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."
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Monday, June 21, 2004
Picture of the Day
Moon over Agen
Today in History: 21 June 1943 - Jean Moulin is arrested
The head of the Conseil national de la résistance (CNR), Jean Moulin, was arrested near Lyon. Called before Klaus Barbie, head of the Gestapo at Lyon, he refused to talk and died either during the torture or because of it on 8 July 1943.
Mon 21 Jun 2004
AL-QAEDA terrorists in Saudi Arabia who kidnapped and beheaded the American engineer Paul Johnson claimed yesterday they were helped by sympathisers within the Saudi security services.
The militants said police uniforms and vehicles used to stage a fake roadblock where Mr Johnson was abducted were provided by "co-operators who are sincere to their religion in the security apparatus".
The claim, posted on an al-Qaeda website, highlighted fears voiced by diplomats and westerners in the kingdom that militants have infiltrated Saudi security forces - a possibility Saudi officials have denied.
Saudi officials told militants that they would not allow them to destabilise the kingdom, and warned they would share the fate of their leader, Abdulaziz al-Muqrin - who was shot dead by security forces on Friday - unless they gave up their fight.
In a strongly worded condemnation of the militants yesterday, the Saudi ruler, King Fahd, said: "We will not allow a corrupt group led by deviant thought to violate the security and stability of this land.
"The real Muslim has nothing to do with these actions and has no sympathy for those who carry them out," added the king.
Comment: A little reading between the lines is needed here. Imagine for a moment that someone was threatening Bush and Co with revealing the truth about their complicity in the September 11th attacks. Naturally, Bush and Co. would want to deflect such revelations before they were made.
One option for the Bush junta would be to point the finger at Israel. With the many press reports of Israeli spy rings in the US, it would not be difficult to implicate the infamous Israeli intelligence agency, Mossad in the downing of the WTC, and indeed, most of the evidence points to the likelihood that it was Israel that planned and carried out the 9/11 attacks. If this were the plan, it is very likely that Mossad, with its uncanny ability to infiltrate just about every other intelligence agency in the world, would know about it and would attempt to prevent it. So what might Mossad do in such a case?
We find it strange that recently there has been a significant amount of "freedom of the press" around the fact that many members of the Saudi royal family, including members of the Bin Laden family, were flown out of the US on 9/11, despite the fact that ALL aircraft were supposed to be grounded. Michael Moore's latest movie "Fahrenheit 9/11" has breezed to the box offices, despite the fact that it contains damning evidence about the connections between the current US administration and various Saudi terrorist groups, including the Saudi royals. To add to this, US government officials have, for quite some time, been questioning the sincerity of Saudi efforts to combat "terrorism". There is enough evidence at this stage to suspect that either US or Israeli intelligence agents, or a combination of both, are behind the ongoing "terror" attacks around the world, including the most recent attacks in Saudi Arabia itself.
Now we have the above report from "al-Qaeda" cells in Saudi claiming that their terrorist activities are being supported by the Saudi security forces. The upper levels of the "Saudi security forces" are little different than the ruling Saudis themselves. It appears that there is an ongoing operation to associate the Saudi government with "al-Qaeda" and, as such, we cannot discount the possibility that it will ultimately lead to "revelations" that the Saudis funded or insome way aided the 9/11 attackers. Such a scenario would surely involve the ousting of the Saudi royals and the imposition of yet another US - Zionist controlled proxy government in the Middle East.
in New York
Israeli military and intelligence operatives are active in Kurdish areas of Iran, Syria and Iraq, providing training for commando units and running covert operations that could further destabilise the entire region, according to a report in the New Yorker magazine.
The article was written by Seymour Hersh, the Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter who exposed the abuse scandal in Abu Ghraib. It is sourced primarily to unnamed former and current intelligence officials in Israel, the United States and Turkey.
Israel's aims, according to Hersh, are to build up the Kurdish military strength in order to offset the strength of the Shia militias and to create a base in Iran from which they can spy on Iran's suspected nuclear-making facilities.
"Israel has always supported the Kurds in a Machiavellian way - a balance against Saddam," one former Israeli intelligence officer told the New Yorker. "It's Realpolitik. By aligning with the Kurds Israel gains eyes and ears in Iran, Iraq and Syria. The critical question is 'What will the behaviour of Iran be if there is an independent Kurdistan with close ties to Israel? Iran does not want an Israeli land-based aircraft carrier on its border."
By supporting Kurdish separatists, Israel also risks alienating its Turkish ally and undermining attempts to create a stable Iraq. "If you end up with a divided Iraq it will bring more blood, tears and pain to the Middle East and you will be blamed," a senior Turkish official told Mr Hersh.
Intel Brief, an intelligence newsletter produced by former CIA chiefs, noted early this month that the Israeli actions are placing increasing stress on their relationship with Turkey, which was already strained over the war. "The Turks are increasingly concerned by the expanding Israeli presence in Kurdistan and alleged encouragement of Kurdish ambitions to create an independent state." [...]
One Turkish official told Mr Hersh that Kurdish independence would be calamitous for the region. "The lesson of Yugoslavia is that when you give one country independence everybody will want it. Kirkuk will be the Sarajevo of Iraq. If something happens there, it will be impossible to contain the crisis."
Comment: A widening of the Middle East crisis, we wonder who's long standing agenda that would serve...
Intelligence agency does not distinguish between terrorism and peace activism
By Ian Hoffman,
Sean Holstege and Josh Richman
Days before firing wooden slugs at anti-war protesters, Oakland police were warned of potential violence at the Port of Oakland by California's anti-terrorism intelligence center, which admits blurring the line between terrorism and political dissent.
The April 2 bulletin from the California Anti-Terrorism Information Center (CATIC) arguably offered more innuendo than actual evidence of protesters' intent to "shut down" the port and possibly act violently.
CATIC spokesman Mike Van Winkle said such evidence wasn't needed to issue warnings on war protesters.
