June 13, 2005

LNS All Along The Watchtower, Emergency Broadcast, No. 1, Part I

At least 1,702 US soldiers have lost their lives in the Mega-Mogadishu of Iraq, that's 33 deaths in the last two weeks. For what? The neo-con wet dream of a Three Stooges Reich, i.e. Imperial Hubris. Nothing more. But, hey, that's not even news in Beltwayistan or Suckerville or the Expanded Neo-Confederacy...The convergence of three vital stories has prompted the issuance this LNS Emergency Broadcast Bulletin: 1) On Friday 6/10/05, in a display of deeply disturbing and historically unprecedented behavior, Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Ohio), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, disrupted and shut down a hearing on the PATRIOT Act because he didn’t like the content of the sworn testimony of distinguished witnesses (yes, another one of the House Managers from the Clinton impeachment, reaching a new low in public disservice). 2) On Sunday 6/12/05, the London Times published more damning Downing Street evidence that reveals the conscious will to the fabric lies to rationalize the US-UK invasion of Iraq. This latest leak from the London division of the Mark Felt Brigade proves that the shell-of-a-man-formerly-known-as-Tony-Blair “had already agreed to back military action to get rid of Saddam Hussein at a summit at the Texas ranch of President George W Bush three months earlier,” and that “since regime change was illegal it was “necessary to create the conditions” which would make it legal. 3) On Thursday, 6/16/05, frustrated at the Bush abomination’s refusal to respond to serious questions, the Republican leadership’s refusal to act responsibly by investigating allegations of impeachable offenses and the corporatist news media’s refusal to cover the story in a meaningful way, Rep. John Conyers (D-Michigan) will hold his own inquiry and deliver a petition to the White House. Conyers set up a website to collect 100,000 signatures on a petition demanding answers from the Bush abomination. By Friday 6/10/05, he already had more than 500,000 signatures with as many as 1,000,000 expected by the time he delivers it in person...Six months before the 2000 election I warned a friend, “This could be our last election.” Well, the Bush Abomination was installed illegitimately by US Supreme Court Injustices Scalia, O’Connor, Thomas, Kennedy and Rehnquist. Yes, it was a judicially sanctioned coup. (Now we have endured the unprecedented travesty of two consecutive US presidential elections, in which the exit polls, the most accurate instrument available, did not correspond to the “official” vote counts.)
But remember that the first year of the first term of the Bush Abomination did not go very well politically or economically, and indeed W Jong Il, the Maximum Leader for the Minimally Minded (back then we simply referred to him as “the _resident”) was doing very badly even in the cooked corporatist news media polls. Until 9/11/01, when after dozens (literally) of warnings from the intelligence community went un-acted upon, Al Qaeda struck and slaughtered thousands of innocents. The PNAC cabal got their wished for “second Pearl Harbor.”
Soon, we were talking about the rise of fascism in the USA, and in particularly about the complicity of the corporatist news media. Some colleagues took exception to our use of the term “fascism” and also counseled against our vitriol toward the news media, offering the same old tired excuses for them.
Now here we are five years into this alternative universe, a nightmare realm of treason (pre- and post-9/11), war crimes (Iraq) and looming economic and environmental disasters. The term “fascism” is on the lips of many, and the complicity of the corporatist news media has become so shocking in its brazenness that it is undeniable except by those who have gulped down the cool-aid.
Yes, despite astonishing ruthlessness and almost absolute power, the Bush abomination is in trouble. Even the corporatist news media’s own polls show Bush’s job ratings sinking swiftly (imagine what the real numbers look like). They have to recover so that the manufactured “victory” in the 2006 election will seem plausible. So how will they turn it around? Well, consider what happened in 2001 and where it lead us. Does the PNAC cabal wish for a third "Pearl Harbor"? Meanwhile, remember that 2+2=4. Remember, and resist! Listen to Air America (in particular Mike Malloy, Randi Rhodes and Jeanine Garafalo). Subscribe to The Nation. Support Amy Goodman’s DemocracyNow! Support the bastions of the Internet-based information rebellion, e.g. www.buzzflash.com, www.truthout.org, www.mediamatter.org, etc. Participate in MoveOn.org. But don’t give a penny to the Democratic Party until it starts talking about fair elections and free press in the USA, and don’t fall for the shell-of-a-man-formerly-known-as-Ralph-Nader either. The cravenness of the aDemocrats does not cancel out the cravenness of the shell-of-a-man-formerly-known-as-Ralph-Nader, who shamelessly lied when he said there was no difference between Gore and Bush in 2000 and shamelessly took the Bush cabal’s filthy money in 2004. Wait for the Lech Walesas and Mikhail Gorbachaevs to discover themselves – because just as surely as the Berlin Wall fell they will appear…Meanwhile, print yourself up a bumper sticker that says: “No Statute of Limitations,” because there isn’t any on war crimes or treason…

Death of the Republic?

