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Rootsie's Blog
Wednesday, June 30th

Iraqis have lived this lie before

by Haifa Zangana the Guardian

In Iraq, we have an expression: same donkey, different saddle. Iraq's long-heralded interim government has now formally assumed sovereignty. Official labels and tags have duly changed. The US administrator will now be an ambassador, while Sheikh Ghazi al Yawar and Iyad Allawi, US-appointed members of the former governing council, are to be known as president and prime minister.

To formalise the change, the UN has already issued a resolution under which "multinational forces" will replace "US-led forces". On the issue of control over US troops, the message is clear: the US forces are there to stay only because "Iraqi people" has asked them to. But which Iraqi people? Do they mean the new administration headed by the CIA's Iyad Allawi? And why does all this sound strangely familiar?

In Iraq we don't just read history at school - we carry it within ourselves. It's no wonder, then, that we view what is happening in Iraq now of "liberation-mandate-nominal sovereignty" as a replay of what took place in the 1920s and afterwards.
rootsie on 06.30.04 @ 02:36 PM CST [more..]

Unravelling of a nation 'liberated' by the West

by Kim Sengupta Independent (UK) full article

At the Nato summit in Istanbul the US and Britain squared up to France yet again. But this time the row was not over Iraq. They quarrelled over which troops should be sent to a country that had already been liberated; a country where power has already been handed over. Amid the wrangling, one man cut a forlorn figure. Hamid Karzai, the Afghan leader appointed with a nod of approval from the West, cares little whether it is a Nato response force or reserve troops that fly in. He simply needs help. "I would like you to please hurry. Come sooner than September, please." September is when elections are due.

Tony Blair may have pledged that Afghanistan would not be abandoned, but after the Taliban was ousted, Washington and London's focus shifted east to Iraq. Meanwhile, the toll of dead and maimed is rising. The infrastructure is non-existent, opium production is rocketing, warlords control large swathes of the country, and the Taliban are back. Afghanistan is unravelling piece by piece.
rootsie on 06.30.04 @ 01:59 PM CST [link]

Attack Iran, US Chief Ordered British

By Michael Smith, Defence Correspondent UK Telegraph Article

America's military commander in Iraq ordered British troops to prepare a full-scale ground offensive against Iranian forces that had crossed the border and grabbed disputed territory, a senior officer has disclosed.

An attack would almost certainly have provoked open conflict with Iran. But the British chose instead to resolve the matter through diplomatic channels.

"If we had attacked the Iranian positions, all hell would have broken loose," a defence source said yesterday.

"We would have had the Iranians to our front and the Iraqi insurgents picking us off at the rear."

The incident was disclosed by a senior British officer at a conference in London last week and is reported in today's edition of Defence Analysis. The identity of the officer is not given.

"Some Iranian border and observation posts were re-positioned over the border, broadly a kilometre into Iraq," a Ministry of Defence spokesman said.

The incident began last July when Revolutionary Guards pushed about a kilometre into Iraq to the north and east of Basra in an apparent attempt to reoccupy territory which they claimed belonged to Iran.

Lt Gen Ricardo Sanchez then ordered the British to prepare to send in several thousand troops to attack the Revolutionary Guard positions.

The Revolutionary Guard Corps has 125,000 soldiers, making it 25 per cent larger than the entire British Army, and is equipped with 500 tanks, 600 armoured personnel carriers and 360 artillery weapons.

The incident is reminiscent of the exchange during the Kosovo conflict between the American general, Wesley Clark, the supreme allied commander Europe, and Gen Sir Mike Jackson, the British commander.

When Gen Clark told Gen Jackson to send British troops into Pristina airport to prevent Russian troops from taking control Gen Jackson refused. He was reported to have said: "I am not going to start World War Three for you."

The Iran-Iraq incident lasted around a week and was resolved by a telephone conversation between Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, and Kamal Kharrazi, his Iranian counterpart, British officials said.

"It did look rather nasty at the time," one official said. "But we were always confident it was a mistake and could be resolved by diplomatic means. We got in touch with Baghdad and said, 'Don't do anything silly; we are talking to the Iranians.' "

While Mr Straw was trying to resolve the issue peacefully, British military commanders on the ground were calming their Iranian counterparts, the ministry said.

The Revolutionary Guard was believed to be behind the seizure of eight Royal Navy and Royal Marines personnel last week after they strayed across the disputed border between Iraq and Iran.

The eight men, who were delivering patrol boats to the Iraqi riverine patrol service, were released - but not before they were paraded blindfolded on Iranian television.
rootsie on 06.30.04 @ 12:16 PM CST [link]

It's All a Part of the Marvelous Tapestry...

New York Times Article:Iraq's New Leaders Ease Purge of Baathists

The Iraqi Baath party became dominated by Saddam's fellow Sunni Muslims and oversaw oppression of the Shi'ite majority, including the bloody suppression of an uprising in 1991.

Shi'ite leaders warned of unrest if senior Baathists returned: ``The people in central and southern Iraq will be furious. They will revolt,'' said Abdul Karim al-Mohammadani, a southern tribal leader on the commission.

New York Times Article:President Bush Urges All Autocrats to Yield Now to Democracy

In his address, delivered at Galatasaray University, President Bush returned to a familiar theme — the need to confront terrorism by forcefully encouraging Muslim nations to modernize.

He sought to link the invasion of Iraq to a strategy aimed at promoting democracy in what he called the "broader Middle East," an area that aides said might stretch from North Africa to the Indian subcontinent.

New York Times Article:Iraq Mortar Attack Injures 11 US Troops

Al-Jazeera reported that the group responsible for beheading two other foreign hostages had announced it was freeing the three Turks.

The abduction of the Turks was claimed by Jordanian terror mastermind Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, whose followers killed American Nicholas Berg last month and South Korean Kim Sun-Il last week.

New York Times Article:Abducted Marine Reportedly Deserted

But several hostages have been executed. The latest victim appears to be Specialist Keith Matthew Maupin, an American soldier who vanished after an ambush on his convoy near Baghdad on April 9.

On Monday, Al Jazeera, which has been first to broadcast a number of videos showing the killing of Americans, broadcast a video it said ended with kidnappers shooting Specialist Maupin in the head. Army officials said they could not confirm that he had been killed.

Intelligence officials said it is not clear if the kidnappings are coordinated, although they suspect that some of the captors are at least loosely tied to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian militant thought to be behind much of the mayhem in Iraq.
rootsie on 06.30.04 @ 12:06 PM CST [link]
Monday, June 28th

Now Here's a Spooky Article from the Council on Foreign Relations-'Clash of Civilizations' anyone?

A Global Power Shift in the Making
By JAMES F. HOGE, JR. full article

Published: June 24, 2004
From the July/August 2004 issue of Foreign Affairs.

James F. Hoge, Jr. is Editor of Foreign Affairs. This article is adapted from a lecture given in April at Johns Hopkins University's Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, D.C.

The transfer of power from West to East is gathering pace and soon will dramatically change the context for dealing with international challenges -- as well as the challenges themselves. Many in the West are already aware of Asia's growing strength. This awareness, however, has not yet been translated into preparedness. And therein lies a danger: that Western countries will repeat their past mistakes.

Major shifts of power between states, not to mention regions, occur infrequently and are rarely peaceful. In the early twentieth century, the imperial order and the aspiring states of Germany and Japan failed to adjust to each other. The conflict that resulted devastated large parts of the globe. Today, the transformation of the international system will be even bigger and will require the assimilation of markedly different political and cultural traditions. This time, the populous states of Asia are the aspirants seeking to play a greater role. Like Japan and Germany back then, these rising powers are nationalistic, seek redress of past grievances, and want to claim their place in the sun. Asia's growing economic power is translating into greater political and military power, thus increasing the potential damage of conflicts. Within the region, the flash points for hostilities -- Taiwan, the Korean Peninsula, and divided Kashmir -- have defied peaceful resolution. Any of them could explode into large-scale warfare that would make the current Middle East confrontations seem like police operations. In short, the stakes in Asia are huge and will challenge

...Militarily, the United States is hedging its bets with the most extensive realignment of U.S. power in half a century. Part of this realignment is the opening of a second front in Asia. No longer is the United States poised with several large, toehold bases on the Pacific rim of the Asian continent; today, it has made significant moves into the heart of Asia itself, building a network of smaller, jumping-off bases in Central Asia. The ostensible rationale for these bases is the war on terrorism. But Chinese analysts suspect that the unannounced intention behind these new U.S. positions, particularly when coupled with Washington's newly intensified military cooperation with India, is the soft containment of China.

For its part, China is modernizing its military forces, both to improve its ability to win a conflict over Taiwan and to deter U.S. aggression. Chinese military doctrine now focuses on countering U.S. high-tech capabilities -- information networks, stealth aircraft, cruise missiles, and precision-guided bombs.

...engagement must be the order of the day, even though some Bush officials remain convinced that the United States and China will ultimately end up rivals. For them, the strategic reality is one of incompatible vital interests.

full article
rootsie on 06.28.04 @ 10:14 AM CST [link]

In Anger, Ordinary Iraqis Are Joining the Insurgency

by Edward Wong
new york times: full article

BAQUBA, Iraq, June 27 — At a teahouse in this palm-lined city, jobless men sit on wooden benches talking about killing American soldiers.

"Tell us one benefit they've given us since they've come here," Falah, a 23-year-old man in a shabby checkered shirt, said to an Iraqi reporter.

He boasted about driving a friend to stage attacks on American patrols. The two wait in a farm field by the main road. When the Humvees roll by, his friend fires a rocket-propelled grenade, Falah said. The two hit the ground. The soldiers open fire, but the Iraqis lie still until the patrol leaves.

"I really didn't ask my friend whether they have a boss or not and whether they organize their work or not," he said. "I really don't care as long as I can take part and drive the Americans out of our country. We are all resistance."

rootsie on 06.28.04 @ 09:57 AM CST [link]
Sunday, June 27th

Terrorism Debate Enrages Iraqi Victims

By Michael Georgy Reuters: full article
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Some came on crutches. Others carried pictures of homes or vehicles shattered by explosions.

But none of the hundreds of Iraqis who gathered at a convention center Sunday for a conference for "victims of terrorism" believe they will win compensation after the U.S. occupation formally ends Wednesday.

"My son was killed by a bombing in Kerbala. I have tried to get compensation but nothing has worked. We are just hearing more talk today," said Jamila Khilkhaz, 55.

...A packed conference sponsored by the independent Legal Rights Council quickly descended into anger as the group told victims that not everyone would be eligible for compensation.

Many left early, missing a brief appearance by interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, who promised his government would give the issue "great importance."

Defining terrorism is tricky in a country where the laws of conflict mean nothing to people who have lost their relatives, or legs or homes to mortars, bullets or bombs.

Legal Rights Group left Iraqis with the impression they could only seek compensation if wounded by terrorists.

   ...Allawi declined to say whether he shared the view that those hit by American weapons should also be regarded as victims of terrorism and compensated, saying he had to wait for the findings of the conference before commenting.

Now wait a minute. Just who is it that 'laws of conflict mean nothing to'?? Since the US invasion of Iraq is every bit as illegal as Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, where are the UN sanctions and reparations? I know. Silly question.
rootsie on 06.27.04 @ 03:41 PM CST [link]

Beheadings Fuel Fresh Backlash Against US Muslims

Bush baby learned from daddy's October Surprise that there's nothing like hostages, in this case beheaded ones, abroad to win an election at home.
cnn.com:full article
EAGLESWOOD TOWNSHIP, New Jersey (AP) -- The recent beheadings of two Americans in the Middle East have added fuel to the angry backlash against Arab-Americans and Muslims that began after the 2001 terrorist attacks.

The murders of Paul Johnson and Nicholas Berg triggered hate mail, verbal attacks and anti-Muslim signs. Muslims received death threats and their mosques were vandalized.

"Since 9/11, every time there is an incident overseas attributed to Muslims or Arabs, we go on orange alert ourselves," said immigration lawyer Sohail Mohammed.

"There are individuals here who are off the wall, who think that every woman who wears a hijab or every man named Mohammed is out to blow things up."
rootsie on 06.27.04 @ 03:24 PM CST [link]
Saturday, June 26th

Cornel West on Emmit Till and 9-11

democracy now

For me, one of the great moments of American culture actually occurred in August of 1955. Very few people want to talk about it. 1955, of course, Emmit Till was murdered by fellow citizens, a victim of U.S. Terrorism. The body was found in the Yazoo river under the Tallahatchie bridge, but his body was brought back to Chicago, and the first major Civil Rights demonstration took place. 125,000 fellow citizens walked by to take a look at Emmit Till. His mother left the coffin open so they could see. It was at Pilgrim Baptist Church, led by the Reverend Julius Caesar Austin. He introduced Mamie Till, Mobely. She walked to the lectern. She looked over at her baby whose head was five times the size of his normal head. Then she looked in the eyes of America as well as the folk at south side Chicago, she said what -- I don't have a minute to hate, I'm going to pursue justice for the rest of my life. That's a level of spiritual maturity and moral maturity that does not give up on the Socratic attempt to interrogate the mendacity and hypocrisy of American life, but is rooted in something deep. It's rooted in an attempt to keep track of the humanity of the very people who have dehumanized you.

Use that as a standard of responding to terrorism in light of the last two-and-a-half years. My, gosh. How fascinating. Here is Mamie Mobely, speaking on her behalf and speaking for the best of tradition, Martin King’s in the background. Fanny Lou Hamer’s voice is there A. Phillip Randolph's voice was there. And many nameless and anonymous black leaders who knew they had to deal with a situation in which they were unsafe, unprotected, subject to random violence, and hated for who they were. That's what it meant to be a nigger. Unsafe, unprotected, subject to unjustified violence and hated. Now, after September 11, all Americans feel unsafe, unprotected, subject to random violence, and hated. You say, hmm, now that the whole nation has been ‘niggerized,’ let's see what the response is going to be… interesting.

I come from a tradition that says in the face of terrorism, it's justice, not sweet revenge. Not short term retaliation. It's justice. Hunt them down if they have committed a crime, yes. Demonize, no. And even within the black tradition, if there are black folk who demonize, they are criticized based on that tradition in light of their not aspiring to the standards of Emmit Till's mother. And if that's the case, that certainly the case for George Bush and other leaders. Crucial, indispensable, bringing together the best of the legacy of Athens, and the best of the legacy of Jerusalem, but in the new world context in which legacies of slavery, Jim and Jane Crow, police brutality, lynching, discrimination, red-lining in blank loans, on and on and on, always connecting one's vision about one's own freedom to the plight and predicament of others. Sisters of all colors, gay brothers, lesbians sisters, physically challenged, indigenous brothers and sisters, so that they all constitute overlapping and intertwining traditions of struggle. But knowing that the courage that they critically -- and the courage to love I think we need to talk publicly about the courage to love. That's what I love about the best of the Black Freedom Movement.
rootsie on 06.26.04 @ 11:05 PM CST [link]

Congress Overwhelmingly Endorses Ariel Sharon’s Annexation Plans

by Stephen Zunes commondreams.org article
On Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representatives, in an overwhelming bipartisan vote, endorsed right-wing Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon's efforts to colonize and annex large sections of the Palestinian West Bank, seized by Israel in the June 1967 war.

This was not just another “pro-Israel” (or, more accurately, “pro-Israeli right”) resolution, but an effective renunciation of the post-World War II international system based upon the premise of the illegitimacy of the expansion of a country’s territory by military force.

House Concurrent Resolution 460, sponsored by right-wing Republican leader Tom Delay, "strongly endorses" the letter sent by President George W. Bush to the Israeli prime minister in April supporting his so-called "disengagement" plan. This unilateral initiative calls for withdrawing the illegal Israeli settlements from the occupied Gaza Strip, but -- far more significantly -- would incorporate virtually all of the illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank into Israel, leaving the Palestinians with a series of non-contiguous and economically unviable cantons, each surrounded by Israeli territory, collectively constituting barely 10% of historic Palestine. (Even in the case of the Gaza Strip, Sharon's plan would allow Israel to control the borders, the ports, and the airspace, as well as having the right to conduct military operations inside Palestinian areas at will.)

The vote was 407 in favor of the resolution and only 9 opposed.
rootsie on 06.26.04 @ 08:38 PM CST [more..]

This Terrorist Is Bad Enough on His Own

by Peter Bergen new york times:full article

there are a few interesting bits in here...

...The day after the 9/11 staff report came out, Vice President Dick Cheney again put forward Mr. Zarqawi. "After we went in and hit his training camp, he fled to Baghdad," Mr. Cheney said, adding that Mr. Zarqawi "ran the poisons factory in northern Iraq out of Baghdad." The administration has also pointed out that American intelligence believes Mr. Zarqawi received medical treatment in Baghdad in 2002.

