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Terrorised Yet?

Distillation of Bush's Speech - The Words Your Government Wants You To Remember

Pascal Riché, a journalist for the French Daily "Liberation" has kindly posted on his blog a synopsis of yesterday's speech by Bush at Fort Bragg, leaving in only those most important words that conveyed the core of the message that Karl Rove wanted to get across to the American people. Note, all of these words appeared in this order in Bush's speech.

“Global war on terror, September the 11th, 2001, terrorists, terrorists, totalitarian ideology , freedom, tyranny, oppression, terror, kill, terrorists, September the 11th, freedom, enemy , war, terrorists, kill, murderous ideology , terrorism, terrorists, free nation, war on terror, freedom, violence and instability, dangerous, violence, bloodshed, violence, sacrifice , war on terror, violence, killers, freedom, criminal elements, hateful ideology, freedom, liberty, democracy, terrorists, war on terror, terrorists, Osama Bin Laden, murder and destruction, enemy, terrorists, car bombs, enemy, terrorists, suicide bomber, enemy, terrorists, violence, terrorists, terrorists, terrorists , freedom, enemies, September the 11th, Bin Laden, enemy, free, tyranny, terrorists, anti-terrorist, free, al Qaeda, free nation, terrorists, terrorists, enemy security terrorists, anti-terrorist terrorists, terror, enemy, tyranny , enemies, freedom, freedom, ideologies of murder, atrocity, September the 11th 2001, car bombers and assassins, freedom, freedom, flying the flag, freedom, freedom, September the 11th 2001, enemies”.

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Bush rejects major changes to Iraq strategy
June 29, 2005

FORT BRAGG, United States - US President George W. Bush acknowledged worries about deadly violence in Iraq but rejected calls for sending reinforcements or setting a deadline to bring US troops home.

Amid polls showing that most Americans disapprove of how he is handling the war, Bush said in a rare prime-time televised address that the key to victory and a swift US pull-out was training Iraq's fledgling security forces.

"Our strategy can be summed up this way: As the Iraqis stand up, we will stand down," he said one year to the day after Iraqis formally assumed sovereignty of their war-torn country after the March 2003 invasion.

Speaking in a gymnasium packed with hundreds of soldiers, many in the green uniforms and the red beret of US Army airborne forces, Bush repeatedly linked the conflict in Iraq to the September 11, 2001 terrorist strikes.

"They are trying to shake our will in Iraq, just as they tried to shake our will on September 11," he said in one of a half-dozen explicit references apparently aimed at stiffening wavering American resolve on Iraq.

Bush, who previously admitted that Saddam Hussein's Iraq played no role in those attacks, acknowledged that the daily drumbeat of suicide bombings and other attacks has shaken the US public.

"Amid all this violence, I know Americans ask the question: Is the sacrifice worth it? It is worth it, and it is vital to the future security of our country," he said. "Our progress has been uneven, but progress is being made."

Democrats wasted little time in assailing the president's rhetoric, with Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid saying that Bush's "numerous references to September 11th did not provide a way forward in Iraq."

The top Democrat in the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, said Bush had "missed an opportunity" to be more specific as to how and when Iraqi forces would be able to fight without US support and about reconstruction goals.

"Our commitment in Iraq does not have to be measured by timetables, but neither can it be open-ended," she said in a statement.

The leader of the Republican majority in the House of Representatives, Dennis Hastert, defended Bush's reference to September 11.

"We took the war to the terrorists, rather than waiting for them to attack again. It was the right thing to do," he said.

In his speech, Bush said setting a timetable for bringing home the roughly 135,000 US troops from Iraq "would be a serious mistake" because Iraqis would doubt US commitments while insurgents would simply wait out the US presence.

He also dismissed calls for sending more US forces, saying: "If our commanders on the ground say we need more troops, I will send them. But our commanders tell me they have the number of troops they need to do their job."

"Sending more Americans would undermine our strategy of encouraging Iraqis to take the lead in this fight. And sending more Americans would suggest that we intend to stay forever when we are in fact working for the day when Iraq can defend itself and we can leave," he said.

Under mounting criticism for his administration's upbeat forecasts about Iraq, Bush deplored "the images of violence and bloodshed and warned that "there will be tough moments that test America's resolve."

Hours before the speech, the president met privately with relatives of some of the 1,731 US soldiers killed in Iraq since the US-led invasion of March 2003, most of them after he declared "major combat" finished on May 1, 2003.

An elementary school teacher presented Bush with a bracelet bearing the names of her deceased husband and a friend, both US soldiers who were killed last year in Iraq. Bush wore the bracelet when he gave his televised speech.

The White House has said that Bush's warnings of hard work ahead are not at odds with Vice President Dick Cheney's assertion that the insurgency is in its "last throes."

Hours before the president spoke, a suicide car bombing north of Baghdad killed the oldest member of Iraq's fledgling parliament, while separate attacks killed two US soldiers and injured three more.

Officials at Fort Bragg said that 9,300 soldiers from the base, home to the famed 82nd Airborne Division, are deployed in Iraq and 89 have been killed in the war on terrorism, including Iraq and

Bush said the US military had captured or killed hundreds of non-Iraqi fighters in Iraq, including some from Saudi Arabia,
Syria, Iran, Egypt, Sudan, Yemen, and Libya.

An ABC News/Washington Post poll released Tuesday showed that 56 percent of Americans disapprove of Bush's handling of Iraq. For the first time, a majority of Americans (57 percent) said they believe Bush "intentionally misled" Americans in making his case for war in Iraq.

But 58 percent feel that US troops should remain there until order has been restored.

Comment: The complete transcript of Bush's speech can be read here. In reading the speech, it is clear that the Bush administration's tactics have not changed. In addition to the references to the nonexistent link between the war in Iraq and 9/11, Bush - in true psychopathic form - simply repeated past lies about the "terrorist threat" and accused the "insurgents" of the crimes for which his administration is guilty of committing or ordering. He failed to address the primary concerns of those Americans who rightly believe that he lied to push the nation to war in Iraq. With the help of the controlled media, Bush instead attempted to shift the focus to Americans' concerns about bringing the troops home.

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Bush Criticized Over Speech About Iraq War
Associated Press
June 29, 2005

WASHINGTON - Democrats are criticizing President Bush for raising the Sept. 11 attacks while he defends his plan to keep U.S. troops in Iraq as long as it takes to ensure peace in the country.

The president, urging patience on an American public showing doubts about his Iraq policy, mentioned the deadly 2001 terrorist attacks five times during a 28-minute address Tuesday night at Fort Bragg, N.C.

Some Democrats accused him of falsely reviving the link that he originally used to help justify launching strikes against Baghdad.

"The president's frequent references to the terrorist attacks of September 11 show the weakness of his arguments," House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said. "He is willing to exploit the sacred ground of 9/11, knowing that there is no connection between 9/11 and the war in Iraq."

Comment: It is rather disturbing that Bush and his Neocon gang can still get away with disgracing the memories of those who died on 9/11 by continuing to peddle their lies, while those alternative news sources like Signs of the Times come under fire for simply seeking the truth about 9/11 and subsequent events. What greater tribute is there to those who died on 9/11 than to find and speak the truth of the terrible events of that fateful September morning?

Bush first mentioned the terrorist attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center at the beginning of his speech, delivered at an Army base that has 9,300 troops in Iraq. He acknowledged that Americans are disturbed by frequent deaths of U.S. troops at the hands of insurgents, but tried to persuade an increasingly skeptical public to stick with the mission.

"The war reached our shores on September the 11th, 2001," Bush told a national television audience and 750 soldiers and airmen in dress uniform who mostly listened quietly as they had been asked to do.

"Iraq is the latest battlefield in this war," he continued. "Many terrorists who kill innocent men, women, and children on the streets of Baghdad are followers of the same murderous ideology that took the lives of our citizens in New York, in Washington and Pennsylvania. There is only one course of action against them - to defeat them abroad before they attack us at home."

Bush said he understands the public concerns about a 27-month-old war that has killed more than 1,700 Americans and 12,000 Iraqi civilians and cost $200 billion. He said the sacrifice "is worth it and it is vital to the security of our country."

"We fight today because terrorists want to attack our country and kill our citizens, and Iraq is where they are making their stand. So we will fight them there, we will fight them across the world and we will stay in the fight until the fight is won."

Comment: Again, Bush himself admitted that there was no link between the "terrorists" in Iraq and the events of 9/11... Perhaps he has given a slight hint as to his true intentions amidst the same old lies and propaganda: "So we will fight them there, we will fight them across the world..." Next stop, Iran?

He offered no shift in course in Iraq.

"We have a clear path forward," the president said. "As the Iraqis stand up, we will stand down."

Republican Sen. John McCain defended Bush's call to stop terrorism abroad before it reaches the U.S. shore in an appearance on CNN's "Larry King Live" program. He said those spreading violence in Iraq "are the same guys who would be in New York if we don't win in Iraq."

Comment: Not surprisingly, Mr. McCain neglected to give any evidence to support his already-disproved claim, which sounds strangely like the propaganda the Bush administration has been shoving down Americans' throats for years now...

Bush's speech marked the first anniversary of the transfer of power from the U.S.-led coalition to Iraq's interim government. The president cited advances in the past year, including the January elections, infrastructure improvements and training of Iraqi security forces.

Democrats criticized Bush for not offering more specifics about how to achieve success in Iraq along with his frequent mention of the Sept. 11 attacks.

"The president's numerous references to September 11 did not provide a way forward in Iraq," Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid said. "They only served to remind the American people that our most dangerous enemy, namely Osama bin Laden, is still on the loose and al-Qaida remains capable of doing this nation great harm nearly four years after it attacked America."

Comment: Reid raises a good point: Bush mentioned nothing about the status of the hunt for wanted al-Qaeda (read: CIA/Mossad) leader Osama Bin Laden. Where is old Osama these days?? Perhaps he will attack Israel next, and we will be told he has been living in a cave in Iran...

Bush urged Americans to remember the lessons of Sept. 11 and protect "the future of the Middle East" from men like bin Laden. He repeatedly referred to the insurgents in Iraq as terrorists and said they were killing innocent people to try to "shake our will in Iraq, just as they tried to shake our will on September the 11th, 2001."

Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., said it's because of the lessons of the Sept. 11 attacks that he opposes Bush's approach to keeping the troops in Iraq without any timetable for withdrawal.

"The U.S. military presence in Iraq has become a powerful recruiting tool for terrorists, and Iraq is now the premier training ground and networking venue for the next generation of jihadists," Feingold said.

In his speech, Bush rejected suggestions that he set a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq or send in more troops. Bush said a timetable would be "a serious mistake" that could demoralize Iraqis and American troops and embolden the enemy.

He also said sending more troops would undermine the U.S. strategy of training Iraqis to be able to as quickly as possible take over the security of their country.

"Sending more Americans would suggest that we intend to stay forever," he said.

Comment: Of course, the entire concept of the "war on terror" is bogus. Even high level officials have recently stated as much...

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Bush Insider Claim WTC Collapse Bogus Gets 'Huge Response' And Read By Millions Worldwide
When Morgan Reynolds called the official story about 9/11 bogus, it seemed like the whole world stopped for a moment to listen.

It seemed like a lighting bolt hit the heart of the government story, cracking it into a million unexplainable pieces.

And when the dust settled from his explosive statements, the highest-ranking member of the Bush team to make such an accusation said he wasn’t expecting any "invitations to the White House anytime soon."

Two weeks ago, the former chief economist in the Labor Department during President Bush’s first term told the world he thought the WTC fell from a controlled demolition, indicating 9/11 was "an inside government job."

Reynolds, a respected economist and former Republican conservative, made his claims after researching many aspects of 9/11, including scientific and engineering data for and against the government story.

He presented his findings on the Internet in a long, detailed article, concluding:

"It is hard to exaggerate the importance of a scientific debate over the cause(s) of the collapse of the twin towers and Building 7. If the official wisdom on the collapses is wrong, as I believe it is, then policy based on such erroneous engineering analysis is not likely to be correct either.

"The government's collapse theory is highly vulnerable on its own terms. Only professional demolition appears to account for the full range of facts associated with the collapse of the three buildings.

"More importantly, momentous political and social consequences would follow if impartial observers concluded that professionals imploded the WTC. Meanwhile, the job of scientists, engineers and impartial researchers everywhere is to get the scientific and engineering analysis of 9/11 right."

Considering his place among the Republican faithful, once the media got its "claws into his controversial remarks," his words quickly spread with the help of cyberspace like an out of control wildfire.

Not only did millions read his story on the Internet, but Reynolds controversial comments then drew instant attention from numerous mainstream newspapers, radio and television stations, including UPI, MSNBC, FOX News and over a dozen other major market local radio and TV stations.

It was a story that "grew wings," a story Reynolds never expected would get so much attention and such a large audience.

"I had a huge response and it really was amazing. I never expected so many people to respond so passionately," said Reynolds this week in a telephone interview. "I literally received hundreds and hundred of emails, some agreeing with me and others, of course, disagreeing.

"After it was all said and done, as things are starting to finally quiet down now, I would guess it was about 5 to 1 in favor of what I was saying. However, I never imagined how much support there was out there for what I was suggesting occurred on 9/11."

Without mincing words, as he did in his article, Reynolds quickly changed the subject, again placing the blame squarely on the government for not coming clean about what happened on 9/11, saying it’s important to get to the bottom of a "story that dwarfs all others in comparison."

"What it boils down to is that the government and the mainstream media are not digging into the 9/11 controversy because they are hiding something," said Reynolds. "From a media point of view, it’s the story of the century and they are not even trying to connect the dots."

Continuing to throw some punches at his former employer, he added:

"It’s nothing new. The government has always lied about so many things. Look at the Downing Street Memo, for example, the document confirming that the Bush administration lied to us about its motives for getting into the war.

" If they lied to us about this, what else? Well, 9/11 is just another example."

To add more fuel to the hot 9/11 controversy, William Rodriguez, the WTC janitor who heard and felt a strong explosion in the basement levels of the north tower just seconds before the jetliner crashed into the top floors, recently came forward to tell his story, adding further credibility to Reynolds’ conclusions.

Rodriguez claims a massive underground explosion brought down the towers. His story is strengthened further by 14 other eye witnesses who can verify his claims, as well as a burn victim from the basement explosion who he helped to safety.