"You can make an easy kind of a link that, if you have a protest group protesting a war where the cause that's being fought against is international terrorism, you might have terrorism at that (protest)," said Van Winkle, of the state Justice Department. "You can almost argue that a protest against that is a terrorist act."
In fact, CATIC -- touted as a national model for intelligence sharing and a centerpiece of Gov. Gray Davis and Attorney General Bill Lockyer's 2002 re-election bids -- has quietly gathered and analyzed information on activists of various stripes almost since its creation.
"They've done it since Day One," said a Bay Area counterterrorism official.
Mark Schlosberg, director of police policy practices for the ACLU-Northern California, called Van Winkle's remarks "just shocking.
"First of all, it's disturbing that protest information is being gathered and distributed out of a counterterrorism center," he said.
"But to equate protesting against a war with terrorist activity, if in fact that's what's being done, is contrary to American values. And I would hope there are guidelines in place to prevent that being done."
CATIC's analysts in Sacramento monitor terror alerts from federal agencies and sift through local police tips. CATIC regards itself as a hub.
CATIC's collections and advisories run the gamut. Some counterterrorism officials regard the center's midday notices of Critical Mass cycling brigades and police funerals as little more than a clipping service. Center analysts compile dossiers on "extremist" environmental, animal-rights and white supremacist groups. They pass along national terror intelligence, including a recent FBI alert on turning industrial hydrogen cyanide or chlorine into weapons.
The center draws $6.7 million a year in state funds to prevent terrorism. Analysts must obey one federal rule to limit the intelligence they gather, analyze and disseminate: It must have a criminal predicate, a "reasonable suspicion" that criminal acts will be committed.
"If there's no criminal predicate we would not issue the information on anyone. That's the rules and we abide by that," said CATIC director Ed Manavian.
Yet causing a traffic jam can be enough to trigger a CATIC analysis and bulletin. At the Port of Oakland, where trucks would be blocked from reaching shippers such as APL, a protest target, that logic might have been more compelling, Manavian and Van Winkle suggested.
"If we receive information that 10,000 folks are going to a street corner and going to block it, that's breaking a law," Manavian said. "That's the kind of information that we're going to relay."
Said Van Winkle: "I've heard terrorism described as anything that is violent or has an economic impact, and shutting down a port certainly would have some economic impact. Terrorism isn't just bombs going off and killing people." [...]
Comment: Indeed. It seems likely that the real goal of the Patriot Act, and other legislation like it, is to expand the definition of the term "terrorism" to include the exercising of ordinary civil liberties that have come to define "freedom" for so many Americans. Oh the irony!
Michael Saba, Arab News
WASHINGTON, 19 June 2004 - "Richard Perle Accuses Sy Hersh of Being a Terrorist"; "Saudi Arabia Blasts CFR Terrorist Funding Task Force Report"; "Concern for Public Safety Heeds Arrest of Somali in Alleged Terrorist Plot" - these are all newspaper headlines heralding the concepts of "terror" and "terrorism". But just what do those terms mean and how have they been developed. And do we now fear the terms themselves as much as the acts that gave rise to our fears?
Last week we discussed the "War on Terrorism" and focused on the term "war" in that phrase. As loosely defined as the word "war" is in regards to the "War on Terrorism", the term "terrorism" has an even less clear definition. Daily one can hear spokesman in the Bush administration as well as leading members of both the Democratic and Republican parties invoking concern about the "War on Terrorism". Yet the US House of Representatives Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Subcommittee on Terrorism stated, "The subcommittee has found that practically every agency in the United States government with a counterterrorism mission uses a different definition of terrorism. Without a standard definition, terrorism might be treated no differently than other crimes".
So how do we fight the "War on Terrorism" when we can't even agree on what the terms mean? One might use the classic argument, "Even if you can't define terrorism, you know it when you see it". But should that interpretation allow us to start real wars and arrest individuals and hold them without trials?
Interestingly, the standard American definition of terrorism is a shift from the original meaning of the word. The Oxford English Dictionary defines terrorism as "government by intimidation". Presently, it usually refers to intimidation of governments.
[...] One only finds references in the Arab and Islamic press and conservative American columnist, Pat Buchanan mentioning that no fewer that three Israeli prime ministers have been accused of terrorism: Menachem Begin whose Irgun blew up the King David Hotel and carried out the massacre of Palestinian villagers in Deir Yassin in April of 1948; Yitzhak Shamir, head of the Stern gang that murdered Edward Lord Moyne in Cairo in 1944 and assassinated UN mediator Count Bernadotte in Jerusalem in 1948; and current Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, as head of Force 101, who is accused of massacring scores of Palestinian villagers at Qibya in 1953 in a reprisal raid for the murder of an Israeli mother and her children.
Friends of Israel have strong control of what goes into the Western media and what Wertern politicians say and do regarding "terrorism". Has terrorism now become acts of violence against only those we disapprove of?
Maybe the terms "terrorism" and the "War on Terrorism" now conjure as much anxiety and fear by the public as the acts themselves. And let us not forget the words of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt when he said, " The only thing we have to fear is fear itself".
SAN FRANCISCO -- The image is stark. A hooded Iraqi man, his hands tied with electrodes -- the image of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal -- is set against an American flag, with the words "Got Democracy?"
The posters have sprung up mysteriously in the past week on walls and buildings in San Francisco.
Novelist Robert Mailer Anderson, author of "Boonville," is organizing the attention-getting campaign along with his cousin.
"It's not pro-Democrat, it's not pro-Republican. It's supposed to make you think," Anderson said. "Do these people in Iraq have democracy? And do we have democracy?"
Anderson said he starting hanging the posters because he was angry about Washington's policies and he was personally affected by the Patriot Act when security personnel stopped Anderson's daughter from boarding a plane because she was on a "no-fly list."
"It was such a joke," Anderson said of last month's incident at San Francisco International Airport. "We almost missed our flight. Not only is the government morally suspect with our rights as Americans given our Bill of Rights and the Constitution, but they're also inept. Putting 2-year-olds on no-fly lists?'"
