30 September 2006

Retired Generals Protest War

It is all the more obvious, now that prominent and highly decorated military officers have spoken up in dissent of the war, that Bush's war in Iraq is the wrong war - that the war is harmful to the long term (and short term) interests of the USA, as well as Iraq. Richard J. Whalen's article in The Nation discusses this high level dissent.
A revolt is brewing among our retired Army and Marine generals. This rebellion--quiet and nonconfrontational, but remarkable nonetheless--comes not because their beloved forces are bearing the brunt of ground combat in Iraq but because the retirees see the US adventure in Mesopotamia as another Vietnam-like, strategically failed war, and they blame the errant, arrogant civilian leadership at the Pentagon. The dissenters include two generals who led combat troops in Iraq: Maj. Gen. Charles Swannack Jr., who commanded the 82nd Airborne Division, and Maj. Gen. John Batiste, who led the First Infantry Division (the "Big Red One"). These men recently sacrificed their careers by retiring and joining the public protest.

In late September Batiste, along with two other retired senior officers, spoke out about these failures at a Washington Democratic policy hearing, with Batiste saying Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was "not a competent wartime leader" who made "dismal strategic decisions" that "resulted in the unnecessary deaths of American servicemen and women, our allies and the good people of Iraq." Rumsfeld, he said, "dismissed honest dissent" and "did not tell the American people the truth for fear of losing support for the war."

This kind of protest among senior military retirees during wartime is unprecedented in American history--and it is also deeply worrisome. The retired officers opposing the war and demanding Rumsfeld's ouster represent a new political force, and therefore a potentially powerful factor in the future of our democracy. The former generals' growing lobby could acquire a unique veto power in the future by publicly opposing reckless civilian warmaking in advance.


The fact that so many retired generals are speaking out against the war and against Rumsfeld, and are doing so at such forums as New York's prestigious Council on Foreign Relations, reflects the depth and intensity of the military's dissent. Traditional discipline and career-protecting reticence prompt many disillusioned field-grade officers (majors and above) to keep silent. These are "the Carlisle elite," who attend the US Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and from whose ranks are selected the generals and top leaders of tomorrow.

The military's senior active-duty leadership will not openly revolt. "We're not the French generals in Algeria," says Army Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton, now retired. "But we damned well know that the Iraq War we've won militarily is being lost politically." The well-read retired Marine Lieut. Gen. Gregory Newbold wrote in a Time magazine essay: "I retired from the military four months before the March 2003 invasion, in part because of my opposition to those who had used 9/11's tragedy to hijack our security policy." Newbold calls the Iraq War "unnecessary" and says the civilians who launched the war acted with "a casualness and swagger" that are "the special province" of those who have never smelled death on a battlefield.

link: http://www.thenation.com[...]

Draco Rises Over the White House

I just read news of Bush's new detainee bill, which gives him the power to hold "enemy combatants" indefinitely. This is a frighteningly draconian evolution of truly Orwellian proportion.

I am ashamed of the goings on of federal gov't in D.C. Let's find ways to enforce accountability and effect change. The current regime is not working for the people.

Discussion is needed.

28 September 2006

Abramoff Sinking Ship and White House

More fraud and corruption cited at the White House vis a vis the Abramoff scandal. Whoop dee doo
By Joanne Kenen and Thomas Ferraro

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff had hundreds more contacts with top White House officials than those Bush administration officials had previously acknowledged, according to a congressional report to be released on Friday.

The report by the House Government Reform Committee, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters, said the panel found about 485 contacts between Abramoff and his associations and the White House, including 10 with Karl Rove, who is President George W. Bush's top political adviser.

The committee based its findings on 14,000 pages of e-mails and billing records spanning three years ending in 2003, the committee report said.

The White House challenged the credibility of the report, saying it was based on material originally generated by Abramoff. Abramoff and associates have pleaded guilty to conspiracy, fraud and related crimes in an influence-peddling scandal that reached into the U.S. Congress.

link: http://today.reuters.com/news...

