June 30, 2003

The Attack Has Been Spectacular

IF YOU READ NOTHING ELSE I SEND, READ THIS..."Family members of victims of the terror attacks say the White House has smothered every attempt to get to the bottom of the outrageous intelligence failures that took place on its watch."

This analysis exemplifies the reason I will not stop this rain dance until Election Day, 2004. (Remember, you can now "unsubscribe" at any time.)


The Attack Has Been Spectacular

by Maureen Farrell

"The attack will be spectacular and designed to inflict mass casualties against U.S. facilities or interests. Attack preparations have been made. Attack will occur with little or no warning."-- CIA Intelligence Report for President Bush, July, 2001 (60 Days Prior to 9/11) [LINK]

"President Bush and his top advisers were informed by the CIA early last August that terrorists associated with Osama bin Laden had discussed the possibility of hijacking airplanes." - The Washington Post, May 16, 2002 [LINK]

"Family members of victims of the terror attacks say the White House has smothered every attempt to get to the bottom of the outrageous intelligence failures that took place on its watch."-- Salon.com, June 18, 2003 [LINK]

"If I did anything like this as a policeman, and killed 3,000 people, with this much evidence against me, I'd spend 100,000 years in jail." -- former New York City police officer Bruce DeCell, the Nation, June 19, 2003  [LINK]

* * *

On September 11, 2001, when most were too numb to contemplate much of anything, Newsweek told us what to expect. "As a small army of fire fighters struggled to put out the flames at the World Trade Center in New York and at the Pentagon in Washington," Peg Tyre wrote, "federal law enforcement agencies had already begun marshaling agents, readying them for what promises to be the largest criminal investigation in the history of the nation." [LINK] Nearly two years (and two wars) later, however, this huge investigation hasn't panned out. Attempts to uncover  intelligence failures have been routinely thwarted; Halliburton has accomplished more in Afghanistan [LINK] and Iraq [LINK] than Bush's "dead or alive" doctrine; and sadly, the CIA's "spectacular attack" pertains not only to the trauma of 9/11, but to subsequent assaults on Americans' faith and trust.

Regardless how anyone frames it, the White House duped us. From "they hate us for our freedoms" to "solid evidence" of Al-Qaeda/Iraq connections, the Administration skirted some issues and manipulated information on others. In short, Bush Inc. lied and pressured others to do the same. The game plan succeeded, however, as polls repeatedly indicated that more than half of all U.S. citizens were consistently conned into believing Iraq was an immediate threat and that Saddam was involved in the Sept. 11 attacks. Meanwhile, millions of well-intentioned souls, unaware of how deeply Bush cronies are lining their war-profiteering pockets [LINK], still trust promises of Iraq's "liberation" -- even if hourly ambushes on US soldiers [LINK] suggest Iraqis aren't exactly dancing in the streets.

Nicholas Kristof, fresh from a trip to Iraq, told NPR's Terry Gross that women and Christians are especially vulnerable now that Iraq's Islamic fundamentalists "are winning" [LINK], while Canada's Globe and Mail reported that Iraq's children are in even greater peril -- with Iraq's child mortality rate, already astronomical after 12 years of sanctions, possibly "even higher since Saddam Hussein's regime fell and the United States took over governing the country." [LINK] Given the circumstances, Iraqi rage, and the subsequent attacks, should have been foreseen. "It was predictable," Iraqi political scientist Saad al-Jawwad told the Guardian. "To any man or any woman or anybody who's living in despair what could he do? He has nothing left but to carry arms and defy the people who are here occupying his country and doing nothing for him or his family. Where is democracy? Nonexistent. Where is stability? Nonexistent. Where's electricity? Where's water?'' [LINK]

The attack has been spectacular, hasn't it?

Despite ample evidence that Bush misled the nation into a pre-planned war (and denounced anyone who tried to paint a realistic portrait of the aftermath), sets of razor-sharp teeth that bared for the slightest Clinton transgression have rescinded, and assorted bootlickers are now busily concocting doozies to cushion the Deceiver in Chief from blame. "Bush's reasons for invading Iraq seem to contradict reality," the Philadelphia Inquirer's Dick Polman recently wrote. "But if those claims do prove false, he won't be the first U.S. leader who has skewed evidence." If those claims prove false? <insert eye roll here.>

Polman's "thank you, sir, may I have another?" tone notwithstanding, he chronicles a few of Bush's more blatant lies, including the president's Sept. 7, 2002 assertion that "Iraq was 'six months away' from building a nuclear weapon" ("I don't know what more evidence we need," Bush said, citing a report that was apparently drafted in Brigadoon); his Oct. 7 charge that Iraq was planning "missions targeting the United States" via unmanned aerial vehicles (an impossibility, given the UAVs' limited range); the infamous State of the Union address in which Bush claimed Iraq was attempting to purchase uranium from Niger (though the CIA had long since told Cheney's office the documents containing this information were forged); and Bush's assertion that Iraq was trying to buy "high-strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear weapons production" (also discredited beforehand). [LINK] Polman missed several other fibs, however, including one of the most creative -- that American soldiers had found Iraq's weather balloons of mass destruction. [LINK]

The attack has been spectacular, hasn't it?

Nonetheless, Senators Jim Jeffords and Robert Byrd were among those who detected Bush's dissembling early on. "I am very disturbed by President Bush's determination that the threat from Iraq is so severe and so immediate that we must rush to a military solution. I do not see it that way," Jeffords said in October, 2002. [LINK] "We are rushing into war without fully discussing why, without thoroughly considering the consequences, or without making any attempt to explore what steps we might take to avert conflict," Byrd warned. [LINK]

But they, like other conscientious patriots, were up against a rising tide of coercion. Jeffords was subjected to frequent briefings by Donald Rumsfeld, George Tenet, President Bush and other top officials; Dick Cheney breathed down CIA necks [LINK]; and the White House reportedly pressured a State Department chemical and biological weapons expert to "tailor his analysis on Iraq and other matters to conform with the Bush administration's views." [LINK]  General Wesley Clark was also encouraged to engage, sans evidence, in Sept. 11 spin. "I got a call on 9/11," Clark told Tim Russert "I was on CNN, and I got a call at my home saying, 'You got to say this is connected. . . This has to be connected to Saddam Hussein.'" [LINK]

The attack has been spectacular, hasn't it?

