Friday, October 29, 2004

Osama bin Laden speaks - days before election

It's the friday before the U.S. presidential election. Osama bin Laden makes a very interesting statement, for the first time claiming responsibility for the September 11, 2001 attack, and making a general warning against the U.S.

Excerpts from bin Laden tape

Fri 29 October, 2004 22:59 (Reuters UK)

Excerpts: Bin Laden video

(BBC - a transcript of excerpts broadcast on al Jazeera)

UPDATE [Nov 1, 2004] on they have provided a full transcript of the video. All other news services are only running excerpts.

Full transcript of bin Ladin's speech

Monday 01 November 2004, 16:01 Makka Time, 13:01 GMT

"Security is an important foundation of human life and free people do not squander their security, contrary to Bush's claims that we hate freedom. Let him tell us why we did not attack Sweden for example.

"It is known that those who hate freedom do not possess proud souls like those of the 19, may God rest their souls. We fought you because we are free and because we want freedom for our nation. When you squander our security we squander yours.

Here's my take - the people of al Qaeda are people, and at the root of that fact is this. They have the same kind of hopes and dreams we have. The fact that they felt compelled to become warriors, and for 19 of them to make a suicide attack (when the Koran forbids suicide) says something significant about the depth to which they are driven. Something, some issue drives them to this. Here Osama speaks of something we all want, Freedom. I suppose for him freedom means practicing his religion in the way to which he desires...?

"God knows it did not cross our minds to attack the towers but after the situation became unbearable and we witnessed the injustice and tyranny of the American-Israeli alliance against our people in Palestine and Lebanon, I thought about it. And the events that affected me directly were that of 1982 and the events that followed -- when America allowed the Israelis to invade Lebanon, helped by the U.S. Sixth Fleet.

"In those difficult moments many emotions came over me which are hard to describe, but which produced an overwhelming feeling to reject injustice and a strong determination to punish the unjust.

Since September 11, 2001 a theory has been in my mind. Some people (maybe all) have formative experiences in their lives. Some of the formative experiences drives their selection of political preferences and agenda. For example, I was in high school during the 1970's and the two oil shocks (the OPEC embargos) of the 70's really affected me. For a time I planned to learn, in college, about solar energy systems so that I could work on developing solar energy to help the country be free from the threats of OPEC.

Assuming Osama is being honest here, he's saying his formative experience was the U.S./Israeli invasion of Lebanon. That certainly was a dramatic event, since Lebanon was pretty well embroiled in chaos at that time. It wasn't so much of a formative event for me, but for Osama it probably came a lot closer to home both lliterally and figuratively.

One wonders though, why did he then work with U.S. forces just a couple years after that to drive Russia out of Afghanistan. It is well known that Osama bin Laden was chosen from the Saudi elite to form and lead the mujahadeen who were instrumental in driving Russia out of Afghanistan. It is also well known that the U.S. armed the mujahadeen, and that therefore Osama was actively overseeing the receipt of weapons and training from the U.S.

In any case .. I suggest that while reading Osama's message one should look past your memory of what Osama has done to this country. I see in the news that both Bush and Kerry are reacting angrily to this message from Osama, and are vowing to destroy al Qaeda. Maybe that kind of revengeful response does not solve the larger problems of the world. If you let go for a moment of 9/11 memories, and read his words as a human, you see someone troubled by what they see in the world. You see a human being wishing that he and his people can have a better life.

It is hard ... forgiveness can be hard, very hard, especially when the grievance is as large as the U.S. has against al Qaeda. And the Bush/Kerry vow to destroy is understandable from one who has not let go of their anger and forgiven.

At the same time that doesn't excuse Osama and his ilk from their responsibility. They took on a heavy burden when they chose to perform the various acts of terrorism they have done. Each have been reprehensible attacks going against the grain of any moral code one can think of.

The issue is the continuing cycles of bloodshed, anger, retribution, revenge, leading to more bloodshed and anger and retribution and so on over and over. We see here that Osama is doing all this because of anger over events in 1982, and his desire for revenge over them. Osama himself, therefore, has not forgiven and therefore is going to keep going after this revenge.

The thing about revengeful thinking is that the source of the desire for revenge is likely never going to be satisfied. The source of the desire for revenge is the memory, in this case of the Lebanon invasion. So long as that memory burns, the revenge desire remains. What forgiveness means is simply to let go or to drop some issue and just move on with life. That's all, very simple, and once you let go of some event, it stops having power over you and the revenge desire stops.

Report: 100,000-plus Iraqi civilians dead

Last night I was chatting with my fiancee about Iraq and the number of deaths. While we knew very well that over 1000 U.S. soldiers have died there since the invasion (a number that's been widely reported) I didn't know how many Iraqi's had died. This number hasn't been reported, yet every day there are news reports describing scores of Iraqi deaths, every day.

Report: 100,000-plus Iraqi civilians dead

Baghdad, Iraq, Oct. 29 (UPI) (Washington Times)

I'm saddened now to learn the number. It's only slightly comforting that this is a survey, the number is an estimate, and that there are conflicting estimates from other scientists.

Iraq deaths claim 'to be studied'
The UK Government will "examine with very great care" claims 100,000 Iraqi civilians have died as a result of the US-led invasion, Jack Straw has said.

That BBC report goes over the issue in more detail, showing how the study was conducted.

Household Survey Sees 100,000 Iraqi Deaths
(Washington Post)


The Associated Press

Friday, October 29, 2004; 3:03 AM

This article also goes into more detail. For example describing that they picked a survey area, randomly selected some houses, and questioned the occupants of the houses. The methodology is just like other poll-taking activity, like TV ratings, except this time they're trying to measure the death rate. Then from the death rate they're projecting the number of deaths.

Finally, we also have the journal articles themselves:

Mortality before and after the 2003 invasion of Iraq: cluster sample survey

[Full Text]

Les Roberts, Riyadh Lafta, Richard Garfield, Jamal Khudhairi, Gilbert Burnham

The war in Iraq: civilian casualties, political responsibilities

[Full Text]

Richard Horton

I haven't read either one, both require registration before doing so.

NY Times analyzes the Al Qaqaa videotape

Earlier I noted that the Minneapolis ABC affiliate had broadcast video of soldiers in Al Qaqaa going through bunkers looking at the weapons. The NY Times has now analyzed the video, verifying that it showed the HMX explosives everybody is concerned about. Plus, it showed the UN "seal" which the inspectors had left behind.

Meaning, the U.S. soldiers shown on the videotape broke in, breaking the UN seal, the seal that was supposed to keep the site safe. They probably didn't know what they were doing. And, for that matter, the UN seal shown is a spindly thing that probably wasn't clearly marked as to what it was, so the soldiers probably didn't think much of it.

See here:

Video Shows G.I.'s at Weapon Cache


Published: October 29, 2004
(NY Times)

The article gives a good timeline of the events.:

The agency said that when it left Iraq in mid-March, only days before the war began, the only bunkers bearing its seals at the huge complex contained the explosive known as HMX, which the agency had monitored because it could be used in a nuclear weapons program.

In mid-march the explosives were seen there, and sealed by the UN inspectors. The seal pictured in the article isn't very much, but it would show if the building had been entered because one would be unable to enter without breaking the seal.