Torture and Indefinite Detention

Six Questions on the American “Gulag” for Historian Kate Brown

Posted on Friday, September 22, 2006. Kate Brown is Associate Professor of History at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Her book, A Biography of No Place: From Ethnic Borderland to Soviet Heartland won the American Historical Association’s George Louis Beer Prize. As a historian of Soviet history, she has sifted through an array of declassified NKVD and KGB documents about the abuse of prisoners in the Gulag. Her article, “Out of Solitary Confinement: The History of the Gulag,” will be published in Kritika vol. 8, no. 1 (Winter 2007). Brown recently answered a series of questions about the American penal and detention system, especially as it has developed post-9/11. By Ken Silverstein.
1. In 2005, Amnesty International charged that the treatment of prisoners in Guantanamo makes the prison “the Gulag of our times.” After public outcry and a media attack, Amnesty retracted the charge. Is the metaphor appropriate?

Soviet arrests were designed to inspire terror. Some people were taken off the street. Others were surprised in their beds in late night roundups. In Soviet prisons, detainees were stripped, searched, and led into special rooms where they were told to face the wall and assume stress positions. Most people were rounded up with no real evidence and without prior investigation. Interrogators withheld food, water, medical assistance, communication with relatives, and sleep until detainees agreed to talk. The most resistant detainees were beaten while handcuffed or tied.

Granted such liberty in dealing with prisoners, some Soviet officers started to enjoy themselves. They made up games, forcing prisoners to dance, smearing glue on their heads, stripping them naked, pouring frigid water over them. Sometimes guards had too much fun and a prisoner died. Then prison-appointed doctors, who often participated in the interrogations, wrote up fictive autopsy reports. Declassified FBI and U.S. Army detailing abuses detainees in U.S. detention centers uncannily echo Soviet NKVD reports. They recount late-night roundups of civilians and describe prisoners held in chambers of extreme heat or cold, chained naked to the floor without food and water for days on end, defecating on themselves, beaten (some to death), forced to dance, to lick their shoes and body parts, to crawl around, and to bark like dogs. American doctors and psychiatrists helped devise methods of inflicting pain and fear to elicit confessions, and they signed false reports when detainees died in custody.

link to article: http://www.harpers.org/sb-six-questions-kate-brown-1158926209.html

24 September 2006

Declaration of Peace

These photos were taken at yesterday's (Saturday the 23rd of September 2006) Declaration of Peace event. They were taken on the way to, near and at the Indian Island Naval reservation. Indian Island serves as the largest US military Ammunition Dump on the West coast. If an explosives laden vessel exploded while in port, the nearby towns, including Port Townsend assumingly all be utterly destroyed. The explosion might be forceful enough that the concussion alone would tear living tissue from bones over a mile away.

I took part in the days events, festivities and political actions so that I might also make a personal declaration of peace. I hereby declare peace against all those who seek the destruction or degradation of: human beings, familes, neighborhoods, communities, civil institutions, civil infrastructure, and last but not least, the Earth.

This was not how I arrived at the park. It was a good time though. Thanks to the kind and able photographer who took this picture.

H. J. Carroll Park

H. J. Carroll Park with the headstones and grave markers of the Arlington NW memorial.

Nature trail, with nice ambience, at park

My Shadow

Condi, George and Rummy, looking pressed, await the long march.

Was the "Kinetic Kop" ready to arrest any and all criminal war planners? (Note of concern - he proudly stated that he accepts bribes!) Well, he was very helpful alerting the oncoming traffic to the presence of well over 200 marchers who were hugging the shoulder of the road all 3.7 miles.

Free Fort Lewis War Resistors. Support First Lt. Ehren Watada's principled refusal to serve in an illegal war.

A view from the bridge upon approach of Indian Island

The view of Mt. Baker from the park near the entrance to the Indian Island military facility.

Jim James, president of Veterans for Peace, Rachel Corrie Chapter 109, while loading gravestones that symbolize the American Soldiers who have died in Iraq since 2003; 2695 soldiers have died as of today.

A golden anchor, hm, is that like the Golden Rule? 35 peace activists declared peace and were arrested while peacably assembled to express their political message: stop the illegal use of depleted uranium munitions and End the Iraq war ASAP!