Immediately following 9/11, Rodriguez tried to tell his story, but claims the 9/11 Commission and the mainstream media have systematically censored his words in order to protect the official government story, a story ignoring the possibility of explosives being used to bring down the WTC.

Commenting on Rodriguez, Reynolds said:

"It’s not a coincidence that there was first an explosion below and then the jetliner explosion seconds later above. At least there should have been a thorough investigation since the timing of the explosions strikes me as an impossibility if you believe, as the government contends, that only a jetliner brought down the towers."

Reynolds added that nobody from the Bush administration has officially contacted him about his statements suggesting 9/11 was an "inside job," but said he was aware that "administration operatives" have carried his message into the halls of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

"How high up it went, I just don’t know," he added.

Asked if he was going to continue to research and write about 9/11, Reynolds said:

"Yes, of course, I see it as a citizen’s duty and I hope to do some more writing on the subject very soon."

For more informative articles, go to where donations are accepted to keep the news flowing in the wake of media apathy.

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ADL Poll: Majority of Americans Support Military Action by U.S. And Israel to Prevent Iran from Developing Nuclear Weapons
Anti-Defamation League

New York, NY, April 13, 2005 … A majority of the American people support military action by the United States and Israel to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons as a last resort, according the Anti-Defamation League's 2005 American Attitudes Toward Israel and the Middle East, a public opinion survey of 1,600 American adults conducted March 18-25 by the Marttila Communications Group.

When asked, "Do you think America should take military action to stop Iran from developing or trying to develop a nuclear weapons program," 53% said yes; 37% said no. When asked whether Israel should take military action to stop the Iranian nuclear program, 51% said yes, 34% said no.

"The findings are important, less for its prescription for any particular policy than for the recognition by the public of the serious danger inherent in Iran's Islamic regime achieving nuclear capability," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "This is a clear message from the American public that strong action is imperative in this matter. It should inform the Europeans that this is no time for procrastination, that UN sanctions against an uncooperative regime are needed, and that a military option, while only a last resort, is an acceptable option."

The findings on the Iranian question, however, do not correspond to American opinion on the broader issue of a pre-emptive strategy. By a margin of 58% to 32%, the public opposes a pre-emptive action when it is not clear that there is an immediate threat to America's national security.

The poll has a margin of error of /-2.8%.

Comment: More war-mongering from the ADL. The same people who were cranked up by Bush's war propaganda are now being fed the same lies about Iran. Are they the ones who should be deciding whether or not to launch a military attack on Iran? We think that, on the contrary, they are the last people that should be consulted. Of course, the decision has most likely already be taken by Foxman's cronies in the Bush administration and the polls are only to convince the public on policy that has been decided.

The majority of the the people polled are probably the ones who still support "their president" in his Iraq policy - i.e. his war crimes against the people of Iraq. Iran is not a threat to the United States. Neither was Iraq.

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France insists Iraqis need prospects for full sovereignty

PARIS, June 29 (AFP) - France on Wednesday insisted that the Iraqi people needed to have "clear prospects for full sovereignty", after US President George W. Bush rejected calls to withdraw US troops from Iraq by a fixed date.

"France, with the international community, committed within the framework of (UN) Resolution 1546 to a course and a timetable for the restoration of Iraqi sovereignty," said foreign ministry spokesman Jean-Baptiste Mattei.

"One of the dimensions upon which France has insisted in recent months is the need for the Iraqis to have a view toward, to have clear prospects for full sovereignty, including in the areas of defence and security," Mattei said.

In a nationally televised address late Tuesday, Bush said the key to a swift US pullout from Iraq was the training of the violence-wracked country's fledgling security forces.

But the US president said setting a timetable for the withdrawal of some 135,000 US troops from Iraq "would be a serious mistake".

The French spokesman said: "In order to reinforce the democratic transition, the political and economic reconstruction of Iraq must be supported. This is the message that the minister will convey to the American authorities during his trip to the United States."

French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy will travel to Washington on July 5 for talks with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

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Mixed world reaction to Bush speech
Wednesday, June 29, 2005

SYDNEY, Australia (AP) -- U.S. President George W. Bush's commitment to stay the course in Iraq won approval from allies Wednesday, while the French insisted on the need for full sovereignty for Iraqis in military and security fields.

French Foreign Ministry spokesman Jean-Baptiste Mattei said his nation, which opposed the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, has been promoting a calendar for the restoration of full sovereignty.

France insists on the need for "a clear horizon of full sovereignty, including in the military and security domain," for Iraqis, he said.

Bush's speech came on the one-year anniversary of the handover of sovereignty, but many ordinary Iraqis still believe the presence of about 138,000 U.S. troops prevents local officials from fully controlling internal affairs.

In his speech marking the first anniversary of the coalition handing sovereignty back to Iraqis, Bush tried to convince the United States -- and allies watching from around the world -- that the war that so far has claimed the lives of more than 1,740 Americans is worth the sacrifice and that his strategy is succeeding.

Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi told reporters: "President Bush has been saying that the U.S. will be responsible until the Iraq security forces can stand on their own. There's no country in the international community which is saying now the U.S. should withdraw."

However, Koizumi said Japan is undecided over whether to keep its troops in Iraq beyond the mission's year-end deadline.

"We have to see the situation in December," he said. "We cannot make any decision yet."

Japan has some 500 soldiers based in Samawah, southern Iraq, on a non-combat mission to help repair schools, public facilities and purify water.

The French daily newspaper Le Monde, in an editorial published Wednesday, noted that American troops were paying a heavy price for the Bush administration's war on terrorism.

"Despite the rising unpopularity of the war, criticism of the way the operations are carried out, the divided feeling today by more than half of Americans that he 'intentionally tricked' them over the reasons for the conflict, George W. Bush is sticking to his line," Le Monde said.

"The prospect of a political solution, linked to determined military action and pressure on Syria -- which has served as a refuge for armed groups operating in Iraq -- is perhaps the only emergency exit between getting trapped there endlessly and an inglorious departure."

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's spokesman Bela Anda said there were no surprises in Bush's speech, because Iraq's future had just been "an important topic of their talks" in the White House on Monday.

Bush singled out Schroeder in the speech, quoting the chancellor from their White House talks and brushing aside "differences in the past."

"In his speech ... he made clear that the differences in the past over the war in Iraq between Germany and the U.S.A. belong to the past," Anda said. "In this context, the chancellor already stressed to the American president in Washington that a stable and democratic Iraq is needed, and this was also the reaction of the chancellor to the speech from yesterday, that it is important that the political process, and in particular the constitutional process in Iraq goes forward."

China, which opposed the Iraq war, said it hoped the Iraqi people would achieve self-rule.

"We hope Iraq's domestic situation can be speedily defused, allowing the realization of 'Iraqi rule for Iraqi people' and hope that the Iraqi citizens will soon realize a peaceful life," said a statement issued by the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

In Britain, Prime Minister Tony Blair defended the war and brushed off a new question about a government memo that suggested Washington was determined to justify the invasion.

"I was glad that we took the action we did," Blair told the House of Commons when asked about the so-called Downing Street memo.

According to the leaked minutes of a July 23, 2002, meeting between Blair and top government officials at his Downing Street office, Sir Richard Dearlove, then chief of Britain's intelligence service, said the White House viewed military action against Saddam Hussein as inevitable.

In Britain, rebel lawmaker George Galloway, who was expelled from Blair's Labour Party over his criticism of the Iraq war, scorned Bush's position.

"All he (Bush) has guaranteed by his defiant determination to stay in Iraq is the loss of more lives, Iraqi, American and others," Galloway said.

Australia's Acting Prime Minister John Anderson commended Bush for a "very good speech" that highlighted the determination of the United States and other coalition members to win the fight for democracy.

"The speech highlighted how the insurgents and terrorists in Iraq have failed to prevent the handover of sovereignty to the Iraqi people, they have failed to prevent popular elections and failed to prevent Iraqis signing up in numbers to join the Iraqi security forces," said Anderson, who was standing in for the vacationing Prime Minister John Howard.

Australia's opposition Labor Party is concerned that the U.S.-led coalition has no exit strategy, spokesman Tom Cameron said.

"Iraq has been a conflict without timelines, without an exit strategy and indeed without a mission statement from day one," Cameron said.

Comment: While Bush blathers on about "terrorists" and "shaking our will" and world leaders mince their words in response, in the background, Putin and Hu Jintao are planning their own declaration which appears to pull no punches...

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Moscow, Beijing to sign declaration on world order
RIA Novosti
MOSCOW, June 29 (RIA Novosti) - Chinese leader Hu Jintao will arrive here Thursday to sign a joint declaration on world order in the 21st Century, a spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry wrote in an article published in the government daily Rossiiskaya Gazeta Wednesday.

"This is a crucial document that reflects the convergence of Russia and China's fundamental positions on key issues in modern world order - our common view for the outlook of the development of humankind," Alexander Yakovenko wrote.

According to Yakovenko, the declaration will affirm the parties' commitment to forming a new fair and rational world order and to increasing the role of the UN in international politics.

Russia and China will announce the unacceptability of monopolizing global affairs, dividing states into those who lead and those who are led, imposing models for social development from the outside and applying double standards, he wrote.

Comment: Obviously Putin and Hu Jintao are making a direct reference to the rampaging foreign policy of the Bush regime. Time will tell if there is any substance behind this barely-veiled threat.

Meanwhile, some of the US troops that are being conned into fighting and dying to serve the power-cravings of their leaders have begun (finally) to smell a rat...

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Troops Respond to President's Speech

"We need honest answers, not pep rallies"
By Paul Rieckhoff
Tue, 28 Jun 2005

Tonight at Fort Bragg, in front of a backdrop of American service members, President Bush will tell the nation that victory is at hand, as long as we stay the course. Add a banner praising a job well-done and an aircraft carrier, and this all begins to seem eerily familiar.

But the men and women of the American military have had enough of what's familiar from this administration. For us there is no alternative but to serve when called, as we have in Iraq for the past two years.

Mr. President, this is a time for hard truths, and now that the opinion polls on the war have started to turn, you are going to Fort Bragg to make your case. Will it continue to be one version of progress from our Commander in Chief, but a very different measure from our commanders in the field? Why does your view of Iraq look so different from ours?

We agree there is no choice but to succeed in Iraq. But, Mr. President, what is the plan to get there? We still don't know. To quote Senator Chuck Hagel, a great patriot, it seems to those of us who served in Iraq that your administration is "making it up as they go along."

What is success? Tonight you will tell us Iraq is on the path to freedom and stability, but what does right look like? The CIA tells us Iraq is now a top breeding ground for terrorists. Are we killing more enemies than we're making?

Last week, Vice President Cheney said the insurgency is in its last throes, but this week we're told to dig in for a 12-year battle. Have you asked your Secretary of Defense and Vice President to offer the Troops a straight answer?

We don't need to be told about the political successes in Iraq, because we were there to safeguard an election one-year ago that you will certainly cite as progress. And we know that now is not a time for cheerleading.

Mr. President, we don't need to be told that the insurgents intend to shake our will, because we've sifted through the havoc wreaked by even the crudest weapons, then watched our friends sent home, changed forever. We don't need to be told that your administration is committed to taking care of the Troops, because we've already gotten the bill you sent us for the meals we ate while recovering at Walter Reed.

We don't need to be told that flak jackets and safer Humvees are on the way, because we've already learned that a phone-call home and a few hundred bucks is probably the quickest way to get body armor. Hundreds of Troops have been wounded or killed because of faulty vehicles or missing armor, but who has been held accountable?

Each day we fulfill our commitment to this country, but we are still waiting for a Veteran's Administration that is properly funded and prepared to handle the consequences of this war. This past week it was revealed the VA was one billion dollars short of its health care need. Whose fault is that, and have you punished them for their failure to serve America's heroes?

We have come a long way since the early days of tough talk and "Mission Accomplished" banners. The body count has increased exponentially, and the rumbling of an awakening public can now be heard. But for American Troops on the ground in Iraq, little has changed. For their families back home, the sleepless nights continue. The members of the military have long agreed that the strength of our force in Iraq cannot be sustained with an all-volunteer Army and dwindling recruitment numbers. Are you prepared to tell America's parents that their children will be needed to finish the job?

Mr. President, we need honest answers, not pep rallies.

Paul Rieckhoff is the Executive Director of Operation Truth. He is served in Iraq from April 2003 to February 2004. During that time, he was a 1st Lieutenant, and served as an Infantry Platoon Leader in the 3rd Infantry and 1st Armored Divisions.

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The 'Leave My Child Alone' Movement
By Rebecca Romani, Left Turn
June 29, 2005

It looked like any average parent meeting with a sprinkling of twenty-somethings and senior citizens, complete with pizza, fries and speakers. But for these people coming out to a pizza parlor on a weeknight, the main attraction was not the food but an earnest discussion of the presence of military recruiters on high school campuses and a little known document called the "opt-out" form.

The almost 100 people who turned out in the San Diego region, a heavily militarized area home to a Marine base and Navy Seals, were part of a nation-wide call to meet on the first day of June, put out by MMOB, The Main Street Moms Operation Blue. MMOB, a relatively new grassroots group, is taking a page out of the Howard Dean playbook and rallying people though a well-orchestrated internet campaign.

According to Charlie Imes, chair of the local chapter of Democracy for America (DFA), the MMOB contacted him and asked him to put the Military Recruiter discussion at the top of the night's agenda. "They asked and I said great," said Imes, who was enthusiastic about the night's turnout.

Twenty miles north in Carlsbad, dozens of people turned out to hear speakers and to fill out opt out forms, according to Jeeni Criscenzo, a member of the North County Peace and Justice Coalition who coordinated the event with MMOD.

The opt out form is provided for in section 9528, A, 1. of the No Child Left Behind Act, in part, because schools receiving federal funding are required to provide the following:

"1) ACCESS TO STUDENT RECRUITING INFORMATION- Notwithstanding section 444(a)(5)(B) of the General Education Provisions Act and except as provided in paragraph (2), each local educational agency receiving assistance under this Act shall provide, on a request made by military recruiters or an institution of higher education, access to secondary school students names, addresses, and telephone listings..." in addition to granting recruiters physical access to the campus or lose much needed federal funds. (

The opt out form makes the child's information unavailable to military recruiters and puts the child on a do not call list. Federal law requires school districts to inform parents about the opt out form. While some school districts list the form on either the school district website or the high school website, the San Diego school district does not.

