23 December 2005

Mosques monitored for radiation: report

Fri Dec 23, 2005 4:28 PM ET
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. officials have secretly monitored radiation levels at Muslim sites, including mosques and private homes, since September 11, 2001 as part of a top secret program searching for nuclear bombs, U.S. News and World Report said on Friday.
"In numerous cases, the monitoring required investigators to go on to the property under surveillance, although no search warrants or court orders were ever obtained, according to those with knowledge of the program," the magazine said.
An FBI spokesman declined to confirm or deny the U.S. News and World Report article and said, "We can't talk about a classified program."

"The FBI's overriding priority is to prevent, disrupt and defeat terrorist operations in the U.S. All investigations and operations conducted by the FBI are intelligence driven and predicated on specific information about potential criminal acts or terrorist threats, and are conducted in strict conformance with federal law," he added.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations advocacy group said the report, coupled with news of the domestic eavesdropping, "could lead to the perception that we are no longer a nation ruled by law, but instead one in which fear trumps constitutional rights."

"All Americans should be concerned about the apparent trend toward a two-tiered system of justice, with full rights for most citizens, and another diminished set of rights for Muslims," it said in a statement.
Vice President Dick Cheney was among those briefed on the monitoring program, the publication said.

22 December 2005

Boosting Democracy, On Purpose or Not

By Jim Hoagland
Thursday, December 22, 2005; A29
...the reasonable guy that Bush and his speechwriters brought forth on Sunday night vanished when the president strode into a White House news conference on Monday. He went back into combat mode to dampen the outcry over the powers of the presidency and domestic intelligence surveillance.

Not even conservatives will rush to endorse the expansive powers that Bush claims to find in the Constitution to enable the National Security Agency to evade existing law and systematically conduct wiretaps against terrorism suspects on U.S. soil without warrants.
The kind of secrecy and obsessive concern about the powers of the presidency for their own sake that this administration showed even before Sept. 11, 2001, are inconsistent with the workings of American democracy, as well as with the fragmentation of power that marks the nation-state system today.

21 December 2005

Senate Blocks Arctic Drilling Provision

Democrats Stymie Defense Bill
By William Branigin
Washington Post Staff Writer

Wednesday, December 21, 2005; 2:42 PM
The Senate today failed to pass a major defense appropriations bill after a Democratic-led bloc stymied it with a filibuster in an effort to force removal of a controversial provision on oil drilling in an Alaskan wildlife refuge.

With 60 votes needed to overcome the filibuster and cut off debate on the bill, its backers fell short by four votes. The tally on a motion to invoke cloture so the Senate could move to a vote on the bill itself was 56-44.

The Senate showdown came over a provision allowing oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), a measure that was added to the $453 billion fiscal 2006 defense appropriations bill by Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska). The bill includes money to support U.S. troops in Iraq, as well as $29 billion to help victims of Hurricane Katrina.
Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) charged on the Senate floor, "Our military is being held hostage by this issue, Arctic drilling." Calling the provision "another gift to special interests," he said, "It's time we said no to an abuse of power."

Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (D-Conn.) said that even though the bill provides vital defense funding, he was joining the filibuster on principle to prevent attachments such as the drilling provision. "If we yield to this tactic on ANWR," he said, "next year it will be someone else's pet project attached to the defense spending bill."
The provision would allow oil companies to drill in a coastal plain that covers about 1.5 million acres of the wildlife refuge, which encompasses a total of about 19 million acres in northeastern Alaska.

More than 10 billion barrels of crude oil are estimated to lie under the refuge, and President Bush has repeatedly urged that they be tapped to help ease U.S. dependence on foreign oil.

But opponents say oil drilling is incompatible with environmental protection in the refuge. Moreover, they say, the impact on the U.S. fuel supply would be minimal and would not be seen for years.

Big Leaf Maple

A photo from the archives: this big leaf maple is host to lichen and fern in the temperate rain forest of the Pacific Northwest.

19 December 2005

Iraq: as in Football, Citizens Need to Call Their Own Plays

Posted on Saturday, December 17, 2005. Looking through the goalposts at the changing nature of American freedom. Originally from The Providence Journal, Tuesday, December 6, 2005.
By John R. MacArthur.

Football aphorisms and analogies usually leave me cold—such “life lesson” clichés seem designed to pacify an already somnolent population of television-addicted zombies.

Even as a football-loving kid, I suspected there was something truly screwed up about Vince Lombardi's celebrated phrase, “Winning isn't everything; it's the only thing.”
Probably none of this would matter much to me if I hadn't played football for Martin J. “Mac” McCarty, a coach who considered excessive sideline intervention anathema to his idea of education. Call it quaint, but Mac sincerely believed that football built character in adolescent boys—that is, if you let the boys play the game. We ran a very simple offense (with some audibles), and with few exceptions Mac insisted on his quarterbacks' calling their own plays in the huddle.
After he retired, in 1988, Mac would call me occasionally to chat. Sometimes our conversation would turn to the degraded state of modern sports and society. To his horror, even North Shore football had changed for the worse: His young successor was calling all the plays from the sidelines, in total contravention of Mac's mantra of independence and initiative. “Jeez,” he would say disgustedly, “the whole point was to learn how to think for yourself out there.”
So is the top-down control of football an apt analogy for the political arena? To be sure, said Robinson. “It's part of the culture. I'm sick to death of the [overly scripted, overly managed politician] not answering the question. But the media deserves the blame, too, because they tear down anybody who says what they think.”

Which led Robinson to President Bush and his latest advertising campaign: “I pick up the paper the other day and there's Bush and the 'Plan for Victory' in Iraq.” The old coach laughed, then added, with some irony, “I wish him well—but the Plan for Victory in Iraq?”

link to original

15 December 2005

Report: Bush Had More Prewar Intelligence Than Congress

By Dafna Linzer
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, December 16, 2005; A23
A congressional report made public yesterday concluded that President Bush and his inner circle had access to more intelligence and reviewed more sensitive material than what was shared with Congress when it gave Bush the authority to wage war against Iraq.

Democrats said the 14-page report contradicts Bush's contention that lawmakers saw all the evidence before U.S. troops invaded in March 2003, stating that the president and a small number of advisers "have access to a far greater volume of intelligence and to more sensitive intelligence information."
The Bush administration has routinely denied Congress access to documents, saying it would have a chilling effect on deliberations. The report, however, concludes that the Bush administration has been more restrictive than its predecessors in sharing intelligence with Congress.

14 December 2005

Political Language Orwell Quote

"Political language ... is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind."
– George Orwell
(Quotes change daily at antiwar.com/casualties/)

12 December 2005

The 14 Worst Corporate Evildoers

A Global Exchange Report
Corporations carry out some of the most horrific human rights abuses of modern times, but it is increasingly difficult to hold them to account. Economic globalization and the rise of transnational corporate power have created a favorable climate for corporate human rights abusers, which are governed principally by the codes of supply and demand and show genuine loyalty only to their stockholders.

Several of the companies below are being sued under the Alien Tort Claims Act, a law that allows citizens of any nationality to sue in US federal courts for violations of international rights or treaties. When corporations act like criminals, we have the right and the power to stop them, holding leaders and multinational corporations alike to the accords they have signed. Around the world--in Venezuela, Argentina, India, and right here in the United States--citizens are stepping up to create democracy and hold corporations accountable to international law.

10 December 2005

Table Ware

Iraq and the Democrats

By William Rivers Pitt
t r u t h o u t | Perspective
Thursday 08 December 2005
There is a tactic in the art of debate and argument known as "Rejecting the premise." To wit: when someone tosses a straw-man into a debate, you are wise to point it out as such, instead of validating its existence by arguing against it. A perfect example of where this can apply comes in the latest round of nonsense from the far Right about a so-called "War on Christmas."

Person #1: "Do you think the liberal elite are aiding in the war against Christmas?"

Person #2: "I reject the premise. There is no war against Christmas. Christmas is doing just fine."

Here's another good one. Vice President Cheney was speaking on Tuesday to troops at Fort Drum, NY.

Cheney: "Some have suggested that by liberating Iraq, we simply stirred up a hornet's nest. They overlook a fundamental fact: We were not in Iraq, and the terrorists hit us anyway."

Me: "I reject the premise. The fact that we had not invaded Iraq had nothing whatsoever to do with 9/11. As Richard Cohen said of Cheney's comments in Thursday's Washington Post, 'Yes, and the crowing of the rooster makes the sun come up. Cause and effect is being mocked here.'"

See? It's that simple. By the way, when did you stop beating your wife?