"These colors don't run...
the world"

Here's a link to an article from the PDN about the action: http://www.peninsuladailynews.com/sited/story/html/264352

20 September 2006

ISS and Atlantis Silhouetted by Sun

Iraq War Illegality

I have been saying that the war in Iraq is illegal for years now. I was among those who sighted the illegality of the invasion before it was initiated in March of 2003.

Some people say that the illegality of the war needs to be tested and established in a court of law. There are even some who say that the war isn't illegal.

I have been contemplating heavily on this matter, because I do believe very deeply, and feel very deeply that the war is illegal. In fact, I know the war is illegal. [How do I know this? Because the war is in violation of several legally binding statutes (UN Charter, Geneva Conventions - among others).]

Here is the analogy that might be helpful. When traffic is flowing at 55 miles per hour on the freeway, and a vehicle going 80 or 90 miles per hour flies by, it is clear that the driver of that vehicle is breaking the law. The driver is operating the vehicle in a manner inconsistent with legal requirements, therefore, what he is doing is illegal. You don't need to haul the guy in to a court to tell him.

What George Bush has done in Iraq is similar. Only his vehicle is million times the mass of a single speeding vehicle, his trespass upon the law and common decency almost incomprehensibly more egregious than the error of a speeding driver. Both endanger lives, and waste resources. George W Bush and his team's misleadership deserve more than a traffic citation. Their crimes are heinous and deserve prosecution to the fullest extent of the law. The prosecution of his high crimes and misdemeanors will provide a foundation for the restoration of the reputation of the USA internationally.

We the people of the USA must put the breaks on this speeding runaway vehicle of the Bush war of aggression machine before it causes anymore unnessecary violence and/or death.

[edit] Perhaps a better analogy would be that of a bank robbery. It is obvious, when the bank robber exits the bank with the improperly acquired cash, that he has committed an illegal act. Similarly, the presence of (14) enduring military bases in Iraq and the privitization of the economy, testify to the improper intentions of the Bush administration.

Aquarius Apparent in Evening Sky

" One sure sign that autumn is here is the evening appearance of Aquarius, the water bearer. It clears the southeastern horizon as night falls and paces across the southern sky during the night. It has several moderately bright stars, although it's hard to see much of a pattern in them."

link: http://stardate.org...

19 September 2006

Iran's Nuclear Capability

Iran, according to the Bush administration is a threat to the security of the USA and allies in a similar way that Iraq was a threat. Iraq had supposedly a WMD program that compromised the interests of the USA. Now, 3 and a half years after the invasion of Iraq, the executive Bush administration seeks a new military conflict. They want to shred Iran, like they have done to Iraq. And they are basing the fraudulent necessity of this new war against Iran on the claim that Iran has a clandestine nuclear weapons industry. After what has become of the situation in Iraq, I will need to see some hard evidence of Iranian Nukes pointed at me before I sign on to another war. And besides, who are we to tell Iran that it can't have Nuclear weapons? I mean puhlease.

IAEA says Congress report on Iran's nuclear capacity is erroneous and misleading

· Claims about programme are 'unsubstantiated'
· Leak shows watchdog detected five major errors

Dan Glaister in Los Angeles
Friday September 15, 2006
The Guardian

The UN's nuclear watchdog has attacked the US Congress for what it termed an "erroneous, misleading and unsubstantiated" report on Iran's nuclear programme.

In a letter to the Republican chairman of the House of Representatives' intelligence committee, a senior director of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said the report was "incorrect" in its assessment that Iran had made weapons-grade uranium at a site inspected by the agency. Instead, the letter said, the facility had produced only small amounts of uranium, which were below the level necessary for weapons.

link: http://www.guardian.co.uk/iran/story/0,,1873114,00.html

18 September 2006

Daylight Lessening

I am noticing a quickening in the daily reduction of sunlit hours. Anyone else? Personally, I am feeling more stressed, more tired and possibly even, just maybe, a little bit pugnacious.