Yesterday evening, the Pentagon released a satellite image of the complex taken just two days after the inspectors left, showing a few trucks parked in front of some bunkers. It is not clear they are the bunkers with the high explosives.

The Iraqi's had some activity at Al Qaqaa, but it's unclear what it was they were doing. There was apparently other weaponry on the site and the simplest conclusion is they were retrieving that in preparation for the invasion they knew the U.S. was about to launch.

The videotape , taken by KSTP-TV, an ABC affiliate in Minneapolis-St. Paul, shows troops breaking into a bunker and opening boxes and examining barrels. ...
The ABC crew said the video was taken on April 18.

The videotape verifies the explosives were there, on site, after the invasion. This disproves the administration's claim/excuse that the Iraqi government removed the HMX before the invasion, because it was still there afterward.

Then they headed north to Baghdad, and the site was apparently left unguarded. By the time special weapons teams returned to Al Qaqaa in May, the explosives were apparently gone.

Then in mid-May the U.S. special weapons team went to the scene, and the explosives were gone. Because of the videotape we know they must have disappeared between April 19 and mid-May. And we know looters were active at this site just as they were all over the country.

As the article says, the timing is critical. This issue has become key in the presidential race, with the Bush side disclaiming responsibility saying that not all the facts are in. Well, it is clear to me that enough facts are in. And that you, Mr. President, are caught redhanded in criminal negligence.

And it wasn't just Al Qaqaa, but lots of ammo-dumps

The looting of Iraq's arsenal

The same month Al Qaqaa was being stripped of high explosives, I warned my military intelligence unit of another weapons facility that was being cleaned out. But nothing was done.

By David DeBatto

David DeBatto was a military intelligence officer who was in charge of Camp Anaconda just after the invasion. He tells the story that initially the locals were happy we were there, and were very helpful in providing intelligence.

Some of that intelligence was that nearby Camp Anaconda was a large (5 square mile) ammunition dump that was totally unguarded, and being systematically looted. He kept writing reports to his superiors of the dump, and at times the superiors would say "We'll take care of this" but nothing ever happened. He also tells of even other ammo-dumps that his colleagues knew about and also reported to their superiors, and that none of these ammo-dumps were guarded and that they were all systematically looted.

And, of course, that ammunition is today being used against U.S. forces. If these ammunition dumps had been secured, and the ammunition destroyed, then the fighting now would be less severe, yes?

We're talking about the whole gamut of weaponry from small arms ammunition, to guns, heavy machine guns, mortars, rockets, rocket propelled grenades, missles (including surface-to-air) and at Al Qaqaa there is the 350,000 tons of ultra-high-explosives. That has dual use in both conventional and nuclear use.

Like I said, criminal negligence. And negligence that has directly contributed to the deaths of over a thousand U.S. soldiers, and tens of thousands of Iraqi's.

See also: NY Times analyzes the Al Qaqaa videotape

Thursday, October 28, 2004

American Conservative Mag backs Kerry

Kerry’s the One
By Scott McConnell

The referenced article is a damning critique of Bush's presidency, from a Conservative point of view. He doesn't give much credence to Kerry, expects Kerry to be a one-term president largely inneffectual becuase he'd be bogged down with the Iraq situation and a Republican Congress. Perhaps this is the core argument:

Bush has behaved like a caricature of what a right-wing president is supposed to be, and his continuation in office will discredit any sort of conservatism for generations. The launching of an invasion against a country that posed no threat to the U.S., the doling out of war profits and concessions to politically favored corporations, the financing of the war by ballooning the deficit to be passed on to the nation’s children, the ceaseless drive to cut taxes for those outside the middle class and working poor: it is as if Bush sought to resurrect every false 1960s-era left-wing cliché about predatory imperialism and turn it into administration policy. Add to this his nation-breaking immigration proposal—Bush has laid out a mad scheme to import immigrants to fill any job where the wage is so low that an American can’t be found to do it—and you have a presidency that combines imperialist Right and open-borders Left in a uniquely noxious cocktail.

The now-missing explosives were seen during invasion

The ultra-high explosives that has been the subject this week were in fact seen by the invading U.S. forces, and filmed by one of the embedded news crews. They just released the tape.

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS video may be linked to missing explosives in Iraq
Apologies for the hype, but this is a local TV station in Minneapolis and it was their news crew apparently who did the filming. story here

The filming was done on April 18, 2003 according to the news report. While they don't have a positive identification that what they filmed is the now-missing explosive, the description makes it likely.

So far as I'm concerned, it's just another nail in the coffin of the credibility (or lack thereof) of the Bush administration.

Except... what about this statement by a U.S. State department official?

Russia tied to Iraq's missing arms

(By Bill Gertz; THE WASHINGTON TIMES; Published October 28, 2004)

John A. Shaw, the deputy undersecretary of defense for international technology security, said in an interview that he believes the Russian troops, working with Iraqi intelligence, "almost certainly" removed the high-explosive material that went missing from the Al-Qaqaa facility, south of Baghdad.

"The Russians brought in, just before the war got started, a whole series of military units," Mr. Shaw said. "Their main job was to shred all evidence of any of the contractual arrangements they had with the Iraqis. The others were transportation units."


Al-Qaqaa, a known Iraqi weapons site, was monitored closely, Mr. Shaw said.
"That was such a pivotal location, Number 1, that the mere fact of [special explosives] disappearing was impossible," Mr. Shaw said. "And Number 2, if the stuff disappeared, it had to have gone before we got there."

er... okay.... so what about the news crew that apparantly filmed the explosives on April 18? If this was such an important site, then why is there news article after news article quoting military commanders saying they drove by the Al Qaqaa but didn't have orders to check the place out or secure it?

Such as ...

No Check of Bunker, Unit Commander Says


Published: October 27, 2004
(NY Times)

The commander, Col. Joseph Anderson, of the Second Brigade of the Army's 101st Airborne Division, said he did not learn until this week that the site, Al Qaqaa, was considered sensitive, or that international inspectors had visited it before the war began in 2003 to inspect explosives that they had tagged during a decade of monitoring.

Colonel Anderson, who is now the chief of staff for the division and who spoke by telephone from Fort Campbell, Ky., said his troops had been driving north toward Baghdad and had paused at Al Qaqaa to make plans for their next push.

"We happened to stumble on it,'' he said. "I didn't know what the place was supposed to be. We did not get involved in any of the bunkers. It was not our mission. It was not our focus. We were just stopping there on our way to Baghdad. The plan was to leave that very same day. The plan was not to go in there and start searching. It looked like all the other ammunition supply points we had seen already."

And this...

4 Iraqis Tell of Looting at Munitions Site in '03


Published: October 28, 2004
(NY Times)

The Iraqis described an orgy of theft so extensive that enterprising residents rented their trucks to looters. But some looting was clearly indiscriminate, with people grabbing anything they could find and later heaving unwanted items off the trucks.

...The mechanic, Ahmed Saleh Mezher, said employees asked the Americans to protect the site but were told this was not the soldiers' responsibility.

... But the accounts make clear that what set off much if not all of the looting was the arrival and swift departure of American troops, who did not secure the site after inducing the Iraqi forces to abandon it.

"The looting started after the collapse of the regime," said Wathiq al-Dulaimi, a regional security chief, who was based nearby in Latifiya. But once it had begun, he said, the booty streamed toward Baghdad.