There is a cluster of Democrats who could learn about rejecting the premise, especially when it comes to the occupation of Iraq. The most recent and galling example came after Congressman John Murtha made his courageous demand for a withdrawal from Iraq. Murtha is the guy the generals talk to, because the generals know they are wasting their breath trying to talk to Rumsfeld, Cheney or Bush. Murtha knows exactly how bad things are in Iraq. His call for withdrawal specifically said that such an action should come "at the earliest practicable date."
The rest of article is linked above.

What do you think about bringing indictments against Bush and Blair, not to mention the greater of two evils; Dick Cheney? I can think of only a few things that have the potential to benefit humanity as much as holding these men accountable for what they have permitted to happen on their watches: Bring indictments in the court of law and hold these men accountable.

09 December 2005

Pinter Lays it All Out

Pinter Lays It All Out: Indict Bush, Blair
By Matthew Rothschild
December 8, 2005
Occasionally, an award recipient will chuck the clichés and park the platitudes and actually say something meaningful, something daring.

Such a thing happened on December 7 in Stockholm, when Harold Pinter, the Nobel Prize-winner for Literature, delivered an amazing, taped address.

Taped, because he was too ill to deliver it in person.

But he was by no means weak.

He let Bush have it.

But it wasn’t just Bush.

It was Blair and Britain too, a country he called America’s “own bleating little lamb tagging behind it” on a leash.

Pinter asked, “How many people do you have to kill before you qualify to be described as a mass murderer and a war criminal? One hundred thousand?”

He said that was “more than enough,” adding, “Therefore, it is just that Bush and Blair be arraigned before the International Criminal Court of Justice.”

May I live so long!

Pinter not only assailed the Iraq War, which he called “a bandit act, an act of blatant state terrorism, demonstrating absolute contempt for the concept of international law.”

He also denounced the treatment of detainees at Guantanamo Bay.
Pinter’s theme was the abuse of language, and the abuse of power, by politicians, who, he said, “are interested not in truth but in power and in the maintenance of that power. To maintain that power it is essential that people remain in ignorance, that they live in ignorance of the truth, even the truth of their own lives. What surrounds us therefore is a vast tapestry of lives.”

At the end of his speech, he urged all of us to see through that tapestry.

Circus Court

08 December 2005

My Natal Horoscope chart (w/ transits) Courtesy of AstroDienst

AstroDienst may be the only website you need to fulfill your desire to become introduced with the field of astrology. It's really interesting, fascinating stuff - to me.

Check it out at www.astro.com.

Here's a copy of my chart.

07 December 2005

"Sweet Music" John Murtha

From Daily Kos:
Murtha versus Lieberman by kos

Wed Dec 07, 2005 at 01:21:52 PM PST

Think Progress:
Lieberman yesterday: "It is time for Democrats who distrust President Bush to acknowledge that he will be commander in chief for three more critical years and that in matters of war we undermine presidential credibility at our nation's peril." Murtha today: "Undermining his credibility? What has he said that would give him credibility?"
I eagerly await Lieberman's response.

06 December 2005

Europe's Night Aglow

more information about this computer simulated image at this link

Diebold insider alleges company plagued by technical woes, Diebold defends 'sterling' record

12/06/2005 @ 1:44 pm
Filed by Miriam Raftery
In an exclusive interview with RAW STORY, a whistleblower from electronic voting heavyweight Diebold Election Systems Inc. raised grave concerns about the company’s electronic voting technology and of electronic voting in general, bemoaning an electoral system the insider feels has been compromised by corporate privatization.

The Diebold insider, who took on the appellation “Dieb-Throat” in an interview with voting rights advocate Brad Friedman (BradBlog.com), was once a staunch supporter of electronic voting’s potential to produce more accurate results than punch cards.

But the company insider became disillusioned after witnessing repeated efforts by Diebold to evade meeting legal requirements or implementing appropriate security measures, putting corporate interests ahead of the interests of voters.
Previous revelations from the whistleblower have included evidence that Diebold’s upper management and top government officials knew of backdoor software in Diebold’s central tabulator before the 2004 election, but ignored urgent warnings—such as a Homeland Security alert posted on the Internet.

“This is a very dangerous precedent that needs to be stopped—that’s the corporate takeover of elections,” the source warned. “The majority of election directors don’t understand the gravity of what they’re dealing with. The bottom line is who is going to tamper with an election? A lot of people could, but they assume that no one will.”
California decertified Diebold TSX touch screen machines after state officials learned that the vendor had broken state election law.

“In California, they got in trouble and tried to doubletalk. They used a patch that was not certified,” the Diebold insider said. “They’ve done this many times. They just got caught in Georgia and California.”

The whistleblower is also skeptical of results from the November 2005 Ohio election, in which 88 percent of voters used touch screens and the outcome on some propositions changed as much as 40 percent from pre-election exit polls.

“Amazing,” the Diebold insider said.

Diebold is headquartered in Ohio. Its chairman Wally O’Dell, a key fundraiser for President Bush, once promised in an invitation to a Republican fundraising dinner to deliver Ohio’s electoral votes for Bush. The staffer said the company has a deep conservative culture.

“My feeling having been really deep inside the company is that initially Diebold, being a very conservative and Republican company, felt that if they controlled an election company, they could have great influence over the outcome,” the source, a registered independent, said.
The insider described a systematic process Diebold uses to woo election officials via cash doled out by lobbyists or attorneys and favors to assist budget-strapped public officials. “They promise the election directors the moon and deliver things to them that really aren’t legitimate parts of the contract.” Those promises range from providing personnel to equipping warehouses with electrical systems to recharge batteries in voting machines.

“The corporation pretty much takes over. That’s how they capture so many of these people. Diebold is making them look good and they’re not going to bite the hand that feeds them.”

Diebold creates a “monetary incentive” to stay involved via future servicing contracts after selling election equipment, the whistleblower noted, adding, “The machines are purposely complex and poorly designed.”
Diebold consultant convicted for embezzlement

The Diebold insider noted that the initial GEMS system used to tabulate votes for the Diebold Opti-scan systems was designed by Jeffrey Dean, who was convicted in the early 1990s of computer-aided embezzlement. Dean was hired by Global Election Systems, which Diebold acquired in 2000. Global also had John Elder, a convicted cocaine trafficker, on its payroll. Diebold spokesman David Bear told Citybeat that Dean left shortly after the acquisition and that Elder also left “long ago.” Black Box Voting reported that Diebold gave Elder a “golden parachute” in 2004 and that he was let go only after his criminal past was revealed by BBV and mainstream publications.

But the Diebold whistleblower told RAW STORY that Elder remained working for Diebold “as recently as the summer of this year… [Elder creates ] the paper ballots for absentee voting…They were making the ballots for the November election for sure, for all over the country.”

Bear denied that Elder is still on Diebold’s payroll as either an employee or independent contractor.

05 December 2005

The Ethics of the "Defense" Industry

Weekly Review
Posted on Tuesday, December 6, 2005. By Paul Ford.
At the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, President George W. Bush gave a speech on the Iraq war. “As Iraqi forces grow more capable,” he said, “they're increasingly taking the lead in the fight against the terrorists.” Operation Steel Hammer, intended to end Al Qaeda operations in Hit, west of Baghdad, was launched with a force of 1,500 U.S. Marines, 500 U.S. Army soldiers, and 500 Iraqi soldiers. Nineteen Iraqi soldiers were killed in an attack north of Baghdad, and ten U.S. Marines were killed by a roadside bomb in Fallujah. In New York City, a defense contractor named David H. Brooks rented out two floors of the Rainbow Room for his daughter Elizabeth's bat mitzvah. Tom Petty, Kenny G, and members of Aerosmith performed, as did 50 Cent. The total cost of the party was reported as $10 million. “Go shorty,” rapped 50 Cent, “it's your bat mitzvah, we gonna party like it's your bat mitzvah.” Two women told a reporter that Randy “Duke” Cunningham, the California Congressman who resigned after he was found to have accepted bribes from defense contractors, once changed into pajama bottoms and a turtleneck sweater and offered the women champagne by the light of a lava lamp. The House Ethics Committee had not opened a new case in the last 12 months. “I would say by the early part of January, we will be fully organized,” said Representative Alan Mollohan (D., W. Va.). “Or should be really close to that.” Senator John McCain said that he didn't think “the ethics committees are working very well.” In Tennessee a man was arrested for firing a gun at traffic while wearing only a pair of socks.
Great work, Mr. Ford.