A brief glance at MMOB's website showed at least 20 such meetings planned for June 1, from Bakersfield to Boston. More are listed throughout the month of June.

In addition to falling recruitment numbers and the rising casualty list in Iraq, it appears that military recruiters are now facing a new, aggressive force on the home front: Mom and Dad. Moms like Jane Doe, 55, who asked that her real name not be used because she works for a government firm. She strenuously objects to the presence of military recruiters on high school campuses. "Every parents needs to know what's in the No Child Left Behind Act," she says, referring to section 9528. "They [minors] can't vote, can't make a legal decision and yet the government has access to them before the age of consent!" She shakes her head, incredulous. "This is private information; no one should be releasing this."

Gabe Sandoval, 33, and his mother Lynn, are more blunt about their dislike of recruiter access. "It's a backdoor way of getting recruits," says the younger Sandoval, "An alternate to the draft."

"I am really against this," adds his mother. "They [recruiters] mislead young people and don't fulfill their promises."

"Especially towards minorities," her son adds.

Recent news stories have reported that military recruiters are targeting young minorities, especially Latinos and African-Americans. In some cases, recruiters have been accused of sexual misconduct, including sexual harassment and rape.

Mernie Aste of the local Ya No Project, which counsels young people on the military and educates them on their options, feels meetings like this are especially important. "It's not about just my child, it's about everybody's child," she says. "There's a real need to counteract the recruiter's presence," she adds. Aste plans to attend additional public events as well as parents meetings and tell others about the opt out option.

That's exactly what Imes wants to hear. "This administration has been increasingly stepping on the Constitution," he says. "It's really important to use our voices and our willingness to be heard." He looks at the people still inside at the meeting. "We're already having some impact and it will pick up steam over time," Imes predicts.

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Iraq: a Bloody Mess

From Turning Point to Vanishing Point...
June 28, 2005

A year ago the supposed handover of power by the US occupation authority to an Iraqi interim government led by Iyad Allawi was billed as a turning point in the violent history of post-Saddam Iraq.

It has turned out to be no such thing. Most of Iraq is today a bloody no-man's land beset by ruthless insurgents, savage bandit gangs, trigger-happy US patrols and marauding government forces.

On 28 June 2004 Mr Allawi was all smiles. "In a few days, Iraq will radiate with stability and security," he promised at the handover ceremony. That mood of optimism did not last long.

On Sunday the American Secretary of Defence, Donald Rumsfeld, told a US news programme that the ongoing insurgency could last "five, six, eight, ten, twelve years".

Yesterday in London, after meeting Tony Blair, the new Iraqi Prime Minister, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, tried to be more upbeat, commenting: "I think two years will be enough and more than enough to establish security".

Tonight President George Bush will make his most important address since the invasion, speaking to troops at the US army base at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. He is expected to seek to assure increasingly sceptical Americans that he has a plan to prevail in Iraq, and that the US is not trapped in a conflict as unwinnable as the one in Vietnam, three decades ago.

The news now from Iraq is only depressing. All the roads leading out of the capital are cut. Iraqi security and US troops can only get through in heavily armed convoys. There is a wave of assassinations of senior Iraqi officers based on chillingly accurate intelligence. A deputy police chief of Baghdad was murdered on Sunday. A total of 52 senior Iraqi government or religious figures have been assassinated since the handover. In June 2004 insurgents killed 42 US soldiers; so far this month 75 have been killed.

The "handover of power" last June was always a misnomer. Much real power remained in the hands of the US. Its 140,000 troops kept the new government in business. Mr Allawi's new cabinet members became notorious for the amount of time they spent out of the country. Safely abroad they often gave optimistic speeches predicting the imminent demise of the insurgency.

Despite this the number of Iraqi military and police being killed every month has risen from 160 at the handover to 219 today.

There were two further supposed turning points over the past year. The first was the capture by US Marines of the rebel stronghold of Fallujah last November after a bloody battle which left most of the city of 300,000 people in ruins. In January there was the general election in which the Shia and Kurds triumphed.

Both events were heavily covered by the international media. But such is the danger for television and newspaper correspondents in Iraq that their capacity to report is more and more limited. The fall of Fallujah did not break the back of the resistance. Their best fighters simply retreated to fight again elsewhere. Many took refuge in Baghdad. At the same time as the insurgents lost Fallujah they captured most of Mosul, a far larger city. Much of Sunni Iraq remained under their sway.

At the handover of power the number of foreign fighters in the insurgency was estimated in the "low hundreds". That figure has been revised up to at least 1,000 and the overall figure for the number of insurgents is put at 16,000.

The election may have been won by the Shia and Kurds but it was boycotted by the five million Sunnis and they are the core of the rebellion. It took three months to put together a new government as Sunni, Shia, Kurds and Americans competed for their share of the cake. For all their declarations about Iraqi security, the US wanted to retain as much power in its own hands as it could. When the Shia took over the interior ministry its intelligence files were hastily transferred to the US headquarters in the Green Zone.

To most ordinary Iraqis in Baghdad it is evident that life over the past year has been getting worse. The insurgents seem to have an endless supply of suicide bombers whose attacks ensure a permanent sense of threat. In addition the necessities of life are becoming more difficult to obtain. At one moment last winter there were queues of cars outside petrol stations several miles long.

The sense of fear in Baghdad is difficult to convey. Petrol is such a necessity because people need to pick up their children from school because they are terrified of them being kidnapped. Parents mob the doors of schools and swiftly become hysterical if they cannot find their children. Doctors are fleeing the country because so many have been held for ransom, some tortured and killed because their families could not raise the money.

Homes in Baghdad are currently getting between six and eight hours' electricity a day. Nothing has improved at the power stations since the hand-over of security a year ago. In a city where the temperature yesterday was 40C, people swelter without air conditioning because the omnipresent small generators do not produce enough current to keep them going. In recent weeks there has also been a chronic shortage of water.

Some Iraqis have benefited. Civil servants and teachers are better paid, though prices are higher. But Iraqis in general hoped that their standard of living would improve dramatically after the fall of Saddam Hussein and it has not.

Adding to the sense of fear in Baghdad is the growth of sectarianism, the widening gulf between Sunni and Shia. Shia mosques come under attack from bombers. Members of both communities are found murdered beside the road, in escalating rounds of tit-for-tat killings.

The talks between US officials and some resistance groups revealed in the past few days probably does not mean very much for the moment. The fanatical Islamic and militant former Baathists and nationalists who make up the cutting edge of insurgency are not in the mood to compromise. They are also very fragmented. But the talks may indicate a growing sense among US military and civilian officials that they cannot win this war.

Patrick Cockburn was awarded the 2005 Martha Gellhorn prize for war reporting in recognition of his writing on Iraq over the past year. His new memoir, The Broken Boy, has just been published in the UK.

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Hostile Fire May Have Downed U.S. Copter
Associated Press
June 29, 2005

KABUL, Afghanistan - A U.S. Chinook helicopter that crashed in eastern Afghanistan was likely shot down by hostile fire, and the fate of 17 American service members aboard was unclear, the U.S. military said Wednesday. The Taliban claimed it attacked the aircraft.

The troops were on a mission against al-Qaida fighters when the helicopter went down Tuesday in a mountainous region near Asadabad, in Kunar province.

"Initial reports indicate the crash may have been caused by hostile fire. The status of the service members is unknown at this time," a U.S. military statement said.

The coalition and Afghan troops "quickly moved into position around the crash to block any enemy movement toward or away from the site" and coalition support aircraft were overhead, the statement said.

The helicopter was carrying forces into the area as part of Operation Red Wing against al-Qaida militants, the military said.

"Coalition troops on the ground in this area came in contact with enemy forces and requested additional forces to be inserted into this operation," U.S. military spokesman Col. James Yonts told a news conference. "That is why there was an aircraft, that is how it arrived on the battlefield."

Yonts said the helicopter took indirect or direct fire from the ground. "Whether or not that caused it to crash, we do not know yet," he said.

The U.S. military knew from its contacts with local leaders and residents that "terrorist organizations" were operating in the area of the crash, Yonts said.

"That did not come as a surprise to us, this area has been known to harbor those terrorist organizations or personnel," he said.

Provincial Gov. Asadullah Wafa told The Associated Press the Taliban downed the aircraft with a rocket. He gave no other details.

Purported Taliban spokesman Mullah Latif Hakimi telephoned the AP before news of the crash was released and said the rebels shot the helicopter down.

He said the rebels filmed the attack and would release the video to the media. He also claimed that rebels killed seven U.S. soldiers in an attack in the same area, although U.S. spokeswomen Lt. Cindy Moore said no such attack had been made on an American convoy.

Hakimi often calls news organizations to claim responsibility for attacks on behalf of the Taliban. His information has sometimes proven untrue or exaggerated, and his exact tie to the group's leadership is unclear.

"This is a tragic event for all of us, and our hearts and prayers go out to the families, loved ones and men still fighting in the area," said U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Greg Champion, deputy commanding general of Combined Joint Task Force-76. "This incident will only further our resolve to defeat the enemies of peace."

The crash was the second of a Chinook helicopter in Afghanistan this year. On April 6, 15 U.S. service members and three American civilians were killed when their chopper went down in a sandstorm while returning to the main U.S. base at Bagram.

The U.S. military has launched operations in several areas along the border with Pakistan. Those offensives target remnants of al-Qaida and the hard-line Taliban movement, as well as foreign fighters using high mountain passes to cross the largely uncontrolled border from Pakistan.

Tuesday's crash came after three months of unprecedented fighting that has killed about 465 suspected insurgents, 29 U.S. troops, 43 Afghan police and soldiers, and 125 civilians.

The violence has left much of Afghanistan off-limits to aid workers and has heightened concerns that the war here is escalating into a conflict on the scale of that in Iraq.

Afghan and U.S. officials have predicted the situation will deteriorate in the lead-up to legislative elections in September - the next key step toward democracy after a quarter-century of war.

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Showtime in Washington

Virtual Citizens; Virtual Government; Virtual Opposition
June 28, 2005

There was a remarkable article in the New York Times on June 27. It had a remarkable headline too: "Some in G.O.P. Call on Bush to Focus on Governing."

The piece went on to quote Republicans, both named (Newt Gingrich) and unnamed, as saying that the Bush administration has been in a "permanent campaign" mode, aimed at energizing right-wingers, instead of governing and trying to pass legislation-which of course requires working out compromises in Congress.

This is really quite an admission.

Isn't "governing" what people elect a president to do?

After all, during the campaign, candidates spend most of their time telling voters how they would govern, and what they would do to run the country if elected. Bush certainly did that.

Now it turns out that even his own backers in Congress don't think he has been doing much governing; that rather, he is just running a permanent campaign aimed at attacking critics and winning the hearts of his "base."

Of course we knew this. The war in Iraq is not governing; it has been a gigantic, unprecedentedly costly campaign stunt from the get go. The Social Security wrecking campaign is not governing; it's a campaign theme. Ditto "No Child Left Behind," which has been all talk and rules, and no money or program.

What we have in the Bush White House is in fact virtual government-all image and showmanship, but no action.

That's not to say nothing is going on. What Bush and his gang are doing is systematically bankrupting and looting the country and handing the ripped off proceeds to corporations and the wealth in a way David Stockman could only dream of.

Of course, the White House has been able to get away with this deadly charade in part thanks to the fact that the Democratic Party has been pretty much a virtual opposition. Its leading lights for the most part agree with much of the Republican agenda-free trade, endless war in Iraq, US imperial power in general, throwing money at the Pentagon, cutting taxes for corporations, etc., etc.

What it all boils down to, I guess, is that we are living in a virtual democracy. In the end, the blame has to lie with America's virtual citizens, who are content to get their news and information from a virtual newsmedia, and who are happy - that minority who still bother to cast votes - to accept and act on the shallow and manipulative campaign tactics of the two major parties' candidates.

Dave Lindorff is the author of Killing Time: an Investigation into the Death Row Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. His new book of CounterPunch columns titled "This Can't be Happening!" is published by Common Courage Press. Information about both books and other work by Lindorff can be found at

He can be reached at:

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Is Bush a Puppet?
SOTT Newsbite

According to US government employed Indonesian interpreter Fred Burks, when Bush visited Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri, Bush displayed such a detailed grasp of Indonesian issues at the meeting that he came away thinking the president must have been fed information through a hidden earpiece.

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More Rumsfeld Lies

Those "Meetings" with Insurgents
June 28, 2005

"America is conducting a war without any effort at bipartisan consultation on our tactics, on our strategy, and on our goals. We disserve a realistic definition of success for a war that increasingly threatens to become a quagmire."
- Zbigniew Brzezinski, former Carter security advisor

"We know where they are. They're right up here in the area around Tikrit."
- Secretary Donald Rumsfeld,
pointing to the exact location of the imaginary WMD

There were reports last Friday that representatives of the US Occupation Forces in Iraq were engaged in secret talks with leaders of the Iraqi resistance. For a brief two day period, there was reason to hope that there might be a genuine opportunity to begin negotiations for a political settlement to the 27 month conflict.

When Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld made his scheduled appearances on the Sunday morning talk shows he confirmed that the alleged meetings had taken place saying, "Well, the first thing I would say about the meetings is they go on all the time." Later, he would reinforce this suggestion on Meet the Press when he was asked whether there had been "two meetings between Iraqi and U.S. officials and some members of the insurgency."

Rumsfeld responded, "I think there have probably been many more than that."

It was all lies.

When asked the next day whether such meetings took place, US Commander in Iraq, Army Gen. George Casey said, "Not yet. Not, to the best of my knowledge, yet. We may start moving there, but the first thing we want to do is meet with Sunni leaders. And a lot of these folks claim they have leverage over the insurgents that we've yet to see realized, frankly.But, to characterize them as negotiations with insurgents about stopping the insurgency, we're not quite there yet."

What, no meetings?

As always, Rumsfeld performed his part admirably; producing the result he intended from the very onset; to mislead the viewers into believing that some form of minimal progress was being achieved behind the scenes. That wasn't the case. The real purpose was simply to deceive the American public once again, to elicit greater support for a botched war that has degenerated into a quagmire.

By now, every American who is capable of reading a newspaper or watching a TV should know that Rumsfeld is a compulsive liar, a serial liar, a pathological liar. The maxim one should always follow in listening to the sneering Rumsfeld is to calculate the exact inverse of whatever he says and assume that that will approximate the truth.

