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The irises and Patrick Fitzgerald

Victorian born novelist and St Kilda supporter, and long-time Webdiary columnist Kerryn Higgs spends a lot of time in New York, and lives the rest of the year in northern NSW. She's been obsessed with the looming environmental crisis since 1972 and is working on the relationship between globalisation, economic growth and the future (if any) of the planet.Kerryn Higgs

Her regular visits to New York began the day before the 2000 election, so she watched the shutdown of counting in Florida by the US Supreme Court at close range. Living amongst New Yorkers, a breed unto themselves, has enriched her view of America and complicated her longstanding interest in its politics, history and impact on the rest of the world. Her 2004 articles The failure to prevent 9/11: Clarke's story  and Bush on the ropes: his awful deeds post S11 reported on Clarke, the US counter-terror co-ordinator under every administration since Reagan, as he fronted the 9/11 Commission.

Her last piece for Webdiary was on Blowin' in the wind, the film by David Bradbury on the nature and effects of ‘depleted’ uranium (DU) munitions.

Again writing from New York, Kerryn reports on the early outing of iris and the alleged criminal outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame, wife of Joseph C Wilson, the CIA envoy investigating the fake Niger yellowcake deal.

The irises and Patrick Fitzgerald

by Kerryn Higgs

I left my garden bulbs in Australia last week before the first buds appeared, sorry to miss their splendour. But arriving in Kingston - 70 miles north of New York City and several degrees cooler - I find the iris here in rampant flower, buds bursting every day.  They imagine, apparently, that spring is in the air. Locals assure me no one here has seen anything like it before. Simultaneously, the most intense Atlantic hurricane ever measured appeared in the Caribbean.

As Webdiarist David Roffey has detailed here in Climate change update 3: Greenhouse 2005, the climate stories come thick and fast these days. Quite a few caught my attention in the past few months. The Siberian tundra, with its immense load of sequestered methane, is beginning to thaw, an instance of what is called positive feedback - where the immediate consequences of a process magnify that same trend. UK scientists have also measured increasing CO2 loss from temperate peat bogs. The Arctic sea ice is vanishing at extraordinary speed, another positive feedback, where seawater absorbs even more heat from the sun, instead of reflecting it back into space the way the floating ice did. And last week it was revealed that the vast Antarctic ice-sheets may be far less stable than previously supposed.

Rather than exaggerating the extent of warming, the signs are that we might have seriously underestimated the speed and degree of climate change. Indeed, one team of geologists has foreshadowed feedback events cascading towards a global inferno such as that of the Permian extinction some 250 million years ago when most of the world's species disappeared.

***

Meanwhile, the cliffhanger story here is the culmination of Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's investigation into the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame, wife of Joseph C. Wilson. Wilson was the envoy the CIA sent to Africa in February 2002 after Vice-President Cheney asked for more information on the story that Niger had sold yellowcake to Iraq. Documents purporting to prove this happened were later passed via a journalist from an Italian "security consultant" to the US Embassy in Rome.

Iraq's supposed nuclear ambitions were a key element in the Bush administration's case for the "grave and gathering danger" from Saddam's alleged WMD, which served as the primary pretext for the invasion of Iraq as well as the central fear motivating US public support for war.

Wilson's story

The Niger documents proved later to be inept forgeries and Wilson found no evidence for the uranium deal. He made his report in March 2002, a year before the invasion. His findings were disseminated to the CIA, the State Department and presumably reached the Vice-President's office - which had asked the question.

However, Wilson's report had no impact on the administration's trajectory and did not prevent the President from repeating the African uranium claim in his January 2003 State of the Union address, eight months later.

When Wilson realised Bush's State of the Union speech was referring to the same allegation he had debunked ten months earlier, it looked to him like the intelligence was being cooked - or "fixed" as the Downing Street memo put it. See this Newsweek article for a summary of the memo story. His distress about the apparent manipulation of intelligence culminated in his own piece, "What I Didn't Find in Africa", published in The New York Times on 6 July, 2003 (archived here on Common Dreams.org).

Valerie Plame's cover blown

Senior administration officials contacted various reporters to tell them that Wilson had been sent to Niger by his CIA agent wife, Valerie Plame. A week later, on 14 July, syndicated conservative columnist Robert Novak published the story. The supposed nepotism was apparently intended to undermine Wilson's credibility and the grim consequences for his wife (cover blown) demonstrated what whistleblowers might expect.

In the USA, it's illegal to reveal the identity of a covert agent - though it is not Novak who has committed a crime but the person(s) who disclosed the classified information in the first place.

In fact Plame was working under the deepest form of cover - "non-official". She worked out of a front organisation and enjoyed no diplomatic protection if something went wrong.  Since Novak's article, she is obviously unable to pursue her career and her entire network has been rendered useless, its personnel endangered. Ironically, she was working on preventing WMDs from falling into terrorist hands.

Under pressure from the CIA, Attorney-General John Ashcroft's Justice Department and the FBI began inquiries into the possible felony in September 2003. Dozens of high-ranking White House officials were interviewed.

It is inconsistencies between these early testimonies to the FBI and later statements which could form the basis for indictments over perjury or obstruction. Martha Stewart, for example, went to jail for just such an offence - lying to the FBI - rather than for the insider trading she was found guilty of lying about.

Fitzgerald takes over

On 30 December 2003, the case was taken out of Ashcroft's hands. Apart from being a member of the same administration which harboured the leaker(s), Ashcroft had specific connections with Karl Rove ("Bush's Brain") who had handled political campaigns for him. It was rumoured at the time that Rove, White House advisor and fixer, might have been fingered by someone lower down. Chicago prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald was named to take over the investigation.

Fitzgerald is widely regarded as independent and unlikely to allow political loyalties to cloud his judgement. For nearly two years, Fitzgerald has worked in camera with sparse indications of his hunches, his findings or his intentions. Occasional leaks have emanated from lawyers associated with targets of the inquiry, and some witnesses have published their stories. Most of those who have testified have been identified. But nearly two years have gone by without substantial information about the likely outcome of the investigation.

In the past weeks, however, there's been an avalanche of speculation as Fitzgerald nears his October 28 deadline.

We do not yet know who actually released Plame's name to reporters. We think Novak had one source whose name has not been made public. Two prominent members of the Bush administration have admitted talking to reporters about Plame - Cheney's Chief of Staff 'Scooter' Libby and Karl Rove, but both have maintained that it was reporters who told them Plame's name and job.

According to several sources, Fitzgerald is examining the possibility that blowing Plame's cover was a desperate tactic in a far-reaching conspiracy, first to falsify WMD intelligence and, later, to destroy Wilson's credibility and warn off other potential whistleblowers.

UPI news service cited NATO sources yesterday in reporting that Fitzgerald is investigating the Niger forgery, which was executed on letterhead stolen from Niger's embassy in Rome. The pursuit of this line of inquiry may suggest that Fitzgerald suspects connections between these fakes and administration officials.

The Judith Miller story

New York Times journalist Judith Miller (notorious for her links with Chalabi's defectors and her prewar front page stories based on their "intelligence" about Iraqi WMD) spent 85 days in jail rather than disclose her confidential source. Her reputation varies from First Amendment goddess (protecting journalists' constitutional right not to divulge their sources) to government stooge.  Ultimately her source, who turned out to be Libby, waived her pledge of confidentiality. She was released on September 29.

Since then, she has appeared twice before the prosecutor and publishing an extensive account of her story in last weekend's New York Times (archived here at TruthOut.org). One curious admission made here was that she agreed to Libby's request to misrepresent him as a staffer in Congress rather than a senior member of the administration. Though reporters keep the identities of their sources confidential, it's unusual to agree to fudge their status.

After Miller's first testimony to Fitzgerald, the Times "found" an additional Miller notebook in their Washington office, covering an earlier conversation with Libby back in June. It included references to Plame. Miller claims she has no recollection of  writing them down. Such lapses of memory on the crucial details seem incomprehensible in a top journalist. Avalanche of speculation - is Fitzgerald pursuing conspirators?

Fitzgerald established a website late last week, which some commentators believe could be used to post indictments. Suggested outcomes range from the President suddenly sacking Fitzgerald or issuing pre-emptive pardons, to Fitzgerald extending the inquiry or closing the case with neither charges nor report, to indictments of senior officials (possibly Libby and/or Rove) or conspiracy charges reaching to the very top - to Cheney perhaps, or even Bush.  Some commentators also caution that proving the actual felony involved in leaking Plame's name may not be possible and any charges will more likely be confined to perjury or obstruction.

The more radical speculations are anchored in rumours that Fitzgerald's pursuit of the felon(s) who outed Plame has led him to examine the White House Iraq Group (WHIG) - the team set up inside the White House to market the war - and to investigate the overall process whereby bogus intelligence was deployed to launch the US - and its "coalition of the willing" - into Iraq. WHIG's records were subpoenaed in early 2004.

WHIG was set up as the marketing arm of the war effort and both Libby and Rove were members, along with Whitehouse Chief of Staff Andrew Card, Condoleezza Rice, Stephen Hadley and several other communications specialists. See Card's interview with Elisabeth Bumiller of the New York Times (archived here krigskronikan.com). The initial Commission that looked into what went wrong with US WMD intelligence before the war put the blame entirely on the CIA, though it was not authorised to look at the role of policymakers in interpreting intelligence. That issue was supposed to be taken up in Phase II, promised before the 2004 election and shelved by the new administration.  There has still been no public inquiry into the use and/or abuse of intelligence by the administration.

Implications

Even if Fitzgerald decides against indictments, the problem for the administration will not go away. Valerie Plame and Joseph Wilson are preparing a civil suit against administration officials which they say they will launch if they have to.

Whatever he does decide, the most salutary result of Fitzgerald's work has been in bringing back into public focus the ruthless tactics employed to sell a war decided upon well in advance, with an objective of regime-change presented in the fictional - but far more saleable - guise of disarmament. See my Webdiary piece here for some of the evidence of the plans to attack Iraq dating back to September 11 and before. As US threats to Iran and Syria continue, it is to be hoped that Fitzgerald's inquiry contributes to ongoing public scepticism this time around.

 

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week that an attack on Syria was not an "option" the President would be taking "off the table".  When Senator Lincoln Chafee pressed her as to whether she agreed that an attack on Iran or Syria would require new authorisation by Congress, Rice declined to "circumscribe presidential war powers [which] the President retains... in the war on terrorism and in the war on Iraq." New York Times columnist Frank Rich argues that Rove pushed for the war in  2002 as a poll-reviver and election-winner.  Given Bush's current abysmal ratings, US citizens should all be extremely cautious about the War President's next campaign.

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Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition

THE NEW YORKER
March 30 2007
By Seymour Hersh

MUTINY IN AMERICA

The Commander in Cheat and his administration were relieved of duty in a military coup at 5am this morning. Major Michael Mori, acting as the military spokesman, issued the following statement to a shocked press corps.

It is with regret that the American military have found the actions of President Bush and his administration untenable. As such in the interests of the American people, our Constitution and global stability our generals have decided after much soul searching that the only course of action was to place President Bush, Vice President Cheney, twenty-seven members of their administration and a number of top-ranking generals under house arrest where they will remain until a fit and proper judiciary is appointed to oversee and execute legal proceedings against President Bush and his administration for high crimes and misdemeanours.

Under no circumstances should the American people panic. We have instigated emergency procedures and will ensure that the National Guard  work in conjunction with local law enforcement to keep the peace and ensure utility services, food supplies and medicine are distributed to all in need.

It must be stressed that this current situation is only temporary and God willing with the support of the American people and sympathetic foreign nations we pledge to restore Constitutional Democratic Government to the America people when transparent and corrupt free voting procedures have been instigated.

As military spokesperson I will address you (the press corps) later today to further outline emergency procedures and the plan of action to restore sanity and stability to this bankrupt and war ravaged nation.

Thank you and God bless America.

Many of us believed September 11 was the day the world changed forever but this morning at 5am, that darkest hour before dawn, our great but failing nation was blessed with the opportunity for a new sunrise. Not in a million years would I have ever dreamt that I would be supporting a military takeover in the United States but today that has all changed.

As Major Mori pointed out this morning, the behaviour of our Administration has atrophied to such an extent that freedom and democracy in our once great nation became nothing but irony in its truest form.

This morning I had the opportunity to catch a few moments with the reappointed General Shinseki, who will be taking command of our caretaker military government until such time a genuine and transparent democracy is in place.

The following is an edited transcript of our discussion

Sy:       General, how are you feeling?

GS:      About 4am this morning I must admit anxious would best describe how I felt. However at 5am, when I awoke George from his slumbers, my anxiety turned to hope. As a professional soldier and patriot I swore an oath to the people of America to protect our Constitution and I feel that I had no choice but to honor that oath.. Sy, I now sincerely feel that I have truly honored my pledge and with the support of all good Americans, our friends and foes, we will put things right.

Sy:       How did George behave when he realised the game was up?

GS:      Firstly he appeared shocked but his shock quickly turned to relief when we assured him lynching was definitely out of the question.

Sy:       Where is George now?

GS:      We have taken him back to Crawford and I believe he is currently somewhat preoccupied with his Gameboy and a big bowl of pretzels.

Sy:       And Laura?

GS:      She is sitting by his side reading him his favourite book.

Sy:       My Pet Goat?

GS:      Yep.

Sy:       What about Cheney?

GS:      Dick is feeling a little crook just now and is receiving treatment for a possible heart attack. But we will know more about that as soon as our doctors actually locate his heart.

Sy;       Would you outline your plan of action?

GS:      Major Mori will be doing that around 4pm this afternoon.

Sy:       When did you and your collaborators decide it was time to take such drastic and unprecedented action?

GS:      Not long after the mid term elections last November. It was quite obvious when the GOP received 76.6% of the vote and the exit polls and independent polls suggested that was impossible.You must admit when only three democratic votes were recorded in Florida something was a little smelly.

Sy:       Did the nuclear attack last September on Pearl Harbor have anything to do with your decision?

Gs:       Only when we discovered it was “friendly fire” and not the second in charge of Al Qaeda.

Sy:       Did our currency problems have anything to do with your decision?