04 December 2005

Wrongful Imprisonment: Anatomy of a CIA Mistake

German Citizen Released After Months in 'Rendition'
By Dana Priest
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, December 4, 2005; A01
In May 2004, the White House dispatched the U.S. ambassador in Germany to pay an unusual visit to that country's interior minister. Ambassador Daniel R. Coats carried instructions from the State Department transmitted via the CIA's Berlin station because they were too sensitive and highly classified for regular diplomatic channels, according to several people with knowledge of the conversation.

Coats informed the German minister that the CIA had wrongfully imprisoned one of its citizens, Khaled Masri, for five months, and would soon release him, the sources said. There was also a request: that the German government not disclose what it had been told even if Masri went public. The U.S. officials feared exposure of a covert action program designed to capture terrorism suspects abroad and transfer them among countries, and possible legal challenges to the CIA from Masri and others with similar allegations.

The Masri case, with new details gleaned from interviews with current and former intelligence and diplomatic officials, offers a rare study of how pressure on the CIA to apprehend al Qaeda members after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks has led in some instances to detention based on thin or speculative evidence. The case also shows how complicated it can be to correct errors in a system built and operated in secret.
At the CIA, the question was: Now what? Some officials wanted to go directly to the German government; others did not. Someone suggested a reverse rendition: Return Masri to Macedonia and release him. "There wouldn't be a trace. No airplane tickets. Nothing. No one would believe him," one former official said. "There would be a bump in the press, but then it would be over."

Once the mistake reached Tenet, he laid out the options to his counterparts, including the idea of not telling the Germans. Condoleezza Rice, then Bush's national security adviser, and Deputy Secretary of State Richard L. Armitage argued they had to be told, a position Tenet took, according to one former intelligence official.
Meanwhile, Masri was growing desperate. There were rumors that a prisoner had died under torture. Masri could not answer most questions put to him. He said he steadied himself by talking with other prisoners and reading the Koran.

A week before his release in late May 2004, Masri said he was visited in prison by a German man with a goatee who called himself Sam. Masri said he asked him if he were from the German government and whether the government knew he was there. Sam said he could not answer either question.
Sam told Masri he was going to be released soon but that he would not receive any documents or papers confirming his ordeal. The Americans would never admit they had taken him prisoner, Sam added, according to Masri.

On the day of his release, the prison's director, who Masri believed was an American, told Masri that he had been held because he "had a suspicious name," Masri said in an interview
Masri has been reunited with his children and wife, who had moved the family to Lebanon because she did not know where her husband was. Unemployed and lonely, Masri says neither his German nor Arab friends dare associate with him because of the publicity.

Meanwhile, a German prosecutor continues to work Masri's case. A Macedonia bus driver has confirmed that Masri was taken away by border guards on the date he gave investigators. A forensic analysis of Masri's hair showed he was malnourished during the period he says he was in the prison. Flight logs show a plane registered to a CIA front company flew out of Macedonia on the day Masri says he went to Afghanistan.

Masri can find few words to explain his ordeal. "I have very bad feelings" about the United States, he said. "I think it's just like in the Arab countries: arresting people, treating them inhumanly and less than that, and with no rights and no laws."

03 December 2005

The Revolt of the Generals

"Broken, Worn Out" and "Living Hand to Mouth"
The immense significance of Rep John Murtha's November 17 speech calling for immediate withdrawal from Iraq is that it signals mutiny in the US senior officer corps, seeing the institution they lead as "broken, worn out" and "living hand to mouth", to use the biting words of their spokesman, John Murtha, as he reiterated on December his denunciation of Bush's destruction of the Army.

A CounterPuncher with nearly 40 years experience working in and around the Pentagon told me this week that "The Four Star Generals picked Murtha to make this speech because he has maximum credibility." It's true. Even in the US Senate there's no one with quite Murtha's standing to deliver the message, except maybe for Byrd, but the venerable senator from West Virginia was a vehement opponent of the war from the outset , whereas Murtha voted for it and only recently has turned around.

So the Four-Star Generals briefed Murtha and gave him the state-of-the-art data which made his speech so deadly, stinging the White House into panic-stricken and foolish denunciations of Murtha as a clone of Michael Moore.
Listen once more to what the generals want the country to know:
"The future of our military is at risk. Our military and our families are stretched thin. Many say the Army is broken. Some of our troops are on a third deployment. Recruitment is down even as the military has lowered its standards. They expect to take 20 percent category 4, which is the lowest category, which they said they'd never take. They have been forced to do that to try to meet a reduced quota.

Ten days after Murtha's speech commentators on the tv Sunday talk shows were clambering aboard the Bring eem home bandwagon. Voices calling for America to istay the course" in Iraq were few and far between. On December 1 Murtha returned to the attack in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, telling a civic group there that he was wrong to have voted for the war and that most U.S. troops will leave Iraq within a year because the Army is "broken, worn out" and "living hand to mouth".

The stench of panic in Washington that hangs like a winter fog over Capitol Hill intensified. The panic stems from the core concern of every politician in the nation's capital: survival. The people sweating are Republicans and the source of their terror is the deadly message spelled out in every current poll: Bush's war on Iraq spells disaster for the Republican Party in next year's midterm elections.

02 December 2005

US civil rights group to sue CIA

News from the BBC
A US civil rights groups says it is taking the CIA to court to stop the transportation of terror suspects to countries outside US legal authority.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) says the intelligence agency has broken both US and international law.

It is acting for a man allegedly flown to a secret CIA prison in Afghanistan.
"The lawsuit will charge that CIA officials at the highest level violated US and universal human rights laws when they authorised agents to abduct an innocent man, detain him in incommunicado, beat him, drug and transport him to a secret CIA prison in Afghanistan," the ACLU said in a news release.

30 November 2005

Military Planting Articles in Iraq Papers

U.S. Officers Defend Program as Response to 'Information War' by Insurgents
By Josh White
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, December 1, 2005; Page A18
Positive articles about the war in Iraq written by U.S. troops have been appearing in Iraqi newspapers under the guise of independent journalism, part of a coordinated effort by the U.S. military to win over Iraqi civilians, according to military officials.

Officers in Iraq say the program is an essential element of an "information war" against an insurgency adept at spreading its message through local and international media, largely with violent acts. The newspaper articles promote the positive aspects of the United States-led coalition's work and encourage Iraqis to take part in the burgeoning democracy.

29 November 2005

Mt Rainier View from Tumwater Hill's Overlook Park

Here's a couple more views from this South Sound vista:

Looks like they're making some preparations for more townhomes:

Ethics cloud grows wider over GOP

Randy Cunningham resigned his House seat after pleading guilty to accepting bribes.
By Gail Russell Chaddock | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
WASHINGTON - Had it been an isolated incident, the resignation from Congress of California Republican Randy "Duke" Cunningham after he admitted taking a $2.4 million bribe might have been a blip on the way to a special election.

But as yet another corruption case involving prominent members of Congress, mainly Republicans, it's fueling a scandal that is opening a window on big- money politics in Washington and shifting prospects for midterm elections.
The fact that other Democrats may also be drawn into a growing influence scandal in Washington may not save Republicans from a backlash at the polls, says Julian Zelizer, a congressional historian at Boston University. "...The fact is that if you're the party in power, it falls on you," he says.
linked above to whole story

28 November 2005

Cheney's history needs a revise

Tim Rutten:
Regarding Media
IF the debate over the war in Iraq now raging across our front pages and airwaves proves nothing else, it already has demonstrated that this administration believes the people's attention span can be measured in nanoseconds and that memory has the shelf life of fresh bread.
According to the vice president, "any suggestion that prewar information was distorted, hyped, fabricated by the leader of the nation is utterly false" and the product of a "self-defeating pessimism."


Just 24 hours earlier, The Times' Bob Drogin and John Goetz had described in vivid and convincing detail how the administration exaggerated and recklessly misused intelligence concerning Hussein's alleged manufacture of biological weapons that was provided by the now notorious Iraqi defector code-named "Curveball."
Deliberately falsifying history for mere political advantage is a particularly noxious social perversion. It is, to borrow, his stingingly apt adjective, "reprehensible."

But candid recollection and sober reflection do not amount to revisionism — unless, of course, you're already committed to self-deception and determined to convince others to live with your lie.
Link to entire article.

The looting of Iraq's oil (w/ Chalabi cameo!)