...Mr. Mezher, the mechanic, said it took the looters about two weeks to disassemble heavy machinery at the site and carry that off after the smaller items were gone.

Like I said, the Bush administration is suffering from a lack of credibility. They have for a long time.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Missing high-explosives ("nuke-stuff")

This is an update to the More missing 'nuke-stuff' story. In summary, the Iraqi's had 400 tons of ultra-high explosives that the weapons inspectors knew about. These explosives can be used in nuclear bombs, or as conventional explosives, and are extremely highly explosive. Unfortunately the stuff went missing after the invasion, over a year and a half ago, and just now we're learning that this stuff was missing.

At first the story was "during the invasion, our troops looked but didn't find anything under U.N. seal". Now a different story is emerging. Negligence.

Spokesman for military unit at Al-Qaqaa says there was no search for explosives
Wednesday October 27, 2004
Associated Press Writer

First, this establishes that the explosives were there at the time of the invasion:

The explosives at Al-Qaqaa had been housed in storage bunkers at the facility. U.N. nuclear inspectors placed fresh seals over the bunker doors in January 2003. The inspectors visited Al-Qaqaa for the last time on March 15, 2003 and reported that the seals were not broken therefore, the weapons were still there at the time. The team then pulled out of the country in advance of the invasion.

The invasion happened a little later in March, 2003

Next, what happened when U.S. troops arrived on the scene? And, remember, they were in the middle of an invasion actively fighting with hostile troops.

When troops from the 101st Airborne Division's 2nd Brigade arrived at the Al-Qaqaa installation south of Baghdad a day or so after other coalition troops seized the capital on April 9, 2003, there were already looters throughout the facility, Lt. Col. Fred Wellman, deputy public affairs officer for the unit, told The Associated Press.

The soldiers "secured the area they were in and looked in a limited amount of bunkers to ensure chemical weapons were not present in their area," Wellman wrote in an e-mail to The Associated Press. "Bombs were found but not chemical weapons in that immediate area."

"Orders were not given from higher to search or to secure the facility or to search for HE type munitions, as they (high-explosive weapons) were everywhere in Iraq," he wrote.

The 101st Airborne was at least the second military unit to arrive at Al-Qaqaa after the U.S.-led invasion began. Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman told The Washington Post that the 3rd Infantry Division reached the site around April 3, fought with Iraq forces and occupied the site. It left after two days for Baghdad, the Post reported Wednesday.

This material was specifically mentioned to U.S. forces by the IAEA as something to guard carefully. How could it be there was no orders to find and secure this material? Why, negligence, that's how.

Criminal negligence.

And the people responsible? It was U.S. troops, so ultimately it is the Commander In Chief who is responsible, yes?

And what is he responsible for? As he and his cronies has warned, Iraq had materials which if given to "the terrorists" could cause great harm in the world. This explosive is one such example. Of course most countries in the world have materials of this sort, because every country is charged with defending its own borders against attack, etc. By invading Iraq and disbanding its military, the U.S.A. took on the role of defending Iraq. Who knows where this explosive material went, and that's the problem. It could well have gone to "the terrorists" who may be planning some heinous act with this stuff. It was U.S. responsibility to control this, and we failed. Our President failed us.

Monday, October 25, 2004

More missing "nuke-stuff"

Huge Cache of Explosives Vanished From Site in Iraq By JAMES GLANZ, WILLIAM J. BROAD and DAVID E. SANGER
nytimes (registration required)

This story is about more missing stuff that could be used to make nuclear weapons. In this case it is an ultra-high-explosive known as HMX, stored at a huge ammo-dump in Iraq. HMX is used in both conventional and nuclear weapons, in nuclear weapons it helps ignite nuclear reactions.

The presence of the explosive in Iraq was well known, and had been under IAEA seal before the invasion. The IAEA warned the U.S.A. to guard that material, but the military did not. This is one of the dual-use materials which GW Bush had cited as justification for the invasion, and therefore it is strange-seeming that it was not carefully guarded.


Earlier this month, in a letter to the I.A.E.A. in Vienna, a senior official from Iraq's Ministry of Science and Technology wrote that the stockpile disappeared after early April 2003 because of "the theft and looting of the governmental installations due to lack of security."

Of course, this just makes one wonder why the IAEA waited until last month to say anything.

In any case, this is to my eye yet another failing of the administrations war effort. At the time of the invasion there was rampant looting - such as the dissappearance of historical artifacts from the Iraqi museums documenting the history in the area we view as the cradle of modern civilization. But we now know it wasn't just art museums that were looted, but military storage areas (e.g. the yellowcake Iraq did have was looted since the war). And just what did the invaders rush to protect first? It was the oil ministry.

By invading the country we took responsibility for that country. We failed miserably.

Kerry's patriotism and courage

John Kerry deserves to be the next President of the United States. While I fault him for voting to approve the war in Iraq, I believe he is the perfect person to lead this country at this time.

By way of example let me point to a story of John Kerry and his courage.

How John Kerry exposed the Contra-cocaine scandal

Derided by the mainstream press and taking on Reagan at the height of his popularity, the freshman senator battled to reveal one of America's ugliest foreign policy secrets.

By Robert Parry

This is a story from the 1980's. Remember the fight in Nicaragua, with the Contra forces fighting to overthrow that government? The story that eventually became the Iran-Contra scandal?

In early 1986, the 42-year-old Massachusetts Democrat stood almost alone in the U.S. Senate demanding answers about the emerging evidence that CIA-backed Contras were filling their coffers by collaborating with drug traffickers then flooding U.S. borders with cocaine from South America.

Kerry assigned members of his personal Senate staff to pursue the allegations. He also persuaded the Republican majority on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to request information from the Reagan-Bush administration about the alleged Contra drug traffickers.

In taking on the inquiry, Kerry challenged President Ronald Reagan at the height of his power, at a time he was calling the Contras the "moral equals of the Founding Fathers." Kerry's questions represented a particular embarrassment to Vice President George H.W. Bush, whose responsibilities included overseeing U.S. drug-interdiction policies.

John Kerry broke that story, by having his own staff investigate it.

The Contra's were up to their eyeballs in aiding the drug trade, so that it would give them more money for their fight. Remember the anti-drug rhetoric of the time?

Apparently hypocrisy and lies are not new with this administration, but have been part of politics for awhile.

In 1984 Congress explicitly forbade aid to the Contras. Yet the Administration kept arranging for aid to the Contras, eventually leading to illegal arms sales to Iraq the profits from which were funneled to the Contras. Yes, we sold arms to Iraq and a few years later invaded Iraq. Somehow it's fitting that "1984" appears at the beginning of this paragraph.

I won't go into all the details - the author of the story as a journalist of that era was heavily involved in covering this same story, and since wrote a book giving all the details: Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & 'Project Truth'

What I am wanting to say is how this is a perfect example of why John Kerry is the best man to be president at this time. He has several times over his life risked his career in publicly challenging the powers that be to stand for the truth.

Today we are suffering from the lies and mistakes of the powers that be. Today we need for those powers to be challenged.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Bush supporters need a reality lesson

Bush Supporters Still Believe Iraq Had WMD or Major Program, Supported al Qaeda This and other fallacies have been shown to be believed by the majority of Bush supporters, while the majority of Kerry supporters know it to be false.