Earlier today, while riding my bicycle, I was pulling up to a red light. Normally, when I pull up to a red light, I edge my bike further into the traffic lane (I usually stay to the right side of the lane while in motion) so that I am not crowded into stopping in the gutter. Today, the fellow behind me didn't like my traffic protocol. He yelled at me, and attempted to cut me off. He told me to get out of the middle of the lane. I was turning left at the next block. So I had to stay in the middle to left side of the lane, so as to change lanes to make a left turn. He followed me down the whole block, blaring his horn constantly the whole time, and tailgating within 10 or 15 feet. I wish there would have been a police officer present.

Here I was, behaving in a manner that was consistent with applicable legal statutes, and he didn't like it. I was really angry. But I didn't like how the anger made me feel. So I let those emotions run their course through my system. I thought about it. I began to feel sad. I began to feel pity for the poor fellow. His license plate indicated that he was handicapped (assuming it was his vehicle.) I thought about it. Perhaps some of his anger was misdirected resentment over his own personal handicap.

Or maybe he was just anti-social, his handicap being that he doesn't know how to get along with others. Either way, this poor fellow, who intended to give me a hard time is certainly deserving of some sadness and pity.

Pity on your poor soul. And pity on me for being receptive to such antagonism.

And the hours of daylight are rapidly diminishing. The Autumnal Solstice is only three or four days away. Life has a tendency of becoming compressed at this time of year - this year is no exception. Life is interesting and active. There is a lot to do. Not a bad thing. But it's important for me to remember to take time out for myself.

To reflect in contemplative searching of the world around me and my life in it. Beautiful fall colors in the trees and odors on the air. It is important to have time to be open to the wonderful world. (despite all the murder and mayhem)

15 September 2006

A Question of Character

If an impartial (perhaps from outer space, perhaps from inner space) intelligent being took an analysis of the character of the USA based on the behavior of those who dwell in the halls of congress in Washington DC, I shudder to think what kind of judgements might befall you and me. The examples of nefarious, greed based and simply inhuman acts that can be associated with those who occupy the highest elected offices of this country are too many to list.

It is simply time to disarm those who do harm. It is not desirable for the nation's character - for the nation's (as well as the world's) well-being to suffer at the hands of those who hold human rights and dignity in disdain.

However, thank you to those on the Senate Armed Services Committe who rejected Mr. Bush's detainee bill. It's a step in the right direction (baby steps are okay.) However, forgive my sense that there must be some alterior motive involved (election season anyone?) What a place we find ourselves in.

Here's an excerpt from an article by Brecher and Smith from The Nation.
The Content of our Character

Jeremy Brecher & Brendan Smith

In a significant rebuff to President Bush and his security-driven strategy for Republican victory in November, the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday rejected the President's military detainee bill and passed a radically different alternative. At stake in this standoff between the President and the Senate are legal and moral issues central to the Constitution and the character of the American people: the right to a fair trial, the use of torture, the accountability of high government officials for war crimes. It also tests the powers of Congress and the Supreme Court to rein in an errant executive.

In the run-up to the midterm elections, the Bush Administration seeks to position Republicans as tough in pursuing the "war on terror," and to present Democrats as soft. By revealing recently that the government had been holding captives in secret jails and aims to try them at Guantánamo Bay, Bush and his advisers signaled that they are clearly hoping for an upswell of public support for Republicans who are "tough on terror."

But it was Republicans on the Senate Armed Services Committee, not Democrats, who led the battle this week against the President's proposal: John Warner, Lindsey Graham and John McCain were joined in the 15-to-9 committee vote by Susan Collins of Maine.

link: http://www.thenation.com/doc/20061002/brecher

13 September 2006

Only Getting Worse in Iraq / Baghdad

Tom Engelhardt reports:
While Americans are planning to remember 9/11 with four vast towers and a huge, extremely costly memorial sunk into Manhattan's Ground Zero, Baghdadis have been thinking a bit more practically. They are putting scarce funds into constructing two new branch morgues (with refrigeration units) in the capital for what's now most plentiful in their country: dead bodies. They plan to raise the city's morgue capacity to 250 bodies a day. If fully used, that would be about 7,500 bodies a month. Think of it as a hedge against ever more probable futures.
Disturbing news for certain. Here's a link: http://tomdispatch.com...