So is Abu Musab al-Zarqawi really the missing link between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein? Actually, the evidence of his relationship with either is far from clear cut.

...Mr. Zarqawi's connections to Saddam Hussein are equally tenuous. After fleeing Afghanistan, he probably spent as much time living in Iran as in Iraq. What Mr. Cheney described as the "poisons factory" Mr. Zarqawi ran was actually in the Kurdish area of northern Iraq, an area protected by American jets since 1991. Mr. Rumsfeld had more control than Saddam Hussein over that part of Iraq.
rootsie on 06.26.04 @ 01:11 PM CST [link]

Venezuela: the Gang's All Here***Replay of Chile and Nicaragua?

by Alexander Cockburn counterpunch.org article
You can set your watch by it. The minute some halfway decent government in Latin America begins to reverse the order of things and give the have-nots a break from the grind of poverty and wretchedness, the usual suspects in El Norte rouse themselves from the slumber of indifference and start barking furiously about democratic norms. It happened in 1973 in Chile; we saw it again in Nicaragua in the 1980s; and here’s the same show on summer rerun in Venezuela, pending the August 15 recall referendum of President Hugo Chávez.

Chávez is the best thing that has happened to Venezuela’s poor in a very long time. His government has actually delivered on some of its promises, with improved literacy rates and more students getting school meals. Public spending has quadrupled on education and tripled on healthcare, and infant mortality has declined. The government is promoting one of the most ambitious land-reform programs seen in Latin America in decades.

Most of this has been done under conditions of economic sabotage. Oil strikes, a coup attempt and capital flight have resulted in about a 4 percent decline in GDP for the five years that Chávez has been in office. But the economy is growing at close to 12 percent this year, and with world oil prices near $40 a barrel, the government has extra billions that it’s using for social programs. So naturally the United States wants him out, just as the rich in Venezuela do. Chávez was re-elected in 2000 for a six-year term. A US-backed coup against him was badly botched in 2002.

The imperial script calls for a human rights organization to start braying about irregularities by their intended victim. And yes, here’s José Miguel Vivanco of Human Rights Watch. We last met him in this column helping to ease a $1.7 billion US aid package for Colombia’s military apparatus*. This time he’s holding a press conference in Caracas, hollering about the brazen way Chávez is trying to expand membership of Venezuela’s Supreme Court, the same way FDR did, and for the same reason: that the Venezuelan court has been effectively packed the other way for decades, with judicial flunkies of the rich. I don’t recall Vivanco holding too many press conferences to protest that perennial iniquity.

* In my digest on George Soros in the archive below, the old man's connection to Helsinki Watch/Human Rights Watch is made. Since I found this out, I watch whose 'human rights' HRW watches out for, and whose it is conspiculously silent on: Haiti's for example.
rootsie on 06.26.04 @ 11:10 AM CST [more..]

CIA Analyst: Iraq War Was a Huge Gift to Bin Laden

by Tabbassum Zakaria Reuters-full article

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S.-led war against Iraq was a huge gift to Osama bin Laden in his drive to incite Muslim extremists to attack the United States, a CIA analyst said on Friday.

And if the White House was not told that before the war, it was an intelligence failure, said the analyst in the CIA's Counterterrorist Center, who once led the unit that tracked bin Laden.

The unnamed analyst has written a book called "Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War on Terror." It was signed "Anonymous" and is due out July 15.

He said he did not write the book to criticize Democrats or Republicans but wanted to tell the public that U.S. policies, not a hatred of the American way of life, were fueling anti-American sentiment in the Muslim world.

"The last two administrations have consistently said that bin Laden and his ilk are out to rob our liberties and freedoms and democracy. And in fact that has nothing to do with what they're after," said the analyst, whose first name Mike was disclosed by others.

"They are fighting us because of our policies and they are becoming stronger and more violent because our policies are so vastly unpopular in the Islamic world," he said.

In his book, he wrote policies that generate such anger in the Muslim world include U.S. support for Israel, the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan, support for Russia, India, and China against their Muslim militants, and U.S. pressure on Arab energy producers to keep oil prices low.
rootsie on 06.26.04 @ 09:18 AM CST [link]
Friday, June 25th

Fahrenheit 9-11: Summer Feel-Good Movie for Lefties

Review of Fahrenheit 9-11
by Rootsie

Well this was in some ways a typical Michael Moore production, somewhat unfocused, throwing out a lot of information without getting to the point, too soft on Democrats…But for once Moore pretty much left himself out of the equation except for a couple of maudlin moments and let the footage speak for itself…

…Representative after Representative from the Black Congressional Caucus standing up to contest the 2000 election results in the joint session, over which Gore presides, to verify the Bush’s ‘election’…Again and again Gore asks: ‘Did a member of the Senate sign the petition?” And each time the Congressperson, getting shouted down, has to say ‘No. Not a single Senator…the Senate is missing in action…”

These were perhaps the most moving and evocative moment of the film. 400 years of history were standing up there, denied yet once more.

…the riots on Pennsylvania Avenue on Inauguration Day. The Limo carrying Bush gunning it down the appropriately rainy street…

…Bush’s look of blank confusion that morning in the Florida classroom after an aide whispers in his ear that the 2nd plane has hit the Tower…

…The heartbreakingly beautiful black high school boys from Moore’s own Flint, Michigan…’I looked on TV at some of those bombed neighborhoods in Iraq and they look just like Flint…’

…The aggressive Marine recruiters working the Flint mall parking lot…’You want to play basketball? David Robinson was a Marine…you want to rap? Shaggy was a Marine…’

…The handholding romance between Bush, Rumsfeld, Cheney, and various Saudi diplomats and businessmen, including the Bin Ladens. Complete with bubblegum music.

Dead and wounded babies. Furious grieving mothers asking Allah to smite America. The former Welfare mother from Flint who goes to the White House to ask why her son is dead.

And all of this interspersed with the darkest of black humor, Wolfowitz slicking back his hair with his own spit, Bush stumbling over his words, Rice and Powell being prepped for the cameras: Cheney, Rumsfeld, Ashcroft crooning a patriotic tune, Ridge, James Baker…the camera lingers on their eyes…dead eyes, living dead…like those scary kind of clowns. Except they are anything but funny to that screaming Iraqi grandmother…

Moore in a commandeered ice-cream truck reading the Patriot Act over the loudspeaker to passing Congressmen.

Collaring Congressmen outside the Capitol to shove military brochures in their hands, asking them to sign their kids up for Iraq…

Hamid Karzai, former Unocal rep, now president of Afghanistan, signing the pipeline deal with Unocal.

The Taliban’s visit to the US months before the attack, being encouraged to do the same…being wined and dined across America…those grumpy-looking guys with their beards and turbans…

Well I laughed, and I cried. Moore covered a lot of territory in 2 hours and a bit. But I’m having my usual sorts of problems with the experience.

First, the student I went with, a bright high school graduate, although she appreciated the film, left confused and feeling that she didn’t have the background knowledge to understand how the whole picture fits together. So Moore has made a film that preaches to the choir, and cuts from this travesty to that, without giving a timeline or any other structures that might educate the uninformed. A film, in other words, for in-the-know, self-satisfied liberals. If you are not informed too bad for you. That’s why we’re better than you.

Four showings of the film sold out while we stood in line, and in line were these same self-satisfied folks who collect the horrors of our government like trading cards... there we all were, as if a single one of us needed to be convinced that Bush is stupid and bad. It is the latest in entertainment for conscience-stricken American lefties, I guess. The film might change some minds if anybody whose mind needs changing shelled out the money to see it. I doubt many will. I did not, after all, go rushing to see Gibson’s Passion of the Christ.

So is Fahrenheit 9-11 the ’04 feel-good summer movie for peaceniks? I fear it is.

Moore has been very clear that his intent with this film is to lose Bush the election. And as I said, his film barely touches on the complicity of Democrats in all this. When those black members of Congress found themselves unable to find a single Senator to contest the ’00 election, the majority of those Senators were Democratic. Moore seems to suggest that if Bush were gone, all those bad Unocal and Halliburton people, and the entire corporate elite, would go away too.

What about the liberal elite, educated professional people who in their own way also benefit from the tragic state of affairs Moore describes? I argue constantly with my peers about whether we constitute an elite. I just say look at the world that suffers for the policies of our government while we rest in comparative comfort and safety, and you tell me.
And precisely because we go to see Fahrenheit 9-11 as a sort of self-flagellating penance, since we certainly learn nothing from it that we didn’t already know, we are a particular brand of hypocrite, and share the blame with Bush and Cheney and the rest.
rootsie on 06.25.04 @ 09:15 PM CST [link]

Los Angeles Moves to Ease Tensions After Tape Captures Police Beating of Black Suspect

By NICK MADIGAN new york times full article
LOS ANGELES, June 24 - In the wake of a videotaped police beating of an African-American suspect, officials here scrambled Thursday to plead for peace and offer assurances that the incident, an echo of the Rodney King beating in 1991, would be scrupulously investigated.

All eight Los Angeles police officers on the scene have been removed from active duty with pay since the beating, which occurred early Wednesday during the arrest of Stanley Miller, 36. He was suspected of having stolen a Toyota Camry that he had used to evade police cruisers in a chase that moved from Los Angeles itself through the streets of Compton, south of downtown.

In a tape shown repeatedly on television, Mr. Miller is seen sprinting from the car and then stopping to raise his arms in surrender and crouching on the ground; at that point the officers can be seen leaping on him.

One officer, later identified by the police as John Hatfield, a seven-year veteran of the force, then hit Mr. Miller with a flashlight at least 11 times and also kicked him.

...Percy Perrodin, who retired as a captain in the Compton Police Department in 2002 after 32 years on the force, said: "Use of a flashlight is never justified. You're only supposed to use whatever force is necessary to overcome resistance. Once the resistance has ceased, the force must cease."
rootsie on 06.25.04 @ 05:50 PM CST [link]

Iraq's Allawi Vows to Crush Rebels Sowing Violence

new york times/Reuters article

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq's prime minister vowed to crush Baathist die-hards and foreign militants he blamed for killing more than 100 people in a day of suicide bombings and attacks meant to sabotage next week's move toward Iraqi rule.

...Allawi told reporters late on Thursday he believed Ansar al-Islam, a group linked to Jordanian militant Abu Musab Zarqawi, was behind the Mosul bombings.

He blamed Baathists loyal to deposed dictator Saddam Hussein for the attacks in Ramadi and Baquba.

A group led by Zarqawi, who Washington says has links to Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network, claimed responsibility for the attacks in a statement on an Islamist Web site.

...Zarqawi, whose group has claimed responsibility for the beheadings of an American and a South Korean hostage in Iraq, threatened on Wednesday to assassinate Allawi.

A CIA official in Washington said the voice on the audiotaped message was probably Zarqawi's.

Some of the black-clad gunmen who attacked police and government buildings in Baquba proclaimed loyalty to Zarqawi and wore yellow headbands linking them to his group.

It appeared to be the first time members of Zarqawi's underground network had surfaced in street combat.

...Fighters in the rebellious town of Falluja issued a taped statement on Friday denying Zarqawi was holed up there.

The violence that swept Sunni cities on Thursday did not extend to regions dominated by Iraq's Shi'ite majority.

The Mehdi Army militia of radical Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr declared a unilateral cease-fire on Thursday in a Baghdad slum -- its last holdout against U.S. troops.

``The Mehdi Army wants the security situation to stabilize and does not want those who are bent on causing chaos in the run-up to the power transfer to succeed,'' a statement said.

Sadr, apparently keen to enter mainstream politics, has already withdrawn his forces from the holy Shi'ite cities of Najaf and Kerbala under pressure from moderate Shi'ite leaders.

...The war's original justification was to destroy Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction. None has been found.

Since Baathist Party members and Republican Guards comprise the Iraqi government's 'security force' in Fallujah, it's hard to figure just who it is Allawi wants to 'crush.'
I would have to guess that the other Sh'ia convinces al Sadr to get smart and step out of the way so that the nature of this 'rebellion' would be exposed. It seems like a deliberate attempt on the part of MY GOVERNMENT to justify its ultimate aims in Iraq, which have nothing to do with democracy or 'stability.'
And this al Zirqawi, he's like the ubiquitous White Whale, everywhere at once doing every bad thing. But hey the CIA said the voice on said tape was 'probably' his. Fallujah, that 'rebellious town' is being bombed day after day, but the fighters have got word out: 'Zirqawi's not here!' I wonder if he is anywhere.Except in the copy that's written by a well-oiled (pun intended) misinformation mill.

Guardian story:Iraq War Will Cost Each US Family $3,415
The report predicted the war will ultimately cost each US household $3,415; its annual costs would be enough to provide healthcare for more than half of the 43 million US citizens who lack medical insur ance. Danielle Pletka, an analyst at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, rejected such budget comparisons as intellectually dishonest. "That's not the way budgets work," she said. "I don't think healthcare has been robbed to pay for Iraq."

Paying the Price quotes a University of Texas economist, James Galbraith, as predicting that although the expenditure would initially boost the economy, long-term problems were likely, including an expanded trade deficit and high infla tion, with the spike in oil prices adding to the downward drag on the US economy.

However, Mr Wolfowitz predicted Iraqi oil would begin to flow at faster rates and help offset the cost of the reconstruction of Iraq. "There's been $20bn of Iraqi money that's almost never mentioned. Ten billion of it was leftover [UN] oil-for-food money. Ten billion is brand-new oil revenues. There's another $8bn that's projected, if the killers don't destroy the pipelines, by the end of this year," he said.
rootsie on 06.25.04 @ 05:42 PM CST [link]
Thursday, June 24th

U.S. tackling violent crime in 15 cities**Justice Department dispatching 'Impact Teams'

cnn.com full article

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Justice Department is dispatching teams of federal agents to 15 cities struggling with violent crime problems despite a dropping U.S. crime rate, Attorney General John Ashcroft said Thursday.

Ashcroft told reporters that the effort would be targeted at "the hottest zones of criminal activity" in cities where high murder and violence rates persist despite a violent crime rate that is at a 30-year low nationwide, based on federal victimization statistics.

...Teams of agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; U.S. Marshals Service; FBI; and Drug Enforcement Administration will be assigned to each of the 15 cities for six months. A Justice Department prosecutor will handle cases of those charged.

...Other cities getting teams are Albuquerque, New Mexico; Baltimore; Chattanooga, Tennessee; Tampa, Florida; Miami; Richmond, Virginia; Greensboro, North Carolina; Pittsburgh; Las Vegas; Columbus, Ohio; Philadelphia; Los Angeles; Tucson, Arizona; and the Washington, D.C.-Northern Virginia region.

I think this should be called Operation Bust a Bunch of blacks, Mexicans, and Native Americans in time for the Election. Think swing states, kids. Or else some quasi-military drill. Fallujah comes to Omaha.
rootsie on 06.24.04 @ 11:06 PM CST [link]

Bush Interviewed in Gov't CIA Leak Probe

By DEB RIECHMANN ap full article
WASHINGTON (AP) - Federal investigators questioned President Bush for more than an hour Thursday as the investigation into the leak of a CIA operative's name reached into the Oval Office.

The president was interviewed for 70 minutes by U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald, the head of the Justice Department investigation, and by members of his team. The only other person in the room was Jim Sharp, a private trial lawyer and former federal prosecutor hired by Bush, said White House press secretary Scott McClellan.

"The leaking of classified information is a very serious matter," McClellan said, adding that the president repeatedly has said he wants his administration to cooperate with the investigation. "No one wants to get to the bottom of this matter more than the president of the United States," the spokesman said.

Investigators want to know who leaked the name of Valerie Plame, an undercover CIA operative, to syndicated columnist Robert Novak last July. Disclosure of an undercover officer's identity can be a federal crime.
rootsie on 06.24.04 @ 10:41 PM CST [link]

Moonie leader 'crowned' in Senate

This completely bizarre relationship between the US government and Moon first surfaced in the mid/late 70's when it was announced he a)got the contract to clean all Congressional office buildings and b) bought the WASHINGTON TIMES. Right around this time Gloucester (MA) fishermen were complaining that Moon had bought virtually the entire fishing fleet, which made our little paranoid selves think CIA/Southeast Asian heroin. He owns UPI too. This is all so incomprehensibly weird. 'Moonies' were the group who first brought people's awareness to 'cults.' It was quite a fad in the 70's for American kids to join. They practiced mind-control techniques like sleep-deprivation coupled with sugar overdose, isolation from family, 24-7 propoganda etc. etc...He did a wedding in Madison Square Garden in 1981 with 5000 couples or something...
It is interesting that the rabid right wing, which wishes to bring us 'family values' and good ole' Bible thumpin' Christianity would lie down with this guy, but hey...the true story is yet to be told.