A recent study
by Program on International Policy Attitudes
shows how divergent are the opinions held by Bush and Kerry supporters.

One of the authors of the study has this to say: "To support the president and to accept that he took the US to war based on mistaken assumptions likely creates substantial cognitive dissonance, and leads Bush supporters to suppress awareness of unsettling information about prewar Iraq."

Cognitive dissonance is no doubt a $50 word for the "huh?" factor that happens when you learn a strongly held belief is false.

All I can say is "hurry up and learn the truth already"!!!

Israel May Have Iran in Its Sights

Israel May Have Iran in Its Sights By Laura King Times Staff Writer

Oh, lovely. Israel is worried that an Iran owning nuclear weapons is going to threaten their existance. And they are ready to preemptively attack Iran.

Israel did, after all, preemptively attack Iraq for the same reason.

Today, if Israel were to attack Iran, I can't see anything good coming from it as it would only incite the situation even further.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Project Censored: 2004 report

Project Censored ( is a research organization based in Sonoma County CA dedicated to exposing newsworthy stories that do not get covered by the mainstream press. Every year they publish a list of 25 under-reported stories.

Censored 2004: The Top 25 Censored Media Stories of 2002-2003


#1: The Neoconservative Plan for Global Dominance

(my coverage: Iraq War "background material")

The story is that the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), a think tank founded by such luminaries as Paul Wolfowitz, Donald Rumsfield, and Richard Perle (among others; most of whom are now holding positions of High Power) have been cooking plans to invade first Iraq, then Iran, then Syria, all in the name of exerting American Supremacy, and to install moderate regimes in the middle of the Middle East.

The war for Iraq has nothing to do with Terrorism, and everything to do with Oil.

#2: Homeland Security Threatens Civil Liberty

Just what has the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) been formed to do? Just what are they doing? Just what are the provisions of the PATRIOT Act, which was passed during a state of stress shortly after the September 11, 2001 attacks, and which did not recieve proper debate in congress?

Apparently DHS has drastically stronger powers of domestic survellience and impositions on civil liberties.

There are calls for the repeal of the Posse Comitatus Act, which is what prevents the Military from being used as a domestic police force.

#3: US Illegally Removes Pages from Iraq U.N. Report

During the events leading to the launching of the war in Iraq (my coverage), demands were made to the Iraqi government to come clean on all the UN Resolutions on which they had not yet come clean. For example, declaring their weapons, submitting to inspections, etc.

They submitted a 11,800 page report. The U.S. "helpfully" offered to photocopy the report, because of faster turnaround time in U.S. publishing facilities. Well, somehow 8,000 pages of the report did not get delivered to the U.N. from the U.S. publishing facilities, however Iraq unnofficially delivered the full report to various journalists and others primarily in Europe.

What's in the missing pages? Documentation of the Regan and Bush I governments complicity in arming Iraq. Hmmm...

#4: Rumsfeld's Plan to Provoke Terrorists

A secret counter-terror plan to plant covert counter-intelligence agents. One of their strategies is to provoke terrorist groups into making attacks, giving an excuse to attack those terrorist groups.

#5: The Effort to Make Unions Disappear

Various U.S. administration actions to weaken Unions. The prevalent excuse is national security.

#6: Closing Access to Information Technology

Changing telecommunications rules surrounding access to the Internet, as well as the rise of Broadband connections, together are spelling Doom for independant Internet Service Providers (ISP's). Quickly, rather than wide choices of service providers, the market is quickly narrowing to few choices, partly through FCC actions.

#7: Treaty Busting by the United States

The U.S. administration is either blatantly violating or gradually subverting at least 9 international treaties to which the U.S. is a signatory.

#8: US/British Forces Continue Use of Depleted Uranium Weapons Despite Massive Evidence of Negative Health Effects

(my coverage and other coverage)

The U.S. and Britian are highly fond of DU (Depleted Uranium) amunition. It is extremely dense (that is, very heavy for the size it is) giving it great penetration capability and ability to kill tanks or other fortified thingies. Unfortunately it is Uranium, and even though it is far less radioactive than weapons grade Uranium, it is still rather poisinous.

The U.N. has classified DU munitions as illegal weapons of mass destruction.

#9: In Afghanistan: Poverty, Women's Rights, and Civil Disruption Worse than Ever

All eyes have been turned from Afghanistan to Iraq. Likewise has the attention to solving the problems of that country, and it still has no constitution, no new laws, little food, and doubtlessly little hope. Very sad.

#10: Africa Faces Threat of New Colonialism

In June 2002 the G8 nations met (well, their leaders anyway) and formed a plan to "save" Africa known as New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD). Funny thing is that no Africans were invited to the summit, so this is an outside "solution" being imposed on Africa. Doubtlessly the solution is geared to the needs of the G8 nations, opening markets for exploiting their resources for our benefit, that kind of thing. For example the U.S. currently gets 10% of its oil from Africa, and expects this to grow to 25% by 2015.

#11: U.S. Implicated in Taliban Massacre

During the war to Liberate Iraq from the Taliban, a tremendous number of fighters were incarcerated at Mazar-i-Sharif and killed there. Investigation of the mass graves and other evidence implicates U.S. forces in the massacre.

Oh, and by the way, why is it that the Taliban is still in control over much of Afghanistan?

#12: Bush Administration Behind Failed Military Coup in Venezuela

On April 11, 2002 a coup was done against the Socialist leaning leader of Venezuela. Among his actions prior to the coup was to nationalize the oil industry, and make various changes to give more rights to the people. The coup was apparently planned by U.S. CIA officials.

#13: Corporate Personhood Challenged

The fiction of corporate "person" status, and the legal rights that flow from the fiction that corporations are "persons", is part of the egregious misbalance of power in the U.S. putting average people at a great disadvantage. A few small steps were taken to undermine this legal fiction.

#14: Unwanted Refugees a Global Problem

The number of displaced asylum seekers around the world has exploded in the last 10 years. Some are "internally displaced" (driven out of their homelands, but still within their country) while others are displaced to other countries. Most are the poorest of the poor, and are the indigenous peoples of their homelands.

#15: U.S. Military's War on the Earth

The U.S. Military is a gross polluter emitting tremendous quantities of highly toxic waste material. It is not contained just to the territorial U.S., since the Military has bases in countries all around the world.

The Military is continuing to claim that if it were forced to abide by U.S. environmental laws, that would undercut readiness.

#16: Plan Puebla-Panama and the FTAA

The Free Trade Agreement for the Americas (FTAA) would extend NAFTA to the whole of North and South America. It's a wet dream of free market capitalism no doubt. It is an obvious step of the march of Globalization, for better or worse.

#17: Clear Channel Monopoly Draws Criticism

Clear Channel is a megalopoly controlling over 1200 radio stations around the U.S. There is a rising tide of criticism ranging from centralized control over the news broadcast over Clear Channel stations, to suppression of various artists (such as a supposed ban of the Dixie Chicks when they criticized the U.S. administration over the war in Iraq), and more.

Certainly the growing centralization of control over U.S. media outlets is greatly concerning.