Here's the text of an email I just sent to Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney:
Attention: Mr Bush and Mr Cheney,

Iraqi civilians are dying at increasing rates. What is your plan to deal with this problem? Are you going to send more troops to deal with the security vacuum in Iraq?


Robert Whitlock
Answers! I want answers. The Truth! It is the truth I seek and I will accept no less!

12 September 2006

Bush Administration Absurdity

The shock and awe campaign continues. Bush has, in the past, compared the Iraq war to America's war of Independence from the British Empire. This is infuriatingly absurd. He says that if we were to give up the war, it would be like if the British had won that war some 230 years ago. Only he is wrong. If we were to give up the war, it would be exactly like what happened when those fledgling Americans achieved success over the tyrant British Empire. The occupation of British soldiers and agents was finished, which allowed the USA to begin.

Those early Americans put a stop to taxation without representation. If the USA occupies Iraq into November maybe the Iraqi's deserve a vote in American elections! Give them statehood for crissakes. Bush sure is making enough decisions about life there, with 15,000 more troops scheduled to deploy. Oh yeah, and it might be a good idea to fix their electrical, sewage, garbage and potable water systems while we're at it. After all, it was the USA who wrecked those systems, by and large, with the invasion.

In a similar vein, this tidbit of information is via Harper's Magazine. In this weekly review (published every Tuesday) Theodore Ross wrote:
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice compared critics of the Iraq war to Northerners who sought peace with the South during the Civil War. “There were people who thought the Declaration of Independence was a mistake,” she said.

Here's a link: 9-12-06 weekly review.

Ms. Rice's "compar[ison] of critics of the Iraq war to Northerners who sought peace with the South during the Civil War" fits into the same categority of twisted logic that the Bush administration employs, apparently to befuddle some, and infuriate others into some sort of apoplectic shock.

The problem with her analogy is that critics of the war are more like anti-slavery abolitionists in the North, less like Northern apologists. People are critical of the war for so many reasons, like: cost, loss of life, broken families/homes/communities, moral and ethical quandries, legal issues, among others... Critics of the war tend to be those who are concerned with human rights, like those who sought to end slavery on moral grounds. These are essential matters of human rights and dignity.

Shock and Awe. It's wearing off on me though. I am sick and tired of it. Let's hear the horn of Justice. It's calling.

No more lies. No more blood for oil.

10 September 2006

Dining: Colors, NYC

Here is an example of people taking the terrible acts of September 11th, five years ago, and creating something positive out of the destruction. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, this group of intrepid entrepreneurs have created a unique and truly interesting destination.

However, I think it would be better if we could avoid the ashes, and make positive proactive changes in our societies anyway.

Steaks, not sympathy

When the World Trade Centre in New York was destroyed five years ago, the Windows on the World restaurant on the 106th floor lost over 70 of its staff. Now the survivors have opened Colors, and would rather you enjoyed your meal than offered your condolences.

By Nick Bradshaw
Published: 10 September 2006
It was called Windows on the World, and it was one of America's most prestigious restaurants. Located on the 106th floor of Tower One of New York's World Trade Centre, it offered high-quality dining at high altitude. The restaurant's name may have slightly overstated the extent of the view, but on a clear day it was possible to see across much of New York, a city that is home to people of just about every nation and every ethnic variation.

On the wall of Colors, a new and decidedly more modest restaurant a few blocks away from what is now known as Ground Zero, a simple black plaque serves as a permanent memorial to the Windows staff who were on duty the morning of 11 September 2001. Every person who was working that morning - more than 70 in total - died alongside their customers. A quick scan of the plaque gives little away: there are no ages, no job titles, no indication of where they stood in the restaurant hierarchy. On closer inspection, the names do, however, reveal one thing - that the restaurant was not only a window on the world but also a microcosm of it. There are Anglo Saxon-sounding names such as Stephen Adams and John E Puckett, and also those of Sophia Buruwa Addo Ameyaw and Antonio J Alvarez. Alongside these, Yang-Der Lee, Orasri Liangthanasarn and Mohammed Jawara.

