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!
Monday, May 31, 2004
New Article: Jupiter, Nostradamus, Edgar Cayce, and the Return of the Mongols - Laura Knight-Jadczyk
Picture of the Day
- March 7, 2004
By Chris Floyd
"Thou marshall'st me the way that I was going." -- William Shakespeare, "Macbeth"
In January 2002, official White House legal counsel Alberto Gonzales warned George W. Bush that he faced the possibility of execution under the U.S. War Crimes Act for the "new interrogation procedures" and other "flexible measures" he had authorized for the "war on terror," Newsweek reports.
However, because Gonzales regarded himself as the consigliere for the Bush crime family and not a public servant sworn to uphold the Constitution, instead of denouncing Bush's policy of state terrorism -- torture, kidnapping, indefinite detention, hostage-taking, assassination and aggressive war -- Gonzales urged Bush to abandon the international Geneva Conventions and use weasel words to cover up his deliberate violations of U.S. law.
This dereliction of duty comes as no surprise. Back in Texas, Gonzales helped Governor Bush execute a record number of prisoners by preparing the scanty summaries of death penalty cases that Bush reviewed before giving his Neronic thumbs down. Knowing just what the boss wanted, Gonzales routinely omitted mitigating circumstances from the summaries, including recantations of testimony and evidence of flagrant prosecutorial misconduct and defense malpractice, The Atlantic reports. Bush, who continually stoked popular bloodlust for vengeance to enhance his political fortunes, never questioned the slanted reports.
The death-dealing duo then moved to Washington, where the "war on terror" put the whole Earth under the shadow of Little Nero's thumb. At first, Bush balked when he sought lawyers to do the nitty-gritty weasel-work he required, Salon.com reports. The military's legal corps refused to gut the Geneva accords, which had protected U.S soldiers from abuses in so many conflicts over the previous century. As for U.S. law, it was clear and unequivocal: Violations of the Geneva Convention are a capital crime under U.S. statutes.
But as he never ceases to remind us, Bush is a bold, decisive leader. He wasn't about to be thwarted in his urgent crusade to sink the United States into a festering pit of depraved brutality -- the ideal condition for sustaining the power and privilege of a rapacious elite that regards itself "appointed by God" (as Bush's top military intelligence officer, Jerry Boykin, puts it) and beyond the law. So he turned to Attorney General John Ashcroft, the ruthless, democracy-scorning zealot whom Bush -- in a supremely cynical but shrewd move -- had appointed as the nation's chief law enforcer.
Ashcroft, ever-obedient to God's regent on earth, happily obliged. He called up his crack team of Constitution-shredders -- including authors of the Patriot Act -- and eagerly plunged into an orgy of legal perversion. In short order they handed the Pervert-in-Chief just what he wanted: a mendacious "ruling" that Bush and the U.S. military "did not have to comply with any international laws in the handling of detainees in the war on terrorism" -- or indeed, with any of the "normally observed laws of war," Newsweek reported this week.
Think of it: the presidency, the Pentagon, the military, the mercenaries and the many secret armies, secret prisons and roving death-and-snatch squads run by the various U.S. intelligence agencies -- all unleashed from any legal restraint, all operating outside "the normally observed laws of war." And all of it -- the entire system of torture, abuse, atrocity and aggression -- was ordered and approved and officially documented at the very highest level.
What's more, Bush and his warlords knew they were constructing a blatantly criminal operation; why else dig up legal dodges to shield the top conspirators from prosecution? Lower down, of course, it's a different story. The cannon fodder that Bush fed into his war machine -- the "white trash," the immigrants, the urban poor, the part-time reservists -- aren't blessed with the divine elite's exemption from law. When the system's true nature is inadvertently exposed -- pictures leak out, a massacre gets reported, some honest soldier blows the whistle, etc. -- a chunk of fodder is duly offered up on the altar of "justice," while the authors of atrocity mutter a few pieties and rush off to the next fund-raiser.
However, the bitterest fruits of this deliberately lawless system are not actually found in the much-publicized prison abuses, as horrible as they are. Instead, Bush's willful abrogation of the laws of war has led directly to the slaughter of thousands of innocent civilians in the ordinary course of the occupation. The U.S. military's "rules of engagement" have been infected by the elite's criminality, countenancing "spray and slay" tactics, the mutilation of corpses, the killing of wounded and surrendering civilians -- all detailed by anguished professional soldiers like veteran Marine Sgt. Jimmy Massey.
When he saw the bodies of the American mercenaries despoiled in Fallujah, Massey's first thought was "we do the same thing to them," he told The Independent. Iraqis "would see us debase their dead all the time." His unit was killing so many innocent people, including women and children, that he told his commanding officer he felt "we were committing genocide." The commander's response: "You're a wimp."
Massey said that he and his fellow soldiers first went into battle fired up by Bush's warmongering deceit. "My president told me they got weapons of mass destruction, that Saddam threatened the free world, that he had all this might and could reach us anywhere. I just bought into the whole thing." Now he feels betrayed, ashamed. "I killed innocent people for our government. For what?"
Massey, tormented by nightmares, has left the service he loved -- but the killing goes on, "justified" by "rules" designed specifically, at Bush's order, to pervert the law. How many more cities will have to burn to keep this Nero in power?
Comment: Isn't it amazing and rather incredible that the same crew who claim to be doing all they are doing in the name of freedom and justice consider themselves above the rule of law? Doesn't this put the lie to the excuses they give to justify their actions?
Here we descend into the byzantine labyrinth of the American mind. You see, democracy is good, but rulings that go against American interests are undemocratic in principle, even if the majority of the world are for them, because, as the bastion of freedom, the US is incapable of doing anything undemocratic. Rulings against the US are manifestations of those who wish to curb freedom.
Twisted? Yes. Spurious logic? Of course. But that doesn't matter because the minds of the American people have been programmed to think in such circuitous ways that this "logic" seems normal.
God help us all.
Citizens can choose to buy the official line on the events of Sept. 11, 2001 — or they can ask questions about holes in that story as big as the crater at Ground Zero.
This week, at the unlikeliest of locations, the Ukrainian Cultural Centre in west-end Toronto, the International Citizens' Inquiry into 9/11 picks up where it left off in San Francisco in March.
Here, international authors, filmmakers, academics, military and intelligence experts as well as, yes, probably the occasional conspiracy theorist, are mixing it up with ordinary people who can't accept that all the systems simply failed on one terrible and tragic morning.
They're gathering to focus attention on why, still, nearly three years after two planes tore through the World Trade Center, one crashed into the Pentagon and a fourth into a Pennsylvania field, the White House still hasn't produced a plausible explanation for why so much went so wrong all at once.
"To ask questions and to ask them fearlessly," says Citizens' Inquiry director Barrie Zwicker. "This is the heart of this."
Indeed, a majority of Canadians doubt the line out of Washington. A poll conducted for the non-profit inquiry this month shows that 63 per cent of us believe the U.S. government had "prior knowledge of the plans for the events of September 11th, and failed to take appropriate action to stop them."
Perhaps that's a testament to our media, which were not at Ground Zero, not personally affected by events and not waving the flag.
Whatever the explanation, Zwicker, a media critic for more than 30 years, says the U.S. press abdicated its responsibility to probe what happened and has been "complicit" in advancing the official explanation.
"If the corporate media had looked at this from the beginning, we would be living in a different world now," he insists. "(U.S. President) George W. Bush would have been impeached by now."
Comment: But we all know who controls the corporate media...
Inquiry's unasked questions include: Why were fighter jets not scrambled in time to stop the planes from smashing into the buildings? Why did the U.S. chain of command — including the commander-in-chief Bush — not act when the hijackings were in progress? Why were so many warnings missed? And why did it take the Kean Commission — Washington's official 9/11 inquiry — so long to get going, and only after the bereaved families noisily lobbied for more than a year? [...]
True, some of the participants have some unusual theories. For example, Meyssan, despite eyewitness accounts, has suggested that it was in fact a missile that hit the Pentagon. But at yesterday's opening session at least, not a tin-foil hat was in site among the mostly middle-aged crowd of 100. In fact, they looked like the kind of people you might see slinging hash for the homeless at a soup kitchen.
Comment: The official story of what happened on 9/11 doesn't add up. As the author states, the White House has not been able to produce a plausible explanation for the events that transpired that fateful September morning. Along comes someone like Meyssan who proposes an alternate theory which is backed by the same amount of evidence as the official line - yet Meyssan's theory is considered "unusual"?
That despite sneers yesterday from warbloggers and their acolytes. They claim that those who challenge the idea that some suicidal Arabs armed with box cutters managed to outsmart the greatest technomilitary power history has ever known are "conspirazoids," "left-wing loonies" or "fanatical Muslims."
Comment: It is particularly hysterical that those "right-wing warmongers" who denounce anyone who challenges the official line as left-wing fanatics are themselves guilty of the very "fanaticism" they so despise in others. One might think that such an obvious tactic would be readily apparent to the masses. One would be dead wrong. It seems that most people enjoy being puppets.
All of which works great for Bush and company. That's because, by lumping 9/11 skeptics with whackos who pick up alien voices with their tooth fillings, the mainstream media can marginalize any and all questioners as "conspiracy theorists."
"The official story is a conspiracy theory: Osama bin Laden and his co-conspirators did it," Zwicker emphasizes. "It's a brilliant narrative, but upon examination of the evidence, it crumbles into dust, just like the dust of the World Trade Towers."
Comment: Apparently, conspiracies are okay if they are approved by Bush, his god, and the lapdog media. It's the theories of those "other people", the ones who actually attempt to use their brains, that we must irrationally and completely ignore. Praise the Lord!
When President Bush took a tumble from his bicycle on May 22 at his Crawford, Texas, ranch, spokesman Trent Duffy explained, "It's been raining a lot and the topsoil is loose. You know this president. He likes to go all out. Suffice it to say he wasn't whistling show tunes."
According to weatherunderground.com, it hadn't rained in Crawford for eight days.
Comment: It gets better - on May 14th, precipitation was a whopping 0.03 inches.
May 30, 2004
ROME (Reuters) - President Bush is often misunderstood by those who do not know him personally and are unaware of his sensitive side, Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said in a television interview on Sunday.
"He's a normal man, absolutely open to everyone's feelings. He's a family man, a husband, a father of two children who he loves very much. He's someone absolutely like us," Berlusconi, who revels in the role as Bush's closest European ally behind British prime minister Tony Blair, told RAI3's Telecamere.
"He has very deep feelings, especially for the U.S. victims (in Iraq) ... his pain is deep."
Comment: Said one psychopath about another...
Ahead of Bush's visit to Italy next Friday, which some opponents of the Iraq war have vowed to disrupt, Berlusconi defended U.S. pre-emptive military action in the Middle East.
"The West isn't the aggressor, we must always remember this," Berlusconi said in an interview recorded on Saturday, before the hostage drama in Saudi Arabia in which an Italian cook was killed.
"On the contrary, we are defending ourselves and trying to root out terrorists from their hideouts. That's what happened in Afghanistan and that is what Bush has said is the case in Iraq."
Berlusconi has rejected mounting calls from opposition leaders to withdraw Italy's 2,700 troops in Iraq and is sticking to a firmly pro-U.S. line two weeks ahead of European and local elections which will be an important test of his popularity.
Berlusconi dismissed concerns about the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, saying the former regime of Saddam Hussein could easily have destroyed or exported them and, in any case, the arrest of Saddam was justification enough.
"The real weapon of mass destruction in Iraq was Saddam Hussein -- and he was found."
Comment: We're not sure which is more sickening: that a psychopath like Berlusconi spews such obvious nonsense, or that it actually works in deceiving the masses.
30, 7:04 PM ET
The e-mail, sent by an Army Corps of Engineers official on March 5, 2003, said Douglas Feith, a senior Pentagon official, provided arrangements for the RIO contract, or Restore Iraqi Oil, between Halliburton and the U.S. government, Time said.