#18: Charter Forest Proposal Threatens Access to Public Lands

The plan would "privatise" much of the federally owned forest land, turning these lands to locally controlled "trusts". The trusts would then be empowered to give greater access to corporate interests for recreational or who knows what other activities.

Sounds like more of the free market capitalism wet dreams.

#19: U.S. Dollar vs. the Euro: Another Reason for the Invasion of Iraq

An interesting and arcane study of global finance. Namely, Oil trading has traditionally been denominated in U.S. dollars. This and other things gives some measure of control by the U.S. over global trade. Except, Iraq began selling Oil denominated in Euros, and since that time the value of the Euro has climbed 17% while the U.S. dollar has fallen in value.

Did the U.S. invade Iraq to change this, and force Iraq to sell its Oil denominated in U.S. dollars?

#20: Pentagon Increases Private Military Contracts

While Dick Cheney was Bush I's Defense Secretary, he awarded a contract to Halliburton to “study and then implement the privatization of routine army functions.”

Dick Cheney then became CEO of Halliburton. During that time Halliburton bought Kellog, Brown & Root, a Defense contractor.

Dick Cheney then became U.S. Vice President. In the fallout of the Iraq war, Halliburton (via the Brown & Root subsidiary) is being awarded many no-bid contracts for operations in Iraq.

More free market capitalism wet dreams? Is "crony capitalism" part of the free market?

#21: Third World Austerity Policies: Coming Soon to a City Near You

Globalization, supposedly the savior force for us all. One way this plays out in the world is that third world countries in debt trouble often turn to the IMF or World Bank, and then are forced to follow a four stage series of reforms. The formula includes Capital-market liberalization, privatization, market-based pricing, and, finally, the introduction of “free trade.”

The formula is being applied to the U.S. as well. God save us all.

#22: Welfare Reform Up For Reauthorization, but Still No Safety Net

President Clinton pushed for "Welfare Reform" to change the way public aid worked, or didn't work as some claimed. Welfare agencies around the country became more like employment centers as a result.

The reform legislation is up for renewal in 2003, but the Bush Administration is appearing to deny renewing the plan. This would greatly cut back money given to the local agencies.

#23: Argentina Crisis Sparks Cooperative Growth

The IMF reform recipe had driven Argentina bankrupt. The Argentine President had frozen everybody's bank accounts, and massive shortages and closures of businesses and more resulted. Their President was forced out of power, and the following President defaulted on loan payments.

The unemployed people have begun to take over the country on their own. They are collectively running various factories, paying off the debts owed by the factories, etc. They have formed local assemblies to coordinate things. They have formed secondary currencies that are outside the official currency of the country. And more, generally they are forming grass roots real democracy, and along the way rebuilding their country.

#24: Aid to Israel Fuels Repressive Occupation in Palestine

U.S. aid to Israel is being spent to support the illegal occupation of Palestinian land and superceding of their rights.

#25: Convicted Corporations Receive Perks Instead of Punishment

Convicted corporations such as Enron and Worldcom are still receiving federal contracts. This despite a Clinton era rule prohibiting companies convicted of illegal activities from receiving federal contracts. You see, the Bush administration quietly negated that rule.

President Enr(er..)Bush received most of his campaign contributions from Enron.

Review: Will they trust us again?

This is another gem by Michael Moore, author of several books and movies unveiling some of the ragged truth about modern America. Will they trust us again is nothing more than page after page of letters from the troops.

These are shockingly raw letters talking of lost lives, interrupted dreams, rage at being misused for a war with such shaky premise, and more.

These are the troops who are supposedly all gung-ho fighters, republican to the core, supporting the commander in chief, and so on. Yet letter after letter talks of betrayal by their commanders, and in some cases how they hate their commander in chief.

To be sure the letters speak of dissension in the ranks. There are many gung-ho fighters in the military fully in support of what they're doing in Iraq and elsewhere. It's clear from this book that there are many dissillusioned fighters in that very same military, hating what they are being forced to do, perhaps even hating who they have become.

For example

I hate the army and my job. I am supposed to get out next February but will now be unable to because the asshole in the White House decided that now would be a great time to put a stop loss in effect for the army. So I get to do a second tour in Iraq and be away from those I love again because some asshole has the audacity to put others' lives on the line for his personal war. I thought we were the good guys.

This from an infantryman who began the war in complete support of the President and the stated goals.

("stop loss" is military jargon for the order that has gone out canceling all limits on the length of tour for all soldiers. This and other jargon is something you will learn through reading this book.)

I can't recommend this book more highly, for it will awaken you to the feelings our soldiers are going through. The news reports filtered through official journalism, or the statements by the country's leaders, well, they just cannot do justice to what our soldiers are experiencing on the ground in Iraq. It is in seeing their words, their heart and soul, that we can appreciate what they are doing.

I will warn you however, this is a very powerful book. It is full of heartrending stories. But, then, that's why I'm wholeheartedly recommending it.

Friday, October 22, 2004

The funding of the geurillas

NY Times: Estimates by U.S. See More Rebels With More Funds


October 22, 2004

Senior American officials are beginning to assemble a new portrait of the insurgency that has continued to inflict casualties on American and Iraqi forces, showing that it has significantly more fighters and far greater financial resources than had been estimated.

The article goes on to say that funding is coming from two sources. The first is the billions of dollars of Iraqi money funneled into Syrian banks before the U.S. invasion, by the Hussein government. The second is wealthy Saudi's giving money to charities that is again being funneled through Syria.

The Iraqi money is to have been expected, since it's known the Hussein government had hoarded vast quantities of money. A plausible strategy for Hussein's government to fight the U.S. occupation is for their senior fighters to fade into the woodwork, and then fight a guerilla war funded by that hoard of money.

The Saudi connection might seem strange. But it's known there's a conflict in Saudi society not all of whom wish to cooperate with the Western powers. To a large swath of Muslim societies, the presence of foreigners in their sacred land is an offense to Islam. What has funded the extremist Islamic training schools is the donations by those wealthy Saudi's.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Getting into Bush's mind

Today we have Al Gore, the man who should have been president, offering his opinion on Bush's inflexibility and strength of conviction. Unlike the Ron Suskind article from this weekend, Al Gore places his finger on ideology rather than faith. I think he is plenty smart. And while I have no doubt that his religious belief is genuine, and that it is an important motivation for many things that he does in life, as it is for me and for many of you, most of the President’s frequent departures from fact-based analysis have much more to do with right-wing political and economic ideology than with the Bible.

Speech transcript:

I tend to agree with him in some respects. The policies the Bush Administration has followed are exactly in line with the neocon agenda especially as published here:

The Project for a New American Century (
) is a thinktank whose founders are now mostly heading various branches of government, especially the Department of Defense. I'm talking about Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Bremer, etc. It is their policies which have been enacted by the Administration.

While they claim to make their decisions and have their outlook on the world based on a deep faith, it is an ideology that drives them.

Gore claims the agenda is totally out of alignment with the majority of Americans, and points to two pillars supporting this administration's efforts. One is "the economic royalists, those corporate leaders and high net worth families with vast fortunes at their disposal" who have established a vast series of institutions, think tanks, media ownership, and more, all bent on achieving a particular agenda that suits their narrow purpose. Namely, they want to live tax-free and without regulatory obstacles to their businesses. The second pillar are social conservatives who want to undo all the social progress of the last century such as removing womens right to vote, reinstituting the segragation of african-americans, and more.