The following is an excerpt from a diary on the website, Daily KOS.
Fast forward to 1999. Britain's North Sea fields and the US's Alaska fields are in decline and their is a palpable sense of urgency regarding future energy needs within both the American and British governments. Dick Cheney, head of the Halliburton corporation and soon to be Vice President of the United States, declares "While many regions of the world offer great oil opportunities, the Middle East with two thirds of the world's oil and the lowest cost, is still where the prize ultimately lies," adding, "Even though companies are anxious for greater access there, progress continues to be slow." His governmental Energy Task Force is later to proclaim that "The [Persian] Gulf will be a primary focus of of U.S. international energy policy." Similarly, a British Foreign Office strategy paper identified a key objective of British foreign policy as to "improve investment regimes and energy sector management in these regions [the Middle East, parts of Africa and the former Soviet Union], focusing on key links in the supply chain to the UK."
I am disgusted with America. Are Americans really too lazy and greedy to find alternatives that will lessen the demand for these global economy destabilizing petroleum products? The people's actions today, may be condemning future generations to a relative poverty. Think about it. How do you feel about that?

Here's a link to the original story.

27 November 2005

A Journey That Ended in Anguish

Col. Ted Westhusing, a military ethicist who volunteered to go to Iraq, was upset by what he saw. His apparent suicide raises questions.
By T. Christian Miller, Times Staff Writer
"War is the hardest place to make moral judgments."
Col. Ted Westhusing, Journal of Military Ethics
WASHINGTON — One hot, dusty day in June, Col. Ted Westhusing was found dead in a trailer at a military base near the Baghdad airport, a single gunshot wound to the head.

The Army would conclude that he committed suicide with his service pistol. At the time, he was the highest-ranking officer to die in Iraq.

The Army closed its case. But the questions surrounding Westhusing's death continue.

Westhusing, 44, was no ordinary officer. He was one of the Army's leading scholars of military ethics, a full professor at West Point who volunteered to serve in Iraq to be able to better teach his students. He had a doctorate in philosophy; his dissertation was an extended meditation on the meaning of honor.

So it was only natural that Westhusing acted when he learned of possible corruption by U.S. contractors in Iraq. A few weeks before he died, Westhusing received an anonymous complaint that a private security company he oversaw had cheated the U.S. government and committed human rights violations. Westhusing confronted the contractor and reported the concerns to superiors, who launched an investigation.

In e-mails to his family, Westhusing seemed especially upset by one conclusion he had reached: that traditional military values such as duty, honor and country had been replaced by profit motives in Iraq, where the U.S. had come to rely heavily on contractors for jobs once done by the military.

His death stunned all who knew him. Colleagues and commanders wondered whether they had missed signs of depression. He had been losing weight and not sleeping well. But only a day before his death, Westhusing won praise from a senior officer for his progress in training Iraqi police.
Select this link for the remainder of the story.

25 November 2005

Dogs of War

You got that right, Mr. Fish!

We need a real house cleaning in congress; and on both sides of the aisle.

The Phony War Against the Critics

Michael Kinsley writes in today's issue of the Washington Post:
The longer the war goes on, the more Americans, "allies" and Iraqis will die. That is not a slam-dunk argument for ending this foreign entanglement. But it is worth keeping in mind while you try to decide whether American credibility or Iraqi prosperity or Middle East stability can justify the cost in blood and treasure. And don't forget to factor in the likelihood that the war will actually produce these fine things.

The last man or woman to die in any war almost surely dies in vain: The outcome has been determined, if not certified. And he or she might die happier thinking that death came in a noble cause that will not be abandoned. But if it is not a noble cause, he or she might prefer not to die at all. Stifling criticism that might shorten the war is no favor to American soldiers. They can live without that kind of "respect."
Link to the whole article.

22 November 2005

Key Bush Intelligence Briefing Kept From Hill Panel

By Murray Waas, special to National Journal
© National Journal Group Inc.
Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2005
Ten days after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, President Bush was told in a highly classified briefing that the U.S. intelligence community had no evidence linking the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein to the attacks and that there was scant credible evidence that Iraq had any significant collaborative ties with Al Qaeda, according to government records and current and former officials with firsthand knowledge of the matter.

The information was provided to Bush on September 21, 2001 during the "President's Daily Brief," a 30- to 45-minute early-morning national security briefing. Information for PDBs has routinely been derived from electronic intercepts, human agents, and reports from foreign intelligence services, as well as more mundane sources such as news reports and public statements by foreign leaders.

One of the more intriguing things that Bush was told during the briefing was that the few credible reports of contacts between Iraq and Al Qaeda involved attempts by Saddam Hussein to monitor the terrorist group. Saddam viewed Al Qaeda as well as other theocratic radical Islamist organizations as a potential threat to his secular regime. At one point, analysts believed, Saddam considered infiltrating the ranks of Al Qaeda with Iraqi nationals or even Iraqi intelligence operatives to learn more about its inner workings, according to records and sources.
linked to read more - damning good article

We the people have some serious house cleaning to do in D.C.

21 November 2005

Germany: CIA knew 'Curveball' was not trustworthy

German intelligence alleges Bush administration repeatedly 'exaggerated' informant's claims in run-up to war.
By Tom Regan | csmonitor.com
Five top German intelligence officers say that the Bush administration and the CIA repeatedly ignored warnings about the veracity of the information that an Iraqi informant named 'Curveball' was giving about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction. The Los Angeles Times, in a massive report published Sunday, reports that "the Bush administration and the CIA repeatedly exaggerated his claims during the run-up to the war in Iraq." They also say that 'Curveball,' whom the Germans described as "not a psychologically stable guy," never claimed that he had produced germ weapons, nor had he ever seen anyone do it.
According to the Germans, President Bush mischaracterized Curveball's information when he warned before the war that Iraq had at least seven mobile factories brewing biological poisons. Then-Secretary of State Colin L. Powell also misstated Curveball's accounts in his prewar presentation to the United Nations on Feb. 5, 2003, the Germans said.

Curveball's German handlers for the last six years said his information was often vague, mostly secondhand and impossible to confirm. "This was not substantial evidence," said a senior German intelligence official. "We made clear we could not verify the things he said."

18 November 2005

American Arrogance and 2,000 Soldiers Killed in Iraq War

From David Von Drehle of the Washington Post (Sunday Nov 13th, 2005 pg W12:)
Rumsfeld's own advisory think tank, the Defense Science Board, took a long look at this issue last year and concluded that the architects of the Iraq war -- led by Rumsfeld -- lacked necessary knowledge of Iraq and its people, and that they failed to factor in well-known lessons of history.

"It is clear that Americans who waged the war and who have attempted to mold the aftermath have had no clear idea of the framework that has molded the personalities and attitudes of Iraqis," the board declared in a report bearing the official seal of the Department of Defense. "It might help if Americans and their leaders were to show less arrogance and more understanding of themselves and their place in history. Perhaps more than any other people, Americans display a consistent amnesia concerning their own past, as well as the history of those around them."

Big Leaf Maple Bark and Moss

Here's an image I captured today while visiting McLane Creek. This is the bark of a Big Leaf Maple and some Lichen growing on it.

We saw a lot of chum salmon making their climactic pilgrimage from the ocean, where they grew big and strong and spent their lives, back to the land from which they were born, so that they can continue the cycle. The fish were in various stages of decay, some had lost nearly all of their scales. I have heard that the fish don't taste good at this point in their lives. Which is good, because we might eat them all if they did.

17 November 2005

Libby Indictment May Open Door to Broader Iraq War Deceptions

by Stephen Zunes
The details revealed thus far from the investigation that led to the five-count indictment against I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby seem to indicate that the efforts to expose the identity of undercover CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson went far beyond the chief assistant to the assistant chief. Though no other White House officials were formally indicted, the investigation appears to implicate Vice President Richard Cheney and Karl Rove, President George W. Bush's top political adviser, in the conspiracy. More importantly, the probe underscores the extent of administration efforts to silence those who questioned its argument that Iraq constituted a serious threat to the national security of the United States. Even if no other White House officials ever have to face justice as a result of this investigation, it opens one of the best opportunities the American public may have to press the issue of how the Bush administration led us into war.
Indeed, even prior to the return of United Nations inspectors in December 2002 and the U.S. invasion of Iraq four months later, it is hard to understand how anyone could have taken seriously the administration's claims that Iraq was somehow a grave national security threat to the United States. And, despite assertions by administration apologists that "everybody" thought Saddam Hussein possessed chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and an advanced nuclear program immediately prior to the March 2003 invasion, the record shows that such claims were strongly contested, even within the U.S. government.
This is today's recommended reading. Damn. There are criminals in the White House. Let's kick them out. A.S.A.P.

