Tuesday, March 01, 2005                                               The Daily Battle Against Subjectivity
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The Grand Inquisitor

US Diplomat Claims Flight 93 Was Shot Down

Hidden away in a report on the Canadian refusal to sign up to the US "Missile Defence Plan", the US government's diplomatic envoy to Ottawa, Paul Cellucci, has revealed something very interesting:

"Washington had hoped Canada would would go further and participate in building the continental defence shield, an elaborate system that some worry could lead to weapons in space and an international arms race.

Cellucci compared the situation to one that occurred during the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the U.S. He noted that it was a Canadian general at Norad who scrambled military jets under orders from Bush to shoot down a hijacked commercial aircraft headed for Washington.

Had that plane been flying over Canada, it would have fallen to the prime minister to make the decision to shoot it down, Cellucci said."

Rumsfeld has also let slip the truth about 9/11, more than once. Back in December he too confirmed that Flight 93 has been shot down when, as reported by CNN, he said:

And I think all of us have a sense if we imagine the kind of world we would face if the people who bombed the mess hall in Mosul, or the people who did the bombing in Spain, or the people who attacked the United States in New York, shot down the plane over Pennsylvania and attacked the Pentagon

Then there was also his little slip about "the missile that hit this building" in a Defence Department interview. But of course, these are just mistakes, right? The fact that they confirm the massive amounts of evidence which shows that the government is lying about the events of 9/11 is inconsequential right?

How many more government officials telling the world that Flight 93 was shot down before the American people sit up and take notice? The FACT is that Flight 93 WAS SHOT DOWN, which then opens up lots of other difficult questions about the passengers "let's roll" phone call. Was that too just part of the fantasy of 9/11? We already know the answers. Perhaps some day the American and world public will deem themselves worthy to know the truth also.

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Run For Your Lives! It's The Dastardly Duo!
March 1, 2005

Intelligence reports circulating in the US government claim that the al-Qaeda leadership has called upon Abu Musab al-Zarqawi to launch attacks in the US.

Officials have told the BBC that the group's leadership is reaching out to Iraq's most-wanted Islamic militant.

US intelligence says it has uncovered a communication from a top lieutenant of Osama Bin Laden destined for Zarqawi.

The organisation is said to have asked Zarqawi to expand his operations to include strikes inside the US.


But officials said there was no information regarding specific targets in the US.

Zarqawi leads an Islamist faction in Iraq blamed for some of the worst atrocities of the insurgency.

The intelligence services believe that Zarqawi allied himself with al-Qaeda last year.

But one official said it was still intriguing that al-Qaeda was reaching out to him.

He said it could be a measure of al-Qaeda's diminished capabilities that it was looking for other groups to carry out attacks in the US.

But, equally, he said the communication showed that al-Qaeda was still actively seeking to launch strikes against America.

It is not entirely clear why the US government has chosen to release such sensitive information, but the Bush administration has sought often to portray Iraq as what it calls the central front in the war on terrorism.

Comment: The only thing that this information shows is that the US government is as determined as ever to completely con the American people. Since the Neocons' recent "overhaul" of the American intelligence apparatus to ensure that all future intelligence reports are compatible with the duplicitous agenda, we can expect to see much more of such ridiculous fear mongering issuing from the bowels of the Pentagon.

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White House Must Charge or Free Suspect
By JACOB JORDAN, Associated Press Writer
March 1, 2005

COLUMBIA, S.C. - In a stinging rebuke to the Bush administration, a federal judge ruled the case of "dirty bomb" suspect Jose Padilla is a matter for law enforcement - not the military - and ordered the government to charge him or let him go.

Padilla's more than 2 1/2 years in custody, most of it spent in a Navy brig, don't seem closer to an end, however, because Justice Department spokesman John Nowacki said the government will appeal the ruling.

U.S. District Judge Henry Floyd in Spartanburg, S.C., ruled Monday that the government can not hold Padilla indefinitely as an "enemy combatant," a designation President Bush gave him in 2002. The government views Padilla as a militant who planned attacks on the United States, including with a "dirty bomb" radiological device.

Floyd wrote in his 23-page opinion that to rule in favor of the government "would not only offend the rule of law and violate this country's constitutional tradition," it would be a "betrayal of this nation's commitment to the separation of powers that safeguards our democratic values and individual liberties."

Floyd, appointed by Bush in 2003, gave the administration 45 days to take action.

Padilla's attorney, Andy Patel, said his client is an American citizen who has the right to defend himself in court against charges or else be released. [...]

Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, called Floyd's order a significant blow to the administration. "It's a genuine limitation on the president's belief that he can do what he wants in the war on terror," said Ratner, whose group represents scores of detainees at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. [...]

Padilla was arrested at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport in 2002 after returning from Pakistan. The federal government has said he received weapons and explosives training from members of al-Qaida.

Deputy Attorney General James Comey last year used a news conference to detail claims against Padilla. Comey asserted that if Padilla had been handled by the usual criminal justice system, he could have stayed silent and "would likely have ended up a free man."

During court arguments last month, his attorneys challenged the government to prove its case or release Padilla.

"If everything you say about Jose Padilla is true, prove it," said Denyse Williams, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union in South Carolina, which filed a brief in support of Padilla's attorneys. "Everybody says the war on terror could last a lifetime. If they can do it to him, they can do it to others."

David Salmons from the U.S. Solicitor General's Office countered at the time that the president has the right to detain any enemy combatant while the United States is fighting al-Qaida. But he added that there's no risk the president may round up citizens and detain them.

Comment: How can there be no risk that the president will round up US citizens and detain them without charge? He has already done it twice.

Padilla, a New York-born convert to Islam, is one of only two U.S. citizens designated as enemy combatants. The second, Louisiana native Yaser Hamdi, was released in October after the Justice Department said he no longer posed a threat to the United States and no longer had any intelligence value. [...]