Republicans and Democrats attend cult blessing ceremony

Julian Borger in Washington the guardian full article
Thursday June 24, 2004
The Guardian

The US Senate was used for a bizarre ritual in which the Rev Sun Myung Moon, the head of the Unification church, was "crowned" and declared himself the messiah in the presence of more than a dozen Republican and Democratic members of Congress, it was reported yesterday.
"Emperors, kings and presidents ... have declared to all heaven and Earth that Reverend Sun Myung Moon is none other than humanity's saviour, messiah, returning Lord and true parent," the 85-year-old Korean "Moonie" cult leader told several hundred guests at the meeting in one of the Senate's office buildings on March 23, according to the Washington Post.

He also claimed endorsement from Marx, Lenin, Stalin and Hitler, who had all been reformed and reborn through his church's teachings - an idiosyncratic version of Christianity which rejects the use of the cross as a symbol and denounces homosexuals as "dirty dung-eating dogs".

An account of the ceremony was first published by a Washington investigative journalist, John Gorenfeld.

According to a transcript of the event, Mr Moon declared: "I am God's ambassador, sent to Earth with his full authority. I am sent to accomplish his command to save the world's six billion people, restoring them to Heaven with the original goodness in which they were created."

The glittering event in the Senate's Dirksen building reflected Mr Moon's extraordinary influence in US politics. He owns the conservative newspaper the Washington Times and the US news agency United Press International.

His fiercely conservative attitudes towards homosexuality and pre-marital sex have won him the endorsement of leading Republicans, including the president's father, George Bush, and John Ashcroft, the attorney general, who participated in one of Mr Moon's "prayer luncheons" days before the president's inauguration in January 2001.

Leading black Democrats also played a prominent role in the March ceremony.

An Illinois congressman, Danny Davis, wore white gloves and carried a purple cushion bearing a medieval-style "international crown of peace", which was placed on Mr Moon's head, at an event at which 100 Americans from 50 states were also given lesser "national" and "state" peace awards.

The event was an "innocent ceremony," Mr Davis told the Guardian. "It was a banquet to give out awards. I didn't have any way of knowing Reverend Moon would say he was the messiah, or whatever he said."

Mr Davis acknowledged that "three or four individuals directly related to Rev Moon" took part in a fund-raiser for his primary campaign in Illinois earlier this year, but said small sums of money were involved.

Other members of Congress who attended the event said they had been fooled into going by being told only that people from their constituencies would be honoured at the ceremony.

A spokeswoman for a Democratic senator from Minnesota, Mark Dayton, said: "We fell victim to it. We were duped."

It was unclear who gave permission for the Senate office building to be used.

During the ceremony Mr Moon invoked the blessing of all America's past presidents. He also claimed to have communed with other big names in history.

He told his audience: "The five great saints and other leaders in the spirit world, including communist leaders such as Marx and Lenin, who committed all manner of barbarity, and dictators such as Hitler and Stalin, have found strength in my teachings, mended their ways and been reborn as new persons."

It is not the first time he has claimed posthumous backing. His followers recently took out a two-page advertisement in the Washington Times to run a testimonial to him, quoting 36 former presidents "from the vantage point of heaven".
rootsie on 06.24.04 @ 01:00 PM CST [link]

Violence Sweeps Iraq

In the American press it is harder to recognize the fact that the whole country is going up, since they report all of these 'incidents' seperately.

69 dead as violence sweeps Iraq the guardian
Thursday June 24, 2004

Insurgents today launched a wave of apparently coordinated car bomb and grenade attacks in several Iraqi cities, killing at least 69 people and injuring 270 more.
It was one of the worst days of violence since the US president, George Bush, declared the end of major combat in May 2003. Attacks targeting Iraqi police and US troops began at dawn in the Sunni-dominated cities of Baquba and Ramad and in the northern city of Mosul, where at least four bombs killed dozens of people.

There was also fierce fighting between US troops and militants in Falluja. Later, a car bomb exploded at a checkpoint in Baghdad, killing four Iraqi national guardsmen.

The US military said most of the fighting had calmed by noon (0900 BST), although fighting continued in Baquba. Three US troops were killed in the violence, the army said.

Security a shambles ahead of handover
With one week to go, 30,000 police officers face the sack amid serious shortages of staff and equipment
Rory McCarthy and Jonathan Steele in Baghdad the guardian
Thursday June 24, 2004

Up to 30,000 Iraqi police officers are to be sacked for being incompetent and unreliable and given a $60m payoff before the US hands over to an Iraqi government, senior British military sources said yesterday.

Many officers either deserted to the insurgents or simply stayed at home during the recent uprisings in Falluja and across the south.

Fourteen months after the war and just a week before the Iraqis take power on June 30, the sources revealed serious shortfalls of properly trained police and soldiers and vital equipment
rootsie on 06.24.04 @ 12:04 PM CST [link]

Latin America Is Growing Impatient With Democracy

Unreal. The United States military coup in Haiti is labelled a 'popular uprising.' And Latin Americans, fools that they are, are apparently not capable of democracy. First, the mistake is made of equating voting with democracy. A popular mistake of course: see they vote! That means they are free. Latin Americans I am sure are not 'impatient' with democracy. Perhaps they are impatient to see some, especially since their new leaders and the US are trumpeting about it all the time. I am sure they are impatient for economic and racial justice, having been despoiled and despotically ruled for so many centuries now. This article assumes a tone of somehow blaming the people of Central and South American for their damned impatience, especially since now things are so wonderfully better. Ridiculous.

By JUAN FORERO new york times article
Published: June 24, 2004

LAVE, Peru — On a morning in April, people in this normally placid spot in Peru's southeastern highlands burst into a town council meeting, grabbed their mayor, dragged him through the streets and lynched him. The killers, convinced the mayor was on the take and angry that he had neglected promises to pave a highway and build a market for vendors, also badly beat four councilmen.

The beating death of the mayor may seem like an isolated incident in an isolated Peruvian town but it is in fact a specter haunting elected officials across Latin America. A kind of toxic impatience with the democratic process has seeped into the region's political discourse, even a thirst for mob rule that has put leaders on notice.

In the last few years, six elected heads of state have been ousted in the face of violent unrest, something nearly unheard of in the previous decade. A widely noted United Nations survey of 19,000 Latin Americans in 18 countries in April produced a startling result: a majority would choose a dictator over an elected leader if that provided economic benefits.

Analysts say that the main source of the discontent is corruption and the widespread feeling that elected governments have done little or nothing to help the 220 million people in the region who still live in poverty, about 43 percent of the population.

"Latin America is paying the price for centuries of inequality and injustice, and the United States really doesn't have a clue about what is happening in the region," said Riordan Roett, director of Latin American studies at Johns Hopkins University.

"These are very, very fragile regimes," he added. "Increasingly, there's frustration and resentment. The rate of voting is going down. Blank ballots are increasing. The average Latin American would prefer a very strong government that produces a physical security and economic security, and no government has been able to do that."

These at-risk governments stretch thousands of miles from the Caribbean and Central America through the spine of the Andes to the continent's southern cone, and increasingly the problems associated with weak governments are spilling beyond Latin America and affecting United States interests in the region.

"We're confronted with large increase in illegal migration," Mr. Roett said, "more drugs pouring into the American market to meet an insatiable demand, and the potential for regime failure that could spread in the region and bring serious threats to our security position in the hemisphere."

Among the weakest states is Guatemala, which struggles with paramilitary groups, youth gangs and judicial impunity and has become a crossroads for the smuggling of people and drugs to the United States.

Several other governments are fragile at best and susceptible to popular unrest that could further weaken and topple them. These include the interim administration of Prime Minister Gérard Latortue in Haiti, which took power after a popular revolt this year, and President Carlos Mesa in Bolivia, who took power after such a revolt last year.
rootsie on 06.24.04 @ 11:51 AM CST [more..]
Wednesday, June 23rd

ICC to Probe Congo Crimes in First Investigation

Wed Jun 23, 2004 02:28 PM ET
By Emma Thomasson Reuters article

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - The International Criminal Court has opened its first investigation, into crimes in the Democratic Republic of Congo including rape, torture and the use of child soldiers, it said Wednesday.

"The opening of the first investigation of the ICC is a major step forward for international justice," Luis Moreno-Ocampo, ICC chief prosecutor, said in a statement.

Prosecutors will investigate crimes committed in Congo since July 2002 when the court's statutes came into force, noting that thousands of deaths by mass murder and summary execution had been reported in the country since that date

Well it is either curious or completely appropriate that a situation that inaction by the UN (Rwanda) is what set recent mess in Congo in motion, and that THIS is waht the ICC chooses to go for first. Does Kofi Annan's inaction on Rwanda before he was Sec. General constitute a war crime?
rootsie on 06.23.04 @ 03:17 PM CST [link]
Tuesday, June 22nd

Another Fascinating Beheading

So check it out.
At 6amET Reuters says the kidnappers extended the deadline.
At 11:54amET (Reuters) the chief negotiator says the talks are going well and the kidnappers have dropped the demand for S.Korea to promise to withdraw troops.
At 1:20pmET Reuters reports the guy beheaded and American troops have found the body.

africaspeaks weblog
rootsie on 06.22.04 @ 03:27 PM CST [link]
Monday, June 21st

The Final Answer Will Be Given by the Tanks

Colombia's new border brigade and the Venezuelan referendum
by Justin Podur; June 19, 2004 znet article
A few months ago, the commander of the Venezuelan Army, Raul Baduel, described something that worried him (1).  Colombia had just purchased 46 AMX-30 battle tanks from Spain.  The media claimed the tanks were to fight drug trafficking, but that hardly seemed plausible.  Baduel suspected that the tanks were going to end up on the Venezuelan border.  

This deployment was blandly reported in El Tiempo, Colombia's national newspaper, yesterday (2).  The 46 tanks will be part of a new Brigade, especially created, to 'patrol the border'.  Four battalions and a Special Forces group form this new Brigade.  The tanks are supposed to arrive in (and watch the timing carefully, for we will revisit it) August. 

The El Tiempo article refers to the need for the tanks in order to "defend Colombia" from an "eventual incursion from Venezuela".  The Brigade is also charged with the defense of the Wayuu indigenous people, who have been victims of massacres by "illegal armed groups".  Thus, the indigenous can rest secure under the protection of the very army that is killing them directly or working with the paramilitaries ("illegal armed groups" who happen to work with the army) who are killing them.

As for the tanks themselves, their location is unknown.  The deal was signed between the current Colombian government and the Spanish government of Jose Maria Aznar, who made sure he sold the tanks before he lost the elections in March.  But, an El Tiempo editorial in the same issue speculates, the Venezuelan government is pressuring Zapatero's new Spanish government to call off the deal.  "The final answer will be given by the tanks," writes the Madrid correspondent for El Tiempo, Victor Manuel Vargas.  "That is, if they are delivered or not."

That is a very good description of US foreign policy, in fact, in the region and elsewhere: The final answer will be given by the tanks.

It is not coincidental that the tanks for the Venezuelan border are arriving in August.  The Venezuelan recall referendum, when Venezuelans will vote on whether or not to recall President Hugo Chavez, will take place on August 15.  It will take place, that is, if the Venezuelan opposition thinks they can win.  Since the Venezuelan opposition could not likely win a fair vote, it is more likely that the whole referendum exercise, like the coup attempt in April 2002 and the 'National Strike' (3) later that year and into 2003, is just another part of the destabilization campaign against the Chavez government.  In March 2003, just after the 'National Strike' collapsed, Colombia's army raided across the Venezuelan border (4).  Just in May of 2004, another plot involving Colombian paramilitaries was foiled by Venezuela, though the details have not fully emerged.   According to an AFP report Venezuelan police are still finding caches of weapons and individuals linked to the plot. (5) 
rootsie on 06.21.04 @ 09:01 PM CST [more..]

Israel's Intelligence Scandal

Irreversible Mental Damage
By URI AVNERY counterpunch.org article

Two weeks ago, the international community made a shocking declaration.

Giving in to a demand by George Bush, the “Quartet” accepted the “Revised Disengagement Plan” of Ariel Sharon. This means that the United Nations, the European Union, the Russian Federation and the United States confirmed this document. I wonder if any one of the honorable diplomats has read the document with their own eyes.

In the first paragraph of the “plan”, the following words appear: “Israel has come to the conclusion that at present, there is no Palestinian partner with whom it is possible to make progress on a bilateral peace process.”

That is to say, the international community has confirmed that the Palestinian people has no right to take part in the determination of its own fate. Everything will be decided by the Government of Israel alone, with the backing of the United States, whose position will be automatically accepted by the other partners of the “Quartet”.

The European Union with its 25 member-states, the government of the Russian Federation and the organization that represents the entire world have humbly accepted the edict of Bush, the dictator of the world, who is himself a captive of Sharon. Sharon decided long ago that the elected president of the Palestinian people is “irrelevant”, together with the whole Palestinian leadership.

The Palestinian people have been eliminated from the list of decision-makers, thereby also abolishing in practice all the agreements signed with them, from Oslo to the Road Map.

This is a scandalous step, unprecedented in its dimensions, and it passed without comment. Apart from Sharon and his minions, nobody noticed the implications. The big boot of the international community trod on the Palestinian people without even noticing it, as if on an ant.
rootsie on 06.21.04 @ 01:42 PM CST [link]


Israelis 'using Kurds to build power base'
Gary Younge guardian article
Israeli military and intelligence operatives are active in Kurdish areas of Iran, Syria and Iraq, providing training for commando units and running covert operations that could further destabilise the entire region, according to a report in the New Yorker magazine.

The article was written by Seymour Hersh, the Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter who exposed the abuse scandal in Abu Ghraib. It is sourced primarily to unnamed former and current intelligence officials in Israel, the United States and Turkey.

Israel's aims, according to Hersh, are to build up the Kurdish military strength in order to offset the strength of the Shia militias and to create a base in Iran from which they can spy on Iran's suspected nuclear-making facilities.

"Israel has always supported the Kurds in a Machiavellian way - a balance against Saddam," one former Israeli intelligence officer told the New Yorker. "It's Realpolitik. By aligning with the Kurds Israel gains eyes and ears in Iran, Iraq and Syria. The critical question is 'What will the behaviour of Iran be if there is an independent Kurdistan with close ties to Israel? Iran does not want an Israeli land-based aircraft carrier on its border."

This article is written as if the U.S. and Israel do not share common interests all down the line. Historically, the U.S. has used Israel to do things they don't want to get caught doing, such as selling weapons to S. Africa in the Aparttheid days. I said from the first that the United States has no interest in a stable democratic Iraq. To promote the 'destabilization of the region' in order to justify 'drastic measures' to gain control of the entire region has been the policy for a long time now. Read Samuel Huntington's The Clash of Civilizations 1993.

rootsie on 06.21.04 @ 11:05 AM CST [link]

New Information Shows Bush Indecisive, Paranoid, Delusional

capitol hill blue article

The carefully-crafted image of George W. Bush as a bold, decisive leader is cracking under the weight of new revelations that the erratic President is indecisive, moody, paranoid and delusional.
“More and more this brings back memories of the Nixon White House,” says retired political science professor George Harleigh, who worked for President Nixon during the second presidential term that ended in resignation under fire. “I haven’t heard any reports of President Bush wondering the halls talking to portraits of dead Presidents but what I have been told is disturbing.”

"George W. Bush is a case study in contradiction," Dr. Frank writes in Bush On The Couch: Inside the Mind of the President. "Bush is an untreated ex-alcoholic with paranoid and megalomaniac tendencies."
rootsie on 06.21.04 @ 10:44 AM CST [link]

White House Lawyer Questioned in CIA Leak Case

capitol hill blue article

The White House's top lawyer was questioned by a federal grand jury Friday in the criminal investigation of who in the Bush administration leaked the name of a covert CIA operative last year.
White House counsel Alberto Gonzales underwent questioning at the federal courthouse. He was the latest in a string of administration officials to be asked about the unauthorized disclosure of the name of CIA operative Valerie Plame, wife of former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, to the news media.

"The president directed the White House to cooperate fully, and Judge Gonzales was just doing his part to cooperate," said White House press secretary Scott McClellan, who also has gone before the grand jury.

Vice President Dick Cheney was recently questioned...
rootsie on 06.21.04 @ 10:37 AM CST [link]

Here We Are on the Glorious Road to Democracy in Iraq-Democracy or else dammit!