The e-mail said Feith, who reports to Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, approved arrangements for the contract "contingent on informing WH tomorrow. We anticipate no issues since action has been coordinated w VP's (vice president's) office."
A spokesman for Cheney said his office had no role in the contract process.
"Vice President Cheney and his office have had no involvement whatsoever in government contracting matters since he left private business to run for vice president," said Kevin Kellems, a spokesman for Cheney. [...]
Washington - President Bush is using Air Force One for re-election travel more heavily than any predecessor, wringing maximum political mileage from a perk of office paid for by taxpayers.
While Democratic rival John Kerry digs into his campaign bank account to charter a plane to roam the country, Bush often travels at no cost to his campaign simply by declaring a trip "official" travel rather than "political." [...]
It is an advantage that Bush and other presidents before him have enjoyed. President Clinton frequently was criticized by Republicans for his record-setting use of Air Force One in the campaign season, and Bush is exceeding Clinton's pace.
Comment: What else would we expect from the Bush White House. Clinton was raked over the coals for lying about his sexual adventures. Bush lies about WMDs, his military record, the economy, in fact, pretty much whenever he opens his mouth, and he is hailed as a forceful leader by the fundies. Is this hypocrisy? Heaven's no! God told him to do it!
Washington - People in Crested Butte were caught by surprise last month when the Bush administration said it sold a multinational mining company 155 mountaintop acres above the town for $875.
Some of the mountain that they hike, picnic and ski on had been sold - perhaps to be closed to the public - for about the price of a pair of nice skis.
The bargain for Phelps- Dodge Corp. doesn't end there. The company also has claims on another 5,000 acres comprising much of the rest of the mountain and leading into the valley around Crested Butte.
The company, or its predecessors, paid 84 cents to $27 an acre, near a town where land can cost $1 million an acre. [...]
It's all legal under an 1872 law that was drafted to encourage development of the West but which critics say has turned into a 21st-century giveaway to developers and multinational corporations. [...]
After paying the small fee for the land, they get the gold, silver and other minerals for free. In 2002, the top mineral companies reported profits of $4 billion from the minerals they extracted from public land.
Many of those companies, EWG notes, are foreign-owned, exporting the profits from taxpayer-owned land. In Colorado, three of the top 10 mining-claim holders are based in Canada, according to the EWG analysis. [...]
Norton's Interior Department approved the sale of land near Crested Butte last month despite official objections by environmental groups and local governments, and despite a moratorium on sales, or patents, in place since 1994.
That moratorium prevents the federal government from selling any of the rest of Phelps-Dodge's 556 other claims controls in the area. But the the 155-acre Mount Emmons patent was one of 398 patent requests made before 1994 that were "grandfathered in." [...]
Comment: Meanwhile, ordinary Americans - in a state regarded as essential for Bush's "reelection" - can't even get a job:
McCormick Tribune staff reporter
Optimism has an open stool these days inside the Friendly Korner, a tavern in the shadow of the sprawling steel and ball-bearing plant that for more than a century has defined this city's economy.
With the local unemployment rate at 9.9 percent, there's a distinct feeling in the home of the Pro Football Hall of Fame that the global economy's playing field has become decidedly uneven.
"It's very somber and stressed," bartender Nina Johnson said of the mood, as she poured 80-cent draft beers last week. "All the major employers are outsourcing."
But the worst news in recent memory arrived May 14 when Timken Co., the largest employer in the city and surrounding Stark County, announced plans to close three bearing plants in the area, including its first local factory, built in 1901.
The news that 1,300 jobs will be cut could hardly have been worse--or more awkward--for President Bush, who returned to the key battleground state of Ohio last week for the 17th visit of his presidency.
Based in a county with many independent voters and "Reagan Democrats," Timken has long had strong Republican ties. W.R. "Tim" Timken Jr., the company's chairman, is a "Ranger" within Bush fundraising circles, meaning he has helped raise at least $200,000 for the re-election effort.
Partly for that reason, one of the company's buildings served as a backdrop a year ago for a presidential speech about the economy. The oration included references to Timken's future in Canton that now appear ironically incorrect and almost made for a Democratic campaign commercial.
"The future of this company is bright, and therefore, the future of employment is bright for the families that work here," Bush said in April 2003. [...]
The Timken plant closing is just the latest in a string of manufacturing cuts in Ohio and throughout the industrial Midwest, where large portions of the smokestack economy have been idled and union workers have come to widely despise the North American Free Trade Agreement. [...]
Some workers are skeptical of the timing of the closing announcement because the jobs would still be around for about two years. Others believe it's a serious threat because the layoffs could have just as easily been announced after the Nov. 2 presidential election.
"This is a business decision, not a political one," said Jason Saragian, a company spokesman. [...]
"Outsource Bush" bumper stickers have started to appear in Ohio, which has nearly 170,000 fewer manufacturing jobs than when the president took office. [...]
By Matt Bivens
In 1996, the United States paid $22.56 in rent for Spaso House, the ambassador's elegant residence in central Moscow. That August, The Washington Post asked Thomas Pickering, the departing ambassador, how it felt to live in a mansion for a few bucks a month. In reply, the Post reported, Pickering "chortles with frugal delight."
Pickering noted that the 20-year lease for Spaso House would not expire until 2006, though hyperinflation had reduced his rent "to [roughly] $30 a year, which I'm quite happy about."
The Russians countered that every other nation in the world had renegotiated leases for diplomatic missions. They also pointed out, correctly, that under international law, hyperinflation constitutes a contract-nullifying force majeure.
Pickering replied that the United States would happily buy the building. Until that happened, he was happy to be amused.
Comment: A small detail, but one that shows that the Americans enjoy humiliating people when they are down. They alone of the world's countries with low rent embassies in Moscow refused to renegotiate.
A meeting of Iraq's Governing Council to finalise the composition of the interim government has been postponed.
The new body is due to assume power at the end of June. Many posts are already filled, but differences remain over who should be the figurehead president.
Iraqi council members blamed the delay on US officials, who they said were trying to impose their political will. [...]
Our correspondent says that the Americans had called on the UN to help give the process of choosing Iraq's first post-Saddam Hussein government legitimacy.
But one Governing Council member said it was now as if the UN did not exist. The Americans, he said, were trying to cook things behind the curtains. [...]
Comment: And who was naive enough to think the US would actually allow anyone to contradict their wishes? Of course they are going to do what they want and then lie through their teeth about it. When they have done otherwise? This is what they will attempt to do with any further resolution at the UN: get the Europeans and other countries to provide troops and funds while keeping control over the facts on the ground.
There has been bipartisan condemnation in the United States Congress of the Saudi Arabian Government's efforts to stamp out terrorism.
Some in the US believe Saudi Arabia is now facing more than a terrorist threat and is instead confronting a low level insurgency.
Despite this, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Republican chairman Richard Luger says the Saudis continue to fund radical Islamic schools.
"The Saudi Government funds the Madrass schools and out of these come young Saudis who join these militant organisations," he said.
Democrat House leader Nancy Pilocey agrees.
"I don't know how many more acts of terrorism will have to happen for them to wake up," she said.
The US embassy in Riyadh has renewed its call for US citizens to leave the kingdom.
Comment: Indeed, and how many more acts of "terrorism" will have to happen before Americans and other peoples will wake up to the fact that no Arabs are benefiting from such well-timed attacks? There are quite a few rich white men who have become even more wealthy as a result of the war on terrorism. What has Osama gained? What has the Taleban gained? What have the terrorist/fanatic militant A-rabs in Iraq gained? Now ask yourself what Bush, Cheney, Wolfowitz, Perle, Rice, and the rest of the criminal gang have gained? What have the Zionists who control Israel gained? Who benefits??
The photos from Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison are snapshots, not of simple brutality or a breakdown in discipline, but of CIA torture techniques that have metastasized, over the past 50 years, like an undetected cancer inside the US intelligence community.
From 1950 to 1962, the CIA led massive, secret research into coercion and consciousness that reached a billion dollars at peak. After experiments with hallucinogenic drugs, electric shocks, and sensory deprivation, this CIA research produced a new method of torture that was psychological, not physical--best described as "no touch torture."
The CIA's discovery of psychological torture was a counter-intuitive break-through--indeed, the first real revolution in this cruel science since the 17th century. In its modern application, the physical approach required interrogators to inflict pain, usually by crude beatings that often produced heightened resistance or unreliable information. Under the CIA's new psychological paradigm, however, interrogators used two essential methods, disorientation and self-inflicted pain, to make victims feel responsible for their own suffering.
In the CIA's first stage, interrogators employ simple, non-violent techniques to disorient the subject. To induce temporal confusion, interrogators use hooding or sleep deprivation. To intensify disorientation, interrogators often escalate to attacks on personal identity by sexual humiliation.
Once the subject is disoriented, interrogators move on to a second stage with simple, self-inflicted discomfort such as standing for hours with arms extended. In this phase, the idea is to make victims feel responsible for their own pain and thus induce them to alleviate it by capitulating to the interrogator's power. [...]
After codification in the CIA's "Kubark Counterintelligence Interrogation" manual in 1963, the new method was disseminated globally to police in Asia and Latin America through USAID's Office of Public Safety (OPS). Following allegations of torture by USAID's police trainees in Brazil, the US Senate closed down OPS in 1975.
After OPS was abolished, the Agency continued to disseminate its torture methods through the US Army's Mobile Training Teams, which were active in Central America during the 1980s. In 1997, the Baltimore Sun published chilling extracts of the "Human Resource Exploitation Training Manual" that these Army teams had distributed to allied militaries for 20 years.
In the ten years between the last known use of these manuals in the early 1990s and arrest of Al Queda suspects since September 2001, torture continued as a US intelligence practice by delivering suspects to allied agencies, including Philippine National Police who broke the trans-Pacific bomb plot in 1995.
Once the War on Terror started, however, the US use of "no touch" torture resumed, first surfacing at Bagram Air Base near Kabul in early 2002 where Pentagon investigators found two Afghans had died during interrogation. In reports from Iraq, the methods are strikingly similar to those detailed over 40 years ago in the CIA's Kubark manual and later used by US-trained security forces worldwide.
Following the CIA's two-part technique, last September General Miller instructed US military police at Abu Ghraib to soften up high-priority detainees in the initial disorientation phase for later "successful interrogation and exploitation" by CIA and Military Intelligence. As often happens in "no touch" torture sessions, this process soon moved beyond sleep and sensory deprivation to sexual humiliation. In the second, still unexamined phase, US Army intelligence and CIA operatives probably administered the prescribed mix of interrogation and self-inflicted pain--outside the frame of these photographs.
If a fuller inquiry does establish that this is was what happened at Abu Ghraib, then these seven MPs are neither "creeps" nor weaklings who succumbed to the prison pressure-cooker. They are ordinary American soldiers following orders within a standard interrogation procedure. Whatever their guilt, the court martial of these soldiers should be just a first step up the chain of command and beyond to far-reaching reforms.
At home and abroad, the United States has been, for over 50 years a strong voice in the fight against torture. Simultaneously, however, the CIA's method has become so widely accepted that US interrogators seem unaware that they are, in fact, engaged in systematic torture. From 1970 to 1988, Congress held hearings four times to expose the CIA's use of torture. But each time, the public did not demand reform and the practice persisted.
But now, through these photographs from Abu Ghraib, we can see the reality of these interrogation techniques. We have a chance to join fully with the international community in repudiating a practice that, more than any other, represents a denial of democracy.
28, 6:41 AM ET
Efforts to determine who orchestrated the abuse of Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib prison may be complicated by the ways in which many military intelligence officials, covert U.S. agents and civilian contractors obscured their identities.