Comment: Just to make it clear, the judge in this case has essentially stated that the actions of the US government constitute a deliberate attempt to over-ride the rule of law, violate America's constitutional tradition and betray the ideology that protects democratic values and individual liberties. So tell us, where does that leave all the talk of spreading "freedom and democracy"?

The fact is that the government had no case against Padilla, but wants to continue to use him as "evidence" that there war on terror is justified. Padilla is however not the only victim of Bush's "democracy". Remember Zacarias Moussaoui?

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Flashback: FBI: Moussaoui not involved
October 21, 2003

(SA)  Washington - The US Federal Bureau of Investigation has concluded that Zacarias Moussaoui, the only person charged in America in connection with the September 11 attacks, was not involved in the strikes, Time magazine reported on Sunday. [...]

Comment: Not to be deterred by the FBI and their pesky facts and investigations, the Bush administration continued pushing for the prosecution of Moussaoui. Eleven months after this article was published, we found the following report:

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Flashback: Prosecutors Favor Dropping Moussaoui Case
By LARRY MARGASAK, Associated Press Writer
Fri Sep 26, 2004 2:49 AM ET

ALEXANDRIA, Va. - Federal prosecutors urged a judge to dismiss charges against Zacarias Moussaoui, saying it was the quickest way to resolve a dispute over the terrorism defendant's right to question fellow al-Qaida witnesses.

A government motion agreed with Moussaoui's lawyers that dismissal was an appropriate punishment for the Bush administration's defiance of two court orders that granted Moussaoui the right to question three captives. [...]

Brinkema has concluded, in January and August orders, that the three enemy combatants could support Moussaoui's denial that he was a conspirator in the Sept. 11 attacks. The Justice Department has countered that any testimony by the prisoners would reveal classified information, and that it might eventually have to move the case to a military tribunal if it loses the appeal. [...]

Comment: When prosecutors pushed for dismissal of the case against Moussaoui, the Justice Department declared that if it lost the case, the accused would be tried by a military tribunal instead. Despite this blatantly fascist maneuver, nothing was done to help Moussaoui or stop the Bush administration. Earlier this year, we ran the following article that mentions Moussaoui's case:

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Flashback: Chertoff: Kerik without the sex
Posted on January 11, 2005 11:00 AM

[...] What's more, Chertoff was responsible for the badly botched prosecution of al-Qaeda terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui, who has yet to be brought to any type of justice even though he was arrested three-and-a-half years ago. Under his leadership, the Justice Department pursued a theory that Moussaoui was "the 20th hijacker" -- despite zero evidence to support that claim. However, that argument has been used as an excuse to deny the American public from information that might prove what really happened to Flight 93 on 9/11. [...]

Comment: The Justice Department still has zero evidence to support their claim that Moussaoui was the 20th hijacker, or that he had anything to do with the events of 9/11.

Moussaoui is not a US citizen. Perhaps many Americans feel that they don't have to worry about being arrested and held without trial on terrorism charges since the first US citizen held, Yaser Hamdi, was released in October. If Padilla is also released, Americans have nothing to worry about, right?

Well, no. Consider the fact that Padilla has been held for two and half years without charge and without a fair trial. Surely no one can claim that justice has been served when a US citizen can be held for several years just because Bush says so. It is clear that Bush and his administration have quite a bit of power when other branches of government are powerless to intervene. On the other hand, maybe they do not want to intervene, or are unable to do so for fear of the repercussions.

It appears that whatever happens with Moussaoui or Padilla, the administration has no intention of changing its ways. Just six days before this last article was published, Washington announced plans to create a network of permanent detention camps:

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Flashback: Washington prepares international network of permanent detention camps
By Rick Kelly
5 January 2005

The Bush administration is crafting a series of measures to secure the permanent detention without trial of alleged terrorists and those it designates as enemy combatants, the Washington Post reported Sunday. In gross violation of international law, detainees may soon be held in new US-constructed prisons in Guantanamo Bay, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen, without access to lawyers or family members.

"The Pentagon and the CIA have asked the White House to decide on a more permanent approach for potentially lifetime detentions, including for hundreds of people in military and CIA custody whom the government does not have enough evidence to charge in courts," the Post reported. "The outcome of the review, which involves the State Department as well, would also affect those expected to be captured in the course of future counterterrorism operations." [...]

Comment: Military tribunals in the US could be problematic, so it seems that idea has been abandoned in favor of an international network of detention camps. In effect, terrorism suspects will "disappear".

These prisons may also be used to detain those currently held by the Central Intelligence Agency. Almost nothing is known about how many prisoners are in the hands of the CIA, or the conditions under which they are kept. The CIA reportedly maintains secret detention facilities on ships at sea, and at military bases in Afghanistan and on the Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia. [...]

Comment: In other words, the public has no idea how many other Moussaoui's and Padilla's are out there.

Local authorities will run the new prisons, while the State Department will reportedly monitor operations, ensuring compliance with "recognized human rights standards."

Comment: Although basically illegal, this move makes sense. The Bush administration essentially wants to form a new Inquisition. Crimes, evidence, trials, and guilt have no place in an Inquisition. There is only the Grand Inquisitor, George Bush. If he says you are guilty, you are guilty - end of story.

As this article notes, sending "heretics" to prisons or camps in other countries is nothing new. It is generally known as "rendering" a prisoner. So far, the CIA has sent prisoners to countries like Egypt, Jordan, and Syria. Some countries reportedly torture detainees for information without killing them. Other countries torture detainees and then kill them. Still other nations quietly make prisoners "disappear".

The benefit of this new system is that there is no accountability, and no visits from family or lawyers. Terrorist suspects become a nameless prisoner in a foreign land, outside the official realm of international law. Even if a prisoner is released or gets word out that they are imprisoned, he cannot say, "America tortured me". It is the local authorities who will run the prisons and conduct the torture, and the prisoners will be flown to their personal hell courtesy of CIA Airlines.