Iraq Government Considers Using Emergency Rule
By DEXTER FILKINS and SOMINI SENGUPTA new york times article

BAGHDAD, Iraq, June 20 — Faced with violent resistance even before it has assumed power, Iraq's newly appointed government is considering imposing a state of emergency that could involve curfews and a ban on public demonstrations, Iraqi officials said Sunday.

In his first news briefing here, Prime Minister Iyad Allawi offered no details of what emergency rule might include, only that a committee of cabinet members had been appointed to consider the issue.

Dr. Allawi, who worked closely with the Central Intelligence Agency in opposing Saddam Hussein's government in the 1990's, said he would consider "human rights principles and international law," but made clear that he intended to act quickly and forcefully against the insurgency, using extraordinary methods if necessary.

"We will do all we can to strike against enemy forces aiming at harming our country, and we will not stand by with our hands tied," Dr. Allawi said. "The Iraqi people are determined to establish a democratic government that provides freedom and equal rights for all its citizens. We are prepared to fight and, if necessary, die for the cause."
rootsie on 06.21.04 @ 10:12 AM CST [link]

Gotta Love This

S.Korea Party Asks U.S. to Avoid Intelligence Errors
By REUTERS Reuters article

SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea's ruling party urged President Bush's administration on Monday to share more intelligence on North Korea to ensure there is no repeat of what it said was the flawed information that led to war in Iraq.

The bipartisan commission investigating the September 11 attacks in the United States reported last week there had been contact between Iraqis and al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden but there was no evidence of a collaborative relationship.

``It was wrongful of the Bush Administration to bring on the war against Iraq,'' the Uri Party said in an English-language statement. ``Even worse, the administration is losing the justification of occupation policy in Iraq.''

``We urge that the Bush Administration guarantee that such kind of decision making based on false and distorted information as in the case of Iraq will not occur on the Korean peninsula, by sharing nuclear and military information on North Korea with Seoul,'' the party said.
rootsie on 06.21.04 @ 10:05 AM CST [link]
Sunday, June 20th

Here We Go: Preventing Civil War or Promoting It?

Kurds Advancing to Reclaim Land in Northern Iraq new york times

Published: June 20
AKHMUR, Iraq, June 17 — Thousands of ethnic Kurds are pushing into lands formerly held by Iraqi Arabs, forcing tens of thousands of them to flee to ramshackle refugee camps and transforming the demographic and political map of northern Iraq.

The Kurds are returning to lands from which they were expelled by the armies of Saddam Hussein and his predecessors in the Baath Party, who ordered thousands of Kurdish villages destroyed and sent waves of Iraqi Arabs north to fill the area with supporters.

The new movement, which began with the fall of Mr. Hussein, appears to have quickened this spring amid confusion about American policy, along with political pressure by Kurdish leaders to resettle the areas formerly held by Arabs. It is happening at a moment when Kurds are threatening to withdraw from the national government if they are not confident of having sufficient autonomy.
rootsie on 06.20.04 @ 07:24 PM CST [link]

Here's the Clincher

Okay. In the article I posted below, you have al-Qaida denying involvement in the latest beheading, but now it seems 'the head' of the cell that supposedly killed him left a note! Well I'm glad to see that's all cleared up now. This combined with the appearing and disappearing body (also below) tells me that SOMEBODY is seeing the p.r. value in beheading an American over there every now and then. One concrete result I have seen here in the U.S. is a a sudden rise in murders that feature beheadings...beheaded children, beheaded wives...

al-Qaida Head Justifies Targeting Johnson
Sunday June 20, 2004 4:31 PM

CAIRO, Egypt (AP) - The head of the al-Qaida cell that killed Paul M. Johnson Jr. justified targeting the American engineer in a message written before he himself was killed in a gun battle with Saudi security forces.
the guardian uk full article

website says Saudi Security Forces aided in kidnapping:aol news
rootsie on 06.20.04 @ 12:33 PM CST [link]

Well Which IS It?

Saudis Search for Slain Hostage's Body
By SALAH NASRAWI, Associated Press Writer yahoo news
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia - Saudi security agents searched homes in the capital and surrounding deserts Saturday for the body of slain American hostage Paul M. Johnson Jr., while Saudi officials hailed as a victory their slaying of his executioner, the top al-Qaida figure in the kingdom.

...Saudi officials had reported that Johnson's body was found Friday dumped on the northern outskirts of the capital, hours after his captors killed and decapitated him and posted Web photos of his severed head.

But officials backtracked Saturday. "We haven't found the body yet," said Adel al-Jubeir, foreign affairs adviser to Crown Prince Abdullah in Washington. "We think we know the area where it is."

Saudi security officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said they have been searching in desert areas around Riyadh. They said they were also searching houses and apartments that they suspect were used by militants.

 Al Qaeda militants kill American hostage
Saturday, June 19, 2004 Posted: 3:04 AM EDT (0704 GMT)
(CNN) -- Saudi security forces killed a top al Qaeda leader in the kingdom shortly after the decapitated body of American hostage Paul Johnson Jr. was left in a remote area of Riyadh, security sources said.
But a statement attributed to al Qaeda denied al-Muqrin's death, saying "Saudi tyrants" trying to discourage the mujahideen were spreading "false news."
There was no way to immediately confirm the denial.

...His body was found Friday in northern Riyadh soon after an Islamist Web site posted photographs of his decapitated body.
U.S. officials said the remains were "definitely" Johnson's.
One photograph showed a severed head sitting on the back of a headless body.

'Saudi officials.' Saudii security officials'. 'Security sources'. 'American officials.' 'Officials.' 'Saudi security forces.' Well whatever the story is, it is clearly neither official nor secure.
rootsie on 06.20.04 @ 11:59 AM CST [link]
Friday, June 18th

Guatemala and the Forgotten Anniversary

by Arnold J. Oliver commondreams.org
Democracy has been much in the news of late. At the G-8 Summit in Georgia, one of the main items on the agenda was the democratization of the Middle East, and the recent commemoration of the D-Day anniversary and the passing of President Reagan both generated discussion concerning the defense and spread of democracy.

But amidst all the hoopla, the anniversary of a decisive event in the modern history of democracy has somehow escaped notice. Fifty years ago, in June of 1954, the government of the United States overthrew the legitimate and democratically elected government of Guatemala. It was the Central Intelligence Agency's first major covert action in Latin America, and by leading to the rise to a series of military regimes across the region, it changed the course of history.

What was done to Guatemala in 1954 was criminal, and because the U.S. government committed the dreadful deed, American citizens are obliged to remember.
rootsie on 06.18.04 @ 10:42 PM CST [more..]

Conspiracy and the State of the Union

by Jamey Hecht, PhD from the wilderness.com full article

There is some good stuff in this article.
...Yet the forces of violence, reaction, and American exceptionalism can claim a long series of epochal triumphs, of which I will name only the most egregious: Operation Paperclip, which brought the Nazi Intelligence "community" into the nascent CIA (thereby rescuing the most depraved murderers in history from certain death at the hands of British military tribunals); the National Security Act of 1947, which established the CIA as a secret society of military adventurism and political sabotage under the guise of an intelligence-gathering body; the murders of President Kennedy, Senator Robert Kennedy, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, which issued in a disastrous Vietnam War that killed up to three million people and pitched the U.S. economy into a permanent free-fall of debt; the Savings and Loan Robbery, which did so much to bankrupt the vanishing middle class; the 1990's three trillion dollar theft under the auspices of the departments of Defense and Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which motivated America's international creditors to begin withdrawing their confidence from the dollar; and the "velvet coup" of the fraudulent presidential election of 2000, which openly discredited the residual myth of popular sovereignty. But perhaps 11-22-63 and 9-11-01 are the deepest wounds they have inflicted upon the body politic so far. These represent two seizures of state power by the most violent elements of the longstanding elites who make policy in the absence of popular sovereignty and genuine legislative oversight. In the meantime, they have consolidated their power and expanded their domain of operations and propaganda with an inexorable momentum.

Policy is no longer driven by leadership figures, but by consortia of mutually interested elites. Like the forty years since 11-22, the three years since 9-11 have seen exponential growth in defense spending as a portion of the USG's annual budget. Between forty-six and fifty-three cents of every tax dollar we pay goes to military debt payments, salaries, deployments, and weapons stockpiling. This flood of capital into the arms industry drives a domestic policy of despair and a "foreign" policy of violence. Weapons are expended so that they can be replaced; their manufacture enriches Lockheed-Martin, the largest purveyor of lethal weapons in the world, and its competitive partners. In pursuit of new raw materials to seize and new markets to monopolize, corporations and their clients drive policy toward aggressive expansionism. CIA is the spearhead of the war process, so its activity has been cloaked from all genuine Congressional interference. The beauty of the CIA's position is that it apparently always takes its orders from the President, but for the most part it also insures that the President orders roughly what CIA wants. When he doesn't do so, and seeks to replace their programs with his own initiative, he is murdered; when he insists on forming his own intelligence apparatus inside the White House or the Pentagon - as in the Nixon and G. W. Bush administrations, respectively - the CIA is likely to destroy the administration. Whenever the latter occurs, the administration is unseated on the strength of some nonviolent crime like a "third rate burglary" or the disclosure of a CIA operative's identity. Bombing Vietnam and Cambodia or Afghanistan and Iraq at the cost of thousands of lives never ranks as an impeachable offense.
rootsie on 06.18.04 @ 07:31 PM CST [more..]

The "Long Established" Link...

By Gary Leupp counterpunch.org full article

Painting al Zarqawi as the cheeky contender vying with Osama for 'biggest baddest terrorist guy' provides a handy pretext for some disastrous military operation in Iran, since Iran is accused of 'sponsoring' him. So far al Zarqawi is the dead man, the one-legged man, the one-legged man with two legs...I remember being convinced through most of the 90's that Osama was a fictional character-to tell the truth I may never be convinced. Bin Laden and now al Zarqawi are just so darned convenient...

some excerpts:

"A memo indicating that his [Cheney's] office was directly involved in the decision to award Halliburton (of which he was formerly CEO) no-bid contracts worth seven billion dollars in Iraq reconstruction work prior to the war last year; reports that most likely a member of Cheney’s office vindictively (and criminally) leaked to the press the identity of former ambassador Joseph Wilson’s CIA agent wife; charges that Cheney personally, repeatedly visited CIA headquarters to influence “intelligence” reporting in order to bolster the administration’s case for war with Iraq; and even his role as Bush “transition director” in placing neocons eager for a war with Iraq in key positions in the Defense Department and his own office…all these will likely embarrass him further in the coming months. But maybe, with the arrogance for the masses that typifies neocons, he will plod on disseminating disinformation, in his cool, measured, grandfatherly style, knowing that if challenged on the Iraq al-Qaeda link he will need only say, “Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.”

If al-Zarqawi did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him. The “Jordanian-born” militant (variously described as “Palestinian” or “Bedouin”) is the link posited by the Bush administration between Saddam Hussein, the secularist, and bin Laden, the Islamic fundamentalist. (In his crucial speech to the United Nations before the war, Colin Powell declared that there was a “sinister nexus between Iraq and the Al Qaida terrorist network” and asserted that al-Zarqawi was the key figure in that nexus.) Any other links—such as the 1997 training of al-Qaeda operatives in airline hijacking, which supposedly took place at the Salman Pak training facility outside Baghdad---have been discredited. That leaves us with the al-Zarqawi link. The nice thing about the latter is that al-Zarqawi straddles the pre-invasion and post-invasion periods, and so can be used (by the neocons anyway) to justify not only the invasion but the ongoing occupation. Why’d we invade? Because, Cheney (who can no longer speak of weapons of mass destruction) explains, of those “long established ties with al-Qaeda.” Why are we still there? Because al-Zarqawi (either depicted as “linked to al-Qaeda” or as an al-Qaeda “operative”) is there in Iraq, and if his influence grows, Iraq will become Osama bin-Laden’s base for more attacks on the USA Homeland. His supposed presence, that is, justifies (so long as it may be posited) the presence of U.S. occupying forces. He—another personification of evil, a human face on Terror to add to that of the frustratingly elusive bin Laden---is indeed necessary.

As such, it is best that he remain as vaguely defined as possible. If, for example, you say he had his leg amputated in 2002 in the Baghdad hospital from which (you say) he made a phone call that you intercepted (that call being your key piece of evidence for the “long established” Saddam al-Qaeda ties), and then you, for example, say that the person beheading Nick Berg in Iraq two months ago, who seems to have both legs, is none other than arch-villain al-Zarqawi---then you run into logical problems. Some people (including German intelligence agents) think al-Zarqawi is as much a rival as ally to bin-Laden. The Christian Science Monitor suggests that the two men differ on how to exploit Shiite-Sunni differences in Iraq. (So best not to give to many details about this evil person, other than to make sure all know he is indeed evil, so sneakily so that if logical contradictions appear in media coverage of his activities, he, rather than they, are to blame.) But logical thinking aside, if one can depict al-Zarqawi as the mastermind of ongoing resistance to the occupation of Iraq, then you can divert attention from the general, indigenous, Iraqi rejection of the occupation, while depicting that occupation as an anti-al-Qaeda effort..."
rootsie on 06.18.04 @ 03:19 PM CST [more..]
Thursday, June 17th

Toward a Single State Solution***Zionism, Anti-Semitism and the People of Palestine

This is an excellent article which gives a history of modern Zionism and the state of Israel, the origins of the 'Palestinian problem,' gives an example of Zionist collaboration with Hitler, discusses the Christian Coalition's relationship with Israel, and engages at length the tabu topic of how any faint criticism of Israel leads to charges of anti-Semitism. The author goes on to propose a 'one-state solution.'

by Noel Ignatiev counterpunch.org full article
...Unlike many countries, including the United States, the Israeli state does not belong, even in principle, to those who reside within its borders, but is defined as the state of the Jewish people, wherever they may be. That peculiar definition is one reason why the state has to this day failed to produce a written constitution, define its borders, or even declare the existence of an Israeli nationality. Moreover, in this "outpost of democracy," no party that opposes the existence of the Jewish state is permitted to take part in elections. It is as if the United States were to declare itself a Christian state, define "Christian" not by religious belief but by descent, and then pass a "gag law" prohibiting public discussion of the issue.

If one part of the Zionist project is the expulsion of the indigenous population, the other part is expanding the so-called Jewish population. But here arises the problem, which has tormented Israeli legal officials for fifty years, what is a Jew? (For a century-and-a-half U.S. courts faced similar problems determining who is white.) The Zionists set forth two criteria for determining who is a Jew. The first is race, which is a myth generally and is particularly a myth in the case of the Jews. The "Jewish" population of Israel includes people from fifty countries, of different physical types, speaking different languages and practicing different religions (or no religion at all), defined as a single people based on the fiction that they, and only they, are descended from the Biblical Abraham. It is so patently false that only Zionists and Nazis even pretend to take it seriously. In fact, given Jewish intermingling with others for two thousand years, it is likely that the Palestinians-themselves the result of the mixture of the various peoples of Canaan plus later waves of Greeks and Arabs-are more directly descended from the ancient inhabitants of the Holy Land than the Europeans displacing them. The claim that the Jews have a special right to Palestine has no more validity than would an Irish claim of a divine right to establish a Celtic state all across Germany, France, and Spain on the basis that Celtic tribes once lived there. Nevertheless, on the basis of ascribed descent, the Zionist officials assign those they have selected a privileged place within the state. If that is not racism, then the term has no meaning.
rootsie on 06.17.04 @ 10:01 PM CST [more..]

Mohammed Atta and the 9-11 Cover Up in Florida

Interview with Daniel Hopsicker
Conducted by Sander Hicks
Broadcast 6/11/04 on INN World Report
full interview

...HOPSICKER: What I found in Florida was that the government story about the terrorist conspiracy’s activities before September 11th is not just an error, it s a lie. The time line is wrong. The FBI’s timeline is wrong. Everything they are doing is designed to protect an operation that was under way in southwest Florida that trained, between 1999 and September 2001, literally hundreds of Arabs to fly. In other words, in 1998, there were two or three Arabs learning how to fly, by the end of ‘99 it was flying hundreds of them. So obviously there was a covert operation going on; the flight school where Mohammad Atta went to, Huffman Aviation in Florida is not a business and was not operating like a business. So it was, and is, something else...

This interview connects the goon squad behind any number of squalid episodes, like the Bay of Pigs, Kenneddy assassination, Watergate, Iran-Contra, to 9-11. I wish I was surprised.
rootsie on 06.17.04 @ 08:42 PM CST [link]

Israel Launches Gaza Moat Plan

Reuters story
JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel set in motion a plan Thursday to dig a moat along the Gaza-Egypt border, inviting contractor bids for the project meant to prevent arms reaching Palestinian militants through tunnels.