Clearly those two aims are ideological rather than religious, which is Gore's point, I'm sure.

This speech by Gore is part of a series he's given critiquing the Bush administration. Like the others I've read, this is a firebrand speech. I highly recommend it. He makes a strong case for the Bush administration ignoring evidence, ignoring reason, and being extremely bad leaders as a result.

Iran Considers EU's "Last Chance" Nuclear Offer

Iran Considers EU's 'Last Chance' Nuclear Offer By Louis Charbonneau

Part of the nightmarish neocon fantasy dream ( Background material to the second gulf war ) is that the Project for a New American Century has been planning for 10+ years a megalomaniacal takeover of the middle east. They would start with Iraq, then go for either Syria or Iran. In their wake they would install moderate democracies, which would then shift the Middle East to be more complacent to the western powers.

While GW Bush has had us detoured in the Iraq folly, several acts have been happening in the sidelines. One in particular is the "nuclear weapon" question concerning Iran. Are they developing nuclear weapons or not? Does Iran have the right to invoke their sovereignty to resist inspections? What right does the world have to control the spread of nuclear weapons?

In my opinion nuclear weapons are so heinous that the world must act together to control their spread.

At the same time the background material haunts my thinking about the Iran issue. Are the neocons (who are largely in control of the decision making in this administration) being truthful in pressuring Iran about nuclear weapons? Are they making stuff up, again? Or is there a real danger?

A problem with being caught at a lie (the "case" for war ) is that it ruins your reputation. Everything you say later is tainted by the lie, and people have a harder time believing you.

For example, why is Pakistan not being pressured in the same way that Korea and Iran are? Pakistan, after all, was caught red-handed with the head guy of their nuclear weapons development program outright selling nuclear technology on the world market. Why are we coddling Pakistan, then? Would it be the oil pipeline that Michael Moore discusses in Farenheit 9/11? (that is, Uzbekistan has oil but can't get it to the sea, and there's been an oil pipeline proposal working the system for years to route the pipeline through Afghanistan and Pakistan rather than through Russia or Iran, and remind me again why we invaded Afghanistan and then gave up on the hunt for enemy#1 Osama bin Laden?)

In any case, what we have here is Iran being offered a deal. Scrap the reactors that you, Iran, are building, which have dual purpose. (The reactors they're building can be used to make weapons grade plutonium) Instead we, the west, will build you some other reactors that don't have dual-use capability.

From an anti-proliferation standpoint this is great. Especially if it remove the neocon's justification for invading Iran. The last thing we need is to create yet another war in the Middle East, we can barely fight the ones we're prosecuting right now.

Here's the core of the issue:

President Mohammad Khatami (news - web sites) said on Wednesday if Iran was guaranteed the right to develop peaceful nuclear technology, Tehran would "present everything necessary to prove that Iran will not produce an atomic bomb. But we will not give up our rights."

Influential former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani reinforced the message on Thursday as the talks were beginning, saying: "We have announced our stance repeatedly. It is irreversible."

Some diplomats say Iranian officials have never clearly explained why their oil-rich state needs nuclear energy or why they are so intent on producing nuclear fuel -- years before any Iranian atomic power facilities would be in need of such fuel.

Khatami said on Wednesday: "We cannot rely on other countries to supply our nuclear fuel as they can stop it anytime due to political pressures."

Jiggering the vote?

Over the months I've seen a few articles discussing efforts by the Republicans to play with the voting system. Using intimidation against minorities causing them to not vote, or outright tilt the percentages of republicans/democrats voting. Today has an article detailing a recent story in the news ..

Sproul play
The RNC-funded firm Sproul & Associates stands accused of lying, cheating and even destroying Democratic voter registration forms to get more Republicans to the polls.
(By Farhad Manjoo;

The story is that Sproul & Associates set up a faux voter registration drive that was geared to tilting the number of registered Republican voters. What they did is hire temp workers, instruct them to conduct a pretend voter survey, and then for anybody who indicated a preference to support Bush, to offer to register them to vote. If they indicated a preference other than Bush, to walk away.

Now, last summer I did a little impromptu voter registration drive of my own (Self-organized voter registration drives). I know, from having thought about this, from having been in the act of registering voters, that to do it in integrity you either need to

  • be up-front about your affiliation
  • register anybody

In my voter registration drive, I was willing to register anybody. I believe we all have the right to the voice that is our vote, no matter what ones political leaning. To do anything else is to be incredibly dishonest. But let's get back to the story ...

Instead Sproul & Associates organization was anything but an integrity driven voter registration operation.

In Las Vegas we have an October 13 news story of a false voter registration scheme that threw away any registration form marked "Democratic". In that case it was Voters Outreach of America, a false front-organization operated by Sproul & Associates.

In Portland OR we have a very similar story, also on October 13. [registration required to read story]

In Pittsburgh PA, well, we have the same story again. This time on October 20.

In Charleston WV there's another story, this time on August 20, of the same scheme with the same outline. To find the article go to the Charleston Gazette web site (, enter "Bragg Sproul" in the search box, and click on the "Library" button.

In Jackson County (Oregon) the story is a little different. In that case, as in several others around the country, a letter was sent to a library asking for permission to conduct a voter registration drive outside the public library. The letter claimed to be from "America Votes" but was not from the real "America Votes" but a false front organization set up by Sproul.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Whitewashing voting problems

Problems with e-voting? Blame the humans

Technology industry group says no problems with voting machines

By Paul Roberts, IDG News Service

The article refers to an press kit released by the Information Technology Association of America (ITAA) that attempts to explain possible causes for problems with voting machines.

The press kit is here:

As the Infoworld article claims, the site basically whitewashes over technical problems and tries to pin most of the problems on us poor humans.

Well, gee, since when do we have to bend over backwards to kowtow to the limitations of the machines? We're building these machines for our use, to help us, so why shouldn't we expect the machines to be an aid to us rather than a hindrance?

In this case we have to consider what it means to hold an election, and how we can have mechanical assistance that helps us run the elections the way we need them to be run.

For example: votes must be anonymous, votes must be recountable, the system must be reliable, we the people must be able to trust the result, therefore the system must be resistant to tampering, the system must represent the peoples will, etc

Those are a few requirements that come off the top of my head.

A system that does not produce a paper trail is not trustworthy. This is because the bits stored in a computer can be tampered with, but paper is not tamperable.

Here's how I would like to see voting machines be: You'd have a touch screen system designed by human-computer-interface specialists who are given freedom to properly design the user interface for understandability. The voters use the touch screen system, and select their votes. In addition there is ample opportunity for them to "write-in" candidates of their choosing. Next, when the vote is finished, what's produced is a sheet of paper out of a laser printer. The voting machine doesn't tabulate into a central database, instead it's kept standalone. The sheet of paper has the voters vote written in words on the paper, but they formatted for easy scanability. The paper ballot is turned into the election official. At the end of the day the ballots are trucked to a central location, and scanned in.

Such a system should be more reliable than the punch-card systems that have been used, and still preserve recountability as well as the other requirements I listed above.

Obsessed with the numbers? ( has an article going over the latest poll numbers and advice on interpreting them. What's more useful is they give a list of sites that summarize the polling numbers for you.