The Bush administration's proposals again demonstrate the brazen criminality of its "war on terror." Despite all of the extremely damaging revelations of US abuse of detainees in Iraq and Guantanamo Bay that emerged last year, the government is plunging ahead with a new system that will inevitably lead to further abuse and torture. [...]

The Bush administration's move to shift detainees from Guantanamo Bay has been provoked, in part, by a Supreme Court ruling earlier this year that allowed prisoners to challenge their detention in federal court.

While this decision did not challenge the government's right to imprison whomever it deems an enemy combatant, the Bush administration views any measure of judicial oversight over its operations as an unwarranted irritant. [...]

Comment: The so-called "judicial oversight" of the Bush administration's actions is a joke. Those lawmakers who may be trying to battle Bush's madness are apparently horribly outnumbered. Then again, perhaps it is wishful thinking to believe that a man who stole two consecutive presidential elections could be stopped by a few politicians, lawyers, and judges appointed by Bush himself.

Getting back to the case of Jose Padilla:

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Federal Judge Orders 'Enemy Combatant' Jose Padilla Charged Or Released
WYFF TheCarolinaChannel.com
Mon Feb 28, 6:08 PM ET

A federal judge in Spartanburg has ordered that an American citizen held as an enemy combatant in a Navy brig in Charleston should be released.

U.S. District Judge Henry F. Floyd ruled Monday that the president of the United States does not have the authority to order Jose Padilla to be held.

"If the law in its current state is found by the president to be insufficient to protect this country from terrorist plots, such as the one alleged here, then the president should prevail upon Congress to remedy the problem," he wrote. [...]

Comment: As long as Bush can render "terrorists", he will not need to change any laws. Bush's cries extolling the illusions of freedom and democracy in the US will muffle the detainees' cries for freedom and relief from their suffering.

The Bush administration has given us no reason through its actions to believe that US citizens will be exempt from the rendering process. As in the days of religious Inquisitions, no one will be exempt.

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Wolfowitz on shortlist for World Bank top post
By Andrew Balls and Edward Alden in Washington
Financial Times
March 1 2005

Paul Wolfowitz, US deputy secretary of defence, has emerged as a leading candidate to replace James Wolfensohn as the president of the World Bank.

Mr Wolfowitz is one of a small number of people being considered for the US nomination, administration insiders said.

The nomination of Mr Wolfowitz, one of the chief architects of the Iraq war and a former US ambassador to Indonesia, would likely be highly controversial, and could raise new questions about the process by which the World Bank chief is selected. One administration official said his nomination "would have enormous repercussions within the development community". [...]

The effort to pick the US candidate has been led by the White House National Security Council and the Council of Economic Advisers. [...]

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From a Reader
As an aside I just want to say to you guys and gal that I've been reading the Signs everyday for the last 18 months and at the end of last week I finally "got it". I got that we live in a control system. I used to mouth the words but until now I hadn't really "got it". I was still seeing things from within the control system, from its point of view because I believed I belonged to it, a citizen. A part of me now laughs in its face whilst another part of me is truly scared. Thanks for the red pill, it took a while to take effect. Life will never be the same again.

Comment: There are many levels to this onion. As soon as you penetrate one, you quickly realise that there are many more left to discover. But, yes, the gut certitude that we live in a control system, one where everything serves the Puppet Masters, is a powerful blow to the solar plexus. To realise that every aspect of our lives has been finely honed to keep us in the bondage of ignorance is a powerful shock. Family life, school, jobs, television, entertainment, the food we eat, the way we spend our "leisure hours", and even our very minds themselves all keep us in the illusion.

To see that these measures of control are designed that way - that it is not by chance, that there is a malevolent consciousness behind it - is more than most people are willing to consider.

Having achieved that realisation, it is work to maintain the awareness because the General Law will kick in to bring you back into line. Having seen the Truth, you have made yourself known, you are a blip on their screen, you have stepped out of line, and there are ways of bringing back into the flock. This is when the testing begins. How badly do you want to get out? How refined is your ability to see?

Discernment is the word. You will be tested in your Will to continue and your discernment of the means to be used. Do your choices lead you out of the labyrinth or do they only bring you deeper into the centre, but by ways and means that give the impression of leading you out?

No matter how many times you fall, you will always have the possibility of getting up once again and putting your head into the wind. It doesn't matter how many times you get knocked down as long as you get back up one time more.

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Terror bill climbdown by Labour

Rebel MPs reduce majority to 14
Michael White and Richard Norton-Taylor
Tuesday March 1, 2005
The Guardian

Tony Blair's government last night sustained a significant blow to its authority when 60 Labour MPs, including four ex-cabinet ministers, rebelled against Charles Clarke's plans to impose control orders on terrorist suspects - despite last minute concessions - and helped slash their party's 161-vote majority to just 14.

The government's narrowest Commons majority since the five-vote cliffhanger on student top-up fees last January came after the home secretary had signalled five fresh concessions to critics and despite a startling claim by Mr Blair that "several hundred people" in Britain are plotting attacks.

In a significant climbdown to the angry cross-party coalition of MPs who were vociferously refusing to grant ministers powers to detain suspects without judicial approval, Mr Clarke announced that judges will, after all, decide such cases in his new prevention of terrorism bill - not himself, as the bill currently proposes.

But when it came to vote on their own, stronger version of the citizen's right to a proper hearing before a judge, backbenchers voted no by 267 to 253. Robin Cook, Clare Short, Frank Dobson and Chris Smith, all ex-cabinet members, joined the revolt.

Mr Clarke's planned amendment, backed by four lesser concessions, failed to appease outraged MPs because they still do not go far enough in protecting civil liberties and because the changes will be tabled in the House of Lords after the Commons has passed the measure. Critics protested that parliament was being treated with contempt.

In one of the most heated and articulate debates of the past year MPs insisted later that their "self-respect" required them to refuse a third reading to a bill which Mr Clarke admits will be much changed in the unelected Lords if it is not thrown out by peers.

But the rebels felt they had made their point. The bill got its third reading by 272 votes to 219.