There were no talks; it was just another sordid chapter in the Defense Dept's strategy to manipulate information to manage public perceptions. Simple murder and torture fall well below the requirements of Rumsfeld's legendary narcissism; his ego necessitates that he hoodwink the masses regularly so they comply with his bloody war-script. Fortunately, fewer and fewer people are taking anything Rumsfeld says seriously.

A report in a London newspaper "Al-Hayat" said that a "Committee combating occupation denies negotiations with the Americans"; saying that the rumors were "a mere fabrication". The group went on to say that the Americans were creating phony opposition groups that they could control "to suppress the real trends that reject the occupation and the political process stemming from it".

Pretty clever, huh? This actually seems like one of Rumsfeld's brainier schemes except for the fact that officials for the real Iraqi resistance and General Casey have blown his cover.

Shaykh Majid al-Ka'ud has denied the claims that anyone representing the resistance has negotiated with the Americans and insisted that, "The resistance will continue until victory and liberation are achieved with the departure of the occupation armies."

Al-Ka'ud remarks show an impressive grasp of Rumsfeld's plan to weaken the insurgency by creating fake organizations, comprised of colluders and opportunists, which will "marginalize the resistance, obliterate Iraq's Arabismand divide it up into feeble entities that would be subject to plunder by the occupation companies."

Divide and conquer; the ultimate Rumsfeld strategy tilts the nation towards civil war, where Iraqis can be trusted to kill each other rather than the American invaders. This tactic has been called the "Lebanonization" of Iraq and (as Pepe Escobar notes in a recent Asia Times article) pits "former Mukhabarat pals of former interim prime minister Iyad Allawi at the Interior Ministry, plus the militia inferno at the core of the ministry (the so-called Rumsfeld's boys'), ganging up to fight the resistance. Sunni Arab intelligence plus Shi'ite and Kurd militias fighting Sunni Arabs."

This is the conflict that Rumsfeld hopes to incite. And, this is what he means when he says, "We're going to create an environment that the Iraqi people and the Iraqi security forces can win against that insurgency." In other words, Rumsfeld plans to create the "creative chaos" which he feels will best serve the overall objectives of the occupation.

Every random act of terror in Iraq should be analyzed in terms of whether it fits within Rumsfeld's criteria for success.

Why Iraqis Fight

What sets Al-Ka'ud apart from the Defense Secretary is the use of language and passion that would melt Rumsfeld's tongue. In explaining why the members in the resistance are struggling against the overwhelming force of the American military, Al-Ka'ud said, "What prompts these people is their religion and pan-Arab duty and the Iraqis embrace them due to the common destiny and one faith."

Yes, indeed, they are fighting for their country, their religion, and their way of life. That's why they will win; and that's why all of Rumsfeld's clever contrivances will amount to nothing.

Mike Whitney lives in Washington State. He can be reached at:

Comment: It's COINTELPRO in action! This latest information pretty much makes a mockery of any of Bush's claims that Iraq is a sovereign nation in which living conditions are improving daily.

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3 Kenyans acquitted of conspiracy in 2002 Kenya Hotel blast
Mon Jun 27, 2005 04:18 AM ET

NAIROBI (Reuters) - A Kenyan magistrate acquitted three men on Monday of conspiracy in the 2002 suicide bombing of an Israeli-owned hotel that killed 15 people.

"I have come to the conclusion that the prosecution has failed beyond reasonable doubt to prove its case. I find them not guilty and set them free," Chief Magistrate Aggray Muchelule told the court.

Comment: And yet another "terrorist" attack is assigned to the history books while the real killers escape justice.

The attack on the Israeli owned "Paradise Hotel" in Mombassa, Kenya, bore all the hallmarks of a Mossad "false flag" operation. The details are discussed here, and we refer our readers to page 287 of Victor Ostrovsky's book on the Mossad "By way of deception" for a more detailed analysis of the type of turn-key business fronts that the Mossad operate.

Flashback: Mossad had info on Kenya attack

Jean-Luc Renaudie
Posted Tue, 03 Dec 2002

Israeli intelligence came under fire again on Tuesday as it emerged that Mossad knew of terror attacks being planned by Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network in the Kenyan city of Mombasa, a few days before Israeli tourists were targeted.

The head of the rival military intelligence services told a parliamentary committee that Mossad had "received advance information on planned al-Qaeda attacks in Africa and notably Mombasa in Kenya."

General Yossi Kuperwasser was answering Labour party secretary general Ofer Pines, who was questioning Mossad's competence for the second time this week, following his condemnation on Sunday of the spy agency's "failure" to warn its citizens of a terrorist threat.

Three Israelis were among the 10 victims of last Thursday's suicide car-bomb attack on a hotel in the Kenyan coastal city of Mombasa.

Minutes later, a tourist-packed Israeli charter flying 261 passengers back from Mombasa to Tel Aviv was targeted by two missiles which could have caused the deadliest anti-Israeli attack in recent history but missed their target.

No details on when attack would take place - Mossad

Kupperwasser stressed that the information received gave no indication as to when Osama bin Laden's network would strike nor did it specify that Israelis would be targeted, but his remarks were the first admission of shortcomings on the part of the Israeli intelligence services.

The accusations were likely to pile further pressure on Mossad agents currently investigating the twin attacks.

On Monday Israel questioned Kenya's ability to lead an efficient enquiry. [...]

Below is an excerpt from Victor Ostrovsky's book "By way of Deception" on the Mossad. Ostrovsky was a Mossad agent and in his book he details the type of operations conducted by the Mossad. It includes everything from arms and money laundering to "repatriation" of Jews from around the world to Israel. In one account entitled "Operation Moses" he states:

Operation Moses

They were all there: foreign diplomats escaping the oppressive heat of Khartoum; tourists from right across Europe anxious to learn diving techniques in the Red Sea, or enjoy escorted tours of the nubian desert; and senior Sudanese officials, all relaxing in the newly constructed tourist resort 75 miles north of Port Sudan across the sea from Mecca.

How were they to know it was a Mossad front? Indeed on the morning in early July 1985, when the 50 or so customers woke up to find the staff had vanished - except for a few locals left behind to serve breakfast - they still didn't know what had happened. Few people know even today. As far as legitimate tourists were concerned, the resort's European owners had gone bankrupt, as the notes left behind claimed, though they were assured of a full refund. The staff, either Mossad or Israeli navy workers, had disappeared during the night, some by boat, others by air. But what had happened at this camp is one of the great mass escape stories of history, a story only partially known to the world as Operation Moses. [...] The resort was constructed in about a month. Besides the main buildings for the tourists, the kitchen, the bedrooms and so on, there were several sheds to house communication equipment and weapons...They also sneaked in all the gear needed for lighting up impromptu airfields in the desert [...]

The above is part of the account of the "rescue of 18,000 black Ethiopian Jews or Falashas from Ethiopia to Israel". The account is particularly interesting when looked at in the aftermath of the attack on the Mombasa paradise Hotel in Kenya in late November 2002. Many aspects of both cases are similar.

Mombassa hotel staff unpaid

Thursday, 5 December, 2002

The attack left hotel workers jobless

Former staff at Kenya's Paradise Hotel, which was blown up last week, complain that they have not been paid.

Nine of their colleagues were killed in the suicide attack on the Israeli-owned hotel near the coastal resort of Mombasa.

The hotel was completely destroyed by the attack, leaving the staff jobless.

Israeli manager Yehuda Sulami said he was not sure if the hotel would be rebuilt because "terrorist" attacks were not covered in the insurance policy.

He tried to calm tempers during a demonstration and promised they would be paid soon. Reuters news agency reports that staff booed him as he spoke.

Some claimed they had received just 2,000 Kenyan shillings ($25) for a year's work at the Paradise.

They say the managers repeatedly promised to pay them, but the promises were never kept.

"We depended on tips from the guests which was not enough," said Josephine Mbuli, 23, who worked as a hairdresser for three years to support her eight siblings and mother.

"There's no question that November salaries have not been paid," Mr Sulami told reporters. "Some we also have to pay for September. But there's no question their salaries will be paid as soon as possible."

But Paradise Hotel staff say they are used to hearing promises.

Human resources manager Valentina Sapaya, who had only been working there for a few months, said many people had told her that their wages had not been paid, despite repeated management pledges.

"They are very patient," she said. "They were hoping to get paid any time. The owner kept on promising, then they were living in hope."

The BBC's Gray Phombeah says that Paradise Hotel was the only Israeli-owned hotel in the Mombasa area.

So, like "Operation Moses", the "owners" of the hotel had apparently disappeared leaving the "manager" to pick up the pieces. Yet the question remains, if the Mobassa paradise hotel was a Mossad front, just what was it being used for? We know that Israel, as a state, has very expensive tastes, especially in terms of armaments. Just where does the little piece of land in the Middle East that is Israel, with no oil or gas reserves to speak of, get all its money from? We realise that it is massively subsidised by the US, but even that, we think, is not enough to fill the Israeli government's monetary needs and those of its clandestine organisations. What if this time, instead of exporting people, the Israeli front that was the Mombassa Paradise Hotel was used in the export of something altogether more mundane. Perhaps we can call it "Operation Goldmine"?

Money, power and the winded path of Goldenberg's deals

Wednesday, June 25, 2003

What is 'Goldenberg'? How did the scheme work and who did it benefit? As the newly appointed commission prepares to examine the biggest cash scandal in Kenya's history, the Nation presents the second part of research by Peter Warutere, International Development Research Council (IDRC) and the Kenya Leadership Institue, entitled Corruption and Elite Wealth

Goldenberg was a neatly packaged conduit of plundering public funds. Its roots have over the years been traced right to the most powerful people running the government during the tenure of President Daniel arap Moi.

It all began with a businessman called Kamlesh Pattni registering a company, Goldenberg International Limited, that offered an alternative source of foreign exchange earnings from gold and diamond jewellery exports.

Mr Pattni exploited the fact that the government was experiencing a serious foreign exchange crisis due to suspension of balance of payments aid and insufficient earnings from the export sector. Moreover, President Moi and Kanu were desperate for money to finance the elections and now that the bilateral donors were pressing for democratic reforms, they were not likely to fund Mr Moi’s campaign like they had done before.

Kamlesh Mansukhlal Damji Pattni was a little known messenger in downtown Nairobi peddling gold bracelets and rings. At the age of about 27, he registered Goldenberg as a gold and export jewellery firm. He came from a family that was in small time jewellery business and could not even be compared with his cousins, Nagin Pattni, who was running bigger businesses in Nairobi. Kamlesh was the chairman of Goldenberg while his elder brother, Rohit Pattni, was the managing director (chief executive). How Mr Pattni got connected to the ruling elite remains unclear but by 1990, it was apparent that he had succeeded in selling a multi-million dollar scheme to the Kenyan authorities.

The scheme, evidence shows, was sanctioned by the Office of the President by an inter-ministerial committee, but the principal architect was Mr Hezekiah Oyugi, the permanent secretary in the President’s office in charge of internal security.

Mr Oyugi was an all-powerful personality who was so close to President Moi that for a time he rivalled Mr Nicholas Biwott — the President’s most trusted aide and a powerful political operator. Mr Oyugi was implicated in a series of high corruption deals, including the Nyayo Bus Corporation (which eventually collapsed).

There was also another significant dimension to Goldenberg. Besides Pattni, the only other original subscriber was Mr James Kanyotu, the head of Kenya’s dreaded security intelligence, then known as the Special Branch (now the National Security Intelligence Service). Mr Kanyotu, a fearsome policeman, was listed as a farmer in the original registration documents filed with the Registrar of Companies at the Attorney-General’s office, while Mr Pattni was listed as a director of China Trade Ltd.

Mr Kanyotu did not disclose that he was also a director of Firestone East Africa, a tyre business substantially owned by Mr Naushad Merali, believed to be the President’s proxy and business associate. Mr Merali’s holding company, Sameer Investments Limited, owns a large number of profitable business enterprises, a good number of them bought out from American investors in mind-boggling deals. Mr Kanyotu was also a director of First American Bank, also part of Sameer. It could well then have been no coincidence that Goldenberg operated its first account at this bank.

The Goldenberg inquiry has been ongoing for many years in Kenya and is the biggest financial scandal in the country's history. It involved the laundering and exporting of hundreds of millions of dollars to, as yet, undisclosed parties. The commodities were allegedly gold, diamonds and rubies from more than one African nation. Using the network established by Mr Merali and Mr Schwartzman, which apparently involved the entire Kenyan cabinet under President Moi, the con job was made exceedingly easy.

Parliament okeyed payment, Goldenberg Inquiry told

By Standard Correspondents

The Judicial Commission of Inquiry into the Goldenberg Affair today heard how the money paid to the company as export compensation was so much that Parliament had to introduce a vote to "illegally" pay it.

The provision was sneaked in to parliament by the Ministry of Finance and it was baptised as "Customs Refund".

Former Deputy Commissioner of Customs and Excise Mr Philip Muli Mulili, said that the amounts of money being paid to Goldenberg International Limited were too huge that the Treasury had to seek the money through voting in Parliament.

He said it was only when Goldenberg International Limited came into the scene that the export compensation payment had to be tabled in parliament for the allocation of money to pay the company.

"In the beginning the normal 20 percent export compensation was paid without voting," Mulili told the Commission during an examination in Chief by Lead Counsel Dr John Khaminwa.

The money parliament voted to pay Goldenberg International was however paid by the Treasury instead of the normal channel of payment through the Commissioner of Customs and Excise.

Mulili had explained that parliament voted for the payment after the Ministry of Finance withheld information about the illegality of the move.

However the Commissioner of Customs and Excise Mr Cheruiyot and Mulili came under intense criticism by Commission chairman Justice Samuel Bosire for paying Goldenberg money without confirming from the Central Bank of Kenya that foreign exchange was received legally.

"Why didn't you check with the Central Bank of Kenya to ensure the foreign exchange came in the normal way?" Bosire questioned Mulili.

Bosire said it was upto the Customs department to ensure that foreign exchange was received in Kenya by the authorised dealers who were the Commercial Banks.

Mulili tried to explain that they were satisfied with information they received from the Commercial Banks and overlooked the possibility that the money could have been obtained from the local black market.

The Customs Department was further accused of laxity when did not ensure that the boxes used by Goldenberg International Limited to export gold and diamond jewellery were temper proof.

It came to light later on that the company was not only using wax seals on the metal boxes which could be tampered with but also used only a single seal number for a number of boxes.