Intelligence officers, agents and interrogators at the prison did not wear name tags or display insignia indicating rank, according to testimony at an April 7 hearing for Sgt. Javal Davis, one of seven military police officers accused of abuse. Dressed in desert camouflage uniforms or casual clothes, military and civilian intelligence operatives blended in with other soldiers, and some of them responded coyly when MPs asked their names, says Paul Bergrin, a Newark, N.J., lawyer who represents Davis.
In an interview, Bergrin quoted Davis, 26, as saying that when he asked some of the mysterious agents and interrogators for their names, they would say, " 'I'm Special Agent John Doe,' or 'I'm Special Agent in Charge James Bond.' "
Some of the MPs have been able to identify civilian and military interrogators who they say encouraged the abuse, and photos that MPs took of detainees being abused have allowed investigators to zero in on several other suspects. But as the defense strategies begin to take shape for Davis and other reservists charged with maltreatment of detainees, dereliction of duty and other offenses, Bergrin says he is struggling to identify many of the shadowy covert operatives he claims directed the abuse from October to December.
Davis' defense also is hampered by the decisions of three of his supervisors to invoke their right to remain silent under the military's version of the Fifth Amendment.
The supervisors - including Capt. Donald Reese, commander of the 372nd Military Police Company - refused to testify at Davis' hearing to avoid potentially incriminating themselves.
Bergrin says he is concerned about Davis' ability to get a fair trial if the defense can't call such key witnesses because Davis doesn't know their names or they refuse to testify. Like attorneys for other accused MPs, Bergrin plans to argue that military intelligence officials, CIA officers and civilian interrogators manipulated Davis and other MPs into "softening up" prisoners for interrogations.
But showing that the responsibility for the abuse goes up the chain of command could be difficult if defense attorneys cannot determine the identities of intelligence officers and interrogators who worked with the MPs.
"This is a major problem," Bergrin says. "They refused to provide their identities."
It is common for intelligence officers to shield their identities from prisoners, military analysts say. However, the prison's records should contain such information.
But sign-in logs were kept haphazardly at Abu Ghraib. Without such documentation or photos, defense attorneys and military investigators could have trouble finding evidence - besides someone's memory - to link individual intelligence officers and interrogators to specific acts of abuse.
In an April 15 report recommending that Davis face a court-martial, military investigating officer Maj. John Coughlin said that several civilian contract workers' "present whereabouts (are) unknown." He also said that "James Bond" appeared on a prison log and is an "agent not known, and believed to be a fictitious name." [...] The battle lines between the soldiers and their prosecutors are being drawn over whether defense attorneys should have access to records that they believe could show that superior officers knew about the abuses at Abu Ghraib and looked the other way. [...]
According to a military summary of Davis' hearing obtained by USA TODAY, witnesses also revealed that military intelligence and "OGA" operatives - people from "other government agencies" who the MPs believed to be CIA officers - argued for at least two days over who should dispose of the body of a badly beaten prisoner who died during questioning in a shower room. While the unidentified intelligence officers bickered, the body was kept packed in ice.
Other witnesses testified that as the abuses escalated in an Abu Ghraib cellblock known as Tier 1, the MPs' supervisors - commissioned and non- commissioned officers - avoided the area, especially during the night shift. If supervisors showed up at all, according to testimony, it was only for a few minutes - sometimes seconds - at a time.
Against this backdrop, families of the accused soldiers say they are increasingly concerned that many superior officers will escape courts-martial and that the accused MPs will take the fall for a scandal that has damaged the USA's reputation as a proponent and protector of human rights.
"You have officers who were very close to these enlisted persons," Bergrin says. "They essentially slept in the same area. You can't tell me they didn't know what was going on." [...]
Capt. Scott Dunn, Davis' military lawyer in Baghdad, is asking prosecutors to turn over evidence that documents what superior officers and enlisted supervisors did or didn't do at Abu Ghraib.
Dunn wants all prisoner logs and written authorizations from up the chain of command for "unusual or different treatment of detainees." He also is demanding that the military provide names of all military intelligence officials, CIA officers, FBI agents and civilian contract interrogators who questioned prisoners at Abu Ghraib.
Capt. John McCabe, the military prosecutor, has refused. He said the requests for records on superior officers' activities and Sanchez's visit are "overly vague and non-specific." A military judge will mediate the dispute before trial, just as a judge would in a civilian court.
In court papers, McCabe also said the defense knows as much as he does about the identities of government agents and contract workers who were at the prison.
The pursuit of higher-ups
To show that Davis was doing what he was told, his lawyers face the daunting task of identifying the specific order and the person who gave it, says retired Marine lieutenant colonel Gary Solis, a former military prosecutor who teaches the laws of war at Georgetown University in Washington.
Then, Solis says, they must show that the order was "lawful." Under military law, following an order cannot be used as a defense to a charge of criminal wrongdoing if it was unlawful.
But Solis says the defense is on the right track in pursuing superior officers and other supervisors who failed to spot the abuse and stop it.
In his report, Taguba recommended reprimands and reassignments for several higher-ranking MP and military intelligence personnel, including Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, commander of the 800th MP Brigade, who was in charge of the prison.
Taguba also found that two military intelligence officials and two civilian contract workers were "either directly or indirectly responsible for abuses at Abu Ghraib." They are: Col. Thomas Pappas, commander of the 205th MI Brigade; Lt. Col. Steve Jordan, former director of the military's Joint Interrogation and Debriefing Center in Iraq; Steven Stephanowicz, a civilian interrogator employed by CACI International Inc.; and John Israel, a civilian interpreter employed by CACI.
Stephanowicz was accused in Taguba's report of instructing MPs in "setting conditions" for interrogations, knowing that his suggestions "equated to physical abuse." Stephanowicz's attorney, Henry Hockeimer of Philadelphia, says Stephanowicz no longer is in Iraq but is still employed by CACI.
Taguba recommended that Pappas' failures be examined in the Pentagon's military intelligence probe and that Jordan be relieved of duty for lying to investigators.
Solis says the military must do more. "This crap about career-ending reprimands doesn't get it," he says. "Officers have to go to court-martial." If they aren't charged, Solis says, "that adds a new layer of injustice to the wrongs that have been committed."
Bill Lawson, Frederick's uncle, says that "my nephew will take his licks, but they need to prosecute everybody else" involved in the abuse scandal.
At Davis' hearing, two prosecution witnesses and four soldiers called by the defense sounded a similar theme: The MPs wanted to please the military intelligence officers and civilian interrogators and did not question them.
Sgt. Hydrue Joyner of the 372nd said that like the others, he also did not challenge Graner and Frederick, the MPs with civilian prison guard experience.
"I am not a corrections officer," Joyner testified. "I'm just an MP, on the road fighting the forces of evil."
1945 - 1949
No trial provides a better basis for understanding the nature and causes of evil than do the Nuremberg trials from 1945 to 1949. Those who come to the trials expecting to find sadistic monsters are generally disappointed. What is shocking about Nuremberg is the ordinariness of the defendants: men who may be good fathers, kind to animals, even unassuming--yet committed unspeakable crimes. Years later, reporting on the trial of Adolf Eichmann, Hannah Arendt wrote of "the banality of evil." Like Eichmann, most Nuremberg defendants never aspired to be villains. Rather, they either overidentified with an ideological cause or suffered from a lack of imagination: they couldn't fully appreciate the human consequences of their career-motivated decisions. [...]
Justice Robert Jackson told negotiators from the other nations, "What we propose is to punish acts which have been regarded as criminal since the time of Cain and have been so written in every civilized code." [...]
The indictments against the defendants would prohibit defenses based on superior orders, as well as tu quo que (the "so-did-you" defense). Delegates were determined not to let the defendants and their German lawyers turn the trial into one that would expose questionable war conduct by Allied forces. [...]
The trial began with the reading of the indictments. The indictments concerned four counts. All defendants were indicted on at least two of the counts; several were indicted on all four counts.
Count One, "conspiracy to wage aggressive war," addressed crimes committed before the war began.
Count Two, "waging an aggressive war (or "crimes against peace"), addressed the undertaking of war in violation of international treaties and assurances.
Count Three, "war crimes," addressed more traditional violations of the laws of war such as the killing or mistreatment of prisoners of war and the use of outlawed weapons.
Count Four, "crimes against humanity," addressed crimes committed against Jews, ethnic minorities, the physically and mentally disabled, civilians in occupied countries, and other persons. [...]
Robert Jackson delivered his opening statement for the prosecution. Jackson spoke eloquently for two hours. He told the court, "The wrongs which we seek to condemn and punish have been so calculated, so malignant, and so devastating that civilization cannot tolerate their being ignored because it cannot survive their being repeated." [...]
The prosecution presented the case that the Austrian invasion constituted an aggressive war, then proceeded over the course of two weeks to show the same for invasions of Czechoslovakia, Poland, Denmark, Norway, Belgium, Holland, Luxembourg, Greece, Yugoslavia, and the Soviet Union. Prosecution proof on the counts of conspiring to wage and then waging an aggressive war consisted mainly of documentary evidence. [...]
A British prosecutor, seeking to establish the criminality of the SS, read an affidavit from Dr. Sigmund Rasher, a professor of medicine who performed experiments on inmates at Dashau concentration camp. The affidavit described an experiment conducted to determine what method to use to save German fliers pulled out of freezing North Sea waters. Rasher ordered inmates stripped naked and then thrown into tanks of freezing water. Chunks of ice were added, as workers repeatedly thrust thermometers into the rectums of unconscious inmates to see if they were sufficiently chilled. Then the inmates were pulled out of the tanks to see which of four methods of warming might work best.
Experimenters dropped most inmates into either tanks of hot water, warm water, or tepid water. One quarter of the inmates were placed next to the bodies of naked female inmates. (Rapid warming with hot water was determined to be most effective.) Rasher stated in his affidavit that most of the inmates used in the experiment went into convulsions and died. [...]
In January, a series of concentration camp victims testified about their experiences. Marie Claude Vallant-Couturier, a 33-year-old French woman, provided particularly powerful testimony about what she saw at Auschwitz in 1942. Vallant-Couturier described how a Nazi orchestra played happy tunes as soldiers separated those destined for slave labor from those that would be gassed. She told of a night she was "awakened by horrible cries. The next day we learned that the Nazis had run out of gas and the children had been hurled into the furnaces alive." [...]
On February 18, 1946, Soviet prosecutors introduced a film entitled Documentary Evidence of the German Fascist Invaders. The film, which consisted mostly of captured German footage, showed Nazi atrocities accompanied by Russian narration. In one scene a boy is shown being shot because he refused to give his pet dove to an SS man. In another scene, naked women are forced into a ditch, then made to lie down as German soldiers--smiling for the camera--shoot them. [...]
Hermann Goering took his seat in the witness chair wearing a gray uniform and yellow boots. His defense attorney, Otto Stahmer, asked whether the Nazi party had come to power through legal means. In a long answer delivered without notes, Goering gave his account of the Nazi rise to power. He told the court, "Once we came to power, we were determined to hold on to it under all circumstances."
Goering was unrepentant. He evaded no questions; offered no apologies. He testified that the concentration camps were necessary to preserve order: "It was a question of removing danger."
The leadership principle, which concentrated all power in the Fuhrer, was "the same principle on which the Catholic church and the government of the USSR are both based."
Commenting on Goering's performance in the witness box, Janet Flanner of the New Yorker described Goering as "a brain without a conscience." [...]
Over the course of the next four months, lawyers for each of the defendants presented their evidence. In most cases, the defendants themselves took the stand, trying to put their actions in as positive of a light as possible. Many of the defendants claimed to know nothing of the existence of concentration camps or midnight killings. Typical was Joachim von Ribbentrop. Asked on cross-examination, "Are you saying that you did not know that concentration camps were being carried out on an enormous scale?", Ribbentrop replied, "I knew nothing about that." Prosecutor Maxwell-Fyfe then displayed a map showing a number of concentration camps located near several of Ribbentrop's many homes.