Buzzflash Editorial, 6/10/05, GOP House Judiciary Chair Uses Pinochet Tactics to Abruptly and Unilaterally Shut Down Hearing Into Abuses of the (Un)Patriot Act, Because He Was Afraid the Truth Would Come Out. America: "IT" is Happening Here. Democracy is Being Dismantled by GOP Thugs, www.buzzflash.com: This morning, House Judiciary Chairman James Sensenbrenner, Jr. (R-WI) unilaterally and arbitrarily shut down committee hearings on the reauthorization of the Patriot Act without comment or issuing a statement. Sensenbrenner gaveled the committee hearings in the middle of witnesses testifying about human and civil rights abuses at Guantanamo Bay, racial profiling of individuals of Middle Eastern descent, prolonged detentions of Americans after September 11th and other abuses.
The suppression of free speech and testimony in the congressional committee in charge of protecting our civil liberties shows the Republican’s power grab has no limits and no decency.
The witnesses appearing before the House Judiciary Committee included, Chip Pitts, Chair of the Board of Amnesty International USA; Dr. James J. Zogby, President of the Arab American Institute; Deborah Pearlstein, Director of the U.S. Law and Security Program “Human Rights First”; and Carlina Tapia Ruano of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.
The witnesses were called by the indomitable Rep. John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI) who continues to stand up to the right- wing’s attempt to eviscerate American Constitutional liberties…
What member of Congress in their right mind could possibly consider giving more power to an Administration that endorses torture and indefinite detentions?
Democracies do not fail overnight. They slowly erode and descend by denying rights to the minority, the takeover of an independent judiciary, suppressing speech and assembly, and the rise of secrecy and repressive police powers in the executive branch.
Sensenbrenner’s belligerent act to shut down dissent and gag witnesses warning about the broad police powers given to the administration should give Americans pause as the Republican Party inches closer and closer to turning American into a one-party state.
The witnesses to the Bushevik violations of our Constitution, civil liberties, and individual rights valiantly continued to speak after Sensenbrenner formally shut down the hearing (probably as a result of a phone call from the White House). But their voices were hardly heard, which was the objective of the Busheviks.
What makes the barbarians in the White House shudder most is a bright light of truth reaching the American public.
They have been unusually successful in intimidating the media into enabling their lies. Now, they are just preemptively breaking laws and the rules of Congress to suppress the truth.
It can happen here, and it is.

Sidney Blumenthal, Nixon's Empire Strikes Back, 6/9/05, Guardian: The unveiling of the identity of Deep Throat - Mark Felt, the former deputy director of the FBI - seemed affirm the story of Watergate as the triumph of the lone journalist supported from the shadows by a magically appearing secret source. Shazam! The outlines of the fuller story we now know, thanks not only to Felt's self unmasking but to disclosures the Albany Times Union of upstate New York, unreported so far by any major outlet. Felt was not working as "a disgruntled maverick ... but rather as the leader of a clandestine group" of three other high-level agents to control the story by collecting intelligence and leaking it. For more than 30 years the secrecy around Deep Throat diverted attention to who Deep Throat was rather than what Deep Throat was - a covert FBI operation in which Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward was almost certainly an unwitting asset…
Nixon's grand plan was to concentrate executive power in an imperial presidency, politicize the bureaucracy and crush its independence, and invoke national security to wage partisan warfare. He intended to "reconstitute the Republican party", staging a "purge" to foster "a new majority", as his aide William Safire wrote in his memoir…
But now George Bush is building a leviathan beyond Nixon's imagining. The Bush presidency is the highest stage of Nixonism. The commander-in-chief has declared himself by executive order above international law, the CIA is being purged, the justice department deploying its resources to break down the wall of separation between church and state, the Environmental Protection Agency being ordered to suppress scientific studies and the Pentagon subsuming intelligence and diplomacy, leaving the US with blunt military force as its chief foreign policy…
Under Bush, the Republican Congress has abdicated its responsibilities of executive oversight and investigation…
One of the chief lessons learned from Nixon's demise was the necessity of muzzling the press. The Bush White House has neutralized the press corps and even turned some reporters into its own assets…
Mark Felt's sudden emergence from behind the curtain of history evoked the glory days of the press corps and its modern creation myth. It was a warm bath of nostalgia and cold comfort.