In the debate the embattled Mr Clarke had cited yesterday's guilty plea at the Old Bailey by the would-be British "shoe bomber", Saajid Badat, to justify his bill.

But he did not mention Mr Blair's claim about the number of terrorists at large in Britain until challenged by the former Tory cabinet minister, Peter Lilley.

Was Mr Clarke right to predict that only a "small number of people" might be subject to house arrest or otherwise restricted by control orders or was Mr Blair right? Mr Lilley asked.

Mr Clarke glossed over potential embarrassment by arguing that most suspects can be prosecuted in the normal way.

No 10 also made light of the prime minister's remark. But talk of "several hundred" active plotters - made on Radio 4's Woman's Hour - is far in excess of what intelligence officials estimate.

Hours before Mr Clarke wrote to David Davis, his Tory shadow, setting out his latest batch of concessions - designed to save the bill from defeat in the Lords next week - Mr Blair had upped the stakes in justifying the need for the urgent expansion of anti-terrorist powers.

The prime minister said the police and intelligence services were saying: "You have got to give us powers in between mere surveillance of these people - there are several hundred of them in this country who we believe are engaged in plotting or trying to commit terrorist acts - and being able, being sure enough of the proof, to prosecute them beyond reasonable doubt."

He added: "And these will be restrictions on their liberty that we will use only in the most limited circumstances. But we genuinely believe that they are necessary in order to protect the country."

At Westminster, a clutch of QCs, leftwing and Tory libertarians, gave Mr Clarke a rough ride over the principles and practice of his bill.

They were also genuinely offended that Mr Clarke's "contemptuous" letter effectively "wrecked" their own amendments to improve the bill without him tabling his own version of them so they could be discussed by MPs this week.

Mr Clarke insists that judges will know all the facts of the case and will hear from lawyers on both sides (though not the accused) in so-called "derogation" cases. They are the ones that breach the European convention on human rights because they lead to house arrest.

But he refused to budge on the non-derogation cases, involving restriction of movements or the use of computers or mobile phones, the vast majority. Mr Clarke will decide those cases, though there will be a right of appeal.

Kenneth Clarke, a former home secretary and a critic of the Iraq war, warned fellow-MPs against being "carried away by the exciting world" of security - as ministers sometimes are.

Privately anti-terrorist and intelligence officials have estimated that there is a hardcore of up to 40 potential Islamist terrorists prepared to plant a bomb or cause an explosion.

Comment: It looks like Blair is trying to get this through as quickly as possible, prior to the upcoming elections. We should not be surprised that the British PM has learned nothing from his experiences of lying to the public about Saddam's WMD prior to the invasion and occupation of Iraq. The psychopath has no qualms about lying because he has no conscience.

Once more we hear frightening words that these "restrictions on liberty" are "necessary to protect the country", coupled with the empty assurances that they will only be used "in the most limited circumstances". Unfortunately, history shows that once draconian measures are in place, their field of application is ever-widening.

While it is good that more and more people within Labour are waking up to the dangers of their Prime Minister, the bill did still get passed. While it may yet be rejected by the House of Lords, it is too early to celebrate. The march towards entropy continues unabated. It will take more than losing the fight against yet another security bill by a more narrow margin than previously to change that. It is, nevertheless, important that individuals state their beliefs clearly, announce to the universe that they are no longer going to buy the lies told by the Powers That Be. If this vote marks such a change, then the flapping butterfly wings may have consequences we cannot imagine.

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Rice may postpone trip after snub on missiles
Ottawa visit still on, official says Media batter PM on defence plan
Mar. 1, 2005. 01:00 AM

WASHINGTON - The Bush administration may already be moving to punish Ottawa for its refusal to participate in a continental missile defence, according to a television news report last night.

CTV News, quoting a U.S. State Department official, said Condoleezza Rice has decided to postpone a trip to Canada to meet with Foreign Affairs Minister Pierre Pettigrew, a visit tentatively set for late this month or early April.

The report contradicts State Department official Adam Ereli who said earlier in the day that discussions on the trip were still under way and that it would take place when the "stars aligned in the right way."

"Well, since nothing was fixed, it's hard to delay," Ereli said. "I think the planning is still going forward on that.

"We hadn't been ready to announce something so there are discussions going ... back and forth over timing."

Such a move would not be unprecedented for Rice, the secretary of state, who has already cancelled a planned visit to Egypt to protest the jailing of an opposition figure there.

Comment: The bullying continues. The Bush administration is upset that Canada will not be officially participating in its phony missile defence system, so Condi is going to stay home, the way Bush did during the years of the Chretien government after Canada refused to participate in the illegal war on Iraq. Somehow, we don't think that most Canadians will be too terribly upset at the snub.

Of course, the public refusal does not mean that PM Paul Martin won't be working in stealth with his US neighbours.

It didn't take long for the ignorant ranting to start among the paid lackeys of the Bush Reich. Under the heading "Canadian Free Riders, Don't Worry About Missiles, The Yanks Will Save Us," the conservative Wall Street Journal took Martin to task for Ottawa's "moral afflatus" and talk of "Canadian values" knowing that Washington will protect his country for him. Maybe Canadians aren't too worried about a storm of missiles? The deeper message from the Yanks is their unquestioned assumption that they know what is best for everyone else. If people don't agree with the "American solution", it becomes proof that they are either under the thumb of tyranny and cannot freely express their ideas, or that they are simply anti-American and therefore immune to reason.

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Afghanistan to seek long-term US partnership
www.chinaview.cn 2005-03-01 16:41:46
KABUL, March 1 (Xinhuanet) -- The Afghan government has been advocating for the long-term US partnership with the post-war central Asian state, a ranking official disclosed Tuesday.

"For the consolidation of peace and security and for the long-term rebuilding of the institutions of state we do need a long-term friendship with the United States," presidential spokesman Jawed Ludin told reporters at a press conference here.