16 November 2005

Bush Administration Misleadership vis a vis War in Iraq

These are from pages 31 and 32 of the pdf version of the article (pp. 25 and 26, respectively, of the orginial,) if you care to check for yourself.

This is a congressionally commissioned audit of the executive administration's misleading statements vis a vis the war in Iraq.
This audit can be found here (linked.)
President Bush made 55 misleading statements about the threat posed by Iraq in 27 separate public statements or appearances.

Of the 55 misleading statements by President Bush, 4 claimed that Iraq posed an urgent threat; 14 exaggerated Iraq’s efforts to develop nuclear weapons; 18 overstated Iraq’s chemical or biological weapons capacity; and 19 misrepresented Iraq’s links to al Qaeda.
Vice President Cheney made 51 misleading statements about the threat posed by Iraq in 25 separate public statements or appearances.

Of the 51 misleading statements by Vice President Cheney, 1 claimed that Iraq posed an urgent threat; 22 exaggerated Iraq’s efforts to develop nuclear weapons; 7 overstated Iraq’s chemical or biological weapons capacity; and 21 misrepresented Iraq’s links to al Qaeda.

Cheney Goes Overboard: Spews Calumny and Treachery Without Bound

Cheney says war critics 'dishonest, reprehensible'
Wed Nov 16, 2005 8:23 PM ET
By John Whitesides, Political Correspondent
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - In the sharpest White House attack yet on critics of the Iraq war, Vice President Dick Cheney said on Wednesday that accusations the Bush administration manipulated intelligence to justify the war were a "dishonest and reprehensible" political ploy.

Cheney called Democrats "opportunists" who were peddling "cynical and pernicious falsehoods" to gain political advantage while U.S. soldiers died in Iraq.

The comments were the latest salvo in an aggressive White House counterattack on war critics, launched as Democrats step up their criticism of the war and polls show declining public support for the conflict.

link to the original.

With all due respect Mr. Cheney, same to you. If war critics are dishonest and reprehensible, then you are doubly so.

What can we, in the reality based world do when our leaders see fit to distort the truth? The legitimacy of an obscene war is at stake. We cannot let them get away with this. To your pipes and horns - and Onward! There is justice to be done in this land.

My Other Vehicle Runs on ATP ©

Here's an idea I just had for a bumper sticker. It works whether you get around on foot, or on a bicycle. But even better than sticking this on the tailgate of your petroleum fueled, combustion engine propelled vehicle; just leave the car at home.

15 November 2005

Stay at Home Sick Day

I stayed at home today, because I am feeling sick with a cold, and I want to get plenty of rest so that I get well soon. I have eaten a lot, drank a lot of tea (some licorice tea, some ginger, echinacea, thyme, and even fresh garlic tea!) I also finished my reading assignment for class. I enjoyed reading Terry Tempest Williams' Red: Passion and Patience in the Desert. It was certainly passionate and wonderfully written, flowing and clear. It spoke to me about the importance of wilderness in my life, and in human society. We have some real and serious work ahead in order to gain further protected status for increasing ranges of wild lands. I will leave you with a quote from the end of her book:

Wild Mercy

The eyes of the future are looking back at us and they are praying for us to see beyond our own time. They are kneeling with hands clasped that we might act with restraint, that we might leave room for the life that is destined to come. To protect what is wild is to protect what is gentle. Perhaps the wildness we fear is the pause between our own heartbeats, the silent space that says we live only by grace. Wilderness lives by this same grace. Wild mercy is in our hands.

by Terry Tempest Williams

Absolut Corruption

Thanks for the tip, Mom.

14 November 2005

Public Comment at the Port of Olympia Commission Meeting

Here is a copy of written testimony that I submitted earlier this evening at the Port of Olympia's Commission Meeting. I also gave oral testimony. They had a long agenda, so I kept it brief and outlined the major points:
  • The war is illegal.
  • the war is unethical.
  • The American Service men and women are not to be blamed, condemned or even necessarily judged, but the war planners are culpable and are to be held accountable.
  • We in Olympia have an opportunity to send a message, loud and clear: Abuse of the American Military is unacceptable, and we will not enable it via the use of the municipal port for military shipments destined for Iraq.
That was the gist of what I said. Think it'll make a difference? I have been hammering away on this issue with the port commissioners for 3 or 4 months now, so that we are getting to know each other somewhat. Though I don't think all of them would be too terribly distraught if I gave up and stopped commenting on the militarization of our municipal port.
Here's a link to the Port of Olympia's web-site. Meeting minutes will be published within the next month or so.
Port Commission Meeting
Public Comment
November 14, 2005

Dear Commissioners,

Congratulations on your recent electoral victories, Commissioners Pottle and Telford.

I am here to express my dissent toward the ongoing use of the port for military shipments, so long as the shipments serve to further the war effort in Iraq.

The American people were deliberately deceived – duped into supporting a war that was and is based on faulty assumptions and criminal motives:

• There have been no significant WMD caches found in Iraq – this was the primary factor in the marketing and build-up to war.
• The Iraqi people have not been liberated. In fact, Iraq has been plunged into a bloody chaos of widespread violence and systemic corruption and collusion between the newly established Iraqi government and its US and British overseers.

Various groups have thoroughly and rigorously documented the fabrications and lies of the administration and its associated war-planners from well before the war up until the present day. The truth of the matter is not hard to find, unless there is an intentional effort to hide and be shielded from it. I suggest looking at the stratagems and dictates of the neoconservative think tank PNAC (Project for a New American Century) and also the points of intersection between the policy makers and the press via the WHIG (White House Iraq Group.)

The concept of invading another country, and conquering it so as to secure its natural resources is anathema to the vast majority of Americans. That is why they had to sell us a bill of goods, and market this effort as a “war against terrorism.” In reality, the war has only exacerbated international terrorism and changed the landscape of Iraq into a bitter, divided place. It has split the power of one despotic leader into the hands of many, smaller ones – so that ultimately, tyranny will be more difficult to eradicate for the Iraqi people

A war of aggression is against the law under both internationally and domestically recognized legally binding codes of conduct. One reason we have local government is to provide a check against any potential abuse or tyranny of the federal or state governmental systems. I am here to urge the commission to take a stand against a federal government that has gone horribly astray.

We have an opportunity to speak out against this bad excuse for a war by establishing a moratorium on military shipments. So long as this current White House administration and its associated interests seek to abuse the US military with unjustified and illegal use, they deserve to have access to the port denied.

I oppose this war on ethical, as well as legal grounds. I am not condemning the military service men and women, but rather the planners of this obscene war effort. It’s time to bring the soldiers home, my hope is that we can do our part in Olympia to make that happen.


Robert Whitlock

10 November 2005

Humanity - A Cancer upon the Earth?

A thought I had earlier today, spurned by a discussion of the differences between traditional hunter/gatherer societies and agrarian ones; classmates were arguing and trying to convince me that agrarian culture is older than the culture of those it has conquered in N. America. Personally I disagree, the legacy of hunter/gatherer societies is storied much more greatly throughout humanity's past, hunter/gatherer societies have also proven to be more successful over the long-haul, when compared to "fixed" agrarian based societies. Anyway, the discussion prompted this question for me:

Has humanity (or at least Western Society) become a cancerous life form, feeding on the Earth's limited resources, incapable of governing its own growth - as it destroys the very systems upon which it depends for life?

"Mountains of Creation"

Astronomy Picture of the Day November 11th, 2005

Credit: Lori Allen (Harvard-Smithsonian CfA) et al., JPL-Caltech, NASA

Explanation: This fantastic skyscape lies at the eastern edge of giant stellar nursery W5, about 7,000 light-years away in the constellation Cassiopeia. An infrared view from the Spitzer Space Telescope, it features interstellar clouds of cold gas and dust sculpted by winds and radiation from a hot, massive star outside the picture (just above and to the right). Still swaddled within the cosmic clouds, newborn stars are revealed by Spitzer's penetrating gaze, their formation also triggered by the massive star. Fittingly dubbed "Mountains of Creation", these interstellar clouds are about 10 times the size of the analogous Pillars of Creation in M16, made famous in a 1995 Hubble Space Telescope view. W5 is also known as IC 1848 and together with IC 1805 it is part of a complex region popularly dubbed the Heart and Soul Nebulae. The Spitzer image spans about 70 light-years at the distance of W5.

The Last Lie of the Iraq War Exposed

November 10, 2005
The Last Lie of the Iraq War Exposed
by Paul Sperry

"Politicians hide themselves away.
They only started the war.
Why should they go out to fight?
They leave that role to the poor, yeah.