Bill Moyers, The Mugging of the American Dream, 6/6/05, www.AlterNet.org: Washington is a divided city - not between north and south as in Lincoln's time, but between those who can buy all the government they want and those who can't even afford a seat in the bleachers…
Believe it or not, the United States now ranks the highest among the highly developed countries in each of the seven measures of inequality tracked by the index. While we enjoy the second highest GDP in the world (excluding tiny Luxembourg), we rank dead last among the 20 most developed countries in fighting poverty and we're off the chart in terms of the number of Americans living on half the median income or less…
It wasn't supposed to be this way. America was not meant to be a country where the winner takes all. Through a system of checks and balances we were going to maintain a decent equilibrium in how democracy works so that it didn't just work for the powerful and privileged (If you don't believe me, I'll send you my copy of The Federalist Papers). The economist Jeffrey Madrick put it well: Because equitable access to public resources is the lifeblood of any democracy, Americans made primary schooling free to all. Because everyone deserves a second chance, debtors - especially the relative poor - were protected by state laws against their rich creditors. Charters to establish corporations were open to most if not all (white) comers, rather than held for elites. Government encouraged Americans to own their own piece of land and even supported squatters' rights. The old hope for equal access to opportunity became a reality for millions. Including yours truly…
Ruby and Henry Moyers were knocked down and almost out when the system imploded into the Great Depression. They worked hard all their lives but never had much money - my father's last paycheck before he retired was $96 and change, after taxes. We couldn't afford books at home but the public library gave me a card when I was eight years old. I went to good public schools. My brother made it to college on the GI bill. And in my freshman year I hitchhiked to college on public highways stopping to rest in public parks. Like millions of us, I was an heir to what used to be called the commonwealth - the notion of America as a shared project. It's part of our DNA, remember: "We, the People...in order to create a more perfect union"
You're never more mindful of this than at the Lincoln Memorial…
Standing there last night, I sensed that temple of democracy where Lincoln broods to be as deeply steeped in melancholy as it was during the McCarthy reign of terror, the grief of Vietnam, or the crimes of Watergate. You stand there silently contemplating the words that gave voice to Lincoln's fierce determination to save the Union - his resolve that "government of, by, and for the people shall not perish from the earth" - and then you turn and look out, as he does, on a city where those words are daily mocked. This is no longer Lincoln's city. And those people from all walks of life making their way up the steps to pay their respects to this martyr for the Union - it's not their city, either. This is an occupied city, a company town, a wholly owned subsidiary of the powerful and privileged whose have hired an influence racket to run it. The records are so poorly kept it's impossible to know how many lobbyists there really are in this town, but the Center for Public Integrity found that their ranks include 240 former members of Congress and heads of federal agencies and over 2000 senior officials who passed through the revolving door of government at warp speed. Lobbyists now spend $3 billion a year buying influence and access for their clients and, according to the New York Times, over the last six years spent more than twice the amount spent by candidates for federal office. Once again this is a divided city. Not between North and South as in Lincoln's time, but between those who pay to play - those who can buy the government they want - and those who can't even afford even a seat in the bleachers…
Above all, know what you belief and why. So I have some homework for you. Here's your summer reading: Thomas Paine and the Promise of America, by Harvey Kaye, soon at your bookstores (along, I might add, with a revised and updated paperback version of Moyers on America.) Thomas Paine was the foremost journalist of the American Revolution who called forth the better angels of our nature, imbued us with our democratic impulse, and articulated our American Identity with its exceptional purpose and promise. It was Paine who argued that America would afford "an asylum for mankind," provide a model to the world, and support the global advance of republican democracy. In these pages is tonic for flagging spirits facing great odds - because it was Thomas Paine who insisted that "it is too soon to write the history of the Revolution." And writing the history of the Revolution is now up to you. That's what truly is at stake.
Good luck!