GS:      With pensioners and the disabled having to pull the gold from their teeth to pay for their prescriptions, what do you think?

Sy:       I appreciate what you mean. With gold at around $1,200 an ounce I must admit that crown on my second molar was about to go into voluntary   liquidation. (chuckle).

Sy:       How did you plan and keep this plot from the Administration? I mean you would have had to recruit a comprehensive network of operatives working within the system.

GS:      Well it is not a secret that there were many in the CIA, FBI, NSA and the  military whom had been bullied and humiliated. So let’s say we had a lot of willing little helpers. You are also aware that George and the neocons had created their own reality so let’s just say we kept them in their own deluded little bubble until the time was right.

Sy:       How do you intend on mending all those bridges and alliances that have been destroyed by this administration?

GS:      Well that is not up to me Sy. I have no intention of being a dictator. I will  leave that to our democratically elected representatives to sort out. My job at the moment is to keep ship America afloat. But I should imagine that we will have to address all those years of oppression we have inflicted on many of  our neighbours in the south and of course we will have to formulate policies to address our short comings regarding our relationships with the Muslim countries especially those in the Middle East. The only way we can mitigate terrorism will be to address the causes of terrorism. Unfortunately now that our nation is bankrupt it will take the best minds and diplomats we can  muster to repair those bridges. But rest assured, we will repair those bridges as we simply have no other options.

That’s all I’m prepared to say right now but we will enlighten you more about the repossession of our nation a little later. Sy, I will have to leave it there just now but allow me to assure all your readers that the repossession of America for Americans was the only choice left to ensure a future for our children.

Sy:       Thank you, General Shinseki. I’ll look forward to talking to you again very soon.

GS:      Thanks, Sy, and God bless.

THE AUSTRALIAN
March 31 2007
By Philip Adams

I'M AS MAD AS HELL AND I'M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE

Well it finally happened; the Yanks are as mad as hell and refuse to take any more of their President’s crap. Around 5am yesterday American time the US Military along with civilian patriots finally had had enough of the most corrupt and criminal administration in the history of the universe and subsequently took control of the American government.

After the false flag nuclear attack on Pearl Harbour, yet another stolen election, oil prices at $150 a barrel, surveillance cameras in every bathroom, bedroom and back passage, and bans on Egyptian artefacts and tummy stapling, the US Military decided it was time to rescue our planet from a fate worse than death i.e. another two years of that right wing conservative fascist neocon loving lickspittle perverted reincarnation of the devil. Ok, I don’t believe in all that heaven and hell stuff but if there is a heaven then this is it. Maybe there is a God after all.

Reports just in reveal the coup leaders has been greeted with flowers and chocolates by the American people and there is singing and dancing in the streets and neighbourhoods from Wall Street to Hollywood Boulevard. The atmosphere is one of relief and elation.

I have spent some time doing a round up of our local movers and shakers and this is what I have learned:

It was reported from our New York office that the proprietor of this publication has just joined the marine corps. He claimed he had been thinking honestly about it for years but unfortunately had other priorities. “They don’t call me the dirty digger for nuthin” he said. Rupert’s attempt at self deprecation went right over the heads of his fellow Americans. He also stated that any fair and balanced followers of his media programmes should do likewise. Only Bill O’Reilly turned up.

Piers Ackerman was spotted with Rupert and applied for the position of Rupert’s batman. Poor Piers was thoroughly disappointed when he was not issued with a cape and nipples. A man bra was all they could find at the commissary which apparently carried the stamp “BODY ARMOR proudly made in Amerika by Rumsfeld and Co.”

Back on the home front Alexander Downer was sighted wandering around the streets of Wanniassa in nothing but a suspender belt, fishnet stockings and wearing rouge where rouge should never be worn. As this is not unusual for Alex one may safely assume he is yet to catch up on the news.

Robert Hill informed our office he has been so busy helping the Iraqis rebuild their country he was too busy to comment. When queried about when he was going to venture a comment he replied; “Rome wasn’t built in a day so when I rebuild Iraq, I am going to do the same in Afghanistan, Iran and in a few thousand years when the radiation in Pear Harbour dissipates I will do likewise there, beats Lego don’t you think?”

Amanda Vanstone was finally located in John Howard’s wine cellar at Kirribilli House surrounded by empty bottles of red wine wearing nothing but a silly yet satisfied grin. When asked to comment she demanded, “Decork this, shitface, or I’ll deport you”. She then let loose an enormous smelly fart and smiled in satisfaction. Our reporter caught the first plane to Bali accompanied by a kilo of pot in a see through carry bag professing death by hanging was preferable to the remote possibility of ever having to experience that again.

Philip Ruddock was found in his office at Parliament House holding a capsule of cyanide which he promptly ingested. “No way you lot are going to lock me up in Baxter” he gasped as he enacted his death throes then expired all over his office floor. An Amnesty International rep rushed in and finally reclaimed that badge.

John Howard was unavailable for comment as he was busy speaking to Jane Halton on the phone but Hyacinth assured us he knew absolutely nothing about absolutely anything or words to that effect. The manufacturers of Sorbent reported astronomical sales today and mentioned something about John Howard being good for business or was it John Howard’s business being good for Sorbent.

Peter Costello said nothing. His smirk said it all, then grew so big he finally morphed into a Cheshire cat and was last seen curled up in John Howard’s office purring contently after spraying every corner, crevice, piece of furniture and - rumour has it - even that portrait of Lizzie Windsor.

Not to be outdone, Malcolm Turnbull morphed into a bull terrier, barged into Peter’s new office, rogered the living daylights out of the Cheshire cat whose grin immediately turned to a grimace (thank god) then proceeded to roll around in every corner, crevice and piece of furniture. He then hung Lizzie’s portrait at half mast from the Parliament House flag pole, then promptly returned to his new office claiming his god given right to be leader of everything.

Kim Beazley was found crying in his bath as his Collins Class submarines lay on the bottom. When asked how he felt about events in the States he inquired if this meant the end of McDonalds as he knew it or words to that effect. After some consideration he mused aloud that maybe people would now see him as the alternative prime minister. Our reporter simply didn’t have the heart to offer a reply.

Gough Whitlam looking somewhat angelic, self satisfied and wearing a well-worn halo confided in our reporter while tightly gripping her by the forearm said; “Comrade …this….is…all…part…of…my….grand…..design”

Mark Latham simply said words to the effect: “@*&$ conga *&^%^ line &^%$ arse &%#* lickers.” Then wandered off into the nearest pub and bashed the shit out of the publican’s pet parrot.

Alan Jones was heard on radio today babbling something about a shortage of Sorbent and that we should take whatever surplus we have along to Kirribilli House, drop it outside of the gates and run like hell to avoid the stench, but nobody was listening.

Miranda Devine had no comment worth reporting, then surprised all with her most intelligent comment to date; “Does my bum look big in this?”

Reports from the UK mentioned something about a memo written on a Lord Goldsmith’s letterhead and an apple. The memo read: “Dear Pubic (sic) I have taken an early mark as Cherie and me have decided to get into real estate, signed your ever so beautiful and now retired Prime Minister”. No one has been able to locate Tony or Cherie but we have it on good authority his memo was a lie, the apple was rotten and he is probably now employed by some guy named Peter Foster who knows all about skimming or slimming or Chinese green tea or pornography or whatever is going at the time.

A quick roundup of ordinary people in the street revealed a mixed bag of comments:

A Mr Lataan said this was all the fault of the right wing murdering fascist tyrants.

A Mr Parsons said this was all the fault of the left wing murdering fascist tyrants but did add; “do you like my Halle Berry lunch box?” just as some punter (identified by a witness as possibly being a Mr Philip Moffat) grabbed his lunch box, escaped into Hyde Park and then proceeded to commit unspeakable acts upon said lunch box.

A Mr Wilshaw argued that under UN resolution 1441-1b - paragraph 27- subparagraph 69 sentence 4 that the word “and” was absolute proof it was everybody’s fault, then wandered into Wentworth Chambers in Phillip Street Sydney and delivered coffee to the 11th floor.

M B Duncan, wearing a kilt, bow tie and looking as cuddly as ever, claimed that George Bush was no Highlander and anybody (such as GWB) who believed that Hogmanay was some esoteric form of bestiality had no right to hold any office, anywhere, anytime. His tailor subsequently served him with a summons for unpaid services.

A Master Lord was seen Bible in hand muttering something like “praise the Lord and pass the ammunition” then wrote a 10,000 word treatise on the benefits of invading Iraq conceding that the only downside to this neocon noble adventure was all those poor dead innocent Iraqis would never have the opportunity to read his contributions to Webdiary and Tim Blair’s blog..

A Mr White simply said, " I’ll have what ever Parsons, Wilshaw and Lord are having."

A disturbance was, however, reported in Belmore Park but on investigation a rowdy group of partygoers some calling themselves Michael, David, Bob, Mark, Matthew, Luke and John along with many others (including an extremely spaced out gentleman by the name Jesus) were so pissed with delight they simply didn’t make sense.

In the meantime:

Osama bin Laden landed his F18 on his property in Crawford, Texas (where he has been living for the past four years) and, elegantly dressed in George Bush’s G force flight suit, posed for photographs in front of a big banner scripting the words:

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED

You see, Bob, yours truly can be just as nasty as the best of them ;-)

Well done, Phil Moffat

Congratulations, Phil Moffat!!

I'd like to echo Craig's and Bob's praise for an entertaining and brilliant piece of vaudeville.

At your convenience, more please...

Excellent

Dear Phil, rather than nasty your piece is a wonderful satire.

I am, as the saying goes, laughing fit to burst. Right now I am struggling to make sense. Best for now I simply say:

Bravo!

It's been a quiet week

It's been a quiet week in Peoria.

They did run this AP story: White House accuses Gore of hypocrisy. It is (or was) a midday update (Tuesday, 03:06 PM Peoria time) with a link at the top of the home page.

The headline doesn't sound promising, but the story is pretty good. It starts with Scott McClellan accusing Clinton/Gore of having done the same thing in their day. It goes on and sets out Gore's points. The interesting thing is that it then sets out what Clinton/Gore actually did, and why it is not comparable.

But at the time that of the Ames search in 1993 and when Gorelick testified a year later, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act required warrants for electronic surveillance for intelligence purposes, but did not cover physical searches. The law was changed to cover physical searches in 1995 under legislation that Clinton supported and signed.
The story then quotes Gonzales making exactly the argument that the reporter has just demolished.

It concludes with this quote from Gore:

He said the spying program must be considered along with other administration actions as a constitutional power grab by the president. Gore cited imprisoning American citizens without charges in terrorism cases, mistreatment of prisoners - including torture - and seizure of individuals in foreign countries and delivering them to autocratic regimes "infamous for the cruelty of their techniques."

Moving the goalposts.

Mark, normalcy reestablished in '06 by the return of a quiet week in Peoria.

Thank you for that and your support, Very much appreciated.

How predictable was the W H response to Gore's speech? And using claims that have been previously debunked. Predictable also was the goalpost moving in that the WH turns it into a matter of national security as opposed too the damage to the Constitution and American values.

Goalpost moving is a tactic we are, sadly, far too familiar with. 

Here is Gore's response.

Also an update on Gore's speech - this taken from the delivery of the speech and not the prepared text.

Damian - nice reference to Irises as a source of evidence.

Coverage and connections.

The mainstream media remains quiet on the Gore speech.

'What Would Happen if an American Politician Told the Truth and No Mainstream Media and Establishment Democrats Listened -- It Happened on Martin Luther King Day. Al Gore Was That Man.

...

The fact that the two major Eastern "establishment" papers can, in terms of top stories, basically shut out the man who was elected president in 2000 -- despite his deliverance of a speech that provided an abundance of evidence that Bush broke the law and has precipitated a Constitutional crisis -- well that about says it all for the fall of the mainstream media into Royal Court propaganda publications.

And the mainstream D.C. Democrats, particularly in the Senate, appear more concerned about protecting their status quo "day jobs" than protecting the Constitution. They haven't rallied to Gore's side either -- or to the side of heroes like John Murtha, a man speaking on behalf of members of the Pentagon elite echelon who believe Bush and Rumsfeld are destroying our military capabilities with the ill-fated, misbegotten Iraq War.'

For a democracy to flourish it needs a well-informed electorate and an opposition which holds the government accountable. Those are just two of the requirements lacking in the US.

Amy Goodman on the Gore Speech and the sits over wiretapping.

At least some people are still fighting for democracy in the US. Seems most of it has been exported.

There is a lot more to democracy than simply having elections. Even more so when those elections are rigged.

On Gore and media priorities.

'God damn it, we are looking for a leader! Someone to lead us out of the wilderness. And today Al Gore sounded the bell. A call to arms that hit a nerve. It's time to get them back. It's time to be unafraid. It's time to take on these right wing zealots and push back harder than they expect.

Fox News Channel and their mindless clones at CNN and MSNBC will now try to paint Al Gore as out of control and a fringe player. This is the same playbook they used against Howard Dean. If anyone aggressively questions this extremist administration, the conservative talk show hosts and their minions at the cable news outlets claim they are the ones that are extreme.'

Michael Ledeen's connections.

Father and Son.

America, once the land of the proud and the brave, can no longer claim such title. After 9/11 we became America the Afraid and turned our wills and our lives over to "a closet weakling who seizes on inflexibility as a way to show America that he is strong," as Norman Mailer once described George W. Bush. Added Mailer, "[Bush], left on his own, might have become a successful movie actor...He has been impersonating men more manly than himself for many years." Bush's father perhaps?

Nevertheless, slightly more than half of the voting public fell for this machismo ruse, and as a result our young men (and women) in Iraq are paying the price - more than 2,200 dead and 15,000 more wounded. And the end of the human carnage is not in sight, for as George Bush told the nation recently, "We will stay the course."'

Does a lousy impersonation of a president.

Yesterday I commented on LBJ's decision to not run in 1968. Today there is a story suggesting that the right thing for Bush to do is to resign.

'And here we are - maybe. A man who defends starting a needless war by saying it was an honest mistake is now telling us that Iran is a threat, and this time it's for real. Naturally, the reaction of many in the world is that Bush saying Iran is a threat makes it more likely that not that Iran is not a threat.'