The Commission said that the Commissioner of Customs and Excise could have investigated, required the production of relevant books and even made arrests when he discovered something was wrong or illegal somewhere.

The Commission heard that Goldenberg allegedly appeared to comply with the law but it was not.

Mulili however said that the Department of Mines and Geology did not reveal to them that they were not using the tamper proof seals.

He said they could not carry out investigations on officers who chose not to use tamper seal on the boxes containing gold and diamond jewellery for export as he only learnt about it when he appeared as a witness at the Commission.

The Customs Department also came under criticism for allegedly working with the Mines and Geology department to turn a blind eye to smuggling of diamonds and gold into the country.

The comment above about the wax seals on the cases containing gold and diamonds is interesting. It would seem to suggest that some or all of the contents of the cases went missing. We wonder where they ended up.

Information on the owners or founders of "Goldenberg International Limited" is difficult to come by. It appears that it is another more complex "front" for various businesses and banking institutions, some leading to Switzerland.


Tuesday, November 04, 2003

335 million shillings worth of non-existent gold and diamonds were exported out of the country by Goldenberg International to a fictional Swiss company.

At the Goldenbery Inquiry, Swiss businessman Bernard Metzger said this amount was bought by Servino Securities and the company used his address and name in Switzerland.

But he claimed he was not a beneficiary of the deal, despite the fact that he had a personal account with Exchange Bank and received about 1 million shillings from companies related to Pattni.

He said this money was the proceeds from the sale of airline tickets in Nairobi.

The commission was not convinced by his answers and he was given time to present evidence showing why he received huge sums of money from Pattni.

Pattni, Kanyotu, three others owned aircraft

Plane was used to ferry gold from Zaire

Reports by Eliud Miring’uh and Biketi Kikechi
Tuesday, December 2, 2003

An aircraft used to ferry smuggled gold from Zaire by businessman Kamlesh Pattni in 1990 was co-owned by former Director of Intelligence James Kanyotu and three other tycoons.

Kanyotu, teaming up with businessman Naushad Merali, Mr M H Da Gama Rose, and Sheriff K Sheriff, had imported two aircraft from the United States in 1989 without paying duty following a letter of exemption issued by then Vice-President and Finance Minister, Prof George Saitoti.

We find it very interesting that the Mombasa Paradise hotel was attacked and destroyed just days before the corrupt President Moi stepped down as Kenyan leader. Perhaps realising that their days of stealing from Kenya to finance Israel were over, the Mossad decided to use their Kenyan front in one last act of service to Israel. The faked "terrorist" attack and destruction of the Mombasa Paradise hotel served well to increase even further the hype and fear that Osama really is under your bed. It also served well to further the myth that ordinary Jews are at risk, given that the target was an Israeli business, at the time was packed with Israeli tourists. 13 kenyans died, along with 2 Israeli children, yet when your motto is "by way of deception thou shalt do war" those deaths are, it seems, acceptable collateral damage in the greater war that Israel is determined to fight to prove to the world that everyone hates the Jews. Of course this is simply not the case. With leaders that are prepared to sacrifice even their own people to achieve their goals, as always, it is the ordinary Jewish citizen that we are concerned for.

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What Other People Say May Change What You See
The New York Times
June 28, 2005

A new study uses advanced brain-scanning technology to cast light on a topic that psychologists have puzzled over for more than half a century: social conformity.

The study was based on a famous series of laboratory experiments from the 1950's by a social psychologist, Dr. Solomon Asch.

In those early studies, the subjects were shown two cards. On the first was a vertical line. On the second were three lines, one of them the same length as that on the first card.

Then the subjects were asked to say which two lines were alike, something that most 5-year-olds could answer correctly.

But Dr. Asch added a twist. Seven other people, in cahoots with the researchers, also examined the lines and gave their answers before the subjects did. And sometimes these confederates intentionally gave the wrong answer.

Dr. Asch was astonished at what happened next. After thinking hard, three out of four subjects agreed with the incorrect answers given by the confederates at least once. And one in four conformed 50 percent of the time.

Dr. Asch, who died in 1996, always wondered about the findings. Did the people who gave in to group do so knowing that their answers was wrong? Or did the social pressure actually change their perceptions?

The new study tried to find an answer by using functional M.R.I. scanners that can peer into the working brain, a technology not available to Dr. Asch.

The researchers found that social conformity showed up in the brain as activity in regions that are entirely devoted to perception. But independence of judgment - standing up for one's beliefs - showed up as activity in brain areas involved in emotion, the study found, suggesting that there is a cost for going against the group.

"We like to think that seeing is believing," said Dr. Gregory Berns, a psychiatrist and neuroscientist at Emory University in Atlanta who led the study.

But the study's findings, he said, show that seeing is believing what the group tells you to believe.

The research was published June 22 in the online edition of Biological Psychiatry.

"It's a very important piece of work," said Dr. Dan Ariely, a professor of management and decision making at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who was not involved in the study. "It suggests that information from other people may color our perception at a very deep level."

Dr. Brian Knutson, a neuroscientist at Stanford and an expert on perception, called the study "extremely clever."

"It had all the right controls and is a new contribution, the first to look at social conformity inside a brain magnet," he said.

Functional M.R.I. scanners detect which brain regions are active when people carry out various mental tasks.

The new study involved 32 volunteers who agreed to participate in a study on perception. "We told them others will be doing the same task, but you're the only one who will be in the scanner," Dr. Berns said.

The subjects were asked to mentally rotate images of three-dimensional objects to determine if the objects were the same or different.

In the waiting room, the subjects met four people who they thought were other volunteers, but who in fact were actors, ready to fake their responses.

To encourage cohesiveness in the group, the participant and the four actors played practice rounds on laptop computers, took pictures of one another and chatted.

Then the participant went into the M.R.I. machine. The participant was told that the others would look at the objects first as a group and then decide if they were same or different.

As planned, the actors gave unanimously wrong answers in some instances and unanimously correct answers in others.

Mixed answers were sometimes thrown in to make the test more believable but they were not included in the analysis.

Next, the participant was shown the answer given by the others and asked to judge the objects.

Were they the same or different?

The brain scanner captured a picture of the judgment process.

In some trials, instead of being told that the other volunteers had given an answer, they were told that a computer had made the decision. Dr. Berns said this was done to make sure it was social pressure that was having an effect.

As in Dr. Asch's experiments, many of the subjects caved in to group pressure. On average, Dr. Berns said, they went along with the group on wrong answers 41 percent of the time.

The researchers had two hypotheses about what was happening. If social conformity was a result of conscious decision making, they reasoned, they should see changes in areas of the forebrain that deal with monitoring conflicts, planning and other higher-order mental activities.

But if the subjects' social conformity stemmed from changes in perception, there should be changes in posterior brain areas dedicated to vision and spatial perception.

In fact, the researchers found that when people went along with the group on wrong answers, activity increased in the right intraparietal sulcus, an area devoted to spatial awareness, Dr. Berns said.

There was no activity in brain areas that make conscious decisions, the researchers found. But the people who made independent judgments that went against the group showed activation in the right amygdala and right caudate nucleus - regions associated with emotional salience.

The implications of the study's findings are huge, Dr. Berns said.

In many areas of society - elections, for example, or jury trials - the accepted way to resolve conflicts between an individual and a group is to invoke the "rule of the majority." There is a sound reason for this: A majority represents the collective wisdom of many people, rather than the judgment of a single person.

But the superiority of the group can disappear when the group exerts pressure on individuals, Dr. Berns said.

The unpleasantness of standing alone can make a majority opinion seem more appealing than sticking to one's own beliefs.

If other people's views can actually affect how someone perceives the external world, then truth itself is called into question.

There is no way out of this problem, Dr. Ariely said.

But if people are made aware of their vulnerability, they may be able to avoid conforming to social pressure when it is not in their self-interest.

Comment: Bush's speech last night and the controlled media's response to it are prime examples of an attempt to invoke this very real "herd mentality" to literally control the thoughts of the masses.

Note carefully, however, the last sentence in the article:

But if people are made aware of their vulnerability, they may be able to avoid conforming to social pressure when it is not in their self-interest.

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Halliburton Hearing Unearths New Abuse

"Misplaced" portable military bases, thousand-dollar VCRs, and expired food
By Pratap Chatterjee
Tue, 28 Jun 2005

Every morning 120 trucks line up at the Kuwait-Iraq border to deliver gasoline from Kuwaiti refineries. The drivers, mostly poor South Asian men from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, must cross at dawn because if they wait too long, the managers from Kellogg, Brown and Root (KBR), a subsidiary of Texas-based Halliburton, who operate the border post during the day, will subject them to rigorous checks that effectively shut down the deliveries.

"The only way we can cross the border is to arrive before KBR," says Alan Waller, the chief executive officer of Lloyd Owens International (LOI), a British company which manages 700 trucks from five different sub-contractors.

"For the last eleven months we provided fuel to all of southern Iraq. We have only lost one truck to theft and not one driver has been killed in hostile action. We have responded to civil uprisings in Najaf, Hilla, Karbala, Kut and Nasariya within 24 hours to provide fuel to the public. Our role has become instrumental in normalizing relationships between Iraqi authorities, the population and coalition forces."

All that changed on June 9th, 2005, when a convoy of LOI trucks, on its way to deliver construction materials for a Halliburton dining facility to a United States army base near Fallujah, Iraq, came under attack. Three drivers, two Egyptians and one Turk, were presumed killed and six trucks were abandoned.

When the survivors limped into the Al Taqaddum military base, they were expected to receive support from the Halliburton staff. Instead they got the cold shoulder. When the drivers tried to leave the country, they hit a roadside bomb and another Bosnian staff member was killed.

Reading from an email apparently sent by a Halliburton manager, Waller, said that the company staff were ordered not to help them. "Many people volunteered to help but were told no by management," he said before an audience of United States senators and their staff in Washington DC on June 27th. He noted that they were not told that two other convoys had been attacked in the same area in the previous week.

Waller and his business partner, Gary Butters, a former London police detective, were speaking at an oversight hearing on "Waste, Fraud, and Abuse in U.S. Government Contracting in Iraq" conducted by Senator Byron Dorgan of North Dakota, chairman of the Democratic Policy Committee. The two men flew to the United States to testify after they were twice refused an audience with the United States embassy in Iraq to resolve the situation.

When asked by CorpWatch why Halliburton throws roadblocks in their way at every step, Waller refused to speculate. He simply stated that Halliburton managers say that his company does not have a contract with the United States military and thus they do not qualify for preferential treatment at the border.

He did mention that that his company is now doing work for a seventh of the price that Halliburton did one year ago, when the circumstances were much less dangerous.

Via a sub-contractor called Altanmia Commercial Marketing Company, Halliburton delivered gasoline in late 2003 at an average price of $2.65 per gallon. In spring 2004, shortly before the country was handed over to the Iraqis, the contract was canceled by the US military. The new Iraqi government then awarded an identical gasoline supply contract to LOI and their partners, Geotech Environmental Services of Kuwait, who charged just 18 cents per gallon to supply the same sites.

Waller also told the hearing that he had encountered only one Halliburton worker in the last year of his work in southern Iraq (the Texas company still holds contracts to repair oil field infratructure in Iraq). Meanwhile, he said that every fuel distribution station set up provide gasoline to the Iraqi public - even those that Halliburton was supposed to have fixed - was in disrepair.

"As Lloyd-Owen delivers fuel to nearly every refinery or depot in southern Iraq, we find ourselves frequently encountering examples of poor equipment, no equipment or complaints from Iraqi staff," said Waller.

Asked to respond to the LOI testimony by CorpWatch, Cathy Gist-Mann, a Halliburton spokesperson, emailed this brief statement: "KBR does not control ANY borders in the Middle East or any other country."

Billion Dollar Overcharges

The LOI testimony was not the only new evidence offered against Halliburton workmanship in Iraq. Henry Waxman, a California member of the House of Representatives, kicked off the proceedings by presenting a new study gleaned mostly from confidential reports done by the Defence Contract Audit Agency (DCAA).

The study estimates that Halliburton has received roughly 52 percent of the $25.4 billion that the Pentagon has paid out to so far to 77 private contractors in Iraq.

The new evidence, released Monday afternoon, shows that Hallliburton:

  • overcharged or presented questionable bills for close on $1.5 billion, almost four times the previous amount disclosed.
  • lost 12 giant pre-fabricated bases worth over $75 million destined for the troops. The bases could have housed as many as 6,600 soldiers.
  • billed $152,000 for movie rentals
  • billed inconsistently across the board. Video cassette players, for example, were said to cost $300.00 in some instances, and $1000 in others. Likewise, the company charged $2.31 for towels on one occasion and $5 for the same units on another.

Gist-Mann dismissed the Waxman report. "The only thing that's been inflated is the political rhetoric which is mostly a rehash of last year's elections," she said.

"It's DCAA's job to ask questions and it's our job to provide the answers which we have done," she continued. "Audits are part of the normal contracting process and it is important to note that the auditors' role in the process is advisory only."

"Many of these questions have already been resolved. The figure represented in today's hearing stems from an aggregation of many reviews over a three-year period and the amount is a gross mischaracterization of the true facts," she added.

Spoiled Food and Leftovers

A third witness at the hearing was Rory Maryberry, a former Halliburton contractor who worked at the dining facilities in Camp Anaconda. Located just north of Baghdad, near the town of Balad, Anaconda is the largest United States military base in Iraq.

In a video-taped deposition shown during the packed hearing, Mayberry explained how the company would sometimes supply food that was over a year past the expiration date or had spoiled due to inconsistent refrigeration. When the United States military occasionally refused the spoiled food, Halliburton truckers were instructed to take them to the next base in the hope that they would escape scrutiny.

Worst affected were the non-American workers. Mayberry says that Halliburton was supposed to feed 600 Turkish and Filipino meals. "Although KBR charged for this service, it didn't prepare the meals. Instead, these workers were given leftover food in boxes and garbage bags after the troops ate. Sometimes there were not leftovers to give them," said Mayberry.

"Iraqi drivers of food convoys that arrived on the base were not fed. They were given Meals Ready to Eat (U.S. military prepackaged rations), with pork, which they couldn't eat for religious reasons. As a result, the drivers would raid the trucks for food," he added.

"KBR's priority has always been providing the troops the best possible food, shelter and living conditions while they serve in Iraq," said Gist-Mann, in response to Mayberry's allegations.