Electoral Vote Predictor 2004( uses the latest poll from each state, regardless of the poll's credibility, and awards a state to whoever is leading in the latest poll, no matter by how much.

USA Today's battleground state tracker ( also uses the latest polls, but it seems to refrain from painting a state red or blue until there's a consensus in the polls beyond their margins of error.

Washington Post's Electoral College map ( is a somewhat slower-moving and subjective affair, combining recent polling with analysis from the likes of David Broder.

CBS News electoral vote map ( doesn't describe its analysis method.

Or you could just wait for two more weeks, yes?

CIA "sitting on" damning 9/11 report

Bush suppresses damning CIA report on 9/11
Intelligence official says a report that is "very embarrassing for the administration" is being withheld from Congress until after the election. By Robert Scheer

Robert Scheer's article cites an intelligence official (unnamed) saying a very damning 9/11 report, that "names names", has been ready for release since June 2004. But it is being witheld despite the fact that Congress specifically requested this report two years ago.

It's easy to see this in the worst light possible, as Scheer does. He implies the report must be so damaging, that the dissent-shy Bush administration would obviously suppress the report. The source is claiming they're waiting until after the election ... for obvious reasons.

"It is infuriating that a report which shows that high-level people were not doing their jobs in a satisfactory manner before 9/11 is being suppressed," an intelligence official who has read the report told me, adding that "the report is potentially very embarrassing for the administration, because it makes it look like they weren't interested in terrorism before 9/11, or in holding people in the government responsible afterward."

The stated topic of the report is most interesting, and we all would like to see this:

"What all the other reports on 9/11 did not do is point the finger at individuals, and give the how and what of their responsibility. This report does that," said the intelligence official. "The report found very senior-level officials responsible."

According to Scheer's source, the only valid reason to withhold a report like this is "national security". But this escape hole hasn't even been invoked. They're simply witholding it.

In the absence of evidence the mind wants to fill the void with ...what? In this case we all have the worst suspicions possible, don't we? I, for example, have already called for the impeachment of President Bush on the skimpy evidence available to me. I certainly don't have the whole story, and look where the void of hard evidence has led me?

To be sure, the evidence we do have in the public is already very damning. I did not call for President Bush's impeachment lightly, but it was only after assuring myself it was highly likely he and his administration have been lying through their teeth for years. After all, if lying about sexual escapades warrants impeachment, then so does lying to create a war.

In any case, that's all the meaning this gives us. A lack of truth, and wishing for the truth to be revealed. As the golden rule says, thems that gots the gold makes the rules. Heavy sigh.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

More dogma from the Bush administration

This article

Without a Doubt


is one source of the quotes in John K. Galbraith's Salon article.

It's a long article that goes through the issue many ways. That Bush makes his decisions based on instinct or gut reactions that he believes come from his Faith in God.

As Kerry put it in the debates, ''you can be certain and be wrong.''

Dogma versus evidence in leadership

James K. Galbraith has an interesting critique of GW Bush in (

"You can't run the world on faith"

Some Reagan conservatives decry Bush's "Messianic" approach and preference for dogma over evidence.

Here's how it goes. It seems that GW Bush has no doubt about his leadership, even in the face of clear and completely credible evidence that the invasion of Iraq was a drastically bad mistake. The question is, why? He's not an idiot.

Galbraith quotes three different Reagan-era Republicans of note with their theories:

  • He's driven by blind faith in a mission given to him by God. Basically: "kill them all and let God sort it out"
  • The demand to not fail at war creates an ultimate demand for lock-step consensus with whatever Bush says
  • He's 'woefully misinformed'

The last is especially interesting because it's well known that Bush in particular does not directly read newspapers or watch the news. And, it seems it's not just GW Bush, but also Donald Rumsfeld

This article is from the Princeton Alumni Weekly and gives a capsule summary of Rummie's life at Princeton. It's interesting to mull what's said about him from that time, and compare with what is happening now:

“With Rummy, right was always right,” says Somers Steelman ’54, explaining his ex-roommate’s sense of morality. “He was a great one for ‘What works?’” Steelman adds. “There was no esoteric thinking about ‘What could be?’”

[He was a champion wrestler]: He was characteristically preemptive, refusing to wait for a chance to exploit an opponent’s weaknesses, preferring instead to initiate the action and make his opponent react to him.

Stevens recalls Rumsfeld chiding his friends for wasting their time reading a daily newspaper. Just read the Sunday paper and a good weekly news magazine and you’ll get all the information on world affairs you need, he told them.

Whatever the issue, it's not just Bush but the whole team. Here in these quotes about Rumsfeld we see echos of todays Administration actions.

Monday, October 18, 2004

When will the "war on terror" be over?

The 'war on terror' is being used as the justification for removing our civil liberties. Okay, so in previous wars civil liberties had been removed, and then put back into place after the war. But this kind of war has a nameless enemy and a seemingly endless timeline, so how can you know when the war is 'over' so you can replace the lost liberties?

Court: Terror Fears Can't Curb 'Liberty' (Sun Oct 17, 6:50 AM ET) By C.G. WALLACE, Associated Press Writer (

The above story is about protesters making their annual trek to the School of the Americas for their protest against its apparently eggregious practices. They claim the school has been training the ugly dictator regimes in Central and South America in their ugly torture habits and death squads and the whole rest of the nasty ugly mess that's gone for decades by U.S. supported regimes.

However... the local police wanted to restrict their right to protest, and to make them pass through metal dectors before being allowed to protest, etc. The claim? In a time of war, one has to be more careful.

However... the judicial panel which heard the case said:

"We cannot simply suspend or restrict civil liberties until the War on Terror is over, because the War on Terror is unlikely ever to be truly over," Judge Gerald Tjoflat wrote for the panel. "Sept. 11, 2001, already a day of immeasurable tragedy, cannot be the day liberty perished in this country."

Yay! a voice of reason!

Sunday, October 10, 2004

How the White House Embraced Disputed Arms Intelligence or "Theoretically you can rebuild your Yugo into a Cadillac"

How the White House Embraced Disputed Arms Intelligence or "Theoretically you can rebuild your Yugo into a Cadillac"

Given the already known weak reporting of the NY Times (see the May 24, 2004 posting below) it is curious they are publishing this article. This long article details the back and forth between different factions in the government over the Uranium Tube question. Those tubes were at the heart of the claim that Iraq had continued its nuclear development program, and thereby deserved the invasion that has since happened. According to the article the use off the aluminum tubes for uranium enrichment was proposed by a sole CIA analyst, while the rest of the intelligence establishment argued against that position. For example the tubes are very narrow and long and much thicker than tubes generally used in centrifuges. Instead the size and shape and materials exactly match tubes used for years in Iraqi rockets. Further, they are anodized aluminum, and the anodization coating would interact with the uranium gas interfering with the centrifuge process. Finally, the Iraqi's had previously run a uranium enrichment program, and had used tubes of a very different and much more suitable design, so why would they take a step backwards to use completely innapropriate tubes? Obviously these are not centrifuge tubes, but are rocket parts, and the Administration knew this very well. But, the article goes on to say, the story which reached President Bush's ear was only that the tubes could be used for centrifuges, so one wonders who was pulling the wool over the Presidents eyes and why? Interestingly the article details how it was the NY Times, on Sep 8, 2002, which broke the Aluminum Tubes story, especially interesting considering the May 24, 2004 posting below about the NY Times reporter Judith Miller working hand in hand with Ahmed Chalabi and the Neocons to promote the propoganda required to launch the war in Iraq. "The closer he gets to a nuclear capability, the more credible is his threat to use chemical and biological weapons," a senior administration official was quoted as saying. "Nuclear weapons are his hole card." The article [referring to the Sep 8, 2002 story] gave no hint of a debate over the tubes.