In a similar vein, Condoleezza Rice is demanding a UN vote on Iran asap;

Here is a person who as NSA has been shown to be incompetent in her handling of terrorist threats and who lied about Iraq. Not that the lying stopped there - CIA renditions and torture etc. So why, all things being equal, isn't she, and the Bush administration, laughed out of court.

But all things are not equal.

Clooney Drops a Name

For Phil and all those with a sense of humour:

George Clooney gave an unusual acceptance speech at the Golden Globes today.

Clooney: I want to thank Jack Abramoff, you know, just because-I--I'm the first one out- lets get this thing rolling. I don't know why. Who would name their kid Jack with the last words "off" at the end of your last name? No wonder that guy is screwed up. Ahh-alright I just got bleeped. Thank you very much...

Well so much for the RNC keeping Jack's name quiet. I'm sure there will be many downloads tomorrow as people who don't know already will say, Jack who?

There are all sorts of ways and means to get the word out. Some are very funny.

Video Highlights of Gore's Speech.

Here are video highlights of Gore's speech.

Further down the page you will find a report that major networks did not cover it.

Go figure.

Meanwhile, it seems almost as if the NSA had agents standing on street corners with bundles of documents under their arms calling out "Get yer wiretaps, get yer redhot wiretaps, read all about your neighbours."

OK, it wasn't that bad but:

'In the anxious months after the Sept. 11 attacks, the National Security Agency began sending a steady stream of telephone numbers, e-mail addresses and names to the F.B.I. in search of terrorists. The stream soon became a flood, requiring hundreds of agents to check out thousands of tips a month.

But virtually all of them, current and former officials say, led to dead ends or innocent Americans.

F.B.I. officials repeatedly complained to the spy agency that the unfiltered information was swamping investigators. The spy agency was collecting much of the data by eavesdropping on some Americans' international communications and conducting computer searches of foreign-related phone and Internet traffic. Some F.B.I. officials and prosecutors also thought the checks, which sometimes involved interviews by agents, were pointless intrusions on Americans' privacy.'

Some people have had enough. 

'Two leading civil rights groups plan to file lawsuits Tuesday against the Bush administration over its domestic spying program to determine whether the operation was used to monitor 10 defense lawyers, journalists, scholars, political activists and other Americans with ties to the Middle East.'

That will be a helpful move.

I wrote earlier "Do not forget the exit polls." Some have not forgotten.

'The National Election Data Archive (NEDA) has developed a new sophisticated statistical method for indicating whether reported vote counts in any particular election race has, or has not, been counted correctly. The new scientific method is being made publicly available for analyzing exit poll data may help restore faith in U.S. democracy. The method will be used to Analyze the 2004 Ohio Presidential Election Data.

...

NEDA will shortly be releasing a report using this analysis method for Ohio's 2004 presidential election. It will provide striking support for corrupted Ohio vote counts of sufficient magnitude to reverse the outcome of the election.'

In respect of conjecture about Bush's relationship with his god, perhaps there is something in it. He might, perhaps be able to make the dead get up and vote. 

Humanity and humour

Hi Bob, thanks mate for your “selfishness” but I find it increasingly sad that contributors who probably think of themselves as reasonably intelligent people continue to waste time and energy on writing rubbish. Why?

For example: C Parsons’ (who should know better) post on January 17, 2006 - 9:29am. on the “what’s changed about me?" thread is an example of how I feel.

Firstly he relies on the Hitler image (and emotion) to equate the current situation in the Middle East with 1930s Europe. There is no logic at all in his final assumption and any first year student of logic and methodology would cut him to pieces. His prime aim is to build up his own ego by humiliating you. Sadly he belittles himself, as I’m sure C Parsons could be an excellent person to have a mature and considered discussion with. Many of us do this whether from the right or left. It appears to be a weakness in the human condition.

Of course when those of the left incite the Hitler image to infer GWB and JWH are flirting with fascism then they (the right) would argue in the same manner as I have above. The situation in the 1930’s has nothing to do with contemporary times and they (the left) incite the image of Hitler for emotional reasons.

Of course we all can and should learn from history however making erroneous comparisons gets us no where; especially when we do so through self interest or for purely childish games. One of the great lessons of history which many seem to ignore is that our leaders are not to be trusted. I won’t waste time in supporting this fact for it is self evident.

As far as the Irises thread goes it would appear you are manning the barricades all on your own however I would be pleased to offer you my support. I make no apologies for being anti war and made my views publicly in the Daily Telegraph and The Sydney Morning Herald in January 2003 when it was quite obvious America was going to attack Iraq no matter what the intelligence said. The opening to my letter went like this;

“I wish to apologise pre-emptively to the children, women and men of Iraq who are about to be murdered in the name of freedom and democracy”

I won’t bore you with the remainder (I don't have a copy anyway) but I’m sure you will get my drift. So far the only justification the supporters of the war can provide is that the end justifies the means. The sad thing is that we haven’t got a clue what the end is; probably more war. Another way the supporters of war attempt to intimidate dissenters is to say you are either with Saddam and the terrorists or you are with us. This is a very childish ultimatum and I can’t even remember John Howard resorting to that one.

Bob as I have stated I would be only to happy to contribute to a polite and considered discussion where questions can be asked and answers supplied without all the distraction of vitriol, sarcasm and so on. The sad thing is I have found that, like terrorists, many of us find it easier to destroy than create. I have asked many questions on the internet but usually get very few answers, of course I do not demand an answer for I do not consider myself a control freak or issuer of ultimatums.

Allow me to give you an example:

In the what’s changed about me? thread I asked Jay White two questions regarding the Iraq war about when the time would be right to end the occupation:

 

PM  “Who do you feel should be the arbitrators in judging when the time is right?"

JW  “That decision should be made by the democratically elected Iraqi Government in conjunction with its COTW partners in protecting the peace.” (my bold)

PM “If the democratically elected Iraqi government decided it was time to end the occupation and politely ask (legislated if necessary) the COW to leave and the COW say "the time is not right" (which is possible) what do you think may happen? Do you feel one party should have veto over the other or could you offer a solution that would be in the best interests of all parties if that is at all possible?

Jay for what ever reason did not answer that question. I would have appreciated a reply for I feel that Jay has a lot to offer when he is in sensible mode. I also feel that the real test of the sincerity in the COW’s behaviour will be to respect the “democratically elected Iraqi government’s” choices. After all that is what democracy is all about.

Further history teaches us that America will probably insist on some type of continued military occupation (in the form of bases etc.) for it would be a very naïve person to believe that this war is all about freedom and democracy for the Iraqi people. The material you have provided in this thread suggests just that.

And that is probably why you are all on your own now for there is so much evidence to suggest the reasons for going to war had very little to do with freedom and democracy and mostly everything to do with America’s position/interests on this planet, sans ethics, sans morality.

Another thing I find that is time wasting is the continued roundabout we have on the interpretation of the legality of the war. As we all know the law is a very nebulous topic and at the end of the day we must settle legal arguments in a legal forum. Bob, I look at this topic in a simple manner (probably too simple) but allow me to explain. If I accused you of stealing my car and you we innocent would you not want your day in court to prove otherwise and clear your name. Same goes for the COW leaders, they have been accused of the worst of possible crimes yet they do not appear to be prepared to argue their case in the only place that could clear their names. Why?

I can only assume they feel there could be / is a legitimate case against them. John Howard’s very carefully chosen words before the invasion indicate this may be so. JWH made it quite clear we were going to war to rid Iraq of WMD and definitely not for  regime change (which is illegal). John was placing on record his future defence if ever he was going to be held responsible for following Bush into this arguably illegal war.

If I was accused of a crime that I did not commit then I would be only too happy to have my day in court but you can bet that the COW will have to be led kicking and screaming  to have their day in court.

Having said that it is no use in spending all our time trying to tell everyone I told you so. That won’t bloody well fix the problem. What will fix the problem is if we as HUMAN BEINGS (from both sides of the political fence) get our heads together and pursue a mature and considered discussion on the best way to fix the problem in Iraq in the best interests of:

1. The Iraqi people

2. Stability in the Middle East

Personally I don’t think we are capable of doing this for anything we as a group of compassionate human being come up with will be destroyed by the greed and ignorance of those you are benefiting financially.

So that’s about it from me just now Bob. I am prepared to discuss any of the above in a polite and considered manner with any other human being who happens across this page. In the mean time yes Bob I will stand by your side and help you man the barricades the best that time permits.

To you my friend and any body else who wishes to join us in trying to find sensible and ethical solutions to complex problems you are welcome to join us. But if you do for reasons of egocentricity or narcissism then maybe you should reconsider.

On a lighter note Bob did you see my letter today in The Sydney Morning Herald today.  It is the very last on the letters page. I believe in humour as well as humanity.

With kind regards to all

PM

The Heart of the Matter.

Phil, thank you for your response and your offer. I would appreciate your assistance when you have the time.

People do read this thread - there have been numerous messages of appreciation and support. Perhaps the people who most need to read it do not and instead snipe at me elsewhere. A pity because what happens with the Bush administration and the US generally is vitally important. It is not just a matter of proving the alleged sins of the administration but confronting what has become of the country that thinks of itself as having "manifest destiny" and as a city on a hill. And has enormous potential to do good or ill. They have chosen the latter.

Bottom line is that I am an analyst at heart. I like to know what happens and try to understand why. First you must break away from a blind adherence to your mob - face the faults of your own tribe before rushing off to fight or fix others. Easier just to resort to cheering for your "side" but that has never solved problems. The problems we face and others that are ahead require cooperation across the planet yet we are seemingly becoming increasingly fractured.

You raised the issue that is the heart of the matter - concern for your children's future. The way things are going they might not have much of a future at all.

Yet, as you write, some people play silly games and avoid dealing honestly with issues. Do they not wish to leave their comfort zone? Is it so much easier to play games from the safety of their room?

I gave reasons on the "day of shock", ie. when Margo quit, for my demand for adherence to WD ethics - it has to do with some of the behaviour here and the treatment of Margo elsewhere. And others who say what is not appreciated by some. I was shocked and angry when Margo provided us a link to sites where the abuse of her was contemptible. Not only is it abhorrent behaviour but solves nothing. But there are those, the vested interests etc, who do not want solutions.

Your comment about COW leaders not having the courage to face judgment can be compared to the courage and sacrifice Margo made to provide this space.

You are right about the need about the need for constructive engagement but some are not interested - you soon learn who. You provided some examples and I have recently experienced another.

The Bush administration is a prime example of narrow vested interests at play. Their way is leading us down a dangerous path. I made the decision to document it here. To expose it as best I could so perhaps more people would realise just what is happening. If people don't agree then at least they should provide an argument for not doing so. Or is that too difficult?

Your letter was a gem. Humour is vital to retain our balance and sanity. And to puncture pretensions. But it should not be a matter of making everything a joke to avoid confronting difficulties. Time and place.

It is highly appropriate to have this exchange on a day when MLK has been a centre of attention. Such people can do much to change the world. But there might be a price to pay.

"I might not get there with you" and next day he was murdered.

Meanwhile, we do what little we can and I would appreciate your help in what I do here.

Cheers for now, my friend.

Al Gore's Speech

A few days ago I posted a story that Al Gore, the man who should be president,  was to take aim at the usurper, George W Bush.

Here is the speech.

It is clear, comprehensive and direct.

At present, we still have much to learn about the NSA's domestic surveillance. What we do know about this pervasive wiretapping virtually compels the conclusion that the President of the United States has been breaking the law repeatedly and persistently.

A president who breaks the law is a threat to the very structure of our government. Our Founding Fathers were adamant that they had established a government of laws and not men. Indeed, they recognized that the structure of government they had enshrined in our Constitution - our system of checks and balances - was designed with a central purpose of ensuring that it would govern through the rule of law. As John Adams said: "The executive shall never exercise the legislative and judicial powers, or either of them, to the end that it may be a government of laws and not of men."

Numbers down again.

The latest Zogby poll on Bush's numbers is out and shows a drop back below 40% overall approval after the post-propaganda splurge small recovery of December.

'The deterioration in the President’s numbers appears to be the result of eroding support among the investor class and others who supported him in his 2004 re-election bid, said Pollster John Zogby, President and CEO of Zogby International. And the problem is the Iraq war – just 34% of respondents said Mr. Bush was doing a good or excellent job managing the war, down from 38% approval in a Zogby poll taken in mid-October.

 

Bush’s overall job approval rating in that poll was at 46%.'

Is the problem political or societal?

In the q & a section of a seminar I gave I was asked if the government was responsible, the media or the public. My answer was all three. Governments can only get away with what they do if the media and public allow it.

When reading the above article, those who listened to the MLK item will perhaps reflect and compare. 39 years later and plus ca change.

On the role of the corporate media in aiding and abetting.

Note that the polls show low approval despite this. As previously related, it is the internet that has much to do with it.

Remember why Margo created Webdiary. Margo might have departed but Hamish carries the torch with the help of the support team and those of the WD community who care.

A mention for David Roffey. David was the first to step into the breach when things got rough and later took a formal role. He has recently endured what I consider an unfounded and malicious attack. David - take it as a sign that you and WD are effective. Thanks again for all you have done and continue to do.

I hope Phil Moffat reads this as well as Hamish's comments re the recent nonsense (thanks H) about - and listens to the MLK - and reconsiders. Selfishly, I enjoyed our discussions and they gave me a point of focus on which to base analyses.

I end this post with an assessment of what MLK meant to America.

The Promised Land

January 15 is Martin Luther King II Day in the US. Amy Goodman marked the occasion by devoting a whole program to King. The focus is on two speeches: Beyond Vietnam, 4/4/1967 and I've Been to the Mountain Top, 3/4/1968.

The latter was, of course, delivered the night before his assassination and includes those words "I have been to the mountain top and I have seen the Promised Land, I might not get there with you ..."

He also related the story of being stabbed years earlier and was told at the hospital - where he had the blade removed from his chest - if he had sneezed he would have died. Of all the messages he received the one he remembered most was from a little (white) girl who wrote "I'm glad you did not sneeze".