The Defense Ministry published the bid notice 11 days after the cabinet approved in principle a Gaza withdrawal plan, under which Israel would keep a narrow corridor on the Egyptian frontier pending possible security arrangements with Cairo.

Inviting bids by July 12, the ministry said the southern Gaza Strip ``canal'' would be 50 feet to 80 feet deep and stretch 2.5 miles.

``This is the beginning of turning the Gaza Strip into a big prison,'' Palestinian cabinet minister Saeb Erekat said, comparing the trench to the barrier Israel is constructing in the West Bank with the declared aim of stopping suicide bombers.

The notice, in Israeli newspapers, did not give the width of the canal -- a figure crucial to determining whether any Palestinian homes along the ``Philadelphi Corridor'' buffer zone adjacent to Rafah refugee camp would need to be demolished.

It was not clear whether the moat would be filled with water, as Israeli military sources had suggested last month, or would be dry...

Well I suggest filling it with crocodiles. It is uncanny how Israel reconstitutes the Jews' own history of persecution in its aggression against Palestine. First the fence, conjuring up the Warsaw Ghetto, and now the Medieval moat, hearkening back to feudal times or even earlier to the Crusades, when whole Jewish populations were wiped out. Now apparently they are the feudal lords.
rootsie on 06.17.04 @ 08:30 PM CST [link]

Geez are we supposed to be sorry??

Envoy Puts Latin Post, and Stormy Past, Behind Him
By TIM WEINER new york times

MEXICO CITY, June 16 - Otto J. Reich, President Bush's special envoy to Latin America, resigned on Wednesday, taking with him a lifetime of experience fighting Fidel Castro and other opponents of American foreign policy.

...In 2001, President Bush nominated Mr. Reich to become assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs, the top State Department post for Latin America. Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida, the president's brother, and the state's anti-Castro Cubans supported the nomination.

But the Senate would not confirm him; some Democrats called him an ideologue. After a bitter fight, the president appointed him temporarily when Congress recessed. After that yearlong term expired, he took the special envoy post, which did not require Senate approval, in January 2003.

...Mr. Reich, a former ambassador to Venezuela, also led the State Department's office of public diplomacy under President Ronald Reagan. He carried out the president's policy of undermining the left-wing leaders of Nicaragua, the Sandinistas. He tried to generate public support in the United States for anti-Sandinista rebels, known as contras, after Congress cut off funds to them in 1984.

In 1987, the comptroller general of the United States reported that Mr. Reich's office had "engaged in prohibited, covert activities" of domestic propaganda "designed to influence the media and the public to support the administration's Latin American policies.'' Those acts violated restrictions on the use of public funds for propaganda without Congress's consent, the report said.

...In the 1990's, Mr. Reich worked as a lobbyist. He helped persuade Congress to tighten the American embargo on Cuba. His clients included Lockheed Martin, which sought to sell F-16 fighter aircraft to Chile.

In May 2001, shortly after he joined the administration, Chile agreed to buy 10 F-16's for more than $600 million, ending a two-decade United States ban on the sale of high-technology arms to Latin America.
rootsie on 06.17.04 @ 08:15 PM CST [link]
Tuesday, June 15th

*Iran takes on west's control of oil trading

With all the rhetoric coming out of the US and UN this week, Iran wisely figures it had better start raising some money...they are after all next on the Axis of Evil hit list...

Terry Macalister
Wednesday June 16, 2004 the guardian

Iran is to launch an oil trading market for Middle East and Opec producers that could threaten the supremacy of London's International Petroleum Exchange.

A contract to design and establish a new platform for crude, natural gas and petrochemical trades is expected to be signed with an international consortium within days.

Top oil producing countries are determined to seize more control of trading after being advised that existing markets such as the IPE and Nymex in New York are not working in their favour.
full article

rootsie on 06.15.04 @ 09:58 PM CST [link]

US Reluctant to Hand Saddam Over to Iraqis

Well you had to figure after the flush of "We GOT Him" that they would eventually be hard-pressed to figure out what to do with him. You don't want him saying anything, after all...this story goes on to say that the Al Qaeda link is Zirqawi, the apocryphal 'one-legged man' of Nick Berg fame, except the US claimed to have killed him in MARCH. O well...

the guardian
Oliver Burkeman in Washington
Wednesday June 16, 2004

The United States and the new Iraqi government were mired in disagreement last night over the fate of Saddam Hussein after George Bush said Iraqi demands for immediate custody of the former dictator could not be met until it was certain the new regime had the ability to keep him in jail.

Mr Bush also jumped to the defence of his vice-president, Dick Cheney, who insisted, despite the deep scepticism of the intelligence community, that Saddam had had close links to al-Qaida.
full article
rootsie on 06.15.04 @ 09:41 PM CST [link]

Equitorial Guinea accuses Spain of Coup Plot

the guardian

Equatorial Guinea accused Spain yesterday of trying to overthrow its government in the alleged plot by foreign mercenaries to kill the president.

In an interview with the Guardian, President Teodoro Obiang's special adviser, Miguel Mifuno, accused Madrid of sending a warship to the country with 500 marines on board.

He alleged that they were to have been sent in to secure the capital after mercenaries had killed the president and ministers. Mr Mifuno, a former ambassador, is the president's closest colleague.

...Equatorial Guinea is one of the most strategically important African countries to the US, expected to provide it with up to 5% of its oil within a few years. President Obiang, believed to be one of the richest men in Africa, is accused by his critics of profiting handsomely from the oil reserves.
rootsie on 06.15.04 @ 09:24 PM CST [more..]

Rwanda denies massing troops on DR Congo border

yahoo news

KINSHASA (AFP) - Rwanda denied accusations by Kinshasa that it is massing troops on the border with the vast Democratic Republic of Congo (news - web sites) (DRC), as a sabre-rattling dissident DRC general, allegedly backed by Kigali, threatened to go back to war.

In the statement issued here late Monday, the DRC army accused renegade General Laurent Nkunda of "being a spokesman for the Rwandan army, which this evening (Monday) massed troops on our common border to perpetrate yet another attack on our country."

But Rwanda rejected the claims, and said it had not stepped up its military presence in the border region since in April, after a cross-border attack by Rwandan Hutu rebels based in the eastern DRC.

UN Finds No Mistreatment of Tutsis AP story
rootsie on 06.15.04 @ 09:03 PM CST [more..]

Torture, Inc.- Oliver North Joins the Party

By JOHN STANTON and WAYNE MADSEN counterpunch.org

The U.S. Army has employed as many as 27 contractors to run its interrogation operations, according to media reports. But while CACI and Titan are getting all the mainstream media play, it appears that far more than 27 contract employees were involved in recruiting and placing interrogators in various locations. Some of the firms involved in the Bush administration's "TortureGate" include an odd assortment of telecommunications companies and executive placement firms that have jumped into the lucrative torture business in Guantanamo Bay, Afghanistan, Iraq and at secret locations throughout Central Asia and North Africa.

Ollie -- He's Baaack!

On January 12, 2004, United Placements ran an advertisement for Army Interrogators. "Job State: IRAQ, Job Number: 8. Interrogators: 30 Positions. Compensation to $120,000. Individuals must be trained Interrogators with at least five years of experience in interrogation. Individuals must be knowledgeable of Army/Joint interrogation procedures, data processing systems such as CHIMs and SIPRNET search engines. Knowledge of the Arabic language and culture a plus...Candidates must have documented in their resumes five years of Humint collection and/or interrogation experience. This is a requirement of the client. Some locations require individuals to work and live in a field environment with minimum medical facilities. Must possess the ability to work extended work hours in difficult surroundings for up to one year."

United Placements' lists none other than Oliver North--a member of Ronald Reagan's NSC and focal point of the Iran-Contra scandal in the 1980's--as one of its two "Industry Associates."
full article
rootsie on 06.15.04 @ 08:01 PM CST [link]
Sunday, June 13th

Clinton is Reagan's Legacy Too

by Rootsie

It was good to see the righteous indignation with which so many stepped forward last week to challenge the appallingly untruthful picture the mainstream media gave of Reagan and his legacy.

On a network news program this morning (just when I thought it was safe to go back in the water), one commentator said she thought Reagan’s greatest achievement was taking the Soviets to the mat on human rights. Apparently she chose to forget the Soviets’ reply: “Everyone in the Soviet Union has a job and a roof. What say we talk civil liberties in the Soviet Union when you talk homelessness
And unemployment in the U.S.?” There's been a whole lot of forgetting going on.

I am not a professional political pundit. I sat around for a lot of years watching before I wrote a word, and I don’t imagine that I realize what no one has realized before. But what hit me anew this morning is the degree to which the Democratic Party which emerged in response to Reagan is perhaps the most pernicious and destructive aspect of the ‘Reagan legacy.” I know that Nader, one among many, has been saying that for a long time.

Reagan talked ‘welfare queens” while dishing out scads of corporate welfare. Clinton crafted the Welfare reform that declared and still wages war on poor mothers. Reagan dropped a few million people out of the bottom of the economy, beyond statistics. Clinton cemented their status as a permanent underclass with his ‘economic recovery,’ generating disparities in wealth unknown in the history of the world. Really.

Although it is a fiction that Reagan 'ended the Cold War,' his foreign and domestic policies certainly paved the way for a global corporate takeover. Clinton fired the first shot of an all-out corporate attack on the planet with NAFTA and GATT.

Bush invaded and bombed Iraq. Clinton bombed Iraq every single day for 8 years, and enforced sanctions that starved a million children. And bombed Afghanistan. And bombed a hospital in Sudan. Seeing to it that there are a lot more little Osamas running around.

It was Clinton who built the million jail cells to house the casualties, poor and non-white, of Reagan’s ‘Just Say No to Drugs.” Clinton put the 100,000 new cops on the street and began the vogue of ‘community policing,’ which in the words of a lawyer in Los Angeles has turned South L.A. into something a lot like Fallujah, except with no end in sight.

It was Clinton who enacted the anti-terrorist legislation which paved the way for the evisceration of the Constitution.

What is the ‘neo-liberalism’ of the ‘new’ Latin America that emerged in the 90’s but simply the ‘kinder gentler’ face of the age-old despotism? We have apparently decided it's time to take the torturing duties, which we once paid client terror-states for, on ourselves.

I remember very clearly that during his entire campaign Clinton mentioned Iran-Contra NOT ONCE. We found this very curious until we read that there had been Contra-training camps in Arkansas.

The simpering cowardice of the Democratic Party is why in 2004 we have Bush slipping in the polls while Kerry, president of the Ariel Sharon Fan Club, gains no ground at all. When they meet face to face this fall, it will be like the Bush-Gore debates: ‘I agree, I agree, I agree…but I can pronounce all the names!” George Soros gets to look like a great progressive hero for dumping loads of money on ersatz liberals because here is a grand opportunity to paint himself as a critic of capitalism with not a thing to lose. A Cold War capitalist robber-baron as de facto spokesman and Big Daddy for the liberal wing of the Democratic Party??

I can’t imagine what Bush would have to do to lose this election, short of the CIA deposing him for destroying Valerie Plame. In which case Lord knows what new horrors await. Well in any case, only new horrors await. Because somewhere along the line, we have lost our government.

Admittedly, when you realize that the American Revolution was ultimately fought over the issue of which set of rich guys would get to control the slave trade, you could argue that the American people have never been in possession of their government. But the brazen criminality which Reagan ushered in and the rapid rise of corporate hegemony during the Clinton years reads like the resolution of the age-old tension between populism and elitism, and, far from the American Dream, it is unmitigated nightmare for most. An Evil Empire indeed.

Because it has been recognized that the best way of controlling information is flooding people with it, no one is going to come crashing into my house to drag me away, and this freedom of speech is used as an argument to marginalize ones like me. But even if they did, no one would be paying attention. American soldiers crashed into Aristide’s house and removed him from the Presidency of his country, and only a few days of uncomfortable questions faced Rumsfeld and Powell before that event was swept away by the tide.

Reagan’s ultimate legacy is seen in Clinton’s total capitulation, in Bush and Co.’s shameless cruelty and criminality, and an ‘opposition’ as loyal as they come, complicit in every possible way. There may be a few Democrats left who legitimately feel they can stem this tide through electoral politics, who have not been completely compromised, but they will be remembered as naïve. Or dead. Like Paul Wellstone. Even Michael Moore has employed Clinton attack-dogs to promote his new movie. An opposition is necessary for ‘the free exchange of ideas so important to a democracy': Bush has said so again and again when faced with protestors. Moore is something of a pro at NOT getting to the heart of the issues.

This is such a dangerous time because, in this country at least, the iron fist is wearing a velvet glove. Democrats are made to order for that, wittingly or not. As long as they, like Clinton, merely accept the terms of the world as Reagan framed it and roll with the tide, this ship is sunk.
rootsie on 06.13.04 @ 03:23 PM CST [link]

Baker Quits West Sahara as U.N. Envoy

UNITED NATIONS, June 12 (AP) - The former secretary of state James A. Baker III resigned as the top United Nations envoy to Western Sahara after years of frustrated efforts to resolve the conflict between Morocco and independence-seeking rebels, a United Nations spokesman said Friday.

Mr. Baker has expressed increasing frustration in his job as Secretary General Kofi Annan's personal envoy, initially over being unable to arrange a referendum on the territory's future and later over Morocco's opposition to his latest peace plan.

That plan would give Western Sahara immediate self-government and would require a referendum within five years to decide if the mineral-rich desert territory on the Atlantic coast of Africa should be independent or part of Morocco. new york times.com

Well who knew that Mr. Stench of Brimstone (didn't you get that Darth Vader-feeling when he flew down to Florida in 2000 to put the fix in for Bush?) was Annan's envoy To Western Sahara? "Mineral rich' indeed no doubt. After reading about Kofi Annan's extremely dubious role during the Rwandan genocide propping up the US's resolve to DO NOTHING, it is not surprising that as Secretary General he puts his trust in scary spooks like Baker.
rootsie on 06.13.04 @ 12:03 PM CST [link]
Saturday, June 12th

Not Really a Puppet Government??

Meet the New Iraqi Leaders
By GARY LEUPP counterpunch.org

These are not America's puppets. This is a terrific list and really good government, and we're very pleased with the names that emerged.
Condoleeza Rice, National Security Advisor
...In 2002, Allawi's Iraqi National Accord received attention when it passed on to the British government a report that Saddam's regime could fire germ warfare missiles as far as Cyprus within 45 minutes of giving the order. Published in a dossier in September 2002, the report helped prepare British public opinion for the Iraq war. In January 2004 a New York spokesman for Allawi acknowledged this was in fact "a crock of shit." Almost sounds like the new Prime Minister is a bald-faced liar. And then there's the story about that supposed top-secret, hand-written memo by Tahir Jalil Habbush al-Tikriti, the former head of the Iraqi Intelligence Service revealed to the world last December. I have referred to it as "the neocons' dream memo" since it implausibly describes a three-day "work programme" undertaken by none other than Chief 9-11 Hijacker Mohammed Atta at a Baghdad base of Palestinian terrorist Abu Nidal in 1991, and refers to a "Niger shipment" of some unspecified material arriving in Iraq via Libya and Syria.

Who confirmed the authenticity of the memo, released through the Iraqi Governing Council? Why, none other than Dr. Allawi! And since each element of the putative al-Tikriti memo had been already debunked by U.S. intelligence, and only kept afloat by the most duplicitous of the neocons, it almost sounds like the Prime Minister is an especially shameless bald-faced liar and abject puppet of his imperialist sponsors. (Interesting, too, that it first appeared in The Daily Telegraph, owned by Conrad Black, and part of the Hollinger Group on whose board of directors sits Richard Perle, Black buddy and leading warmongering neocon.)
rootsie on 06.12.04 @ 11:52 AM CST [link]
Thursday, June 10th

Dead Reagan in '04

by Rootsie

It is clear from the media frenzy of the past few days that a new political powerhouse has burst upon the scene. What could be more obvious?
Dead Reagan for President in ’04!

Here is the candidate who can trump the opposition (ANY opposition), please all the people all the time, and come up smelling like a rose (or whatever nice thing they make him smell like).

Here is the candidate to bring a lump to the throat and a patriotic tear to the eye.

The American people don’t want a president full of pesky words and ideas. They want a symbol of comfort and optimism. His perpetual repose and chemically-enhanced eye-twinkle will win the masses over.

For style over substance, which Americans so clearly prefer, who better than Reagan, dressed in his blue suit and red tie in one of those Leninesque glass coffins? So presidential. And he can’t open his mouth and mess it up.

Pretty much everyone on the planet would prefer a dead American president over the live ones they’ve had to deal with.

Those who found Reagan vicious and stupid when alive would take constant comfort in seeing that he remains seriously dead.