Chalmers Johnson, Scourge of Militarism: Rome and America, TomDispatch.com, 6/10/05: The collapse of the Roman republic in 27 BC has significance today for the United States, which took many of its key political principles from its ancient predecessor. Separation of powers, checks and balances, government in accordance with constitutional law, a toleration of slavery, fixed terms in office, all these ideas were influenced by Roman precedents. John Adams and his son John Quincy Adams often read the great Roman political philosopher Cicero and spoke of him as an inspiration to them. Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay, authors of the Federalist Papers, writing in favor of ratification of the Constitution signed their articles with the name Publius Valerius Publicola, the first consul of the Roman republic.
The Roman republic, however, failed to adjust to the unintended consequences of its imperialism, leading to a drastic alteration in its form of government. The militarism that inescapably accompanied Rome's imperial projects slowly undermined its constitution as well as the very considerable political and human rights its citizens enjoyed. The American republic, of course, has not yet collapsed; it is just under considerable strain as the imperial presidency - and its supporting military legions - undermine Congress and the courts. However, the Roman outcome - turning over power to an autocracy backed by military force and welcomed by ordinary citizens because it seemed to bring stability - suggests what might happen in the years after Bush and his neoconservatives are thrown out of office…
On January 13, 27 BC, Octavian appeared in the Senate, which had legitimized its own demise by ceding most of its powers to him and which now bestowed on him the new title of Augustus, first Roman emperor. The majority of the Senators were his solid supporters, having been handpicked by him. In 23 BC, Augustus was granted further authority by being designated a tribune for life, which gave him ultimate veto power over anything the Senate might do. His power rested ultimately on his total control of the armed forces.
Although his rise to power was always tainted by constitutional illegitimacy - not unlike that of our own Boy Emperor from Crawford, Texas - Augustus proceeded to emasculate the Roman system and its representative institutions. He never abolished the old republican offices but merely united them under one person - himself. Imperial appointment became a badge of prestige and social standing rather than of authority. The Senate was turned into a club of old aristocratic families, and its approval of the acts of the emperor was purely ceremonial. The Roman legions continued to march under the banner SPQR - senatus populus que Romanus, "the Senate and the Roman People" - but the authority of Augustus was absolute.
The most serious problem was that the army had grown too large and was close to unmanageable. It constituted a state within a state, not unlike the Pentagon in the United States today. Augustus reduced the army's size and provided generous cash payments to those soldiers who had served more than twelve years, making clear that this bounty came from him, not their military commanders. He also transferred all legions away from Rome to the remote provinces and borders of the Empire, to ensure their leaders were not tempted to meddle in political affairs. Equally astutely, he created the Praetorian Guard, an elite force of 9,000 men with the task of defending him personally, and stationed them in Rome. They were drawn only from Italy, not from distant provinces, and were paid more than soldiers in the regular legions. They began as Augustus's personal bodyguards, but in the decades after his death they became decisive players in the selection of new emperors. It was one of the first illustrations of an old problem of authoritarian politics: create one bureaucracy, the Praetorian Guard, to control another bureaucracy, the regular army, but before long the question will arise: Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? (Who will watch the watchers?)
Augustus is credited with forging the Roman Peace (Pax Romana), which historians like to say lasted more than 200 years. It was, however, a military dictatorship and depended entirely on the incumbent emperor. And therein lay the problem…
After Augustus, not much recommends the Roman Empire as an example of enlightened government despite the enthusiasm for it of such neoconservative promoters of the George W. Bush administration as the Washington Post's Charles Krauthammer, the Los Angeles Time's Max Boot, and the Weekly Standard's William Kristol. My reasons for going over this ancient history are not to suggest that our own Boy Emperor is a second Octavian but rather what might happen after he is gone. The history of the Roman republic from the time of Julius Caesar on suggests that it was imperialism and militarism - poorly understood by all conservative political leaders at the time - that brought it down. Militarism and the professionalization of a large standing army create invincible new sources of power within a polity. The government must mobilize the masses in order to exploit them as cannon fodder and this leads to the rise of populist generals who understand the grievances of their troops and veterans.
Service in the armed forces of the United States has not been a universal male obligation of citizenship since 1973. Our military today is a professional corps of men and women who join up for their own reasons, commonly to advance themselves in the face of one or another cul de sac of American society. They normally do not expect to be shot at, but they do expect all the benefits of state employment - steady pay, good housing, free medical benefits, relief from racial discrimination, world travel, and gratitude from the rest of society for their military "service." They are well aware that the alternatives civilian life in America offers today include difficult job searches, no job security, regular pilfering of retirement funds by company executives and their accountants, "privatized" medical care, bad public elementary education systems, and insanely expensive higher education. They are ripe, it seems to me, not for the political rhetoric of patrician politicians who have followed the Andover, Yale, Harvard Business School route to riches and power but for a Julius Caesar, Napoleon Bonaparte, or Juan Perón - a revolutionary, military populist with no interest in republican niceties so long as he is made emperor.
Regardless of the outcome of the next presidential election, the incumbent will have to deal with the Pentagon, the military-industrial complex, our empire of bases, and a fifty-year-old tradition of not telling the public what our military establishment costs and the devastation it can inflict. History teaches us that the capacity for things to get worse is limitless. Roman history suggests that the short, happy life of the American republic is in serious trouble - and that conversion to a military empire is, to say the least, not the best answer.