"Time will tell on their power minds,
making war just for fun.
Treating people just like pawns in chess,
wait till their judgment day comes, yeah."
- Black Sabbath, "War Pigs" (1970)
It seems like only yesterday U.S. deaths in Iraq had reached the grim milestone of 2,000. Now they're already up to 2,055, reminding us all that the only ones really paying for this dishonest war are young GIs, with their lives and limbs.

The White House and its shameless surrogates continue to try to squelch criticism over the soaring body count by saying it dishonors and demoralizes the troops on the ground over there. In other words, if you don't support the war, you don't support the troops.

Excuse me, but who doesn't support the troops? The war pigs need to take a long hard look in the mirror.

Let's not forget it was the secretary of defense who told them to stop whining about missing Humvee armor, and then minimized their brutal roadside deaths by comparing them to random U.S. highway traffic fatalities on the Sean Hannity radio show last year.

For that matter, Donald Rumsfeld's deputy couldn't even remember how many of their soldiers had been killed in action.

Asked about the toll at a House hearing last year, during the deadliest month at that time for American troops, Paul Wolfowitz sat there with his face flapping. "It's approximately 500 … I can get the exact numbers," he stammered. He was off by nearly 250 soldiers – 250 brave Americans who left behind grieving mothers, fathers, wives, children – for what?

But Wolfowitz no doubt was thinking of other "metrics," as he's fond of saying, such as how many more pawns he'd need to make the Middle East safe for Israel. Never mind that the bastards who attacked this country are still on the loose.

Rumsfeld is so out of touch with fallen soldiers, he used a machine to sign his name to letters of condolence to the families of the first 1,000 service members who died in Iraq. He stopped only after he was caught.

Certainly their commander-in-chief is less callous, right? Fat chance. After sending troops into a shooting gallery with bull's-eyes on their backs, he egged on their killers from the safety of the White House with the cry, "Bring 'em on." He no doubt said the same thing about the VC while knocking back bourbons in Alabama.

We've already taken more casualties than in the first three years of Nam. In fact, just by wounding more than 15,000 of our soldiers, the Iraqi insurgents have taken out a full Army division.

And these aren't flesh wounds. These soldiers have had arms and legs ripped from joints, eyeballs blown from sockets, and skulls crushed in, permanently damaging gray matter. These wounded won't be going back for another tour. They face a lifetime of painful rehab and depression.

For what? To capture Osama bin Laden? No. To keep WMD out of his hands? No. To protect America? No. To liberate Iraq? No. The only thing that's been liberated is Islamic fundamentalism from under the thumb of secular Saddam Hussein. The new Iraqi constitution contains all the provisions necessary for an Islamic state, including Article 2: "No law that contradicts the established provisions of Islam may be established." Praise Allah.

And the insurgency is not going to die with this election, or any election, so long as we're over there. Listen to near-amputee Terry Rodgers tell it:

"There's always gonna be insurgents trying to blow us up. There's just too many of 'em that are willing to do it. You're never gonna catch all of 'em. And it seems like they have unlimited amounts of ammunition. So I don't think it's ever gonna end."

Rodgers, who was maimed by a roadside bomb while on patrol with the Army, is so mad at Bush for "getting people killed and mutilated for no reason" that he's refused to see him in the few times the president has visited Walter Reed Hospital. And Bush hadn't even tried to visit amputees, or attend funerals, before his reelection campaign.

But he had plenty of time to attend a black-tie dinner in Washington to joke about getting people killed and mutilated for no reason. "Nope, no WMDs there," he quipped to then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice on a slide showing him looking under White House furniture. Ha, ha.

Last year, an equally glib Bush was spotted taking in a baseball game with Rice just after wires reported several female marines were killed in an Iraq ambush that shocked the nation. That didn't seem to faze either of them. Cameras caught Bush and his gal pal Condi yucking it up in a VIP box. It's apparently all one big game to them.

The last lie of Iraq has been exposed – that Bush and the neocons care about the troops they sent needlessly into harm's way in Iraq. This is the ultimate betrayal.

Now, more than 160,000 are deployed there as sitting ducks, and an increasing number will be picked off, as the insurgents perfect their methods and their attacks grow bolder and deadlier.

And when the death toll tops 3,000, it will mark a most tragic irony in U.S. history. Three thousand brave American soldiers died avenging the murder of 3,000 of their fellow Americans – all on the wrong front, thanks to the war pigs who sent them there.

09 November 2005

The Return of Chalabi

November 9, 2005
Some Democrats are outraged, but both parties sired this scamster "liberator"
by Justin Raimondo
As blowback from the lies that duped us into war plunges Washington into a maelstrom of investigations and counter-investigations, Ahmed Chalabi adds insult to injury by making a return trip to the Imperial City. He's staying at the ritzy-glitzy Ritz-Carlton, where he's staked out a whole bloc of rooms at (U.S.) taxpayers' expense, and is slated to meet with Dick Cheney, Condi Rice, Treasury Secretary John Snow, and the Chalabi fan club over at the American Enterprise Institute.

Gee, that's funny: I could've sworn Chalabi was under investigation for turning over highly sensitive U.S. intelligence to the Iranians, and had his Iraqi home and headquarters raided by American and Iraqi troops last year. Not to mention the fabrications he retailed to New York Times reporter Judith Miller, who reported them as fact and plastered them all over the front page of the "newspaper of record."
The article can be read in its entirety here.

Surveillance Society

By Ivan Eland
November 9, 2005
Since 9/11, the FBI, once organized to fight crime, has been undergoing a makeover to focus its efforts on preventing future terrorist attacks.

To help the agency in its efforts, in 2001, the Congress recklessly passed and is now about to renew the USA PATRIOT Act, which dramatically increased the surveillance powers of law enforcement.

Yet, the truth is that terrorism (even including the 9/11 attacks) is a rare phenomenon in North America that kills far fewer people than ordinary crime, car accidents, or medical problems. As tragic as the 3,000 deaths from the aberrant 9/11 strikes were, the worst effect of those incidents was the self-inflicted wound from the conversion of America from the “land of the free” to the “land of the watched.”

08 November 2005

The Oil Factor

Tonight, I went to a screening of The Oil War: Behind the War on Terror hosted by writer/director Gerard Ungerman. The film was deeply informative regarding the oil assets of Central Asia, and America's relationship with that part of the world vis a vis oil and gas supply and demand.

America and the people of this nation are in a deep ethical quandry regarding the demand for oil. 3/4 of America's oil comes from abroad. Americans are responsible for fully 25% of the world's daily oil consumption - even though the American population accounts for less than 5% of the world's population.

We are dependent on oil and gas in so many ways: the food we eat, transportation, storage, the multitude of technological devices, (which we have so rapidly, and readily, become accustomed to using.)

I recommend your viewing of this film, especially if you have any doubt about the motivating factor of oil behind the wars on (attacks of) Iraq, Afghanistan and more broadly "terror."

What gives America the right to spread death and disaster in the Middle East, so as to benefit our own energy markets and economy? What gives us the right to trample on the lives and well-being of others for our own benefit?

Here's a link to the website (Free Will Productions.)

I also wrote a diary entry at Daily Kos on this same topic, there is a poll associated with that: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2005/11/9/11649/2779

The White House Administration's War Lies

From Harper's:
Revision Thing
A history of the Iraq war, told entirely in lies
Posted on Monday, November 7, 2005. All text is verbatim from senior Bush Administration officials and advisers. In places, tenses have been changed for clarity. Originally from Harper's Magazine, October 2003.

By Sam Smith.

Once again, we were defending both ourselves and the safety and survival of civilization itself. September 11 signaled the arrival of an entirely different era. We faced perils we had never thought about, perils we had never seen before. For decades, terrorists had waged war against this country. Now, under the leadership of President Bush, America would wage war against them. It was a struggle between good and it was a struggle between evil.

It was absolutely clear that the number-one threat facing America was from Saddam Hussein. We know that Iraq and Al Qaeda had high-level contacts that went back a decade. We learned that Iraq had trained Al Qaeda members in bomb making and deadly gases. The regime had long-standing and continuing ties to terrorist organizations. Iraq and Al Qaeda had discussed safe-haven opportunities in Iraq. Iraqi officials denied accusations of ties with Al Qaeda. These denials simply were not credible. You couldn't distinguish between Al Qaeda and Saddam when you talked about the war on terror.