Friday, October 8, 2004

Disturbing thoughts on Iraq & the war

Just read this article, You Call That a Major Policy Address? and am having several disturbing ideas.

The article starts off complaining about the weakness of the Bush Administrations statements this week. As the article says, "Most presidents would want to deliver, right about now, a major address on the war against terror and the war in Iraq. In the last few days, one blow after another has struck the very foundations of Bush's policies. The fact that, under the circumstances, Bush didn't deliver a major policy address after all, despite his advance word, should embarrass not only CNN and MSNBC but, still more, President Bush."

But, wait, there's more. It's not just the recounting of this weeks blows to the Bush Administration. They are serious blows, such as Paul Bremer claiming we didn't have enough troops on the ground to do the job properly in Iraq. Nor the NY Times analysis of the aluminum-tubes-for-uranium-centrifuge claim which was a key part of the administration's justification for the war (they with their mushroom cloud rhetoric).

No, the most disturbing part of the article is discussion of Zarqawi, his al Qaeda affiliated movement in Iraq, and the U.S. plans to bomb his camps in northern Iraq. Zarqawi has been held to be the mastermind of the geurilla activity against the U.S. occupation of Iraq. In the past pattern the U.S. has followed of demonizing enemies, Zarqawi is the new demon (with Saddaam Hussein and Osama bin Laden having filled this role before).

But, wait, the article says that the U.S. had plans to bomb his camps before the invasion (NBC News, March 2004). Having removed Zarqawi from the scene early would have done two things. It would have made the current activities in Iraq easier, well, that's assuming that the administration is being truthful about Zarqawi's activities today. In any case, if his organization in Iraq had been removed early then they wouldn't have been able to do anything today. Well, except that during the invasion Hussein's special forces threw down their arms and faded into the woodwork largely uncaptured, so perhaps those special forces would have regrouped and formed a geurilla organization anyway, and as a matter of point maybe it is those special forces which have formed the current geurilla organization fighting U.S. occupation?

The second thing removing Zarqawi's organization would have done is to remove the justification for invading Iraq. See, one of the claims we presented to the world justifying the war in Iraq (Colin Powells speech to the U.N. Security Council) was that Iraq and al Qaeda were in cahoots, and had planned the 9/11 attack together. The claim was based on the presence of Zarqawi's group, Ansar al-Islam, in northern Iraq. However, as I discussed on my own web site in August 2003, that claim along with the rest of Powells claims were bunk. In particular Zarqawi's group operated in far northern Iraq, near the Iran border, in an area more controlled by Kurdish and U.S. forces than the Iraqi forces. Ansar al-Islam could hardly have been in Iraq under blessing from Saddam Hussein or his government, because his government did not control the territory that Zarqawi operated from. Further it's known that Zarqawi saw Hussein and his government as an enemy just as they view the U.S. as an enemy.

As the article says, the U.S. could have removed Zarqawi but didn't so that the justification for the war in Iraq would be preserved.

Now, here's where my thinking gets very disturbed. The refusal to do much about al Qaeda and its affiliate groups goes further back than Zarqawi and his group in Iraq.

The Bush family and other U.S. elite have long-running ties to the Saudi elite, including the bin Laden family. The ties were presented to the public in Fahrenheit 9/11 relying on Craig Unger and his book House of Bush, House of Saud for sourcing material. For example GHW Bush has been a lead partner with the Carlysle Group, a company in which the bin Laden family had a lot of investment. Also GW Bush was bailed out of his financial troubles while failing at various business by one or more of the bin Laden brothers.

Next, Osama bin Laden started the mujahadeen movement in Afghanistan to push the Russians out. This was covered in Richard Clarkes book Against All Enemies. Osama had approval from the highest of Saudi royalty to set up the operation in Afghanistan. The U.S. provided material and training to his troops, but had to do the supply and training activities in Pakistan to keep U.S. troops from entering Afghanistan and risking being in direct conflict with Russian troops. The funding came from the Saudi elite in general.

The Wahabi Islamic movement is the fundamentalist arm of Islam. They are kind of like the rabid Christian fundamentalists who bomb abortion clinics and the like in the U.S. The Wahabi's get a lot of funding from the same Saudi elite, and it is from the Wahabi schools which Osama draws his troops.

Most of the 9/11 activists were Saudi nationals.

The Bush administration stonewalled indepth investigation of the 9/11 tragedy. In Florida in 2000, the Bush campaign actively courted support from Islamics including Sami al-Arian who was at the time accused of being a terrorist funder and organizer, and has since been arrested and put on trial.

In other words, what's really going on here? Why are the Saudi connected terrorist organizations being given leeway and not attacked as completely as they might? Why was the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, for which we had broad international support, so under staffed, under funded, and did not succeed in removing the Taliban nor al Qaeda from power? That is, why is Hamid Kharzai little more than the mayor of Kabul, why have the elections in Afghanistan never happened, and why is there still fighting going on there?

Sunday, October 3, 2004

Greg Palast and his work

Greg Palast is an American Journalist whose research and writing is so hot that he is unable to get published in America. Instead he works for a British newspaper.

This makes it tough when, as he describes in The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, that he has an important breaking story that needs to break in America. In that case it was November and December 2000, and as you may recall the election was in the process of being decided by the Supreme Court. The story he had, which needed to break, was that the 500 some odd votes in GW Bush's lead was only the tip of the iceberg. The truth was that the whole vote appeared to be rigged.

The story has been told in Fahrenheit 9/11, so I'll just repeat the essentials. Kathleen Harris, GW Bush's campaign chairman in Florida and also the Florida Secretary of State, was in an interesting position. As Secretary of State she oversaw the conduct of the election, an election in which she was the campaign charman of a major candidate. Florida denies the right to vote to any convicted felon living in the state, even after the person has served their time and probation. Therefore, as Secretary of State she was in charge of finding any felons on the voter roles, and purging them from the rolls. For the 2000 election the process was very broad and ended up mislabeling in the neighborhood of 50,000 African Americans as felons when they were not. Since African Americans tend to vote overwhelmingly for the Democrats, it's likely a large portion of those 50,000 voters would have, if allowed to vote, voted for Al Gore.

Clearly if this had broken in any significant way while the parties were arguing in Florida, the outcome might have been very different. Yet, Greg Palast was unable to get the story published in America, except for an early version of the story on the website.

Palast comes to Journalism with an interesting background. He had formerly been an Economist, and had been trained in Economics by Milton Friedman (the eminent free-market economist). As a Journalist his background in Economics enables him to grasp complex stories, digging into the details, and come out with a descriptive style suited to lay audiences. He is also very much a muckraker, and seems to enjoy that role. If he lived in Russia he'd be dead by now.

Amazon Logo