Anderson, 35, spent $3,000 to print and hang 1,000 posters, which are a take-off on the "Got Milk?" advertising campaign.
"Things are just completely out of hand," he said. " At that moment it just seemed like this was all I could do."
Monday June 21, 07:35 AM
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Bush administration and U.S. military officials have repeatedly exaggerated the intelligence value of detainees at Guantanamo Bay as well as the danger they pose, The New York Times has reported.
Contrary to the repeated assertions of senior administration officials, none of the detainees at the U.S. naval base in Cuba ranked as leaders or senior operatives of al Qaeda, the newspaper reported on Monday, citing interviews with high-level military, intelligence and law-enforcement officials in the United States, Europe and the Middle East.
About 595 foreign nationals, designated "enemy combatants," are being held at the base. Most were seized during the U.S.-led campaign against the Taliban government in Afghanistan and against Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network after the September 11, 2001, attacks.
The newspaper said only a relative handful of detainees at Guantanamo were sworn al Qaeda members or other militants able to elucidate the organization's inner workings.
While some Guantanamo intelligence has aided terrorism investigations, it has not enabled intelligence or law-enforcement services to foil imminent attacks, the newspaper said, citing unnamed officials.
"When you have the overall mosaic of all the intelligence picked up all over the world, Guantanamo provided a very small piece of that mosaic," the newspaper quoted a senior U.S. official as saying. "It's been helpful and valuable in certain areas. Was it the mother lode of intelligence? No."
The paper said other officials, in on-the-record interviews, had defended the intelligence-gathering effort at the base and said it continued to produce useful information.
"Every single day we get some piece of information that's relevant to now," Steve Rodriguez, who oversees interrogation teams at the base, was quoted by the newspaper as saying.
Comment: When someone is being tortured, they will no doubt say anything just to end their suffering. We are reminded of events such as the Inquisition. Given America's history, as well as its obvious appetite for lies, violence, and gore, perhaps the US simply likes torturing people. At the very least, the psychopaths who have been running the show for quite some time don't seem to find anything wrong with the practice, as long as it gets them more power and control. The power and control achieved by these actions is, first and foremost, power and control over what the public believes, and it seems that, at all costs, the public must continue to believe that the "terrorist" threat is real. Luckily (for the powers that be), the vast majority of people don't seem to have any problems with being fooled, or with the despicable actions of psychopaths.
US Army Ranger charged in prison assault
Last Updated Sun, 20 Jun 2004 21:31:43
BAGHDAD - There are reports that the U.S. military bombed civilians in the flashpoint Iraqi town of Fallujah.
U.S. army officials say the target of the precision missile strike was a safehouse operated by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Osama bin Laden's Jordanian partner.
"We have strong indications that Zarqawi has been operating out of Fallujah and in a number of other places. Significant number of persons associated with the Zarqawi network were inside the house," said Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt.
But Fallujah's police chief and an officer in the U.S.-backed Fallujah brigade told news agencies they could find no evidence of foreign fighters in the house. Other reports say most of the approximately 20 people killed in the attack were civilians, some of them women and children who had nothing to do with Zarqawi's alleged terrorist network.
Comment: Last month it was the wedding party the US gunned down, denying, of course, that it was civilians, in spite of the massive evidence showing that it was a wedding party.
By PETE YOST,
Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON - A member of the Sept. 11 commission predicts the panel will support centralization of the nation's intelligence agencies as the only way to prevent future terrorist attacks.
"You're going to see unanimous recommendations on the intelligence community ... They couldn't distinguish between a bicycle crash and a train wreck," commissioner John Lehman, a Republican, said Sunday in previewing a final report due for completion next month.
Centralization will enable information to get to people "in a position to make a difference," the former secretary of the Navy said on NBC's "Meet the Press."
Change must be fundamental, Lehman said, "not just tweaking and moving the deck chairs or the organization boxes around," and the FBI should undergo a transformation as well.
He said FBI Director Robert Mueller is on the right track, but "we probably will go further in our recommendations to institutionalize changes" at the bureau.
The comments came amid a debate over the Bush administration's insistence that there were close ties between al-Qaida and Saddam Hussein, an assertion that provided the White House with an important justification for invading Iraq.
A commission staff report, released last week, said there were contacts between Osama bin Laden's terror network and the Iraqi government, but they did not appear to have produced a collaborative relationship.
Commission chairman Thomas Kean, a former Republican governor of New Jersey, said "we don't see any serious conflicts" between the panel's and the White House's positions. At the same time, he said, "We believe ... that there were a lot more active contacts, frankly, with Iran and with Pakistan than there were with Iraq."
"Al-Qaida didn't like to get involved with states, unless they were living there. They got involved with Sudan, they got involved ... where they lived, but otherwise no," Kean told ABC's "This Week."
Along with differences over ties between Saddam's government and al-Qaida, a new question arose over whether President Bush or Vice President Dick Cheney gave the order on Sept. 11, 2001, to shoot down the fourth of the hijacked airliners.
The two told the commission that Bush gave his approval after a discussion with Cheney, who was in the White House command center. [...]
Comment: Right. So, Bush convinces Americans that Saddam had something to do with the "al-Qaeda" attacks on 9/11. The 9/11 commission then says that Saddam was not cooperating with al-Qaeda, and yet the conclusion is that the panel doesn't see any serious conflicts between its position and the White House's claims?
Monday 21 June 2004, 12:38 Makka Time, 9:38 GMT
A lawyer defending a US soldier charged with abusing prisoners in Iraq has said he would seek to put US President George Bush and Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld on the witness stand.
Bush and Rumsfeld sidestepped the Geneva Convention in their "war on terror", civilian defence counsel Paul Bergrin said on Monday.
He was speaking to reporters after an impassioned address in the courtroom on the first day of initial hearings being held in Baghdad this week for three US soldiers facing abuse charges.
Bergrin has however won permission to seek testimony from the top US general in Iraq, Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez and from the chief of the US Central Command, General John Abizaid.
Bergrin said his client, Sergeant Javal Davis, was instructed on a daily basis to soften up Iraqi prisoners to obtain intelligence.