"KBR is not responsible for purchasing food to serve at its dining facilities throughout Iraq. KBR's dining facilities are thoroughly inspected every month by the Army's Preventive Medicine Services division, and one of the main things they check is the expiration dates on various food products. If at any point food is deemed unfit to serve, KBR follows the government-approved processes and procedures to destroy it," she added.

No Bid Contracts

The witness who invited the most attention at the hearing, however, was Bunnatine Greenhouse, a former mathematics teacher from Louisiana, who rose to become the highest ranked civilian in the Army Corps of Engineers. As the person responsible for signing contracts, she spoke out repeatedly against superiors who she says forced her to sign no-bid contracts with Halliburton on the eve of the invasion of Iraq.

Greenhouse blew the whistle on the non-bid contracts in October 2004 when the Army tried to demote her. She filed a complaint for harassment on racial and gender grounds (she is African-American) but the harassment has not stopped. On June 24th, three days before the hearing, Pentagon lawyers met with her to try to persuade her not to testify.

"I have agreed to voluntarily appear at this hearing in my personal capacity because I have exhausted all internal avenues to correct contracting abuse I observed while serving this great nation as the United States Army Corps of Engineers senior procurement executive. In order to remain true to my oath of office, I must disclose to appropriate members of Congress serious and ongoing contract abuse I cannot address internally," said Greenhouse.

"I can unequivocally state that the abuse related to contracts awarded to KBR (Kellogg Brown and Root) represents the most blatant and improper contract abuse I have witnessed during the course of my professional career."

Members of Congress, who attended the hearing, called for a bipartisan commission to review the Halliburton contracts. "This testimony doesn't just call for Congressional oversight - it screams for it," said Senator Dorgan.

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Justice Abused Terror-Fighting Tools, Report Says

A Kafkaesque world of indefinite detention
By Shannon McCaffrey
Republished from Knight-Ridder / Common Dreams
Mon, 27 Jun 2005 07:50:09 -0700

WASHINGTON – The Justice Department imprisoned dozens of Muslim men for months in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks based on secret evidence and often flimsy links to terrorism, two civil liberties groups charge in a new report to be made public on Monday.

The report by the American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights Watch accuses the Justice Department of plunging at least 70 men "into a Kafkaesque world of indefinite detention."

Four of the 70 have been convicted of crimes related to terrorism and three are awaiting trial, and the report said 13 of the men have received apologies from the government.

In one case, a 68-year-old physician and U.S. citizen was hauled away in handcuffs after his suspicious neighbors broke into his apartment and discovered literature on flying. Another man, also a U.S. citizen, was locked up after his wife was seen videotaping boats on Chesapeake Bay by other drivers who thought she might be scouting the Chesapeake Bay Bridge as a target.

At issue is the government's use of material witness warrants, which are intended to let prosecutors prevent uncooperative would-be witnesses from skipping town before testifying at trial or before a grand jury. Since Sept. 11, the Justice Department has used such warrants to hold people in terrorism probes.

The ACLU and Human Rights Watch identified 70 men – all but one of them Muslims – who've been held as material witnesses in terrorism-related cases. The groups conceded that the true number could be higher.

The Justice Department defended its actions, saying the warrants are constitutional and have been used with great care for years in cases ranging from organized crime to human trafficking.

"The material witness statute may not be used as a broad preventative detention law to hold suspects indefinitely while investigating them without filing charges," Chuck Rosenberg, the chief of staff to the deputy attorney general told a House of Representatives panel last month.

But since the Sept. 11 attacks, the process has been cloaked in unprecedented secrecy, with cases kept off court dockets and records sealed. The Justice Department has told Congress very little, including how many people have been held.

The new report is the first detailed and systemic look at how the government has been using its power to hold material witnesses as part of its counterterrorism campaign.

It concludes that the Justice Department has been using the law for a purpose for which it was never intended: holding suspects as witnesses to buy more time to investigate them. While criminal charges must be brought within a set period, there's no limit on how long a material witness can be held. More than half the men were held for more than 30 days, and one was imprisoned for more than a year.

"The material witness law has been twisted beyond recognition," the report said.

As evidence that the men were considered targets – not witnesses – the report notes that almost half of them were never brought before a grand jury or a court to testify, although some of them told authorities they wanted to.

Twenty-eight of the men were charged with immigration violations and 29 with crimes unrelated to terrorism, although the report held that some of those crimes – such as making false statements to the FBI – came only as a result of the interrogations.

Sixty-four were of Middle Eastern or South Asian descent, and 17 were American citizens.

A few cases have become high profile, notably that of Oregon lawyer Brandon Mayfield, who received an FBI apology after he was falsely linked to the train bombings in Madrid, Spain, through a faulty fingerprint match.

Saudi national Abdullah Tuwalah, a scholarship student at Marymount University in Arlington, Va., was taken into custody because he knew another terrorism suspect through an Arab social club on campus. His lawyer, Denise Sabagh, said Tuwalah was cooperative from the beginning.

Yet according to Sabagh: "The FBI would not even ask questions. They would just say, 'Well, he knows something,' and we'd respond, 'He knows what?' and then the FBI would come back and say, 'He knows.' The interviews were ridiculous."

Tuwalah was released after six weeks without ever being called to testify.

Some of the men were arrested by phalanxes of federal agents with guns drawn, even though they'd voluntarily talked with the FBI days earlier. Federal prosecutors also showed little interest in offering the men immunity, something commonly done for witnesses who are being sought solely for their testimony.

Lee Gelernt, a senior staff attorney with the ACLU's Immigrants' Rights Project, called the use of material witness warrants "perhaps the most extreme but least well-known of the government's post-September 11 abuses."

Justice Department spokesman Kevin Madden said, "critics of law enforcement fail to recognize that material witness statutes are designed with judicial oversight safeguards."

But the report contends that judicial oversight has been little more than a formality since the al-Qaida attacks.

Mary Jo White, who was the U.S. attorney in Manhattan when the Sept. 11 attacks occurred, told the authors of the report that she couldn't recall a judge ever denying a government request for a material witness warrant in connection with the investigation. The report's authors said they also couldn't find a single denial.

The report recommends a number of safeguards and asks the Justice Department inspector general to investigate.

The report will be available on Monday at:

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Fla. Teens Charged After Allegedly Burning American Flags
June 28, 2005

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Two Sarasota teens accused of burning six American flags have been charged with arson and manufacturing a firebomb.

Scott A. Baber and Brian A. Richard III, both 18, told deputies they burned the flags because they are anarchists and disagree with the war in Iraq and other U.S. government policies.

They set fire to six flags Sunday and tried to firebomb a car, the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office said.

Richard remained in jail Tuesday on $402,120 bail. Baber was released Monday on $101,120 bail.

The pair were charged with arson, manufacture of a fire bomb and criminal mischief.

Baber and Richard burned about five flags at homes in the Bent Tree subdivision, where they live with Baber's parents, then set fire to a flag at its clubhouse, said Lt. Chuck Lesaltato, a spokesman for the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office.

"Our deputies came up on them as they were returning to their car," he said.

The arrest of his son surprised Brian Richard II.

"His grandfather was a decorated military man. The whole thing really stunned me. I was really sad that they made that choice," the elder Richard said.

Residents of the golf course community were also upset.

"How stupid," Pat Davidson said, straightening the stones surrounding her blackened flagpole. "What kind of thrill would you get burning an American flag?"

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by Randolph T. Holhut
American Reporter Correspondent

[T]he Bush administration's desire to stifle dissent is going beyond herding protesters into fenced-off and distant "free speech zones" during presidential visits. They apparently view any and all opponents of President Bush as criminals at best and terrorists at worst.

Last year, the federal Homeland Security Department advised local law enforcement agencies to start viewing critics of "the war on terror" as potential terrorists and to keep an eye on anyone who, in HSD's words, "expressed dislike of attitudes and decisions of the U.S. government." [...]

Most of the safeguards enacted in the mid-1970s to prevent the FBI from spying on individuals or groups that oppose government policies have been abolished since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. And the FBI seems to have regressed into the mindset that it had in the 1950s and 1960s - that dissent equals criminal behavior.

"Even the most peaceful [protest] techniques can create a climate of disorder, block access to a site, draw large numbers of police officers to a specific location in order to weaken security at other locations, obstruct traffic, and possibly intimidate people from attending the events being protested," according to a FBI Intelligence Bureau memo issued on Oct. 15, 2003 that was later obtained by The New York Times.

That memo asked local law enforcement agencies to be alert to "possible indicators of protest activity" - such as people using cell phones at events or using video cameras "for documenting potential cases of police brutality and for distribution of information over the Internet" - and to "report any potentially illegal acts to the nearest FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force."

If using a cell phone or a video camera at a protest event is considered a "potentially illegal act" by the FBI, it's not that much of a leap for them to consider a meeting of peace activists held on an university campus to be considered a "potentially illegal act."

Combine this with the violent (and often illegal) tactics used by police in dealing with protests around the country, and the message to potential dissenters is crystal clear: If you disagree with what your government is doing in your name, keep it to yourself. If you wish to be vocal and visible in your opposition, the cops will do whatever is necessary to shut you up. [...]

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Iranian net censorship powered by US technology
27 June 2005

Internet censorship in Iran is amongst the most restrictive and sophisticated in the world, a technical study has revealed. And much of the filtering technology in use was developed by western companies.

Comment: Apparently, the hypocrisy of the Bush regime knows no bounds.

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Indymedia server seized in raid

Indymedia says the raid was an attack on press freedom
Tuesday, 28 June, 2005

A computer server and IT equipment belonging to the alternative media network known as Indymedia have been seized by police in Bristol.

The raid is understood to have been prompted by complaints about a message on the site concerning rail vandalism.

A 30-year-old man was arrested, and bailed, on suspicion of incitement to commit criminal damage.

A statement on Indymedia UK said: "Police demanded access to the server to gain the IP details of a posting."

A representative of Bristol Indymedia, on behalf of the collective, told BBC News: "Yesterday the police raided a residential property in Bristol and seized an Indymedia server and other computer equipment."

"We see this police action as an attack on the freedom of speech."

Tim Lezard, president of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ), added: "We are obviously not happy that police have closed the server.

"We are supposed to be a free press."

"Will people read a post and take action?"

The raid and arrest were carried out by the British Transport Police. [...]

In 2004, servers belonging to Indymedia were seized in London by the FBI, acting on behalf of the Italian and Swiss authorities.

The legal justification for that raid included a gagging order that prevented details being revealed.

However, the servers were thought to have been seized under the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty which is typically used by nations co-operating to investigate cross-border crimes such as terrorism, kidnapping and money laundering.

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U.S. military says can defeat nuclear-armed N.Korea
By Jack Kim
Wed Jun 29, 2005 06:12 AM ET

SEOUL - U.S. and South Korean forces can deter and defeat North Korea even if the reclusive communist state has several nuclear weapons, a senior U.S. military officer said in an interview broadcast on Wednesday.

Amid growing signs stalled six-country talks on those weapons could restart, South Korea's foreign minister said regional powers trying to coax North Korea back to the table should anticipate a possible resumption of the process.

Seoul sent its unification minister to Washington on Wednesday for talks with senior U.S. officials including Vice President Dick Cheney on the nuclear crisis.

The commander of the U.S. forces in South Korea, General Leon LaPorte, said the U.S. military believed North Korea had one to two nuclear weapons at a minimum, and was also working to advance its missile program.

"Whether North Korea has one or several nuclear weapons does not change the balance on the peninsula," LaPorte told South Korea's PBC radio in an interview taped on Tuesday, according to a transcript provided by the station.

"The U.S. and the Republic of Korea retain our ability to deter North Korean aggression and, if required, to decisively defeat the North Korean threat if they were to threaten South Korea," he said.

LaPorte said the United States was fully committed to talks aimed at ending the North's nuclear weapons programs and sought a diplomatic solution to the crisis. Those talks involve the two Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and the United States. [...]

Comment: The US is fully committed to a diplomatic solution to the North Korean crisis, which is precisely why LaPorte resorted to threatening North Korea with defeat in an entirely undiplomatic fashion...

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Thousands riot in China, attack police, burn cars
Jun 29, 3:38 AM (ET)

BEIJING - Thousands of Chinese rioted in a dispute sparked by a lopsided roadside brawl, set fire to cars and wounded six police officers in an outburst likely to worry communist leaders in Beijing desperate to cling on to power.

The official Xinhua news agency, in a rare report on a local disturbance, blamed Sunday's riot in Chizhou in dirt-poor eastern Anhui province on a few criminals who led the "unwitting masses" astray.

The violence was the latest in a series of protests which the Communist Party, in power since 1949, fears could spin out of control and become a channel for anger over corruption and a growing gap between rich and poor.

It started before 3 p.m. when a Toyota sedan grazed a middle school student crossing the street and the teen and the driver quarreled. A few men emerged from the car and set on the student, a local store manager surnamed Wu who saw the clash told Reuters by telephone.

The men were taken to a police station and a crowd that had been watching the fight swarmed around the building, Wu said, demanding that the men be handed over to them as their numbers swelled by the minute.

Some among the growing mob focused their anger on the men's Toyota, smashing it, flipping it over and torching it, Wu said.

"The fire fighters drove up, but when they saw what was going on, they fled," the store manager said.

Armed police tried to quell the disturbance but were driven back by a hail of rocks and lit firecrackers, he said.

The local Chizhou Daily newspaper reported six policemen were injured by stones, news Web site said.

"The crowd also attacked reporters, one of whom was burned by a firecracker, and they grabbed cameras out of the hands of anyone taking pictures," Wu said.

Around 7.30 p.m., power to the police station was cut and "criminals" started throwing fireworks inside, the Chizhou Daily report said.

The crowd, now numbering as many as 10,000, also flipped three parked police cars and set them ablaze.

The mob crashed through the windows of Wu's store, located just down the street from the police station, and began grabbing anything they could get their hands on.

"We called the police immediately, but none came. Four hours later, the provincial police chief arrived with a large group of police, but by that time, my store was already stripped bare," Wu said.

"It was raining hard that day. Otherwise, more stores might have been looted."

Hundreds of armed police in full riot gear managed to restore order in Chizhou around midnight on Sunday.

The men from the Toyota were being held in detention and police had apprehended 10 "criminals" suspected of involvement in the riot, Xinhua said, adding an investigation of the incident was under way.