Theft of the 2004 Election

Gore Vidal, Something Rotten in Ohio, 6/9/05, The Nation: One of the most useful members of the House—currently the most useful—is John Conyers, a Michigan Democrat who, in his capacity as ranking minority member of the Judiciary Committee, led the committee’s Democratic Congressmen and their staffers into the heart of the American heartland, the Western Reserve; specifically, into the not-so-red state of Ohio, once known as “the mother of Presidents.”
He had come to answer the question that the minority of Americans who care about the Republic have been asking since November 2004: “What went wrong in Ohio?” He is too modest to note the difficulties he must have undergone even to assemble this team in the face of the triumphalist Republican Congressional majority, not to mention the unlikely heir to himself, George W. Bush, whose original selection by the Supreme Court brought forth many reports on what went wrong in Florida in 2000.
These led to an apology from Associate Justice John Paul Stevens for the behavior of the 5-to-4 majority of the Court in the matter of Bush v. Gore. Loser Bush then brought on undeclared wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as the greatest deficits in our history and the revelations that the policies of an Administration that—much as Count Dracula fled cloves of garlic—flees all accountability were responsible for the murder and torture of captive men, between 70 percent and 90 percent of whom, by the Pentagon’s estimate, had been swept up at random, earning us the hatred of a billion Muslims and the disgust of what is called the civilized world.
Asked to predict who would win in ’04, I said that, again, Bush would lose, but I was confident that in the four years between 2000 and 2004 creative propaganda and the fixing of election officials might very well be so perfected as to insure an official victory for Mr. Bush. As Representative Conyers’s report, Preserving Democracy: What Went Wrong in Ohio (www.house.gov/conyers), shows in great detail, the swing state of Ohio was carefully set up to deliver an apparent victory for Bush even though Kerry appears to have been the popular winner as well as the valedictorian-that-never-was of the Electoral College.
I urge would-be reformers of our politics as well as of such anachronisms as the Electoral College to read Conyers’s valuable guide on how to steal an election once you have in place the supervisor of the state’s electoral process: In this case, Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell, who orchestrated a famous victory for those who hate democracy (a permanent but passionate minority). The Conyers Report states categorically, “With regard to our factual findings, in brief, we find that there were massive and unprecedented voter irregularities and anomalies in Ohio. In many cases these irregularities were caused by intentional misconduct and illegal behavior, much of it involving Secretary of State Kenneth J. Blackwell, the co-chair of the Bush-Cheney campaign in Ohio.” In other words, the Florida 2000 scenario redux, when the chair for Bush/Cheney was also the Secretary of State. Lesson? Always plan ahead for at least four more years.
It is well-known in the United States of Amnesia that not only did Ohio have a considerable number of first-time voters but that Blackwell and his gang, through “the misallocation of voting machines, led to unprecedented long lines that disenfranchised scores, if not hundreds of thousands, of predominantly minority and Democratic voters.”
For the past few years many of us have been warning about the electronic voting machines, first publicized on the Internet by investigator Bev Harris, for which she was much reviled by the officers of such companies as Diebold, Sequoia, Es & S, Triad; this last voting computer company “has essentially admitted that it engaged in a course of behavior during the recount in numerous counties to provide ‘cheat sheets’ to those counting the ballots. The cheat sheets informed election officials how many votes they should find for each candidate, and how many over and under votes they should calculate to match the machine count. In that way, they could avoid doing a full county-wide hand count mandated by state law.”
Yet despite all this manpower and money power, exit polls showed that Kerry would win Ohio…
Needless to say, this report was ignored when the Electoral College produced its unexamined tally of the votes state by state. Needless to say, no joint committee of the two houses of Congress was convened to consider the various crimes committed and to find ways and means to avoid their repetition in 2008, should we be allowed to hold an election once we have unilaterally, yet again, engaged in a war—this time with Iran. Anyway, thanks to Conyers, the writing is now high up there on the wall for us all to see clearly: “Mene, mene, tekel, upharsin.” Students of the Good Book will know what these words of God meant to Belshazzar and his cronies in old Babylon.

Bob Fitrakis, Deep Throats and Stolen Votes, Columbia Free Press, 6/3/05: Ironically this week, Mark Felt, former Deputy Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, revealed that he was Watergate’s “Deep Throat” and perhaps the most famous whistle-blower in our nation’s history, but the embattled Deputy Director of the Hocking County Board of Elections (BOE) Sherole Eaton, Ohio’s most well-known whistle-blower, may be fired for courageous attempt to expose alleged election tampering.
Eaton suggests that there are many potential Deep Throats throughout the Buckeye State: “…There are staff on other boards that would not come forward with things, and they have shared things with me. They were afraid they’d lose their jobs,” she told the Free Press.
The Executive Committee of the Hocking County Democratic Party met behind closed doors at a Logan, Ohio senior center on Thursday, May 26 to discuss the forced resignation of Eaton by the Hocking County BOE. Sources within the Democratic Party told the Free Press that a majority of the Executive Committee members were backers of Eaton and confronted Democratic BOE members Gerald Robinette and Susan Hughes who had voted to fire Eaton.
Eaton made national news during the Ohio presidential recount when she swore in an affidavit that Michael Barbarian, a Triad technician, had removed a hard drive from the BOE’s main vote tabulator and replaced it with another. She further alleged that Barbarian offered a “cheat sheet” so that the computer tally would match a small random hand count of votes. Under Ohio law, if 3% of the votes match the certified total, the remaining 97% of the votes do not have to be hand recounted.

Complicity of the Corporatist News Media

Bill McConnell, Media Soft on Bush, Says Conyers, Broadcasting & Cable, 6/3/05: Rep. John Conyers, the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, says big media, especially cable news channels, are giving the Bush Administration a free pass by focusing on celebrity news and other "trivial matter" rather than examining White House policies.
Conyers based his assertion on a new survey of cable news treatment of important or high-profile stories by the Congressional Research Service, which gathers data at lawmakers' request to help them write bills or prepare for hearings. Conyers used the CRS sampling to charge that cable news outlets gave big play to some inconsequential stories while largely ignoring a lot of news casting Bush Administration policies in a negative light.
For instance, according to the study, April 28 revelations of a British government memo indicating intelligence services had concluded prior to the start of the Iraq war that Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction were ignored by CNN's Wolf Blitzer Reports and Anderson Cooper 360, MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olberman and Fox's Big Story. Days later, those same shows were leading or devoting a lot of time to the runaway bride saga.