"Bush gave a speech declaring his war on terror and said the Geneva Convention no longer applied," Bergrin told reporters after an impassioned address in the courtroom.
He accused Rumsfeld and other top US officials of trying to redefine the definitions of abuse and torture in a campaign aimed at influencing lawyers at the Department of Justice.
NOVAK AND DOUGLAS WALLER
Could the abuse of prisoners in Iraq have gone beyond the beatings and sexual humiliation already alleged? Unreleased, classified parts of the report on prison abuse from Major General Anthony Taguba, which were read to TIME, contain indications of mistreatment of female prisoners. In a Feb. 21 statement to Taguba, Lieut. Colonel Steven L. Jordan, former head of the Abu Ghraib interrogation center, said he had received reports "that there were members of the MI [Military Intelligence] community that had come over and done a late-night interrogation of two female detainees" last October.
According to a statement by Jordan's boss, Colonel Thomas Pappas, three interrogators were later cited for violations of military law in their handling of the two females, ages 17 and 18. Senate Armed Services Committee investigators are probing whether the two women were sexually abused. The Pentagon declined to comment.
Meanwhile, a class action filed in California on behalf of former detainees raises the specter of brutal physical abuse.
One plaintiff, identified only as Neisef, claims that after he was taken from his home on the outskirts of Baghdad last November and sent to Abu Ghraib, Americans made him disrobe and attached electrical wires to his genitals. He claims he was shocked three times. Although a vein in his penis ruptured and he had blood in his urine, he says, he was refused medical attention. In another session, Neisef claims, he was held down by two men while a uniformed woman forced him to have sex with her. "I was crying," said Neisef, 28. "I felt like my whole manhood was gone."
The class action also claims that detainees were raped in prison. On June 6, Neisef was released, after a U.S. civilian told him, he says, that he had been wrongly accused by informants. A U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad confirms that a prisoner with Neisef's ID number was released on that date, and TIME has obtained a copy of his release order. But the Pentagon would not comment on the specifics of Neisef's account.
Comment: Well, surely if the US decided to imprison these people, they must be guilty, right? We'll just ignore the hundreds and hundreds of Iraqis that have been released recently from Abu Ghraib. As for Guantanamo:
First, let me condemn the kidnapping of Mr. Johnson, the American hostage of the Al-Qaeda group in Saudi Arabia; it is against Islamic law to kidnap civilians or to hold them as hostages. Those who do such acts are outside of Islam, and we do not recognize them as Muslims. I condemn this as an American and as the former Director of The Islamic Center in Washington, DC.
Let me also condemn the U.S. media and the U.S. government for never allowing the American public to see the brutal killing by the U.S. military of over 700 innocent civilians in Fallujah in the attack by General Kimmit’s forces a few months back.
Both the kidnapping of Johnson and the killings in Fallujah were wrongs and must be condemned by all moral human beings.
This has been part of the problem with our public being kept in the dark on some things, then being bombarded with others. Some of this imbalance was reduced when the photos and videos of Abu Ghraib were shown to the US public by CBS and then by others. But, to this day, it is not enough.
Yes, torture is very bad and should never have happened. But the killing of over 700 civilians, and the maiming of over a thousand in Fallujah, a city that General Kimmit and his colleagues threatened to "level" was never shown on American TV. The US would have leveled the city — but were stopped by the international outcry — this dastardly deed has never been seen by the U.S. public to this day. Yet, we know that American media people did see some of the corpses and major devastation.
Al Jazeera offered the tapes to the US, but none of our media and our "courageous" media moguls wanted to show these tapes. If they had, perhaps the American people could better understand why there is so much hatred and fear of America in Iraq — especially hatred for Bush and for the American military.
This hatred makes things much worse for most of our military, who are men and women who do not deserve to be targeted and hated, as is the case today and will be the case from this day on until America leaves Iraq. Unfortunately, it appears that Bush intends to keep troops in Iraq, so that America "stays the course." As some American generals and diplomats have claimed recently in a letter against the Bush administration, asking for it to resign or for voters to vote him out of office — there is no clear or wise course of action now in place in the Bush administration. Some fear that Kerry will do no better, so much so that some of the independents have begun calling Kerry, "Bush Lite."
So long as American troops stay in Iraq, our troops will be the target that will unify both radical and even moderates who have given up on mediation and negotiation with the American group, or its IGC puppets who are now to be put in charge of the country. Unfortunately, our American public will only hear of "terrorists", never hearing that these are but frustrated Iraqis or Iraqis who have lost relatives or family or friends to American attacks.
Add to these things that for over the past year, the major US media have repeated and repeated the Bush/Cheney lies that Iraq was an ally of Bin Laden and Al Qaeda. Most of us who are real experts were never allowed on major media or even our minor second rate media to contradict this, this included even NPR and PBS, even on such supposedly honest shows such as NOW, THE WORLD, ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. Finally, today the 9/11 Commission has come out with the FACT that there were no ties between Al Qaeda and Iraq.
In fact, most of us who knew the reality kept saying, in various local radio programs, call-in programs when we could get on the air, and in online websites that Al Qaeda and Saddam were enemies who wanted to wipe on another out. But, this is just another parallel of why you’ll not see the victims of American air strikes and tank strikes in Iraq, but you will always see an American or two kidnapped or killed. Neither of these evil deeds is justifiable according to our Muslim or Christian theologies — yet our American military and the Bush administration keep violating their religion, just as these Bin Laden people keep violating Islam.
Let us hope the world, the people and the media wake up so that we can stop this wrongful slaughter and kidnapping.