This assault didn't come solely from the White House, however. Last December, the Guardian's Brian Whitaker wrote an article on "how the American media [were] softening up public attitudes to war with Iraq," detailing ways the Washington Post, Reuters and most specifically, the New York Times' Judith Miller, spread disinformation. [LINK] Former CIA analyst Ray McGovern credited Miller's legendary aluminum tubes scoop with providing the impetus for war -- just as the bogus "babies in incubators" story [LINK] convinced the Senate to vote for war in 1991 "[The administration] looked around after Labor Day and said, "OK, if we're going to have this war, we really need to persuade Congress to vote for it," McGovern told William Rivers Pitt. [LINK] Saying that the Bush administration realized that the hyped al Qaeda-Iraq connection would best resonate with traumatized Americans, this 27 year CIA veteran also concluded that, without reliable evidence, the CIA and Defense Intelligence Agency would never "come around" to the administration's view and would "undercut" Bush's agenda. So the administration, McGovern surmised, said, "What have we got? We've got those aluminum tubes!"

Though Daniel Ellsberg implored government insiders to expose Bush's lies [LINK] and Scott Ritter tried to shed light on WMD deceit, they, like "old Europe," were vilified as a chorus of pundits targeted anyone who tried to tell the truth. "Americans broadly agree on two facts about the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq," Daniel Pipes wrote, "its brutality and the danger it poses to themselves, especially the danger of nuclear attack." While few doubted Saddam's cruelty, those who didn't blindly accept mushroom cloud propaganda were smeared on Pipes' tattle tale Web site. [LINK] But like the FBI supervisor who thwarted field agents' attempts to search Zacarias Moussaoui's computer and was later handed the "Presidential Rank of Meritorious Service" award, [LINK] Pipes was nominated by President Bush to the board of directors of the United States Institute of Peace.

The attack has been spectacular, hasn't it?

If these incidents weren't sufficiently alarming, the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (of which Ray McGovern is a member) speculate that WMDs might be planted in Iraq [LINK]. Bush apologist Andrew Sullivan is holding out, however, hinting that two criticisms of the Bush administration's "exaggerations" (i.e. those concerning Iraq's nuclear capabilities and Saddam/Al Qaeda ties) may be premature. "I think we'll soon know more about both arguments," he added. Others believe we'll know more, too -- most likely in time for the 2004 election. [LINK

But even if WMDs aren't found (or planted), the Inquirer's Dick Polman assures that "Americans might overlook Bush's claims because the war in Iraq was brief and had few U.S. casualties." As a matter of course, Polman also compares George Bush's lies to Bill Clinton's, as if saying "I did not have sexual relations with that woman" is somehow comparable to spilling both blood and treasure. Given that thousands of Iraqis and more than 200 Americans have already lost their lives (even as US soldiers are ambushed and murdered daily) and that the illegal occupation of Iraq is expected to last somewhere between 5 and 60 years, weighing the consequential trauma of Monica's soiled blue dress against the long-term consequences of Bush Doctrine-related fabrications is like wondering if Martha Stewart is as criminally diabolical as John Wayne Gacy.

With uranium sickness [LINK] already a factor and depressed soldiers aching to go home, the number of people who will inevitably suffer from Bush's lies outweighs Clinton's victims on a scale of hundreds of thousands to one. "I've been in the Gulf for five months and I'm tired of all of this," one American soldier told the BBC. "We have become a target now." [LINK]

The attack has been spectacular, hasn't it?

The families of September 11 victims certainly don't appreciate Bush's duplicity and callous opportunism, either. "We've been fighting for nearly 21 months -- fighting the administration, the White House," Monica Gabrielle, whose husband Richard was killed in the World Trade Center, told Salon. "As soon as we started looking for answers we were blocked, put off and ignored at every stop of the way." Admitting that she is "disgusted" that Bush is "[using] Sept. 11 and its victims to justify his agenda," Gabrielle echoed the concerns of Kristin Breitweiser, whose husband Ronald was also killed at the World Trade Center. "I sat and listened to the State of the Union speech when Bush mentioned 9/11 12 or 13 times," she said. "At the same time, we were having trouble getting funding for the independent commission."

Despite Dick Cheney's request that the Sept. 11 investigation be limited, the House and Senate's bipartisan joint inquiry's findings were, as the New York Times reported, "far more damaging" than expected and Bush may evoke executive privilege to keep the information under wraps. [LINK] "Bush has done everything in his power to squelch [the September 11] commission and prevent it from happening," one anonymous 911 advocate told Salon. "The Administration, and most politicians, really don't want to get to the bottom of it, because they're all implicated in some way, in too many different areas, for too many years," former New York City cop told Bruce DeCell the Nation. But Newsweek explained the Bush strategy most succinctly: "Even as White House political aides plot a 2004 campaign plan designed to capitalize on the emotions and issues raised by the September 11 terror attacks," Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball wrote, "administration officials are waging a behind-the-scenes battle to restrict public disclosure of key events relating to the attacks." [LINK]

The attack has been spectacular, hasn't it?

And so, the most devastating event in recent American history, while serving as a GOP political prop, receives less attention than the Laci Peterson case. The New York Times completely ignored the September 11 commission's latest hearings, while Breitwesier has been booked, and then un-booked, on TV several times. "I'm very disappointed in the press," she told Salon. "I think it's disgusting the independent commission is doing the most important work for this nation and it's not even reported in the New York Times or on the nightly news. I've been scheduled to go on Meet the Press and Hardball so many times and I'm always canceled. Frankly I'd like nothing better than to go head to head with Dick Cheney on Meet the Press. Because somebody needs to ask the questions and I don't understand why nobody is."