In "Beyond Vietnam" he spoke of the ills of the nation and the need for fundamental change - the need to choose love instead of hate. You might, as I did listen and wonder what, these 39 years later, has really changed.

One point pertinent to this recording of the unravelling of the Bush administration is that the situation in one way is worse. In 1968 the then US president, Lyndon Johnson, recognised reality - "If I've lost Cronkite I've lost middle America" - and announced he would not contest the next election but rather devote his energies to ending the war in Vietnam.

In 2006 the US has a president who creating his own reality and plans new wars whilst winding back the freedoms that are the foundations of the American system.

15 Years and What is there to Show for It?

Ron Jacob's view on what the 15 years since the US bombs first fell on Baghdad have meant for the US.

Another view - the state of the Empire.

These views suggest either doing something differently or handing out the happy pills. AKA White House press releases.

Ralph Reed in the sights?

A call to stop Bush and Alito.

Keep talking and writing folks and it might just happen. Already gone from unthinkable to maybe.

I admit to getting a little impatient waiting for Patrick Fitzgerald's next move. Could be a biggie.

Fooled Again

Part 1 of an interview with Mark Crispin Miller.

Well, Mark Crispin Miller is one of our favorite renaissance men filled with passion.  Miller may be a professor at NYU, but if you transplanted his passion and stamina into the backbones of the Democrats in the U.S. Senate, you wouldn't have a silent coup taking place now in the United States. In his "J'accuse" book on the 2004 election, Fooled Again: How the Right Stole the 2004 Election & Why They'll Steal the Next One Too (Unless We Stop Them), Miller documents how the Republicans likely stole a second presidential election, just in a more subtle and complicated way than they did in 2000. To those who dismiss such claims as "over the top," BuzzFlash responds, if the Republicans stole the presidency in 2000 by hot wiring the Supreme Court of the United States, why wouldn't they do it again if they could? They would -- and they probably did.

It has to be seriously considered. Do not forget the exit polls.

Bush has crossed the Rubicon. 

Echoes of Charles I

Oh dear, they wouldn't lop his head off would they? And would it make any difference?

Following a previous story about the attack on a Pakistani village, here is one on the reaction in Pakistan.

Not exactly a case of winning friends. But perhaps they have influenced, but not how they'd like.

"Stupid is as stupid does."

C-Span broadcast of a Town Hall meeting with John Murtha. 

Video. 

On January 5, 2006, Congressman Murtha held a town hall meeting with Cong. Jim Moran (D-VA 08).

The soldier who asked the first question served in Afghanistan and said that morale among troops is high and that he would gladly serve in Iraq today. His comment was the only one replayed by Fox News the next day.

But the majority of soldiers in attendance spoke out against the current policy. Fox News did not broadcast their remarks.

An example of hte kind of remarks Fox did not report:

John Powers, Capt. 1st Armored Division, served 12 months in Iraq:

The thing that hits me the most is the accountability. ... Where is the accountability for those men [who took us to war], as well as where is the accountability for Paul Bremmer, who misplaced millions of dollars and claims to keep accountability in the war zone?... I know that if we lost $500 we would be court marshaled. So where is the accountability for this leadership?

That is quite a question.Similarly, who have been punished for Abu Ghraib?

Time and events might well correct the problem.

Just Politics

Bob, It would appear Ahmadinejad is doing an Alexander Downer in his own little way as reported in The Sydney Morning Herald today:

Iranian leader baits West on nuclear plans

Mr Ahmadinejad called it "laughable" that his assertions that Israel be "wiped off the map" and his reference to the Holocaust as a "myth" might have seeded doubts about the peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear program.

"We don't need nuclear weapons," he said, noting that religious doctrine restrained Iran from unleashing its stocks of chemical weapons when Iraq gassed Iranian troops during the 1980s. "Nuclear weapons are pursued by those who want to solve everything by bullying everyone."

He challenged the US to open its own nuclear facilities to UN inspection. Reversing a warning levelled at Tehran last week, he advised the US and Europe "not to isolate yourself any more in the family of nations".

Grinning and joking, he condemned the policy of Western countries. "They themselves have vats full of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. But they think that if they have these weapons they can impose their will on other nations."

One could not argue that what is good for the goose is also good for the gander.

Cheers.

Goose.

Phil, you managed to get "goose" and Alexander Downer" in the same post. Well done.

Seriously but, for all his extreme language (which I do not condone, just as I do not condone threats and lies from the other side of the debate), Ahmadinejad has some valid points. As we have discussed, and as articles we have posted explain - there is a rush to create a case without examining the evidence. I certainly believe the "axis of evil" typre of approach has been counter-productive. As you remarked, it almost impels those targeted in that manner to take prevevtive measures - such as getting nukes.

Though there is no proof Iran has or is interested in doing so. People have referred to evidence that they are on other threads but then we've seen that kind of "evidence" before. But then some people are not interested in rational and honest examination of the situation. For the sake of the children, they should be.

On the unravelling: 

Another one caught in the Abramoff web.

DeLay in trouble.

'Scandal-ridden Republican Tom DeLay trails a Democratic challenger for his seat in the U.S. House of Representatives and is viewed favorably by only 28 percent of people questioned in a poll of his Houston area district.

The survey of 560 registered voters conducted Tuesday through Thursday found 30 percent favored former U.S. Rep. Nick Lampson, a Democrat, compared with 22 percent for DeLay, who has represented the district for 22 years.'

The Ney story was also covered in Newsweek which is a good sign on top of the Specter tv interview. The mainstream will eventually have to get behind the story.

It will grow and grow until ...

It is great too have someone to bounce these ideas off - thanks yet again.

Damian, of course it is OK to use stuff I post here. That is part of the reason I am doing it - as a repository. Provides a ready source of material as well as an increasing degree of analysis.

Also, it makes it difficult for a certain element to say "where's the evidence?" "Right over there, a sh*tload of it.

You'll note I do not usually use terms like "right" or left" - I do believe they are oversimplifications. You wil have seen some of the terms I use but at times expresions such as "lying little toe-rag" come to mind, though I choose not to use them.

Good to see you still reading Irises and making use of its bountiful resources.

Saying the "I" Word Loud and Clear

Out early to do the shopping and get back to find an interview with Senator Arlen Specter (R).

Video.

George: You know if the President did break the law or circumvent the law, what's the remedy?

Specter: Well, the remedy could be a variety of things. A president - and I'm not suggesting remotely that there's any basis, but you’re asking, really, theory, what's the remedy? Impeachment is a remedy. After impeachment, you could have a criminal prosecution, but the principal remedy, George, under our society is to pay a political price.

Comments are quite sceptical as to whether he'd follow through but at least he has said it on air. Enough for now to help increase the momentum.

New broom, but will it sweep clean?

New Republican House majority leader has, guess what, connections to Abramoff.

Perhaps they should select a new born baby.

Adapting the  Declaration of Independence to suit king George. 

More views on Iran.

And 

The fuel that is produced from these uranium enrichment reactors DOES NOT PRODUCE WEAPONS-GRADE MATERIAL. That requires thousands of centrifuges which Iran does not have.

At the same time, the nuclear watchdog agency, the IAEA, has on-site inspectors and cameras monitoring the entire process.

Everything is under constant observation.

Additionally, as nuclear weapons physicist, Gordon Prather states, “After almost three years of go-anywhere see-anything interview-anyone inspections, IAEA inspectors have yet to find any indication that Iran has—or ever had—a nuclear weapons program”.

Get it???

No nukes! Not now…not ever!

Look at the evidence before starting a war. Oh I am forgetting, you just make the evidence up.

The Niagara Falls Reporter sticks it to Bush.

Well it is a newspaper, if more join in where will those impeachment polls be in a few months?

The impeachment drum beats louder.

I have previously stated that impeachment was not out of the question. I have also stated that the question was how much Americans care about their system.

The Zogby poll was an indication of growing public support for impeachment despite the lack of much mainstream media coverage of events and quiescence on the part of the Democrats.

There are still revelations, trials and probably indictments as ahead so things are likely to get worse for Bush. Probably much worse. He could withdraw forces from Iraq. Would that help now?

He might think another war would be a good distraction. The majority of the public, according to the polls, think Iraq was a mistake and a waste of lives and treasure. Would they wear another war?

“Crazy as a Fox”

Bob, “Crazy as a Fox” was an interesting perspective and it sounds reasonable and highly probable that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was really speaking to a domestic audience rather than globally. Maybe he is playing a game similar to John Howard when JH mused about pre-emptive strikes on our neighbours. Funny we don’t hear much about that now as I suspect John Howard realised it was a really dumb thing to propose.

I have read similar opinions to Tom’s elsewhere but the real test will be not so much what politicians are saying but how they behave. I have also read other opinion writers say that a military attack on Iran would not be a very clever thing to do and the closing paragraph of Tom’s piece pretty well says it all.

As things stand, however, the countdown to confrontation between the West and Iran has already started. And such a confrontation may well backfire on the West, assisting the consolidation of radical Islamist politics in Iran and providing Tehran with incentives not only to develop nukes, but to use them.

It would be hard to argue that Iran should not be able to develop nuclear power but one should also ask why at this stage does Iran need nuclear power? After all they are sitting on huge oil and gas reserves that should last them for many years.

It may be safe to assume that they have learned from Russia, North Korea and other members of the nuke family that if you’re packing nukes the bullies will show you a hell of a lot more respect. Might is right.

I feel that Richard Butler was correct when he stated that it is hypocritical to argue that other nations should not have WMD if your nation already has and continues to stockpile same as the USA, China and Pakistan. As Richard Butler concluded the best way to stop WMD proliferation is to stop the hypocrisy and rid your own backyard of these filthy weapons (or words to that effect).

If Iran being a Muslim nation is attacked by Israel and or America then all Muslims (including Pakistan) will not be very happy. Maybe the Muslims will be only too happy to show us what we mean when we say an “eye for an eye” as Tom suggests in that closing paragraph. To be honest if I were GWB and I attacked Iran then I would be keeping a close eye on Pakistan, you never know in whose hands one of their nukes may end up.

Cheers mate.

PS, I am having  some trouble with my PC at the moment. Like me it is aging and sometimes spits the dummy when I post comments. If I disappear for a while it will probably be because of that but then again in these interesting times who knows.

Hypocrisy

Phil, I am glad you mentioned Howard's preemption idiocy, it is a good example. You might recall the report that when he first raised the idea Downer called in the representatives of our neighbouring states and explained it was "just politics". As I said, an age old tactic.

Whether it applies in the case of Iran is a matter of conjecture. And conjecture there should be, based on research and analysis, before the bombs start falling.

Recall the Iran/Iraq war and the 8 years of bloodshed. Think on the latest estimates of deaths due to the invasion of Iraq.

Do not go lightly into the abyss.

Why does Iran want nuclear power when it has all that oil?

How long will the oil last?

What is Iran's major export? By a long way.

So while they gave oil they would prefer to use as much of it to earn export revenue and less for domestic consumption. As well as having a source of power for domestic use when the oil does run out.

The above is one rationale and should not be dismissed lightly.

On the hypocrisy - it is indeed. The US should not be accusing Iran of breaching the NPT when it ignores Israel and also itself - it is supposed to be getting rid of its nukes.

You are pretty much on the ball about these matters, imo.

Cheers.

Villagers killed

Villagers killed due to mistaken intelligence

The weaponry might be precise but the intel that directs is not. So,"sorry about that we'll try to get it right next time"?

How many next time such as this have there been? How many more will there be?

Collateral damage.

Liable for prosecution?

A jury verdict in Memphis late last year caused little stir among the general public, but it may have caught the attention of Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and other high officials of the Bush administration. The jury found Colonel Nicolas Carranza, former Vice Minister of Defense of El Salvador and now a U.S. citizen living in Memphis, responsible for overseeing the torture and killing in that country 25 years ago. Could similar charges be brought against high U.S. officials for the actions of their subordinates in Abu Ghraib, Falluja, and Guantanamo?

Carranza was sued by victims of armed forces under his control. The jury applied the principle of "command responsibility," which holds a superior legally responsible for human rights abuses by subordinates if the official knew or should have known about them and failed to prevent them or punish those who committed them.

...

President Bush has said "We do not torture." But according to a classified report by the CIA's own Inspector General John Helgerwon, the techniques appeared "to constitute cruel and degrading treatment under the [Geneva] convention." If so, they are likely to be crimes not only under international law, but under the U.S. Anti-Torture and War Crimes Acts.

Something to look forward to.

Bush's New Multilateralism.

With the billions of dollars appropriated by the United States for Iraqi reconstruction almost spent, Japan, Australia and other nations in U.S. President George W. Bush's "coalition of the willing" are likely to be asked to shoulder much of the burden for funding the large number of unfinished projects.

and

The U.S. is reportedly seeking to convince Arab countries to send troops to Iraq to replace U.S. forces after the formation of a new Iraqi government.    

Cairo-based Arab diplomatic sources said U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney who will start a Middle East tour on Sunday including Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Oman, will discuss the matter with Arab leaders.

Why did they not try this approach when the matter they went before the UN post-invasion?

Too early to be sure how much they'd ****** up?

The polls look bad

The latest Zogby poll is out and the majority says Bush should be impeached.

This is despite the lack of coverage for the impeachment movement in the mainstream media and lack of calls from the Democrats. The polls are trending up and the more they do so perhaps then the media and the Dems will respond.

The strong support for impeachment found in this poll is especially surprising because the views of impeachment supporters are entirely absent from the broadcast and print media, and can only be found on the Internet and in street protests.

Illustrative of the importance and reach of the internet.  "The vested interests" won't tell so we tell each other. And provide the evidence to support our contentions.

Murtha on 60 Minutes.

“You’re going to see a plan for withdrawal,” says Murtha. He believes Congress will pass it because of mounting pressure from constituents tired of the war that could affect the upcoming midterm elections.

The political situation will force President Bush to accede to Congress, he says. “I think the political people who give [the president] advice will say to him, ‘You don’t want a democratic Congress. You want to keep a Republican majority, and the only way you’re going to keep it is by reducing substantially the troops in Iraq,’” Murtha says.

Despite what Bush says, domestic politics will play a large role in what happens.

Chris Floyd on desppotism. 

What was that about values?