Other defendants used their testimony to emphasize that they were merely following orders--although the IMT disallowed defense of superior orders, the issue was raised anyway in the hope that it might affect sentencing. [...]
Sometimes defense evidence actually strengthened the prosecution's case. Such was the case on April 15, when the attorney for Gestapo and SD Chief Ernst Kaltenbrunner called Colonel Rudolf Hoess to the stand. Hoess was the commandant of Auschwitz. Why he was called as a defense witness remains a mystery. Speculation is that it was thought his testimony, revealing his very large role in the gassing of thousands of inmates, might make Kaltenbrunner's guilt seem small in comparison. Hoess's matter-of-fact account of mass executions using Zyklon B gas--sometimes 10,000 inmates killed in a single day-- left many in the courtroom stunned. [...]
The courtroom in the Palace of Justice, which had largely emptied for the defense summations, was full again on July 26, 1946, for the much anticipated closing argument of Robert Jackson. Jackson took shots at each of the defendants in turn. His strongest attacks were reserved for Goering. In the dock, Goering--with perverse pride--kept a count of references to him. Speer and the other repentant defendants got off the lightest. Jackson concluded his summation with a passage from Shakespeare:
On Saturday, August 31, the first of the indicted defendants, Hermann Goering, moved to the middle of the dock where a guard held before him a microphone suspended from a pole. Goering told the court that the trial had been nothing more than an exercise of power by the victors of a war: justice, he said, had nothing to do with it.
Rudolf Hess offered an odd final statement, filled with references to visitors with "strange" and "glassy" eyes. He ended by saying it had been his "pleasure" to work "under the greatest son which my people produced in its thousand-year history."
Some defendants offered apologies. Some wept. Albert Speer offered a warning. He spoke of the even more destructive weapons now being produced and the need to eliminate war once and for all. "This trial must contribute to the prevention of wars in the future," Speer said. "May God protect Germany and the culture of the West." [...]
On October 15, the day before the scheduled executions, Goering sat at the small desk in his prison cell and wrote a note:
Then Goering removed a smuggled cyanide pill and put it in his mouth. At 10:44 p.m., a guard noticed Goering bring his arm to his face and then began making choking sounds. A doctor was called. He arrived just in time to see Goering take his last breath.
A few hours later, at 1:11 a.m. on October 16, Joachim von Ribbentrop walked to the gallows constructed in the gymnasium of the Palace of Justice. Asked if he had any last words, he said, "I wish peace to the world." A black hood was pulled down across his head and the noose was slipped around his neck. A trapdoor opened. Two minutes later, the next in line, Field Marshal Keitel, stepped up the gallows stairs. By 2:45 a.m., it was all over. [...]
More important, perhaps, is the question of whether Nuremberg mattered. No one could deny that the trials served to provide thorough documentation of Nazi crimes. In over half a century, the images and testimony that came out of Nuremberg have not lost their capacity to shock. The trials also helped expose many of the defendants for the criminals they were, thus denying them a martyrdom in the eyes of the German public that they might otherwise have achieved. There are no statues commemorating Nazi war heroes. The revelations of Nuremberg may also have contributed to building democracy in Germany. The Nuremberg trials did not, however, fulfill the grandest dreams of those who advocated them. They have not succeeded in ending wars of aggression. They have not put an end to genocide. Crimes against humanity are with us still.
Comment: Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it; most particularyly aggressors and oppressors...
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - A former deputy U.S. marshal and Marine Corps veteran who claims the CIA slipped LSD into his drink in 1957 as part of a mind-control project offered enough evidence to send his $12 million lawsuit to trial, a federal judge ruled Monday.
Chief U.S. District Judge Marilyn Hall Patel ruled in favor of Wayne Ritchie, citing an apparent admission from a former CIA operative.
"I drugged guys involved in about 10, 12 (instances)," former federal narcotics agent Ira Feldman, who worked for the CIA's Project MKULTRA, told Ritchie's lawyer in a sworn deposition in February 2003. "I didn't do any follow-up. ... You just back away and let them worry like this nitwit, Ritchie."
Ritchie, 75, believes he may have been a guinea pig for the CIA's MKULTRA project, in which LSD and other drugs were given to hundreds of unsuspecting Americans during the Cold War.
Ritchie believes his drinks at a 1957 office Christmas party attended by a federal agent involved in the project were spiked.
The government denies drugging Ritchie and accuse him of concocting the theory to cash in on publicity about MKULTRA, the subject of congressional hearings in the 1970s and a 1997 movie. [...]
30, 1:00 AM ET
Pat Tillman, the former pro football player, was killed by other American troops in a "friendly fire" episode in Afghanistan last month and not by enemy bullets, according to a U.S. investigation of the incident.
New details released yesterday about Tillman's death indicate that he was gunned down by members of his elite Army Ranger platoon who mistakenly shot in his direction when the unit was ambushed. According to a summary of the Army investigation, a Ranger squad leader mistook an allied Afghan Militia Force soldier standing near Tillman as the enemy, and he and other U.S. soldiers opened fire, killing both men.
That Tillman, 27, wasn't killed by enemy fire in a heroic rescue attempt was a major revelation by the U.S. military more than a month after the April 22 incident, which the Pentagon and members of Congress had hailed as an example of combat bravery. Tillman's sacrifice of millions of dollars when he left the National Football League's Arizona Cardinals to become a soldier has been held up as a stark contrast to the prison scandal in Iraq.
Shortly after his death, Army officials awarded Tillman a Silver Star for combat valor and a Purple Heart. He also was promoted from specialist to corporal. They said Tillman was killed while charging at the enemy up a hill, allowing the rest of his platoon to escape alive.
Instead, it appears Tillman's bravery in battle led him to become a victim of a series of errors as he was trying to protect part of his stranded platoon, which Army officials say was attacked while hampered by a disabled vehicle it had in tow. The report said Tillman got out of his vehicle and shot at the enemy during a 20-minute firefight before he was killed when members of his unit opened fire after returning to the scene to help.
A woman who answered the door at the home of Tillman's parents in San Jose said the family did not have anything to say publicly.
News of Tillman's death by friendly fire was first reported yesterday in the Arizona Republic and the Argus of Fremont, Calif., and new details emerged yesterday.
Military officials could not explain the discrepancy between earlier reports and the releases yesterday, saying that a month-long investigation into the attack helped clarify the events. The investigation reports that Tillman was killed after he got out of his vehicle and fought about a dozen insurgents in restricted terrain and in poor light conditions.
"While there was no one specific finding of fault, the investigation results indicate that Corporal Tillman probably died as a result of friendly fire while his unit was engaged in combat with enemy forces," said Lt. Gen. Philip R. Kensinger Jr., who is in charge of the U.S. Army's Special Operations Command, based in Fort Bragg, N.C. [...]
Rarely in our society does a historical event play such an important role that it takes on a persona of its own, elevated beyond the scope of intellectual questioning. However, we must never lose sight of the role that history plays in shaping our beliefs, views and culture. History should always be placed in its proper perspective through unbiased examination.
The purpose of history is not the regurgitation of dates, facts and timelines, but is an instructor in understanding and enlightenment. History is the revealer of human behavior, the identity shaper of nations and a lighthouse to guide our paths towards the future.
Mark Weber of the Institute of Historical Review stated regarding history, "Any people that has a distorted sense of its own history is unable to know what to do. The best guide to the future is an understanding and a study of the past. When history is distorted, then any kind of rational, wise policies for the future become impossible."
With this in mind, to question the iconoclastic and preternatural status of the Holocaust becomes mandatory given its magnified position in American society. Its predominance has transcended the world over, indoctrinating those in an exclusively one-sided Jewish perspective. Many are completely unaware of the existence of other perspectives, perspectives of the historical revisionists that shatter this social dogma.
First, revisionists do not want to "revise" history, but are simply advocating that we look again at historical events in order to better understand them and apply their lessons. Specific to the Holocaust, they do not den y the existence of concentration camps or Jewish suffering under National Socialist Germany, but are quick to point out that many people suffered on both sides of World War II.
Where revisionists part company from mainstream historians is their skepticism of Nazi industrial complexes or formal plans specifically designed to exterminate the Jewish people.
So, to participate in the freedom of academic inquiry, let us look again at the Holocaust through the eyes of historical revisionists…
Imagine for a moment that you read the following account printed in numerous Arabic newspapers and broadcast on Al-Jazeera:
"The Americans hate the Iraqi people. George W. Bush and his Republican Party have invaded Iraq to kill all Iraqis. Inside Abu Grahib prison, under the direction of President Bush and his Republican Party, the Americans a re making lampshades out of Iraqi skin and soap from the fat of dead Iraqis. Outside the prison is a large building used to gas the Iraqi people. Millions have been gassed and cremated. There is a device that is used to e lectrocute and vaporize Iraqis without a trace of evidence."
Now, I'm willing to bet that every American would, at a minimum, read the account with a raised brow. In fact, most of us would play it off as Arabic propaganda. Yet, why do we not question the same accounts of the Holocaust? Certainly, propaganda existed then as it does today. As Harry Elmer Barnes - regarded by many as the founder of historical revisionism - truthfully noted, "The tendency of governments to lie is most pronounced during times of war and conflict." This tendency was demonstrated a few years ago by Colin Powell at the United Nations when holding up photographs of buildings in Iraq that he claimed were weapons of mass-destruction factories, but were just buildings, after all.
Still, all of us have heard the testimonies of numerous Jewish concentration- camp survivors and their stories of alleged Nazi atrocities, so to eliminate redundancy, I will not quote them here. Yet the mere existence of millions of survivors would produce a shadow of doubt - one would hope - on the extermination theory. Unfortunately, the survivors who tell a completely different story of the concentration camps are seldom heard. They are often silenced like many historians who try to tell their stories for them. But their testimonies do exist. [...]
As the decades-old debate continues, it is becoming more apparent that the details of the Holocaust are essentially unimportant. In fact, as was recently told to me by an expert on the subject, the importance is its socia l and political influence. The Holocaust has risen to a ruling symbol of our culture because of Jewish political power. In other words, you can't understand one without understanding the other.
Yet one can easily conclude that Holocaust promotion (and more specifically, Jewish suffering) has produced a social psychosis - a psychological phenomenon - resulting in the elevation of the Jewish people to "special vic tim" status. It has created Holocaustism - inducing individuals to subconsciously, through constant reminding of the Holocaust and Jewish suffering, stay away from criticizing Israel or Jewry for fear of being labeled ant i-Semitic.
This is exactly what the promotion was intended to achieve.
Many Americans are unaware of its subconscious effects on their own lives. This is demonstrated in a subtle exhibition of eloquence by Bradley Smith when lecturing at college universities. First, he reads a quote by Elie Wiesel - former Auschwitz inmate and recipient of the 1986 Nobel Peace prize - from the book Legends of our Time:
"Every Jew, somewhere in his being, should set apart a zone of hate - healthy, virile hate - for what the German personifies and for what persists in the German."
He then pauses allowing the audience to think about that statement. Then, he changes two words to show the effects of one-sided Jewish media perspectives and the influence it has over their hearts, minds and souls. The re sult is always stunned silence.
"Every Palestinian, somewhere in his being, should set apart a zone of hate - healthy, virile hate - for what the Jew personifies and for what persists in the Jew."
Feel the difference?
President Bush is assisting the spread of this psychosis when he recently told the audience at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, "The demonization of Israel ... can be a flimsy cover for anti-Semitism."
Dishonest statements such as this deter debate and questioning regarding Israel or organized Jewry.
However, it isn't just the Holocaust itself that has given rise to psychological Holocaustism. There are other institutions, mainly religious and political, that create a pro-Israeli or pro-Jewish atmosphere. For instance, America's "amen corner" is fanatical in its support of Israel and organized Jewry, often over the interests of their own country. And politicians of both parties exalt the state of Israel, frequently placating to Jewish interests.