Amazingly, the American public, who expected the government to investigate everything from the Titanic disaster to Pearl Harbor, doesn't seem to mind -- and the cascade of events that would have rocked our more scrupulous ancestors are met with disinterest. Never mind the manner in which our president was selected (or the questionable help he received along the way [LINK] [LINK]), in the past two years, the government and media have habitually deceived us; our fears and emotions have been manipulated; investigations into Dick Cheney's Energy Task Force and 9/11 have been stonewalled; bunker governments and secret arrests have barely raised eyebrows; the country is "dangerously unprepared" to handle another terrorist attack; and future elections may, like the last one, be rigged [LINK]. Yet public outcry is reserved for whether Ruben or Clay won "American Idol." 

This apathy is baffling, given that U.S. citizens have never been comfortable with deceit, war profiteering or blatant political posturing. In this topsy-turvy world, Truth has gone AWOL, Justice is secretly detained and the American Way has lost its way. The entire country appears to be in the throes of cognitive dissonance, with long-held beliefs about our national character challenged by facts we'd rather ignore. "The United States, as the world knows, will never start a war," John F. Kennedy promised in a galaxy far, far away. And though we just waged our first full-scale preemptive war on "cooked intelligence" and assorted lies, Americans are already poised for the next preemptive war -- Sept. 11 families and U.S. soldiers be damned.

"I don't want to see a single war millionaire created in the United States as a result of this world disaster," Franklin D. Roosevelt warned as WWII loomed. Yet presidential grandfather Prescott Bush forged lucrative alliances with the Nazis anyway [LINK] -- and war profiteering remains a Bush family tradition. [LINK] Does the public realize this? Do they care? "When Kennedy got his highest rating after the debacle of the Bay of Pigs," Gore Vidal wrote, "he observed, characteristically: 'It would seem that the worse you fu*k up in this job the more popular you get.'" Perhaps that explains Bush's approval ratings? They certainly don't make sense otherwise. But then again, few things do. In many ways, tangible and not, this country isn't recognizable anymore. Take a look around. The CIA was right. The attack has been spectacular indeed.

Posted by richard at 08:46 PM

BBC set to sue Minister over Iraq 'lies' claim - Legal threat deepens crisis over weapons dossiers

"The unprecedented row between the Government and the BBC took a dramatic twist last night when Andrew Gilligan, the reporter at the centre of claims that Number 10 deliberately 'sexed up' evidence against Saddam Hussein, announced he was ready to sue a serving Minister. "

A year ago, I heard Daniel Ellsberg on C-SPAN, speaking inside the Beltway, calling on patriots in the Pentagon to come forward with the truth (and that was before the unilateral military adventure in Iraq). Such men and women are I believe coming forth now, in different ways. What the NYTwits and the WASHPs will do with the evidence is another question. Meanwhile, at least we know that in the UK, the primary news source is not kow-towing or trembling...


A year ago, I heard Daniel Ellsberg on C-SPAN, speaking inside the Beltway, calling on patriots in the Pentagon to come forward with the truth (and that was before the unilateral military adventure in Iraq). Such men and women are I believe coming forth now, in different ways. What the NYTwits and the WASHPs will do with the evidence is another question. Meanwhile, at least we know that in the UK, the primary news source is not kow-towing or trembling...


BBC set to sue Minister over Iraq 'lies' claim

Legal threat deepens crisis over weapons dossiers

Kamal Ahmed and Martin Bright Sunday June 29, 2003 The Observer

The unprecedented row between the Government and the BBC took a dramatic twist last night when Andrew Gilligan, the reporter at the centre of claims that Number 10 deliberately 'sexed up' evidence against Saddam Hussein, announced he was ready to sue a serving Minister.

Gilligan, the defence correspondent for Radio 4's Today programme, said that he would take legal action against Phil Woolas, the Deputy Leader of the House, unless he received a full apology for allegations made against him.

The threat of legal action centres on a letter sent by Woolas to Gilligan which claimed that the reporter had misled the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, which is conducting an inquiry into the Government's handling of the run-up to war.

The letter was released to the media on Thursday before Gilligan had received it.

'On Thursday, you made the extremely serious allegation that I had "misled" Parliament in my evidence to the Foreign Affairs Committee,' Gilligan's response to Woolas says. 'You have clearly not read my evidence, or else have disregarded it.

'In the light of the incontrovertible evidence of what I said to the committee, I regard the allegation in your letter, which was released to the Press Association long before it reached me, as defamatory, casting grave doubt on my professional integrity and honesty.

'Unlike the claims made by Alastair Campbell [the Government's Director of Communications and Strategy] against me in the committee on Wednesday, your claim is not protected by parliamentary privilege.

'I now require a full apology and retraction of your claims, which were widely reported on Friday morning, are entirely unsupported by evidence and were clearly intended to blacken my character. In the absence of this, I will have no option but to put the matter in the hands of my lawyers.

'I should make clear that I write this letter with the full knowledge and support of the BBC.'

Gilligan's letter pushes the row between the BBC and the Government into uncharted territory. It is unprecedented for a member of the BBC's staff to threaten legal action against the Government.

The committee itself, which will publish its report in eight days' time, is likely to censure Campbell for his failure to properly control the contents of the 'dodgy dossier' on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and for allowing the Prime Minister to claim in the House of Commons that 'fresh intelligence' had been laid before Parliament despite much of it being cribbed from the internet.

Sources close to the committee said that Campbell should have known that the second dossier on WMD was based on the plagiarised work of an academic.