The riot closely echoed one that erupted in Chongqing in western China last October when a quarrel between residents, in which one man passed himself off as an official, enraged bystanders with the attempted abuse of privilege.

Thousands took to the streets, burning police cars and looting government buildings.

Protests have become increasingly common in China, fueled by corruption and the widening wealth gap, but authorities are keen to quickly quash dissent and preserve stability.

There were more than 58,000 protests, many of them over land rights disputes, across the country in 2003, a Communist Party-backed magazine, Outlook, has reported.

This month, villagers in northern Hebei province protesting to keep their land were attacked by a group of armed hired toughs. Six farmers were killed and 48 injured in the ensuing battle.

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Russia rebuffs criticism on its nuclear cooperation with Iran 2005-06-29 20:39:24

MOSCOW, June 29 (Xinhuanet) -- Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov Wednesday lashed out against as sertions that Russia is helping Iran acquire nuclear weapons, the Interfax news agency reported.

"All assertions that Russia is facilitating the acquisition of nuclear weapons by Iran are absolutely unfounded," Lavrov said in an interview with the Lebanon-based al-Watan al-Arabi magazine.

"Russia and Iran so far have no other nuclear energy projects except the Bushehr nuclear power plant," Lavrov said, emphasizing that according to a fuel supply deal signed by Moscow and Tehran earlier this year, Iran must return the plant's spent nuclear fuel to Moscow.

"Our cooperation with Iran, which is under the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency, is absolutely transparent," Lavrov said.

Asked whether Moscow agrees with allegations that Iran will acquire a nuclear bomb in the next few years, the top Russian diplomat answered: "The question is incorrect."

"If we knew that Iran had such a plan, we would never cooperate with them in the nuclear sector," he said.

The United States has accused Iran of using a civilian atomic energy program as a cover to seek nuclear weapons and pushed for Tehran's nuclear case to be referred to the UN Security Council.

Iran has categorically denied the charge, insisting that its nuclear research is only for peaceful purposes.

Being built with Russian help in Iran's southern port city of Bushehr, Iran's first nuclear power plant is slated to begin operations in late 2006 and will generate 1,000 megawatts of electricity.

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Uzbek President Tells Putin of Foreign Link in Recent Riots
Created: 29.06.2005 11:59 MSK (GMT 3)

Uzbek President Islam Karimov said Tuesday that an uprising against his government in May was planned from abroad by mercenaries who "were trained at military training camps," the Associated Press news agency reports.

Speaking during a meeting with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, Karimov said "we have enough facts to prove that the operation was prepared for several months and perhaps several years in advance from outside Uzbekistan."

Putin said Russian secret services had information about militants crossing from Afghanistan into Central Asia and had warned governments in the region before the uprising in Andijan. The Russian president said he was unsure whether the information was conveyed to Karimov.

Moscow has backed the Uzbek leader in his rejection of international demands for an independent investigation into the suppression of the uprising in Andijan, in which rights activists say government troops killed up to 750 people.

Unrest erupted May 13, when militants seized a local prison and government headquarters. Rights activists say the victims were largely civilian protestors.

Uzbek authorities, who put the death toll at 176, deny that troops fired on unarmed civilians. They have blamed the violence on Islamic militants intent on destabilizing Uzbekistan and the wider Central Asian region, and have accused the militants of killing hostages and of using civilians as human shields in Andijan..

Putin and other Russian officials have said Russia - which is battling a separatist insurgency in its largely Muslim southern province of Chechnya - and other ex-Soviet nations were concerned about terrorist training bases in Afghanistan.

Karimov once again rejected U.N. and Western calls for an international inquiry, saying Uzbek authorities would conduct their own investigation.

The Uzbek president said the people who organized the uprising "knew how to use weapons and were trained at military training camps."

"It was a carefully planned operation, involving prepared mercenaries, rather than street democrats and the crowd," the Interfax news agency quoted him as saying.

But he pledged that the trial of those involved in the uprising would be open to foreign observers and human rights activists.

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Israeli troops seize 8 settlers at Gaza outpost
By Yoni Weizman
Wed Jun 29, 2005 10:08 AM ET

AL-MAWASI, Gaza Strip - Eight ultra- rightist Jews were arrested by Israeli police on Wednesday for rioting in a Palestinian area of Gaza where they have squatted to obstruct Israel's planned pullout from the territory.

Israeli soldiers dragged the religious protesters out of an empty three-storey house they had occupied since Monday in al-Mawasi, a Palestinian enclave enclosed by the Gush Katif settlement bloc in Gaza, and handed them over to police.

The raid by security forces prompted a stone-throwing clash between some of the roughly 30 Jewish nationalists in the house and Palestinian onlookers. Three people were injured -- a settler, a Palestinian and a soldier. Soldiers fired shots in the air to quell the disturbance.

Israeli security sources said eight settlers were arrested for suspected involvement in stone-throwing confrontations with al-Mawasi Palestinians at the site on Tuesday.

About two dozen other settlers, many of them youths, remained in the building after the arrests.

One settler prayed as two soldiers held his hands and feet to carry him out of the building, while another fell to the sandy ground trying to wriggle out of the hands of soldiers.

In Jerusalem, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon described far-right foes of his withdrawal plan as "groups of thugs" and said they would not be allowed to "bring the country down," according to the Ynet media Web site.

It quoted Sharon as telling his security cabinet that security forces had been ordered to prevent Jewish nationalists carrying out a planned nationwide road-blocking protest against the Gaza plan later on Wednesday. [...]


Israeli police also arrested several Jewish nationalists to foil suspected plots to attack public facilities in protest against the planned pullout from land that many settlers regard as bequeathed to Jews by God in the Bible.

Sharon on Tuesday denounced what he called the "wild behavior" of rightists bent on scuttling his plan to remove all 21 Jewish settlements from Gaza and four from the West Bank in August to "disengage" from conflict there with Palestinians.

In a speech to Jewish fundraisers, Sharon criticized anti-pullout activists for clashing with soldiers who came to raze some derelict housing earmarked for renovation by rightists as bastions of resistance to the impending evacuation.

Nationalist settler youths, many of them from hardline Jewish enclaves in the occupied West Bank, also moved into a large empty house in the adjacent al-Mawasi area, sparking stone-throwing clashes with local Palestinians.

"We must all, regardless of creed, oppose this," Sharon said. "And I believe that the legal authorities will take all the necessary measures to stop this wild behavior."

Comment: How convenient is it for Ariel Sharon to have a group he can call "thugs" even further to the right than he is? The man is a war criminal. He is the biggest thug in Israel. Having settlers terrorizing both the Palestinians and the Israel government just legitimizes Sharon in his role of "man of peace".

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Israeli troops tell of tactics to abuse Palestinians

FORMER soldiers in the Israeli Defence Force have come forward with claims of widespread abuses against the Palestinians amid what they say is a growing climate of "moral corruption".

A group of 300 ex-service personnel gathered together by the Breaking the Silence group made a series of damaging allegations about the behaviour of soldiers.

In public testimonies, the troops alleged the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) routinely carried out "deterrent gunfire" into Palestinian areas without a specific target and also used Palestinian civilians to investigate suspected bombs and as human shields during arrest operations.

The claims, which are beginning to filter into the Israeli media, contrast sharply with government assertions that the Israeli army is a "role model for the world" because of its particularly moral behaviour.

Major Sharon Finegold, an army spokeswoman, said: "The Israeli army is a role model for many armies in the world and we are pioneers in the war on terror."

Comment: No doubt the role model for the US army in Iraq...

However, while allegations of mistreatment made by Palestinians or human rights groups are dismissed by many Israelis as hostile, those from Israel's own soldiers, who undergo three years of mandatory military service, carry added weight.

What emerges from the testimonies is that far from being aberrations, abuses of Palestinian civilians are institutionalised and come from the highest levels of the army.

In one written account by a soldier who served in Ujah village, near Jericho in 2001, he describes the "suspicious object" procedure.

"If there is a suspicious object such as a pile of rocks in the road, we stop a Palestinian and send him to move the object while the soldiers hide behind cover," he said. "The Palestinian is considered unimportant since the object was put there by another Palestinian."

Breaking the Silence, which was launched a year ago, recently released testimonies showing that the Israeli army in 2001 had killed 15 Palestinian policemen as revenge for the killing of six soldiers.

Avichay Sharon, an activist in the group, said the incident reflected a pervasive "moral corruption" resulting from the occupation of Palestinian territory. "If it's sergeant at a checkpoint, he will slap people around," said Mr Sharon.

"If it's an officer, he will give crazy rules of engagement, if it's a brigadier-general it's giving rules in which tanks shoot into cities. Even the public becomes morally corrupt. What has happened here is a war on civilians, a war on civilian life, a war against women, children, men, against millions of people."

The Israeli army said it "welcomed" the claims by Breaking the Silence, insisting it was important to report behaviour that was not up to IDF standards.

"Unfortunately, they refuse to give us the names of soldiers, making it hard to investigate and get to the bottom of things in the cases they document," Major Finegold said.

She added: "Searches at 2am save the lives of Israeli civilians who would be the targets of suicide bombers. There has been a dramatic reduction in Israeli fatalities because of our going into the cities and arresting the masterminds of terrorism."

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Israeli soldier convicted for killing Tom Hurndall
Electronic Intifada, 28 June 2005
Tom Hurndall before he was shot by Israeli Forces
On Monday 27 June 2005 a military court convicted Israeli Sergeant Taysir Wahid of the "manslaughter" of British peace activist and photographer Tom Hurndall. On April 11, 2003, Hurndall was shot in the head and suffered irreversible brain damage, dying from his wound a year later. Wahid was convicted of a total of six charges, including obstructing justice and providing false testimony as well as conduct unbecoming a soldier. A sentencing hearing is to be held on July 5.

Summary of Verdict*:

Today, Monday 27/6/05, the Military Court for the Southern Command verdict was handed down its verdict in the case of Sgt. T, who was charged with the manslaughter of Tom Hurndall, a member of the International Solidarity Movement.

The verdict was handed down at the Military Court of the Southern Command by the following judges: President of the Court Colonel Nir Aviram, and Lt. Col. (reserve) Avi Zamir and Major Manor Spitz.

The Court found that:

On the southwest border of Gaza, on the "Philadelphi Route" between the Palestinian and the Egyptian sides of Rafah, during the afternoon hours of Friday, 11/04/03, Sgt. T was manning a pillbox guard post, alone. In accordance with the commanders' assessment of his high level of capability as a combat soldier, Sgt. T was made commander of the post. Another soldier in the team, Sgt. A, left the guard post to eat one level below the pillbox.

At sunset, Sgt. T identified a young man with a goatee, located beyond the row of houses closest to the pillbox. Around his back and shoulders he was draped in a bright orange coat, identifying him as an ISM activist. Tom Hurndall, a young British citizen aged 21, was there at that hour in order to distance children who were playing in an area which he suspected was dangerous (according to the statement of Joseph Carr, an ISM member).

"He was insolent and did not give us respect," reported Sgt. T during his interrogation, approximately nine months later.

Members of the organization annoyed him with their practice, to come closer to the guard post and infiltrate a "prohibited area", which is a "special security area" adjacent to the border, with full knowledge that the IDF imposed strict limitations on their activities in that area. Sgt. T took the opportunity and decided to send a message of warning, to frighten the young man, and distance him eastward.

He fired a single bullet at a point, approximately 10 centimeters left of Tom Harndell's ear, but hit him in the forehead and critically wounded him. He claims that he did not intend to hit him, but the young man moved his head.

From this point on Sgt. T began to weave a web of untruthful events with the intention of distorting the investigation and distancing himself from criminal for the act. He reported that a "terrorist" was peeking out and observing him from one of the houses and that he received permission from his commander of the platoon on duty, to "drop him," 'which means: to check if the terrorist was endangering the soldiers and to fire at him in order to hit him, if so.

He immediately reported that he has fired one bullet at the terrorist and hit him in the head, the terrorist fell backwards and was taken away by two people into a house.

Comment: While it is satisfying to see justice done, at least once, we cannot help but think of the many, many similar cases where members of the IDF have murdered Palestinians in cold blood only to have their lies about "terrorists" accepted as fact.

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Treasury's Snow: Europe, Japan must boost growth
Tue Jun 28, 8:55 PM ET

NEW YORK - U.S. Treasury Secretary John Snow said on Tuesday the government was doing what it needed to do to correct global trade imbalances, but Europe and Japan needed to do their part as well.

"Our actions alone will not be sufficient to unwind global imbalances," Snow said in prepared remarks for delivery to the Council on Foreign Relations. "Simply put, large imbalances will continue if growth in our major trading partners continues to lag."

The U.S. Treasury chief said the United States "is doing its part" by tackling the budget deficit but said since the combined European and Japanese economies outweigh America's, the onus for action is on them.

"These economies must continue to adopt and implement vigorous and necessary structural reforms to establish robust rates of growth -- both for the good of their own citizens and to contribute to reductions in the imbalances in the global economy," Snow added.

He intimated that the latest budget deficit data due out in a few weeks will show the Bush administration is making headway in its campaign promise to halve the fiscal shortfall by the end of Bush's presidency.

"I don't want to foreshadow what those numbers will be except I will say they are going to be a lot lower. And they will show that we are well in advance of the President's target of cutting the deficit in half by the end of his term," said Snow.

He added that even his office was surprised at the rise in tax receipts, which are now running 15 percent higher than initially forecasted at the beginning of the year.

Last fiscal year, the U.S. budget deficit widened to a record $412 billion. The latest prediction from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office for the budget deficit for the year ending Sept. 30 is around $350 billion.


Turning to China, Snow said increased foreign exchange flexibility on China's part was "a necessary component of the global adjustment process." The United States has been leading a drive to persuade China to loosen the peg that it maintains between its yuan currency and the dollar. [...]

Snow said it was vital not to focus on the dollar amounts of aid alone, but instead to try to see that assistance was distributed in the most effective way.

"Money alone is not the answer," Snow said. "By working through the G8 we are also trying to focus more attention on other factors in growth-enhancing development -- especially through a greater focus on private sector development."

Comment: This seems to be just more preparation for placing the blame for the collapse of the US and world economies on any nation except the US...

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French finance minister fights to clear his name
By Timothy Heritage
Wed Jun 29, 2005 08:59 AM ET

PARIS - French Finance Minister Thierry Breton sought on Wednesday to clear his name and prevent any threat to his political career after police searched offices at his ministry and companies he used to work for.