He made this comment just a week after US senator John McCaine's tour to Afghanistan during which he called for the establishment of permanent US military bases in the post-Taliban nation.

"The United States has played a leading role in liberating Afghanistan from the clutch of terrorists. The United States has been generously contributing in rebuilding Afghanistan and Afghanistan needs the US lasting support to ensure durable stability in the country," Ludin stressed.

However, he avoided to clearly explain the Afghan government's stance on the subject by saying "it is too early to go into details."

Nonetheless, the spokesman noted that the "strategic partnership covers cooperation in all fields."

At present more than 18,000 US-led foreign troops with majority of whom being deployed in the militants-plaguing south, southeast and eastern provinces of Afghanistan where Taliban's loyalists are active since the ouster of the fundamentalist regime from power in late 2001.

To further facilitate the US engagement in Afghanistan, the Afghan Foreign Ministry allocated over 3,000 square meters of plot to the US administration last week in the Afghan capital city of Kabul, local media reported.

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Bush has clear run at Syria
By Stephen Zunes
[...] One major problem is that most charges against the Syrian government by the Bush administration and the Congressional leadership of both parties are rife with hyperbole and double standards.

For example, the US has demanded that Syria eliminate its long-range and medium-range missiles, while not insisting that pro-Western neighbors like Turkey and Israel - with far more numerous and sophisticated missiles on their territory - similarly disarm. The US has also insisted that Syria unilaterally eliminate its chemical weapons stockpiles, while not placing similar demands on US allies Israel and Egypt - which have far larger chemical weapons stockpiles. The US has demanded an end to political repression and called for free and fair elections in Syria, while not making similar demands of even more repressive and autocratic regimes in allied countries like Saudi Arabia and Uzbekistan.

Contrary to US charges that Syria is a major state supporter of international terrorism, Syria is at most a very minor player. The US State Department has noted how Syria has played a critical role in efforts to combat al-Qaeda and that the Syrian government has not been linked to any acts of international terrorism for nearly 20 years. The Palestinian Islamist groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad have political offices in Damascus, as they do in a number of Arab capitals, but they are not allowed to conduct any military activities. A number of left-wing Palestinian factions also maintain offices in Syria, but these groups are now largely defunct and have not engaged in terrorist operations for many years.

Much has been made of Syrian support for the radical Lebanese Shi'ite group Hezbollah. However, not only has Syrian support for the group been quite minimal in recent years, the group is now a legally recognized Lebanese political party and serves in the Lebanese parliament. During the past decade, its militia have largely restricted their use of violence to Israeli occupation forces in southern Lebanon and in disputed border regions of Israeli-occupied Syria, not against civilians, thereby raising serious questions as to whether it can still be legally considered a terrorist group.

Currently, the Bush administration has expressed its dismay at Russia's decision to sell Syria anti-aircraft missiles, claiming that it raises questions in regard to President Vladimir Putin's commitment against terrorism. The administration has been unable to explain, however, how selling defensive weapons to an internationally recognized government aids terrorists.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and US Congressional leaders have also accused Syria of threatening the Arab-Israeli peace process. However, Syria has pledged to provide Israel with internationally enforced security guarantees and full diplomatic relations in return for a complete Israeli withdrawal from Syrian territory seized in the 1967 war, in concordance with UNSC resolutions 242 and 338, long recognized as the basis for peace. They have also called for a renewal of peace talks with Israel, which came very close to a permanent peace agreement in early 2000. However, the right-wing US-backed Israeli government of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has refused to resume negotiations and pledges it will never withdraw from the Golan, thereby raising questions as to whether it is really Syria that is primarily at fault.

Another questionable anti-Syrian charge is in regard to its alleged support of Saddam Hussein and its ongoing support of anti-American insurgents in Iraq. In reality, though both Iraq and Syria were ruled by the Ba'ath Party, Syria broke diplomatic relations with Baghdad back in the 1970s and was home to a number of anti-Saddam exile groups.

Syria and Iraq backed rival factions in Lebanon's civil war. Syria was the only country to side with Iran during the Iran-Iraq war and contributed troops to the US-led Operation Desert Shield in reaction to Iraq's invasion of Kuwait.

Syria, as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council in 2002, supported US-backed resolution 1441 demanding that Iraq cooperate with UN inspectors or else face "severe consequences". The Syrian government has substantially beefed up security along its borders with Iraq, and US military officials have acknowledged that relatively few foreign fighters have actually entered Iraq via Syria.

Most critically, there is no reason that Syria would want the insurgents to succeed, given that the primary insurgent groups are either supporters of the old anti-Syrian regime in Baghdad or are Islamic extremists similar to those who seriously challenged the Syrian government in 1982, before being brutally suppressed. Given that Assad's regime is dominated by Syria's Alawite minority, who have much closer ties to Iraq's Shi'ites than with the Sunnis who dominate the Arab and Islamic world, and that the Shi'ite-dominated slate that won the recent Iraqi elections share their skepticism about the US role in the Middle East, they would have every reason to want to see the newly elected Iraqi government succeed so US troops could leave.

Despite the highly questionable assertions which form the basis of the Bush administration's antipathy toward Syria, there have essentially been no serious challenges to the Bush administration's policy on Capitol Hill. Indeed, Democratic House leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid have strongly defended President Bush's policies toward Iraq and Lebanon and helped push through strict sanctions against Syria based on these same exaggerations and double standards. During the United State's 2004 election campaign, Senator John Kerry, the Democratic presidential nominee, criticized Bush for not being anti-Syrian enough.

Among the few dissenters is Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia, who expressed his concern to Rice during recent hearings on Capitol Hill that the tough talk against Syria was remarkably similar to what was heard in regard to Iraq a few years earlier. One of only eight members of Congress to vote against the Syria Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act in the fall of 2003, he warned his fellow senators that the language was broad enough that the administration might later claim it authorized military action against Syria.