The committee is also likely to distance itself from claims that Number 10 deliberately 'sexed up' the first dossier to make the case for war by inserting a claim that the Iraqi dictator could use chemical and biological weapons within 45 minutes.

Officials said that the 'weight of evidence' reveals that the 45-minute claim was based on a direct assessment of the intelligence services. Number 10, the committee will say, did not intervene to make sure the claim was put in the dossier.

Evidence laid before the committee by the Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, in private session on Friday revealed that the claim was originally contained in a Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) assessment.

The criticism will come as a blow to the BBC, which has refused to back down on allegations in reports by Gilligan that Campbell sexed up' the dossier.

The latest disclosures in the battle between the and the Government came after Campbell appeared on Channel Four News on Friday night and angrily rounded on the BBC.

In what appeared to be a concerted strategy by Labour loyalists, other MPs lined up yesterday to attack the BBC.

There was a furious row on the Today programme between Ben Bradshaw, a junior minister, and John Humphrys, the presenter, over claims that Gilligan had checked his story with the Ministry of Defence.

Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon later backed the call for a BBC correction over Mr Humphrys's remarks. In a statement issued by the Ministry of Defence, he said: 'Comments made by John Humphrys ... this morning ... need to be corrected. Andrew Gilligan did not call the MoD to discuss WMD or the dossier. He spoke to the MoD about an interview request for the following day on a different issue.

'When he was asked what other stories would be on the programme, Mr Gilligan mentioned that he was planning a story on WMD. However, he said the WMD story was not an issue for the MoD. He did not give any details or ask for a response.

'I strongly support the request to the BBC to correct this morning's misleading comments. They are simply not true.'

Posted by richard at 10:24 AM

The Bush Administration has stepped up its war against women, with remote, impoverished Nepal the epic center of the attack

"Over half of Nepal's women listed as maternal mortalities have died from unsafe abortions. This makes Nepal's the fourth highest maternal mortality rate in the world. But today, George W. Bush's anti-abortion crusade is directly connected with increasing the death rate among the women and girls in Nepal. "

Too many people are scared of "culture war" in the US. The Center and the Left should be looking for a "culture war," the Center and the Left should be spoiling for the fight. The _resident and his *constituency* in the Expanded Confederacy are outside the mainstream on so many of these issues. If we have a "culture war," we may avoid outright civil war down the road...


The Bush Administration has stepped up its war against women, with remote, impoverished Nepal the epic center of the attack. By Frederick Sweet

Over half of Nepal's women listed as maternal mortalities have died from unsafe abortions. This makes Nepal's the fourth highest maternal mortality rate in the world. But today, George W. Bush's anti-abortion crusade is directly connected with increasing the death rate among the women and girls in Nepal. By contrast, officials at the Nepalese Ministry of Health had recently concluded that legalizing abortion in Nepal is the first step towards reducing the country's maternal mortality.

More than three decades ago, the United States helped Nepal reverse its climbing maternal mortality rates through the Agency for International Development. In part, the USAID got everyone started in family planning in Nepal 35 years ago. But now, under pressure from the religious right, Washington has even cut funding for condoms, jeopardizing Nepalís family planning and also the success of the much ballyhooed US anti-AIDs campaign.

Bush Revitalizes Reagan's Anti-Abortion Legacy

In the 1980s under President Ronald Reagan, influenced by anti-abortion fundamentalist Christians of the Religious Right, funds were withheld from foreign family planning agencies. The Reagan gag rule barred health providers from counseling women on abortion or providing abortions even with the organizationsí own funds. But in 1993, the Clinton government reversed the gag rule and restored family planning funding to the United Nations. Finally, in 1994, the declaration at the International Conference on Population in Cairo was ratified by 179 countries to help promote the campaign for women's reproductive rights. Not only had the aims of the UN Conference been endorsed by Clinton but Vice President Al Gore spoke at the opening plenary to pledge US support worldwide for women's rights.

On George W. Bush's very first day in office in 2000, he reimposed the Reagan gag rule. The Bush anti-abortion policy also withdrew $34 million from the United Nations family planning program, and at every international meeting on such issues the United States delegation lobbies against women's rights.

Today, under George W. Bush, the US is involved in what a recent New York Times editorial called: A War Against Women. In condemning Bushís gag rule, the Times charged that it shows a disdain for freedom of speech to emerging democracies, while crippling the international family planning programs that work to prevent hundreds of thousands of infant and maternal deaths worldwide each year, adding that most Americans would be shocked at the length American representatives are going in their international war against womenís right to control their bodies.

In March, scores of prominent Third World health care leaders from every continent, but mainly Africa, sent Bush a letter that begged him to reverse his gag rule policies from the United States' new AIDs prevention initiative:

... The women who become infected and die of AIDS are the same women who at different times in their lives and under different personal circumstances may seek to have healthy pregnancies, may experience unintended pregnancies, may undergo unsafe abortions when they decide they cannot carry a pregnancy to term, or may die in childbirth. They are mothers, daughters, sisters, and wives. They are sometimes engaged in sex work as a matter of their very survival. They are often solely responsible for the health and well being of their children. They are the primary caretakers of family members affected by AIDS and other diseases. And they all leave behind increasing numbers of orphans.

But Bush plans to expand his global gag rule to HIV funding, disqualifying a large number of organizations -- especially family planning programs -- from delivering integrated HIV prevention services. Rather than saving lives, this policy will cost lives. Although their deaths could be prevented by humane and rational sex education and protection programs, very large numbers of women and girls not receiving proper sex education and protection will be condemned to infection, suffering, and premature death.

Why Is Nepal Unique?

Reversing 150 years of legal discrimination against women, Nepalís Lower House of Parliament passed an amendment to the Civil Code that legalizes abortion. On September 26, 2002, King Gyanendra of Nepal signed the 11th Amendment Bill, officially legalizing abortion and bringing about sweeping changes in many other laws discriminatory against women. Today, abortion is legal in Nepal under certain conditions: upon request during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, when a womanís life or health is in danger, and in cases of rape, incest, and fetal impairment.