Just Dreaming

Bob there is a heart warming story over at OpedNews just now, if you haven’t already read it then it’s worth a look.

Grandmothers Against the War Go to Criminal Court

Although the saga is yet to be completed it has potential for a lovely little movie. Much better than The Godfather meets The Matrix.

It could even be a George Clooney production staring some of the old favourites, McLean, Streep, Saradon and Co.

Phil’s Saturday night Dreaming.

Coming to a cinema near you...

Phil, thanks for that story of courage - true courage. It is actions of a few decent people saying "Enough" that can initiate change.

You'll see my posting of the latest Zogby poll. The word is getting out despite indifference in some quarters. The mid-terms are going to be a factor - that, as I have said before, is the bottom line for so many (most?) pollies - keeping their seat. 

The momentum continues to grow.

What do you think about the article I posted about the motivations of Iran's president - "crazy as a fox"?

It is certainly worth consideration and could be another example of playing on the stupidity of the Yanks. Not enough thinking goes on in the Bush administration. Makes me wonder what would have happened if a similar mentality had been in office in October 1962.

Now there's a horrid thought.

So we must try to keep the dream alive - and with the courage of people such as the grandmothers, dreams can become reality.

Weekend reading

Put your feet up and peruse Tom Englehardt's view of what's past and what might be future.

One of the oldest tricks in the book is using foreign affairs as a tool for their domestic advantage. 

So is the president of Iran as crazy as a fox, and have the Yanks, amongst others, fallen  for his tricks? A dangerous game.

On Mafia comparisons - "if we can beat the Mob ..".

Now I have started thinking about Louis Vercotti the Python standover man "Things can get broke". Somewhat greater gravitas when you say that to other countries.

Wiretapping began pre 9/11

Jason Leopold reports wiretapping began shortly aftter Bush was sworn in 2001

The NSA's vast data-mining activities began shortly after Bush was sworn in as president and the document contradicts his assertion that the 9/11 attacks prompted him to take the unprecedented step of signing a secret executive order authorizing the NSA to monitor a select number of American citizens thought to have ties to terrorist groups.

So another lie revealed. A steady stream. Or is it a raging torrent?

More torture revelations.

Ray McGovern on James Risen's State of War.

Risen’s book also confirms the most damning element of the British Cabinet Office memos popularly called the “Downing Street memos;” namely, that “the intelligence and the facts were being fixed around the policy.” The result is that it is no longer credible to maintain that the failures in the Iraqi intelligence were the product of a broken intelligence community. The Bush administration deliberately fabricated the case against Iraq, lying to Congress and the American people along the way.

There are continuing debates about how many Iraqis have been killed as a result of the COW war of aggression. An adjunct of that is the war supporters' recourse to such excuses as "collateral damage" and "they don't deliberately target civilians". I have stated in past threads that in a war of aggression under modern techniques, civilians will be killed in considerable numbers and therefore it can be argued that by engaging in a war of aggression (or war of choice) the perpetrators are, effectively targeting civilians.

A legal opinion on Bush's "signing statements". 

Here is a pertinent article on the matter. 

The problem arises with what happened inside the targeted building, a house inhabited by a large Iraqi family. Piecing together the testimony of local residents, the Times reporter concluded that 14 members of the family were in the house at the time of the attack and nine were killed. The Washington Post, which reported 12 killed, offered a chilling description of the scene:

The dead included women and children whose bodies were recovered in the nightclothes and blankets in which they had apparently been sleeping. A Washington Post special correspondent watched as the corpses of three women and three boys who appeared to be younger than 10 were removed Tuesday from the house.

Because in this case - unlike in so many others in which US air power uses "precisely guided munitions" - there was on-the-spot reporting for a US newspaper, the military command was required to explain these casualties. Without conceding that the deaths actually occurred, Lieutenant-Colonel Barry Johnson, director of the Coalition Press Information Center in Baghdad, commented, "We continue to see terrorists and insurgents using civilians in an attempt to shield themselves."

Notice that Johnson (while not admitting that civilians had actually died) did assert US policy: if suspected guerrillas use any building as a refuge, a full-scale attack on that structure is justified, even if the insurgents attempt to use civilians to "shield themselves". These are, in other words, essential US rules of engagement. The attack should be "precise" only in the sense that planes and/or helicopter gunships should seek as best they can to avoid demolishing surrounding structures. Put another way, it is more important to stop the insurgents than protect the innocent.

And notice that the military, single-mindedly determined to kill or capture the insurgents, cannot stop to allow for the evacuation of civilians either. Any delay might let the insurgents escape, either disguised as civilians or through windows, back doors, cellars or any of the other obvious escape routes urban guerrillas might take. Any attack must be quickly organized and - if possible - unexpected.

Just one example to illustrate the approach.

Smear

Just picked up a breaking story about the Bush administration trying to smear John Murtha.

'The Huffington Post has learned the Bush administration recently asked high ranking military leaders to denounce Congressman John Murtha. Congressman Murtha has called for the Bush Administration to withdraw US troops from Iraq.'

This is a developing story and I will post more as it becomes available.

Is it likely to be true? Well, it is in character.

One does get weary of people who have nothing other than lies and smears.

Sometimes the trickery backfires.

HOUSTON, Jan. 11 - Representative Tom DeLay is in the toughest re-election campaign of his 11-term House career, a battle that might be decided not only by his legal problems, but also by the Congressional redistricting plan he spearheaded in 2003.

The redistricting led to the loss of six Democratic seats in Texas in 2004, but it also shifted thousands of Democratic voters to strong Republican districts. Among those, Mr. DeLay's 22nd District added several Democratic-leaning parts of Galveston County; several political analysts estimate they may have raised the district's Democratic vote around 5 percent.

"There is huge irony here," said Richard Murray, a University of Houston political scientist. "Six Democrats in Congress were eliminated, but the seventh victim may turnout to be the author of the plan."'

Phil, that is worth a chuckle.

Former CIA counsel provides a legal opinion on wiretapping. "Illegal".

'Former CIA general counsel Jeff Smith has issued a memo to the House Intelligence Committee concluding that Authority for Use of Military Force did not give President George W. Bush the right to order domestic wiretaps without a court order.

In the memo, Smith discusses court precedent, as well as civil liberties outlined in the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Smith further concludes that Bush's secondary argument, that he has authority under the constitution to order such wiretaps, is "seriously undermined" by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978, which allows for similar surveillance only with a warrant. He further characterizes a president's constitutional power while acting against an existing statute as being at its "lowest ebb".'

Gore to speak of a constitutional crisis.

'“We are at a point of constitutional crisis," the aide said, relating how Gore has articulated his speech. "The president who has violated the law is acting above the law. It’s a wakeup call for Congress, the American people and the courts. If we continue down this road we will have a different constitution.

"Nixon’s quote about if the president does it it is legal, it’s kind of like Bush saying, if it’s about national security, it’s legal. This is going to be called transpartisan; it’s not about who your party is, it’s about what America stands for."'

Will the mainstream media give the speech much coverage? After all, he is the man who should be president, assuming that without the shenanigans of 2000 he would have been reelected in 2004. But then there wer probably pro-Bush shenanigans in '04 that got him reelected. Democracy, ain't it grand?

Oh, but it isn't really democracy, is it?

Here is Justin Raimondo on fixing evidence. 

The games in re Iran seem quite familiar to those in re Iraq.

I enjoy Raimondo's work - he researches well and gets stuck in.  He debunks with style.

he he

Yes indeed Bob, looks like De Lay’s gerrymander may yet come back and bight him. I must admit if this happens “chuckle” may not be the best word. Schadenfraude may better describe the feeling.

Iran sounds a bit like the Godfather meets the Matrix part two. Same play, same actors, same plot with similar consequences. Death and destruction.

Poor old John Murtha appears to be trying desperately to save the lives of American troops, the greater majority just kids, along with the innocent Iraqi people. Bush and Co. will play the usual games to discredit him. It’s not hard to decide who to respect; someone who has put their life on the line for their country or people who had other priorities.

The voting thing in America is probably a greater threat to their democracy than the current government. Of course both go hand in hand but if the American public allow private corporations to covertly right computer code then they should be concerned. Wally O'Dell (former CEO for Diebold) of course pledged to “deliver” Ohio to GWB in the 2004 election and possibly he succeeded. Two hundred thousand votes was the margin and for the first time exit polls (showing a healthy victory to Kerry) were wrong. Makes you wonder.

I believe that Wally O'Dell was recently charged of insider trading. Makes you wonder.

Dear old Sam Clemen probably best described American democracy:

Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. ...Mark Twain

Sadly these days the lamb doesn’t even get a chance to vote.

Cheers Bob.

Precious moments

Phil, finding that report on DeLay was one of those precious moments that confirm that the Fates do at least occasionally punish the crooks and liars. Brightens the trawling for information on the Bush administration.

You are right about the rigging of the electoral system - seems to be a campaign by the Republicans to cement themselves in power for decades .. or more. I have posted links on some of the less dramatic methods such as requiring photo ID cards for voting. Those opposed to this idea say it would discriminate black voters, who vote overwhelmingly Dem. In 2000 in Florida they were less subtle in their methods as you are probably aware.

The Diebold situation has been covered here - the GAO report was damning. I also saw a report that the Congress had received 57,000 complaints about voting irregularities in 2004, I think it was Ohio alkone, but can't quite recall.

Anyway, I had one of those roflol moments when Bush complained about the controversial Ukraine election last year and based his suspicions on the exit polls.

It was similar to Robert Fisk's reaction when Bremer said "The trouble is there are too many foreigners fighting in Iraq". Another of mine was when Bush said "Iran and Syria must realise there is nothing to be gained by interfering in the internal affairs of Iraq."

Clemens had some very astute observations. Thanks for that one.

The lamb doesn't get to vote, indeed, Phil, but is led to the slaughter. 

I am keeping an eye on the Alito nomination - much to question about his attitudes. Could be another nail in the coffin in the American system.

I see a campaign similar to the Swift boats one has begun against John Murtha. When I was researching my Hons thesis 4 years ago I found an article about media coverage and president's records. It compared the number of stories in the msm about matters of draft dodging between Clinton and Bush. Can't recall the exact figures but it was something like 3,000+ about Clinton and <60 about Bush. Bias? You bet.

Oh I have just found a chuckle story.

'MINNEAPOLIS (Jan. 13) - Minnesota voters, who eight years ago elected a former professional wrestler as their governor, may find a self-proclaimed vampire on the ballot for the office this year.

"Politics is a cut-throat business," said Jonathon "The Impaler" Sharkey, who said he plans to announce his bid for governor Friday on the ticket of the Vampyres, Witches and Pagans Party.'

There is an online poll.

Could be worse. In my opinion, in DC it is. Oh dear, just realised an earlier comment "nail in the coffin."

Thanks again for the support and feedback, helps me endure the slings and arrows of outrageous opponents. 

Iran situation

Robert Dreyfuss on the Iran situation. Very astute in analysis of how the US has stuffed it.

More document on dirty work by Black Ops. 

Chris Floyd on force feedinng at Gitmo.

Murtha has more to write. 

And I think we know on whose behalf he speaks.

The comments are interesting as well.

Guess who's coaching Alito. 

More about Alito. 

Bush's horse for the Senate is still a chance.

Catharsis

Hi  Bob, how’s tricks?

Firstly on Iran:. Yep you are correct in mentioning that Iran intends to trade oil in Euros in March. From memory Saddam did the same around October 2002 thus sealing his fate. It was however a good business decision for he did make more out of the deal as the Euro continued to rise against the dollar. The decision was however simply another nail in his political coffin.

I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised if Iran gets bombed sometime around then and sadly it appears the nuclear option will be used to ensure destruction of the Iranian reactors which are stationed deep under the sand. That guy in charge or Iran at the moment is not helping the situation of course with all his crazy statements about Israel.  Throw Bush and the neocons into the equation then all hell may break out.

If the Yanks do use anything nuclear then as one of the commentators said “all bets are off” and nuclear retaliation at some time in the future will be inevitable.  An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth and a mushroom cloud for a mushroom cloud so to speak.

When you think about it, no country has had a monopoly on military technology. Back in the old days we threw rocks at one another, then spears, then arrows, then bullets, then bombs so it is inevitable that nukes will be the final retaliation. It seems rather hypocritical that a select few countries should have WMD and expect all others not to. The only solution is to rid the world of all WMD otherwise WMD will rid the world of us.

I also read the link about deaths in Iraq and the methodology used to calculate same. This is only the beginning, for DU will have disastrous effects on growing children who absorb the stuff at a far greater rate than adults, so I have read. That stuff lasts for thousand of years. The sins of the father, sorry kids we did what we thought was best, sorry about those missing testicles and a slow and agonising death, but we did it for your own good.

And how did this all come about? The Abramoff links tell the story. Greed and more greed with a little bit of greed on top followed by greed for afters. How many millions does a person need?  

On another note I read a post in an American blog regarding the trillions of dollars this war has/will cost. It went something like this:

“For that amount of money we could have bought all their oil.”

Anyway mate I have had my rant for now and am feeling a little better now. Sometimes I write stuff for very selfish reasons, not to score points or win arguments, not to see my name in print but purely for catharsis. A psychologist once told me “better out than in” so please forgive me for my selfishness, but sometimes I do need a bit of Webdiary therapy.

A few lone heroes

Hi Phil, up way too early as usual - sore neck, sore teeth. At least I'm catching the stories as they appear.

The depressing aspect of what might be ahead and why it has come about is very much on our minds. Grubby little people pursuing their grubby little schemes with little or no regard for truth justice (and the American way). Oh sounds familiar. Look up in the sky! Is it a bird, is it a plane? No it's chicken hawk.

Of course they rely of the cooperation of others who fall for the lies, the schemes and the call of patriotism and the herd mentality.

I think of the lone heroes and heroines, those who have stood up against the crowd and been truly free - as Thoreau from his cell put it "the only free man in town".

As this is about America, and where it is bound, and as abuses are not new - though the general depth of corruption seems greater under Bush than for a long time .. here is an article about a lone hero who died last week.