In a remarkable illustration of the effects of Jewish power on American politicians, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay boasts of his pro-Israeli servitude on his Web site.
"We know our victory in the War on Terror depends on Israel's survival ... We hear your voice cry out in the desert, and we will never leave your side ... All free men and women must rally to the defense of Israel."
Even worse, in a small reminder to everyone of Jewish power in Washington, DeLay reverently displays on his site an image of the Israeli and American flag flying triumphantly together over the U.S. Capitol.
27, 1:58 PM ET
An extraordinary public mea culpa in the news pages of The New York Times prompted debate Wednesday over the role that the media played in helping the Bush administration make its case for war in Iraq and in fueling policy decisions and public opinion about the conflict.
The Times said it had failed to sufficiently scrutinize the administration's assertion that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein controlled weapons of mass destruction or that Islamic terrorists were training in Iraq.
The articles were written in the months just prior to and after the March 2003 U.S.-led invasion. To this day, no stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction have been found in Iraq, nor has evidence been uncovered establishing that Hussein harbored Al Qaeda operatives.
Though The New York Times was not alone in accepting government assertions that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction, its aggressive coverage was significant because of the paper's unique influence on journalism and in political circles, said former Clinton White House press secretary Joe Lockhart.
"When a member of Congress sits down and reads something in The New York Times, they believe it's true, and even if they think it's not true, they realize it's on the agenda and has to be dealt with," Lockhart said.
He singled out Iraqi dissidents--including Ahmad Chalabi, who recently has come under suspicion of sharing American secrets with Iran--as having arranged for the Times to get information in the lead-up to the war. At the time, those same dissidents were supplying information to U.S. intelligence agencies and administration officials, who then corroborated the information to the Times and other news media.
Critics charge the dissidents, whose goal was to topple Hussein, succeeded in shaping a stream of news stories that helped mold public opinion in support of the administration's intention to go to war.
"There's an echo chamber or circular feel to all of this, which really should worry everybody," Lockhart said.
`A neat con man's game'
Retired Gen. Anthony Zinni, the former regional commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East, also criticized the pattern of leaks by Iraqi exiles that the administration would later confirm to reporters. He said Wednesday that the interplay of the Pentagon and Iraqi dissidents amounted to "a neat con man's game. It comes full circle and validates the [inaccurate] information."
Zinni was one of the few prominent military officers to publicly criticize the administration's plans for the war beforehand.
In a note labeled "From The Editors" and headlined "The Times and Iraq," the paper admitted Wednesday to having relied too heavily on a few sources, most of them Iraqi dissidents with a clear interest in overthrowing Hussein.
The paper wrote that some of its coverage "was not as rigorous as it should have been." The note added that "information that was controversial then, and seems questionable now, was insufficiently qualified or allowed to stand unchallenged."
Offering reflection and contrition but falling short of an apology, the editors wrote, "Looking back, we wish we had been more aggressive in re-examining the claims as new evidence emerged--or failed to emerge."
In recent years, many Iraq analysts charged that Hussein was eager to develop weapons of mass destruction. But relationships that Iraqi dissidents formed with the Times and other reporters, and with neo-conservative intellectuals who rose to key positions in the Defense Department, appear to have created a hall of mirrors that amplified claims Hussein possessed such weapons.
In a February piece in The New York Review of Books, Michael Massing told how the Pentagon and Chalabi, head of the Iraqi National Congress, supplied information to Times reporters aimed at lending credence to administration claims about threats posed by Hussein. Throughout those months, Chalabi's group was receiving monthly payments from the U.S. government for "intelligence collection." The payments stopped last week.
Though many critics of the Times' coverage have singled out articles written by Times reporter Judith Miller, the newspaper's editors said the problem of insufficient oversight "was more complicated." They said that "editors at several levels" should have been challenging reporters more skeptically but may have been "too intent on rushing scoops into the paper."
Nonetheless, Chalabi, widely believed to be Miller's most prominent source, was all but officially discredited last week following a raid by U.S. and Iraqi forces on his Iraqi National Congress offices.
"The stories Judith Miller wrote were incredibly important in selling the idea that Iraq posed an immediate threat to the world," said Jim Naureckas, editor of Extra!, a magazine published by the media watchdog group Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting.
Although some news organizations did publish stories questioning the administration's claims that Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction, most coverage did not emphasize a critical examination. That helped build an atmosphere in public opinion that was difficult to counter.
"It blunted a lot of criticism and cowed a lot of critics," said Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), who voted against a congressional resolution authorizing war in Iraq. "I know it. It was too much for some of my colleagues in Congress. The safe vote was the vote for the war." [...]
Suddenly everybody's saying sorry. The Washington Post joins sweaty palms with the New York Times. Sorry. British editors scan their own building blocks on the road to war. Sorry. Piers Morgan spends more time with his bank balance. Sorry. Here come our old chums, the BBC governors. Sorry, sorry, sorry. But "sorry" is an infernally complicated word.
Take the sorry tale of Ahmad Chalabi. Last year he was America's most favoured Iraqi president-in-waiting. This year he's toast - and in a jam. "It's pretty clear that Iranians had us for breakfast, lunch and dinner," according to a ubiquitous "intelligence source" in Washington. "Iranian intelligence has been manipulating the US for several years through Chalabi."
There's the tune that buries any residual Chalabi hopes. "He passed very sensitive and classified information to the Iranians," says Mr CIA. He was a double agent. "We have rock solid information." There, in turn, is the dirge that puts the New York Times back on its knees. But pause for a moment: try fluting a few discordant toots amid this craven chorus.
What is the Times actually grovelling about? It swallowed too many tales of shaky "veracity". That ancient litany about multiple sources and double- checking resounds again. Yet the source here, the source of so much woe, is also single - and off the record. How do we know that Chalabi and his main mate, Habib, were Tehran's willing agents? Because the CIA pushes forward a background briefer and tells us so. One Central Intelligence Agency spiel, one very convenient message.
Once upon a long-lost time, the director of the CIA, George Tenet, told George Bush that finding weapons of mass destruction was a "slam dunk certainty". But that was then - and now there are no WMDs, no certainties, and (soon perhaps) no continuing job prospects for either of the two Georges.
Somebody has to pay for this awful mess. The neoconservative clique at the Pentagon ran its own dodgy intelligence operation, fawned over Iraqi exiles peddling amazements and got up the CIA's professionally twitchy nose. They're on the ropes today, discredited and blustering. So it is payback time in bureaucracy land. Ahmad Chalabi gets his lumps. The arrogant idiots who ran him get hit with rock solid (though curiously unspecified) information. Iranian masterminds come crawling out of the woodwork. Nothing that's happened, nothing that's gone wrong, is the agency's fault. It was them over there, the ones we warned you about. Nothing to do with us, guv.
Good move? The timing, of course, seems superbly right. Washington is in full recrimination mode. Iraq needs lorry-loads of scapegoats. The American press may be relied on to wallow in self-righteous introspection. Those who always opposed the war will rejoice at this downfall - and not ask awkward questions. Nobody can defend the indefensible: and Chalabi, his record and his connections, always was indefensible. He and the Rumsfeld mob deserve their comeuppance.
But truth, as duly sanctified by checking and punctilious sourcing? That is a rather different thing. That is a concept awaiting verification. And it comes with a rather graver message attached.
It's only five fleeting months since Hutton reported and history moved on. No more Dyke, Davies, Campbell or Dearlove. The old stars have left this firmament. Lord H himself is tending his retirement garden. But the conundrum of intelligence there exposed remains wholly unchanged.
Is it ever a few explosive facts in a terse, explosive file - the kind of stuff you can lead a front page or Today programme bulletin with? That wasn't the received Hutton wisdom. Intelligence, we were relentlessly informed, was a complex gathering of hints, perceptions and conjunctions, a tapestry of conjecture, expertise and experience. Intelligence wasn't mere journalism. Yet the difficulty, when you strip away the professional blah, is knowing what intelligence amounts to.
Remember Sir Richard Dearlove, our departing "C" for MI6, talking portentously to Hutton down an audio line as though glimpsing his face would bring world calamity. Do you recall his "established and reliable source" for the 45-minute missile farrago, "a senior Iraqi military officer who was certainly in a position to know this information"? Do you recall his scorn over multiple sourcing? "CX reports as produced by my service are essentially single source; and much high-quality intelligence which is factual or proved to be factual is single source material".
All this looks pretty threadbare now as the CIA dumps on its erstwhile single source Chalabi. All this, in the desperation of liberated Iraq, has the musty feel of bygone irrelevance.
What did British intelligence amount to in the months before the war? No more than American intelligence. Were our sources better or worse than the CIA's? They were much the same. Were we, too, grossly misled by some Iranian wizard pulling his scam of the century? Two peas, one pod. If the Americans were so misled, then we were, too. Indeed, George Tenet paid particular tribute to the wealth of British material flowing his way.
Newspapers from the New York Times on may learn particular lessons from this shambles: most vitally, that spook sources chattering unchecked can damage your credibility. But the real message here isn't for editors or their readers, but for politicians and their voters.
Simply: that an intelligence service which can get so much wrong, so comprehensively, which can be humiliated on the grand scale and now almost boast about it, has only one relevant thing left to say out loud. Sorry. Sorry, sorry, sorry.
A series of investigations has shattered neocon self-belief
At a conservative thinktank in downtown Washington, and across the Potomac at the Pentagon, FBI agents have begun paying quiet calls on prominent neoconservatives, who are being interviewed in an investigation of potential espionage, according to intelligence sources. Who gave Ahmed Chalabi classified information about the plans of the US government and military?
The Iraqi neocon favourite, tipped to lead his liberated country post-invasion, has been identified by the CIA and Defence Intelligence Agency as an Iranian double-agent, passing secrets to that citadel of the "axis of evil" for decades. All the while the neocons cosseted, promoted and arranged for more than $30m in Pentagon payments to the George Washington manque of Iraq. In return, he fed them a steady diet of disinformation and in the run-up to the war sent various exiles to nine nations' intelligence agencies to spread falsehoods about weapons of mass destruction. If the administration had wanted other material to provide a rationale for invasion, no doubt that would have been fabricated. Either Chalabi perpetrated the greatest con since the Trojan horse, or he was the agent of influence for the most successful intelligence operation conducted by Iran, or both.
The CIA and other US agencies had long ago decided that Chalabi was a charlatan, so their dismissive and correct analysis of his lies prompted their suppression by the Bush White House.
In place of the normal channels of intelligence vetting, a jerry-rigged system was hastily constructed, running from the office of the vice president to the newly created Office of Special Plans inside the Pentagon, staffed by fervent neocons. CIA director George Tenet, possessed with the survival instinct of the inveterate staffer, ceased protecting the sanctity of his agency and cast in his lot. Secretary of state Colin Powell, resistant internally but overcome, decided to become the most ardent champion, unveiling a series of neatly manufactured lies before the UN.
Last week, Powell declared "it turned out that the sourcing was inaccurate and wrong and, in some cases, deliberately misleading. And for that I'm disappointed, and I regret it". But who had "deliberately" misled him? He did not say. Now the FBI is investigating espionage, fraud and, by implication, treason.
A former staff member of the Office of Special Plans and a currently serving defence official, two of those said to be questioned by the FBI, are considered witnesses, at least for now. Higher figures are under suspicion. Were they witting or unwitting? If those who are being questioned turn out to be misleading, they can be charged ultimately with perjury and obstruction of justice. For them, the Watergate principle applies: it's not the crime, it's the cover-up.
The espionage investigation into the neocons' relationship with Chalabi is only one of the proliferating inquiries engulfing the Bush administration. In his speech to the Army War College on May 24, Bush blamed the Abu Ghraib torture scandal on "a few American troops". In other words, there was no chain of command. But the orders to use the abusive techniques came from the secretary of defence, Donald Rumsfeld.