As long as the vast majority of Democrats are afraid to appear "soft" toward the Syrian dictatorship and as long as so few progressive voices are willing to challenge the Democrats, Bush appears to have few obstacles in his way should he once again choose to lead the country to war.

Comment: With a press that parrots verbatim the White House line, an opposition party that hems and haws and then parrots the White House line, with a Judiciary of Bushbots, the US has come to resemble a one party state. What it says goes unchallenged and the lies are believed. How long will it be before a large number of Americans believe that Syria was closely implicated in 9/11...with its good friend Saddam Hussein?

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Protests force out Lebanese government

Pro-Syrian prime minister resigns as Damascus feels the heat from Israel, the US, France and Britain
Ewen MacAskill, Carolynne Wheeler in Beirut and Conal Urquhart
Tuesday March 1, 2005
The Guardian

The Syrian government's hold on Lebanon was shaken last night when its placeman, the prime minister Omar Karami, was forced to resign after a wave of street protests.

Both the Syrian regime and its puppet government in Beirut have been under pressure since the assassination of the former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri a fortnight ago.

With Beirut halted by a general strike and tens of thousands of protesters taking to the streets, Mr Karami announced the dissolution of his government, saying: "I am keen that the government will not be a hurdle in front of those who want the good for this country."

He will head a caretaker government until a new one is formed.

The Syrian government, which has had troops and an extensive network of intelligence agents in Lebanon since 1976, has been under enormous pressure in recent weeks, not only from Lebanon but also from the US, Israel, France and now Britain.

The US has demanded that Syria withdraw its 15,000 soldiers, stop hosting anti-Israeli groups such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad, and cut its ties with the Lebanese Shia group Hizbullah.

Last night the White House said the government's resignation was "an opportunity for the Lebanese people to have a new government that is truly representative of their _ diversity".

Israel presented the Jerusalem diplomatic corps with what it said was evidence of telephone conversations linking Islamic Jihad leaders in Syria with those responsible for the suicide bombing in Tel Aviv on Friday.

The Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, voiced concern yesterday that the US was preparing to attack his country.

In an interview published in the Italian paper La Repubblica he said he did not believe an attack was imminent, but added: "If, however, you ask me if I'm expecting an armed attack, well I've seen it coming since the end of the war in Iraq. It's from then that tensions have been rising.

"For now it's just skirmishing. True, the White House language, if looked at in detail, leads one to expect a campaign similar to the one that led up to the attack on Iraq."

On Sunday, trying to placate the US, Mr Assad handed over to the interim Iraqi government a half-brother of Saddam Hussein, Sabawi Ibrahim al-Hassan al-Tikriti, after months of denying that he was in the country. He has also promised to pull troops from Lebanon, but has given no timetable.

After Hariri's murder the normally fractious Lebanese Christians, Muslims and Druze united in calling for Syria's departure.

The announcement of Mr Karami's resignation was celebrated wildly by the estimated 25,000 protesters on Beirut's streets last night, despite the presence of soldiers and armed checkpoints.

They had gathered to listen on their radios to hours of debate on an opposition motion of no confidence. Many waved flags and chanted "Syria out".

The main opposition leader, Walid Jumblatt, told CNN: "Today we are at a crossroads in the history of the country _ we have entered a stage where there must be calm."

The pro-Syrian president, Emile Lahoud, may have difficulty putting in place another pro-Syrian government. He has lost support in the 128-member parliament, a Lebanese political analyst, Farid Chedid said, and might find his earlier comfortable majority eroded by public opinion.

The government had banned demonstrations and used troops to clear out central Beirut at the weekend, but protesters showed up in force, climbing through fences and over concrete barricades, with many spending the night in Martyrs' Square, where Hariri is buried.

Last night a 22-year-old Karami supporter was shot dead as supporters of the prime minister rioted in his home town of Tripoli.

Comment: The dynamic in Lebanon is looking more and more like that in Georgia and the Ukraine in the lead-up to the so-called "soft revolutions." This obliges us to ask the question: who is behind this "spontaneous flowering of democracy"? We doubt that it is the Lebanese people themselves.

In the former Soviet Republics, local organisations were set up to receive funding through US agencies USAID and the National Endowment for Democracy. Militants were trained in the tactics of non-violent civil disobedience developed by US academic Gene Sharp. Sharp began his studies in the 1950s, studying the work of Thoreau and Gandhi. By the 1980's, Sharp was working with the CIA to train Europeans to resist in the face of a communist invasion. By focusing on the "moral character" of non-violent resistance, the political character of what one was fighting for was neatly sidestepped.

By the late 1980's, Sharp's Albert Einstein Institution was consulting with anti-communist parties around the world, from Taiwan to the Dalai Lama. They were giving courses in non-violent tactics to Palestinians in the US embassy in Tel Aviv in liaison with the head of Israeli Psychological Operations Reuven Gal.

Sharp and his assistant Bruce Jenkins arrived in Beijing two weeks before the Tiananmen protests in 1989. They were quickly expelled by the Chinese authorities.

During the nineties, Sharp and his Albert Einstein Institution advised the opposition in the former Soviet Republics in the Baltic. They were in Yugoslavia and Kosovo. They were in Georgia in the fall of 2003 and in Venezuela after the failed coup to advise the right-wing opposition on tactics for the continued pressure against Chavez. The tactics didn't work in Venezuela because the phony demonstrations of the bourgeoisie were not match for the genuine democratic popular expression of the supporters of Chavez.

The most recent "client" of Sharp and the Albert Einstein Institution come from Iran. (Information from the article L'Albert Einstein
Institution : la nonviolence version CIA
by Thierry Meyssan.)