Those who loved him tend to be the sentimental types who would be thrilled to have him back, no matter his condition.

He would not tell a lie. Would not tell. Would not.

A Dead Reagan would mean pretty much business as usual, a vote for the status quo, which would attract conservatives and liberals alike. Reagan was after all as good as dead throughout most of his presidency. He, like little GW, was a smiling figurehead. A Dead Reagan in ’04 candidacy could, on the down side, produce a backlash. I suppose Americans might wake up and seriously decide whether they like what the Presidency, what their country, has become. Perhaps they would feel inspired to elect someone who'd actually be doing the job, rather than for a corporate shill. But nah. And realistically, there's none of that type around in either party.

As it stands, take a poll and see whether I know what I’m talking about. Pit Dead Reagan against Bush or Kerry. He has the charisma, the name recognition, and Lord knows he has the momentum. Just thinking about him apparently inspires a nostalgic amnesia, a fond look back at the sweeter simpler times of Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Grenada, when Saddam was our beloved friend and the Taliban was yet just a twinkle in Papa’s Reagan’s eye, when the torturers were our foreign clients instead of us. When the babbling brook of trickle-down kept people home on a Saturday night by the fire. Burning their furniture to keep warm.

As for violating term limits, it's a small price to pay. The Constitution is scoring very low in the polls these days.

Nothing will liven up this stultifying campaign season like a vibrant Dead Reagan candidacy. Every day will be like the last few, bristling with flags and tearful tributes. Morning in America. Morning after morning after morning.
rootsie on 06.10.04 @ 07:13 PM CST [link]
Wednesday, June 9th

Wow. Is Bush About to Get Watergated??

The Real Reason Tenet and Pavitt Resigned from the CIA on June 3rd and 4th
Bush, Cheney Indictments in Plame Case Looming
by Michael C. Ruppert fromthewilderness.com
JUNE 8, 2004 1600 PDT (FTW) - Why did DCI George Tenet suddenly resign on June 3rd, only to be followed a day later by James Pavitt, the CIA's Deputy Director of Operations (DDO)?

The real reasons, contrary to the saturation spin being put out by major news outlets, have nothing to do with Tenet's role as taking the fall for alleged 9/11 and Iraqi intelligence "failures" before the upcoming presidential election.

Both resignations, perhaps soon to be followed by resignations from Colin Powell and his deputy Richard Armitage, are about the imminent and extremely messy demise of George W. Bush and his Neocon administration in a coup d'etat being executed by the Central Intelligence Agency. The coup, in the planning for at least two years, has apparently become an urgent priority as a number of deepening crises threaten a global meltdown.

Based upon recent developments, it appears that long-standing plans and preparations leading to indictments and impeachment of Bush, Cheney and even some senior cabinet members have been accelerated, possibly with the intent of removing or replacing the entire Bush regime prior to the Republican National Convention this August.

FTW has been documenting this Watergate-like coup for more than fifteen months and almost everything we will discuss about recent events was predicted by us in the following pages: Please see our stories "The Perfect Storm - Part I" (March 2003); "Blood in the Water" (July 2003); "Beyond Bush - Part I" (July 2003); "Waxman Ties Evidentiary Noose Around Rice and Cheney" (July 2003); and "Beyond Bush - Part II" (October 2003).

There were two things we didn't get right. One was the timing. We predicted the developments taking place now as likely to happen after the November election, not before. Secondly, we did not foresee the sudden resignations of Tenet and Pavitt. Understanding the resignations is the key to understanding a deteriorating world scene and that America is on the precipice of a presidential and constitutional crisis that will ultimately dwarf the removal of Richard Nixon in 1974.

So why did Tenet and Pavitt resign? We'll explain why and we will provide many clues along the way as we make our case. full article

Rep. Henry Waxman website
rootsie on 06.09.04 @ 09:50 PM CST [link]

Who is to Run the World, and How? by Noam Chomsky

...There is a curious performance underway right now among Western commentators, who are solemnly debating whether the Bush administration downgraded the "war on terror" in favor of its ambitions in Iraq. The only surprising aspect of the revelations of former Bush administration officials that provoked the debate is that anyone finds them surprising - particularly right now, when it is so clear that by invading Iraq the administration did just that: knowingly increased the threat of terror to achieve their goals in Iraq.

But even without this dramatic demonstration of priorities, the conclusions should be obvious. From the point of view of government planners, the ranking of priorities is entirely rational. Terror might kill 1000s of Americans; that much has been clear since the attempt by US-trained jihadis to blow up the World Trade Center in 1993. But that is not very important in comparison with establishing the first secure military bases in a dependent client state at the heart of the world's major energy reserves - "a stupendous source of strategic power" and an incomparable "material prize," as high officials recognized in the 1940s, if not before. full article

Operation Enduring Free Trade by Aziz Choudry @znet
rootsie on 06.09.04 @ 08:34 PM CST [more..]

Reagan Was Behind Mass Murder

Journalist Allan Nairn: Reagan Was Behind "One Of The Most Intensive Campaigns Of Mass Murder In Recent History"


... I think if accurate history is written in the future this will be seen as one of the great crimes of history, and I'm not in the U.S. now, but when I -- I'm hearing about how Reagan is being celebrated, and I don't know, I suspect that a lot of people in Central America when they hear about that, maybe feel the same way that a lot of Americans feel when they hear the stories about people in other countries wearing Osama bin Laden t-shirts. You know, a feeling of just complete dismay and disgust. How can people do that? How can people celebrate such a mass killer? That's a complicated question.

There are various reasons why people celebrate mass killers. One of them that especially applies in the case of the U.S. is maybe they don't know. Maybe they don't know that he was a mass murderer, and that is largely the case with what happened in Central America because the way the U.S. press covered it and failed to cover it the facts never got through to the American public. If they did, people would not stand for it. But Reagan -- one thing you have to say for Reagan, and one thing I think you also have to say for Bush now, they justly and appropriately for politics spoke in terms of good and evil. Because a lot of politics a good and evil. But he lied about it. What he did was evil. What Bush is doing now is evil when he causes the deaths of civilians. Americans have to face the facts. They have to look at things the way they really are, and then you can't do anything about the victims of El Salvador and Guatemala now, but you can do something about those who are still alive. For example, I mentioned Coca-Cola and Guatemala: dozens of union organizers there were gunned down by death squads. Almost the exact same things has happened in recent years at the Coca-Cola franchise in Colombia. One union leader pops up and he's gunned down. This practice is continuing and it has to stop.
full transcript
rootsie on 06.09.04 @ 02:37 PM CST [link]

'Reagan Was the Butcher of My people.'

Fr. Miguel D'Escoto Speaks From Nicaragua
Tuesday, June 8th, 2004 democracy now
Fr. Miguel D'Escoto is a Catholic priest who was Nicaragua's Foreign Minister under the Sandinista government in the 1980s.
The 8 years Reagan was in office represented one of the most bloody eras in the history of the Western hemisphere, as Washington funneled money, weapons and other supplies to right wing death squads. And the death toll was staggering - more than 70,000 political killings in El Salvador, more than 100,000 in Guatemala, 30,000 killed in the contra war in Nicaragua. In Washington, the forces carrying out the violence were called "freedom fighters." This is how Ronald Reagan described the Contras in Nicaragua: "They are our brothers, these freedom fighters and we owe them our help. They are the moral equal of our founding fathers."

FATHER MIGUEL D'ESCOTO: First of all, let me start out by saying that, of course, Reagan is now dead. And I, for one, would like to say only nice things about him. I'm not insensitive to the feelings of many U.S. people mourning president Reagan, but as I pray that god in his infinite mercy and goodness forgive him for having been the butcher of my people, for having been responsible for the deaths of some 50,000 Nicaraguans, we cannot, we should not ever forget the crimes he committed in the name of what he falsely labeled freedom and democracy.

More perhaps than any other U.S. President, Reagan convinced many around the world that the U.S. is a fraud, a big lie. Not only was it not democratic, but in fact the greatest enemy of the right of self-determination of peoples. Reagan, as you mentioned just a few minutes ago, was known as the great communicator, and I believe that that is true only if one believes that to be a great communicator means to be a good liar. That he was for sure. He could proclaim the biggest lies without even as much as blinking an eyelash. Hearing him talk about how we were supposedly persecuting Jews and burning down non-existent synagogues, I was led to believe really, that Reagan was possessed by demons. Frankly, I do believe Reagan at that time as much as Bush today was indeed possessed by the demons of manifest destiny.
rootsie on 06.09.04 @ 02:27 PM CST [more..]
Tuesday, June 8th

Can Rumsfeld GO Now Please?

Lawyers Decided Bans on Torture Didn't Bind Bush
new york times
WASHINGTON, June 7 — A team of administration lawyers concluded in a March 2003 legal memorandum that President Bush was not bound by either an international treaty prohibiting torture or by a federal antitorture law because he had the authority as commander in chief to approve any technique needed to protect the nation's security.

The memo, prepared for Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, also said that any executive branch officials, including those in the military, could be immune from domestic and international prohibitions against torture for a variety of reasons.

One reason, the lawyers said, would be if military personnel believed that they were acting on orders from superiors "except where the conduct goes so far as to be patently unlawful."

"In order to respect the president's inherent constitutional authority to manage a military campaign," the lawyers wrote in the 56-page confidential memorandum, the prohibition against torture "must be construed as inapplicable to interrogation undertaken pursuant to his commander-in-chief authority."

Senior Pentagon officials on Monday sought to minimize the significance of the March memo, one of several obtained by The New York Times, as an interim legal analysis that had no effect on revised interrogation procedures that Mr. Rumsfeld approved in April 2003 for the American military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.
full article
rootsie on 06.08.04 @ 08:03 PM CST [link]

US to Build New Kinds of Nuclear Bombs

The Wrong Proliferation Message
Published: June 8, 2004 new york times

As the world's strongest nuclear and conventional power, America should want to freeze weapons development and halt nuclear proliferation. Yet the Bush administration's proposed military budget moves in a different and more dangerous direction by seeking a sharp increase in the funds for research on two new kinds of nuclear bombs. The Senate should halt this reckless folly by voting next week for an amendment sponsored by Senators Edward Kennedy and Dianne Feinstein.

One of the new nuclear weapons is a reduced-yield explosive, less than half as powerful as the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Proponents call these low-yield bombs more "usable" than today's versions. That means easing the taboo that has kept nuclear weapons sheathed since 1945 on behalf of a bomb that could still expose hundreds of thousands of people to death or radiation sickness. With nine countries now believed to have nuclear weapons, including North Korea, Pakistan, India and Israel, the world does not need America's encouraging the idea of more usable bombs.
full article
rootsie on 06.08.04 @ 07:54 PM CST [link]

Torture, Bombings & the Press in Colombia

All Massacres are not Alike
By PHILLIP CRYAN counterpunch.org

From USA Today to the Washington Times, dozens of U.S. newspapers published reports of a May 22 bombing that killed seven people in a dance hall in Apartado, a municipality in the northwestern province of Antioquia, Colombia.

But not a single one of these papers reported on a massacre that killed 11 peasants two days earlier in Tame, a municipality in the northeastern province of Arauca. The only major English-language news of the carnage amounted to 191 words May 25 from London-based Reuters.

The discrepancy in coverage is not because one attack was more brutal than the other. If anything, the Tame massacre warranted the most attention because more people were killed and the bodies showed signs of torture.

The inconsistency likely stems, rather, from who did the killing and where. The military attributed the Apartado bombing to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the country's largest guerrilla group.

But the Tame massacre, by all accounts, was carried out by the Colombian government's paramilitary allies. And it occurred just 30 miles from an oil pipeline used by Los Angeles-based Occidental Petroleum. The United States is sending $100 million a year in military aid earmarked for protecting that pipeline. Last year, Washington stationed 70 U.S. Special Forces troops in the province to train Colombian soldiers for the effort.
full article

rootsie on 06.08.04 @ 07:48 PM CST [link]
Sunday, June 6th

He's Not the Only One...

Gaddafi Regrets Reagan Died Without Facing Trial
new york times

TRIPOLI, Libya (Reuters) - Muammar Gaddafi said Sunday he regretted that former U.S. President Ronald Reagan had died without ever being tried for 1986 air strikes that killed dozens of people, including the Libyan leader's adopted daughter.

``I express my profound regrets over Reagan's death before he appeared before justice to be held to account for his ugly crime in 1986 against Libyan children,'' Gaddafi told the official JANA news agency.

Well I was thinking more along the lines of Iran-Contra and The October Surprise. One thing we have to thank Reagan for is the investigative journalism of Peter Dale Scott and others who uncovered the international fascist network that worked so closely with the Reagan White House to assure the success of their outrageous and treasonous actvities all over the world. It was Reagan who lauded the gangster Mobutu of the Congo as 'a voice of reason' in Africa and rewarded him to the tune of $4 billion for his retirement fund.
I honestly believed that the Reagan years were the worst this country would ever see. Ha.
We are being barraged at this moment by a truly nauseating media blitz celebrating the 'optimism' and 'leadership' of Mr. Gosh Golly Gee-Whiz. His 'get tough' stance with the Soviets ultimately brought the Soviet Union crashing down and ended The Cold War, we're told. What was ushered in was, I now see, a far more dangerous era of total American impunity. This 'celebration' of Reagan is nothing more than a manipulation of history and memory, and its purpose is to prime the public for the horrors which await. The red, white, and blue is blinding.

An Historical Perspective:
The Grenada 17: The Last Prisoners of the Cold War are Black by Rich Gibson counterpunch.org
Venezuela 2004: Nicaragua's Contra War Reprised by Toni Solo counterpunch.org
Reagan, Goodbye and Good Riddance by Phil Gaspar counterpunch.org
Reagan Didn't End the Cold War by William Blum
rootsie on 06.06.04 @ 11:48 AM CST [more..]

Bush's Erratic Behavior Worries White House Aides

Publisher, capitol hill blue
Jun 4, 2004,

President George W. Bush’s increasingly erratic behavior and wide mood swings has the halls of the West Wing buzzing lately as aides privately express growing concern over their leader’s state of mind.

In meetings with top aides and administration officials, the President goes from quoting the Bible in one breath to obscene tantrums against the media, Democrats and others that he classifies as “enemies of the state.”

Worried White House aides paint a portrait of a man on the edge, increasingly wary of those who disagree with him and paranoid of a public that no longer trusts his policies in Iraq or at home.

“It reminds me of the Nixon days,” says a longtime GOP political consultant with contacts in the White House. “Everybody is an enemy; everybody is out to get him. That’s the mood over there.”

In interviews with a number of White House staffers who were willing to talk off the record, a picture of an administration under siege has emerged, led by a man who declares his decisions to be “God’s will” and then tells aides to “fuck over” anyone they consider to be an opponent of the administration.
full article
rootsie on 06.06.04 @ 10:39 AM CST [link]

Under the Banner of the 'War' on Terror

by William Greider the nation

When President Bush called Americans to enlist in his "war on terror," very few citizens could have grasped the all-encompassing consequences of the proposition. The terrifying events of 9/11 were like a blinding flash, benumbing the country with a sudden knowledge of unimagined dangers. Strong action was recommended, skeptics were silenced and a shallow sense of unity emerged from the shared vulnerabilities. Nearly three years later, the enormity of Bush's summons to open-ended "war" is more obvious. It overwhelmed the country, in fact deranged society's normal processes and purposes with a brilliantly seductive political message: Terror pre-empts everything else.

What this President effectively accomplished was to restart the cold war, albeit under a new rubric. The justifying facts are different and smaller, but the ideological dynamics are remarkably similar--a total commitment of the nation's energies to confront a vast, unseen and malignant adversary. Fanatical Muslims replaced Soviet Communists and, like the reds, these enemies could be anywhere, including in our midst (they may not even be Muslims, but kindred agents who likewise "hate" us and oppose our values). Like the cold war's, the logic of this new organizing framework can be awesomely compelling to the popular imagination because it runs on fear--the public's expanding fear of potential dangers. The political commodity of fear has no practical limits. The government has the ability to manufacture more.
full article
rootsie on 06.06.04 @ 10:32 AM CST [link]
Saturday, June 5th

Well Duh

It just occurred to me while posting the article below that ‘terrorism’ serves precisely the same purpose that “communism” did to this same bunch of Cold War fascists (which is no overstatement-read the history of post-WWII international fascism). Boo. Terrorists! Suspend the constitution! Occupy the planet! The terrorists are coming! Bush says as much when drawing parallels between the ‘war on terror’ and WWII. And under the cover of their ‘good fight,’ the imperial capitalists tighten their lock on all the world’s resources. Duh.