The fundamental question was, did Saddam Hussein have a weapons program? And the answer was, absolutely. His regime had large, unaccounted-for stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons--including VX, sarin, cyclosarin, and mustard gas, anthrax, botulism, and possibly smallpox. Our conservative estimate was that Iraq then had a stockpile of between 100 and 500 tons of chemical-weapons agent. That was enough agent to fill 16,000 battlefield rockets. We had sources that told us that Saddam Hussein recently authorized Iraqi field commanders to use chemical weapons--the very weapons the dictator told the world he did not have. And according to the British government, the Iraqi regime could launch a biological or chemical attack in as little as forty-five minutes after the orders were given. There could be no doubt that Saddam Hussein had biological weapons and the capability to rapidly produce more, many more.

Iraq possessed ballistic missiles with a likely range of hundreds of miles--far enough to strike Saudi Arabia, Israel, Turkey, and other nations. We also discovered through intelligence that Iraq had a growing fleet of manned and unmanned aerial vehicles that could be used to disperse chemical or biological weapons across broad areas. We were concerned that Iraq was exploring ways of using UAVs for missions targeting the United States.

* * *

Saddam Hussein was determined to get his hands on a nuclear bomb. We knew he'd been absolutely devoted to trying to acquire nuclear weapons, and we believed he had, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons. The British government learned that Saddam Hussein had recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa. Our intelligence sources told us that he had attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear-weapons production. When the inspectors first went into Iraq and were denied-finally denied access, a report came out of the [International Atomic Energy Agency] that they were six months away from developing a weapon. I didn't know what more evidence we needed.

Facing clear evidence of peril, we could not wait for the final proof that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud. The Iraqi dictator could not be permitted to threaten America and the world with horrible poisons and diseases and gases and atomic weapons. Inspections would not work. We gave him a chance to allow the inspectors in, and he wouldn't let them in. The burden was on those people who thought he didn't have weapons of mass destruction to tell the world where they were.

We waged a war to save civilization itself. We did not seek it, but we fought it, and we prevailed. We fought them and imposed our will on them and we captured or, if necessary, killed them until we had imposed law and order. The Iraqi people were well on their way to freedom. The scenes of free Iraqis celebrating in the streets, riding American tanks, tearing down the statues of Saddam Hussein in the center of Baghdad were breathtaking. Watching them, one could not help but think of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Iron Curtain.

It was entirely possible that in Iraq you had the most pro-American population that could be found anywhere in the Arab world. If you were looking for a historical analogy, it was probably closer to post-liberation France. We had the overwhelming support of the Iraqi people. Once we won, we got great support from everywhere.

The people of Iraq knew that every effort was made to spare innocent life, and to help Iraq recover from three decades of totalitarian rule. And plans were in place to provide Iraqis with massive amounts of food, as well as medicine and other essential supplies. The U.S. devoted unprecedented attention to humanitarian relief and the prevention of excessive damage to infrastructure and to unnecessary casualties.

The United States approached its postwar work with a two-part resolve: a commitment to stay and a commitment to leave. The United States had no intention of determining the precise form of Iraq's new government. That choice belonged to the Iraqi people. We have never been a colonial power. We do not leave behind occupying armies. We leave behind constitutions and parliaments. We don't take our force and go around the world and try to take other people's real estate or other people's resources, their oil. We never have and we never will.

The United States was not interested in the oil in that region. We were intent on ensuring that Iraq's oil resources remained under national Iraqi control, with the proceeds made available to support Iraqis in all parts of the country. The oil fields belonged to the people of Iraq, the government of Iraq, all of Iraq. We estimated that the potential income to the Iraqi people as a result of their oil could be somewhere in the $20 [billion] to $30 billion a year [range], and obviously, that would be money that would be used for their well-being. In other words, all of Iraq's oil belonged to all the people of Iraq.

* * *

We found the weapons of mass destruction. We found biological laboratories. And we found more weapons as time went on. I never believed that we'd just tumble over weapons of mass destruction in that country. But for those who said we hadn't found the banned manufacturing devices or banned weapons, they were wrong, we found them. We knew where they were.

We changed the regime of Iraq for the good of the Iraqi people. We didn't want to occupy Iraq. War is a terrible thing. We've tried every other means to achieve objectives without a war because we understood what the price of a war can be and what it is. We sought peace. We strove for peace. Nobody, but nobody, was more reluctant to go to war than President Bush.

It is not right to assume that any current problems in Iraq can be attributed to poor planning. The number of U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf region dropped as a result of Operation Iraqi Freedom. This nation acted to a threat from the dictator of Iraq. There is a lot of revisionist history now going on, but one thing is certain--he is no longer a threat to the free world, and the people of Iraq are free. There's no doubt in my mind when it's all said and done, the facts will show the world the truth. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind.

About the Author
Sam Smith is the author of four books, the latest of which is Why Bother?: Getting a Life in a Locked Down Land. He is the editor of The Progressive Review.

Permanent URL

07 November 2005

Chocolate does not contain Caffeine.

"There is a persistent urban legend that Chocolate contains caffeine. It would seem that this rumor is based primarily on a confusion between two similar alkaloids: caffeine and Theobromine. Theobromine is the active ingredient in Chocolate and it occurs only in Cacao. The two stimulants are related and have a similar structures, but are very different chemicals with different properties, effects and origins. There are of course, some Chocolate products that have added caffeine, but it does not occur naturally in Chocolate."

link to more information

06 November 2005

Priest Point Park Photos - Earlier Today

If you like any of my photos and would like a full resolution copy, please let me know, I would be happy to send a copy.

I have several photo albums posted on line, there are links in the sidebar, let me know if they don't work.

Ordinary Americans Under Surveillance

The FBI's Secret Scrutiny
In Hunt for Terrorists, Bureau Examines Records of Ordinary Americans
By Barton Gellman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, November 6, 2005; A01
The FBI came calling in Windsor, Conn., this summer with a document marked for delivery by hand. On Matianuk Avenue, across from the tennis courts, two special agents found their man. They gave George Christian the letter, which warned him to tell no one, ever, what it said.

Under the shield and stars of the FBI crest, the letter directed Christian to surrender "all subscriber information, billing information and access logs of any person" who used a specific computer at a library branch some distance away. Christian, who manages digital records for three dozen Connecticut libraries, said in an affidavit that he configures his system for privacy. But the vendors of the software he operates said their databases can reveal the Web sites that visitors browse, the e-mail accounts they open and the books they borrow.

Christian refused to hand over those records, and his employer, Library Connection Inc., filed suit for the right to protest the FBI demand in public. The Washington Post established their identities -- still under seal in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit -- by comparing unsealed portions of the file with public records and information gleaned from people who had no knowledge of the FBI demand.

The Connecticut case affords a rare glimpse of an exponentially growing practice of domestic surveillance under the USA Patriot Act, which marked its fourth anniversary on Oct. 26. "National security letters," created in the 1970s for espionage and terrorism investigations, originated as narrow exceptions in consumer privacy law, enabling the FBI to review in secret the customer records of suspected foreign agents. The Patriot Act, and Bush administration guidelines for its use, transformed those letters by permitting clandestine scrutiny of U.S. residents and visitors who are not alleged to be terrorists or spies.
The FBI now issues more than 30,000 national security letters a year, according to government sources, a hundredfold increase over historic norms. The letters -- one of which can be used to sweep up the records of many people -- are extending the bureau's reach as never before into the telephone calls, correspondence and financial lives of ordinary Americans.
The whole article is linked here.

Mr. Fish: Genius Cartoonist

05 November 2005

The Environmental Causes of Cancer

Why We Can't Prevent Cancer
by Peter Montague
[...] between 1950 and 2001 the incidence rate for all types of cancer increased 85%, using age-adjusted data, which means cancer isn't increasing because people are living longer. People are getting more cancer because they're exposed to more cancer-causing agents.

Contrary to well-funded rumors, the culprit isn't just tobacco or the hundreds of toxic chemicals intentionally added to tobacco products. Tobacco products remain the single most significant preventable cause of cancer, but they have not been linked to the majority of cancers nor to many of the cancers that have increased most rapidly in recent decades including melanoma, lymphomas, testicular, brain, and bone marrow cancers.[pg. 1]

No, it's more complicated than just tobacco with its toxic additives. Most plastics, detergents, solvents, and pesticides and the toxic-waste by-products of their manufacture came into being after World War II. From the late 1950s to the late 1990s, we disposed of more than 750 million tons of toxic chemical wastes.[pg. 27] Over 40 years, this represents more than two tons of toxic chemical wastes discharged into the environment for each man, woman and child in the U.S. No wonder some of it has come back to bite us.
So let's not kid ourselves. Yes, cancer must be prevented because for the most part it can't be cured -- it can only be slashed and burned away at enormous cost, personal, social and monetary.