'There is an Ugly American, a Quiet American and then there's Hugh Thompson, the Army helicopter pilot who, with his two younger crew mates, was on a mission to draw enemy fire over the Vietnamese village of My Lai in March, 1968. Hovering over a paddy field, they watched a platoon of American soldiers led by Lt. William Calley, deliberately shoot unarmed Vietnamese civilians, mainly women and children, cowering in muddy ditches. Thompson landed his craft and appealed to the soldiers, and to Calley, to stop the killings. Calley told Thompson to mind his own business.

Thompson took off but then one of his crew shouted that the shooting had begun again. According to his later testimony, Thompson was uncertain what to do. Americans murdering innocent bystanders was hard for him to process. But when he saw Vietnamese survivors chased by soldiers, he landed his chopper between the villagers and troopers, and ordered his crew to fire at any American soldiers shooting at civilians. Then he got on the radio and begged U.S. gunships above him to rescue those villagers he could not cram into his own craft.

On returning to base, Thompson, almost incoherent with rage, immediately reported the massacre to superiors, who did nothing, until months later when the My Lai story leaked to the public. The eyewitness testimony of Thompson and his surviving crew member helped convict Calley at a court-martial. But when he returned to his Stateside home in Stone Mountain, Georgia, Thompson received death threats and insults, while Calley was pardoned by President Nixon. Indeed, for a time, Thompson himself feared court-martial. Reluctantly, the massacre was investigated by then-major Colin Powell, of the Americal Division, who reported relations between U.S. soldiers and Vietnamese civilians as "excellent"; Powell's whitewash was the foundation of his meteoric rise through the ranks.'

Craig, please excuse the lengthy quote - I have been limiting them but felt this needed to stand out. Thanks for the stand out job as stand in editor.

Craig R.: Ta, much appreciated.

So you see that particular courage compared to the behaviour of others. And compare Powell's behaviour then with his acquiescence to the Bush agenda.

On current issues, some people are very cavalier about what would happen if Iran was attacked, similar to the "welcome us with flowers" attitude. They forget the 8 year war with Iraq and all those young Iranian's who gladly sought martyrdom. They ignore all the possible outcomes, militarily and economically - hey, what is the big resource of the ME? Oh yes, and if supplies were disrupted?

There chancers and zealots and madmen and people who seek the "End Times" with far too much influence, either through being in power or influencing those who are. And it is, as you correctly said, on both sides.

There is far too much of this "sides" business. Some seem to equate supporting governments to picking a footie team to barrack for, no matter what, right or wrong. These games have far too serious ramifications to merely be a cheer leader.

Here is an article about the NSA.

The concerns are spreading and the "I" word is being spoken more loudly.

Action is need urgently.

Another Bob who agrees as to who is the danger to America.

Phil, I hope you had a good chuckle over the video I linked yesterday, much needed when dealing with the corruption, rot and self-seeking.

Excellent point about weapons races, hypocrisy and nukes ridding the world of us. As long as the confrontational approach is preferred, the danger remains and fuels the crazies and the unthinking and unscrupulous.

It is a good point about "we could have bought all their oil". The money could have been used far more productively elsewhere.

Then there is the body count. So many lives cut short or never lived. And while that happens in one place it draws attention and resources to other problems where the death tolls mount.

Best stop for now, perhaps try to find another little video to lighten the mood.

Fiona, good to see you back on deck last night.

Arab sentiments

A poll on Arab sentiments.

A Zogby survey of 3,900 Arabs in Morocco, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Jordan, and the United Arab Emirates has uncovered massive distrust of U.S. motives in the Middle East.

Unkindest cut of all, Arabs would prefer that President Chirac and France lead the world rather than us, and, rather than have us as the world’s lone superpower, they would prefer the Chinese.

While Arabs are not as rabidly anti-American as in the aftermath of the Iraq invasion, still, by 77 percent to 6 percent, they believe the Iraqi people are worse off today, and by four-to-one, Arabs say the U.S. invasion has increased, not decreased, terrorism.'

Unkindest cut indeed. The results are indicative of a massive  failure of US policy, at least in the matter of winning hearts and minds in the Arab street.

Not doing much better at home. 

'A majority of adults in the U.S. regret their government’s decision to launch the coalition effort, according to a poll by TNS released by the Washington Post and ABC News. 55 per cent of respondents think that, considering the costs versus the benefits to the United States, the war with Iraq was not worth fighting.'

Funny how some people who usually use majorities to justify and excuse much mischief are silent when the polls reverse. Or just dismiss them.

Meanwhile Bush thinks hearings on eavesdroppin OK if ... 

'Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, a Pennsylvania Republican, has said he wants to hold hearings in early February on the domestic eavesdropping.

Bush said hearings were "good for democracy" if they did not help the enemy.

"Just so long as the hearings, as they explore whether or not I have the prerogative to make the decision I made doesn't tell the enemy what we're doing – see that's the danger," Bush said.'

There has been plenty of evidence that Bush's administration has not only not been good for democracy, nor the economy but given such evidence as the above polls and analysis, has helped the enemy.

Democracy does seem to be receding from the US at a gathering pace in the name of national security, yet security seems less, even to the majority of Americans.

Bush also insists his eavesdropping was legal. There is much to refute that.

Here is a confronting view of the US. 

Specially for the deniers.

For Phil, as well as others, more on Iran gaining from the war.

US President George W. Bush's administration had created a volatile situation in Iraq that had benefited Iran and could degenerate into a civil war, an ex-top aide to former secretary of state Colin Powell said overnight.

Lawrence Wilkerson, Mr Powell's former chief of staff, said Iran's Shiite theocracy had exploited the chaos and political vacuum in neighbouring Iraq and had become the "principal winner" after the toppling of Saddam Hussein's regime in 2003.

"The Persians are the ones who are winning from this whole thing," Mr Wilkerson said in a speech at the Centre for National Policy, a Washington think tank.

"For most purposes, Iranians own the south (part of Iraq)," he said, referring to the region where Shiites form an overwhelming majority.

There was a genuine threat of civil war in Iraq, and possibly not along sectarian lines, he said.'

He's not the only one who thinks Iran has one. But were the Yanks set up? 

Craig, an opportune time to thank you for keeping us up to date on the bird flu issue.

Craig R: You're welcome. There will be more to come ...

Spinning wildly

On the charge of "irresponsible" critics.

As previously reported Bush has made accusation of irresponsibilty by critics. The nature of this approach can be rebealed by the press conference held by Press Secretary Scott McClellan. To highlight the issue I give you an extract and compare it with another account of the matter referred to.

Scott McClellan: "I welcome the opportunity to do this -- but they know the difference between honest critics who question the way the war is being prosecuted -- we welcome that. In fact, the President has met with some of those honest critics. He met with a number of them just last week."

He is probably referring to the meeting with former officials which was reported as a stunt:

'This "meeting" was nothing but another PR trick in Bush's announced campaign to whip the public back into line behind his "strategy" for winning the war and to con people into believing he plans to eventually bring what is left of our ground troops home. As soon as the cameras were turned off, the meeting was over and Bush, Rice, Cheney and Rumsfeld fled, leaving the former VIPs to find their own way out. It was a pitiful sight, and I can't help thinking it served them right for allowing themselves to be used in such a shoddy way.'

He might have met with them but accounts suggest that was all a mere photo op to give the impression he was consulting critics.

As Bush's speech has been reported here, I post a response. 

On the subject of media here is a report on deaths of journalists. 

Machinations of an administration intent on war. 

Wheels within wheels.

Americans are really scared

Bob, have just read the link re China and currency reserves. It was rather interesting reading some of the comments from Yanks at the Huffington Post blog, they all seem to be rather scared and so they should be. It would appear that the benefactions of this Iraqi adventure are the Iranians, China and of course the CMA (Corporate Mafia of America).

Sometimes I think we are all missing the point about GWB as many describe him as a lunatic and failure. Personally I think he has been a complete success as he has accomplished what his puppet masters wanted him to do. Rape the American taxpayer (and Iraqis) for all they are worth by instigating the world’s biggest protection racquet.

Really when you follow what is going on in America today it is a bit like reading a Shakespearian or Greek tragedy or possibly more like The Godfather meets The Matrix. This play, movie or whatever has a long way to go yet but one thing for sure no matter what the ending is it will be very ugly indeed. Yep I am depressed, not so much for me but for our children.

Cheers mate.

Astute

Phil, thanks again for the support. Thanks for the feedback.

From my little comments through this thread you will have noted I share many of your views on who are the winners in Iraq. Has the Bush administration been outsmarted?

On GWB - much also in what you say there. He perhaps was a convenient blank page for the puppet masters to write their script on. A few years ago my supervisor came by a review of a biography of Bush which had the supposition that he always played dumb. She asked my opinion as to why he would have done that and my view was that it was a way to avoid responsibility.  He had better things to do - which perhaps have contributed to his noted limitations.

The claimed association with the god of his choice is an interesting additive - how much does this, affect pro or anti - the script?

His trouble now is that he is where Truman famously said the buck stops and it is difficult for him. So he has retreated into a fantasy world perhaps even returned to previous habits. That video I posted a while back was quite revealling.

Some analysts have been warning of the problems ahead for the US economy and what would happen if Bush's policies were maintained and also the health of the dollar given the foreign holdings. So Saddam deciding he would trade oil in the Euro and Iran's decision to do so - planned for March, if I recall, cannot be discounted as factors influencing US plans and actions.

Speaking of March and plans - that again has been reported as the time of Israel's strikes on Iran's nuclear facilities. That, could have calamitous results yet the defenders of the plan seem to discount these, reminiscent of being greeted with flowers on the COW's arrival in Baghdad.

Oh, the cakewalk which - according to the latest calculation I recently posted might have caused over 500,000 Iraqi deaths and cost the US in the long term $1 - 2 trillion.

On the death toll - we have a number of estimates proffered in lieu of "we don't do body counts". Add in estimates of the toll of the sanctions and whichever way you cut it that's a lot of deaths the maximum estimate being a million or more. Big league. No wonder war apologists reject those.

You are right to be concerned about your children - there are grave dangers ahead.

To lighten the mood I offer this video

It is under the heading "Abramoff hearts DeLay." The site is "Crooks and Liars" - as the evidence that keeps flooding out proves - a very apt name.

There is other interesting material there as well. 

Have been preoccupied with other matters this morning so more evidence will be provided later.

Cheers. 

On the media and the slaughter

On the air war and coverage(?) of it.

And related issues.

As one American officer explained to New York Times reporter Dexter Filkins, the willingness to sacrifice local civilians is part of a larger strategy in which U.S. military power is used to "punish not only the guerrillas, but also make clear to ordinary Iraqis the cost of not cooperating." A Marine calling in to a radio talk show recently stated the argument more precisely: "You know why those people get killed? It's because they're letting insurgents hide in their house."

This is, by the way, the textbook definition of terrorism – attacking a civilian population to get it to withdraw support from the enemy. What this strategic orientation, applied wherever American troops fight the Iraqi resistance, represents is an embrace of terrorism as a principle tactic for subduing Iraq's insurgency.'

Oh and we are supposed to believe that the only terrorists  are those pesky Muslims. The great and untrue spin.

Bush warns Dem critics of giving "comfort to our enemies" and suffering at the ballot box.

Perhaps he doesn't read the polls. They do claim to create their own reality.

Then there is this. 

'President Bush warned Americans yesterday that they can expect to see more violence in Iraq over the next year but called this the price of progress as the country stands up its own security forces and moves toward democracy.

Speaking to members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Bush said that in the coming weeks Iraq is likely to be the scene of "a good deal of political turmoil" as factions jockey for position and vie for power. Rather than being alarmed by those developments, he said, "we should welcome this for what it is: freedom in action."'

Welcome to the Twilight Zone. 

Robert Dreyfuss on plans for Syria.

Russell Tice, whistleblower.

'But now, Tice tells ABC News that some of those secret "black world" operations run by the NSA were operated in ways that he believes violated the law. He is prepared to tell Congress all he knows about the alleged wrongdoing in these programs run by the Defense Department and the National Security Agency in the post-9/11 efforts to go after terrorists.

"The mentality was we need to get these guys, and we're going to do whatever it takes to get them," he said.'

"Whatever it takes" is becoming apparent.

Phil, depressing indeed.

$1.372 trillion buys what?

Here is an Iraqi view.

'"It is obvious that the situation is much worse than it used to be," retired army general Ahmed Abdul Aziz told IPS. "Can you walk free in the streets? Did you receive your food ration last month? It is essential for most Iraqis to receive the food ration just to feed their families."

The former Iraqi general added: "When you go to the hospital, do you find medicines? The answer is no medicines, no services, no sheets or pillows, no beds, no nursing, and no ambulances to carry you from your house."

World Bank president and former U.S. deputy defence secretary Paul Wolfowitz had said Iraq could "really finance its own reconstruction." But such words have fallen flat because the state of the infrastructure is clearly worse now than even during the harsh economic sanctions of the 1990s.

...

"The Americans destroyed everything in Iraq," Gen. Aziz said. "I think every Iraqi should weep all his life over what is going on. Bush should be among the greatest terrorists along with his colleagues in Britain, because they are all criminals who have killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis."'

The US has decided to not provide further funding for the reconstruction of Iraq. So they can launch a war of aggression which increased the destruction they had already wrought and then decide not to pay for the rebuilding. 

That is front.

Following the article about US troops invading the home of an Iraqi journalist, here is his account of what happened. (Audio) 

At least he is alive to talk about it. More journalists have died in the Iraq war than in Vietnam. Seems like taking the old saying "shoot the messenger" way too seriously.

Rep. John Conyers to hold hearing on eavesdropping. 

Includes an opinion from a constitutional expert which concludes:

'the program is "as grave an abuse of executive authority as I can recall ever having studied."'

Further on the Chinese holdings of the $. 

'China has resolved to shift some of its foreign exchange reserves -- now in excess of $800 billion -- away from the U.S. dollar and into other world currencies in a move likely to push down the value of the greenback, a high-level state economist who advises the nation's economic policymakers said in an interview Monday.

As China's manufacturing industries flood the world with cheap goods, the Chinese central bank has invested roughly three-fourths of its growing foreign currency reserves in U.S. Treasury bills and other dollar-denominated assets. The new policy reflects China's fears that too much of its savings is tied up in the dollar, a currency widely expected to drop in value as the U.S. trade and fiscal deficits climb.'