That’s the difference between then and now: now they have it in their means to attack the whole world. And so confident are they that we are treated daily to tales of their brazen lawlessness. The war on Iraq is itself a distraction.

“The proposition that the United States is fighting a ‘war on terrorism’ is the biggest fallacy in the whole debate or lack of debate about the war…the framing of United States military attacks attacks on Afghanistan as a ‘war on terrorism’ is a strategy used by our political elites to advance their own political economic interests while limiting the truth-telling about the causes behind the terrorist attacks and the nature of the US response. Our political leaders and media are constructing a narrative that helps Americans to sleep at night despite the fact that their military is killing innocent people just like the 9-11 terrorists killed innocent people. A narrative that relies on such abstract values and dichotomies as good/evil [‘Axis of Evil’ anyone?] and freedom/terror works at concealing the truth of what is taking place and ‘manufacturing consent’ a la Chomsky.”
from "A Critical Analysis of the 'War on Terrorism Discourse.'

This article by Eric Wilkinson in 2002 in reference to the Afghani war reads like a prophetic piece, as we are now faced with the choice of either re-electing a pro-war, pro-Israel, pro-corporate globalization president or one just like him to take his place. The American public has been beaten senseless and silent by the media bludgeon labeled ‘War on Terror.’ Rumsfeld made an interesting and ominous rhetorical shift the other day when he referred to the ‘global insurgency,’ a term that suggests that the US is within its rights to go in and ‘put it down’ anywhere in the world as it is trying and failing to do in Iraq. Meanwhile, the corporate takeover is proceeding apace.

“The military and the monetary
They get together when they think it’s necessary
They turn our sons and daughters into mercenaries.
They are turning the world into one big cemetery.”
Gil Scott Heron 1991

If we were smarter, we would have seen this coming. For Cold War crazies like Rumsfeld, the 'war on terrorism' is their dream come true.

The website thecriticalvoice.com from which I got the Wilkinson article seems to be defunct, but here are links to some of the articles he appended to his piece:
Unintended Consequences by John Tirman
Islam Through Western Eyes by Edward Said
Orwellian Logic 101-Terrorism by Norman Solomon
Blowback by Chalmers Johnson
rootsie on 06.05.04 @ 12:18 PM CST [link]

'Communism', 'Terrorism' the same paper tiger 20 years removed

The Pentagon Looks South
new york times
Published: June 5, 2004

"Now that Latin America is on the back burner as far as American diplomacy is concerned, hemispheric relations are once again increasingly driven by America's military. This isn't healthy. History shows that when military-to-military ties dominate the relationship, as they did for much of the cold war, generals in Latin America feel empowered to act in any way they want so long as they guarantee a semblance of stability.

American military leaders, unfortunately, are once again suggesting that their Latin American counterparts assume a more active role in their nations, especially in ensuring domestic security. This time the ill-advised idea stems not from a concern about communism, but terrorism. A return to outright military dictatorships is unlikely, but expanding the military's role in these nations will only diminish their fledgling democracies.

The terrorism concern is overstated. Gen. James Hill, chief of the United States Southern Command, recently told senators, "Terrorists throughout the Southern Command area of responsibility bomb, murder, kidnap, traffic drugs, transfer arms, launder money and smuggle humans." That does describe the situation in Colombia and, to some degree, Peru. But terrorism is hardly a threat to the entire continent, and there are no known Islamic terror groups active in Latin America.

Pentagon officials also seem to think that Latin American armies might play a greater role in fighting criminal gangs. Gangs are a huge problem, but Washington should resist militarizing campaigns against crime. There are good reasons President Bush doesn't unleash the marines on Los Angeles gangs, and those same reasons apply in Latin America. To fight crime, these nations need money, expertise and training to strengthen their police and courts. This training should be done by civilians.

Hemispheric contacts other than military ones need to be emphasized. No matter how preoccupied they are with Iraq, the White House and the State Department cannot brush Latin America aside".

Well it's not as if the State Department is going to be anyone's savior either.
rootsie on 06.05.04 @ 10:51 AM CST [link]

Bush's Warlord, Misogynistic Patriots

The Afghanistan Failure
By MIKE WHITNEY counterpunch.org
"These two visions, one of tyranny and murder the other of liberty and life clashed in Afghanistan. And thanks to brave US and coalition forces and to Afghan patriots, the nightmare of the Taliban is over. And that nation is coming to life again."
George Bush; War College Address

Bush can take the podium in front of a national audience and claim success in Afghanistan without a whimper of dissent from the media. The American press has decided that any adventure pursued under the banner of "the war on terror" is just dandy with them as long as American lives are not at stake. It doesn't matter if the country is already a "basket case" (as a visiting British MP described Afghanistan last week) just as long as the flag draped coffins aren't being dumped off in Dover twice a week.

Actually, Afghanistan might be in worse shape than Iraq. The American intervention toppled the Taliban regime, but has left nothing to replace them. In fact the war has returned the country to a medieval state of warlords and fiefdoms; a situation that resulted in 25 years of factional fighting and civil war.
full article
rootsie on 06.05.04 @ 10:39 AM CST [link]
Friday, June 4th

Excuse me, but I'm confused...

first I find this

500,000 protest Bush's visit to Rome
6/4/04 UPI article
Rome, Italy, Jun. 4 (UPI) -- Thousands filled Rome's streets Friday to protest President Bush's visit and their own country's involvement in the Iraq war, CNN reported.

Police deployed some 10,000 officers around Rome as an estimated 500,000 protested Bush's arrival and Italy's active support of the U.S. war in Iraq.

and then this:

Anti-Bush demo only moderate success
6/4/04 UPI article
ROME, June 4 (UPI) -- Rome police and protesters gave widely different estimates of the size of Friday's anti-Bush demonstration, but the turnout fell short of expectations.

Police told the Italian media that around 7,000 protesters against the U.S. president's visit had marched through the center of Rome behind a huge, multicolored banner that read: "No Bush, no war."

The protest organizers, however, claimed the number was closer to 200,000. Independent estimates said the figure was more like 10,000.
rootsie on 06.04.04 @ 09:31 PM CST [link]

Sierra Leone War Crimes Trial Opens Without Chief Suspect

Published: June 4, 2004 new york times

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone, June 3 - A international war crimes tribunal set up to try those responsible for this country's long and crippling conflict opened here on Thursday morning, with vows from the court's chief prosecutor to slay what he repeatedly called "the beast of impunity."

Yet missing from the United Nations-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone was its leading suspect: Charles G. Taylor, the exiled former president of Liberia and the man accused of fomenting the rebel insurgency in the 1991-2002 war that killed an estimated 50,000 people.

Mr. Taylor, indicted more than a year ago on 17 counts of crimes against humanity, including murder, enslavement and the recruitment of child soldiers, has been given asylum in Nigeria. Three men indicted as his top collaborators in Sierra Leone are dead or missing.

Instead, the first defendants appearing before the court on Thursday were three men who led Sierra Leone's feared pro-government militia, including the country's former interior minister, Sam Hinga Norman. Mr. Norman's militia, the Civil Defense Force, is accused of cannibalism, rape and the indiscriminate killing of civilians. Mr. Norman faces eight counts of crimes against humanity.

"The ghosts of thousands of the murdered dead stand among us," David Crane, an American prosecutor, told the three-judge panel in his opening statement. "They cry out for a fair and transparent trial to let the world know what took place, here in Sierra Leone."
new york times

rootsie on 06.04.04 @ 12:44 PM CST [more..]

From 'Terrorism' to 'Global Insurgency'-Rumsfeld's rhetorical shift is ominous

Inside America's Animal House
Masked and Anonymous

Every now and then the mask slips, and we see the true face of the system that marshals the world. For an instant, the heavy paint of sober wisdom and moral purpose falls away, and there, suddenly, with jolting clarity, is the snarling rictus of an ape.

Last week gave us two such moments: a quantum collision, where past and present co-exist temporarily, their overlapping images phasing in and out of synch: now Nixon now Bush now Kissinger now Rumsfeld, mouths, eyes, snarls morphing and shifting, with only one image holding constant between the eras--the twisted, shivered bodies of dead innocents.

First was the release of long-secret phone transcripts from Henry Kissinger's heyday as Richard Nixon's National Security Adviser. The transcripts were obtained by the National Security Archive, the independent research center that has uses America's remarkable Freedom of Information Act (now under fierce assault by the Bush Regime) to unearth mountains of death and dishonor once locked in secret government files.

Most of the news stories about the release centered on the Nixon Gang's panicky efforts to deal with bad publicity from the rape-and-slaughter rampage by U.S. troops in My Lai. As in today's Iraqi torture scandal, the panic was sparked by the existence of photographs confirming atrocities that were long known to the top brass: in this case, pictures of mutilated bodies in a burned-out village. And as with Abu Ghraib, the great statesmen were concerned wholly with "containing" the PR damage, not stopping the systematic abuses--which were, after all, being carried out at their command. Then as now, rump-covering was the order of the day.

But hidden in the pile of power-talk--and virtually ignored by the press--was an extraordinary historical snapshot of a war crime in the moment of conception. It's 1970. Nixon is angry: the Air Force is not killing enough people in Cambodia, the country he's just illegally invaded without the slightest pretense of Congressional approval. The flyboys are doing "milk runs," their intelligence-gathering for targets is too tame, too by-the-book:. There are "other methods of getting intelligence," Nixon tells Kissinger. "You understand what I mean?" "Yes, I do," pipes the loyal retainer.

Nixon then orders Kissinger to send every available plane into Cambodia--bombers, fighters, helicopters, prop planes--to "crack the hell out of them," smother the entire country with deadly fire: "I want them to hit everything." Kissinger dutifully calls his own top aide, General Alexander Haig, and tells him to try to implement the plan: "He wants a massive bombing campaign in Cambodia," Kissinger says. "It's an order, it's to be done. Anything that flies on anything that moves."

"Anything that flies on anything that moves." That's how the system works--beneath the mask. A blustering fool issues an order--and thousands upon thousands of innocent people die. An entire country is ripped to shreds, and into the smoking ruins steps a fanatical band of crazed extremists--the Khmer Rouge--who murder a million more.

Just hours after the transcripts' release, the image of Kissinger in 1970, jowls pressed to the phone, calmly ordering mass death, morphed into the squinting visage of Pentagon chief Don Rumsfeld, addressing West Point graduates in 2004, exhorting the young cadets to a life of honor and moral purpose-- without a single mention of the rape-and-torture gulag he's strung across the world at the order of his own hell-cracking master, George W. Bush. Rumsfeld also issued this stark warning to the world: the illegal invasion of Iraq is just "the beginning" of what is no longer merely a "war on terror" but is now an all-out death-struggle with what Rumsfeld called--in a major slip of the mask--"global insurgency."

Note carefully the change in rhetoric--the change in target--from "terrorism" to "insurgency." An "insurgent" is someone who rises up within a given domain to resist or overthrow the ruling power. George Washington was an insurgent; so was Pol Pot. But a perceived "global insurgency" can only be aimed at a global power--one whose domain encompasses the entire planet. What Rumsfeld is clearly saying is that anyone anywhere who resists the world-spanning will of the American Empire will be subject to "the path of action." That's the blood-and-iron terminology that Bush himself used to describe his policies in the official "National Security Strategy" he issued--just months before killing more than 10,000 civilians in Iraq.

No doubt the definition of "global insurgent" will prove to be every bit as elastic as "terrorist," in a world where Iraqi prisoners--70-90 percent of them completely innocent, according to the Red Cross--were "Gitmo-ized," treated just like the dubiously accused terrorists in America's lawless Guantanamo concentration camp; a world where even U.S. citizens simply disappear into the maw of military custody, held without charges, indefinitely, on the president's express order. If America controls your country and you don't like it, then you're an insurgent. If you're an American who doesn't like to control other countries, then you're an insurgent too. And the war against you is "just beginning."

"Global insurgency. Crack the hell out of them. The path of action. Anything that flies on anything that moves." They should chisel these words on the Capital Dome, spraypaint them across the pristine walls of the White House walls, teach them in every classroom across the land--for this is the system, this is the true constitution of the National Security State, this is the authentic voice of the American Establishment, the great and the good, the best and brightest. This is what they do, what they've always done. From the Indians to the Iraqis, anyone who gets in the way of their power and privilege--individuals, tribes, whole nations--gets trampled, broken, ruined, slaughtered. "Anything that flies on anything that moves."

Then again, there's nothing uniquely "American" about these criminal policies, and the hypocrisy that attends them. It's how elites have behaved from time immemorial, from the days of the apes: baring their teeth and pounding their chests, ruling through fear and violence, beating, biting, raping, killing--whatever it takes to maintain their perch at the top of the tree. They disguise their savagery--even from themselves--with masks of pomp and piety, with earnest protestations of their "good hearts," their nobility, their enlightenment, their altruism. But what moves them is the spirit of the beast, the blind gut-lust for dominance, the ape-remnants that live on in our brains. They're too weak, too stupefied with corruption to rise above this inherent bestiality.

What should we do with such dangerous creatures in a civilized society? Why, put them in a cage, of course. counterpunch.org
rootsie on 06.04.04 @ 12:23 PM CST [link]
Thursday, June 3rd

Let's Get Real About George Soros

It took me few hours on the internet one afternoon to get a fair idea of what George Soros is about. Interspersed with the hysterical accolades he gets for his amazing generosity for liberal and even leftist causes in the United States,the latest in a long line of conquests, I found a few articles that give a much darker picture. Now wait a minute...Carlyle Group? Rothschilds? CFR? Who IS this guy? What he is is your typical Cold Warrior spook. Under the guise of anti-Communism, a bunch of fascist super-capitalist spooks have been running around the globe making mischief since the end of World War II. It is my guess that Soros, an impoverished Jewish immigrant from Hungary, was recruited by...somebody. CIA? MI5? I'm not the only one who thinks probably. How did this itinerant laborer end up at the London School of Economics? He has had a hand in destabilizing governments and crushing economies from Brazil and Haiti and Peru to Russia and Georgia and Ukraine to Malaysia and Thailand. And he shows all the anti-democratic impulses of his ilk, cozying up to death-squad torturers in the name of averting the Communist Threat.

Now he is the darling of the Clintons, Dean (he gave him a pile of money), virtually the entire Western press, and even ostensibly 'leftist' organizations like MoveOn.Org. He says he wants to 'bring down Bush.' Highly doubtful. The evidence points to the fact that he did bring down the Republic of Georgia recently, and had a hand in Haiti...He has probably figured out that throwing money at liberals is pretty much the same as throwing it at conservatives, and you get better press. One hopes that American liberals are just ignorant rather than complicit, but George Soros' hijinks across the planet serve the purposes of capitalism and northern hegemony very well, and liberals and conservatives alike. O yeah, as the owner of Harken Energy, he made GW a pile of money back in the day...

I would say that a ten minute search on the internet is about all it would take to raise questions in any reasonable person's mind. Too bad us paranoid 'conspiracy theorists' are the only ones who bother...

This is a digest of my research.
*"Soros foundations and financial machinations are partly responsible for the destruction of socialism in Eastern Europe and the former USSR. He has set his sights on China. He was part of the full court press that dismantled Yugoslavia." 
*"Calling himself a philanthropist, billionaire George Soros' role is to tighten the ideological stranglehold of globalization and the New World Order while promoting his own financial gain." 
*"Soros is a leading figure on the Council of Foreign Relations, the World Economic Forum, and Human Rights Watch (HRW)."
*"A Soros foundation now runs CIA-created Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty jointly with the U.S. and RFE/RL, which has expanded into the Caucasus and Asia."  
 *"Soros works openly with the United States Institute of Peace-an overt arm of the CIA."
* "In 1997 he earned the rare distinction of being singled out as a villain by a head of state, Malaysia's Mahathir Mohamad, for taking part in a highly profitable attack on that nation's currency."  
* "His companies control real estate in Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico; banking in Venezuela; and are some of the most profitable currency traders in the world, giving rise to the general belief that his highly placed friends assisted him in his financial endeavors"
*"George Soros has been blamed for the destruction of the Thai economy in 1997. One Thai activist said, "We regard George Soros as a kind of Dracula. He sucks the blood from the people." The Chinese call him "the crocodile," because his economic and ideological efforts in China were so insatiate, and because his financial speculation created millions of dollars in profits as it ravished the Thai and Malaysian economies."  
*"It was Soros who saved George W. Bush's bacon when his management of an oil exploration company was ending in failure. Soros was the owner of Harken Energy Corporation, and it was he who bought the rapidly depreciating stocks just prior to the company's collapse. The future president cashed out at almost one million dollars. Soros said he did it to buy "political influence."  
rootsie on 06.03.04 @ 09:21 PM CST [more..]