We do not know whether or not the same players are involved in Lebanon. Given that the game plan appears so similar, we suspect that their fingerprints are all over it, just as we suspect that it is Israeli fingerprints on the bomb that killed Hariri. What is curious and noteworthy in this tale of Gene Sharp and his politics of non-violence is how the moral high road can be yet again put in the service of entropy. Gandhi's politics of civil disobedience were tied to a strict moral code based upon truth. Henry David Thoreau went to jail rather than pay a tax he did not believe in. Martin Luther King was fighting for the equality of a group of American's who were kept in virtual slavery. By choosing tactics of non-violence, these leaders were showing that the means and the aims cannot be separated, that by refusing to use the tactics of your enemy, you can take the moral high ground and bring public opinion onto your side.

Times have changed. Now, the tactics of the moral high ground have been appropriated by hardcore cynics and psychopaths as a new and better disguise. Notice, of course, that these tactics are being used in selected targets. When the Bush gang needed to rouse the US public for its plan of conquest, its operation within the good ole US of A, 9/11, was carried off according to the old rules because it had to be blamed on "Islamic terrorists". When Saddam needed to be removed, it was bombs and bullets. When the Palestinians have to be put back into their corner, its bombs and bullets and bulldozers. We see clearly that the strategists are not using the tactics of civil disobedience out of any understanding of the moral character of the struggle, out of an understanding of the intimate relationship between ends and means. When the politics of non-violence fail, they call in the guns. Can you imagine Gandhi or Martin Luther King calling for armed struggle?

We return to an important point that we can not stress enough: there is right and wrong and the particular context. There are no easy formulas for understanding the dynamics of a particular situation. The devil is in the details. Those of us who were conditioned to see the Soviet Empire as the "Evil Empire" may well have an initial moment of exaltation when we see people in Eastern Europe take peacefully to the streets to demand "freedom". "Ah, it is happening peacefully", we think, and we associate the moral high ground of civil disobedience with the justness of their cause. But if the truth of the matter is that these demonstrations are bought and paid for by the CIA or the NED and serve to promote the penetration of the US and its businesses into markets formerly denied them, not the giving of the voice to the people of the country, then our initial enthusiasm is misplaced. Has the lot of the people in Russia and the former Soviet Republics improved since the fall of the communist system? There are many people who live there who would argue that, no, it has gotten worse.

The new oligarchs in these countries became rich by stealing assets that once belonged to the people as a whole through the state. The oligarchs were portrayed as "entrepreneurs" in the Western press, with all of the ideological baggage that carries with it -- individual initiative, the right to property, and so on -- so that any attempts to curb their power on the part of the governments in which they operate is viewed as negative. These men made billions of dollars because they were in the right place at the right time and had no scruples about doing whatever they needed to do to succeed. The American Dream, indeed!

Bush announced to the world in his second inaugural address that his second term would be a term of imposing democracy, Bush's limited view of it, on those countries that didn't meet the criteria of kowtowing to US interests. The weeks since have shown us that he is serious. The machine was tested and perfected during his first term; it is now in full gear. America's Hitler has interpreted the Iraqi elections as a success and justification of his politics. His ego is inflated enough that he feels he has the right to insult his "good friend" Vladimir Putin in public, and that he can come to Europe and close down cities and airports at the whim of his security needs. The juggernaut of freedom, Texas-style, coming to a town near you.

With its military over-stretched in Iraq, the tactics of civil disobedience are likely to be the first wave of assault on those countries in which the US desires "regime change". Don't be fooled. A CIA operation is still a CIA operation, even if it is accomplished with the tactics of civil disobedience.

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Putin sets up youth group to stop 'orange revolution'
By Andrew Osborn in Moscow
01 March 2005
A mysterious new Kremlin-backed youth organisation with the working title One of Us has been set up to ensure Russia does not fall victim to a Ukrainian-style velvet revolution. The group, Nashi, is being touted as the vanguard of a political party that could usurp the pro-Kremlin United Russia Party whose usefulness as a vehicle for the establishment has been called into question.

Nashi will face off against an alliance of anti-Kremlin youth groups and is designed to "reach maturity" well ahead of presidential elections in 2008. Its leaders, whose identities remain secret, are said to want to "get 300,000 people on to the streets to defend Russia" from the threats of "external governance", "orange revolution" and "American intrusion".

Significantly, it is said to be patronised by Vladislav Surkov, deputy head of Vladimir Putin's presidential administration, and a man often credited with wielding enormous power behind the scenes.

To its organisers' anger, Nashi's first Moscow congress, held in secret last Saturday, was infiltrated by the leader of the youth wing of the liberal party Yabloko, Ilya Yashin. Mr Yashin, a student, says he was forcibly ejected, had his face rubbed in the snow and was repeatedly kicked while on the ground.

He told The Independent yesterday he was planning to sue his assailants and that the incident showed how the Kremlin would start to use physical violence against its opponents to intimidate them. Nashi's organisers call Mr Yashin's claims "funny". They say he tried to get in after being ejected and only then did tensions flare. Vasily Yakemenko, a leading Nashi ideologist, told The Independent: "We must understand what methods people who calls themselves 'democrats' use." [...]

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Chirac highlights EU-Russia relations
www.chinaview.cn 2005-03-01 11:16:04
PARIS, Feb. 28 (Xinhuanet) -- French President Jacques Chirac on Monday highlighted relations between Russia and the European Union(EU) as a key element to keep the world stability.

Chirac made the remarks while meeting with his visiting Polish counterpart Aleksander Kwasniewski, their first-ever summit in the northern French city of Arras, local media reported.

Chirac said the EU-Russian relations are key to achieve world peace in the future, calling for an all-round perspective on the relations.

Kwasniewski, meanwhile, said keeping good relations with Moscow shall be a strategic objective for the Polish government and all the EU member states despite their differences.

In a joint statement, the two leaders called for "confident, global and balanced" relations between the EU and Russia.

Russia has faced sharp criticism in recent days from some European countries over President Vladimir Putin's democratic reform.

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Five days that shook world politics
By M K Bhadrakumar
[...] In other words, similar to the US-China-USSR equations of the Cold War era (when any two pillars of the triangle could together trump the third - the logic of the Nixon-Kissinger initiative toward China in 1972), a three-way equation involving the US, the European powers and China could be in the making - with far-reaching consequences for the US global domination of the 21st century.