Significantly, the plaque is positioned beyond those areas normally frequented by customers. But then, it is not meant for them. Colors is both owned and staffed by 27 people who worked alongside those who perished in Windows on the World but were not on duty when the towers were hit, together with 23 others who worked in the other food and drink outlets on the now-notorious site.

When Colors opened in January, it became America's first restaurant co-operative. Every member of staff - from the person who welcomes you to the person who washes your plates - has a financial interest in ensuring your visit is enjoyable.

Link: http://enjoyment.independent.co.uk/

09 September 2006

Historians Disturbed by Alleged "Flagrant Falsehoods" Urge Halt to Broadcast

The netrooters are really up in arms over this ABC Docudrama "The Path to 9/11." With good reason. It is attempts to air such programs that edge us closer, step by step, to a true Orwellian reality.

Let's play it safe, and demand that the public's airwaves do not become a medium for the transmission of political and historical white washing and falsifications.

Without further ado, here's the letter:
Dear Robert Iger:

We write as professional historians, who are deeply concerned by the continuing reports about ABC’s scheduled broadcast of “The Path to 9/11.” These reports document that this drama contains numerous flagrant falsehoods about critical events in recent American history. The key participants and eyewitnesses to these events state that the script distorts and even fabricates evidence into order to mislead viewers about the responsibility of numerous American officials for allegedly ignoring the terrorist threat before 2000.

The claim by the show’s producers, broadcaster, and defenders, that these falsehoods are permissible because the show is merely a dramatization, is disingenuous and dangerous given their assertions that the show is also based on authoritative historical evidence. Whatever ABC’s motivations might be, broadcasting these falsehoods, connected to the most traumatic historical event of our times, would be a gross disservice to the public. A responsible broadcast network should have nothing to do with the falsification of history, except to expose it. We strongly urge you to halt the show’s broadcast and prevent misinforming Americans about their history.


Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.
Sean Wilentz, Princeton University
Michael Kazin, Georgetown University
Lizbeth Cohen, Harvard University,
Nicholas Salvatore, Cornell University;
Ted Widmer, Washington College;
Rick Perlstein, Independent Scholar;
David Blight, Yale University;
Eric Alterman, City University of New York.
Here is a link: http://electioncentral.tpmcafe.com... (I came across this letter via media matters.org.)

I don't watch television, and this is part of the reason why. Besides the anti-social aspects of TV watching, the tendency to pick up faulty and inflammatory information is a real drawback. TV just isn't as good as moving around, and enjoying the great outdoors, or being amongst neighbors and fellow citizens.

In summary: Kill Your Television.

08 September 2006

From the White House to the Big House?

September 7, 2006
A Fear of War Crimes Tribunals and Impeachment
Why Bush Really Came Clean About the CIA's Secret Torture Prisons

Congress enacted the War Crimes Act in 1996. That act defines violations of Geneva's Common Article 3 as war crimes. Those convicted face life imprisonment or even the death penalty if the victim dies.

The President is undoubtedly familiar with the doctrine of command responsibility, where commanders, all the way up the chain of command to the commander in chief, can be held liable for war crimes their inferiors commit if the commander knew or should have known they might be committed and did nothing to stop or prevent them.


Indeed, Congress passed the Detainee Treatment Act in December, which codifies the prohibition in United States law against cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment of prisoners in U.S. custody. In his speech yesterday, Bush took credit for working with Senator John McCain to pass the DTA.

In fact, Bush fought the McCain "anti-torture" amendment tooth-and-nail, at times threatening to veto the entire appropriations bill to which it was appended. At one point, Bush sent Dick Cheney to convince McCain to exempt the CIA from the prohibition on cruel treatment, but McCain refused.

Bush signed the bill, but attached a "signing statement" where he reserved the right to violate the DTA if, as commander-in-chief, he thought it necessary.