In Nepal, one in five women in prison had been jailed for having an abortion. Until 2002, abortion was illegal in every circumstance. Nepalís government has been taking action to release those women.

Melissa Upreti, legal adviser for the Center for Reproductive Rights' Asian Program, recently declared Nepalís brutal abortion law is now history, but the fate of those women imprisoned for abortion is unclear. Upreti added, Womenís equality under the law requires the government to take action and end this great injustice of imprisoning women for [undergoing] abortion.

Also in March 2002, the Center for Reproductive Rights and the Forum for Women, Law and Development of Nepal released a report Abortion in Nepal: Women Imprisoned, documenting the human rights abuses resulting from Nepalís draconian anti-abortion law. The report featured stories of some of the women in prison, many of whom are serving life sentences imposed without any opportunity to obtain lawyers to defend themselves in court.

Recently, the Family Planning Association of Nepal has had to make the difficult decision to refuse USAID family planning funds because of the restrictions it places on them by the Bush administration. This will lead to the loss of nearly $250,000 of U.S. funds and seriously undermine the continued operation of three reproductive health clinics in some of the country's most densely populated areas. It brings to an end a continuous relationship with US AID that lasted for over 26 years.

Dr. Nirmal K. Bista, director general of the Family Planning Association (FPAN) of Nepal said, "If we were to accept the restricted U.S. funds I would be prevented from speaking in my own country to my own government about a health care crisis I know first hand. Bista added, The ministry's advocacy plan decriminalizing abortion calls for the formation of a network of non-governmental organizations. Yet the U.S. government would disqualify us from participating in this public awareness and lobbying campaign or give up badly needed funding for family planning and other reproductive health services. My own government wants FPAN to help decriminalize abortion and make it safer but the U.S. government says no. Advocate to save women's lives and you lose your U.S. funds. "

Holding USAID Hostage

In the February issue of The Nation, Jennifer Block, in her article, Christian Soldiers on the March, writes that threats had been made by the U.S. to withhold their piece of USAID funding to Nepal and other individual countries if they didn't vote along with the U.S. delegation against abortion and in support of Bush's gag rule. They were trying to push some governments around pretty hard," said one United Nations official.

At the UN Special Session on Children in New York City, the U.S. delegation led by Bush's Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson formed an unholy alliance with Iran, Syria, Libya, Sudan and Iraq in the midst of Bush's with us or against us declaration of war on Islamic fundamentalists. Together, with the Vatican, they fought to purge the world of comprehensive sex education for adolescents, restrict STD-prevention and contraceptive information to heterosexual married couples, and redefine "reproductive health services" by excluding legal abortion.

FranÁoise Girard of the International Women's Health Coalition said, This is the fringe who've taken over U.S. policy on sexual and reproductive health. Girard added, "Some people asked me, ĎDo you think they're doing this because they want to save our souls?í

The numbers of women and girls dying from AIDs will continue to climb in Nepal and in most other Third World countries because of Bush administration policies. Each day, at least six women die in Nepal from unsafe abortions performed by unskilled providers. But Bush's gag rule for mainstream health care workers and withholding of urgently needed U.S. funds from the anti-AIDs campaign guarantee that these death sentences for women along with the maternal mortality figures will continue to rise in Nepal and other Third World countries.

Posted by richard at 10:13 AM

Are U.S. journalists truly spineless?

"Most of us whose bylines appear in the American media should be embarrassed to look our readers, viewers and listeners in the eye. We are being held up for ridicule by real journalists, such as Webb, from nations that once looked upon us as the epitome of truth and integrity. The ridicule is richly deserved. "

A friend and colleague who reads the LNS recently said that my carping on the US mainstream news media was getting tiresome. Well, I asked myself if it was true. Then I remembered the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq, and how reporters from Reuters, Al-Jezzera and elsewhere were killed (perhaps targeted) by US forces, while US "journalists" were "embed" with combat units singing sanitized paeans to the "liberators"...Fast forward a few weeks...those "brave" US "journalists" who went out their "embed" with our combat units are safely home. Meanwhile, US soldiers are dying seemingly daily directing traffic and on rountine patrol in Godforsaken Iraqi towns...Yes, these "journalists" are safely home, their network anchors are snug in their swivel chairs...And yet none of them have started a feeding frenzy over the lies that were proffered up as the excuse for unilateral war, the violation of the UN charter and the shattering of the Western alliance. $80 million in US taxpayer dollars was spent "investigating" the Clintons over an old land deal they lost money on, and on Bill Clinton's sex life. The US mainstream news media, including the NYTwits, ate it up. "Oh, it's not bias, they would do it whoever was President, Republican or Democrat, they just want the negative," said those who were in denial about the extent to which the news media is THE problem. Well, now we have a man who was not elected, whose cronies plunged California into recession and then went South with their investors money, who turned a deaf ear to numerous, credible warnings about 9/11, who has gutted the US surplus and scuttled the US economy with two destructive tax cuts skewed to the wealthiest few Americans, whose political brain Karl Rove produced a presentation discovered on a disk in a D.C. park that outlined the strategy of exploiting 9/11, wrapping the _resident and all Republicans in the flag and running on fear...and yet, the US mainstream news media is still eating out of the White House's hand...No, I will not let up on them. They have forfeited their obligation as protectors of the truth in this republic...

Are U.S. journalists truly spineless?

Justin Webb, a Washington correspondent for the British Broadcasting Corporation, recently posed this question to his audience: "Are American journalists simply spineless? Do they toe the line because they love the President? Or because their employers do?"

Webb raised the question after hearing Vice President Dick Cheney deliver the following statement in reference to the war in Iraq: "You did well - you have my thanks." This praise was not directed to our troops or members of the president's Cabinet; it was lavished upon members of the American Radio and Television Correspondents Association at their annual dinner.