The trials and investigations surrounding Abu Ghraib beg the question of whether it was an extension of the far-flung gulag operating outside the Geneva conventions that has been built after September 11. The fallout from the Chalabi affair has also implicated the nation's newspaper of record, the New York Times, which published yesterday an apology for running numerous stories containing disinformation that emanated from Chalabi and those in the Bush administration funnelling his fabrications. The Washington Post, which published editorials and several columnists trumpeting Chalabi's talking points, has yet to acknowledge the extent to which it was deceived.
Washington, just weeks ago in the grip of neoconservative orthodoxy, absolute belief in Bush's inevitability and righteousness, is in the throes of being ripped apart by investigations.
Things fall apart: the military, loyal and lumbering, betrayed and embittered; the general in the field, General Sanchez, disgraced and cashiered; the intelligence agencies abused and angry, their retired operatives plying their craft with the press corps, seeping dangerous truths; the press, hesitating and wobbly, investigating its own falsehoods; the neocons, publicly redoubling defence of their hero and deceiver Chalabi, privately squabbling, anxiously awaiting the footsteps of FBI agents; Colin Powell, once the most acclaimed man in America, embarked on an endless quest to restore his reputation, damaged above all by his failure of nerve; everyone in the line of fire motioning toward the chain of command, spiralling upwards and sideways, until the finger pointing in a phalanx is directed at the hollow crown.
May 25th, 2004 10:00 AM
By the thousands, the curious still combed the Internet for poor Nicholas Berg last week. The young American businessman, killed by some mysterious hand in Iraq—that of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, or a gang of assassins from Tikrit, or whomever—topped Yahoo's Buzz Index of most frequent Internet searches. The list included, at number 13, the phrase "American beheading video," suggesting that some great bulk of surfers simply craved a few seconds of ghastly footage.
Others were no doubt moved by Berg's compelling and sadly concluded story, and the very public manner in which his family was forced to bear his death.
But another faction was on the lookout for more obscure clues, bits of information to support a story line steeped in intrigue and, frankly, implausibility. It was a reasonable response to the times. Faced with a war many Americans find implausible, waged by a president who lost credibility following bad intelligence about weapons of mass destruction (provided by advisers with a plan for the world), this second faction blurred the line between healthy skepticism and paranoia. Many of those questioning the White House line on Berg were fringe, yes, but they fed on the doubts of a mainstream no longer sure what to believe. Last week, the U.S. either bombed a safe house for terrorists, or an Iraqi wedding. Ahmad Chalabi is either an asset and one of the fathers of the new Iraq, or a spy. And Donald Rumsfeld either authorized the kind of torture meted out at Abu Ghraib, or knew nothing.
After the death of poor Nick Berg, the conspiracy theories were legion, appearing first on websites dedicated to such alternate histories, then making their way to more mainstream news sources. The authors of these theories questioned the authenticity of the Berg video, citing jumps in the time code, glitches in the soundtrack, a lack of blood, even the appearance of seemingly ordinary patio chairs. They also questioned the identity of the film's subjects: Not only was this possibly not Berg, they said, but the "terrorists," noted one website, had "Western-style body posture and mannerisms."
Such speculation was to be expected—after all, there were any number of questions surrounding Berg's death, some of them raised by his family. Why would a young American wander around Iraq in the midst of war, during an outbreak of kidnappings, without protection? Why had he been arrested by Iraqi police and questioned repeatedly by the FBI? His father's anti-war views and public denunciations of the Bush administration helped crystallize the doubt for some Americans, already coping with the sordid pictures of torture from Abu Ghraib prison and the simmering violence against the occupation forces in Iraq. And wasn't al-Zarqawi, on whom the CIA first hung the murder, supposed to be missing a leg?
H., a confused 15-year-old girl from Texas, wrote an e-mail to this newspaper, looking for answers.
"OK, so the problem I am facing is whether or not it was Nick Berg in the video. My friends in my debate class have viewed the video and I didn't. I have seen photos of the video and it doesn't look like him. Also, his final words puzzled me as well. Why were people expecting him to say 'My father is a Jew, my mother is a Jew, and I am a Jew.' I am unsure about all this. Could you help me out here. I am a sophomore in high school, so you could probably understand why I am asking about this. Thank you."
The morbid fascination with Nicholas Berg suggests that America is either a nation of voyeurs, or a people increasingly uncomfortable with the official story. Or both.
"People are profoundly shaken by this," said Stanley Kutler, a historian and retired professor at the University of Wisconsin, referring not only to the Berg incident, but the Abu Ghraib pictures as well. "We are in a very strange moment. . . . We live in a day and age when information, not knowledge, is widely disseminated. We have newscasts and radio call-in shows. The idea of citizen involvement has taken a paradoxical turn in our lives. Citizens have misinformation, and they apply it. . . . Just look at the number of people who believe that in October, [the administration] is going to bring out Osama bin Laden."
Kutler, who has authored a number of books on former president Richard Nixon, made clear he has no special regard for President Bush, and that the current state of things—he called America "profoundly adrift"—has its roots in the scandals of the late 1960s and mid '70s, the period bookended by the Vietnam War and the Watergate scandal. "Cynicism is a corrosive thing," he said. "You suspect everything—conspiracies here and there."
Even the conspiracy theorists are unduly pessimistic.
"The U.S. today is the lowest it's ever been," said Marc Perkel, a political activist who runs a Web page called the Church of Reality ("It is a religion that is based on believing in everything that is real," he writes). He said Web traffic on his site jumped by a thousand times after he posted some of his theories about the Berg video.
"I've always been a government skeptic," he continued. "When Clinton was in power, I believed we were turning government around, and serving people. Doing things that made sense. I thought he had the best interests of the people in mind." Perkel, who believes Bush came to power after a "coup," says it was an appearance by a white chair—standard-issue patio furniture, the same kind Lynndie England is seen sitting in at Abu Ghraib—in the Berg video that finally convinced him something wasn't right. "I broke into shingles," he said, noting that the rash still hadn't gone away. "It was physically traumatic for me to believe that [Americans] were cutting people's heads off."
It is not clear how many people believe that America had some involvement in the Berg killing, but today there are plenty of other (less hysterical) reasons for skepticism. At press time, another video was making the rounds, this one of a wedding in western Iraq that the guests say was broken up by an American attack in which some 40 people were killed. At first, the official story was unequivocal. "Bad things happen in wars," said Major General James Mattis, commander of the First Marine Division. "I don't have to apologize for the conduct of my men." A few days later, the coalition was again on its heels, after the Associated Press received a video of the wedding, casting doubt on the military's assertions.
In the end, Berg's death seems to have been a personal tragedy on a public stage. But if Iraqi accusations are true, the bombed wedding party was a case of a nation wreaking tragedy on individuals—one whose names the public won't remember. Who knows what to believe, about either narrative? They both deserve attention, but one calls for a kind of privacy it's not getting, while the victims in the other can scarcely get their story heard.
"I think government institutions are more and more discredited," said Eric Foner, a historian at Columbia University. "In the early '70s, Watergate came as a part of a general disillusionment with the war in Vietnam. But before Nixon's resignation, you had the Pentagon Papers, the My Lai massacre, CIA assassination plots, and the FBI harassing Martin Luther King. That all came after an era in which people's confidence in government was enormous. Today, the disillusionment comes after 20 or 30 years of denigration in government. The illusions have been stripped."
[...] A few days after her first e-mail, young H. responded to a question from the Voice. Was she any closer to understanding the story of Nick Berg?
"I haven't found answers to my questions," H. wrote. "I plan on doing more research tonight. I just now caught a break from running errands with my mother. LOL. She doesn't understand why I am so curious about it, but we have managed to hold a conversation over why it was wrong. And how it may not be him? Talking about Mr. Berg is weird, but it is something I would like to know about. I feel that he shouldn't have died that way and it definitely shouldn't have been recorded and put out on the Internet."
It appears many of her peers are curious too—every few days since the Berg video reached the Internet, it seemed, a school teacher was disciplined for showing it to a class. Some people had to check it out for themselves. [...]
Front and center [...] is a kid like H.
"No, sir, it didn't look like him," she wrote in a final e-mail to the paper. "I compared pictures. . . . With Bush, I am upset about his way of doing things in Iraq. It has been mass chaos since he came into power. . . . He acts all tough, but he really isn't. Excuse me for the rude comments about mr president, but he upsets me."
Chinese leaders have taken note of the speed with which American ground forces captured Baghdad in April 2003 and the prominent role that was played in Iraq by U.S. special operations commandos. [...]
The report is an annual assessment to Congress of Chinese military power and strategy and was posted on the Pentagon's main news Web site late Saturday night.
Other aspects of the Iraq war have reinforced the Chinese belief that the United States' long-range strategy is to dominate Asia by containing the growth of Chinese power, the report said. These include recent Pentagon decisions to base long-range bombers, cruise missiles and nuclear attack submarines to the Pacific island of Guam - moves related in part to the Iraq conflict.
"China's leaders appear to have concluded that the net effect of the U.S.-led campaign (against terrorism) has been further encirclement of China," specifically by placing U.S. military forces in Uzbekistan and other Central Asian nations, and strengthening relations with Pakistan and India, the report said.
The Chinese also believe, partly from its assessment of the Bush administration's declared war on terrorism, that the United States is increasingly likely to intervene in a conflict over Taiwan or other Chinese interests, according to the Pentagon analysis. [...]
Comment: Keep in mind that this is America's assessment of what the Chinese think. Remember what the US claimed about Saddam and Iraq?
Ariel Sharon staked his premiership on the future of his plan to force Jewish settlers from the Gaza Strip yesterday as a cabinet split widened into a power struggle with his archrival Binyamin Netanyahu.
Having been forced to postpone a vote on the plan because it was apparent that he would lose, Mr Sharon opened the weekly cabinet meeting by threatening to dismiss ministers opposed to "unilateral disengagement" and to take other "unprecedented political steps" to force it through.
He accused Mr Netanyahu, the finance minister, of putting personal political ambition before the country's interests in what amounted to a bid for power.
Mr Netanyahu responded by accusing Mr Sharon of undemocratic behaviour in overriding the result of the referendum in their party, Likud, which rejected the Gaza withdrawal plan.
EDT May 31
JERUSALEM (AP) - Israel's Supreme Court ruled Sunday the army must uphold international law and make sure civilians have access to medicine, food and water during military operations in Palestinians towns.
But the court did not explicitly accuse the army of violating international law, said Fatmeh El-Ajou, a lawyer for the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, one of the petitioners.
[...] The army has insisted it did not violate international law and did its utmost to ensure the basic rights of the Rafah residents were protected during the operation. A military spokesman said the army would abide by the court's decision.
Palestinians may need a new political leadership, but the international community and the Arab world need to end their silence and intervene, writes Mohamed El-Sayed Said*
The complete destruction inflicted on Rafah by Sharon and his bunch of war criminals was meant actually to scandalise Arab leaders who held their summit in Tunis a single day after the Israeli troops finished their dirty business in the ravished city.
The summit answered the challenge by condemnation and oddly enough by re-emphasising the Beirut summit peace initiative.
Neither made much sense. [....]
The Arab summit did not have much of a "new thinking" on the matter. Arafat's bag was equally empty, as he reiterated the same themes that fell on deaf Israeli and American ears so many times before.
It seems, then, that Palestinians are left only to go on with the sole strategy they deem open to them after the collapse of Camp David II. However, no new signs are looming on the horizon to indicate that Israelis are coming to their senses. On the contrary, we have every indication that insanity will continue to prevail for a long while to come. [...]