Bad news for the US economy.

The depths the Bush administration has sunk to raises thoughts of all sorts of possibilities. 

'The Bush administration's utter contempt for the U.S. Constitution and the specific information we now know about its use of the National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance network should further call into question Bush' 2004 presidential "election." In a recent revelation, we have learned that the NSA shared the fruits of its illegal spying on behalf of Bush with other government agencies.

What are e-voting machines and central tabulators that pass the voting results over electronic networks from the internet to phone lines? No more than data easily spied on and tapped into. The Franklin County Board of Elections, for example, tells us that it was a "transmission error" in Gahanna Ward 1B, where 638 people cast votes and Bush, the Wonder Boy, received 4258 votes. It's not magic, nor is it an accident or an act of God. If the vote total wasn't so hugely illogical, no one would have caught it.'

Where would they stop?

A-roving

The man of the year is preparing the next indictment.

'Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald is said to have spent the past month preparing evidence he will present to a grand jury alleging that White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove knowingly made false statements to FBI and Justice Department investigators and lied under oath while he was being questioned about his role in the leak of covert CIA agent Valerie Plame's identity more than two years ago, according to sources knowledgeable about the probe.

Although there have not been rumblings regarding Fitzgerald's probe into the Plame leak since he met with the grand jury hearing evidence in the case more than a month ago, the sources said that Fitzgerald has been quietly building his case against Rove and has been interviewing witnesses, in some cases for the second and third time, who have provided him with information related to Rove's role in the leak. It is unclear when Fitzgerald is expected to meet with the grand jury again.'

I do hope this is true and it does come to pass.

Darned Quakers must be a dangerous lot.

'The National Security Agency has been spying on a Baltimore anti-war group, according to documents released during litigation, going so far as to document the inflating of protesters' balloons, and intended to deploy units trained to detect weapons of mass destruction.'

Non-violent protest is a threat to a corrupt, lying and warmongering administration.

IMF needed?

'Nobel prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz and Harvard University budget expert Linda Bilmes have calculated the cost to Americans of Bush's Iraq war to be between one and two trillion dollars. This figure is 5 to 10 times higher than the $200 billion that Bush's economic adviser, Larry Lindsey, estimated. Lindsey was fired by Bush, because Lindsey's estimate was three times higher than the $70 billion figure that the Bush administration used to mislead Congress and the American voters about the burden of the war. You can't work in the Bush administration unless you are willing to lie for dub-ya.'

How is Halliburton doing?

Economic vandalism and the trouble ahead. 

'On Thursday, The People's Republic of China fired off the first volley in what could turn out to be economic Armageddon. China announced that it would begin to diversify its foreign-exchange reserves away from US dollar.'

A call for impeachment.

Whither the Constitution? 

So many problems on so many fronts, no wonder the polls are bad. Imagine the impact if the mainstream media got serious. Perhaps events, revelations and public outrage will compel the media to do its proper job.

Gray Lady Syndrome

The NYTimes is to report that Abramoff names 12 in Congress and is going broke.

Noone will be upset by the last bit. Except perhaps the less wise members of Congress.

James Risen was not untainted by Gray Lady Syndrome.

Does this affect the veracity of claims in his book? They should be assessed as any such claims should be  - on the evidence.

Downing Street Memo

As James Risen's book State of War becomes available there are revelations contained within it beginning to be published. Here is one about the much discussed Downing Street Memo:

'After the Downing Street Memo was leaked last May, the U.S. and U.K. governments were eventually forced to admit it was genuine. However, they never revealed any background to the memo—most importantly, who did Richard Dearlove, head of British intelligence, meet with in Washington just before the July 23, 2002 high-level U.K. government meeting the memo memorialized? This would go a long way to answering why Dearlove believed "Military action was now seen as inevitable" and "the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."

...

• Dearlove was in part reporting on a CIA-MI6 summit he attended with other top MI6 officials at CIA headquarters on Saturday, July 20, 2002
• According to "a former senior CIA officer," the meeting was held "at the urgent request of the British"; CIA officials believe "Blair had ordered Dearlove to go to Washington to find out what the Bush administration was really thinking about Iraq"
• During the day-long summit, Dearlove met privately with CIA head George Tenet for an hour and a half'

From the book:

'According to a former senior CIA official, the memo—the leaked British government document from July 2002 that provided a British assessment of the Bush administration's plans for Iraq—was written immediately after a secret conference in Washington between top officials of the CIA and British intelligence. The memo, dated July 23, reported that "there was a perceptible shift in attitude" in Washington about Iraq. The memo went on to say that "military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."

...

"I doubt that Tenet would have said that Bush was fixing the intelligence," said a former CIA official. "But I think Dearlove was a very smart intelligence officer who could figure out what was going on. Plus, the MI6 station chief in Washington was in CIA headquarters all the time, with just about complete access to everything, and I am sure he was talking to a lot of people."'

Not gossip or conjecture but claimed to be from the heads of intel.

The next Abramoff revelation? 

'Here's the next Abramoff blockbuster coming soon to a newspaper, cable TV station, and blog near you. What makes this particularly tantalizing is that it puts the White House squarely in the middle of a 2002 corruption investigation of a sleazy arrangement between Abramoff and Guam Superior Court officials. The chief prosecutor in the investigation was acting U.S. Atty. for Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands, Frederick A. Black. As the LA Times wrote back in August 2005, in more innocent times when Abramoff's shenanigans did not make front page news, Black was removed from his position as acting U.S. Attorney in November 2002. It was a position he had held for over a decade, and which he lost one day after a subpoena was issued demanding the release of records involving the Guam court's lobbying contract with Abramoff -- including bills and payments.'

Seems like something new every day.

Not what I call democracy.

Back to the inspiration

Sometimes it is an individual that provides illumination of the dark recesses.

'My nomination for Man of the Year in 2005 is Patrick Fitzgerald. Anyone who could flush out a sleazy journalist like Judy Miller and toss her in jail without blinking an eye gets my vote. More significantly, though, it was only after Fitzgerald's tenacious investigation that the media woke from its stupor and discovered that the disclosure of Valerie Plame's CIA identity was more than just another Washington scandal - which is where they seemed happy to leave it. So we began reading about - get this now --possible attempts by the Bush administration to dissemble, deceive and distort, as they "fixed the intelligence" to sell the Iraq war to Congress and the American people. It's clear that Fitzgerald's dogged efforts had that hard-to-define tipping effect, where what had been obvious all along, but was being ignored for lack of momentum, suddenly gets new life.'

Fatal sleaze?

'David Corn - " Is Jack Abramoff the gift that will keep on giving? And will he destroy the Republican Party?"'

Yesterday I reported Newt Gingrich's criticism of the corruption within the Republican party. Here is an article that muses on what he might be up to and what might be ahead for the party. 

Why did he criticise his own party?

'It's possible that the Abramoff scandal is really big-- and you have to wonder about that, because Abramoff pled guilty to stuff that could throw him in jail for 30 years-- and that was a plea bargain. Which means that he cut a deal and didn't get charged with other stuff that was a whole lot worse. And Newt, of course, is in a position to know things about that. Names. So perhaps he senses something in the air...

Like the rushing sound of a leadership vacuum about to occur in the party. Who's going to run for president in 2008?'

Delicious stuff. Read on.

On Iraq.

The latest Bush PR stunt

'January 5th was the bloodiest day in Iraq since Bush's illegal invasion. As many as 140 were killed, including 11 US servicemen, and many more injured. Bush responded by suddenly summoning all living secretaries of state and defense to the White House for a skull session and photo op on what to do in the Middle East before he is completely overtaken by even more catastrophic success. He's willing to share the glory, and said he would "listen and take to heart" any suggestions offered, even from Democrats.

Except an exit plan, of course, and any suggestions of how to better equip or protect the "troops" who are thrown into an exploding nightmare where it's every man for himself. Good luck, soldier. Get out there and make us proud that you died for a noble cause...'

Speaking of dying, there has been a lot of discussion as to how many Iraqis have died as a result of the COW invasion of Iraq. Some people have tried very hard to discredit the Lancet study and reject the figure of 98,000 deaths.

So how about as many as 511,000?

Personally, I think one is too many and is murder.

After that it is appropriate to have a little fluid waste product extraction.

'Wow! The Screw Year is off to an amazing start, with Bush's NeoCon Repuglicans tap dancing around D.C. faster than in any Fred Astaire-Gene Kelly cage match.

So, what have got here? The Jack Abramoff Republican lobbyist scandal, the illegal NSA domestic spying on Americans scandal, the Operation Fubar equals an Iraqi Civil War deal, more secret prisons revealed, the anti-torture bill being signed (sort of) by the President, the definition of "Presidential Power" being extended forever, almost twenty Bush cronies getting "sneaked in" to jobs while Congress is out of session and can't object, Bush having a "hurtie" on his widdle forehead while appearing at a veterans' hospital and joking about it and such classic Bush quotes as "I'm conscious not to be trying to substitute myself for God," and "You know, war is terrible."

Duh! Is this guy Churchillian or whut?

Welcome to 2006...on its' way to being the stupidest year ever!'

And possibly quite dangerous.

It is times like these that individuals such as Patrick Fitzgerald are necessary to restore the health of the system.

Botched.

Michael T. Klare on Bush's botched war on terror.

Includes a link to the latest polling which has Bush's lowest disapproval rate at 54%, 65% say the country is on the wrong track.

Not good for the prez and more reason for the media and Congress to extract digits.

Referring back to the claim that Bush wanted to take out al-Jazeera - a report that the leak came from UK Labour MPs.

'The information was then acquired by Mr Clarke, who in turn consulted his parliamentary colleague, Peter Kilfoyle. The two politicians decided to pass on the information to a contact in the US.

Mr Kilfoyle, MP for Liverpool Walton and a former defence minister, said last night: "It's very odd we haven't been prosecuted. My colleague Tony Clarke is guilty of discussing it with me and I have discussed it with all and sundry."

Asked if he had broken the act in the same alleged way as Mr Clarke's aide who is facing charges, he said: "I don't know. But I'd be very pleased if Her Majesty's finest approached me about it."'

Well done and well said.

Iran has been the centre of attention on another thread. Here is an account of why it might be done and what the result will be of an attack.

And how to stop it.

An honest mistake or more Yankee style media control? 

There are far too many incidents involving the media for suspicions not to arise.

An uncomfortable Republican

Sen. Sam Brownback (R) Judiciary committee is troubled by the wiretapping.

Video and transcript.

Paul Loeb on the Alito nomination and the perils it implies. 

Senators accept a president's court nominations for three reasons: They respect the perspectives of their nominees; they believe a president should have the right to choose whomever they please as America's legitimately elected leader; or they fear the president's political power. But this administration has no moral standing to which senators should automatically defer. Bush gained the presidency through the extraordinary interventions of his brother Jeb and the existing Supreme Court. He was re-elected based on lies about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, ties between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda, John Kerry's war record and the true costs of his tax cut and prescription drug plans. And through Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell's elimination of 300,000 overwhelmingly Democratic voters from the Ohio rolls and the withholding of voting machines from key Democratic precincts. My friend Egil Krogh, who worked in the Nixon administration, hired G. Gordon Liddy and went to prison for Watergate, told the sentencing judge that he and his colleagues had "almost destroyed democracy." The Bush people, he said to me recently, "are even more ruthless."'

To paraphrase Monty Python and the Holy Grail:

"How did he get to be president, I didn't vote for him?"

Speaking of voter preferences (optional in the new style US democracy) polling shows a majority think Bush should get warrants to wiretap.

An administration defence might be that the majority do not understand the need. The problem for Bush could well be that the majority are beginning to see the reason.

Changing the subject - Zbigniew Brzezinski's view of what to do about Iraq are worth reading.

The administration's rhetorical devolution speaks for itself. Yet, with some luck and with a more open decision-making process in the White House, greater political courage on the part of Democratic leaders and even some encouragement from authentic Iraqi leaders, the U.S. war in Iraq could (and should) come to an end within a year.

"Victory or defeat" is, in fact, a false strategic choice. In using this formulation, the president would have the American people believe that their only options are either "hang in and win" or "quit and lose." But the real, practical choice is this: "persist but not win" or "desist but not lose."

Victory, as defined by the administration and its supporters -- i.e., a stable and secular democracy in a unified Iraqi state, with the insurgency crushed by the American military assisted by a disciplined, U.S.-trained Iraqi national army -- is unlikely. The U.S. force required to achieve it would have to be significantly larger than the present one, and the Iraqi support for a U.S.-led counterinsurgency would have to be more motivated. The current U.S. forces (soon to be reduced) are not large enough to crush the anti-American insurgency or stop the sectarian Sunni-Shiite strife. Both problems continue to percolate under an inconclusive but increasingly hated foreign occupation.'

Brzezinski is not without credentials.  

Touche

Howard Dean leaves Wolf Blitzer stammering.

Video & transcript. Short but quite enough for Blitzer.

'BLITZER: Should Democrats who took money from Jack Abramoff, who's now pleaded guilty to bribery charges among other charges, a Republican lobbyist in Washington — should the Democrats who took money from him give that money to charity or give it back?

DEAN: There are no Democrats who took money from Jack Abramoff. Not one. Not one single Democrat. Every person named in this scandal is a Republican, every person under investigation is a Republican, every person indicted is a Republican. This is a Republican finance scandal. There is no evidence that Jack Abramoff ever gave any Democrat any money, and we've looked through all those FEC reports to make sure that's true.

BLITZER: [Stammering] But through various Abramoff-related organizations, and outfits, a bunch of Democrats did take money that presumably originated with Jack Abramoff.

DEAN: That's not true either. There's no evidence for that either, there's no evidence...'

Oh how the Reublicans would love to share the corruption around. 

Yoo speaks. 

'John Yoo publicly argued there is no law that could prevent the President from ordering the torture of a child of a suspect in custody – including by crushing that child’s testicles.

This came out in response to a question in a December 1st debate in Chicago with Notre Dame professor and international human rights scholar Doug Cassel.