Most of us whose bylines appear in the American media should be embarrassed to look our readers, viewers and listeners in the eye. We are being held up for ridicule by real journalists, such as Webb, from nations that once looked upon us as the epitome of truth and integrity. The ridicule is richly deserved.

Members of the American news media should be asking the question that Webb has presented. Are American journalists spineless? Or have the people who once wielded the editorial sword with such class and power caved in to the bean counters who run the media conglomerates? Either way, we have failed, and it's only going to get worse unless individual journalists begin to stand up and reclaim our place as the guardians of liberty.

Once upon a time in this country, not so very long ago, every town of any size had at least two daily newspapers and weeklies that did more than just carry coupons and advertisements. Journalists could go somewhere else if they thought an editor was stifling the free flow of the truth - and point a finger back at him or her. That day is no more. Some say the Internet has rendered traditional journalism moot, but they are wrong.

As powerful as the Internet is - and I've seen that power at work - there are still large gaps out there. The latest available census reports show that a majority of Americans have computer access, but there are still substantial holes in the practical use, especially among minorities and the poor. By and large, citizens of this country still depend on more traditional sources for their information, and those of us who are responsible for getting the truth out are not doing our job very well.

A few weeks back, I saw Attorney General John Ashcroft on one of the round-the-clock news channels, testifying before a congressional committee about the new law enforcement powers he would like to see added to the so-called Patriot Act. The next day, out of curiosity, I searched online through traditional newspapers - large and small - across the country for a headline or at least a story about Ashcroft's plans for a new power grab. It was as if Ashcroft hadn't said anything of importance.

On an almost a daily basis, you can tune in to the Donald Rumsfield show on the round-the-clock television news and watch that jovial old guy insulting the intelligence of so-called American journalists. With his folksy, down-home demeanor, he sloughs off questions and rambles on as he pleases. Nobody calls his hand because nobody wants to end up at the back of the room at the next press conference.

I'm just a worn-out old cop, a jackleg journalist without a degree in journalism, political science or constitutional law - but I understood what it meant when I informed the people I arrested of their constitutional rights. And I know that people entrusted with the responsibility of reporting the news should not be acting as cheerleaders for the president of the United States and his administration - or anyone else for that matter.

Journalists of the United States of America, unite; we have nothing to lose but our shame.

Posted by richard at 06:58 AM

June 29, 2003

Scandal lurks in shadow of Iraq evidence

"One reason people like me are trying to be respectful and not make this into a political issue is that it goes so much deeper than that. This goes to the integrity of our intelligence, the integrity of our foreign policy. This is heavy-duty stuff."

Perhaps Cokie Roberts of AnythingButSee and Mara Liasson of Faux News, both formerly of NonPlusseRadio (NPR), should take lessons in smelling the rat from Diane Carman of the Denver Post. But, of course, they knew how to smell a rat long ago...But they conveniently forget it when they were offered proparpunditgandista seats on the inside of the boob tube...Here's some real politick with edge...



Scandal lurks in shadow of Iraq evidence
By Diane Carman, Denver Post Columnist

It's getting harder to ignore. More and more evidence is emerging to suggest that U.S. intelligence was manipulated to justify going to war with Iraq.

Among the allegations:

U.S. officials cited documents provided by foreign ambassadors - documents that they knew to be forgeries - as proof of the existence of an Iraqi nuclear weapons program.

Aluminum tubes and gas centrifuges that President Bush said were used to "enrich uranium for nuclear weapons" had already been determined by the CIA to be ordinary rocket materials too flimsy to handle nuclear material.

Claims by the administration that Iraq had unmanned aerial vehicles capable of delivering deadly biological agents around the world to the U.S. were known to be false; analysts estimated they didn't have the range even to reach Tel Aviv.

Vice President Dick Cheney had visited CIA headquarters several times in the months before the war to pressure analysts to find evidence that would justify an attack on Iraq.

And evidence that there was no connection between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda was deliberately withheld from Congress and the public in an attempt to mislead everyone about the danger Iraq posed.

Several members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, including Democrats Bob Graham, D-Fla., and Richard Durbin, D-Ill., told The New Republic that they knew that evidence contradicting the Bush administration's claims had been concealed, but they were unable to reveal it because it was classified.

Still, Congress, which spent $80 million to prove that, yes, Bill Clinton did have sexual relations with that woman, has yet to order an investigation.

Rep. Diana DeGette claims to know why.

"It's obvious. It's because the Republicans control Congress and the White House," the Colorado Democrat said.

Last week, she called for a bipartisan investigation to determine if there was a "massive intelligence failure" leading up to the war in Iraq.

Either there never was the irrefutable evidence of weapons of mass destruction and we were deceived, she said, or the deadly weapons exist in Iraq where Hussein is believed to be hiding and our intelligence is not capable of finding them.

Regardless of which scenario Americans prefer to embrace, it's a troubling situation.

We deserve an explanation.

Before the war, DeGette said, "both (Secretary of State) Colin Powell and the president unequivocally said there were biological, chemical and possibly nuclear weapons that were poised to strike and that created an imminent threat."

In fact, when Powell made his dramatic presentation of the purported evidence against Iraq to the United Nations in February, DeGette admitted that she found it disturbing.

The congresswoman, who had voted against the resolution to go to war with Iraq, said Powell raised "very serious questions" about the danger Iraq posed.

She had company. Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell, R-Colo., called it "shocking."

The public responded similarly.

In the days following Powell's U.N. appearance, polls showed opposition to the pre-emptive war evaporating in the U.S.

Seventy percent of Americans believed that Iraq had chemical and biological weapons. Sixty percent thought the country was developing nuclear weapons.

"On that basis, we went out and attacked another country," DeGette said.

It was the rationale we presented to the world for going to war.