A new opening on the part of the international community is not expected soon either, unless a fundamental new factor enters the situation and comes to change it in a significant manner. The probable fall of Bush in the coming elections may not mean much for the Palestinians as his rival, Mr Kerry, is seemingly no less biased towards Israel. And Europe will not gain greater militancy on this issue either, unless strongly motivated to do so by domestic constituencies.
This means that all rational arguments for the militarisation of the Intifada are proving fallacious. In fact, these arguments caused the conflict to further slide into complete futility. The only remaining rationale is the lack of peaceful alternatives. And, since Palestinians and Arabs are never going to surrender or capitulate, the adversities of the situation can only push Palestinians towards a Massada type of struggle.
Should rational people submit to this bitter reality? Certainly not. If clear alternatives seem to be lacking, they have to be created. A new strategy for Palestinian national movement should be devised and constructed on the few remaining dynamic factors in the situation.
Arab countries do not seem to produce new dynamic factors, neither to their own much- needed domestic reforms nor for re-steering Palestinian national struggle. New dynamic factors can only be found in global civil society and partially in Europe and in the fact that Palestinians are learning on the ground. A new strategy can and should be founded on these factors. [...]
The re-invigoration of global civil society on behalf of the Palestinian national struggle places strong pressure on Europe to change its soft tactics in relation to this issue. It might also change the mindset of the world Jewry, bringing them to intervene rationally for a peaceful settlement. Only when popular pressures are applied we can expect a new American president, such as Mr Kerry, to act forcefully and in a semi-balanced manner to reverse the terrible situation in the Middle East generally, and in the occupied Palestinian territories specifically.
Arab and international civil society organisations should act very strongly on this vision. A good start can be the holding of a world conference on Palestine as soon as preparations can be arranged. What we have in mind is an impressive, perhaps unprecedented, global gathering for peace and justice in the Middle East. [...]
Comment: This lucid and very reasonable commentary on the situation in the Occupied Territories maps a possible way to peace. Unfortunately, it will not matter if there is a world conference on Palestine. When the UN General Assembly speaks, as close to a world conference as there can be, nothing changes. The US and Israel don't give a damn what the rest of the world thinks or believes or says. And should anyone lift an arm against them, they will bring down the fury of their military. If Israel believes its survival is threatened, they will take out the rest of the world with it if it can.
The fundamental mistake made in this kind of reasonable approach is the writer's belief that somehow the Israelis want peace. Nor do the Americans in Iraq. In both cases, peace would mean compromise, and neither government is willing to compromise. It would be a sign of weakness.
While many people in Israel may want peace, the State of Israel does not. While many Americans might want peace, the US government does not. Palestinians are considered subhumans, in the same way that many US soldiers see Iraqis as subhumans.
It is no coincidence if the politics of both countries are identical. The Neocons are advisors to both governments.
The editor-in-chief of Russkaya Sibir, a Siberian daily that closed down in March after publishing allegedly anti-Semitic remarks, was charged Monday with stirring up inter-ethnic discord, Novosibirsk prosecutors told Interfax.
The editor, Igor Kolodezenko, was charged after articles in his newspaper and several other publications were deemed anti-Semitic and were followed by repeated warnings from the Press Ministry and prosecutors, the news agency reported. [...]
Kondratyev said that Kolodezenko thinks the case was politically motivated: “Kolodezenko says that people he criticized in his articles are interested in his prosecution,” he said.
www.chinaview.cn 2004-05-31 17:52:01
LONDON, May 31 (Xinhuanet) -- The British government is considering radical anti-terrorism proposals including closed-door legal hearings overseen by "security-cleared" judges and restrictions on terror suspects, the Financial Times reported Monday.
The proposals came amid growing concern that the 562 arrests under Britain's current anti-terror laws since the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States have led to only 14 convictions, said the report.
"The closed-door hearings would be part of a two-tier trial system enabling the use of intelligence material in terrorism cases," it said.
Special judges with security clearance would hold preliminary assessments of terrorism cases based on all evidence, including that from intelligence sources such as British intelligence agency M15, lawyers were quoted as saying.
They would then provide a summary to a more conventional trial judge, said the paper.
Orlowski in San Francisco
It's very bad luck for USA Today that on the very same day they reported the profound failing of the FBI's digital and computer analysis systems in the Madrid bombings, they published a column suggesting that just such technologies could prevent such attacks in future. Uncritical gee-whizz columns about new technology are nothing new, but this one by Kevin Maney could be the most ill-timed of its kind.
As we reported this week, the Spanish authorities discovered a bag of explosives, with a set of fingerprints, a week before the Madrid bombings in March that killed almost 200 people and injured 1,800 more. Unable to find a fingerprint match, they appealed to the FBI who promptly found a "100 per cent" match, and arrested an Oregon lawyer and ex-US serviceman. So convinced were agents they had their man, they persuaded the Spanish authorities to look no further. In fact, the FBI's suspect had nothing to do with the bombings.
If the Feds had examined the original fingerprint - rather than a poor digital copy - they would not have believed it was "100 per cent positive" and, perhaps, the horror might have been averted. The FBI was further convinced by a computer-generated network profile that placed former Army officer Brandon Mayfield at the center of the conspiracy. Mayfield had converted to Islam in the 1980s and represented a man in a child custody case who was later sentenced on terror charges.
Both pieces of digital evidence fall apart when human judgement is introduced.
Fenton in Arromanches
Private pilots who stray into Normandy air space during the 60th anniversary of D-Day next weekend will be shot down, French officials said yesterday.
With at least 16 heads of state, including the Queen and President George W Bush, attending the ceremonies, organisers are guarding particularly against an al-Qa'eda attack from the air.
It is one of the biggest security exercises in Europe since the war. An enormous network of radar equipment has been stretched between Deauville and Cherbourg, with Awacs early warning aircraft already in the skies.
The aircraft will be joined this week by small, remote-controlled drones. Advanced Crotale anti-aircraft missiles have been primed and two squadrons of Mirage 2000 fighters are stationed nearby.
The French ministry of defence has spared no expense. It has established a temporary air base at Carpiquet, outside the city of Caen, as the hub of its defences.
There, more than 800 soldiers will maintain round-the-clock surveillance, backed by more than 50 military helicopters. [...]
A French carrier, Charles de Gaulle, and an American carrier, George Washington, will be patrolling the bay, which will also be swept for mines. There are unconfirmed reports that submarines will be used in the security precautions.
On land, more than 9,000 French troops are arriving this week, supplementing the 6,300 gendarmes and 2,300 police officers already on duty. [...]
The town's residents have been told that they must either stay indoors throughout next Sunday or leave the area. Even Patrick Jardin, the mayor, one of the few local people invited to the international ceremony, will have to travel by bus to Caen, 45 minutes' drive away, and board a special bus to return to Arromanches that afternoon.
The UN's health agency says the world's poorest people are suffering the biggest burden of tobacco use.
The World Health Organisation's warning came ahead of World No Tobacco Day on Monday.
It wants governments and individuals to accept smoking contributes to poverty through loss of productivity and income, as well as death and disease.
The WHO says a person dies every six-and-a-half seconds, and many more fall ill from tobacco use.
This places increasing pressure on health care and has a significant impact on economies, it says.
"The world cannot accept such easily preventable human and economic losses," director general Lee Jong-wook said in a statement.
About 84% of smokers live in developing countries - and it is there that the tobacco epidemic is still growing.
The theme for this year's World No Tobacco Day is "Tobacco and Poverty: A vicious circle".
The WHO says the two are closely linked.
Most small tobacco farmers live in poverty and many of them employ children, who work in the fields instead of attending school.
So although families may benefit from an increased income initially, there are no long-term benefits as these children grow up illiterate.
Instead of spending money on food, health care or education, smokers spend it on cigarettes.
There are also environmental and health dangers from using highly toxic pesticides.
The WHO says this vicious circle can be broken.
It is calling for more countries to come forward and sign the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which already has the support of 118 countries.
The landmark treaty requires countries to ban or impose tough restrictions on tobacco advertising, sponsorship and promotion within five years.
It also lays down guidelines on health warnings to be carried on cigarette packets and recommends tax increases on tobacco products.
Comment: Ah, tobacco is the source of poverty. Heck, we thought it was an international economic system that puts greedy corporations and developed countries in positions of power over resources and labour, backed by armies and usurious loan agreements. Gosh, looking at it now, we see this is a complicated explanation when the real one is so simple. They smoke! It's their own damn fault!
OSLO (Reuters) - Norway will become the second nation in the world after Ireland to ban smoking in all bars and restaurants when smokers stub out their final cigarettes at midnight.
The June 1 law aims to protect waiters, bartenders, cooks and other staff from second-hand smoke blamed for causing cancer, respiratory and heart diseases.
Opinion polls show that the law, following similar restrictions in Ireland from March 29, has broad support despite worries by owners of restaurants and bars that business will be hit. [...]
Comment: Ah, the infamous opinion poll...
A vicious skin infection resistant to all but the most powerful antibiotics has jumped out of New York City hospitals and onto the streets.
The "superbug," as health officials refer to it, can cause anything from reddening of the skin, to abscesses, tissue loss, amputation or even death in severe cases, doctors said.
For decades confined to hospitals, where it preyed on patients and built up immunity to antibiotics, the bug - known officially as Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus or MRSA - has also grown in strength.
"Usually with infections you need a break in the skin to pass it," said Dr. Howard Grossman, who has a private practice in Chelsea.
"Not with this. It gets through unbroken skin with casual contact." [...]
Scientists at the Karolinska Institute have found that changes in the "powerhouse" of cells, the mitochondria, play a key role in aging. The findings are being published in this week's issue of the journal Nature.
Mitochondria, which provide energy to cells, have their own set of DNA. Mutations of mitochondrial DNA increase with age, but until now no one knew whether this is a result of aging or a cause of aging. New research findings now indicate that the latter is the case.
Mice with a deficient capacity to correct mutations in mitochondrial DNA acquired an increased number of mutations and proved to age considerably earlier than normal. They lived an average of 10 to 12 months compared with the normal 2 or 3 years. These mice also developed several typical signs of premature aging, such as osteoporosis, weight loss, hair loss, anemia, reduced fertility, and heart muscle disorders.
The findings reveal fundamental biological mechanisms that lie behind the aging process. This knowledge paves the way for the possibility of slowing down aging and treating pathological changes that arise in connection with aging by protecting mitochondrial DNA from damage.
TEHRAN (Dispatches) -- At least 3,879 buildings are damaged as a result of the Friday powerful earthquake in this Caspian Sea province, inflicting 123.5 billion rials in damages, said the office of the provincial governor general Sunday.
It added the damage inflicted on 200 agricultural and live-stock breeding units in the area has been assessed to amount to 5.5 billion rials.
Infrastructural facilities including water, electricity, communication and state buildings have been damaged by the earthquake and its aftershocks, causing 3.8 billion rials of loss.
A strong earthquake, measuring 6.2 degrees on the Richter scale struck vast parts of the Iranian northern cities on Friday. [...]
HEFLING, Associated Press Writer
MARENGO, Ind. - Powerful storms again swept across the Midwest, downing trees and power lines and spawning twisters that leveled houses and barns and sent mobile homes hurtling through the air. [...]
A series of earthquakes measuring up to six on the Richter scale has hit the island of Sakhalin in Russia's far east.
Local emergency officials says the first earthquake rocked the Tatarsky Bay west of Sakhalin and was felt in several towns including the region's centre, Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk.
Evidence has been found for a global winter following the asteroid impact that is thought to have killed off the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.
Rocks in Tunisia reveal microscopic cold-water creatures invaded a warm sea just after the space rock struck Earth.
The global winter was probably caused by a pollutant cloud of sulphate particles released when the asteroid vapourised rocks at Chicxulub, Mexico.
The results are reported in the latest issue of the journal Geology.
[...] Matthew Huber of Purdue University in Indiana, US, calculated the global impact of the winter.