BUZZFLASH EDITORIAL, Bushevik Mafia and the Cowering Media, xx/xx/05: It's simply a fantasy of pro-democracy advocates to believe that decency and patriotism will triumph over the demagogues and thugs of the Republican Party. The parties are playing by two different sets of rules, and the mob has won out over Constitutional process.
Which brings us to the issues of "Rathergate" and "Koran Flushgate." The "disputed" stories by both CBS and Newsweek were virtually entirely accurate in terms of substance. If we look at "Koran Flushgate," for example, this past weekend's revelations confirm that whether our soldiers urinated on a Koran or flushed it down the toilet is a distinction without a difference…
But, remember, the purpose of "Rathergate" and "Koran Flushgate" was to discombobulate and intimidate the media into not printing or televising anything overtly critical of the Bush regime. Rove cleverly knows how to use the media to cannibalize itself. All he has to do is toss them some red herring and they are off like jackals, devouring each other, while the crimes of the White House go unnoticed and unreported. Furthermore, reporters, editors and publishers become even MORE intimidated about printing or airing a story critical of the Bush Administration.
It is a technique worthy of the mob reigning supreme over the modern technological media, in combination with the fear that the media barons have of offending their corporate benefactors in the White House, Republican Congress and GOP judiciary.
The Mainstream Media seems to have abandoned all common sense.
Newsweek didn't cause any riots; the Christian Crusade against the "Infidel" led by Bush is what caused the riots. The record of humiliating, brutalizing, torturing and killing Muslims is as clear as the barbaric photos that came out of Abu Ghraib (and there are others, apparently even more malicious, that the Bush Administration won't release to the public).
The thugs in the White House know how to throw the press into a hysterical fit of irrelevance. But the truth is that Karl Rove could just gently blow and the White House Press Corpse, with the exception of Helen Thomas, would fall over.
The Busheviks don't need to beat up too heavily on the D.C. press. Most of them just want to transcribe the latest propaganda pronouncement and get to lunch.
The White House is saving the domestic mob enforcers for the rest of us.

The War in Iraq is Worse than Immoral or Illegal, It is Stupid, Insanely Stupid

Ray McGovern, Downing Street II, www.tompaine.com, 6/13/05: Yesterday, London's Sunday Times published the text of another SECRET UK EYES ONLY briefing document prepared for senior British officials. This one was dated July 21, 2002, two days before British intelligence chief Richard Dearlove gave Prime Minister Tony Blair and his top national security advisers a briefing based on discussions with American counterparts in Washington. The minutes recording the discussion at the July 23, 2002, meeting, published by the Rupert Murdoch's Sunday Times on May 1, 2005, included Dearlove's matter-of-fact report that President George W. Bush had decided to bring about "regime change" in Iraq by military action; that the attack would be "justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD" (weapons of mass destruction); and that "the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."
Creating Conditions
At that meeting, Foreign Secretary Jack Straw noted that the evidence regarding "weapons of mass destruction" was "thin." And British Attorney General Peter Goldsmith pointed out that "the desire for regime change was not a legal base for military action." But Blair gave them the back of his hand, ordering them to "work on the assumption that the U.K. would take part in any military action."
...When asked about the July 23, 2002, minutes at their press conference last week in Washington, President Bush and Prime Minister Blair did a good job of obfuscating—enough to mislead our corporate press into the all-too-familiar he-said, she-said reporting. What went unnoticed was the fact that in the process, the two leaders unintentionally acknowledged the authenticity of the minutes, which read like a meeting of Mafioso. They may think no one will read the actual minutes. In that, they are dead wrong. And these new British revelations have already strengthened the case against the Bush administration.
The first paragraph of the Downing Street minutes of July 23, 2002, warns that they "should be shown only to those with a genuine need to know its contents." In a democracy, we the people have a genuine need to know the background of decisions on war and peace—so the source(s) who leaked the minutes and other documents were performing a duty that can be seen as truly patriotic. And patriotic leaks can be done without revealing information that truly needs to be protected.
On behalf of the Truth Telling Coalition, let me invite any patriotic truth tellers out of the woodwork, so that truly courageous leaders like Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., will not have to depend solely on patriots in Britain (and Rupert Murdoch!). Conyers has a tip line on his website, and our coalition appeal includes a number of pointers about patriotic leaking, and what kinds of support are available.
Liberty cannot be preserved without general knowledge among people.
-John Adams, August 1765