"Now, it's becoming more and more clear that evidence of those weapons never existed," DeGette said.

And while it's unclear whether the intelligence was flawed, misinterpreted or simply manipulated to produce a predetermined outcome, DeGette said, it's clear something went wrong.

"There's one thing the American public doesn't like," she said, "and that's being duped."

If Congress succeeds in stonewalling an investigation, the damage to the intelligence agencies will be severe. Once their integrity is undermined, they become objects of contempt and ridicule.

That's why DeGette predicts that despite her Republican colleagues' loyalty to Bush, Congress ultimately will vote for an investigation.

"The public will demand it," she said.

As the weeks and months go by, if evidence of weapons of mass destruction isn't found in Iraq, containing the scandal will be impossible, she said. The truth will have to emerge.

"This is not about a political gotcha situation," DeGette said.

"One reason people like me are trying to be respectful and not make this into a political issue is that it goes so much deeper than that. This goes to the integrity of our intelligence, the integrity of our foreign policy. This is heavy-duty stuff."

Posted by richard at 07:20 PM

The Carlyle Group - C for Capitalism

"ON the day Osama bin Laden's men attacked America, Shafiq bin Laden, described as an estranged brother of the terrorist, was at an investment conference in Washington, DC, along with two people who are close to President George Bush: his father, the first President Bush, and James Baker, the former secretary of state who masterminded the legal campaign that secured Dubya's move to the White House. The conference was hosted by the Carlyle Group, a private equity firm that manages billions of dollars, including, at the time, some bin Laden family wealth. It also employs Messrs Bush and Baker."

I sent out several news stories about The Carlyle Group early on before "Resistance is NOT futile" escalated to the "Liberation News Service." Those of you who remember them or have other reason to know of The Carlyle Group, know how the obscenity of its very existence is only rivaled by the obscenity of the US mainstream news media complete disconnect with the reality of the war-profiteering and atmosphere-of-war profiteering going on among Bush and his cronies, who (until 9/11) of course overtly included the Bin Laden family (remember, 2+2=4)...A solid investigative look at Carlyle has been published in book form, now you know from previous LNS how badly the NYTwits, the WASHPs, etc. have done "reviewing" revelatory books by David Brock, Susan MacDougal, Sidney Blumenthal and others...so I thought you should read the review from The Economist...The Economist, of course, a Conservative-slanted British news organization, nevertheless it has objectivity in its reporting and therefore comes across the truth far more often than let's say oh Newsweak (although, BTW, TIME has been showing signs of life lately)



The secretive Carlyle Group gives capitalism a bad name. But dismantling the whole system (see article) may be slightly over the top

The Iron Triangle: Inside the Secret World of the Carlyle Group By Dan Briody

ON the day Osama bin Laden's men attacked America, Shafiq bin Laden, described as an estranged brother of the terrorist, was at an investment conference in Washington, DC, along with two people who are close to President George Bush: his father, the first President Bush, and James Baker, the former secretary of state who masterminded the legal campaign that secured Dubya's move to the White House. The conference was hosted by the Carlyle Group, a private equity firm that manages billions of dollars, including, at the time, some bin Laden family wealth. It also employs Messrs Bush and Baker.

In the immediate aftermath of the attacks, when no one was being allowed in or out of the United States, many members of the bin Laden family in America were spirited home to Saudi Arabia. The revival of defence spending that followed greatly increased the value of the Carlyle Group's investments in defence companies.

The Carlyle Group is a godsend for conspiracy theorists who are convinced that the world is run by, and on behalf of, a shadowy network of wealthy men. Sure enough, it was not long before Cynthia McKinney, a Democrat member of Congress, pointed a finger at Carlyle, noting in an interview that persons close to this administration are poised to make huge profits off America's new war and that, despite numerous warnings, they did not alert the people of New York who were needlessly murdered. What, she asked, do they have to hide?

You need not be a conspiracy theorist, though, to be concerned about what lies behind Carlyle's success. Can a firm that is so deeply embedded in the iron triangle where industry, government and the military converge be good for democracy? Carlyle arguably takes to a new level the military-industrial complex that President Eisenhower feared might endanger our liberties or democratic process. What red-blooded capitalist can truly admire a firm built, to a significant degree, on cronyism; surely, this sort of access capitalism is for ghastly places like Russia, China or Africa, not the land of the free market?

Named after the luxurious New York hotel favoured by the firm's founders, Carlyle even got started by exploiting a tax loophole, a legitimate capitalistic activity, if not an honourable one. This particular loophole bizarrely allowed profitable American firms to enjoy a large tax break by buying the losses incurred by Eskimo-owned companies in Alaska. In 1987, this opportunity brought together a flamboyant dealmaker, Stephen Norris, who left Carlyle in 1995, with David Rubenstein, a former aide to President Carter and still the brains behind the firm.

After this initial success, though, the going got tougher. Carlyle missed out on several attractive deals while completing some duff ones, including buying a stake in Caterair International, a company that later collapsed under the weight of its junk-bond financing. Still, it did introduce them to a man who became well worth knowing: George W. Bush, a director of Caterair.

Carlyle really only took off after it hired Frank Carlucci, a former secretary of defence and deputy director of the CIA, in 1989. Mr Carlucci was able to open doors in Washington that had hitherto been closed to the firm, allowing it to participate in many lucrative deals.

Although Dan Briody's book is useful reading for anybody interested in American politics today, it tells Carlyle's story in the style of a Tom Clancy or John Grisham novel. This is rather a shame. Instead of expanding in an unrelenting tone of shocked disapproval, the author could have offered a serious view on a number of difficult questions.

For instance, if privatisation can increase the efficiency of the notoriously inefficient defence sector, how should the inherent political and security risks best be managed? Given that the rewards for success in the private sector so far exceed those for public service, how can talented people be persuaded to enter public service without their former private-sector activities becoming a source of suspicion?