What is particularly chilling and revealing about this is that John Yoo was a key architect post-9/11 Bush Administration legal policy. As a deputy assistant to then-Attorney General John Ashcroft, John Yoo authored a number of legal memos arguing for unlimited presidential powers to order torture of captive suspects, and to declare war anytime, any where, and on anyone the President deemed a threat.

It has now come out Yoo also had a hand in providing legal reasoning for the President to conduct unauthorized wiretaps of U.S. citizens. Georgetown Law Professor David Cole wrote, "Few lawyers have had more influence on President Bush’s legal policies in the 'war on terror’ than John Yoo."'

So where is his moral compass?

The needle has probasbly been removed and is being inserted under a fingernail.

Oh what is that line again?

"They hate us for our values."

Frank Rich on the wiretapping. 

The cost of the Iraq war - NYTimes provides a breakdown.

Total is $US 1,372 billion.

Seems a bit of a waste.

Bigger fish

Abramoff only the "Middle Guy".

'Abramoff Viewed as ‘The Middle Guy,’ Official Involved in Probe Tells TIME, Suggesting There Are Bigger Targets in Their Sights

New York - In an internal e-mail obtained by TIME, the director of the FBI’s Washington field office, Michael Mason, congratulated some 15 agents and 15 support staff under him on the case for “a huge accomplishment” in squeezing Jack Abramoff to make a deal after 18 months of investigation and negotiation, one that made “a huge contribution to ensuring the very integrity of our government.” But he added that “the case is far from over,” TIME’s National Political Correspondent Karen Tumulty reports in Monday editions of the magazine, RAW STORY has learned.

Another official involved with the probe told TIME that investigators are viewing Abramoff as “the middle guy”—suggesting there are bigger targets in their sights. The FBI has 13 field offices across the country working on the case, with two dozen agents assigned to it full time and roughly the same number working it part time. “We are going to chase down every lead,” Chris Swecker, head of the FBI’s Criminal Division, told TIME.'

Feingold won't rule out impeachment.

'BURLINGTON — If Pres. George Bush broke laws when ordering wiretaps and secret spying on U.S. citizens, a key Senate Democrat said he would not rule out calling for his impeachment.

"I think there is an orderly and dignified way to find out what happened," said Russ Feingold of Wisconsin. "And, if there was a legal violation there needs to be accountability ... you can't put the cart before the horse, but I would not rule out any form of accountability."

That would include impeachment, Feingold told reporters.'

Independent representative Bernie Sanders had some telling comments:

'Sanders, who sits on the House Government Reform Committee, said his panel has been very inactive during the Bush administration. In contrast, Sanders said, during the Clinton administration there were dozens of hearings.

Sanders said that is because Republicans in Congress have largely ignored their responsibility to oversee the actions of the administration.

"If you think about everything that has happened under the current administration — the NSA spying program, the war in Iraq, and the fact that the actuaries were not allowed by the White House to tell us the real cost of the prescription drug bill; guess how many hearings our committee has had? Zero," Sanders said.

"What the current administration is scared of," said Sanders, is losing GOP control of either the House, the Senate or both. Because, if that happens, he predicted, "there will be hearings to ask some of the fundamental questions about the Bush administration's actions that have not been asked in five years."'

Those double standards again. It could be suggested that the Republicans will do everything necessary to stay in control. Not an idea without some basis in recent history.

If its not corruption, it's cronyism.

Nobody should be surprised about the Bush administration's affection for cronyism because it surfaced before the president was inaugurated.

You probably recall how Mr. Bush assigned Dick Cheney the task of conducting a nationwide search to find the ideal person to serve as vice president. After weeks of exhaustive screening, Mr. Cheney determined that the perfect candidate was living right inside his own body.

Now, that's cronyism carried to its ultimate expression. Nothing that has followed quite compares, though the administration deserves all the credit in the world for promoting incompetence in the name of friendship.'

Will Bush try to get his horse into the Senate?

You become what you hate.

WASHINGTON -- China's Taoists philosophers warned that you become what you hate. We see this paradox in Washington, where the current administration increasingly reminds one of the old Soviet Union.

The U.S.S.R. went bankrupt after spending 40% of national income on the military. President George Bush's administration will spend a staggering $419.3 billion US on the military this fiscal year. An additional $130 billion US has been budgeted in 2006 for the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan.'

Spreading democracy and freedom? More like spreading the money for services rendered.

Speaking of freedom and democracy one is reminded of the claims "they hate us for what we are", "they hate us for our values", "they hate us for our freedom".

Here is an historical background:

Yet the argument is wrong. Had people bothered to scratch below the surface, they would have seen warning signs that Bush’s aphorism was false and even dangerous. To start with, public opinion polls in Islamic nations repeatedly show that people in those countries actually admire America’s political and economic freedom. They also admire American wealth, technology, and even culture. So some other factor must be generating anti-U.S. hatred in these parts of the world.

Furthermore, Bush’s grand plan to reduce terrorism by spreading freedom and democracy to Islamic nations—thereby eliminating the hatred of such values—is not based on any empirical evidence that oppression causes terrorism. Spreading democracy doesn’t reduce terrorism and, if anything, actually may make it worse. F. Gregory Gause III, a political scientist at the University of Vermont who reviewed terrorism statistics and the academic literature, noted that the State Department’s own statistics from 2000 to 2003 reported 269 major terrorist incidents in countries Freedom House classifies as “free,” 119 in “partially free” nations, and 138 in “not free” countries. These data corroborate an earlier well-known study by William Eubank and Leonard Weinberg, professors at the University of Nevada, Reno, which found that most terrorist attacks happen in democracies—with both the victims and the attackers usually being citizens of democracies. Gause also notes that recent elections and public opinion polls in Arab countries indicate that the advent of democracy would probably generate Islamic governments that would be much less likely to cooperate with the United States than their authoritarian predecessors. Those Islamic governments might also be more likely to sponsor terrorism.'

Read on.

Not immediately connected with the unravelling but worth posting:

'A LEADING British Army officer believes Prime Minister Tony Blair should be impeached for his role in the war in Iraq, the Mail on Sunday reported.

General Sir Michael Rose, a former UN commander in Bosnia, was quoted by the right-of-centre Mail on Sunday as saying: "I think the politicians should be held to account ... my view is that Blair should be impeached.

"That would prevent the politicians treating quite so carelessly the subject of taking a country into war."'

An antiwar.com quote:

' Of all the enemies to public liberty, war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. – James Madison'

Myths and falsehoods and media coverage

Media Matters lists the top 12 myths and falsehoods of the spying issue.

Further examples of the coverage.

Conservative legal scholars denounce domestic spying -- but media remains awash in misleading defenses of Bush

In the week since President Bush's admission that he ordered domestic spying on U.S. citizens by the National Security agency -- making him, in the words of Nixon White House counsel John Dean, "the first president to admit to an impeachable offense" -- political figures, newspapers, legal experts and scholars across the country have denounced the president's actions.'

There are, predictably, media outlets which have not exactly reflected the truth of the matter. And there are those double standards:

'Wash. Post polling director continues to stonewall on impeachment question

On December 9, we noted that Washington Post polling director Richard Morin claimed that a poll question asking if President Bush should be impeached if he lied about the Iraq war would be "biased and would produce a misleading result."

We pointed out that this is a bizarre claim coming from a man who oversaw the Post's many 1998 polls that asked if President Clinton should be impeached -- less than a week after Clinton's relationship with Monica Lewinsky was first reported, the Post asked "If this affair did happen and if Clinton did not resign, is this something for which Clinton should be impeached, or not?" (Notice the frivolity of the question: despite constant claims by Republicans and the media that "this isn't about sex, it's about lying," the Post asked if Clinton should be impeached for having an affair.)'

Bush is screwing the whole country including the Constitution .. not to mention other countries, yet the Washington Post does not think it worth testing the public's attitude?

Newt Gingrich is not happy about the corruption. 

'Newt Gingrich, the original architect of the Republican Revolution, is obviously dismayed to see his handiwork going up in flames. Even so, the force with which Newt is blasting his party's corruption woes is surprising. As he told Bloomberg:

The Abramoff scandal has to be seen as part of a much larger and deeper problem. It's not about lobbyist corruption. You can't have a corrupt lobbyist without a corrupt member or corrupt staff. This was a team effort.

There are a series of behaviors, a series of attitudes, a series of crony-like activities that are not defensible, and no Republican should try to defend them. The danger for Republicans is to pretend this isn't fundamental or to pretend that they can get by passively without undertaking real reform.'

Gingrich put a lot of effort into the Republican Revolution so it is understandable that he would be mightily peeved to think it could all be thrown away.

Lord Acton was so astute. 

Friends in high places

Getting by with a little help from his friends.

'Don't forget that Jack Abramoff's own secretary, Susan Ralston, became Karl Rove's Personal Assistant, and that Abramoff said he contacted Rove personally on relieving his client Tyco from having to pay some taxes and still be able to get federal contracts.  Abramoff said "he had contact with Mr. Karl Rove" on Tyco.

But that's not the half of it! It was only revealed this August that in 2002 Bush himself fired a prosecutor, Frederick Black, investigating Abramoff over a scandal in Guam. Rove recommended the replacement and the inquiry of Abramoff ended! ""The demotion of ... Black looks political and should be investigated," Melanie Sloan, executive director of CREW, said in a press release." It would be Obstruction of Justice by Bush if true.

PLUS Bush never repaid Abramoff's firm, Greenberg, $314,000 in bills for the 2000 Recount, making it in effect a HUGE in-kind contribution to Bush! SO BUSH OWES ABRAMOFF BIG-TIME. And Abramoff himself was a "Pioneer", raising over $100,000 for Bush in 2004.'

LInks included to information of this very tangled web of deceit and corruption.

On the NYTimes not publishing the eavesdropping story.

More on keeping the news under wraps.

A lack of media introspection.

A more serious look at Orwellian America.

All the lies, crimes and corruption ... at least some are trying to do something about it.

'A total of eight US House members have co-sponsored Resolution 635 to create a select committee to investigate the grounds for impeaching President Bush, Atlanta Progressive News has learned.

The co-sponsors are Rep. Lois Capps (D-CA), Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX), Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Rep. Donald Payne (D-NJ), Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY), Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), and Rep. Lynn Woolsey (C-CA), according to the US Congressional website Thomas.loc.gov

HR 635 reads as its official title: "Creating a select committee to investigate the Administration's intent to go to war before congressional authorization, manipulation of pre-war intelligence, encouraging and countenancing torture, retaliating against critics, and to make recommendations regarding grounds for possible impeachment."'

The public is waking up as a poll shows. 

'WASHINGTON - Dissatisfied with the nation's direction, Americans are leaning toward wanting a change in which political party leads Congress — preferring that Democrats take control, an AP-Ipsos poll found. Democrats are favored over Republicans 49 percent to 36 percent.'

The question is had the media been more conscientious in reporting what was actually happening instead of  W H spin, such as the NYTimes suppression of the domestic spying story, would Bush have been re-elected? Even allowing for the deck having most likely been stacked.

This then raises another question, will the media now get serious about doing its job conscientiously and pursue the truth of these matters which should then lead to justice.  And before the administration engages in further adventures that could have disastrous consequences. The extend of corruption and deceit being revealed is so great that it surely is going to force its way into the light.

Spinning Iran

A clarification of reports in the media about Iran and a cancelled meeting.

'Getting rid of Jayson Blair and Judith Miller was a good beginning, but the "Grey Lady" still has "reporters" publishing as "facts" neo-crazy (and eco-wacko) propaganda.

Today, for example, Elaine Sciolino began her report from Paris (Paris?) this way;

"Iran threw negotiations over its nuclear program into disarray on Thursday, abruptly canceling a high-level meeting with the United Nations' monitoring agency in Vienna. The leader of Iran's negotiating team was said to be returning to Tehran."

What’s wrong with Sciolino’s report?

Well, Iran didn’t have any "negotiations" scheduled with the International Atomic Energy Agency.

What the Iranians had scheduled was a discussion with the IAEA of the planned resumption of certain IAEA Safeguarded research activities that Iran had voluntarily suspended almost three years earlier.'

All the news that fits the neocon agenda.

The concern is that the administration thinks it can get away with it and the NYTimes has not learned its lesson well enough. It also reinforces concerns that the media will not do the job they are supposed to do.

Tearing up the Great Charter.

'What might happen to an "often cruel and treacherous" national leader who "ignored and contravened the traditional" norms at home and waged "expensive wars abroad [that] were unsuccessful"?

On June 15, 1215, just such a leader arrived at Runnymede, England and --under pressure from rebellious barons angered by his ruinous foreign wars and the fact that "to finance them he had charged excessively for royal justice, sold church offices, levied heavy aids," and appointed "advisers from outside the baronial ranks"-- placed his seal on the Magna Carta. The document, which was finalized on June 19th, primarily guaranteed church rights and baronial privileges, while barring the king from exploiting feudal custom. While it may have been of limited importance to King John or his rebel nobles (as one scholar notes, "It was doomed to failure. Magna Carta lasted less than three months"), the document had a lasting impact on the rest of us, providing the very basis for the Anglo-American legal tradition.'

On failure to adhere to the law, lies and whistle blowers.

Appropriate time for an antiwar.com quote:

Suspicion must always fall on those who attempt to silence their opponents. – Ian Buckley'

In a lighter vein:

'Lawyers for the estate of George Orwell have announced their intention to sue President Bush for plagiarism.

"We have long believed that this administration has stolen much of its policy from Mr. Orwell's writings," said attorney Will Bilyalotz. "Expressly, '1984' and 'Animal Farm.' In some cases, like the illegal surveillance of its own citizens, this administration has lifted the passages word for word from '1984.' Just changing the year doesn't protect the president from copyright laws."

White House spokesman Scott McClellan, while refusing to comment directly because of the "ongoing investigation," reminded reporters that the Patriot Act had given the president the power to suspend copyright laws and, anyway, "No one can own words."
...

In his weekly radio address, Bush said the "Spy on US" program has been reviewed regularly by the nation's top legal authorities and Fox talk-show hosts, targeting only those people with "a clear link to these terrorist networks, which include Al-Jazeera and CNN."'

That is just a taste.

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