But saying cancer must be prevented is one thing. Expecting that it can be prevented within the framework of the modern economy is another. We can never stop working to prevent cancer -- and precautionary policies will always make sense no matter what kind of economy we have -- but until we shift to an economy that doesn't require growth, we'll find ourselves right where we are now -- on an accelerating rat wheel. As a result, we can expect to be living with more and more cancer at greater and greater cost to ourselves and to our children, accompanied by ever-increasing pain. It is not a pretty picture. But at least we can now see it clearly.

Select this link to read the whole article with reference.

Bush's Rule of Law

By Nat Parry
November 2, 2005

George W. Bush reacted to the indictment of Dick Cheney’s top aide, Lewis Libby, with a startling assertion about the U.S. legal system. “In our system,” the President declared, “each individual is presumed innocent and entitled to due process and a fair trial.”

While Bush’s statement was surely intended to remind the public that Libby has yet to be convicted of a crime, it was remarkable to hear Bush endorse the presumption of innocence and due process after all he has done to erode those principles.

For four years, it has been a central legal precept of the “War on Terror” that Bush has the absolute right to imprison anyone of his choosing, including American citizens, who are then denied even a day in court, let alone a fair trial or presumption of innocence.

You can read the remaining portion of this article by selecting this link.

04 November 2005

Thousands protest Bush in Argentina

U.S. President George W. Bush listens to a question from the American media about his administration during the Summit of the Americas in Mar del Plata, Argentina November 4, 2005. REUTERS/Larry Downing

By Mary Milliken and Kevin Gray
MAR DEL PLATA, Argentina (Reuters)
Thousands of marchers on the streets of a heavily policed Argentine resort protested on Friday against U.S. President George W. Bush and his free-trade push as leaders from the Americas convened for a contentious debate on improving Latin America's economy.

The protesters' voice inside the summit meeting room will be Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, the leftist leader who opposes Bush's economic model. He arrived early Friday vowing to stop the stalled Free Trade Area of the Americas or FTAA.

"I think we came here to bury FTAA. I brought my shovel," Chavez told reporters.

Chavez is due to speak at an alternative Peoples' Summit at midday before the two-day meeting of leaders begins in the afternoon.

A train sponsored by Chavez pulled in at dawn Friday carrying celebrity sympathizers including Argentine soccer legend Diego Maradona and joined busloads of university students, rights activists and labor-union members.

Read the rest, with pictures, here.

03 November 2005

Dark Days at the White House

Hey! Mr. President and VP Cheney! Why don't you just throw in the towel? Yeah, it maybe be a rhetorical question, but, it's obvious that it's not good old times for the good old boys of the executive administration.

Basically, I want to tell you that your Nefarious Neo-conservative Nihilism is not welcome in MY USA! Take it or Leave it. But as far as I am concerned, you are not American.

White House criminals and associated cronies are a bunch of tyrants waiting to feel the swift and keen edge of justice. And believe me; Justice will find a way - Justice will prevail.

Check out this story: Congressman Want Cheney to Testify


31 October 2005

Calls for White House shakeup focus on Karl Rove

By Randall Mikkelsen
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -
U.S. President George W. Bush, whose top adviser Karl Rove remains in jeopardy in a CIA-leak probe, needs to shake up his White House staff if he hopes to revive a presidency reeling from multiple setbacks, Republican and Democratic lawmakers said on Sunday.
Bush should take Cheney "to the woodshed" if necessary, a Democratic lawmaker said, and the Senate's top Democrat said Rove should be fired or quit.

27 October 2005

Isle Royale National Park Poster

Exxon Mobil posts record U.S. profit

By Deepa Babington
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Exxon Mobil Corp. on Thursday posted a quarterly profit of $9.9 billion, the largest in U.S. corporate history, as it raked in a bonanza from record oil and gas prices.

While profit was up 75 percent and revenue rose 32 percent to more than $100 billion, the results fell short of Wall Street forecasts due to production outages caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and sharply lower profit at the company's chemicals division.

The rest of the article can be found here.

Dick Cheney's Song of America

Drafting a plan for global dominance

Posted on Wednesday, October 26, 2005. An essay exploring the real origins of the Iraq War, written before the war started. Originally from October 2002. By David Armstrong.

Few writers are more ambitious than the writers of government policy papers, and few policy papers are more ambitious than Dick Cheney's masterwork. It has taken several forms over the last decade and is in fact the product of several ghostwriters (notably Paul Wolfowitz and Colin Powell), but Cheney has been consistent in his dedication to the ideas in the documents that bear his name, and he has maintained a close association with the ideologues behind them. Let us, therefore, call Cheney the author, and this series of documents the Plan.

The Plan was published in unclassified form most recently under the title of Defense Strategy for the 1990s, as Cheney ended his term as secretary of defense under the elder George Bush in early 1993, but it is, like Leaves of Grass, a perpetually evolving work. It was the controversial Defense Planning Guidance draft of 1992—from which Cheney, unconvincingly, tried to distance himself—and it was the somewhat less aggressive revised draft of that same year. This June it was a presidential lecture in the form of a commencement address at West Point, and in July it was leaked to the press as yet another Defense Planning Guidance (this time under the pen name of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld). It will take its ultimate form, though, as America's new national security strategy—and Cheney et al. will experience what few writers have even dared dream: their words will become our reality.

The Plan is for the United States to rule the world. The overt theme is unilateralism, but it is ultimately a story of domination. It calls for the United States to maintain its overwhelming military superiority and prevent new rivals from rising up to challenge it on the world stage. It calls for dominion over friends and enemies alike. It says not that the United States must be more powerful, or most powerful, but that it must be absolutely powerful.
The rest of the article can be found here.

[in case the previous link no longer works, here is an updated link: http://harpers.org/archive/2002/10/0079354]

26 October 2005

What the US death toll in Iraq reveals

A new poll shows that 53 percent of Americans say the war wasn't worth it.
By Dan Murphy | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

BAGHDAD – Sometime in the coming days, the United States military will probably report the 2,000th American military death of the Iraq war.
While in some ways an arbitrary milestone, the tragic figure only tells part of the story when it comes to the human costs and human successes - both foreign and local - of the war.

Perhaps the most striking statistic from this war, compared with any other conflict in US history, shows troops today have a much better chance of surviving if wounded. This is because of vast improvements in body armor and strides in battlefield medicine.

For instance, the ratio of deaths to serious injuries in Iraq is less than half what it was in World War II. As recently as Vietnam, 28 percent of Americans hurt in action died. In Iraq, the ratio is 11 percent. In all, about 15,000 Americans have been wounded in combat here, about half of them seriously enough to go home.
Click here to read the rest.

25 October 2005

Condi Rice and Syrian Regime Change; Could Somebody Recommend a President?

October 25th, 2005

Someone should tell Condi Rice that the gig is up. With the Bush administration dissolving in illegalities committed by key officials in their attempts to protect the lies that they used to justify the US invasion of Iraq, the secretary of state is trying to ramp up war against Syria.

Grasping a UN report that uses unreliable witnesses to implicate Syria in the assassination of a former Lebanese government official, Condi Rice told the BBC on October 23 that Syria's crime cannot be "left lying on the table. This really has to be dealt with."

This is amazing for many reasons. Here is the person in charge of US diplomacy acting as if she is the secretary of war unsheathing military force. Whoever heard of an American diplomat wanting to start a war because a former Middle Eastern government official was assassinated? Read the rest here.

23 October 2005

Death Up; Taxes Down

Bush, an Assessment


Rove has lowered his profile, but still maintains a grip on the prize: maintaining power. The power ethos links to the torture scandals at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. Defense Secretary Rumsfeld and White House Counsel Gonzalez both authorized such illegal behavior to control suspected terrorists.

Illegal and also inept! Bush played video golf for five days in Crawford while bodies floated down the flooded streets of New Orleans. The media finally began some critical coverage, noting the absence of the federal government in the place where people needed it most. It also re-discovered class and race. "Wow," said one of my students, "I didn't know that 37 million people lived under the poverty line." Indeed, the poor had remained especially invisible to the three million millionaires in the country who had grown richer through Bush's tax cuts.


Read the whole article. [counterpunch.org]

22 October 2005


The Dangerously Incomplete Hariri Report

By Robert Parry
October 23, 2005

A new United Nations report implicates the Syrian government in the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, giving a lift to George W. Bush’s demand for “regime change” in Damascus. But the investigation has many holes, including failure to follow up on a mysterious van connected to the Feb. 14 bombing. [continued at Consortium News]