Comment: It is obvious by now that the powers that be want American troops to stay in Iraq. After the attacks of September 11th, the US began to wage its war against the evil terrorists. Although it appears that the events of 9/11 were masterminded by dancing Israelis and not Osama Bin Laden, all clues regarding Israeli involvement were immediately discarded in favor of the "official explanation". But if there really isn't an army of Evildoer Terrorists who hate our freedoms, they must be created. The threat could be manufactured from existing groups who have valid grievances against the US. All one has to do is bomb the hell out of a bunch of women and children in an Arab country, imprison and torture random innocent people, and then broadcast it all to the world while remarking that you are bringing freedom, democracy, and Jesus to a bunch of poor heathens. The end result is a "war without end" in which America wipes out the majority of the Arab world that the Zionists so despise, and America itself is significantly weakened economically and militarily.
Monday, June 21, 2004. 11:15am (AEST)
Lawyers representing Guantanamo Bay detainees, including Australian David Hicks, are claiming harassment by the US government.
Both the US military and Australian lawyers representing Hicks are accused of breaching their ethics by US Office of Military Commissions, which will try Hicks, because they publicly stated that their client said he had been abused.
In an e-mail to seven colleagues, the spokesman for the Office of Military Commissions, Major John Smith, complained Major Michael Mori and Adelaide-based lawyer Stephen Kenny were grandstanding.
The official says if the claims are scurrilous, the two should be investigated by relevant ethics agencies.
One of Major Michael Mori's colleagues has labelled the complaint as harassment and intimidation. [...]
Who could catalogue the lies of our times? In fact, the category "lies" hardly covers the matter. Take a simple example, just now on front pages everywhere: the President invites the press in for a post-cabinet-meeting moment. It's the day after the 9/11 Commission staff has delivered a total no-brainer revelation: Months of research, the questioning of experts and intelligence insiders, not to speak of the reading of the interrogation transcripts of top al-Qaeda figures and Iraqi officials all reveal -- gasp -- that there was no "collaboration," no significant connection between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda, just as there were no weapons of mass destruction or mobile biological labs, just as there was no Niger yellowcake deal, just as, the Los Angeles Times reports, U.S. intelligence repeatedly "confused" Iraqi chicken coops with Scud missile sites, just as … oh well.
The President promptly responded to the 9/11 Commission news thusly:
"The reason I keep insisting that there was a relationship between Iraq and Saddam and al Qaeda, because there was a relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda. This administration never said that the 9/11 attacks were orchestrated between Saddam and al Qaeda. We did say there were numerous contacts between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda."
Jim Lobe of Inter Press Service comments:
"This is what logicians call a tautology, or a ‘useless repetition,' as the dictionary defines it, but it is also an indication of how the Bush administration is defending itself against a growing number of scandals and deceptions in which it finds itself enmeshed. Repetition and blaming the media, an old standby, of which Vice President Dick Cheney and Pentagon chief Donald Rumsfeld are particularly fond dating back to their service under Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford 30 years ago, are back in vogue."
Now, admittedly, the President's use of the word "relationship" calls to mind the "meaning of is" parsings of his predecessor (though on far lesser matters of state). Who knows, after all, what this President thinks a relationship is? Certainly, to take but one example, by such standards the pre-Afghan-war relationship between the Bush administration and the Taliban would have to qualify as a deep friendship. Or, as the editor of the War in Context website puts the matter, "George Bush and John Kerry have a relationship: They are both candidates in the coming presidential election. Assuming that they participate in a debate or two, this will require some level of cooperation. Does this mean that Bush supports the Kerry campaign?"
But what of the other part of the President's statement? Did the "administration" ever say that the 9/11 attacks were "orchestrated between Saddam and al Qaeda?"
Well, just to quote a single Presidential "is" on the subject. Mimi Hall of USA today notes: "In a letter to Congress on March 19, 2003 -- the day the war in Iraq began -- Bush said that the war was permitted under legislation authorizing force against those who 'planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001.'"
And, of course, even when he didn't literally say so -- and Fred Kaplan of Slate points out that the President was generally quite precise in the imprecision of his words -- he constantly associated the two (as did the rest of his crew) even on the rare occasions when he seemed to admit that Saddam had nothing to do with 9/11. In last year's State of the Union speech, for instance, with war looming he said: "Imagine those 19 hijackers with other weapons and other plans -- this time armed by Saddam."
Donald Rumsfeld, though he "can't read all the articles," said in a press conference last Friday that the media has drawn too much attention to prisoner abuse scandals, noting that in the "Washington Post the other day -- I forget when it was -- just a great, bold 'torture.'" This is unfair, of course, because, as Rumsfeld said, "the implication is that the United States government has, in one way or another, ordered, authorized, permitted, tolerated torture."
And he's right to be upset. The media should not be giving people the impression that the U.S. government authorized torture. The administration's own memos do a pretty good job of that on their own.
Mon Jun 21,
1:46 AM ET
The bipartisan commission investigating the September 11 attacks in the United States reported last week there had been contact between Iraqis and al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden but there was no evidence of a collaborative relationship.
"It was wrongful of the Bush Administration to bring on the war against Iraq," the Uri Party said in an English-language statement. "Even worse, the administration is losing the justification of occupation policy in Iraq."
The party said military operations against North Korea based on wrong or distorted information could lead to serious results because the South Korean government relies heavily on information from the United States. Multilateral talks are seeking to persuade North Korea to end its nuclear weapons program.
"We urge that the Bush Administration guarantee that such kind of decision making based on false and distorted information as in the case of Iraq will not occur on the Korean peninsula, by sharing nuclear and military information on North Korea with Seoul," the party said. [...]
reportedly seizes British Navy vessels
TEHRAN, Iran - Iran has seized three British naval vessels and detained eight crew after they entered Iranian waters, an Iranian military source said on Monday.
Britain’s defense ministry said it was checking into the report.
Al-Alam said the confrontation took place in the Shatt al Arab stretch of water between Iraq and Iran. It described the British vessels only as “warships.”
Britain said it had no warships operating in Shatt al Arab but that some smaller vessels were there.
“We are assisting the Iraqi water police there so it may be one of those vessels,” a ministry spokesman said on condition of anonymity. “We don’t know.”
Iranian-British relations have been strained in recent weeks. Britain has joined other key U.N. members in accusing Iran of being less than fully cooperative with the U.N. nuclear watchdog body.