By challenging Congress to focus on legislation about treatment of terrorists - which he called "urgent" - Bush seeks to divert the election discourse away from his disastrous war on Iraq.
This cruel and degrading treatment of prisoners, which is a policy that is obviously handed down from the nation's highest office is inappropriate to the USA in the 21st century. How do we expect to gain the respect of people around the world, when the president dictates torturous treatment?

06 September 2006

No Threat of Nuclear Weapon from Iran: Intelligence Finding

Intel Estimate on Iran Blocks Neo-Con Plans

by Gareth Porter

WASHINGTON - In the struggle over U.S. policy toward Iran, neoconservatives in the George W. Bush administration spoiling for an attack on Iran's nuclear sites have been seeking to convince the public that the United States must strike before an Iranian nuclear weapons capability becomes inevitable.

Iranian employees pose for a picture at the newly opened heavy water plant in Arak, 320 kms south of Tehran, 26 August 2006. US President George W. Bush called Iran 's leaders "tyrants" as dangerous as Al-Qaeda terrorists and said they must not be allowed to get nuclear weapons -- "the tools of mass murder."(AFP/File/Atta Kenare)

In order to do so, they must discredit the intelligence community's conclusions that Iran is still as many as 10 years away from being able to build a nuclear weapon and that such a weapon is not an inevitable consequence of its present uranium enrichment programme.

Those findings were first circulated in a top secret National Intelligence Estimate on Iran completed in May or June 2005, and could be a rallying point for Democrats and dissident Republicans inclined to oppose an attack on Iran. It has also inhibited the neoconservatives from being able to launch the kind of propaganda campaign against Iran they would prefer.

link: commondreams.org

I am looking forward to the day when the people of the USA understand and reject the neo-conservative agenda.

If Iran doesn't pose a nuclear threat, why is the US government pushing for political and economic sanctions against it?

05 September 2006

Robert Fisk: 'America's aggression is fuelling extremism', says Iran's ex-president

Here is a sort of journalism that is all but non-existent in mainstream US media.
By Robert Fisk in Chicago
Published: 04 September 2006
As the West's "war on terror" burns across the Muslim world, one of Islam's most principled leaders - the former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami - issued a grave warning yesterday from the very heart of America, the country whose troops and allies are fighting Islamists across the Middle East in a war that is costing thousands of Muslim lives.

"The policies of the neo-conservatives have created a war that creates more extremists and radicals," he told The Independent in Chicago. "The events of 9/11 gave them this ability to create fear and anxiety ... and to create new policies of their own and now events are creating an expansion of extremists on both sides. A struggle is under way to dominate this world multilaterally ... We are a witness to war - with suppression from one side and extremist reaction in the form of terror from the other."

Mr Khatami might appear an improbable figure in the breakfast room of one of Chicago's smartest hotels, dressed in his black turban and long gown, his spectacles giving him t+he appearance of a university don - which he once was - rather than the seer of Iran, a man whose demands for a civil society and democracy at home were overwhelmed by the ascetic clerics who surround the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei. Yet he is enormously important in the Sunni as well as the Shia Muslim worlds as a philosopher-scholar, which is probably why the Bush administration gave him a visa, and his message was the sharpest he has ever delivered to the Muslim world and the secular West.

link: http://news.independent.co.uk/world/fisk...

If "America's aggression is fuelling extremism", is it possible that positive action taken by America will subdue the problem with extremism? For example, if the USA military gets serious about reconstruction of Iraqi civilian infrastructure, and repairs the water systems, sewage systems and trash management - if they see fit to build schools and hospitals - will the insurgency be lessened? I suggest that it is certainly, at the very least, worth a try - stop the bleeding, no more violence - no more killing in my name.

03 September 2006

Constitution in Crisis

These are the opening paragraphs of the "Constitution in Crisis" report commissioned by Conyers as a result of suspected Bush administration malfeasance vis a vis the marketing of the invasion and occupation of Iraq. This report is available from a variety of sources on the Internet.
This Minority Report has been produced at the request of Representative John Conyers, Jr., Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee. He made this request in the wake of the President's failure to respond to a letter submitted by 122 Members of Congress and more than 500,000 Americans in July of this year asking him whether the assertions set forth in the Downing Street Minutes were accurate. Mr. Conyers asked staff, by year end 2005, to review the available information concerning possible misconduct by the Bush Administration in the run up to the Iraq War and post-invasion statements and actions, and to develop legal conclusions and make legislative and other recommendations to him.

