fall.

Mega Media Madness

John Nichols and Josh Silver

[...] The FCC's decision was the product of a corrupt process that was awash in special-interest money, and that saw industries that are supposed to be regulated telling the regulators how to proceed. The Center for Public Integrity recently revealed that over the past eight years, media companies and their associations paid for 2,500 travel junkets by FCC commissioners and staffers, at a cost of $2.8 million. The Center also revealed that FCC commissioners, their aides and top staffers hosted 71 off-the-record meetings with industry executives in the months leading up to today's vote. At the same time, only five meetings were held with organizations representing the public interest. Already, watchdog groups and members of Congress are calling for investigations of the cozy relationship between the FCC and the firms that will benefit from these rules changes.

Citizens across the United States are furious with FCC Chairman Powell for limiting public input by scheduling only one official hearing on the rules changes, by withholding the changes until just three weeks before the vote, by neglecting to order adequate studies of the impact of these rule changes, and by refusing a request from Commissioners Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein -- as well as more than 120 members of Congress -- for a delay in the vote. [...]

Study: Detainees abused after 9/11 Justice Department's own report critical of agency

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

WASHINGTON -- The Justice Department mistreated some of the hundreds of foreigners detained after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, according to a report released Monday by the department's own inspector general.


They contend that they were working around the clock, using every resource available to prevent a second wave of attacks. Their strategy was to lock up as many people with suspected ties to terrorists as possible.

Comment: Who will speak up for these people? They will use the same excuse when they come for you. People are held without trials and abused, and we're supposed to excuse the Nazi Justice employees who imprison and torture them?

What's Wrong With This Picture?

Seven of Eight Men Facing Serious Execution Dates in June are Black or Latino

JUNE 2, 2003 10:25 AM

WASHINGTON - Seven of the eight people facing serious execution dates in June are African American or Latino, demonstrating unfair bias in the way the death penalty is applied, the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty said today.

Between June 5 and June 27, eight people face serious execution dates in the states of Indiana, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas and Utah. (A ninth person, Troy Kell of Utah, also has an execution date pending but is expected to receive a stay.) Of the eight people with serious dates, six are African American, one is Latino and one is white. [...]

"The death penalty is biased in two ways when it comes to race," said Steven W. Hawkins, executive director of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. "First, blacks make up 43 percent of death row population, but only 13 percent of the U.S. population generally. Second, and more significantly, the race of the victim often determines who lives and who dies. Of those executed since 1976, 81 percent were convicted of killing white victims. 19 percent were convicted of killing minority victims." [...]

Togo's president leads contested vote count: officials

Tuesday June 3, 4:24 AM

Togo's president was poised to extend his reign as Africa's longest-serving leader, early vote counts from a weekend election showed, as two opposition figures said that they had won the poll.

With 40 percent of the votes from Sunday's election counted, incumbent Gnassingbe Eyadema had received 59 percent of ballots cast, the election commission said here late Monday. [...]

But his sternest challenger Olympio, the son of Togo's first president who was assassinated by soldiers in 1963, was banned from contesting the election because the electoral commission deemed his candidacy application to be incomplete.

The UFC denounced "massive fraud" in Sunday's election and called for a re-run.

"The acts of fraud uncovered today (Sunday) surpass even what we had expected: the early closing of polling stations, the buying of votes," UFC secretary general Jean-Pierre Fabre told a press conference on polling day.

The UFC alleged there had been incidents of ballot-stuffing, non-distribution of voter cards, and other fraud.

Eyadema's camp, meanwhile, accused the opposition of being sore losers.

Comment: This process should be familiar to Americans...

Four U.S. soldiers briefly detained by Iran

03 Jun 2003 00:24:39 GMT

WASHINGTON, June 2 (Reuters) - Four U.S. soldiers and five civilians on boats in the Shatt al-Arab waterway were detained, blindfolded and interrogated by Iranians for several hours on Sunday, the U.S. Central Command said on Monday.

The soldiers and three of the civilians, including a U.S. contractor, were escorted back to their boats and released on Monday but two civilian boat drivers remained in detention, a spokesman for Central Command said.

The group was "taken by force by Iranians. They were blindfolded, taken up river for about 20 minutes to a building where they were interrogated," Cmdr. Dan Gage said by telephone from Central Command headquarters in Tampa, Florida.

Gage said initial medical examinations of the released individuals indicated there were no injuries or signs of physical abuse. He said he had no information on the nationalities of the captains of the two boats or the drivers who remained in detention. [...]