Monday June 21, 2004
BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - The Royal Navy acknowledged Monday that it had lost contact with three small patrol boats after they went on a routine mission in the waterway between Iraq and Iran, a British military spokesman said.
The statement came shortly after state television in Iran said that Tehran had confiscated the three British military vessels and arrested eight armed crew members. British officials did not confirm the boats were captured or the crewmembers detained.
"I can confirm that three small Royal Navy patrol boats and eight crew have been out of communication since the early hours of this morning,'' said a military spokesman in the southern Iraqi city of Basra on condition of anonymity. ``It is not unusual for the Royal Navy to be patrolling the Shatt-al-Arab.''
The Royal Navy has been training Iraqi personnel in coastal defense for several weeks on the waterway, and it is possible that the vessels were part of that exercise.
Sun Jun 20,
4:24 PM ET
Hizbollah television station al-Manar said the planes struck a hill in southwestern Lebanon where an Israeli military base stood until the army withdrew from southern Lebanon in May 2000. Lebanese residents said they heard several explosions. A security source in Beirut said nobody was hurt in the strike.
The Israeli army issued a statement in Jerusalem saying the airforce attacked Hizbollah gunners that had fired a salvo of anti-aircraft shells into northern Israel earlier in the day. The shells hit an army base but caused no casualties.
"Following the Hizbollah attack, the Israeli air force targeted and destroyed a Hizbollah outpost in the western sector of southern Lebanon, from which a canon was used to fire on northern Israel...under the guise of anti-aircraft fire," the army said in a statement.
The army accused Hizbollah of deliberately firing anti-aircraft shells at a low trajectory into Israel in order to attack its citizens. A teen-ager was killed in such a strike last year, the army said.
Hizbollah has said the salvos are aimed at Israeli warplanes that have violated Lebanese air space. [...]
June 21, 2004
CAIRO (AFP) - France is prepared to take part in an "international presence" in the Gaza Strip (news - web sites) following a planned Israeli withdrawal from the Palestinian territory, French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier revealed.
"We have stated our availability to take part, at the appropriate moment, including through an international presence whose format remains to be determined", Barnier said Monday whilst flanked by his Egyptian counterpart Ahmed Maher.
"Europeans as a whole are ready to commit themselves," said Barnier, pointing out that last Friday, the 25-member bloc's summit saw the Israeli withdrawal as an opportunity to relaunch the Middle East peace process.
For his part, Maher said Egypt "needed" France and Europe to play a role in aftermath of the Israeli withdrawal, but said it was premature to say what that role might be.
"It is a little early to specify what this role will be," he added. "We are in the middle of talks".
Egypt has offered to send up to 200 personnel to the Gaza Strip to train a 30,000-strong police force to maintain security in the territory during and after next year's promised Israeli pullout.
"The Egyptian commitment is definitely strategic," said Barnier. "We will support Egypt's role after an Israeli withdrawal from Gaza".
The French minister said the success of the pullout would depend on a "number of conditions," which he listed as public services, security, access to allow the Palestinian territory to function and for people to travel to work.
"We know what we are talking about because in the past we have largely financed (Palestinian) public facilities that now need reconstruction," he said of public services. [...]
PARIS, June 20 (AFP) - France's interior minister said Sunday he would soon announce new measures to combat terrorism, cybercrime, drug trafficking and racism. Dominique de Villepin said in a television interview he would spell out his plans at a press conference later in the week.
He noted that crime and extremism were linked, saying that with "30 kilos (66 pounds) of cannabis the Madrid terrorists financed" the March 11 train bombings in the Spanish capital, which killed nearly 200 people.
De Villepin told LCI television that he would be boosting cooperation between France's various intelligence services as well as between ministries in a bid to better fight terrorism.
He also said he would seek heavier sentences for those convicted of racist acts. France has seen a wave of acts of racist vandalism at Muslim and Jewish sites in recent weeks.
By Jim Muir
Iranian officials have said that smoking the hubble-bubble, or water-pipe, will be banned in all restaurants and leisure places from Monday.
The water-pipe is one of the most traditional instruments of relaxation and indulgence in the Middle East.
In Iran, where it is known as the qalyoun, it has been at the centre of traditional culture for centuries.
HAIGH, Associated Press Writer
HARTFORD, Conn. - Gov. John G. Rowland will announce his resignation Monday night, amid a federal corruption investigation and a growing move to impeach him, his lawyer told The Associated Press.
The governor was planning to announce his resignation on a live television address to the state at 6 p.m., lawyer William Dow III said Monday. Rowland's resignation would elevate GOP Lt. Gov. M. Jodi Rell to governor. Dow would not specify when the resignation would take effect.
Earlier, a spokesman for the governor's office refused to comment.
Rowland, 47, a Republican easily re-elected to a third term in 2002, admitted late last year that he lied about accepting gifts and favors from friends, state contractors and state employees. But he continued to insist that he did nothing in return for the gifts.
"No one has even said I've compromised this office," he said in a recent Associated Press interview. "I've not done anything inappropriate for anybody." [...]
Rowland was once the nation's youngest governor — he was 37 when first elected in 1994 — and considered a rising star in the GOP. He is a former chairman of the Republican Governors Association and was rumored to be considered for several positions in the Bush administration.
But 2003 began badly for Rowland and rapidly descended into nightmare.
Last March, Rowland's former deputy chief of staff, Lawrence Alibozek, pleaded guilty to federal charges he steered state business to certain contractors in exchange for gold and cash.
That plea — and the governor's subsequent acknowledgment that a federal grand jury had subpoenaed stacks of documents relating to several major projects and a politically connected contractor — set the stage for a spring and summer of embarrassing revelations about discounted vacations he had taken at homes owned by people doing business with the state.
One of those people was William Tomasso, a principal in the contracting firm under scrutiny by the grand jury.
Rowland paid $9,000 to the state Ethics Commission to settle its probe of the vacation stays. Two months later he paid $6,000 to the state Elections Enforcement Commission to settle a complaint over charges he made to a state Republican Party credit card.