Michael Smith, Ministers were told of need for Gulf war ‘excuse,’ Times of London, 6/12/05: MINISTERS were warned in July 2002 that Britain was committed to taking part in an American-led invasion of Iraq and they had no choice but to find a way of making it legal.
The warning, in a leaked Cabinet Office briefing paper, said Tony Blair had already agreed to back military action to get rid of Saddam Hussein at a summit at the Texas ranch of President George W Bush three months earlier.
The briefing paper, for participants at a meeting of Blair’s inner circle on July 23, 2002, said that since regime change was illegal it was “necessary to create the conditions” which would make it legal.
This was required because, even if ministers decided Britain should not take part in an invasion, the American military would be using British bases. This would automatically make Britain complicit in any illegal US action…
The White House has declined to respond to a letter from 89 Democratic congressmen asking if it was true — as Dearlove told the July meeting — that “the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy” in Washington…
John Conyers, the Democratic congressman who drafted the letter to Bush, has now written to Dearlove asking him to say whether or not it was accurate that he believed the intelligence was being “fixed” around the policy. He also asked the former MI6 chief precisely when Bush and Blair had agreed to invade Iraq and whether it is true they agreed to “manufacture” the UN ultimatum in order to justify the war.
He and other Democratic congressmen plan to hold their own inquiry this Thursday with witnesses including Joe Wilson, the American former ambassador who went to Niger to investigate claims that Iraq was seeking to buy uranium ore for its nuclear weapons programme.
Frustrated at the refusal by the White House to respond to their letter, the congressmen have set up a website — www.downingstreetmemo.com — to collect signatures on a petition demanding the same answers.
Conyers promised to deliver it to Bush once it reached 250,000 signatures. By Friday morning it already had more than 500,000 with as many as 1m expected to have been obtained when he delivers it to the White House on Thursday.
AfterDowningStreet.org, another website set up as a result of the memo, is calling for a congressional committee to consider whether Bush’s actions as depicted in the memo constitute grounds for impeachment.
It has been flooded with visits from people angry at what they see as media self-censorship in ignoring the memo. It claims to have attracted more than 1m hits a day.
Democrats.com, another website, even offered $1,000 (about £550) to any journalist who quizzed Bush about the memo’s contents, although the Reuters reporter who asked the question last Tuesday was not aware of the reward and has no intention of claiming it.


www.juancole.com, The Zarqawi Myth, 6/5/05: Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi (actually Ahmad al-Khalayleh of Zarqa) has been elevated by the Bush administration to an almost mythic position as the fomenter of much of the violence in Iraq. It isn't true. Most of the violence in Iraq is being undertaken by Baathists or Iraqi nationalists trying to drive the US out.
I haven't commented much about the alleged activities of Zarqawi, mostly reported from anonymous and easily manipulated web sites. He was said to have had a meeting with lieutenants, maybe in Syria, maybe in Anbar. He was said to be at Ramadi. Ramadi was apparently locked down by the US military as a result. He was said to be wounded at Ramadi. Now some sites are saying he is dead. Those that maintain that he is still alive argue over he should "step down" in favor someone else to head up "Al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia."
It turns out that the "meeting in Damascus" scenario is probably just propaganda. The Baath Party in Syria has a deep fear of Sunni fundamentalists. He is an unlikely ally for them.
I don't trust those jihadi web sites. I think someone is jerking the US press around, and it could be anybody, including USG.
It doesn't matter, anyway. We historians don't believe in the great man theory, unlike the Bush administration. Zarqawi leads a social movement of several hundred persons, if he exists at all. If he is killed, the social movement will just go on.


John Nichols, State Dems Should Push Iraq Pullout, Capital Times, 6/7/05: When Wisconsin Democrats gather for their state convention in Oshkosh this weekend, they should join the Democratic parties of the states of California, Massachusetts and New Mexico in officially calling for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.
The movement by state parties to pass "bring the troops home" resolutions, which has been spearheaded by the Progressive Democrats of America organization, is an important component of the burgeoning campaign to prevent the loss of more lives in the Iraqi quagmire. While it is true that a growing number of Republicans have come out against the war, it remains essential that Democrats in Congress give voice to the sentiment of the 57 percent of Americans who, according to last month's CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll, no longer believe the war is worth the human and economic toll it has imposed on the United States.
Why does it matter for state Democratic parties to pass anti-war resolutions?
Democrats at the federal level need to feel pressure from the grass roots…
Borrowing from the resolutions already enacted by the state parties of California, Massachusetts and New Mexico, Wisconsin Democrats ought to vote this weekend for a resolution that simply states:
WHEREAS: The Bush administration, using false intelligence estimates, misled the country into an illegal, unnecessary and unwise invasion and occupation of Iraq, against a country that had neither attacked nor posed an immediate threat to the United States, thus jeopardizing our national security; and
WHEREAS: As a result of that action, more than 1,650 American troops have been killed and more than 12,500 other brave Americans have been maimed or injured, and tens of thousands of Iraqis, including many innocent civilians, have also lost their lives, been injured, and seen their property and country's infrastructure destroyed; and
WHEREAS: The invasion and occupation have created a severe burden on our economy, stretched the capacity of our armed forces including Reserve and National Guard troops who are serving unexpectedly long and difficult tours in Iraq, and continues to cause deep concern at home and abroad about the policies and intentions of the United States to the point where the United States is widely regarded with suspicion, hostility and distrust, and elections in Iraq confirmed that Iraqis wish the United States to withdraw
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED: That the Wisconsin Democratic Party calls for termination of the occupation at the earliest possible time with the withdrawal of American troops, coupled with the creation of an international body that can assist the Iraqi people in freely and peacefully determining their own future, and that we participate in multi-lateral reconstruction.