Thus when Bush met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Bratislava last Thursday at the end of his European tour, both Washington and Moscow were keen to work on a balancing of mutual interests. The Bratislava summit made it clear that anyone who thought there was going to be a "cold war" around the corner was simply barking up the wrong tree. The summit was a triumph of the "conservative realists" in the US foreign-policy establishment vis-a-vis the neo-conservatives and the liberals. (Henry Kissinger would seem to have contributed to preparing the ground for Bratislava!)

The US has been making optimal use of the "democracy" card in recent weeks to keep Russia-Europe relations off balance (and to pressure Moscow), but in the event, at Bratislava, Bush drew Putin into the matrix of a cooperative, mutually beneficial relationship for the coming four-year period. Moscow had worried that a bullish second-term Bush administration might ignore Russia's global standing and trample on its national interests, including in the former Soviet republics.

Washington's interest in present-day Russia is focused on three specific areas: nuclear proliferation, the "war on terror", and energy cooperation. In actual substance, Russia's cooperation with the US oil companies lies at the core of this cooperation.

The US would like to draw Russia away from Europe (and China) toward the US energy market. Russia is not only holding vast reserves of energy but is also flush with oil-revenue cash to invest. The Russian economy is in better shape than ever before: the investment climate is improving; it is keen to repay debts ahead of schedule; and, with high oil prices, things could get still better for Russia's economy. Thus, whereas Russia's planned expansion into the US energy market was originally meant to take place by 2010 or so, the Bratislava summit brought the date forward to 2008 (running concurrently with Bush's term in office).

Ahead of the Bratislava summit, it was announced in Moscow on February 12 (when Kissinger was in town) that Gazprom was "determined" to choose its US partners within the next two to three months on a project to export liquefied natural gas (LNG) to the US market.

Among Gazprom's tentative partners are ExxonMobil, ConocoPhilips and ChevronTexaco. It plans to collaborate with these US partners for developing its most promising gas fields of all, the Stockman gas condensate deposits in the Barents Sea center that is evaluated at holding 3.2 trillion cubic meters of gas plus 32 billion tons of gas condensate. Gazprom has estimated that even the initial stage of the Stockman project for gas extraction, liquefying and shipment to the US market can be valued at $10 billion. According to Gazprom officials, "The US administration is willing to see Russia in the American market and we are eager to come to the American market and take part in gas distribution and supply to the end user. We are making it a point to engage in the entire process, deposit development, liquefied-gas production, transport and work in the US market."

Washington has closed the Yukos file. Bush did not even refer to Yukos at Bratislava - a festering wound with multiple scabs that was meant to be at the very heart of Putin's authoritarian tendencies. Again, according to Russia's Novosti agency, quoting a "disclosure" by an unnamed "high-ranking US administration spokesperson", Bush and Putin simply "merged their positions" over Iran.

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Missile Launcher Installed in D.C. Suburb
Mon Feb 28 2005 20:46:09 ET

A large, drab green missile launcher aimed vigilantly skyward has become one of the more distinctive landmarks in the Washington suburb of Bethesda, Md.

The launcher claims a commanding position on the lawn at the U.S. Naval Surface Warfare Center's Carderock facility, a science and engineering center overlooking the Potomac River, the WASHINGTON POST will report on Tuesday.

The six non-nuclear missiles in the launcher could ``counter an inbound threat.''

Opinions about the upscale neighborhood's newest security system have varied.

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Earthquake rocks Bali
From correspondents in Jakarta
March 01, 2005
From: Agence France-Presse

AN earthquake measuring 5.0 on the Richter scale rattled Indonesia's resort island of Bali today but there were no reports of damage or casualties, seismologists said.

The undersea earthquake occurred at 9.46 am (1246 AEDT) with its epicentre in the Lombok Strait, the Metereology and Geophysics Agency said.

More than 230,000 people are believed to have died in Indonesia's Aceh province when a magnitude-9.0 earthquake unleashed a tsunami that devastated the coastline in December.

Indonesia is regularly jolted by earthquakes, caused by heavy friction between tectonic plates shifting deep below the archipelago.

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Two earthquakes rock South Kuriles over past four days
01.03.2005, 09.27
YUZHNO-SAKHALINSK, March 1 (Itar-Tass)

Two earthquakes occurred on South Kuriles over the past four days. Earth tremors with the magnitude of three points on the Richter scale were felt by residents of the Malokurilskoye settlement on Shikotan Island.

The Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk seismic station reported that the Shikotan earthquake on Monday morning lasted 20 seconds and another one that took place on February 26 lasted for 30 seconds. There has been no destruction.

Seismologists assess the quakes of three points as minor. They present no danger of tsunami.

Huge waves can emerge in the ocean only after an earthquake with a magnitude of seven points on the Richter scale.

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Two Meteors Spotted by Public
12:29pm (UK) 28 February 2005
Two meteors were last night reported in the south west skies by members of the public, police said today.

An object described as a white hot meteor with a yellow edge was seen in the sky, and is thought to have landed in the sea south west of St Ives.

A second was reported travelling south west from Torrington, north Devon.

There have been no reports of any damage or injury as a result of these objects, said the police.

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Mystery of the silent woodlands: scientists are baffled as bird numbers plummet
By Michael McCarthy, Environment Editor
25 February 2005
It has hardly been noticed, but it is another sinister warning sign of a world going badly wrong. Populations of some of Britain's most attractive woodland birds are plummeting at a rate that threatens them with extinction, and nobody knows why.

Precipitous declines in the numbers of some species, of up to four-fifths, have been registered over the past 30 years, but scientists are just realising what is happening, and they have no simple explanation.

In its scale and its range, the phenomenon is one of the most ominous events in the natural history of Britain over the past half-century. Perversely, the decline comes at a time when Britain is planting more woodlands than ever, and forest management has never been more sympathetic to wildlife conservation. [...]

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