Rowland admitted no wrongdoing in either case.
But in mid-December Rowland admitted he had lied about who paid for improvements to a one-story, lakeside cottage he purchased in 1997. Asked Dec. 2 about who paid for the work, Rowland insisted he and his wife, Patricia, had taken out several loans to cover the bills.
Ten days later he issued a statement apologizing to the Capitol press corps and admitting friends, employees and some state contractors — including the Tomassos — had paid for renovations, including a new heating system, a hot tub, work on the kitchen, ceiling and deck.
But he said those helping him got nothing in return.
"I'm not going to sell my integrity or my 25 years of public service for a box of cigars. I mean, it's silly to even think that," he said, referring to a state contractor's claim he gave Rowland boxes of Cuban cigars to help speed up payments to his electrical company. [...]
Comment: A politician steering business to his buddies in exchange for money and other favors... Hmm, now why does that sound so familiar? Of course, the governor's resignation is perfect for the White House. Rowland's resignation means that Americans can convince themselves that guys like Bush and Cheney would never be able to get away with getting kickbacks from contracts that were given to Halliburton and its subsidiaries, for example.
Griffith, President Bush's nominee for the federal appeals court in Washington,
has been practicing law in Utah without a state law license for the past
four years, according to Utah state officials.
Under Utah law, Griffith's only option for obtaining the state license was to take and pass the state bar exam, an arduous test that lawyers try to take only once. He applied to sit for the exam, but never took it, Utah bar officials confirm.
Utah State Bar rules require all lawyers practicing law in the state to have a Utah law license. There is no general exception for general counsels or corporate counsels. Lawyers who practice only federal law or whose work is solely administrative can avoid the requirement in some cases.
Griffith has declined to discuss the matter, which is expected to be a subject of his nomination hearings tentatively scheduled for next week. But a Justice Department spokesman said Friday that Griffith sought advice from Utah State Bar officials when he inquired last year about obtaining a license, and followed their suggestions for avoiding any ethical missteps.
"The Utah State Bar advised him that to the extent that his duties as general counsel involved giving legal advice, he ought to closely associate himself with a Utah bar member," Justice spokesman John Nowacki said. "It has been Mr. Griffith's practice to closely associate himself with a Utah bar member when giving legal advice." [...]
"It begins to look like a pattern of carelessness," said Paul Rothstein, a law professor at Georgetown University Law School. "It should cause your red flags to go up to see if there are other signs of carelessness."
Several lawyers from respected D.C. law firms, and former U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit chief judge Abner Mikva, have written public letters in defense of Griffith's D.C. licensing lapse, calling it a minor mistake. "In our opinion, this matter does not raise a question concerning Tom's fitness to serve on the bench," wrote a group of Williams & Connolly lawyers.
Griffith, 55, is a member of the Republican National Lawyers Association and was the lead counsel for the Senate during the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton. Married and the father of six, he is a former partner at the D.C. firm of Wiley Rein & Fielding, whose partners served in prominent positions in past Republican administrations. [...]
Jun 20, 2004 5:03 pm US/Central
St. Paul (AP) Robert Morrell wondered what was up after his Northwest Airlines flight touched down.
Nobody from the flight crew got on the intercom to welcome passengers to Rapid City, S.D. He looked out the window and saw barracks-like structures and military officials. And then the crew told passengers to pull down their window shades.
Turns out it wasn't Rapid City Regional Airport. It was Ellsworth Air Force Base.
After about five minutes, a voice from the cockpit broke the news to the passengers aboard Flight 1152 from Minneapolis-St. Paul.
"He (the pilot) hemmed and he hawed and he said, 'We have landed at an Air Force base a few miles from the Rapid City airport and now we are going to figure out how we're going to get from here to there,"' Morrell told the St. Paul Pioneer Press on his cell phone during the delay Saturday.
The delay stretched past three hours as the 117 passengers waited in the nearly full Airbus A-319.
During that time, military officials questioned the crew. Eventually, the captain and first officer were replaced by a different Northwest crew, which made the short hop to the right airport, three hours and 42 minutes late.
Elizabeth Isham Cory, a spokeswoman for the Federal Avaiation Administration, told AP Radio on Sunday that the agency is investigating.
"Our investigators will be talking to the pilots, also the control at Northwest, also air traffic control over the next several days to weeks, to find out what happened and why," Cory said. The FAA will also be working with the military, she said.
Northwest released little information about the incident, confirming only that the crew made an "unscheduled landing" at the military base at 12:15 p.m., Mountain Time.
"The situation is under review and we have nothing further to add," said Northwest spokesman Kurt Ebenhoch. "We're not acknowledging it was pilot error."
Ebenhoch would not release the names of the pilots, nor would he specify how long they'd been flying on Saturday, give their experience level, say whether they'd ever landed at Rapid City, or whether the pilots were suspended.
Morrell, a physician from Raleigh, N.C, offered the consensus of the passengers:
"Everyone is surmising it was pilot error. The presumption is that the pilot just landed at the wrong ... airport." [...]
It's not too hard to get your vote lost -- if some politicians want it to be lost
In the 2000 presidential election, 1.9 million Americans cast ballots that no one counted. "Spoiled votes" is the technical term. The pile of ballots left to rot has a distinctly dark hue: About 1 million of them -- half of the rejected ballots -- were cast by African Americans although black voters make up only 12 percent of the electorate.
This year, it could get worse.
These ugly racial statistics are hidden away in the mathematical thickets of the appendices to official reports coming out of the investigation of ballot-box monkey business in Florida from the last go-'round.
How do you spoil 2 million ballots? Not by leaving them out of the fridge too long. A stray mark, a jammed machine, a punch card punched twice will do it. It's easy to lose your vote, especially when some politicians want your vote lost.
While investigating the 2000 ballot count in Florida for BBC Television, I saw firsthand how the spoilage game was played -- with black voters the predetermined losers.