Making a wormhole just got easier...but it's no simple matter.
2 June 2003 PHILIP BALL

Good news for time travellers - it just got cheaper. The amount material needed to build a window through time is infinitesimally small, new research shows.

To travel through time, all you need to do is open a wormhole in space-time and step through it. And to do that you need a magic ingredient called 'exotic matter', which is repelled rather than attracted by gravity.

The hitch is that no one has the remotest idea how to make exotic matter. But don't despair, say Matt Visser, of the Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand, and his colleagues. They have shown that when we do figure out how to make the stuff, we won't need very much of it[...]

Hot weather kills 1,000 Indians
Tuesday June 03, 2003

An acute heat wave in southern India has claimed the lives of more than 1,000 people. Authorities in the state of Andhra Pradesh says conditions are even worse than those in a similar disaster last year.

Some parts recorded temperatures of over 50C as weather officials say the monsoon, expected at this time of the year, has been delayed.

The district of Nalgonda is the worst hit area where the death toll has risen to 204.

Vatican irked by Christian omission

The Vatican wants a Christian EU

The Vatican has expressed its anger at the failure of those drafting a new constitution for the European Union to include a reference to Christianity in their working version of the document.

While the current draft speaks of Europe's "spiritual impulse" and refers to the continent's Greco-Roman and Enlightenment heritage, it makes no mention of the continent's predominant religion.

In an interview with Italy's Corriere della Sera, Valery Giscard d'Estaing, who heads the EU body that drew up the draft presented this week, said he could not mention Christianity for fear of offending other religions.

This omission would be very important and serious, even from a purely historical point of view Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls

But the Vatican spokesman said he wanted the next version to include a specific mention of Christianity.

"Members of this Convention have already suggested the inclusion of this element, this explicit mention of Christianity in future versions of the draft," Joaquin Navarro-Valls told Vatican Radio. "This omission would be very important and serious, even from a purely historical point of view."

Prodi backing

Mr Giscard d'Estaing said that, despite the omission, it was "obvious that Europe's spiritual impulse is that of Christianity".

"We could not mention it more explicitly because, otherwise, we should have mentioned the other religious traditions present in the continent, from the Jewish one to the Muslim one," he said in an interview published on Saturday in the Milan daily. [...]

Mercury in rain surpasses safe level Concentrations at least twice the EPA standard for toxin in lake water

Charlotte Observer

Rainfall in the Carolinas has concentrations of mercury, a toxic metal, that are about twice as high as levels the federal government calls safe in lakes, an advocacy group reported Thursday.[...]

High-tech van, infrared cams fight SARS

BEIJING, China - China has deployed a high-tech van loaded with monitoring equipment to police spitting in its war against SARS, the official Beijing Evening News said.

The vehicle is equipped with three cameras and a big viewing monitor. It can transmit pictures to the city's sanitation department within seconds, the paper said, without giving further details. It quoted an official as saying the truck would be used for crime prevention in the future.

Fat people will have to diet if they want to see the doctor

By Melissa Kite, Political Correspondent

Labour plan patients' contract

OVERWEIGHT people and heavy smokers would have to sign contracts promising to diet or give up cigarettes in return for treatment, under radical new plans being drawn up by Labour. Written contracts would set out the patient's responsibilities while offering them help to cut down or quit smoking, lose weight, take more exercise or eat a more nutritious diet, The Times has learnt. Those who failed to keep their side of the bargain or kept missing appointments could be denied free care.

And Finally...

King Blames Trousers for World's Ills

Mon Jun 2, 9:44 AM ET

MBABANE (Reuters) - Swaziland's absolute monarch has singled out women wearing trousers as the cause of the world's ills in a state radio sermon that also condemned human rights as an "abomination before God."

"The Bible says curse be unto a woman who wears pants, and those who wear their husband's clothes. That is why the world is in such a state today," Mswati, ruler of the impoverished feudal nation of about one million, said late on Thursday.

The Times of Swaziland reported that the monarch, who reigns supreme in the landlocked country run by palace appointees and where opposition parties are banned, went on to criticize the human rights movement.

"What rights? God created people, and He gave them their roles in society. You cannot change what God has created. This is an abomination before God," the king told an audience of conservative church leaders.

Women on the streets of capital Mbabane were not impressed.

"The king says I am the cause of the world's problems because of my outfit. Never mind terrorism, government corruption, poverty and disease, it's me and my pants. I reject that," said Thob'sile Dlamini.

Mswati is Africa's last absolute monarch. He is currently married to nine wives, with a wedding pending for wife number 10, and has chosen an additional fiancee after reviewing videos of topless maidens performing a traditional Reed Dance ceremony.


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