Daniel Ellsberg, The Courage to Talk Withdrawal, www.antiwar.com, 6/9/05: The lie, in the case of Nixon, and earlier Lyndon Johnson, was that our presence in Vietnam was seen by our own leaders as temporary; as aimed at an eventual victory that would lead to an eventual end of American presence there. Actually, that was never, ever the prediction put forward by the intelligence agencies or the civilian advisers, of whom I was one in 1964 and 1965.
Nixon kept the American people with him, not only through a first term but into a second term, by a continuous hoax that he was in the process of leaving Vietnam. It was never, ever his intention that there not be American bases in Vietnam. He foresaw initially large deployments of U.S. troops, at least 40,000 or so, indefinitely. He was only forced to give that up through public pressure from Congress, and of course the pressure of casualties and the draft. He never gave up the objective of continuous airpower from carriers from Guam and Thailand that would sustain our collaborator government in Saigon indefinitely. The notion he had in mind was that after a decent interval the Communists would take over. It didn't happen the way he foresaw. We did actually leave on April 30, 1975.
The pictures of the helicopters pulling people from rooftops were not something that Nixon ever had in mind. He was forced into that by a combination of things, including the American public and Congress cutting off the funds. It was of course after Nixon was out of office. Without that happening, I am certain the war would have gone on another year or two and possibly many more years under American airpower.
In other words, it was very hard to exit Vietnam, to end the American war in Vietnam. And there was no guarantee that it would end in 10 years from 1965, as it did. It was likely to have gone on much longer, and would have without a combination of Congressional pressure, pushed by public pressure, and luck of various kinds, including the revelations of Watergate.
I believe it will be much harder and longer to get out of Iraq. There was no oil in Vietnam. Our need for bases in that area was not what we perceive our need for bases in the Middle East to be. Vietnam was not next to a highly influential ally of the United States, like Israel, with great influence on our policy that demands our continued presence in that area.
I do not foresee that we will be getting out of Iraq immediately, soon, or for a very long time. In fact, it is hard for me to see when that will be. When will we leave the oil of the Middle East and the oil of Iraq to the control of people who are not our collaborators, people who are not determined to be friendly to Israel and unfriendly to Iran, another Shia state? When do we leave it to those people? It will be a long time, frankly, under Democrats or Republicans.
That does not mean it is too soon for us to be talking about why we should be out; why it is a good policy for us to be out. That's why I am so happy with Rep. Lynn Woolsey's (D-Calif.) bill proposing a withdrawal strategy. She's made a whole succession of excellent moves under this administration. That bill is very, very important.
We ought to be realistic here because it's not going to get a majority in Congress any time soon or even in the foreseeable future. Yet I believe it's essential if we are ever to get out and to avoid other wars in Iran and elsewhere, to be seeing clearly now that it is false to say that it is better for the United States and better for Iraqis for us to be there than to be out…
Our administration says our duty is to stay there, that we owe them our presence, which is false. We owe them a lot in the way of money and reconstruction but not our presence. It only oppresses them, really.
People who call for getting out now will be called defeatists, appeasers, losers, weaklings, or cowards. They won't be called pro-Communist now, but they will be called pro-terrorism, pro-Osama bin Laden, which is ironic because as was foreseen by such administration experts as Richard Clarke, in the government, the occupation of Iraq day by day strengthens the forces of al-Qaeda; it's the opposite of what's being said now.
To get out, they'll say you're for terrorism, you're for defeat.
I want to say this as an analogy toward Vietnam. We can't move toward what we should do, which is getting out as soon as we can. You can't move in that direction without being willing to be charged with calling for defeat and failure and weakness and cowardice. And that just rules it out for most people.
I would say that many, I could say thousands, but it's really hundreds of thousands, and when we include the Vietnamese, millions, have died in the last century because American politicians were unwilling to be called names. They were unwilling to face, however invalid, however ridiculous, the charge that they were weak, unmanly, cowardly, defeatist, losers, and whatnot.
I have no greater hero in this country than the representative – almost my representative – Barbara Lee from Oakland (D-Calif.), one woman in Congress who faced those charges in 2001 when she voted against going to war in Afghanistan without hearings.
The next year she led the battle against going to war in Iraq, where 132 others joined her opposing a similar resolution, a Tonkin Gulf resolution drawing us into war.
She wasn't saying we shouldn't go into Afghanistan but that we should not sign away the constitutional right to decide that issue without hearings, debate, and reflection. That was obviously right.
We were lied into Iraq the same way we were lied into Vietnam, even though the war initially, the blitzkrieg phase, looked very different. The war is now looking very similar. Kennedy and Byrd, two senators who were still there who had voted for the Tonkin Gulf resolution, pleading with their fellow senators, both said "I am ashamed of what I did almost 40 years ago. Don't live with that for the rest of your lives." Most of them will have to live with that for the rest of their lives.
That is the kind of courage that is needed. The courage to say that we need to get out. The courage to speak the truth. That will save us and the Iraqis from the occupation.


Posted by richard at June 13, 2005 04:21 PM