Florida's Gadsden County has the highest percentage of black voters in the state -- and the highest spoilage rate. One in 8 votes cast there in 2000 was never counted. Many voters wrote in "Al Gore." Optical reading machines rejected these because "Al" is a "stray mark."
By contrast, in neighboring Tallahassee, the capital, vote spoilage was nearly zip; every vote counted. The difference? In Tallahassee's white- majority county, voters placed their ballots directly into optical scanners. If they added a stray mark, they received another ballot with instructions to correct it.
In other words, in the white county, make a mistake and get another ballot; in the black county, make a mistake, your ballot is tossed.
The U.S. Civil Rights Commission looked into the smelly pile of spoiled ballots and concluded that, of the 179,855 ballots invalidated by Florida officials, 53 percent were cast by black voters. In Florida, a black citizen was 10 times as likely to have a vote rejected as a white voter.
But let's not get smug about Florida's Jim Crow spoilage rate. Civil Rights Commissioner Christopher Edley, recently appointed dean of Boalt Hall School of Law at UC Berkeley, took the Florida study nationwide. His team discovered the uncomfortable fact that Florida is typical of the nation.
Philip Klinkner, the statistician working on the Edley investigations, concluded, "It appears that about half of all ballots spoiled in the U.S.A. --
about 1 million votes -- were cast by nonwhite voters."
This "no count," as the Civil Rights Commission calls it, is no accident. In Florida, for example, I discovered that technicians had warned Gov. Jeb Bush's office well in advance of November 2000 of the racial bend in the vote- count procedures.
Herein lies the problem. An apartheid vote-counting system is far from politically neutral. Given that more than 90 percent of the black electorate votes Democratic, had all the "spoiled" votes been tallied, Gore would have taken Florida in a walk, not to mention fattening his popular vote total nationwide. It's not surprising that the First Brother's team, informed of impending rejection of black ballots, looked away and whistled.
The ballot-box blackout is not the monopoly of one party. Cook County, Ill., has one of the nation's worst spoilage rates. That's not surprising. Boss Daley's Democratic machine, now his son's, survives by systematic disenfranchisement of Chicago's black vote.
How can we fix it?
-- The United States needs to make a new commitment to research on water
resources in order to confront the increasingly severe water problems
faced by all parts of the country, says a new congressionally mandated
report from the National Academies' National Research Council. In particular,
a new mechanism is needed to coordinate water research currently fragmented
among nearly 20 federal agencies, said the committee that wrote the report.
Given the competition for water among farmers, environmental advocates, recreational users, and other interests -- as well as emerging challenges such as climate change and the threat of waterborne diseases -- the committee concluded that an additional $70 million in federal funding should go annually to water research, with the aim of improving the decision-making of institutions that control water resources and better understanding the water-use challenges that lie ahead. The committee noted that overall federal funding for water research has been stagnant in real terms for the past 30 years, and that the portion dedicated to research on water use and related social science topics has declined considerably. For example, while other fields such as the health sciences have seen large funding increases over the last three decades, per capita spending on water-resources research has dropped from $3.33 to $2.44, despite the growing number of water conflicts around the country. [...]
Mon 21 June, 2004 09:12
TOKYO (Reuters) - A Japanese teenager was forced by his teacher to write an apology in blood after dozing in the classroom, the school's principal says.
In David Booth's dream, he is watching Earth from outer space when a stray planet wedges itself between the South Pole and the moon.
"Then I see a gigantic explosion in the western part of the North American continent. That explosion billows up and then there's this gray cloud. You can see orange, like fire, inside of it. And then there's a ripple that goes across the face of the Earth," Booth said.
This foretelling of cataclysm was received with great appreciation by believers in strange science when Booth announced it last year. Booth was, after all, a visionary with a record. In 1979 he had 10 days of dreams in which an American Airlines flight turned over and nosed into a ball of flame at an airport. He took this matter to the FAA. They made a note. Three days later, American Airlines Flight 191 lost an engine, turned over and nosed into a ball of flame at a Chicago airport, killing 274 people. Booth was interviewed, then dodged publicity. Six years later, he did a network news show and was horrified at the reaction.
"There was a church group down in North Carolina that said I was some kind of Messiah figure and trying to make me into something I was not," Booth said. "Everybody wanted a piece of me."
In March of last year, the second cycle of dreams began, the one in which not a plane, but the Earth, crashes in flames. Booth told a neighbor, Wayne Green, a magazine publisher and conspiracy talk show regular whose catalog includes such titles as "Cold Fusion" and "Moondoggle: Apollo Hoax Expose." Green told Booth they needed to get the word out. Booth threw together a book and hit the alternative-science talk show circuit.
[...] Green said Booth told him that while in France three months ago, waiting for his meeting with the Fatima mystic, federal agents confronted him and warned him to stop frightening people. Booth won't discuss that matter today.
12:12 PM EDT Jun 21
STONEHENGE, England (AP) - More than 20,000 partygoers, New Age followers and self-styled druids gathered at this ancient stone circle Monday to welcome the summer solstice, the longest day in the northern hemisphere year.
The revellers braved cool, wet weather to spend the night at the 4,000-year-old stone circle and watch the sun rise at 4:58 a.m. Clouds obscured it at first, but the crowd cheered as the sun broke through at about 6:15 a.m.
BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) -- Mali Blotta and David Modersbach were unfazed by rising gas prices when they drove 11,000 miles during a recent family road trip from California to Argentina.
Their 24-year-old station wagon runs on much cheaper fuel: recycled vegetable oil.
Hitting the road for five months, the couple and their 4-year-old son toured 11 countries in a Volkswagen powered by waste grease they collected from restaurants and fried-food factories along the way.
"We're promoting an alternative to the oil economy," Modersbach said. "The trip wasn't just about the voyage. It was about spreading information about vegetable-based fuel."
The Oakland environmentalists are part of a movement promoting biodiesel - a cleaner burning fuel derived from renewable resources such as vegetables - at a time when rising oil prices, the conflict in Iraq and global-warming worries are boosting interest in alternative fuels. [...]
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