In brief, we have found that there is substantial evidence the President, the Vice President and other high ranking members of the Bush Administration misled Congress and the American people regarding the decision to go to war with Iraq; misstated and manipulated intelligence information regarding the justification for such war; countenanced torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and other legal violations in Iraq; and permitted inappropriate retaliation against critics of their Administration.

There is a prima facie case that these actions by the President, Vice-President and other members of the Bush Administration violated a number of federal laws, including (1) Committing a Fraud against the United States; (2) Making False Statements to Congress; (3) The War Powers Resolution; (4) Misuse of Government Funds; (5) federal laws and international treaties prohibiting torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment; (6) federal laws concerning retaliating against witnesses and other individuals; and (7) federal laws and regulations concerning leaking and other misuse of intelligence.

While these charges clearly rise to the level of impeachable misconduct, because the Bush Administration and the Republican-controlled Congress have blocked the ability of Members to obtain information directly from the Administration concerning these matters, more investigatory authority is needed before recommendations can be made regarding specific Articles of Impeachment. As a result, we recommend that Congress establish a select committee with subpoena authority to investigate the misconduct of the Bush Administration with regard to the Iraq war detailed in this Report and report to the Committee on the Judiciary on possible impeachable offenses.

Let's support our troops by ensuring that they don't have to serve in an unjustified and illegal military action.

02 September 2006

Mt. Rainier Carbon Glacier

Is Criticism of Israel Anti-Semitic?

Check out this Rosa Brooks article.

But what's most troubling about the vitriol directed at Roth and his organization isn't that it's savage, unfounded and fantastical. What's most troubling is that it's typical. Typical, that is, of what anyone rash enough to criticize Israel can expect to encounter. In the United States today, it just isn't possible to have a civil debate about Israel, because any serious criticism of its policies is instantly countered with charges of anti-Semitism. Think Israel's tactics against Hezbollah were too heavy-handed, or that Israel hasn't always been wholly fair to the Palestinians, or that the United States should reconsider its unquestioning financial and military support for Israel? Shhh: Don't voice those sentiments unless you want to be called an anti-Semite — and probably a terrorist sympathizer to boot.

How did adopting a reflexively pro-Israel stance come to be a mandatory aspect of American Jewish identity? Skepticism — a willingness to ask tough questions, a refusal to embrace dogma — has always been central to the Jewish intellectual tradition. Ironically, this tradition remains alive in Israel, where respected public figures routinely criticize the government in far harsher terms than those used by Human Rights Watch.

I didn't know that a reflexively pro-Israel stance has come to be mandatory to the American Jew. I know that there are American Jews who support Israel in general, but who do not support the attacks on Lebanon. I know there are American Jews who support Israel and the attacks on Lebanon. There are American Jews who are anti-zionist.

What will be effective in helping to find a solution to the anti-semite problem? We all know that anti-semitism does exist. We must be allowed to talk about it in an open and truthful environment.

People must be allowed to criticize the political and military activites of Israel, without automatically being labeled as an anti-semite.

01 September 2006

Pentagon Gives Gloomy Iraq Report

The Associated Press
Friday, September 1, 2006; 4:13 PM

WASHINGTON -- Sectarian violence is spreading in Iraq and the security problems have become more complex than at any time since the U.S. invasion in 2003, a Pentagon report said Friday.

In a notably gloomy report to Congress, the Pentagon reported that illegal militias have become more entrenched, especially in Baghdad neighborhoods where they are seen as providers of both security and basic social services.

I wonder what Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld have to say about this.

A tragic and most unfortunate state of affairs. The war is illegal. It is time to start bringing the troops home now. the presence of the US military is only exacerbating tensions and violence in Iraq.

No more killing in my name. Bring the troops home now.