While some former presidents are happy to play golf, others may feel they can still earn a decent living. What rules should govern the commercial activities of former President Bush; or, for that matter, former British prime minister, John Major; or former South Korean prime minister, Park Tae-joon all of whom have taken the Carlyle nickel? Mr Bush senior receives private intelligence briefings that are not available to ordinary investors. Does his inside knowledge of, and possible influence over, the administration's political strategy towards, say, North Korea and Saudi Arabia directly benefit Carlyle? If so, does that constitute an unacceptable conflict of interest?

Perhaps there would be less reason to worry about Carlyle if there were rival clubs of ex-political heavyweights competing within the iron triangle. Alas, this firm seems to be an aspiring monopolist, hoovering up former public officials from across the political divide and, increasingly, from across the world. It is becoming more ambitious in Europe, and keenly eyeing China. Perhaps there would be less reason to worry if Carlyle's activities were more open but as a private equity firm, it has largely escaped America's recent efforts to improve the governance and transparency of companies, which is unfortunate. At a time when America is aggressively promoting democracy and capitalism abroad, including by military means, it would be helpful if its politicians and businesses were regarded as cleaner than clean. Shrouded in secrecy, Carlyle calls capitalism into question.

Posted by richard at 01:50 PM

June 28, 2003

Democrats Begin Probe of Prewar Intel

"Democrats on the Senate Armed Services Committee announced Friday plans to stage their own inquiry on the credibility of prewar intelligence on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and its links to the al-Qaida terror network."

This turn of events is significant. For Levin to turn on Warner is big news and it indicates how serious the situation is...Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) is a powerful man. He is showing that is also a courageous and principled man. He is answering the call, I am certain, of those many officers in the military and career intel professionals who are deeply troubled by what has happened here...Michigan, BTW, is a key "battleground" state in the Electoral College game. It rejected the mean-spirited, small-minded princeling twice in 2000. It voted for McCain in the GOP primary and for Gore in the aborted election.


By KEN GUGGENHEIM, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON - Democrats on the Senate Armed Services Committee announced Friday plans to stage their own inquiry on the credibility of prewar intelligence on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and its links to the al-Qaida terror network.

The announcement by Sen. Carl Levin (news, bio, voting record) of Michigan, the panel's top Democrat, marked an unusual split with Chairman John Warner, R-Va., on an issue with strong political overtones ahead of next year's elections. Warner and Levin are longtime colleagues on the committee and repeatedly stress bipartisan cooperation.

Democrats in both the House and Senate have been pushing for widened examinations of prewar intelligence beyond reviews already under way by both bodies' intelligence committees.

Levin said he has directed Democratic staff to examine the objectivity and credibility of the intelligence and its effect on Defense Department policy decisions, military planning and operations in Iraq.

He said Warner refused his request to begin such an inquiry. In a letter released by Levin, Warner said the committee should wait until the Senate Intelligence Committee has completed its review, then decide how to move ahead. Both Levin and Warner are members of the intelligence panel.

The Armed Services Committee, meanwhile, will continue oversight hearings on military operations in Iraq, Warner said in the letter. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and Gen. Tommy Franks, head of U.S. Central Command, will appear before the panel the week of July 7.

He said Levin's review is "clearly your prerogative" and said his staff may work periodically with Levin's.

In a statement, Warner's press secretary, John Ullyot, said the committee has held four hearings on the weapons and intelligence issues and will hold more, in addition to the Intelligence Committee review.

"Sen. Levin is welcome to direct his own staff to look into these matters as well," he said.

Levin and Warner will be traveling together next week to Iraq and the Middle East, along with the leaders of the Intelligence Committee and other senators.

The prewar intelligence has been called into question both nationally and abroad because of the military's inability to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Also, some evidence cited by the Bush administration has been discredited, including documents on supposed approaches to obtain uranium in Africa, which turned out to be forgeries.

At a news conference in Washington, Spanish Foreign Minister Ana Palacio said Friday the failure to find the weapons was a defeat for her government, which strongly supported the war.

"There is a pervasive concern when and how we will find them," Palacio said. But she said she was relaxed about the weapons search.

Republicans say there is little doubt the weapons existed and accuse Democrats of questioning the intelligence and its use for political reasons. They defeated three attempts by House Democrats this week to expand the weapons inquiries as part of an intelligence bill approved early Friday.

On Thursday, 24 House Democrats announced that would seek an independent commission to examine the Iraq intelligence. They say they want to know whether intelligence was inaccurate or whether the administration presented a distorted interpretation of the intelligence to make the case for war.

Democrats have also questioned whether the Bush administration overstated Iraqi links to al-Qaida. A recently completed draft report by a U.N. terrorism committee on efforts to stop al-Qaida operations does not mention Iraq. The committee has seen no evidence of links between Iraq and al-Qaida, said its chief investigator Michael Chandler.

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said Friday that the committee's mandate did not include examining Iraqi links to al-Qaida. He said the committee lacked the expertise to assess any links.

In addition to the intelligence issue, Democrats and some Republicans have criticized President Bush (news - web sites) for not speaking publicly of the long-term costs and U.S. troop commitments that will be needed in Iraq.

Sen. Joseph Biden (news, bio, voting record) of Delaware, the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, urged Bush to ask for help policing Iraq from the NATO (news - web sites) military alliance and its member states.

"I implore the president to kind of get over his feelings about the Europeans, and the French and the Germans in particular, and seek their assistance because I believe they are ready to assist. They need to be asked," Biden said.

In an interview with NPR's "All Things Considered," Secretary of State Colin Powell (news - web sites) said "a large presence of troops" will be needed for months to stabilize the country, improve security and eliminate remnants of Saddam Hussein (news - web sites)'s regime and his Baathist Party.

"I can't be more precise than that, because we don't know," he said.

Posted by richard at 05:49 PM