A source close to the investigations said police had searched offices at electronics company Thomson, which Breton used to head, in addition to offices at his ministry and the headquarters of chemicals firm Rhodia on Monday.

In his first public comments on the search of Rhodia's offices, Breton told Europe 1 radio: "I have really done nothing wrong in this affair."

Asked about the potential political consequences, he replied: "I am fighting my corner."

Breton headed Rhodia's audit committee during 1999-2002, the period under which its accounts are being investigated for suspected inaccuracies.

Breton said he was only one of 10 administrators of Rhodia at the time. Le Monde newspaper quoted him as saying he was the victim of "an implausible manipulation that makes me sick."

He told Europe 1 he had been "flabbergasted" when he learned of the police searches while visiting New York, and that police had asked for the password of his personal computer. He did not deny his home had also been searched when asked about this.

Breton, 50, faces the risk his work will be overshadowed by the investigations as the government struggles to revive the sluggish economy and oversees a key privatisation program.

His predecessor, Herve Gaymard, resigned on Feb. 25 after three months in office because of a scandal over his state-paid luxury flat. Breton was the fourth finance minister in a year.


The government's left-wing foes have asked Breton for an explanation, but no one has demanded the former France Telecom chairman quit and police have not pressed charges against him.

Any doubts about Breton's future would be another blow to President Jacques Chirac, who has already been undermined by French voters' rejection of the European Union constitution.

A Socialist Party leader, Jean-Marc Ayrault, said the Rhodia affair "has weakened the minister." [...]

Comment: Yet another French minister feels the heat, and yet again the blame is directed towards Chirac. It almost seems as if there is some sort of campaign designed to weaken public opinion of Chirac...

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Ball of flame in the sky
Western People
Wednesday, June 29, 2005

A ball of flame was spotted in the Mayo sky at 1.46 a.m. on Sunday night/ Monday morning, writes Michael Commins. The light, which was low down in the northern sky, was travelling in a north easterly direction and falling rapidly towards earth. The object may have been a meteorite or object burning up on entering the earth's atmosphere.
However, at no stage did the object resemble the usual meteorite "streak" but remained intact as a single glowing object. It exuded a blue-yellow glow, similar to that emanating from a welding job, providing a spectacular view in the night sky.

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Earthquakes Happening More Often in the US
Action 10 News Staff
6/28/2005 11:22:30 PM

Earthquakes seem to be happening more often in the United States lately.

Several earthquakes hit the West Coast in the past month.

The Midwest is second only to California in terms of earthquake activity in Northern America.

According to Indiana State University Geography Professor Tony Rathburn, there is no trend toward an increase in earthquakes.

But he says, the Wabash Valley should be prepared.

"These earthquakes do serve as a wakeup call. We are in an earthquake prone area. And depending on what model you subscribe to, geologists believe there may be a big earthquake in the are in the next 50 years," says Rathburn.

If an earthquake does strike the area, there are some precautions you can take to ensure your family's safety.

Don't put heavy objects on bed headboards or shelves, where they can fall on people and animals; keep extra medical supplies on hand; stock up on supplies, such as batteries, flashlights, blankets, bottled water, canned food, and a non-electric can opener.

Comment: Nope, nothing to see here, folks! Oh, but just in case, here's how to prepare for an earthquake...

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Tropical Storm Forms in Southwestern Gulf
Wed Jun 29,12:02 AM ET

MIAMI - A tropical depression in the southwestern Gulf of Mexico developed Tuesday afternoon into Tropical Storm Bret - the second to form this month.

The storm was expected to move inland overnight between Veracruz and Tampico, Mexico; a tropical storm warning was posted for the area.

Forecasters said the storm could gain strength before it goes ashore Wednesday morning. Rain totals were estimated between 3-6 inches with higher amounts over mountainous regions.

By Tuesday evening, Bret was located about 60 miles north-northwest of Veracruz. It was moving west-northwest at about 5 mph with maximum sustained winds near 40 mph. The threshold for a tropical storm is 39 mph.

Forecasters said that since 1851, there have been only 12 years where two or more tropical storms formed in June - the first month of the hurricane season that ends Nov. 30.

Tropical Storm Arlene hit the Florida Panhandle earlier this month.

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Strange sights in the Arctic light

Songbirds are heard trilling in the Yukon like never before
But it's not good news: Climate change is hurting the North
Toronto Star
Jun. 29, 2005. 07:49 AM

TUKTOYAKTUK, N.W.T. - On an intensely bright late-spring day, Abraham Klengenberg descends the short slope to the gravel beach, pushes his red canoe into the placid Arctic Ocean and paddles out to tend his fishing net.

Klengenberg, a 54-year-old Western Arctic Inuk, doesn't go far. The ice has just receded from this part of the sea. As it went out, it stirred the bottom sediments, turning the frigid near-shore water into a banquet table for fish.

An hour after the net is set, its marker buoys are under water, signalling it's heavy with five- to eight-kilogram whitefish and inconnu.

Soon, the catch is cleaned, split and hung over a simple drying rack. Later, it will be smoked.

Klengenberg - a wiry, weathered soft-spoken man - grew up in Tuktoyaktuk. His routine, like the sea's bounty, seems timeless and unchanging.

Except that now, to get to and from the beach, he must pick his way around and over large, angular chunks of stone known as riprap.

They were trucked in over the winter ice road from a quarry near Inuvik, about 100 kilometres to the southwest, at a cost of $600 to $1,000 a load.

Riprap now covers most of the shoreline of this ragged, dusty hamlet, a motley collection of houses, whose winter-blasted paint matches the greys and browns of treeless streets and yards. It's there to keep the land from being washed away as the sea level rises and storms hit with increasing ferocity.

Tuktoyaktuk housed one of the DEW Line radar sites installed in the 1950s to warn North America of aerial attacks from the Soviet Union. Its rows of jagged rock are an alarm signal for what most scientists insist is a far greater threat - climate change.

Carbon dioxide, methane and other "greenhouse" gases, produced mainly when humans burn fossil fuels such as oil and gas, are building up in Earth's atmosphere. Just like the glass in a greenhouse, they prevent the sun's heat from bouncing back into space.

The result is often called global warming, because Earth's average temperature is rising. Scientists prefer climate change, since the potential impacts go far beyond hotter summers and mild winters

It is, along with poverty in Africa, to dominate the agenda for next week's annual G-8 summit, July 6-8, where the leaders of Canada and seven other industrial nations are to meet at posh Gleneagles, Scotland.

Indications are the summit will generate little action on climate change. Although its host, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, has called it "probably, long-term, the single most important issue we face as a global community," the United States continues to reject targets and timetables for reducing emissions, and still insists there's no serious threat.

Few people in Tuktoyaktuk will be glued to their TV sets for summit coverage, but all of them know what they see outside their homes.

It's not just the rising water and more frequent storms. The ice breaks weeks earlier, and much faster, than it used to in spring, and forms more slowly each fall. The weather is less predictable. These are hazards for the many residents who still go out on the land to hunt seal, polar bears, muskox and caribou. The wind blows from the south more often. Long-time residents see grizzly bears, ravens, white-throated sparrows, chickadees and other creatures that never used to venture this far north. Shrubs are poking up beyond the tree line. Permafrost is starting to melt.

Tuktoyaktuk means, in the western Arctic language, "resembling a caribou." The animals are a major food source. The longer growing season produces more vegetation for them to eat. But the early thaw slows their trip to summer calving grounds on the Arctic coast, and calves born during migration are less likely to survive. Local researchers say one of the two local herds, the Porcupine, has dropped by 3 per cent a year for the past decade.

Klengenberg - like many people here a mix of Inuk and Caucasian blood - says he's not worried by the changes: "I just take it as it comes."

"Even Eskimos welcome the warmer summers," jokes his friend Charles Angun, 59, another lifelong resident who has gathered evidence that the sea ice is, on average, thinning.

Others in Tuk are less sanguine.

Jackie Jacobson, the 32-year-old mayor, points to a shoal that's barely visible in the water, 30 metres off the narrow, curved gravel spit that shelters the harbour. "When I was a kid, we would walk out to where the sand is," he says.

The spit itself is a small fraction of its former width and height. In a recent storm, waves crashed over it and across the harbour. "It's something when there's a storm and you see three- to four-foot rollers coming into the community," says Jacobson, big in size, energy and generosity, and wearing the North's trademark jeans, windbreaker and baseball cap.

He has pleaded with the cash-strapped Northwest Territories government for more riprap. He's received sympathy, but no rocks.

All this started happening 10 years ago, he says. "Scientists came up and said global warming is happening. Now you see the effects on the community."

In fact, signs are being noted around the world. [...]

Other signs seem more clearly tied to rising temperatures.

Increasing areas of the Arctic ice cap melt each summer, and the remaining ice is weaker.

In Alaska, buildings are sinking as permafrost melts.

Everywhere, glaciers are retreating. A study of 244 Antarctic glaciers found that 87 per cent have shrunk over the past 50 years. The Greenland ice sheet that spawns icebergs is sliding increasingly fast toward the sea on a new layer of melt-water.

Some of the most convincing evidence comes from complex scientific tests that measure tiny increments of change.

  • Earth's temperature is rising. In the 20th century, the global average increased by about 0.6 degrees. The Arctic rose one degree. The warmest years have occurred in the past decade.
  • The oceans have warmed by about half a degree in the past 40 years. Scientists say that's proof Earth now retains more energy from the sun than it emits into space. Some call this the "smoking gun" of climate change.
  • Sea level has risen one to two millimetres a year since 1900. The average annual increase over the past 3,000 years was one-tenth as much.
  • Subtle changes in temperature and salinity in the North Atlantic Ocean fit with predictions climate change will stop the northward flow of warm water that gives Britain and Europe their moderate climate. A British scientist this year found no sign of six of the eight columns of rising water that fuel the current. The eventual result might be an end to Europe's heat waves and colder weather.
  • University of Alberta scientists have found increased diversity of microscopic plants and insects in the North, thanks mainly to a longer growing and ice-free season.

Some consequences are easy to forecast. The Arctic and Antarctic ice caps will keep melting. Because of that, and since water expands as it warms, sea levels will continue to rise, flooding coastlines and inundating low-lying islands.

But most potential impacts are complicated and, to some extent, unpredictable. Earth is governed by massive forces that work in a delicate balance: If one part of the system changes, everything does. [...]

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Climate threat to 'cradle of life'
Monday, June 27, 2005 Posted: 1559 GMT (2359 HKT)

THE STERKFONTEIN CAVES, South Africa (Reuters) -- Climate change in Africa gave rise to modern humans. Now experts fear that global warming linked to carbon emissions will have its worst impact on humanity's cradle.

"Africa is the most vulnerable continent to climate change," said Jennifer Morgan, director of the Global Climate Change Programme at conservation group WWF.

"Most African livelihoods depend on rain-based agriculture so droughts and floods will have a serious impact on the workforce," she said, adding that the continent's extreme poverty reduced its ability to cope.

Africa's plight will be high on the agenda of a Scottish summit of the Group of Eight industrialized nations next month which could herald increased aid flows to the region. [...]

Climate change in Africa prodded mankind's distant ancestors along their evolutionary path as forests gave way to grasslands, forcing early humans into an open environment where it appears stone tools and long strides first developed.

But while most past changes in weather patterns were gradual -- giving our prehistoric ancestors a chance to adapt -- the pace of global warming today could overwhelm modern Africa.

The United Nations projects that temperatures may rise by 1.4-5.8 Celsius by the year 2100.

A recent international report warned that millions of Africans could be driven from their homes by desertification. [...]

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Minn. Boy Left Quadriplegic by Lion, Tiger
Tue Jun 28, 9:11 PM ET

MINNEAPOLIS - A 10-year-old boy who was attacked by a lion and tiger last week suffered a brain injury and severed spinal cord in the mauling - injuries that have left the child a quadriplegic and dependent on a respirator, his family said Tuesday.

Russell Lala was attacked last Wednesday during a visit with the animals' owner.

"Russell is a fighter and, while he is still in serious condition, he is communicating with us and we see his strong spirit coming through," his parents Nick and Roseanne Lala said in a statement.

The child and his father were visiting body shop owner Chuck Mock, who owns 11 exotic cats and one bear. When Mock opened the cage, the tiger jumped out and attacked the boy. While Mock was pulling the animal away, the lion bit the child.

Along with the brain injury and severed spinal cord, Russell sustained numerous facial fractures, according to the parents' statement. They said he faces a long rehabilitation.

Phone calls Tuesday to Mock's residence went unanswered.

Morrison County Sheriff Michel Wetzel said last week Mock kept the animals as "a novelty."

The lion and the tiger were destroyed last week.

Comment: It seems earthquakes aren't the only thing escalating in the US. There were two recent shark attacks in Florida, a grizzly bear attack in Alaska, and now a lion and a tiger attacked a young boy...

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Man: Flesh-eating aliens were chasing me when I caused fatal car crash
By Emanuella Grinberg
Court TV
June 24, 2005

A California man facing life in prison for crashing his car into a UPS truck will not dispute that his actions resulted in the death of the driver when his trial opens Monday in Nevada County Superior Court.

Instead, Scott Krause's defense will argue that the defendant believed he was trying to escape man-eating subterranean beings when he ran into Drew Reynolds' truck on Jan. 6, 2004.

Krause has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to five felony counts, including first-degree murder, carjacking, and burglary, stemming from a string of alleged criminal activities leading up to the fatal highway crash.

In three court-ordered evaluations, the defendant stated he was fleeing subterranean beings he called "hemadrones" when he carjacked a commercial vehicle near a Nevada City, Calif., gas station and then crashed into Reynolds' service vehicle.

"Everything had to do with his escape from the hemadrones," said Nevada County District Attorney Michael Ferguson. "According to the defendant, he wasFkF afraid they were going to put him in cargo and ship him to China to be eaten."

Calls to public defender Gary Gordon went unanswered.

The evidentiary burden will fall on the defense to prove that Krause, a known methamphetamine addict with a history of drug-related arrests, was suffering from a pre-existing mental condition that either prevented him from understanding the consequences of his actions or knowing the difference between right or wrong.

A psychologist testified in a preliminary hearing that when he examined Krause in 2002, the divorced father of two displayed signs of delusions and paranoid schizophrenia.

He also testified that for at least two years before the incident, Krause was using methamphetamine at least twice a day. [...]

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