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.

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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