America is First in Deranged

"My criticism of the United States is not concerned with how it wishes to order its own society, but about how its activities spill over into the rest of the world. Its actions in the world too often resemble those of an ugly drunk pushing his way into your living room and puking all over the carpet."

Insanity in America
It's always satisfying to have a pet theory supported by new data. A large and authoritative study, just published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, confirms a favorite hypothesis of mine, that there is more mental illness and insanity, far more, in America than you find in other advanced societies.

The study, led by a Harvard Medical School researcher, found evidence of mental problems in 26.4% of people in the United States, versus, for example, 8.2% of people in Italy. The researchers were concerned with matters such as lack of access to treatment and under-treatment, but for those concerned about a safe and decent world, I think the salient finding is simply America's high percentage. The world is being led by a nation where more than one-quarter of the people have genuine mental problems.

The finding is strangely both comforting and disturbing.

It is comforting because it helps explain why Americans continue supporting a man proven wrong every time he opens his mouth, a man who has de-stabilized parts of the world in the name of creating stability, a man claiming sound business principles who has pitched the United States into deficit free-fall, and a man who arouses suspicion and fear throughout the world.

The study is comforting, too, because it helps explain an opposition candidate like John Kerry. How can liberals generate excitement over this stale, fly-buzzed doughnut of a candidate? I suppose the same way they get excited every time Bush's polls dip by something little more than statistical noise. Perhaps the same way a man like Michael Moore - who makes gobs of money playing to the suspicions and prejudices of the paranoid segment of America's great political market - could so eagerly embrace a crypto-Nazi like General Wesley Clark as "his candidate"?

The finding is comforting in explaining all those Americans shocked and appalled over The New York Times' recent apology for its drum-beating, pre-invasion coverage of Iraq's non-existent weapons. Here is a newspaper that, more often than not, comes down on the wrong side of human rights, always protects Establishment interests, always ignores abuses until they can no longer be ignored, and yet it somehow retains a reputation in America as guardian of treasured values and as the nation's newspaper of record.
full article
rootsie on 06.03.04 @ 05:06 PM CST [link]

The Long Shadow of CIA Torture Research

Cruel Science
By ALFRED W. McCOY *Crucial Author

The photos from Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison are snapshots, not of simple brutality or a breakdown in discipline, but of CIA torture techniques that have metastasized, over the past 50 years, like an undetected cancer inside the US intelligence community.

From 1950 to 1962, the CIA led massive, secret research into coercion and consciousness that reached a billion dollars at peak. After experiments with hallucinogenic drugs, electric shocks, and sensory deprivation, this CIA research produced a new method of torture that was psychological, not physical--best described as "no touch torture."

The CIA's discovery of psychological torture was a counter-intuitive break-through--indeed, the first real revolution in this cruel science since the 17th century. In its modern application, the physical approach required interrogators to inflict pain, usually by crude beatings that often produced heightened resistance or unreliable information. Under the CIA's new psychological paradigm, however, interrogators used two essential methods, disorientation and self-inflicted pain, to make victims feel responsible for their own suffering.

In the CIA's first stage, interrogators employ simple, non-violent techniques to disorient the subject. To induce temporal confusion, interrogators use hooding or sleep deprivation. To intensify disorientation, interrogators often escalate to attacks on personal identity by sexual humiliation.

Once the subject is disoriented, interrogators move on to a second stage with simple, self-inflicted discomfort such as standing for hours with arms extended. In this phase, the idea is to make victims feel responsible for their own pain and thus induce them to alleviate it by capitulating to the interrogator's power.

In his statement on reforms at Abu Ghraib last week, General Geoffrey Miller, former chief of the Guantanamo detention center and now prison commander in Iraq, offered an unwitting summary of this two-phase torture. "We will no longer, in any circumstances, hood any of the detainees," the general said. "We will no longer use stress positions in any of our interrogations. And we will no longer use sleep deprivation in any of our interrogations."

Although seemingly less brutal, "no touch" torture leaves deep psychological scars on both victims and interrogators. The victims often need long treatment to recover from trauma far more crippling than physical pain. The perpetrators can suffer a dangerous expansion of ego, leading to escalating cruelty and lasting emotional problems.

After codification in the CIA's "Kubark Counterintelligence Interrogation" manual in 1963, the new method was disseminated globally to police in Asia and Latin America through USAID's Office of Public Safety (OPS). Following allegations of torture by USAID's police trainees in Brazil, the US Senate closed down OPS in 1975.

After OPS was abolished, the Agency continued to disseminate its torture methods through the US Army's Mobile Training Teams, which were active in Central America during the 1980s. In 1997, the Baltimore Sun published chilling extracts of the "Human Resource Exploitation Training Manual" that these Army teams had distributed to allied militaries for 20 years.
rootsie on 06.03.04 @ 05:06 PM CST [more..]

The ABC's of Hatred

new york times
Published: June 3, 2004

Surely the most chilling aspect of the latest terrorist attack in Saudi Arabia against foreigners at the Khobar oil center was in reports from the scene about how the Saudi militants tried to kill or capture only the non-Muslims, and let Muslims and Arabs go. The Associated Press quoted a Lebanese woman, Orora Naoufal, who was taken hostage in her apartment, as saying that the gunmen released her when they learned of her nationality. They told her they were interested in harming only "infidels" and Westerners.

Now where would the terrorists have learned such intolerance and discrimination? Answer: in the Saudi public school system and religious curriculum.
rootsie on 06.03.04 @ 12:18 PM CST [more..]

Mobs Storm Congo Base; U.N. Troops Kill 2

Published: June 3, 2004
new york times

KINSHASA, Congo (AP) -- U.N. troops opened fire on rioters Thursday, killing two, as a mob broke into their base and tens of thousands of protesters overran Congo's capital, outraged at the United Nations over the rebel capture of an eastern city.

In an attempt to defuse the crisis over the takeover of Bukavu, rebel commanders said they would withdraw their troops from the strategic city and return it to the control of the United Nations and the central government.

The fall of Bukavu to commanders once allied to Rwanda threatens to plunge the Central African country back into civil war. President Joseph Kabila accused Rwanda -- Congo's chief adversary in the 1998-2002 war -- of backing the Wednesday capture of the city.

Rwanda denies any role, and U.N. officials say they have not seen any evidence of Rwandan involvement. A U.N. spokesman said he could not confirm whether rebel forces had begun their promised withdrawal from Bukavu.

UN Observer Killed in Congo:Rebel Chief Rejects Deadline-New York Times

rootsie on 06.03.04 @ 11:37 AM CST [more..]

LA 'on the road to Falluja'?

By Anita Rice
BBC News and Current Affairs
bbc news

The LA murder rate is going up and the police chief has requested more officers. But California is broke and cannot afford to recruit.
Civil rights lawyer Connie Rice warns that with too few officers to "police humanely", parts of the city may as well be in Falluja.

Los Angeles is notorious for gang violence, but even by LA standards 2002 was gruesome. With 658 murders in just that one year, it became America's murder capital.

Of those murders, almost half were directly related to gang turf wars involving drugs and guns. And of those gangs, most are based in south-central or south-east LA.

With a spiralling murder rate and poor police-community relations following the Rodney King riots and the Rampart corruption scandal, the city appointed a new chief to clean up its act.

Amid much fanfare and hype William Bratton - the man credited with cleaning up New York's once-soaring crime rate under the political stewardship of former mayor Rudy Giuliani - was brought in to get LA under control.

Chief Bratton immediately appointed a second deputy charged with concentrating some officers in gang areas and targeting gangs. He also prioritised improving relations with minority communities.

'Shovelling quicksand'
full article
rootsie on 06.03.04 @ 11:12 AM CST [link]
Wednesday, June 2nd

The Return of the Draft, a Bipartisan Production

June 1, 2004
Coming Soon

Barring a sudden reversal in the direction of US foreign policy, a strong bipartisan push to reinstate the draft can be expected soon after the November elections. Whether or not Bush wins is irrelevant. The logic of empire requires more boots on the ground, and conscription looks like the only way to get them.

In fact the campaign for the draft is already under way, though election-year politics have dictated a nuanced approach. Long-dormant draft boards have been quietly reactivated and restaffed -- even as the Bush administration continues to claim, in the face of mounting evidence to the contrary, that current troop levels are sufficient.

Meanwhile, a consensus behind conscription is building on Capitol Hill. Senators Chuck Hagel (R-Neb) and Joseph Biden (D-Del), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, are among many prominent politicians suddenly calling for a "national debate" on the draft. Open supporters of the draft include Sen. Ernest Hollings (D-SC) and Reps. Nydia Velazsquez (D-NY), Pete Stark (D-Cal), and Charles Rangel (D-NY). HR 163 and S 89, Democrat-sponsored bills to restore conscription, are quietly working their way through committee. According to The Hill, Republicans are ready to sign on as soon as they get the nod from the Bush administration.

Because the draft is potentially a catalyst for student protest, many leftists are happy to believe that the Establishment would never dare to reintroduce it. But that view fails to take into account the tremendous post-Seattle expansion of the state's repressive apparatus. Now that protest pens, mass arrests, chemical crowd control, and embedded journalists have become the norm at major demonstrations, the powerful may well believe that they have little to fear from free speech.
people against the draft
rootsie on 06.02.04 @ 03:23 PM CST [more..]

The Perfect U.S. Ambassador for Iraq

John Negroponte's record in Honduras does not inspire confidence about his appointment as US ambassador to Iraq

Duncan Campbell the guardian
Wednesday June 2, 2004

Suspicious deaths in custody. Allegations of torture. Claims of a military out of control. These are some of the key issues that will face John Negroponte, US ambassador to the United Nations, when he takes over this month as US ambassador to Iraq.
Suspicious deaths in custody. Allegations of torture. Claims of a military out of control. Those were some of the key issues that faced John Negroponte 20 years ago when he was US ambassador to Honduras. So it is worth examining how he reacted then when faced with evidence of extra-judicial killings, torture and human rights abuses.

Central America in the early 80s was, for a few years, the centre of the world in much the way that the Middle East now is. There had been a revolution in Nicaragua in which a dictator had been removed by the Sandinistas, who had then embarked on a political path that was anathema to the US.

The country became a magnet for the international left, who saw hopeful signs in the revolution. El Salvador and Guatemala were in turmoil as leftwing guerrillas battled with the military in their efforts to overturn years of military oppression and corruption. In those days the enemy, as far as the US was concerned, was international communism rather than al-Qaida, but the rhetoric of "good" versus "evil" took a similar pattern to today's.

Into this world in 1981 came diplomat John Negroponte as ambassador to Honduras. At the time, the US was covertly backing the contras, the counter-revolutionaries who opposed the Sandinistas. Honduras was a vital base for them. An air base was built at El Aguacate, where they could be trained and which was used, according to Honduran human rights activists, as a detention centre where torture took place. It was also used as a burial ground for 185 dissidents, whose remains were only discovered in 2001.
rootsie on 06.02.04 @ 03:23 PM CST [more..]
Tuesday, June 1st

My goodness what's gotten into the New York Times??

Dooh Nibor Economics
new york times
Last week The Washington Post got hold of an Office of Management and Budget memo that directed federal agencies to prepare for post-election cuts in programs that George Bush has been touting on the campaign trail. These include nutrition for women, infants and children; Head Start; and homeland security. The numbers match those on a computer printout leaked earlier this year — one that administration officials claimed did not reflect policy.

Beyond the routine mendacity, the case of the leaked memo points us to a larger truth: whatever they may say in public, administration officials know that sustaining Mr. Bush's tax cuts will require large cuts in popular government programs. And for the vast majority of Americans, the losses from these cuts will outweigh any gains from lower taxes.

It has long been clear that the Bush administration's claim that it can simultaneously pursue war, large tax cuts and a "compassionate" agenda doesn't add up. Now we have direct confirmation that the White House is engaged in bait and switch, that it intends to pursue a not at all compassionate agenda after this year's election.

That agenda is to impose Dooh Nibor economics — Robin Hood in reverse. The end result of current policies will be a large-scale transfer of income from the middle class to the very affluent, in which about 80 percent of the population will lose and the bulk of the gains will go to people with incomes of more than $200,000 per year.
rootsie on 06.01.04 @ 08:33 PM CST [more..]

Growing Wealth Gap Rates an 'Orange Alert'

In just 14 days the problems of the poorest countries in the world -- starvation, lack of education, scarcity of potable water, etc. -- could be solved if each nation donated its military spending budget for just that period of time -- 14 days.

Rich-poor gulf widens
'Inequality Matters' conference puts nations on alert
By Thomas Kostigen, CBS.MarketWatch.com cbs market watch
Thursday is when the Inequality Matters conference begins in New York City to discuss the biggest wealth and income gap -- and its consequences on society -- since the Hoover Administration. The Congressional Budget Office says the income gap in the United States is now the widest in 75 years.

While the richest one percent of the U.S. population saw its financial wealth grow 109 percent from 1983 to 2001, the bottom two-fifths watched as its wealth fell 46 percent.

Alarming? You bet. And here's why: The number of Americans without health insurance climbed 33 percent during the 1990's, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The biggest indicator of a healthy society -- average life expectancy -- has dropped. People in the U.S. now don't live even as long as people in Costa Rica. Meanwhile the U.S. infant mortality rate has risen, so much so Cuba has a better success rate of bringing healthy children into the world.

Citing those facts and figures, James Lardner, who heads Inequality.org, says "there is no way you can deny the power of money." He, along with Bill Moyers, Barbara Ehrenreich and numerous other leaders, activists and institutions hope to bring some of these startling facts "to the front burner of politics."
rootsie on 06.01.04 @ 08:19 PM CST [more..]

Media Fall Short on Iraq, Venezuela

by Mark Weisbrot
common dreams.org

Last week the New York Times published an 1100-word note "From the Editors" criticizing its own reporting on the build-up to the Iraq war and the early stages of the occupation. On Sunday the newspaper's Public Editor went further, citing "flawed journalism" and stories that "pushed Pentagon assertions so aggressively you could almost sense epaulets sprouting on the shoulders of editors."

This kind of self-criticism is important, because the media played an important role in convincing the American public -- and probably the Congress as well -- that the war was justified. Unfortunately, these kinds of mistakes are not limited to the New York Times -- or to reporting on Iraq.

Venezuela is a case in point. The Bush administration has been pushing for "regime change" in Venezuela for years now, painting a false and exaggerated picture of the reality there. As in the case of Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction and links to Al-Qaeda, the Administration has gotten a lot of help from the media.

Reporting on Venezuela relies overwhelmingly on opposition sources, many of them about as reliable as Ahmed Chalabi. Although there are any number of scholars and academics -- both Venezuelan and international -- who could offer coherent arguments on the other side, their arguments almost never appear. For balance, we usually get at most a poor person on the street describing why he likes Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, or a sound bite from Chavez himself denouncing "imperialist intervention."

Opposition allegations are repeated constantly, often without rebuttal, and sometimes reported as facts. At the same time, some of the most vital information is hardly reported or not reported at all. For example, the opposition's efforts to recall President Chavez hit a snag in March when more than 800,000 signatures for the recall were invalidated. These signatures were not thrown out but were sent to a "repair process," currently being tallied, in which signers would get a second chance to claim invalidated signatures.
rootsie on 06.01.04 @ 08:05 PM CST [more..]

The Great Escape

I guess now that the New York Times has made its big apology it feels under some obligation to let slip some real information. Only two and a half years late, after thousands of others reported it, and were called paranoid nut cases for doing so.

new york times

Americans who think the 9/11 commission is going to answer all the crucial questions about the terrorist attacks are likely to be sorely disappointed — especially if they're interested in the secret evacuation of Saudis by plane that began just after Sept. 11.

We knew that 15 out of 19 hijackers were Saudis. We knew that Osama bin Laden, a Saudi, was behind 9/11. Yet we did not conduct a police-style investigation of the departing Saudis, of whom two dozen were members. of the bin Laden family. That is not to say that they were complicit in the attacks.

Unfortunately, though, we may never know the real story. The investigative panel has already concluded that there is "no credible evidence that any chartered flights of Saudi Arabian nationals departed the United States before the reopening of national airspace." But the real point is that there were still some restrictions on American airspace when the Saudi flights began.

In addition, new evidence shows that the evacuation involved more than the departure of 142 Saudis on six charter flights that the commission is investigating. According to newly released documents, 160 Saudis left the United States on 55 flights immediately after 9/11 — making a total of about 300 people who left with the apparent approval of the Bush administration, far more than has been reported before. The records were released by the Department of Homeland Security in response to a Freedom of Information Act request filed by Judicial Watch, a conservative, nonpartisan watchdog group in Washington.
rootsie on 06.01.04 @ 07:54 PM CST [more..]

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