"The results we got are fairly consistent with the impact winter decreasing the amount of sunlight hitting the Earth by 90%. If you turn off that heat source, the Earth will cool in a big way," he told BBC News Online.
The oceans would have acted as a reservoir of heat to prevent the surface temperature of the planet from cooling too much. However, this reservoir is not infinite. If the sunlight was blocked out for long enough, the oceans would eventually have frozen solid.
"It must have been dark long enough to cool the oceans, but not long enough that the whole planet iced over - that's not what we see in the fossil record," said Dr Huber.
ITALIANO and ANDREA PEYSER
For whatever reason, 11 out of 12 prospective jurors asked to be excused yesterday after hearing the grotesque details of the case at hand in Manhattan Supreme Court — the sanity trial of the notorious 1989 "Butcher of Tompkins Square."
So reluctant were the prospective jurors, that the judge moved to adjourn the case until next week while she reconsiders how much to reveal about the trial to the next panel of prospects.
Yesterday's panel looked overwhelmed as Justice Donna Mills described to them the case of drugged-out psycho Daniel Rakowitz, who murdered — then cooked — his dance-student girlfriend in their Lower East Side apartment 15 years ago.
As Rakowitz, 43, sat at the defense table, the judge gave an introduction to the case.
The victim "was murdered and dismembered and dissected," she told the shocked panel. "And her flesh was cooked and used in a soup that was served to the homeless."
All but one woman raised their hand when asked if they would have a problem serving on the jury.
This is Rakowitz's second attempt to be released from Kirby Forensic Psychiatric Center on Wards Island. Lawyers for the Manhattan DA's office and the state Attorney General's Office argue he's still too dangerous to go free.
bullet' reports back wirelessly
A "smart bullet" that can be fired at a target and then wirelessly transmit back useful information has been developed by US researchers.
The projectile, created at the University of Florida in Gainesville, US, is 1.7 centimetres in diameter can be fired at from an ordinary paint-ball gun. The front is coated in an adhesive polymer that sticks it to the target.
Inside, the elongated projectile holds a sensor, a tiny wireless transmitter and a battery. This enables it to report back its findings to a laptop or handheld computer up to 70 metres away. It can also reusable, because compressed gas within the gun provides the propulsion.
The prototype developed by the researchers was fitted with an accelerometer. To test it, the students fired it at a target which was then shaken to activate the accelerometer and produce data for transmission.
But the US firm Lockheed Martin, which provided funding for the project, is interested in developing a version containing a miniature sensor capable of detecting traces of the explosive TNT. [...]
The smallest explosive vapour detectors currently available are handheld. King also warns that firing a projectile at a potential explosive goes against bomb disposal guidelines.
Nevertheless, King believes the projectile sensor might still be useful. "It sounds like there could be better applications in counter-surveillance," he suggests.
Comment: Yeah, like implanting chips into people who don't want them...
highest bridge joined above S France
The bridge, along the most direct route from Paris to the Mediterranean, is to be opened to public traffic on December 17, 39 months after work began. [...]
An infant planet just a million years old is puzzling astrophysicists - it is simply too young to exist, according to the standard model of planet formation.
Evidence for this precocious planet comes in the form of infrared radiation from the Taurus Molecular Cloud, about 400 light years away, detected by NASA's Spitzer space telescope.
Spitzer, launched in August 2003, is sensitive enough to pick up radiation from the discs of gas and dust around sun-like proto-stars in the cloud. The discs are revealed by their distinctive broad spectrum, punctuated by small dips where ice-covered dust absorbs some of the light.
But one star, called CoKu Tau 4, is different. A whole chunk of the spectrum is missing, with hardly any radiation with a wavelength less than about 10 micrometres. According to lead investigator Dan Watson, of the University of Rochester, New York, that hole in the spectrum means a hole in the disc.
The innermost parts of the disc, where the gas would be hotter and therefore emitting shorter wavelengths, is missing. While there are a few possible explanations for the hole in the disc, Watson thinks that a giant planet has formed around CoKu Tau 4.
The material in these discs is thought to constantly migrate in towards the growing star, being resupplied by the diffuse envelope of gas and dust that surrounds the whole system. But a giant planet would interrupt that process.
While gas and dust inside its orbit would continue to drift in and be consumed by the star, the young planet would grab the gas close to it, leading to the hole in the disc. If Watson is right, then the leading theory of giant planet formation is wrong. The idea was that to make a gas planet like Jupiter, a core of rocky material has to build up before it gathers gas around it. But that should take at least four million years, says Alan Boss of the Carnegie Institution in Washington DC - and CoKu Tau 4 is only a quarter of that age.
Boss favours another idea - that the gas in proto-planetary discs may simply clump together under its own gravity. In this way, a giant planet could form in thousands of years rather than millions, easily fast enough to explain the new observations.
That means planetary systems like our own could be very common. Most stars form in violent stellar nurseries, where the light of massive, bright stars quickly evaporates dusty discs. But fast formation would mean Jupiter-like planets could form before the discs disappear.
Furthermore, Jupiters may be vital for life to flourish. A giant planet should shield smaller terrestrial planets from the deadly bombardment of the comets and asteroids that occurs early in the development of a solar system. So this new baby planet may indicate better prospects for life in the Universe.
COLUMBUS, Ohio – People are not drawn to religion just because of a fear of death or any other single reason, according to a new comprehensive, psychological theory of religion.
There are actually 16 basic human psychological needs that motivate people to seek meaning through religion, said Steven Reiss, author of the new theory and professor of psychology and psychiatry at Ohio State University. "Because this theory can be tested scientifically, we can learn its strengths and weaknesses, and gradually improve it," Reiss said. "Eventually, we may understand better the psychological basis of religion."
These basic human needs – which include honor, idealism, curiosity and acceptance – can explain why certain people are attracted to religion, why God images express psychologically opposite qualities, and the relationship between personality and religious experiences. [...]
Reiss described his new theory – which he said may be the most comprehensive psychological theory of religion since Freud’s work more than a century ago -- in the June issue of Zygon, a journal devoted to issues of science and religion.
"I don’t think there has been a comprehensive theory of religion that was scientifically testable," he said.
The theory is based on his overall theory of human motivation, which he calls sensitivity theory. Sensitivity theory is explained in his 2000 book Who Am I? The 16 Basic Desires that Motivate Our Action and Define Our Personalities (Tarcher Putnam).
Reiss said that each of the 16 basic desires outlined in the book influence the psychological appeal of religious behavior. The desires are power, independence, curiosity, acceptance, order, saving, honor, idealism, social contact, family, status, vengeance, romance, eating, physical exercise, and tranquility.
In fact, Reiss has already done some initial research that suggests the desire for independence is a key psychological desire that separates religious and non- religious people. In a study published in 2000, Reiss found that religious people (the study included mostly Christians) expressed a strong desire for interdependence with others. Those who were not religious, however, showed a stronger need to be self-reliant and independent.
The study also showed that religious people valued honor more than non- religious people, which Reiss said suggests many people embrace religion to show loyalty to parents and ancestors. [...]
Comment: The theory that "the desire for independence is a key psychological desire that separates religious and non-religious people" and that "religious people expressed a strong desire for interdependence with others" gives us insight into the problems of humanity. Realizing the objective fact that religion has been used again and again as a reason to kill or control others, we must consider the idea that these two psychological positions repeatedly lead to situations where non-religious people often "create" or co-opt religions for the purpose of controlling those who have a strong desire for interdependence. George Bush and his Neocon pals are a prime example.
A student who was booted off his degree course for plagiarism is to sue the university. He says tutors at the University of Kent should have spotted what he was doing and stopped him sooner.
Michael Gunn, a 21-year-old English student, freely admits using material downloaded from the Internet to complete his assignments. He told the Times: "I hold my hands up. I did plagiarise. I never dreamt it was a problem."
His problem, then, is not that he was caught, but that he was caught too late. He argues that the university should have warned him of the consequences earlier.
IN A SCOTT PETERSON and Janet Jackson world, the Contra Costa County trial of Justin Alan Helzer seems made to order. It has featured the teary, combative testimony of a Playboy centerfold, a murder victim whose father is a famous blues guitarist and a poster with the "12 Principles of Magic" written in marker. Five people died, three of whom were dismembered and thrown into the Delta in duffel bags. The suspects are former Mormon missionaries -- one a former stockbroker and the other, his younger brother, a cable installer -- plus a roommate who was a dispatcher for Bay Alarm. All three attended a secretive Sacramento self-help group and allegedly intended to use prostitution, drugs and blackmail to finance their own organization, which they said would spread peace and love across the nation.
But while reporters from People magazine and CNN have sat in, day after day, on the tedious jury-selection process at the Peterson trial in Redwood City, only an author and a handful of local newspaper reporters and curious onlookers have watched the Helzer drama unfold in Martinez. That is, of course, except during Keri Furman Mendoza's two days of testimony, when most of the courtroom's seats suddenly filled. Uninvolved prosecutors, public defenders and even sheriff's deputies in training flocked to see Playboy's Miss September 2000 petulantly answer questions.
Mendoza, who testified that she planned to train prostitutes as part of the scheme, said she sold perfume before meeting the defendants but quit the sales job because it was "dishonest." Some portions of the trial, with all its gory, salacious elements, have also attracted a class of fifth-grade students, which has dropped in to hear at least two witnesses.
For the dedicated few who have watched the trial daily, life has certainly proved stranger than fiction. One woman who went to a music festival with confessed killer Glenn Taylor Helzer soon after the murders said he was exhausted in the days following the murders. She also testified that she and her husband had engaged in kissing and "heavy petting" with Helzer -- on the couple's wedding night. The session was a wedding gift from her husband. She had an ongoing relationship with Taylor Helzer, as he is known, but it didn't go far because he was impotent, she told the court.
Other witnesses have spoken of Justin Helzer's odd eating habits, including loud grunts and moans while he ate from a plate on all fours on the kitchen floor. Justin was fired from his server job at Black Angus because he returned an insufficient tip to a customer, one person testified.
Another person testified that Justin wanted to film a pornographic movie on the hood of a car in rush-hour traffic. That witness, Debra McClanahan, said she offered to act in porn films herself to raise money for Taylor. But he preferred to raise funds through blackmail. One such scheme involved faking the death of defendant Dawn Godman and then extorting life-insurance money from her ex-husband, said McClanahan, who appeared in court wearing a sweatshirt with the words "Sewer Service" on the back.
Yet another plot would have sent underage girls to sleep with stockbrokers, who then would have been threatened with $50 million lawsuits. All these details have come from prosecutor Harold Jewett's witnesses, even before Godman's much-anticipated testimony. Godman is expected to detail Justin Helzer's role in the crimes, which has not been discussed much yet. In fact, several witnesses have said Justin didn't seem capable of murder, that he was a gentle and peaceful man who mostly didn't discuss Taylor's bizarre plans.
Justin has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, while his brother and Godman have pleaded guilty. Defense attorneys say Justin was bullied and led astray by Taylor, who claimed to be a "prophet of God" and often paused to listen to God speak.
"I saw a shaking," McClanahan said of Taylor's "spirit speak" sessions. "Sometimes he would cry." Among many things, God supposedly told Taylor he should dispose of anyone who betrayed him, witnesses have said.
Prosecutors relocated McClanahan to Vacaville for a year after the trio was arrested, on the theory that Taylor might follow through. The pages keep turning in one of Contra Costa County's most bizarre chapters.
Hundreds of rats -- some weighing up to 3 pounds -- have invaded a southern Kentucky town, according to a Local 6 News report.
The giant rats were reportedly first spotted around the Robinson Milling Company in Somerset, Kentucky before moving into the surrounding neighborhoods.
Residents concerned about the health risks posed by the large rats have taken their concerns to the city council of Somerset, Local 6 News reported.
A new supply of rat poison will arrive in the next few days and offered free to all residents.
Comment: Do you have any idea how big a three pound rat is?
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